Archive for the ‘Laudato Si’ Category

Every small space is significant, and part of ‘our common home’

May 23, 2020

By Margarita Byron fcJ

A few days ago I was reading the daily email from Richard Rohr where he quoted from the theologian Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam:

“In the second chapter of the Gospel of John, there is a verse that the disciples attribute to Jesus as he drives out money lenders and sellers of sheep and cattle from the temple of Jerusalem: “Zeal for your house will consume me” [John 2:17). Prior to that verse Jesus tells those who are despoiling the holy place: “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” [John 2:16]. . . .

Today, we could, and probably we should, understand this ‘house’ as our common planetary home. ‘ “

Here in London we have just completely renovated our house – literally, the building – so as to make it functional for our new spirituality centre and as a home for the FCJ sisters living and ministering from there.  We have tried to construct with a ‘zeal’ that is economical, apostolic and ecological.

And now we are looking at our very small and very precious garden space.  This small parcel of land is ‘part of our common planetary home’.  How shall we use it and ‘share’ it?

Well, for those who spend time in our retreat centre, it will be available to them – a little haven in our London streets.  Hopefully people walking along the road will be able to see some of its colour and smell various perfumes.  The people living in the flats to our east  will enjoy the contribution we are adding to their efforts or create a flower patch in a corner of their asphalted entrance area.

But, not only will visitors enjoy our garden.  We’re making sure there will be plants that will encourage butterflies and bees to find refuge and safety in the garden.   Water for birds, seed when necessary.  And care that every thing will flourish as far as possible so that we may even have plants that we can give away.

And, of course we ourselves will delight in the beauty we can see, will gather flowers occasionally, will enjoy the herbs that we will grow in raised beds along the side of the building and will rejoice in the peace and creativity that our common home is offering us.

Practical Ideas for more Sustainable Living

May 20, 2020

Practical Ideas for Ecological Living

Over the last number of years there have been many initiatives to prompt us to adjust our lifestyle and develop more sustainable living habits.  If you have already ditched plastic bottles and started taking a reusable cup to coffee shops, here are some possible next steps, along with my thoughts on how easy or difficult they are to achieve.

1) Ecological Cleaning products

This is really easy to do. there are loads of ecological cleaning products available that are really good – some are available in supermarkets, but you can also buy online. We have tried loads of different brands so if you want insider reviews message me for details!

You can also buy these products in bulk thereby  reducing plastic packaging and the mileage that your products are travelling!

2) Bamboo Toothbrush and Plastic-free toothpaste

Again this is really easy. I have found a really good brand of Bamboo Toothbrush that lasts really well, so although they are more expensive you don’t need to replace them as often. It took a bit of getting used to, but after a week or so it just seemed completely normal.

I have also tried plastic free toothpaste and toothpowder… hhhhmmmm. Ok, but not the same! The paste is better than the powder in my opinion! Now I have found toothtabs – I think they are great – and brill for travelling (not that we are doing that at the moment!!!)

If you don’t feel ready for that, Colgate claim to recycle ALL toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes. (I am sceptical but I guess if you post them back it puts pressure on them!)

3) Home composting

I don’t know why everybody with a garden doesn’t do this. We have a box in our kitchen for all UNCOOKED vegetable waste – peelings, apple cores, flowers etc as well as adding coffee grinds, teabags and eggshells. The box came from Ikea and seals really well so it doesn’t smell or get fruitflies. We empty it into the garden composter and 6 months later we get wonderful nutrient-rich soil.It doesn’t attract rats or cause any problem with smells etc. Just some worms inside! 

4)Ditch throwaway wipes and kitchen paper

Rags are the way forward! Any old sheet, towel, tshirt etc that isn’t good enough for the charity shop. Tear it into smallish rectangles and keep a bag in the kitchen. They are great for taking grease off pans, wiping up spills and doing all the things that wipes would. Then either wash them (if they aren’t greasy) or bin them – at least they had another use before they reached your bin, and they saved you buying more disposable junk!

by Lynne Baron fcJ for the FCJ Young adult Network event Celebrating Laudato Si Week

Eucharistic Shopping – reflections from lockdown

May 20, 2020

Contribution by Helen Jones for ‘Celebrating Laudato Si’ Week

Thinking back to my upbringing, my mother was always very much “in charge” of our household – cooking was her business and the kitchen was her office.  We did not venture into it as she did things her way (she is German!) Perhaps this is why my relationship with the kitchen had been ambivalent at best.

Lockdown has changed me.  The seeds were sown with a talk by Sr Margaret Atkins OSA from Boarbank Hall in Cumbria at Adoremus in 2018.  She held food as central to our understanding of Eucharist.  The more I have reflected on this the deeper it has taken me.  The providence of food – our relationship with nature: factory farming (I was shocked as a primary school child when we had a trip to a battery hen farm), genetically modified grain, tomatoes, rice… where does it all end?; how we prepare food, how we gather to eat, the communication over a meal – a potentially unifying, healing event, inclusivity of all, the gratitude of provision, the strength in companionship, the beauty in sharing of our bounty.

