Video: Holy Week Masses 2016

Videos of Masses from Holy Week at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Holy Thursday — March 24, 2016

Good Friday — March 25, 2016

Eater Vigil — March 26, 2016

Two receive national recognition from National Catholic Educational Association

By Becky Berreth

Two members of the Rapid City Catholic School System have been recognized for their “dedication and commitment to excellence.” Superintendent Barb Honeycutt and St. Thomas More Middle School Principal Keiz Shultz have been awarded the “Lead. Learn. Proclaim.” award by the National Catholic Educational Association. According to a press release from the NCEA, “the annual award honors those who have demonstrated a strong Catholic educational philosophy as well as exceptional ability, dedication and results.”

Mary Helen Olsen, an eighth grade religion teacher, nominated both women for the award. Olsen, who has worked for the school for 28 years, has seen the impact both women have had on the school and said that nominating the two was obvious. “It was very evident that Barb was worthy at all levels,” she said. “I have watched the school grow under her leadership. It’s not just the number of students, but her spiritual leadership and the way she draws the best out of her personnel.

Keiz Shultz

“Keiz is an active coach for us. She is all about, ‘What can I do to make you a better teacher?’ She works to provide resources, training, or whatever we need. She’s a real advocate for us, and wants us to be the best in the classroom.”

As part of the nomination process, Honeycutt and Shultz had to complete part of the application.

Questions for the superintendent revolved around governance and leadership of the school system, the strategic design plan, development, and “what we have done to move our school forward over the last few years,” explained Honeycutt, who started in the RCCSS as a volunteer for the development office more than 20 years ago. “Our enrollments and tuition assistance have been increasing, but it’s not just that. If you look back at what the people of this school have accomplished using the funds we had, still being able to carry out an education of excellence, it is phenomenal. If you create a timeline of the last several years, the total package speaks for itself. ”

“And it’s been such a short amount of time,” added Shultz. “The reality is we have been a K-12 district for a short amount of time compared to other schools across the country. We have so many different areas — curriculum development, fundraising, academic standards — that people have come together and worked hard to make us what we are today.”

According the Shultz, the questions for the principal’s award focused on the running a school.

“One of the things I work hard on is the faith formation of not only the students, but the faculty and staff,” Shultz said. “Part of that shows in what we are trying to do in developing an overall community of faith.”

Shultz, who has been with the RCCSS for 22 years, said she was also asked about professional development and how she helps the teachers to be better at teaching and student development.

Barb Honeycutt

“I talked about our advocacy program, which we are presenting at the conference, and our peer-to-peer mentorship program with the junior class,” she explained.

Both Honeycutt and Shultz were quick to share the award with everyone who has worked with and currently works for the RCCSS. “Our faculty and staff work so hard it’s nice to see all of our work recognized on a national level,” said Honeycutt. “This success is the result of hard work from a lot of people.”

“Receiving this individual award is a great way for us to tell about how wonderful our school system is,” agreed Keiz.

They will be recognized, along with the 32 other “Lead. Learn. Proclaim.” award winners during the annual NCEA Convention and Expo at the end of March in San Diego, Calif. The NCEA is the largest private education association gathering in the country and features professional development sessions, liturgies, and an exhibition of educational products and services.

 

Former teacher loves his second career calling

 

By Laurie Hallstrom

The newest retired priest, in the Diocese of Rapid City, was truly “Called by Name” to be ordained.

Father Edward “Ed” Vanorny was born May 6, 1945, near the close of World War II. One of nine children of Eugene and Berniece Vanorny, he grew up in Hand County and went to church at St. Liborius Church in Polo, where he attended his parish school.

In 1960, “As a freshman, I suggested to my parents I should study to be a priest. My parents called the parish priest who happened to be an Oblate of Mary Immaculate and he got me lined up with his religious order to study at Our Lady of the Ozarks, Carthage, Mo.,” said Father Vanorny. He studied there for six years — completing high school, two years of college and one year in the novitiate. In 1966 he discerned this was not his vocation.

“I decided a career in special education as a teacher was what I really wanted to do,” he said. He attended Northern State University, Aberdeen. He taught special education at the junior and senior high school levels from 1973 until 1979.

“During my years at Northern I fell in love and we got married in 1970 at the Newman Center,” he said.

