All of us have heard of and try to practice the so-called corporal and spiritual Works of Mercy that help to draw us out of ourselves into the lives of the poor, the imprisoned, the homeless and the discouraged brothers and sisters that surround us and increase in numbers daily. Pope Francis would add a complementary Act of Mercy to these! Recently he said, “The poorest of the poor, the very poorest, is our Mother Earth.” We abuse her, thoughtlessly, mercilessly and irresponsibly, grabbing from her but not replenishing her needs! In his encyclical, Laudato si, he categorically declares: “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth (#21).”
Is that what we see also? I do – and so I rejoice in his adding an additional exhortation to the fore-mentioned seven corporal and seven spiritual works of mercy: “Take care of our Common Home.”
In these wonderful summer months when we care for our individual lawns, gardens and homes, how about extending that care to our Common Mother when we are tempted to toss garbage out of car windows, on the beaches or wherever? A little challenge? Yes, but when we consider how one tiny step begins the walk of a mile, we may yet take a serious look at how our consumerism, our grasping of more and more, better and bigger products, depletes the total supply, dulls or destroys our need to discipline our individual tastes. We may be given a kaleidoscopic view of the hungers of the poor, among them our Common Mother Earth. She wants to save us; when and how do we plan to save her? Today? This summer? We must become responsible, merciful, thoughtful in returning that care and help save her!
Renée Domeier, OSB