ECOLOGY ON SUNDAYS
Pastoral Insights from Laudato Si , Querida Amazonia , Fratelli Tutti ,
And Resources from the United Nations
November 29, 2020 to November 21, 2021 –
Year B – Sunday Lectionary
Compiled by Robert Dueweke, O.S.A.
In fulfillment of project requirement for the Laudato Si Animators Program
Sponsored by the Global Catholic Climate Movement
DOWNLOAD ECOLOGY ON SUNDAYS_compressed
The year 2020 is a year most of us would like to forget. The global spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2) is the worse disease outbreak since the Spanish Flu a hundred years ago. Our lives have been turned upside down and we wonder if things will go back to the so-called “normal” times. The dreary statistics are well known: 1.4 million deaths with 260,000 deaths in the United States alone. As Advent 2020 begins, nearly 60 million global cases have been recorded, and the United States leads with 12.5 million, the highest of all the nations.
We live with new medical strategies that carry new anxieties and unknowns. Families are anxious about their children receiving an adequate education with the unfamiliar online learning environment. Those who are unemployed now find themselves in cars waiting in the new “bread lines.” Our economic system and its baked- in inequalities are exposed for what they are. The political environment is more divided now than ever with populist and authoritarian movements spawning in many countries. Places of worship have not escaped the fallout of a runaway virus and the necessary shutdowns to protect public health. The face mask is now an addition to our safety wardrobe, yet its proven efficacy is ignored by many.
Through the human exploitation of the planet’s resources a microscopic virus was unleashed into the natural environment and brought many-layered devastation. The pandemic is a stark reminder that everything is interconnected. What is our future? How will climate change affect the lives of our children and grandchildren and the Earth’s biome?
The answer to these questions depends on the choices we make today. One way to navigate these troubling waters is to turn to our tradition, especially to the scriptures and documents that are meant to be lights for our darkened path. A worthwhile approach to become acquainted with these teachings from tradition is to read them in the context of the lectionary, the yearlong cycle of scriptural readings through which we enter into the mystery of God, through the teachings and life of Christ.
This collection is a practical way to open the treasures of the Church’s pastoral thinking about questions that concern us: the natural environment and climate change, the extinction of species, the poor and the vulnerable, radical capitalism and consumerist lifestyles, technocratic societies, the fragility of democratic institutions, terrorism and nuclear war. In particular, we focus on Pope Francis’s writings on the environment: Laudato Si , Querida Amazonia , and Fratelli Tutti because they address the issues confronting humanity and offer suggestions for building a better world beyond the time of the pandemic.
Accompanying the ecclesial writings are the diplomatic and academic resources at multilateral institutions like the United Nations. In section 257 of Fratelli Tutti : On Fraternity and Social Friendship, Pope Francis draws the reader’s attention to the role of the United Nations and its Charter. He states that the United Nations is an “obligatory reference point of justice and a channel of peace.” For that reason, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, “Transforming our world”) and its anniversaries are highlighted at appropriate sections of this collection. We gratefully remember that in 2015 Pope Francis, through the publication of Laudato Si , influenced and promoted the UN’s SDGs as well as the Paris Climate Agreement. The Global Catholic Climate (GCCM) also contributed its influence at these critical junctures and continues to do so.
Homilists, educators and all parishioners can study these words, individually or in small groups (Zoom during the pandemic?), and derive inspiration and guidance from them. Then, in the context of the Sunday scriptures, the homily, the seasons and feasts, our prayer, current events, and global challenges come together in the liturgy. An average of three passages from Pope Francis’s writings are given for each Sunday. An SDG goal, with a hyperlink to its targets, is identified for each month. UN anniversaries are chosen to highlight global concerns and serve as points for reflection. These passages from Pope Francis’s writings and the resources from the UN can be used within homilies, as catalysts for the general intercessions, topics for religious education, and as reading for private reflection or for public discussion in post-Covid-19 faith-sharing groups. Immediately after this English introduction is a summary of the citations provided for Spanish readers. The English citation follows.
This collection is the result of fulfilling a requirement for the Laudato Si Animators program of the Global Catholic Climate Movement. A second part of the collection, from June to November, is forthcoming. I would like to express my gratitude to those who have helped me put together this project, in particular, my friends in El Paso, Texas, Dr. Jean Ponder Soto, Marco Raposo, Odile Coirier, and from Seoul, South Korea, Young Mi Cho. Without them I would not have been able to have this collection completed in time for the First Sunday of Advent.
This year has had its challenges, but it also offers new possibilities. We have many reference points. We can take, read, pray and be guided by these documents and collections. Our choices make a difference. In fact, our future depends on them.
Robert F. Dueweke, O.S.A.
Permanent Representative of Augustinians International at the United Nations
DOWNLOAD THE 50-page text