Ecological spirituality connects our universities to the sacredness of the natural world, rooted in God’s love for creation. Ecological spirituality awakens us to the seasons of the Earth, the beauty of plants and animals, and the diverse majesty of our land. Goal six in Pope Francis’ Journey calls on our universities to live an ecological spirituality.
A fruit of greater university attention to ecological spirituality is a renewed sense of awe over God’s creation. Experiences of the sacred in nature reduces our daily inattention to the trees, grasses, plants, birds, and insects around us. The Catholic sacramental tradition links the primal elements of water, wind, fire, and Earth to the community’s most profound moments of worship. At a personal level, the Ignatian Examen draws one into a prayerful awareness of God’s presence in all things.
A Roman Catholic university that accepts the call to deepen ecological spirituality within and among its learning community makes a place for the spiritual riches of the Catholic tradition. But not only the Catholic tradition. Pope Francis directs us to receive with respect the rich spiritual traditions of other Christian communities and non-Christian religions. This is especially of the Indigenous People of the world. These encounters call for our sincere reconciliation with communities and lands that bear the brutal legacy of colonization. When our universities build bridges of reconciliation, we contribute to the healing of the Earth and of human society.
Look over the LSG 6 outcomes and action examples. You will see items your university may already be doing and begin imaging future possibilities for your university’s Laudato Si Action Plan.
Lizbeth Diaz Cruz
Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla
Action Examples Chart
PRAYER AND WORSHIP
Season of Creation
RELIGIONS AND NATURE
LAUDATO SI' REFLECTION
Offer community members an opportunity to beginning each morning by praying with the Canticle of the Creatures.
Introduce student, faculty, administrators, and staff to an Ignatian Ecological Examen.
Make trained spiritual guides available to help community members follow a process of personal acknowledgement and reconciliation over harms done to God’s creation.
Hold an annual Feast of St. Francis Mass; include a petition for creation care and nonviolence in all worship services .
Establish an annual Earth Day worship service.
Host an outdoor prayer service with the community and/or the wider public.
Develop an annual Season of Creation spiritual practice.
Co-host a Season of Creation event integrated with Catholic Nonviolent Days of Action events with a local parish.
Coordinate Season of Creation events integrated with Catholic Nonviolence Days of Action events with diocesan activities and local Bishop.
Support a student group to attend a meeting of the Parliament of World Religion.
Invite a local leader of a non-Christian religious community to speak on the meaning of nature in their faith tradition.
Hold fora for all student religious groups to discuss creation care and nonviolence in their faith traditions.
Invite a leader of an Indigenous community to speak on the meaning of nature in their spiritual tradition.
Learn a short prayer in an Indigenous language and discover the relationship between word and Earth.
Support a student group to attend a public celebration and prayer gathering of an Indigenous community.
Bless a natural space on campus as a Laudato Si’ Garden for outdoor reflection and prayer.
Create a local community-based Laudato Si’ study and prayer guide.
Install creation care signage with quotes from Laudato Si at strategic nature points on campus; promote a local nature restoration project and link to spiritual restoration.
Hold an annual student ecospirituality retreat in an off-campus nature area; hold similar retreats for faculty, administrators, and staff.
Hold a Laudato Si’ eco-social justice event during ‘Catholic NonViolent Action Days’.
Design a retreat method that enables the entire university community to reflect on the meaning of Pope Francis’ 7-Year Journey for the mission of the institution.