Praise and Lament: That We May Protect Life and Beauty

CharlestonI knew what this day would be about:  the encyclical.  This day that really started earlier this week with a leak.  This day that truly began with a couple years of rumors of a document on the environment, leading up to a carefully orchestrated release of the encyclical, leak or no.

I had no idea what this day would be about:  the aftermath of a massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.  This day that really started last night with the deaths of nine people in a sacred place that itself stands as a witness to African American’s struggle for freedom, in a community that offered sanctuary to human dignity.  This day that truly began centuries ago and that has been rehearsed in the intervening days and years since, and whose repeat performance many rightly fear.

On this day of Laudato Si’, to sing “praise be” is to affirm every life as created, sustained, and mediating the presence of God.  And on this day of shock, mourning, and anger, “praise be” is whispered, gasped, and yelled with cracking voices that carry lament for every brother and sister whose dignity is brutally denied.

May we know Emanuel, God with us, in our praise and our lament; may grace intertwine our voices and actions for justice, for mercy, for healing, for wholeness, for ourselves, for all.

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.

–from Laudato Si’

Read “Becoming a Better Friend to Job”  ror a second response to the Charleston AME shooting by Amanda Osheim.