5. You shall encourage an individual, ecclesial, and communal conversion
Here, I would like to offer Christians a few suggestions for an ecological spirituality grounded in the convictions of our faith, since the teachings of the Gospel have direct consequences for our way of thinking, feeling and living. More than in ideas or concepts as such, I am interested in how such a spirituality can motivate us to a more passionate concern for the protection of our world.
We have reached the fifth principle in our decalogue. For almost a year we have been reflecting on our life, our way of living it while respecting those around us - especially the most vulnerable, poor and excluded - and with a common cause. Before moving onto the remaining five points, we would like to dwell on the need for personal, communal and ecclesial conversion if we are to put into practice a new way of life that is more attentive to the needs of others and of the planet. We propose a style that is at the root of the message and life of Jesus to bring the Kingdom closer and to respond to God's vision for humanity and the earth.
At the start of his public life, after 30 years of silence, Jesus invites to conversion those who come to Him on the shores of the lake in Galilee.
But, what is this conversion Jesus invites us to?
The Church presents conversion to us as a return to Jesus. A way to center our thoughts, our will, our commitments, and our desires on Him. But our discouragement, our incoherence, and our fears too. In the Gospel, Jesus reminds those who listen to him that God's reign, the world in the image He created it, is already within each person and we need only look inside ourselves again and accept the call to a new life.
The life he offers us is that of the beatitudes, an upside down world where people who do not have anything or are despondent, are instead exalted, lifted up from the dust. Where the rich, the powerful, the proud are humiliated. A world where tenderness, love, hospitality, compassion and forgiveness always prevail. A fraternal world, governed by justice and charity, where peace is the hallmark. These attitudes show a heart converted to the Good News of Jesus.
In the encyclical Laudato si', Pope Francis encourages an ecological conversion.: "Here, I would like to offer Christians a few suggestions for an ecological spirituality grounded in the convictions of our faith, since the teachings of the Gospel have direct consequences for our way of thinking, feeling and living. More than in ideas or concepts as such, I am interested in how such a spirituality can motivate us to a more passionate concern for the protection of our world." (LS 216). A conversion of deep roots and visible fruits: mobilising us to generously care and full of tenderness towards all of Creation, which implies gratitude and gratuity. The loving awareness of our connection with the rest of creatures, of being "joined in a splendid universal communion." (LS 220).
In order to be more effective and authentic, this conversion must transcend our own person and reach the community and the whole Church. Communal conversion means making a joint journey towards an encounter with Jesus, to join his person and his plan to humanise life. It means growth in simplicity, hope and spirit of service. The fruits of this communal conversion will be hospitality, respect for others and for nature and the construction of societies that breathe cordiality, inclusion and the defence of human rights. We have a place at the common table, the feast of unity, the joy of friendship. That is the mission of the Church.
In order to fully participate in that common table, the best festive attire is conversion. Always trusting that, at our side, God and Jesus himself guide us and accompany us with their light.
Voices that claim...
The Mosetén are an indigenous group who settle in modern day Bolivia, in the department of La Paz and Beni. The region stands out for its fertile alluvial zones alongside the river and the mountainous areas covered by forests. Its population is mostly peasant and lives on resources that are increasingly threatened by agricultural colonization and indiscriminate logging.
Their testimony is similar to that of so many others who fight for their rights and survival:
"I am very hurt by what is happening to my people, we have been very hurt by the violation of our rights, by how we have mistreated one another as if we were enemies, the settlers and the indigenous people. We are one, capable of building a project for the future that unifies us all."
I believe that the idea of development that we have is a dignified life, a free life in our territory in harmony with others. I believe that we have the right to do it, we have the capacity to do something to develop the future, and leave something good and healthy for our children. We call on the church to protect life because, by knowing, defending and accompanying our people, we also defend life of our children, of the future.
We hopefully hang on to this, because it invites us to fight.
Nun from Asunción
They claim: OUR SIBLINGS, THE POPE, GOD.
Our siblings, fallen into poverty due to the loss of their jobs and unemployment benefits, cannot cover their most basic needs. They shout at us from the corners of the slums, where they remain "invisible" to the eyes of the Society. With some of them I meet on Tuesdays at " The Creeper House" (La Enredadera), a house in ruins, squatted (with the permission of the owner) by a group of 15-M, which shelters a number of subgroups of the neighbourhood. They organize themselves among themselves for different purposes; There's the "Tetuan Food Bank", who look for food and then distribute it; the "Anti-evictions"; the "Invisibles" who accompany the needy before the social workers. These hardly cover their needs and their job is to go to the City Hall (their efforts are currently working); and various cultural groups that act freely.
The Pope cries out to us; go out to the peripheries! Do not remain in your circle of life and action, as if that were the only thing that concerns you. There are many people who need you, many injustices to combat, many human rights to achieve and you are called to take that step; as individuals, as Church and as Christian Communities...