With his former wife, Lynda James, he had two daughters, Debra and Holly. At that time, the Vanornys were teaching in Belcourt, N.D., on the Chippewa Turtle Mountain Reservation. They moved back to South Dakota in 1977 and divorced in 1979. “I had a desire to work with adults who have intellectual disabilities rather than children. I located an opening in the South Central Adjustment Training Center in Winner,” said Father Vanorny. The facility does both job and independent living trainings.

In August 1979, he moved to Winner. He said, “I worked there for 13 years and I loved my work.”

The priest in Winner, at that time, was the late Father Joe Zeller. “I decided to go over to the Immaculate Conception Parish office and get registered and meet the priest if he was available. In our conversation he found out I was a guitar player. I had been playing guitar for Masses most of my years since college. I was big into the folk Masses and Father Zeller thought that was wonderful. He signed me up to lead the music at the next Saturday evening Mass.

“After Mass I was putting my music away and down one of the side aisles came Randy Donovan. His family and my family had grown up together around Polo and Orient. He knew who I was, but I would not have recognized him. Randy said, ‘Ed, I want to do that.’ So, I taught him how to play guitar and for the next 13 years we were pretty prominent in the liturgy and music program at the church. He is still one of my best friends,” said Father Vanorny, who was also active in parish religious education and faith formation.

Frequently people suggested he become a priest. In 1987, during Mass, parishioners across the diocese were asked to write down the name(s) of people in their midst who might have a calling to the priesthood, diaconate or religious life.

“The afternoon after Mass, (then-pastor) Father Arnold Kari called me and said, ‘Ed, I want you to come over to the office, I have something I want to show you. …’ More than 90 percent of the people in Winner wrote down my name.”

Then-Bishop Charles Chaput and Father Kari, who was the vocations director at that time, invited people to Sturgis for an afternoon to listen to vocation talks for the “Called by Name” program.

Since he had already been through the discernment process once, he was anxious and apprehensive. “On the way back to Winner the thought in my mind was so powerful and insistent — I am being called and I need to say ‘yes.’ I remember very clearly having a conversation with God and about being called. I told God, ‘if you are really calling me I will probably say ‘yes,’ but don’t come to me three years down the road and say, ‘no, I think I’m not calling you.’ You are pulling me away from what I think is my vocation in life — special education. This better be for sure and it better work out right.”

After consulting with two priests he began the annulment process. “My annulment was deeply healing, partly because I did not realize there were so many hurts and angers just under the surface in my life that needed to be brought forward and given to God’s grace. That experience was a wonderful gift to me in my priesthood, working with people who are in hurting marriages, in divorces or going through annulments.”

He was sent to Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary, Winona, Minn., for two years to get his degree in philosophy. Next, he attended what is now called St. John XXIII National Seminary, Weston, Mass.

“At my seminary in Massachusetts, the students did the music for the liturgies. My third year, there was nobody in the classes who played the keyboard or the organ. I was the primary musician for all of our Masses and I played guitar. The rector of the seminary at that time was a true Bostonian — very high church. He wrote a letter to all the bishops for the guys who were moving into their fourth year. Bishop Chaput shared the evaluation with me. The rector said, ‘We really appreciate Ed’s contribution to the music for our sacred liturgies, but we could have done without the country western cowboy flavor he brought to his music.’ It was really folk music.

“The next year when I was helping with the music I would turn up the country western cowboy flavor even more just to tease him.”

Bishop Chaput was called away to become Archbishop of Denver. Since the diocese was between bishops, Bishop Robert Carlson (then of Sioux Falls) ordained him a deacon in 1997 at Winner. Then-Archbishop Harry Flynn of St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minn., ordained him to the priesthood in 1998 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rapid City.

Early in his ministry, he was serving six parishes in the northwest corner of the diocese. “I remember, very distinctly, one of the conversations I had with one of my classmates from the East Coast, I was telling him every weekend I put at least 250 miles on my car. I said, ‘one of the things that is unique about my assignment is I have a parishioner who has cancer and is pretty close to dying, but she lives 120 miles away in Ekalaka, Mont. I make the trip each week to go visit her and to minister to her and her family.’

“My East Coast classmates could not fathom a priest having to travel 120 miles to minister. They probably just walked across the street in Boston to their parishioners.”

