28 May 2023
Ecospirituality: The Goal that Grounds Our LSAP

Earlier this year, Fr. Daniel Horan wrote “Don’t Forget the Spiritual Side of Earth Day” that reminded us that Earth Day is not only about recycling or changing practices; rather, it is a reminder of our interconnection with the Earth and an opportunity to reflect on how we find God in the world. It is a reminder to continue to develop our ecospirituality. In the Clinton Franciscans’ Laudato Si’ Action Plan, our first goal focuses on ecospirituality. This goal does not arise from the Clinton Franciscans’ corporate stands; rather, it arises from our understanding of God and creation. This first goal of ecospirituality might seem like some new-fangled idea; however, ecospirituality is a concept evident in early Christianity and one that should influence how we perceive God in our daily lives and in the world around us.


As part of this goal, the Clinton Franciscan community watched a presentation by Gabriele Uhlein entitled “The Ecospirituality of Pope Francis” in which she discusses Pope Francis’ call for humanity to listen to both the Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor. Our second goal for ecospirituality was to more fully integrate ecospirituality into our prayer life throughout the course of the year. This was accomplished by including prayer services for the equinoxes and solstices. Each of these prayers encouraged participants to recognize God in the world around us, to delve deeper into our own understanding through meditation and reflection.


So, how is ecospirituality related to our other goals, goals attending to the environment, immigration, income inequality and basic human rights, human trafficking, nuclear disarmament, and the death penalty?


God is here in this world. We can recognize God’s presence in the created world, and that recognition should call us to a deeper awareness of our connection to the rest of the world. In the Book of Genesis, humans are told to “have dominion” over the other creatures (Genesis 1:28). What is this dominion? If we think of dominion as control, then we clearly do not see God in the world or value our connection to creation. Even if we see ourselves as stewards of creation, we are still separating ourselves from the rest of the created world. Within a mature ecospirituality, we, as humans, must recognize ourselves as part of the created world, a part that is responsible for creation and yet interdependent with creation. Consequently, this connection can and should call us to a commitment to the rest of creation.


In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis calls us to recognize that our connection to and interdependence with creation makes us responsible for our fellow creatures and the created world. Perhaps we do not name this realization as ecospirituality. Perhaps we do not comment on our connections to the world or fully realize how we rely on the rest of creation. Nonetheless, this interdependence and interconnection with creation guides our actions and values. Our recognition of God in the world around us drives us to honor the value of each aspect of creation. Because of this, we work to minimize our impact on the environment by drawing electricity from solar panels, minimizing our carbon footprint of our vehicle fleet, and reducing our use of single-use plastics. Because of this, we value the dignity of each person and seek to assist immigrants and to prevent human trafficking. Because of this connection, we advocate for housing and voting rights for each person. Recognizing our connection to the rest of creation, we work for nuclear disarmament to ensure that creation and all of humanity flourishes now and in the future. Seeing God in the world around us, we recognize our position as fellow-creatures and work to abolish the death penalty and promote restorative justice.


As Pope Francis observes, “We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring the dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (Laudato Si’ 139). These crises are answered when we center ourselves in an ecospirituality that fully and rightly recognizes our place in the world – not as dominators, not as stewards, but as fellow creatures created by a loving God whose presence is evident in the world around us. This recognition, this ecospirituality, guides the Clinton Franciscans’ Laudato Si’ Action Plan as we value each person and all of creation.


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Back to Laudato Si Week Reflections 2023