Pope Francis began his first Encyclical by stating “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Sinore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord.” This was taken from the Canticle of St. Francis Assisi, in which he compared the world as a common home, where the Mother Earth sustains and governs us with various fruits, colored flowers and herbs.
As I was reading the encyclical which deals with the questions of ecology, I remembered some Indian philosophical thoughts on unity of man and nature. The profound sense of unity that man had with nature and with one another, is reflected in the Vedic hymns and myths of ancient India. Many Vedic hymns describe earth as a mother, streams as life-giving veins, the sky as father and the air as life – giving breath, and the sun as the source of life energy. It was ‘Earth’ and not ‘Heaven’ which was regarded as the giver and the source of life. Even when nature was used as nourishment or for some other purposes, they were treated with respect.
In our present time with the scientific and technological progress, there happened a violent transition from nature as mother to nature as matter. This is what Pope John Paul II stated about this situation: human beings see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption.
Pope Francis, in the first part of his encyclical elaborates the consequences of this transition in our approach to the nature. The mother nature cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the good with which God has endowed her. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life.
It is the poor who face the worst impact of the ecological crisis. Because, they are largely dependent on agriculture, fishing and forestry. In this context as Vincentians, it is good to ask ourselves, what St. Vincent would have told us to do? Surly he will remind us about our responsibility to be wise stewards of the patrimony of poor by being wise stewards of mother earth.
About the Author:
Fr. Binoy Puthusery, C.M. is a Vincentian priest belonging to the Southern Indian Province. He was ordained as priest on December 27, 2008 and soon after served as an assistant parish priest in Tanzania. In 2011, after two years of ministry, he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Vincentian Sisters of Mercy, Mbinga Tanzania. He currently lives in Barakaldo (Spain), and is a teacher in the Masters in Vincentian Studies.