Laudato Si’ Reflection Resource is here!

Laudato Si’ Reflection Resource: On Care for Our Common Home is now available at:

Laudato Si’ 11:18

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Goals of Laudato Si’ Reflection Resource

Pope Francis writes: I would like to enter into dialog with all people about our common home. (par. 3) That dialog is one goal of Laudato Si’ Reflection Resource. Others include gathering for prayerful reflection on this document, and deepening our appreciation of integral ecology and our call to care for our common home.

Advantages of Laudato Si’ Reflection Resource

  • Reading, praying, and discussing quotes from the Encyclical together provide a powerful experience and motivate further study;
  • Devoting the first of five sessions to the encyclical’s Introduction establishes a solid foundation for accepting the full document;
  • Scripture excerpts are useful now or any time, including Lent;
  • Pertinent videos and hymns enrich the sessions;
  • Practical weekly action suggestions lead to lasting commitments;
  • Material is free and 5-sessions are manageable.

home-planet-earth-1-638Reactions to Laudato Si’ Reflection Resource

The enthusiasm of pilot participants convinced me to change this resource from being a Lent resource to one of use now or any time (though it can be useful for Lent).

Here is an unsolicited response to this resource from Loreta N. Castro, Executive Director of the Center for Peace Education and a Professor at Miriam College, Quezon City, Philippines:

I love both the content and process! I think it gives a great balance between knowing about Laudato Si  and its core messages and feeling the love, empathy and connectedness with Mother Earth. I also appreciated the last section on “Suggested Actions…” 

Continuity of Laudato Si’ Reflection Resource

For over ten years I have provided resources that integrate Scripture, Christian faith, and care of Earth in the setting of the Universe Story, our resulting interconnectedness, and their connections to poverty, peace and justice in our world imbued with divinity. Past programs have focused on Air, Water, Soil, Energy/Light, Peace, Species/Habitats, and Ecospirituality. Laudato Si’ Reflection was originally intended for Lent (and its Scripture excerpts are from Lent’s readings, so it will be useful then), but pilot groups proved that it is effective now.     Some of the pilot participants:

Gather a group — family, friends, students, parishioners, neighbors, whomever — and experience the inspiration and transformation that Pope Francis’ words can bring.

Our Father in Aramaic

I confess: my least favorite English prayer-phrase — Our Father who art in heaven — is from the very prayer that Jesus taught us: the Our Father. But I would have liked the Aramaic version Jesus undoubtedly used. The English translation comes from a time when people did not question patriarchy or a three-tiered world, and I don’t live there any more. In my experience, people can KNOW that “God is everywhere,” but they still look up when they refer to “him” because we are conditioned to picture a man in the sky. Keeping God above creation makes it harder for people, e.g., to understand Pope Francis’ words in Laudato Si’: “We do not only exist by God’s mighty power; we also live with him and beside him.” (72)

About the language Jesus used 

UnknownFortunately for me and others like Shirley Favot,* who delight in knowing that the language Jesus used harmonizes with the world as science now understands it, Neil Douglas-Klotz published Prayers of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus (Harper & Row, 1990). He not only explains what the original Aramaic words mean, but explains the levels of meaning in the Aramaic language itself. He lets readers see the words written in Aramaic, he gives directions for saying them, and he offers suggestions for appropriate body prayers.

Douglas-Klotz tells us that each statement of sacred teaching must be examined from at least three points of view: the intellectual, the metaphorical, and the universal (or mystical). His phrase by phrase commentaries on the Our Father and the Beatitudes provide this rich fare. A very new question for me, when I read it shortly after its publication, was “What feelings do the sounds evoke?” He explains that body-resonance was important for those who first heard Jesus’ words.


I was/am especially grateful for his explanation of “heaven” (which I included in Tuning to the  Divine: “ ‘Heaven’ ” in Aramaic ceases to be a metaphysical concept  and presents the image of ‘light and sound shining through all creation.’ ” Wow!


abwoon01aSo, if that’s what “heaven” meant to Jesus and his followers, what about the “Father” to whom he prayed? As he does with the others phrases, Douglas-Klotz offers a litany of possible translations. I appreciate them because I have long believed that, despite the advantages of using the metaphor “Father” for the un-nameable Mystery, its exclusive use contributes to anthropocentrism and to patriarchy/male dominance.

