Tag: Society of St Francis

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Do Justice: Justice is Action

Minister General for the Society of St Francis, Brother Christopher John, writes about environmental justice.

Franciscans are rightly concerned with the needs of the environment in which we live. Francis might have turned into the saint of birdbaths in popular thought, but his approach to creation was much richer than that simple image. He affirmed the value of creation and saw that God entered the world in human form in the humility of frail human flesh. And he recognised too that God continues to dwell among us in the bread and wine of Christ’s body and blood. The world we live in is a sacramental encounter with the divine. Likewise, Clare writes to Agnes of Prague that by gazing on the figure of Christ on a painted crucifix, considering and contemplating ever more deeply that image painted on wood, one is transformed by the divine.

The things of our physical world are important; in other words, “matter matters.”

Justice is a rich concept in biblical terms. More than the punishment of wrongdoing, it means giving people their rights, and especially to those most vulnerable.

If we bring environment and justice together as environmental justice, Franciscans have a powerful lens to look at the world. We love and care for the material things of creation, since they are for us signs of the divine presence. But we also hear the voices of the suffering. The poor, the marginalised, the oppressed peoples of the world. Just as we hear these human voices, we also need to hear the voices of the whole created order crying out for justice because the voices of the rivers, lakes and forests and so on, these are the voices of the vulnerable.    

But justice requires more than just listening. The biblical phrase is to “do justice”; justice is action. One group who are very active in environmental justice is the Franciscan NGO at the UN, Franciscans International, who take the voices of the vulnerable (of humans – and of all creation) and let these voices speak in the UN gatherings where policies can be set and programmes initiated.”

Our best witnesses to the cry of the environment are those living most closely to the land and sea and rivers. They see and know the daily changes caused by climate change or rising sea levels. They know what it is when their land no longer produces the crops it has for generations, or when their fresh water supplies become undrinkable.  They have no alternative supplies. Their daily food comes from the land and sea round them—or it doesn’t.

Franciscans are (or should be) the people who know intimately the needs of those living on the most vulnerable margins. We are privileged by education and status. Let us also be the people who “do justice” for all our sisters and brothers in creation. 

Christopher John SSF

Many thanks to Franciscans International for permission to republish this article by Brother Christopher John SSF 

Watch a short film from the Franciscans here Solomon Islands Self-Sufficiency – Society of St Francis

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Litany of Environmental Lament and Repentance From Melanesia

Minister General for the Society of St Francis Br Christopher John, was recently asked by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network to ask Franciscans in Melanesia to write a litany of environmental repentance. Br Chris expanded the brief and held a short workshop for all four of the Orders in Melanesia to write the piece for Ash Wednesday. The below is taken from the original, Litany of Environmental Lament and Repentance From Melanesia, and is free for further distribution.

God of the whole human race.
You have given us responsibility to care for each other. But we have exploited and hated each other by our wickedness.
We turn to you in sorrow and repentance.
Please help us to look to you and care for each other.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

O God of creation.
You have created land for us to make our gardens and for trees, animals and all living creatures on the earth.
Forgive us for our destruction of the land by logging and poisonous chemicals.
We turn to you in sorrow and repentance.

Help us O Lord to care for the land that you have given us.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

God of the universe, the ocean and of love.
You have given us the ocean for fish, shells, reefs, whales, waves, corals, and for ships and boats.

We have destroyed the ocean and everything in it, and not cared for it.
We turn to you in sorrow and repentance.
Please help us to care for the ocean, and to recognise that it is your blessing for us.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

God of the forest, in which all living things survive and engage their life and move peacefully.
You have given us wisdom, knowledge and understanding to use our resources well in a manageable manner.

We have been careless, short-sighted, and selfish and failed to share with other people throughout the world.

We turn to you in sorrow and repentance.
Please help us to think positively of your goodness and loving kindness. Please help us  to see the needs of others as you have Litany of Environmental Lament and Repentance From Melanesia seen us living in your beautiful forest.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

God of the universe, the God who created the atmosphere. By your power of creation you made the sky so beautiful, the sun to give us light during the day and the moon and the stars to give light during the night. You have given us clouds to bring rain and give life to your creatures.

Lord, we turn to you with a penitent heart for all the destructions we have caused to the atmosphere.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Merciful God, God of love and everything in this world. You have created the rain, winds, storms, cyclones, earthquakes, volcanoes and floods to renew your creation. Help us to understand their existence in your world.

We turn to you in sorrow and repentance. Please, Father, forgive us for the human activities which have overpowered the weather and caused destruction of our environment.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

God you are our creator, the source of all wisdom and power. You have created humans and animals and you have appointed us humans to be responsible for them.

Forgive us who destroy your creatures. We turn to you in sorrow and repentance. Help us Lord to love and to care for them as you care for us.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Written by members of the four Religious Orders in the Anglican Church of Melanesia.
Melanesian Brotherhood, Society of St Francis, Community of the Sisters of the Church, Community of the Sisters of Melanesia.

The Anglican Church of Melanesia includes 9 dioceses in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. It is one of the areas of the world most vulnerable to climate change  due to sea level rise

To find out more about the impacts of climate change
https://abcnews.go.com/International/solomon-islands-disappear-pacific-ocean-result-climate-change/story?id=38985469

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