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9 simple ways to live Laudato Si'

Marie Anne Torres

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels
Pope Francis wrote Laudato Si’ to inspire us to contemplate nature as God’s creation, care more deeply for our common home, and recognize that our treatment of nature is interconnected with fraternity, justice, and faithfulness to our God and others.
But as much as we might appreciate Laudato Si’, how can we live it in a concrete way? How can we make Laudato Si’ part of our lives — wherever we find ourselves?
The good news is that it’s much simpler than we might think!
As Christians, if we ultimately embrace a call to live more simply, to move away from fast-paced consumerism and throwaway culture, we’ll already be on our way!
As Pope Francis says:
“[St. Francis of Assisi] lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.” (LS 10)
On that note, here are 9 simple ways to live as Laudato Si’ encourages:
 
1. Buy from a thrift shop
Looking for a sweater, purse, hat, or new book? Consider buying from a thrift shop! Not only will you likely be supporting a cause as you shop, you’ll also be continuing the lifespan of an item whose only crime was to be outgrown or unneeded in a particular space. Furthermore, there are some great, high quality items to be found at thrift shops, at a fraction of the cost of regular department or retail store prices. Many of my friends (and myself included) have made great finds at thrift stores!
 
2. Donate to a thrift shop
Have your kids outgrown their clothes? Do you have sports equipment you don’t need? A chair that takes up space? Don’t throw these things away! Give them to a thrift shop instead. Thrift stores are always looking for donations, and it’s much better than just leaving these (often perfectly good) items on a curb to wind up in a landfill. Take the extra step to donate your items, and engage in the “spirit of sharing” mentioned in Laudato Si’.
 
3. Instead of takeout, eat at home
Takeout might be convenient and fun, but in truth it generates a lot of waste! Between food packaging and wrapping, the plastic bag it gets carried in, and even the plastic forks and knives that come with it, often after a takeout meal, we’re left with a knee-high pile of junk to be thrown out. If possible, consider eating at home, or preparing a meal-to-go in advance, with food already in your kitchen. This will save the planet, and many times, your wallet too!
 
4. Ask yourself if you really need it
Laudato Si’ calls us to “replace consumption with sacrifice” and to “gradually move away from what I want to what the world needs”. In this way, we can be freed from greed and compulsion. Before buying an item in a store, or from Amazon, ask yourself if you really need it. Search your heart and examine where the true desire for this item comes from! If the item is not totally necessary, choose to leave it on the shelf instead of adding it to the things you already posses.
 
5. Plant a vegetable garden
Planting a vegetable garden can be a wonderful activity to do with kids, as a family, or simply as a new hobby! It’s also a great way to cultivate our love and respect for nature — and how, through God’s infinitely good design, it provides for us. Consider growing tomatoes, peas, or even basic herbs in your backyard or outdoor space. If you live in an apartment, no problem! There are plenty of veggies you can grow indoors too. BONUS: When it’s time to harvest, share what you’ve grown with friends, family, and neighbours!
 
6. Consider zero-waste versions of commonly purchased products
Many household items for kitchen, cleaning, and personal hygiene can be swapped out for alternatives that won’t need to be thrown away right after use or simply when their plastic containers run out of the product within. Consider doing away with throwaway culture by opting for laundry strips or powder, beeswax food wrap, cotton or bamboo paper towels, reusable coffee filters, or dish soap bars — to name a few items you can easily change!
 
7. Go for a walk, run, or sit outside
In Laudato Si’, we are called to contemplate nature with as much love and admiration as St. Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis writes:
“I believe that St. Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically...He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself...Whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them ‘to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason.’” (LS 10-11)
Spend time outdoors, whether walking, running, or just sitting, in the spirit of St. Francis, praising God for each of His creatures, for the goodness and beauty of all He has made.
 
8. Encourage a friend
Already versed in any of these ways to live Laudato Si’? Or have you started doing anything else not mentioned in this article? Encourage your friends, family, and communities to join you as you try to live in more harmonious communion with our common home. Invite others to “till and keep” the garden of the world (cf. Genesis 2:15) with you for future generations. Let’s work together in fraternity, as Pope Francis encourages us!
 
9. Pray for the planet
When you have a moment, pray for our Earth so humanity may experience — as Saint John Paul II called it, and which Laudato Si’ re-highlights — a global ecological conversion. Pray that all peoples may recognize our Creator in everything created. That they may see nature as an expression of God's glory and not a resource to plunder. In fact, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has launched a 40-day campaign of prayers based on the Laudato Si' goals, beginning October 4. Consider joining the movement in praying for the universal Church, in light of this encyclical.
 
As Pope Francis emphasizes, “All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents” (LS 14). Whether you choose to adopt one of these actions, or all nine, your part is an important step in living out the call for God’s people expressed in Laudato Si’.
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