If nonstop media coverage didn’t tip you off to the fact that Pope Francis released an encyclical entitled ‘Laudato Si’…..well….now you know. The frenzy indicates nothing short of a Right v. Left Pope Francis tug-of-war.
For those who don’t see themselves as the ‘green’ type, this encyclical can be a bit overwhelming. But regardless of your views on climate change or the ideal economic system, Pope’s letter is full of things all Catholics can get behind. While the world debates, here are 10 ways you can rock the encyclical:
10. Take shorter showers.
By all means, please continue to shower. But singing through Taylor Swift’s ENTIRE album may use an excessive amount of water. Shower length isn’t a moral issue per se (no need to obsess about it), but maybe you can offer up this little sacrifice for someone who needs prayers. See #8 for suggestions. [Check out Section 28 of ‘Laudato Si.’]
9. Reduce your screen time.
Pope Francis says we have fallen into a ‘technocratic paradigm.’ It’s ok if you don’t know what that means. But put your phone and selfie stick in the other room to kick back for a good old fashioned bonfire with family and friends. Trust us, the s’mores taste better when they’re left un-grammed (meaning: don’t interrupt mallow roasting to post a pic on instagram). [Section 106]
8. Take time every day for prayer.
Pray for those killed or traumatized by violence, especially persecuted Christians in the Middle East and victims of the church shooting in South Carolina. Being perpetually plugged-in does not make us invincible or immortal. Some quiet time in the morning and at night is great for the soul. Pope Francis also suggests saying a prayer of thanks before and after meals. [Section 227]
7. Clean your plate.
This entails not eating so much that you can’t. eat. another. bite. Moderation in all things. Although it’s true that the food you scrape into the trash would never actually have been sent to starving children in Africa, we can still work on practicing moderation and temperance. And really, who doesn’t love leftover pizza for breakfast?! [Section 50]
6. Try growing a vegetable garden, planting a tree, watering the flowers.
Not because going green is the latest fad, but because the world is beautiful (and homegrown carrots are delicious). Besides, fresh air does everyone good. [Section 215]
5. Visit Mrs. Smith (aka: your elderly neighbor).
Pope Francis is right that we often forget about society’s weak and vulnerable. How can we care about trees and wild animals if we neglect those in our own communities….this is called the principle of subsidiarity. Sweet Mrs. Smith is lonely. Why don’t you stop in for a cup of tea? [Section 52]
4. Always choose joy.
Pope Francis says, “not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship. An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness.” Read: If you’re a Christian, don’t be a grump. People notice joy. [Section 230]
It may sound old-fashioned, but it’s a great way to get your priorities straight, and to curb a selfish attitude towards money. Every month, choose a different charity and donate 10% of your income as a consistent reminder that there are others more in need. [Section 231]
2. Walk or bike instead of driving (within reason — no need to be a hero).
You already know the health and environmental benefits, so I’ll skip that part. Hint: it might be a good time to work on #9, 8, and 5 too! [Section 153]
1. Gather with your family.
Pope Francis reminds us that they are the core unit of society. Family is where we learn to love, to be generous, to work hard, to think freely, and to follow role models. Coincidentally, it’s almost Father’s Day. So, go spend time with good ole dad! [Section 142]