Laudato Si is Pope Francis’ powerful and prophetic encyclical aimed to awaken us to the reality that if we do not care about our planet then it will not be able to care for us.
On March 5, the 37th Social Ministry Convocation for the Archdiocese of Baltimore was held at Seton Keough High School. Approximately 300 hundred people were in attendance. Archbishop Lori gave the opening prayer and shared remarks and Dr. Carolyn Woo, President and CEO for Catholic Relief Services, served as keynote speaker.
Both Archbishop Lori and Dr. Woo referred to it while preparing us for the day and offered insight into the problems that society has played in the “Care for God’s Creation” which demands that we, as a society, make changes to “Care for Our Common Home.” Mother Earth is crying out and we need to hearken to her voice!
There is also another voice crying out: the voices of incarcerated citizens who are in need of care as part of God’s creation. As I listened to Archbishop Lori’s remarks, I was reminded that, as a nation, we have more people in prison than any other nation on the planet. We do not rehabilitate them, nor do we prepare them to re-enter society. Those who are lost and forgotten, those disenfranchised citizens, are they not also part of God’s creation?
While visiting Curran-Fromhold prison in Philadelphia, Pope Francis told those gathered that, “Life is a journey along different paths which leave their mark on us. It is [also] painful for a society to turn its back on those lost and forgotten,” he continued. “It is painful when we see prison systems which are not concerned to care for wounds, to soothe pain, to offer new possibilities.” In this Year of Mercy, let us show grace and leave the judgement up to God, just like the Holy Father continues to do by embracing the incarcerated in the United States and all over the world.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:36, “I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Our incarcerated brothers and sisters are in need of clothing, they have nothing but the clothes on their back when they are released. They are sick, suffering from neglect and absence of family and friends. They are in prison and they need us to visit them, not just physically, but in the spirit too.
One of the intercessory prayers at this year’s Social Ministry Convention declared: “Climb the mountain of justice! May our feet never grow weary nor do our hearths grow weak.” Let us care for ALL of God’s creation. May we continue to walk and talk like Jesus during this Year of Mercy.
How does your parish engage the “lost and forgotten” in light of the New Evangelization?
*Note a correction to a Mission Matters announcement published 3/8/16: The Youth Pilgrimage is on March 19th.