Praise God

Praise God

BY BRENNA DAVIS | October 16, 2023
Sunday’s Readings

“‘Praise God’ is the title of this letter. For when human beings claim to take God’s place, they become their own worst enemies.” These are the final words of Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation, Laudate Deum. I gasped when I read this warning for the first time. It felt harsh compared to the ending of Laudato Si’, his encyclical on the environment from just eight years prior.

And yet, he’s right. As I consider the news from the last few weeks, the senseless deaths of innocent lives in Israel and Palestine, the escalating conflict in Nicaragua, and, as Pope Francis mentions, “the irresponsible lifestyle connected with the Western model” that got us to this point in the climate crisis, I see, again and again, humans trying to take God’s place.

This week’s readings, then, provide balm for a weary soul:

“On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples.”
The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from every face.”
“My God will fully supply whatever you need.”

These lines remind humanity that, although some of us believe ourselves all-powerful, we are dependent on God. So dependent that even our mere existence on this planet was beyond our control.

Praise God

The words in Philippians 4:12 are instructive (and very Ignatian in their invocation of the idea of “indifference”). “I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance.” For many of us in the Western world, we have lost this sense of balance and freedom. Our lives are filled with physical belongings that provide a false sense of security and comfort—an abundance that is making us and all of creation sick. 

Pope Francis’ final line of Laudate Deum is a call to a humbler way of living. Humus is the Latin word for earth (a rich and nutrient-filled soil) and is also the root word for human and humility, which means one who is grounded or near to the earth. Humans are called to remember that we are part of nature and that “human life is incomprehensible and unsustainable without other creatures. For as part of the universe… all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect” (Laudate Deum, 67).

My prayer is that we can remember our place in the universal family and act as Jesus did by treating all of creation with “affectionate and humble respect” For, to quote Pope Francis one last time, “Everything is connected” and “No one is saved alone” (19).

For Reflection:

  • How might you be called to live in “affectionate and humble respect” with creation?
  • What is your emotional or intellectual response to Pope Francis’ words, “when human beings claim to take God’s place, they become their own worst enemies”?
3 replies
  1. Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight
    Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    “What is your emotional or intellectual response to Pope Francis’ words, “when human beings claim to take God’s place, they become their own worst enemies”?” Breena’s statement is one that pops up quite frrequently as I want to take God’s place in the world. It reminds me that we need to work as if everyithing depended on me and PRAY as if everything depends on God. That sense of discernment stays with me as we wind through our day. God does want us to be of service to each other and to all of creation. Once I take on that responsibility, I need to pray that God will be with me throughout the day to guide and direct me. Lord, help me to realize today that it is your wisdom that will help me to realize your presence throughout the day.Help me to untangle myself from insisting that my thoughts and actions will make right what is going on but that it is Him who loves me knows what is best.

  2. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    We are all connected joyfully marching ahead to our cherished destination. May the good Lord sustain us with all that we need to complete our memorable journey.

  3. sonja
    sonja says:

    We have to do more than just be affectionate. We need to pour out our love on creation, in the same way God pours out His love for us. When we feel loved by God, we naturally want to serve God by being a good steward of Creation.
    When creatures feel our love for them, they naturally want to serve us. They don’t need to be bribed with food, or kept in chains. I remember the time during lockdown, when the bees couldn’t fly, because of the sticky chemicals being sprayed on the plants. I also couldn’t move. So I just gazed upon a bee which could not fly. When she could finally flap her wings again, she responded a 100 fold by giving me a bee massage. She carefully combed all the dust out of my hair and walked all over my body removing the toxic dust from my skin. Without the solicitous loving care of the plants and creatures around me during lockdown, I would not be alive today.
    God’s creation loves to serve those who love them; all we have to do is love each other and all of creation.
    I marvel at how much God continues to love and care for us, despite what men do to each other. Love is the most powerful force in the world. God is love and we are called to love as representatives of God who has given us the responsibility to be stewards of Creation.


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