While he was serving in Gregory County, in 2009, he had a brain aneurysm while at the Mitchell hospital for a routine health test. He was airlifted to Sioux Falls, then to Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minn. One of his daughters was able to get to Sioux Falls and she rode with him in the air ambulance to Mayo Clinic.

“It was all rather miraculous, when I look back at it now,” he said.

Among the chain of events, when they air lifted him up to Mayo Clinic, doctors knew there was no one open to work with him until the next day and they were not certain if they could keep him alive that long. Something was canceled and a surgeon sealed the aneurysm and stopped the leaking. From there his convalescence took several more weeks. A doctor recommended Father Vanorny live in Rapid City where he could be close to medical help. Then-Bishop Blase Cupich assigned him to the cathedral. After three years, he was told he completely recovered from the aneurysm.

Today, even though he is retired, Bishop Robert Gruss has approved Father Vanorny’s request to continue to serve in hospital ministry. He coordinates the health care assignment with parish nurse, Judy Hasenohrl. He also celebrates Mass at assisted living centers and nursing homes, and visits the homebound. He continues to reside at the cathedral and celebrate Mass there and at St. Michael Church, Hermosa.

“I have found the hospital chaplain ministry to be so fulfilling in ways that I can’t even put into words. I look forward to every day — being able to visit Catholic patients in the hospital — to minister to their needs as they are sick and dying and as they are moving into surgery. God’s put me in a good place, he really has, and I’m happy to be here,” he said.

 

St. Patrick — March 2016

Patrick eventually made it back home, but had a vision which took him on a different path: “I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: ‘The Voice of the Irish.’ As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea, and they cried out, as with one voice: ‘We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.’” This prompted Patrick to study for the priesthood. He went to a monastery in France, where he remained for a few years and was ordained a priest and then, a bishop. The church sent him back to Ireland in the year 433 to proclaim the Gospel.

In Ireland Saint_Patrick_(window)once again, Bishop Patrick met a druid king, Laeghaire, who tried to kill him, but God intervened, and Patrick was victorious. This victory resulted in Patrick’s being allowed to preach the Gospel among the people. Thousands were converted through Patrick’s preaching and miracles, churches were built, and Christianity began to spread. The Druids who served as prophets, philosophers, scientists, judges, and teachers, began to be threatened by this, realizing that their own religion was disappearing in favor of Christianity. They captured and imprisoned Patrick many times, but every time he was able to escape. St. Patrick is credited with converting all of Ireland to Christianity. A humble man full of love for God and complete trust in him, Patrick revealed the tremendous mercy of God in returning to the land of his enslavement to bring the good news to those who continued to persecute him throughout the years. He died in Ireland in 461, having given his whole life to God and the people of Ireland.

(Saint of the Month column is courtesy the Year of Mercy Committee. “Saint Patrick window” by Sicarr — Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons

St. Patrick’s life is a model of mercy for us. At age 16, Patrick was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave. For six years he remained in captivity tending swine and cattle. He spent that time in prayer and fasting, and he suffered much, but he said of this time that his spirit became fervent, as he prayed through the night and often woke to prayer in cold, snow, and rain. Then, one night he heard a voice calling him to escape and return to his native land, Roman Britiain, so he ran away and found a ship departing the isle. At first, the captain refused him passage, but Patrick prayed to God, and the crew took him with them. After three days at sea, they reached land, but food was scare and the crew was hungry. They asked him to pray to his God for food. Patrick told them all to turn to God who would provide for them. That day, they came across a herd of swine and had food in abundance.

St. John Vianney — February 2016


Truly a model of mercy for us in this Year of Mercy, St. John Vianney gave his life to reveal and to minister the mercy of God to as many people as he could. He grew up in France during the French Revolution and saw many priests and Catholics persecuted for their faith —forced into hiding and celebrating the sacraments in secret. John himself received his first Holy Communion in a barn under the cover of darkness. He witnessed priests and laity who denied their faith in the face of this persecution, but he also saw many who remained faithful and risked their lives to bring the faith to others. He saw those priests as heroes who suffered and persevered.

