PRAISE BE TO YOU, MY LORD
During the week of 13-20 June 2015 twelve La Salle Academy students (Class of 2016 and 2017) and two faculty members from Campus Ministry traveled to the Glenmary Group Volunteer Program in Grainger County, Tennessee. There they volunteered to serve those living in need in Union and Grainger counties, native Appalachians and Latino farm workers.
Alison Altshuler, Matt Bacon, Madeline Lombardo, Maddie Mahoney, Rebecca Malachowski, Evan McGreen, Will Messner, Dylan O’Donnell, Kaitlin Porter, Peter Rouse, Stef Salisbury, Tom Vessella, and Faculty Chaperones: Maggie Naughton and Matt Daly
During that same week, on Thursday, 18 June 2015, Pope Francis released his long-awaited encyclical on the environment. His words appear to have been spoken to this group of Lasallians: “The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. Here I want to recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share. Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.”
Toppa Joppa, Tennessee
To build a common home—the Lasallians on the trip endeavored to help those in need to have access to a fuller life through the building of a ramp for the handicapped.
To address the sufferings of the excluded—they provided extra schoolwork help for and offered fun-games-and love to the children of Latino tomato harvesters.
Pope Francis encourages all peoples: “We are always capable of going out of ourselves towards the other. Unless we do this, other creatures will not be recognized for their true worth; we are unconcerned about caring for things for the sake of others; we fail to set limits on ourselves in order to avoid the suffering of others or the deterioration of our surroundings. Disinterested concern for others, and the rejection of every form of self-centeredness and self-absorption, are essential if we truly wish to care for our brothers and sisters and for the natural environment. These attitudes also attune us to the moral imperative of assessing the impact of our every action and personal decision on the world around us. If we can overcome individualism, we will truly be able to develop a different lifestyle and bring about significant changes in society.”
During this past week, these 12 young and 2 slightly older Lasallians went out of themselves towards the other; they rejected self-centeredness and self-absorption; they adopted a different lifestyle (electronic devise free with eyes and ears freed to be opened to community and to the natural beauties of the environment); and, they returned knowing that they can make a difference in the lives of others.
“Praise be to you, my Lord”
With Pope Francis we pray in the words of one of the final parts of his encyclical:
A prayer for our earth
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.