Additionally, using any one word exclusively for the unknowable can fool believers into thinking that they have captured the essence of the Mystery we also call God. This deprives believers of many other possibilities. Douglas-Klotz uses the following when translating Abwoon from the  Aramaic: Birther, Mother-Father, The Breathing Life of All, Source of Sound, Radiant One, Name of Names, Wordless Action, Silent Potency. While this list might not immediately appeal, trying other names — either to balance “Father” or to replace it temporarily — is sure to expand one’s understanding of the Holy One.

One Aramaic translation of the Our Father

What follows is the translation of the Our Father (KJV ) as found in Neil Douglas-Klotz’ Desert Wisdom: A Nomad’s Guide to Life’s Big Questions from the Heart of the Native Middle East (2010, ARC Books,, with gracious permission from the author:

O Breathing Life (Aramaic)

(an expanded, then condensed translation of Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 from the Peshitta version of the Gospels)

O Breathing Life, your name shines everywhere!
Release a space to plant your presence here.
Envision your “I Can” now.
Embody your desire in every light and form.
Grow through us this moment’s bread and wisdom.
Untie the knots of failure binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ faults.
Help us not forget our source,
yet free us from not being in the present.
From you arises every vision, power and song
from gathering to gathering.
Amen—May our future actions grow from here!



*Shirley Favot, who lives in Canada, wrote: “I thought your website would be the perfect place to honour the deep story and to reclaim the “Aramaic Our Father” for us and for future generations . . . Jesus’ message of ‘The Companionship of Empowerment’ is so clear and hope-filled.” Since July 1st is Canada Day, I decided to post this for Shirley on that date.

Shirley first read the Aramaic Our Father on Diamuid O’Murchu’s web site under “Prayers”: Neil Douglas-Klotz’ site is

About Pope Francis’ Encyclical, “Laudato si”

Pope_Francis_receives_a_gift_of_a_bas_relief_of_St_Therese_of_Lisieux_from_journalist_Caroline_Pigozzi_of_Paris_Match_Jan_15_2015_Credit_Alan_Holdren_CNA_6_1_15WHEN: The Pope’s highly anticipated first encyclical is expected to be published June 18th, 2015.

TITLE: The title is “Laudato Si” (Be Praised or Praised Be), from St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of Creation praising elements of creation and naming them as kin. (How prescient for one untaught in modern science!) Users of my Advent and Lent resources have found quotes from this prayer on most cover pages. See the entire prayer below.

Pope Francis’ encyclical is also expected to be given the Italian subtitle: “Sulla cura della casa comune” (On the care of the common home).

IMPORTANCE: “Laudato si” will set a key ethical framework for discussion and policies surrounding climate change ahead of the Pope’s address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on September 24 and his address to the United Nations Special Summit on Sustainable Development Sept. 25.

The Pope’s words will set the moral standard for everyone concerned about climate change, the issue that affects all living beings. He is sure to link Scripture references, care of the poor, and religious responsibility to act to protect creation. Media coverage has already been extensive, with articles and reports both pro and con.


Among the resources for those wishing to explore the Pope’s encyclical are these two:

  • In keeping with the Lent material I have been writing since 2004, I shall provide a 5-session program – “Praised be: On the care of the common home” — for those who wish to integrate Lent’s 2016 Scripture readings and the encyclical. It will be available free by November 1st:
  • RENEW International, GreenFaith, and Catholic Climate Covenant are collaborating to produce an in-depth 12-session resource available in English and Spanish this fall: I highly recommend this resource.

Canticle of Creation  

O Most High, all-powerful, good Lord God, to you belong praise, glory, honor and all blessing.

sunshine_Be praised, my Lord, for all your creation and especially for our Brother Sun, who brings us the day and the light; he is strong and shines magnificently.  O Lord, we think of you when we look at him.

Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Moon, and for the stars  which you have set shining and lovely in the heavens.

Be praised, my Lord, for our Brothers Wind and Air and every kind of weather   by which you, Lord, uphold life in all your creatures.

Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Water, who is very useful to us, and humble and precious and pure.

burning candle isolated on black backgroundBe praised, my Lord, for Brother Fire, through whom you give us light in the darkness: he is bright and lively and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Earth, our Mother, who nourishes us and sustains us, bringing forth fruits and vegetables of many kinds and flowers of many colors.

Be praised, my Lord, for those who forgive for love of you; and for those who bear sickness and weakness in peace and patience — you will grant them a crown.

Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister Death, whom we must all face.

I praise and bless you, Lord, and I give thanks to you, and I will serve you in all humility.