When he later became a priest, St. John’s bishop sent him to the small town of Ars, telling him, “There is not much love of God in Ars. You will bring some love there.” Many people had fallen away from the church because of the persecution. John invited them back and then made himself available to them at the parish. Some say that GSt. John Vianney[5]od raised him up to forgive the sins of the revolution. Spending at times 16 hours in the confessional each day, he was truly a humble and generous man who lived his priesthood for others. To sinners who approached the sacrament discouraged and full of doubt about God’s forgiveness, he would say, “The good Lord knows everything. Even before you confess, he already knows that you will sin again and yet he forgives you. How great is the love of our God who even strives to voluntarily forget the future in order to forgive us.” He also reminds us, “It is not the sinner who returns to God begging forgiveness; rather, it is God himself who runs after sinners causing them to return to him.” John found his identity in Jesus Christ, the great high priest, and lived his priesthood preaching the word of God, ministering the sacraments, shepherding his people. People began to flock to Ars. He cared for the poor, sometimes even giving away his own food, he started a school for the poor and an orphanage for young girls, and he provided for unwanted children. During his ministry, the number of pilgrims who came to Ars numbered as many as twenty thousand each year.St. John Vianney had a deep devotion to Our Lady and a great love for his bride, Christ’s bride, the church. He was a man of mercy, a minister of mercy according to the call of all priests, as he often said, “Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus,” and “A good shepherd, a pastor after God’s heart, is the greatest treasure the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy.”

Prayer to St. John Vianney
I love you, O my God, and my only desire is to love you until the last breath of my life.
I love you, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving you, than live without loving you.
I love you, Lord and the only grace I ask is to love you eternally …
My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love you,
I want my heart to repeat it to you as often as I draw breath.

Mary, Mother of Mercy — December 2015

 

Mary, Mother of God and our mother, is truly the model of mercy among the saints to begin our Year of Mercy. As the mother of the Son of God, she participates in and reveals the mercy of God by sharing most intimately in his becoming man in the Incarnation. God’s superabundant mercy is made know to us simply by the fact that he chose to empty himself, to become one of us, to share in our nature. Then, he goes a step further and chooses one of us, a creature, to be his mother. Mary’s fiat opens her up to receive, to participate in, and to share God’s mercy in mary mother of mercymany more ways – in her visitation to Elizabeth, in the birth of Jesus and the visit of the shepherds and the Magi, in the presentation of the Lord at the temple, at Cana, and most especially at the cross. She proclaims the mercy of God by her life and by her words, as she expresses her joy in praise of God and prophesying the promise extended to us, “His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50). Mary’s union with the mercy of God continues through Jesus’ Paschal Mystery, the gift of his very life, in which he reveals and pours out upon us saving mercy beyond anything we could ask or imagine – what love He has shown us, what compassion, what forgiveness! At the foot of the cross, Mary gives us her Son, she suffers, she sacrifices, she loves, and she forgives: “Her sacrifice is a unique sharing in the revelation of mercy, that is, a sharing in the absolute fidelity of God to His own love … that was definitively fulfilled through the cross” (St. John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia, 9). Mary abandons herself to the mercy of God always: “The Mother of the Crucified and Risen One has entered the sanctuary of divine mercy because she participated intimately in the mystery of His love” (Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, 24). Further, she receives and responds to a call to be mother to us all: “Woman, behold your son! …Behold your mother!” (John 19:26-27). As her children, we turn to our beloved Mother of Mercy: “Let us address her in the words of the Salve Regina, a prayer ever ancient and ever new, so that she may never tire of turning her merciful eyes upon us, and make us worthy to contemplate the face of mercy, her Son Jesus” (Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, 24).

Salve Regina

Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiæ,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevæ,
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.

(Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
Our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry,
Poor banished children of Eve;
To thee do we send up our sighs,
Mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
Thine eyes of mercy toward us;
And after this our exile,
Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.)

St. Vincent De Paul & St. Louise de Marillac — January 2016

Vincent de Paul by GagliardiLove and care for the poor marked the lives of both St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac. St. Vincent was born into poverty in sixteenth century France. He responded to a call to the priesthood, but his life took an unexpected turn after his ordination when he was captured by pirates while on a short sea voyage. He was sold into slavery in Africa and for years served a benevolent and aged Muslim who offered to make him his heir if he converted to Islam. Vincent prayed to the Lord and the Virgin Mary for the protection of his own faith. When the old man died, Vincent became the property of the man’s nephew, who sold him to another Muslim, a convert from Christianity. One of this man’s three wives learned about Christianity from Vincent, and, although she did not convert, she reproached her husband for abandoning the faith of his childhood. He repented and went with Vincent to Spain where he was reconciled to the church and joined a religious community. Vincent, now free, returned to France where he once again served the community as a priest. He dedicated himself to both the spiritual and material needs of the people, hearing confessions, preaching and teaching, and serving the sick and the poor.