...God calls us from the depths of our consciences to put into practice the most important commandment He gives us: LOVE YOUR BROTHER AS YOURSELF - LOVE OTHERS AS I HAVE LOVED YOU. This commandment takes us far away from our personal interests; it leads us to worry about "The Other," and He sent us His Son Jesus Christ to show us the way. How did Jesus live and act? HE WENT ABOUT DOING GOOD.
Leaving our country, we immediately hear the voices of our African brothers, who cry out of hunger and the wars that we, the countries of the North, cause them. We sell them weapons, seize large tracts of their land to plant large crops that do not give them profit, but instead expel them from their vital land. We also hear the voices of those who have had to leave their country to seek refuge in ours and we shut the door on them, we erect fences for them, we expel them "in the heat of the moment"...
Maybe it is our time now to raise our voices and claim for more humanity and less egoism on a personal, national and ecclesiastical level.
We cannot remain indifferent to these cries. We are called to a profound and sincere conversion, both personally and as Church, leading us to renounce many of our comforts, privileges, assurances and to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, loving and doing Good wherever we are needed.
What can you do
(or stop doing)?
1.- A transformation of mental habits and patterns of behaviour, production and consumption is necessary. To do this, a personal compromise is needed, "which entails the recognition of our errors, sins, faults and failures, and leads to heartfelt repentance and desire to change." (LS 218). The return to a simpler lifestyle implies a change of direction: the "ecological conversion" to which Pope Francis appeals (cf. LS 216-221). Therefore, conversion must be permanent and total.
2.- Articulate support networks and solidarity communities capable of sustaining individual life choices that are far from simple: "Los individuos aislados pueden perder su capacidad y su libertad para superar la lógica de la razón instrumental y terminan a merced de un consumismo sin ética y sin sentido social y ambiental. A problemas sociales se responde con redes comunitarias, no con la mera suma de bienes individuales. La conversión ecológica que se requiere para crear un dinamismo de cambio duradero es también una conversión comunitaria." (LS 219). New lifestyles must go beyond the personal sphere of life. They must extend to the communal, ecclesial and social dimension and lead to changes in socio-economic, political and cultural systems and structures. Personal change is not enough (although it is indispensable since without personal change there is no global change), it is necessary to act on these three levels in a progressive and circular manner.
3.- Conversion involves a new relationship with things, with people, with nature and with the problems of one's own society and the world. It involves overcoming the culture of indifference and self-referentiality and recovering the ability to care for one's neighbour, the sensitivity to the suffering of people and solidarity. It involves discovering the richness of diversity, moving from assistance to social justice, seeking to eliminate the causes of poverty.
4.- Since the current model of consumption is socially and environmentally unsustainable, it is necessary to participate in projects that, on a small scale, test a more sustainable form of consumption. Each of these projects is born from very different objectives, but they have in common their richness and imagination when it comes to pointing out possible solutions to the problems that the current consumption model generates. They share deep roots in collective, communal or solidarity processes, and the propositive culture necessary for the change of model and conversion to become effective. Among the communal initiatives in which we can currently participate, these stand out:
- Barter markets, networks of exchange or social currencies, time banks...
- Consumer cooperatives or groups, community orchards, seed banks, community composting...
- Public space and collective housing. Sustainable rural communities, co-housing, shared housing, etc.
- Alternative and sustainable tourism. Holidays and home exchange.
- Cars. Carpooling, carsharing, social car systems...
- Bicycles. Shared bicycle, self-repair workshops, school bicycle-bus, critical bicycle, etc.
- Community spaces in the neighbourhoods. Spaces that house all kinds of projects, promoted by people in the neighbourhood who set up disused spaces, rent them or ask the administration for them.
- Finance. Savings cooperatives for ethical and social projects, ethical banking. Self-financed communities or common funds for loans. Crowdfunding, microfinance or collective financing.
- Cooperatives that generate or commercialize electricity obtained through renewable methods.
Breastfeeding and breeding groups.
- ICT and programming. Collaborative production of software and networks for collaborative productions, from a car to a documentary to music, series or video games.
- Telephony and internet. Initiatives to agree to share wireless internet connection in an open, neutral and free network.
- Social markets. Networks for the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services constituted by companies and entities of social and solidarity economy together with consumers.
- Exchange shops, library of things (cosateca)...
- Integral conversion. Participation in various community initiatives of food, work, housing, education and even health.
You will find people committed to a different way of doing things with whom we can share our values as a community, working together towards a new society.
Encourage yourself to change and share your changes in community!
In the silence of this new day,
I come to ask for peace, wisdom, and strength.
Today, I wish to look at the world
With eyes beaming with love.
To be understanding, meek, and wise.
To see your children beyond appearances
As You see them yourself.
Close my ears to all calumny.
Guard my tongue from all malice.
May only thoughts that bless
Dwell in my spirit.
May I be so kind and so full of joy,
That all who come near me may feel your presence.
Clothe me with your beauty, Lord
That throughout this day I may reveal You.