I have two teenage sons at home constant eaters.  Cooking for them when I have a full-time job and unsocial hours was a chore and as such, I had to rely on snacks and ready meals more often than I would have liked. Now in lockdown, we eat together: breakfast, lunch and supper.  We plan our shopping list days in advance for click and collect, we utilise leftovers constantly, the boys cook too. 

Our relationship with food has changed.  We are aware of how precious certain items are – flour, eggs, baking powder, pasta, rice, passata. We are aware of how easily we took things for granted – we didn’t value what we had, we expected everything at all times –seasonal adaptations and tastes had merged as we could get everything anytime from anywhere. Now we use local suppliers, we are more inventive, and we ensure fewer air miles and packaging as a result.

Our recycling has decreased, our food waste is more peelings than the waste of uneaten ready meals and our enjoyment of mealtime has increased – we are in communion with each other at the table, sharing the chores, serving and being served, breaking bread together, happier and healthier.

That relationship between what we have on our doorstep, how it is produced, how we consume it and how it makes us feel must remain as it is now: careful, respectful, giving us time to “be”, giving us our time of gratitude as we experience physical nourishment, spiritual nourishment and healing in coming together in table fellowship knowing our food has been produced with love and care.

by Helen Jones

Pastoral Associate

Liverpool South Pastoral Area

Reducing Plastic Pollution – an urgent cry of the earth

May 19, 2020

Contribution by Rebecca Buckley for the FCJ Young Adult Network

At my school here in the UAE, we have recently spent some time during our PSHE style lessons looking at one of the biggest issues facing the planet and wildlife (especially in our oceans) currently- plastic pollution; so I thought I would focus on this.

Millions of animals are killed by plastics every year, and nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to have been affected by plastics. Most of the deaths to animals are caused by entanglement or starvation but microplastics have also been found in more than 100 aquatic species. Tests have also confirmed liver and cell damage and disruptions to reproductive systems in some species.

I asked all students in my form class to make a ‘plastic pledge’ which involved them suggesting one way that they could reduce their plastic use in their everyday lives, and aiming to follow it.

Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Buy a reusable water bottle instead of buying disposable plastic bottles
  • Stop using cling film and switch to aluminium foil instead
  • Stop using bottled soaps and shower gels and switch to soap bars
  • Buy a reusable coffee cup and take it to coffee shops to fill up instead of buying a disposable one (many outlets here offer a discount if you bring your own reusable cup)
  • Say no to plastic straws when out at restaurants/cafes/bars and only use paper ones at home, if you need to
  • Choose the ‘no cutlery’ option when ordering takeaway so you don’t get disposable plastic cutlery (both of the main delivery providers out here offer this option)
  • Choose the ‘no plastic packaging’ option when ordering groceries (some of the companies out here that offer delivery services for groceries offer this option so that all food items such as fruit/veg come loose
  • If you have to use disposable plastic, recycle it as much as you can (most schools/complexes have recycle bins that you can take your plastic waste to)
  • Stop using plastic earbuds and use either reusable ones or just tissue instead
  • Don’t buy cosmetic products that contain glitter or microbeads (check the packaging or buy from companies that don’t use them in any of their products, e.g. Lush)
  • Buy reusable shopping bags and take them with you to the shops

My own pledge from this list was the coffee cup one, and I have stuck to it! I have also taken on a few of the other pledges, such as switching to soap bars and aluminium foil- even just one small switch like this from every household can make a huge difference. Our school has also recently banned disposable water cups and no longer stocks them at any of the water fountains within the school grounds, so students and staff must bring their own reusable bottles instead.

Laudato Si – some good news stories regarding our beautiful environment

July 6, 2015

It is likely that each of us is aware of small local gestures of love and care towards the environment and to those most immediately dependent on it. In the recent encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis reminds us that each individual must play their part in addressing climate change. He calls on governments and multinationals to take a lead, and he warns against ‘a false or superficial ecology which bolsters complacency'[LS 59].

Pope Francis also acknowledges that there are positive steps, some of which are significant and which give testimony to the fact that positive intervention is a possibility.

In some countries, there are positive examples of environmental improvement: rivers, polluted for decades, have been cleaned up; native woodlands have been restored; landscapes have been beautified thanks to environmental renewal projects; beautiful buildings have been erected; advances have been made in the production of non-polluting energy and in the improvement of public transportation. These achievements do not solve global problems, but they do show that men and women are still capable of intervening positively. For all our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity and care cannot but well up within us, since we were made for love. [LS 58]

I would like to pick out just three recent good news stories that have appeared in the last week here in the UK – maybe you have others that you could add.



