Matt Rousso shared this reflection at the Southern Region Conference, and Mary used it in their Chapter meeting. She now offers it for all of us to use.
We should be able to see by what Pope Francis has been saying in his writings and in his speeches that he is strongly affirming that mission is much more about “being with rather than doing for.” A couple of years ago, a friend of mine shared with me a Christmas card she had received. There was a simple message in the card which read “we’re all just walking each other home.” That message has stuck with me and often impinged on my meditation and prayer. I have often been moved when I realize this is how God in Jesus has been with me all during my life —slowly and lovingly walking me home. And I have often thought how true this is of our call to mission. Are we not all called to walk each other home? Is not this what Pope Francis is saying when he says “we must all learn the art of accompaniment”? Or when he says, “we must practice the art of listening”?
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
• Have you have been “accompanying someone?” How did this experience begin? What has it been like for you?
• Is there someone(s) that you sense you are being called to accompany - to “walk home”? How are you experiencing this call?
On May 7, the Northeast Florida Maryknoll Affiliates, in collaboration with the Society’s mission education efforts, were happy to host a day of reflection on the encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. Maryknoll Mission Educator Matt Rousso led the day of reflection. He and his wife, Janet, long-time Maryknoll Affiliates, traveled from New Orleans for this special program.
At dinner the night before, where Matt and Janet informally met with our Chapter members, we discussed practical ways to be better stewards of the earth and its resources, including steps as simple as using real plates vs. paper ones (we used real!). Matt and Janet shared how they had invested in solar power for their home as a result of their concern for the environment.
Sixteen of us, both Affiliates and guests from the local community, gathered for the Saturday program. We invited our guests to consider joining us for a future Affiliate meeting and have heard from three of them that they plan to do so.
Fr. Ed Shellito, MM, introduced Matt and his important topic, and Matt began by talking about how Laudato Si differs from other encyclicals. He noted that the Pope used everyday (vs. “Churchified”) language. Also, the encyclical is addressed to every person living on this planet, whereas the first encyclical of Pope Francis had been addressed to all the members of the Church. Matt pointed out that Pope Francis was only the latest Pope to speak about the need to take care of our planet—we can hope that the message is finally being heard more widely.
One important point is the harmful effect that climate change has on the poor. For example, the poor are much more likely to lack clean water than are people of means. Matt said his mission trips to Guatemala have shown him firsthand that many people there lack clean water. Closer to home, the water challenges in the city of Flint, Michigan, came up in our discussion.
We watched the video, “The Gospel of Creation” and a short video on Pope Francis’s February Prayer Intention. The Pope reminded us that the earth is our common heritage and that we should become free of “the slavery of consumerism.” The Pope made a special prayer request: “That we may take good care of creation, cultivating and protecting it for future generations.”
As an older person and a grandmother, a compelling question for me was, “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us?” In our discussion, one person said he felt the need to re-dedicate himself to ecological educational efforts, and another shared her desire to become free of an excessive need to shop.
We were left with much to ponder about the conversion to which God is calling us. We are very grateful to Matt, who was God’s instrument and enriched us by his willingness to share his understanding of Laudato Si with us.