Ecological conversion is a focus running through the whole of Lent for me and those others who are following the Lenten lectures on Ecological Conversion of Jesuit Fr Peter Knox.  He is therefore also promoting the “Care of Creation and the Environment” which is one of focal areas of the 2020 SA Catholic Bishops Conference Pastoral Plan, which is entitled, “Evangelising Community Serving God, humanity and all creation.” Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ (LS) is one of the best and most used resources for fulfilling this task of evangelizing.  The recent 2023 Synod on Synodality uses the terms community, participation and mission which are essentially the same but promotes its very specific tool of dialogue, sharing from the art and attentive listening.

As always, my particular place for all these spiritual tasks is the domestic church, the little church of the home, i.e. a family. Building eco-friendly families is our Lenten campaign and becoming an eco-family-friendly church the ultimate objective. But how is that to be done? It could be using those tools in the family, by the family, about the family or for the family?  Families are units of many kinds but also made up of individuals who are living in whole range of love relationships.  Clearly these relationships are not static but can change greatly and dramatically.  I don’t love my adult daughters in the same way I loved them as new-born infants.  

Laudato Si  speaks of God’s tender embrace. His prayer:  “All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.”  

LS also speaks of the value of ecological education.  “By learning to stop, see and appreciate beauty, we learn to reject the self-centred pragmatism of consumerism.  Mindsets do influence our behaviour and forming mindsets is an ongoing family task.  Art, music, drama, dancing and absorbing the beauty of nature enhance our appreciation while litter, ugliness, war and its destruction can destroy our sense of beauty and wonder. 

How can we reflect and share our thoughts and feelings on the statement,  “Is God not the author of beauty?”

Being a musical person by nature I am attracted to music, not all types, but some songs speak in a particular way to my soul, through the lyrics or the melody. Loss of biodiversity is one area developed in LS, and notes destruction of the natural environment, deforestation, reduction of habitats for animals, plants and insects, pollution of rivers and oceans with plastic waste and chemicals.  He describes extinction as no longer being able to give glory to God. “Don’t kill the world” was a popular song in the 80s and 90s by Boney M and certainly describes the loss of beauty. I was then also reminded of many animated animal story films and some of the songs from the LION KING, surely a “nature film, about love, family life but also all about family conflict. You could almost say it is a very human story, but do we know if life is so different in the animal kingdom? There is the love song “Can you feel the love tonight” and another of its songs is “The circle of life.”   

What films and songs can play a meaningful role in families for ecological education,  ecological spirituality or adopting a sustainable lifestyle?   These are some of the Laudato Si action goals and ways in which we take part in protecting life and beauty, as well as meeting and experiencing God present in our lives.  God is family, God is a community of love and life.  God lives in us.

In South Africa March is Human Rights Month.   The MARFAM family theme for the month is Human Rights are Family Rights.  But I expand that too to include the rights of all the families of creation. OUR WORLD IS A FAMILY OF FAMILIES.  We only have to look around and listen, maybe even to laugh and cry.    TR  6 March 2024


March 6.  Jonathan had done his homework. “The Constitution of a country does not belong to any political party but to every citizen. I think that might be forgotten when elections come up and with all political parties  lobbying for their own policies and interpretations of the law.  Our bishops should dialogue with the state to promote pro-family, pro-life policies for the good of the whole of our society. In deciding on their vote Catholics, especially young first-time voters, are also challenged to take this into account, when the concern is youth unemployment.”  

Reflect, share. Scripture: Read the relevant scripture passages.  Moses said, “I have taught you statutes and ordinances as the Lord my God commanded me.  Keep them and do them for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples.”  Deut 4:2-3. Pope Francis:  Families have a right to be able to count on an adequate family policy on the part of public authorities.  At times families suffer terribly when faced with the illness of a loved one they lack access to adequate health care or struggle to find dignified employment. Families suffer from problems related to work, where young people have few possibilities.  AL 44    LSAP 7.  Community resilience and empowerment.   Pray a Lenten prayer. For a successful and peaceful election and that the political parties and we as voters will keep the best interests of the whole country in mind.  Choose an appropriate action.