I’ve agreed to conduct a workshop for our parish on Laudato ‘Si – On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis’s encyclical. Reputedly a treatise on climate change, its driving themes are social justice derived from an intimate relationship with our Creator and all of creation:*
“… Disinterested concern for others, and the rejection of every form of self-centeredness and self-absorption are essential if we truly wish to care for our brothers and sisters and for the mutual environment. …Pope Francis, Encyclical, Laudato ‘Si – On Care for our Common Home, May 24, 2015 Paragraph 203
“Sobriety and humility were not favorably regarded in the last century. … It is not easy to promote … healthy humility or happy sobriety when we consider ourselves autonomous, when we exclude God from our lives or replace him with our own ego, and think that our subjective feelings can define what is right and what is wrong. Ibid, paragraph 222
“On the other hand, no one can cultivate a sober and satisfying life without being at peace with him or herself.” Ibid, paragraph 222
Curious, isn’t it, how recovery themes recur in our religious and spiritual practices and even in our business, civic, social and family routines. Throughout the Lenten season and approaching Holy Week, craving God’s inextinguishable love, seeking the forgiveness that Christ bought, imploring the assistance of the Spirit, we prepare for the resurrection. Our addictions brought us near to death “excluding God from our lives”; our recovery restores us to grace and to life “at peace ourselves”. As never before, we share in Christ’s resurrection.
The message of the cross, the message of Easter is more than forgiveness. It’s an invitation, as people who are forgiven and loved, to elect a life of “sobriety and humility”. What came of the prodigal son the next day and the days after? Did he reconcile with his brother and strive to rebuild trust within the family? Did Dad’s compassionate embrace lull him into a smug backslide, lapsing into prodigal ways? Did he rejoice in the renewal of his heritage? Did he celebrate his sonship and his brotherhood?
For five years prior to my last drink, I’d been on the outs with my brother – banished from his home. He’s a man of few words, and as I neared my first sober anniversary, I asked Mom’s advice about making amends. From her vantage point of sixteen years in recovery, she said, “Be patient and alert. God will provide you with the ideal chance and you’ll know what to do.” Several weeks later, my brother’s family celebrated his youngest son’s high school graduation with a lawn party. I bought a card, adding ten bucks, showed up, warmly greeted my brother, his wife and kids, munched a burger and left amiably. We’ve been right ‘n’ tight ever since.
“… gratitude and gratuitousness, a recognition that the world is God’s loving gift, and that we are called quietly to imitate his generosity in self-sacrifice and good works…. living…a life of virtue…” Ibid, paragraph 217
Loved, forgiven and restored to – “a life of virtue”. Resurrected in recovery.
* Dropbox Link to a compilation of highlights from the encyclical https://www.dropbox.com/s/nv5utwyovz00mw1/Laudato%20Si_Highlights_030616.pdf?dl=0