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Saturday, 15 August 2015 16:09

A bold revolution: The radical response to the Gospel in these times

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helpinghands150How can I become part of the ‘bold revolution’ that is required in our world according to Pope Francis' papal encyclical Laudato Si'? asks Sr Katrina Brill rsj. She shares a daily checklist that helps her focus on sustainability and away from indifference.

I woke up this morning to the launching of the Encyclical on the Environment. Pope Francis did not ‘soft-pedal’ his message but challenged all of us to stop our reckless behaviour for it is “pushing the planet to a perilous breaking point”.

He claimed that we are fast moving to self-destruction and a “bold revolution” is required. No-one escaped his withering criticism – “big Business, energy companies, short-sighted politicians, scurrilous scientists, laissez faire economists, callous Christians, myopic media professionals and indifferent individuals.”

Two questions slowly enveloped my senses. How can I become part of a ‘bold revolution’ and on a scale of 1-10 where would I place myself if the number one symbolised ‘indifferent individual’? I find myself battling with the complexity of it all. Maybe starting with ‘bold revolution’ will help me.

I have participated knowingly in several “bold revolutions”. The obvious one is the Revolution or evolution of Religious Life in my life-time. In hindsight, I am aware that this revolution partly came about because the Vatican II Council Documents expressed a fundamental change in the perception of the Church’s relationship with ‘the World’. Previously, the Church’s self-perception had been largely expressed as being “apart”, separate and isolated from the world.

One of the key documents emerging from the Council was entitled, ‘The Church IN the Modern World’. Soon after the Council, Cardinal Suenens wrote a book entitled ‘The Nun in the Modern World’. This new consciousness of “being IN the modern world” began slowly and at times painfully bringing about a new era of Religious Life that hopefully manifested a different understanding of “holiness/wholeness” and a God of compassion and justice for contemporary issues.

So maybe I can participate in this urgent ‘bold revolution’ regarding the Environment. I think that over the years I have made sporadic efforts with recycling, living simply, planting flowers and bushes, turning off lights, not using air-conditioning (remember I live in New Zealand so not much challenge there!) picking up rubbish on the footpath, not using pesticides or fly spray, not over-doing the heating and looking after random ducklings that nested on our property. However, I have to be honest and say that the needle could probably swing below 5 at times on the ‘’indifferent Scale’ because part of me did not have it all together. I did not sense completely the “new consciousness” the new shift in our view of the world. It is gradually dawning on me now.

‘New consciousness’ is about being ’one with creation’ seeing everything as ‘being in relationship’ and, as our Chapter document states, “we will immerse ourselves more consciously in the evolving mysteries of the universe, earth and humanity”.

So if revolutions are about “immersing ourselves more consciously,” then I am grateful for all the workshops, speakers, articles, books, Josephites, members of other Congregations and groups that are assisting me to see this as the ‘radical response to the Gospel’ (Religious Life) in these times.

It will be this ‘consciousness of being in relationship to everyone and everything’ that will hopefully move me to change how I think, and how I live, especially in the way I respond to consumerism and how this affects others and our earth. I found the following helpful and have placed it on my desk as a way of daily focusing for me:

  • I can choose to focus on ‘balance’ in my life rather than comfort. Do I need it? What is enough?
  • I have power to create beauty today.
  • I can co-operate with another today, rather than turning away through fear.
  • I can choose today to recognise my biases and prejudices and let them go.
  • I can recognise the necessity to see things/people contemplatively with open eyes ‘just as they are’ without the need to change or control them.
  • I shall be “conscious” today in what and where and with whom I purchase goods.
  • I shall be conscious today of how I am disposing of waste and rubbish.
  • I will be aware with gratitude of the fresh water available to me for drinking, showering and washing.
  • I shall join in petitions to my local Council regarding issues that affect the environment in a detrimental way.
  • Gradually a ‘new consciousness of everything being in one relationship’ is affecting changes in my life. I do not think I am anywhere near being a”bold revolutionary of the environment” yet, but hopefully I am ‘in the Beginners’ Class’!

This article by Sr Katrina Brill rsj was first published on 9 July 2015 at the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart website.