May 22, 2022

Reflection on Cry of the Earth by Sister Marilyn Shea

Today, we begin the celebration of Laudato Si’ Week, 2022. We take this opportunity to reflect on Pope Francis’ plea to “Care for our Common Home.”  In this time of increased degradation of our air, land, and water, we are called to reflect on the Cry of the Earth and our responsibility to respond.


My fascination with the land and all creation is grounded in my childhood experience of growing up on a farm where I observed the cycle of planting and harvesting, the importance of rain and sun, and the need to till and fertilize the soil. I also came to appreciate the beauty all around me. I remember being held up by my mom to smell the blossoms on the syringa bush and of picking violets with her along the road. I watched birds making nests in trees as well as bees and butterflies flitting from flower to flower – a hint of the interdependence among different species. Summer evenings spent outside admiring the stars, the moon, and the Milky Way revealed a peek at the vastness of the universe.


During many years of being immersed in Franciscan spirituality, I have gradually come to realize more deeply the interconnection among all created things and the presence of God within all and among all. What affects one part of creation, affects us all. In today’s Gospel from John we read, “The Holy Spirit will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” And what is the Spirit revealing to us today through the words of Pope Francis in Laudato Si’, the research of climate scientists, the evidence presented by the warming oceans and the severity of recent wildfires and weather events? The time is now; the responsibility belongs to each of us! We must listen and respond to the Cry of the Earth by raising our awareness of our dependence on carbon fuels and our reluctance to give up the convenience of single-use plastics. We can then begin to journey together toward ecological conversion.


Sister Marilyn served as General Secretary of the Sisters of St. Francis and presently serves in several capacities around Clinton, Iowa.  Sister Marilyn taught and supervised practicum and student teachers for many years in the College of Education at Ashford University and its predecessors Mount St. Clare College and The Franciscan University. She was a teacher and principal in several parochial schools in Iowa, Illinois, California, and Missouri.  She also lived for three years in Steele, Missouri, and worked with the BVM Sisters as Child Care Director and Parent Educator for their Adult Education Program - SPIRALS.