‘By the end of 2016, the company will establish a Lego Sustainable Materials Centre at the Lego headquarters in Billund, Denmark, with the aim to be manufacturing both the Lego toys and its packaging in sustainable materials by 2030.’ [cnet]

A more sustainable toy – Lego announces its intention to get rid of petroleum based plastics

Toys such as Lego are essentially luxury goods. The market for them is driven by branding and advertising. The decision to make a radical move towards sustainability probably indicates not only increasingly responsible manufacturing targets but also a growing pressure from consumers to buy sustainable products.


A tiny hamlet in Lancashire, NW UK has won a significant battle in its campaign to prevent fracking in the local area. Little Plumpton has just 13 residents. In an area where employment is limited and fracking could boost the economy, locals and others from across the region have mounted a determined campaign which has at least temporarily halted the proposed site.

The Chief executive of the Lancashire Chamber for Commerce, supported by Cuadrilla said “In turning down this proposal, councillors appear to have ruled with their hearts, rather than their heads, and ignored the reasoned arguments of those with genuine expertise in this industry. She said it was “bad news for local businesses”. The ‘no’ campaign has largely centered around the environmental impact of the proposed site.


Naomi Klein, a leading social activist and critic of capitalism will join Cardinal Turcson in leading a conference on the climate hosted by the Vatican.’Pope Francis recruits Naomi Klein in climate change battle’

This collaborative approach to the debate, and the engagement between the moral, ethical, spiritual and scientific aspects can only be positive. The debate on the environment ‘cries out for a moral voice’ [N Klein]

 “The fact that they invited me indicates they’re not backing down from the fight. A lot of people have patted the pope on the head, but said he’s wrong on the economics. I think he’s right on the economics,” she said, referring to Pope Francis’s recent publication of an encyclical on the environment. [N Klein]

She went on to say that ‘the pope’s position as a “moral voice” in the world – and leader of 1.2 billion Catholics – gives him the unique ability to unite campaigners fighting for a common goal.’.

Laudato Si – Climate change and security

July 2, 2015

In the encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis repeatedly calls us to become aware not only of the immediate consequences of environmental degradation – deforestation, loss of habitats, etc. but also of the repercussions on the global community. In the paragraph quoted below he reminds us of the potential consequences of further multinational control of water resources.

Greater scarcity of water will lead to an increase in the cost of food and the various products which depend on its use. Some studies warn that an acute water shortage may occur within a few decades unless urgent action is taken. The environmental repercussions could affect billions of people; it is also conceivable that the control of water by large multinational businesses may become a major source of conflict in this century.[LS 31]

I read an article recently which looks at the main findings of ‘A New Climate for Peace‘ – an independent report commissioned by G7 members. The report refers to climate change as “the ultimate threat multiplier” in fragile situations, and looks at how related issues such as food insecurity, migration and competition for water can leave fragile states and regimes unable to provide for their citizens.

International and national security is very much on the political agenda, and the report acknowledges that there are multiple factors involved in any conflict, but it also recognises the significant impact of food and water insecurity in conflict.

Laudato Si – Addressing the throw-away culture

June 24, 2015

pc-dumpIn the next few weeks I invite us to have a look as some parts of Laudato Si to consider areas of personal conversion that each one of us is called to. Pope Francis reminds us that awareness enables us to discover what can be done.

Following a period of irrational confidence in progress and human abilities, some sectors of society are now adopting a more critical approach. We see increasing sensitivity to the environment and the need to protect nature, along with a growing concern, both genuine and distressing, for what is happening to our planet. Let us review, however cursorily, those questions which are troubling us today and which we can no longer sweep under the carpet. Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it. LS19

Pope Francis invites us to reflect on our current situation so as to allow the suffering of the world to become our own suffering.

One area that is addressed in the encyclical Laudato Si, is that of our throw-away society.

We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet, but it must be said that only limited progress has been made in this regard. LS22

Change is certainly needed on a macro level, with industry and governments playing a key role. However we are reminded that the individual cannot abdicate responsibility and there are small lifestyle choices that each of us can make.

Perhaps as a practical step each one of us might consider the waste produced in our households each week. Are there choices that we can make with regard to food, clothing, transport etc that might reduce our personal consumption of the earths resources? Here’s are just a few simple questions that might provoke reflection:

  • Do we buy food with a lot of packaging?
  • Do we repair or dispose of damaged goods?
  • Do we compost or send to landfill?
  • Is all recyclable waste separated in our house?
  • Are we overly influenced by fashions – clothing, technology, etc?

The video addresses the question of manufacturing in a way that has less environmental impact.

Laudato Si – To begin our reflection

June 22, 2015

It is worth watching all of this presentation if you havent already, but in particular I invite you to watch Prof Schellnhuber from 1:00:00 – 1:18:50. (Much of the video is in Italian but the interventions, including Prof Schellnhuber, are in English)

It is not poverty that destroys the environment, it is wealth, consumption and waste.

[Prof.John Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute]