By Father Charles Fladung
Father Charles Fladung, pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Keota and St. Mary Parish in Sigourney, shares the following reflection, written earlier this month:
I stopped along Highway 92 west of the Harper intersection and took a photo to thank our Knights of Columbus for cleaning up the ditches. The bags of rubbish and tires collected in the photo tell quite a story of a basic disregard others have for our countryside. Wow! Seeing that pile of trash reminded me of an encyclical letter “Laudato Si,’mi’ Signore” (translation — Praise be to you, my Lord”) that Pope Francis has written: On Care for our Common Home.
“In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. ‘Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.’
“This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she ‘groans in travail’ (Rom. 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.”
Before this encyclical letter was written, the wife of President Lyndon Johnson, (Nov. 22, 1963–Jan. 20, 1969) Lady Bird Johnson, appealed to our country to “Keep America Beautiful.” She was green before green was cool. She said, “Ours is a blessed and beautiful land. But much of it has been tarnished. What can you do? Look around you: at the littered roadside; at the polluted stream; the decayed city center. We need urgently to restore the beauty of our land.”
This is a responsibility we all share: the need to treat God’s creation with respect.