An introduction to Laudato si’
19-20 April 2018
During a JPIC meeting this year we thought it would be of great benefit to include our Poor Clare Sisters in the work of the JPIC (Justice, Peace and the integrity of Creation). Pope St. John Paul II often referred to the nuns of the cloister as the Power Houses and prayer. Their prayers would be a great benefit and comfort to us and we seek to spread the message of Justice and peace. We also thought it would be an opportunity to introduce the sisters to the encyclical Laudato Si written by our Holy Father Pope Francis and to see if the Sisters had any thoughts how they might apply the spirit of the encyclical to their lives in the cloister.
With the blessing of Father Custos, Father Mario Hadchity and I planned two visits, one to the monastery in Jerusalem and the following day to Nazareth. I had already spoken with the sisters sent copies of the Laudato si in French, Italian and Spanish, which are the languages spoken by the sisters. Alas, the Abbesses were at a conference in Egypt. Nevertheless, they granted us permission to visit and talk to their respective communities.
We arrived at the monastery in Jerusalem on Thursday the 19th April and were greeted most cordially by one of the Sisters. The monastery is beautiful and well cared for. We then met together with the community. I gave a very simple explanation in Italian of the Encyclical, the Introduction and a brief comment on each chapter. Father Mario then gave some pointers on how we can introduce the principles of the Encyclical into our everyday lives. We stressed our joint Franciscan spirituality and how much we rely on their efficacious prayers. The Sisters listened attentively, took notes, asked questions. We were thrilled by their enthusiasm and asked that they reflect upon the encyclical Laudato Si. We promised that we would return at the end of the year to see what fruits their reflections and discussion had brought and furthermore what they might be able to do within the cloister setting regarding ecology. Each party invigorated by mutual enthusiasm and Franciscan joy said farewell. We left with the assurance of their prayers.
The visit to Nazareth took place the following day. We met with the community and this time the brief conference was given in French. Again, the sisters were very enthusiastic and had already begun various small projects with ecology in mind. We were invited to lunch and spent some recreational time together afterwards. We sang together in Spanish and really felt most welcome and encouraged in our mission amongst them. They promised their prayers for the work of JPIC. We promised to return to visit then at the end of the year once they have had time to reflect and discuss the Encyclical message on God’s gift of creation.
These Sisters of the cloister live a life within an enclosure, but this does not mean they do not understand what is happening in the world or to the world. Their assurance of prayers for our endeavours is of the utmost importance. They are our spiritual Sisters. We hope that our friars will make more fraternal visits to contemplative houses in order to be strengthened by their prayers and thereby involve them in our quest to extend the message of Laudato Si throughout the world.
Br John Luke & Br Mario