In France, Vincent founded the Congregation of the Mission, more commonly known as the Vincentians, priests and laymen who take vows and devote themselves to their own spiritual sanctification and to bringing sinners to Christ, preaching, teaching, and committing themselves to works of mercy. There he met Louise de Marillac, a woman who also had a great love and faithful commitment to the poor. Louise, as a young woman, had felt a desire to enter religious life, but her spiritual director discouraged her from this path, so instead she married and had a son. After her husband died, Louise, who had always been tireless in her works of mercy, began to join the work of the Vincentians in their apostolate of charity. Together, Vincent and Louise founded the Congregation of Sisters of Charity, a religious community of sisters who give their lives to the service of the poor and the sick. In this great Year of Mercy, these two great saints form a model of fellowship and community given over to charity.

 

St. Vincent de Paul

Noble Saint Vincent de Paul, beloved servant of the poor, may we follow your example and do good works among those whom society has abandoned, enslaved, or forgotten. Inspire us to feed the hungry, to love a child, to provide comfort and medicine to the sick, to clothe those whose garments are threadbare, and to offer hope and our Lord’s words to all who need respite. Pray for us to our beloved God that we may commit ourselves selflessly to doing the same charitable acts that you did all your life, and intercede with him that we may have the favor of his guidance and strength and love upon this important and meaningful work. Amen.

St. Louise de Marillac

O God, You inspired St. Louise de Marillac with a great love for the poor and abandoned. Grant us the grace to serve those whose lives touch ours with the same spirit of love and courage in these challenging times. May the Company of the Daughters of Charity continue to grow and multiply throughout the world so that the poor will know God’s love in a tangible way. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

Combating climate change requires conversion

planet

 

By Fr. Ron Seminara, SJ

In his encyclical Laudato Si, after stating that human-generated climate change must be urgently addressed, Pope Francis calls all people to conversion, which lies at the heart of his plea on behalf of the environment.

Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect (Rom 12:1-2).

The denial, continued destruction, and modern distractions which militate against any hope for healing our “common home,” our planet, need to be vigorously challenged. Yet, Christians, as people of hope, trust in the God of salvation, who has promised his presence until space and time end. Firmly grounded in holy hope and in a sacramental view of creation, Catholics are morally obliged to confront still another aspect of the “culture of death” promoted by a society bent on self-annihilation under the guise of individual freedom as it exploits nature and the human beings who depend upon creation for survival.

For thus says the Lord, the creator of the heavens, who is God,

The designer and maker of the earth who established it,

Not creating it to be a waste, but designing it to be lived in:

I am the Lord, and there is no other (Is 45:17-18).

Our Holy Father reminds us of Saint John Paul II’s call for a global ecological conversion which not only respects the human person but also concerns itself with the planet’s

systems of support for its living organisms; a moral conversion is necessary to “take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system” (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 1987; “everything is closely interrelated” (LS 137). We may well heed the wisdom of our Lakota brothers and sisters in this respect, repeated in so many ways in Laudato Si.

Conversion and catastrophe both involve a turning. One is intentional and active; the other unintended and passive. The encyclical demands what may be most difficult: a conversion not merely from fossil fuels to renewables, but a conversion which begins with the heart and mind, even while a change of behavior is underway. Most seculars would call for a “change of attitude”; Christians descend deeper, designating it metanoia or repentance: a revolution from self-centeredness and a turning to the communion which the Creator desires for every one of his creatures. This transformation is none less than feeling with the

Father’s heart, and gazing upon the world through Jesus’ eyes.

“There is no communion with God without transformation of the heart, and there is no transformation of the heart apart from Jesus Christ. An unconverted heart walks in darkness; it loves the darkness more than the light and does not seek to escape from the shadows” (Jn 3:19-20). (Pope Francis, “Open Mind, Faithful Heart Reflections on Following Jesus,” p. 74)

The Lord’s vision derives from a change of heart which focuses on an ecological view environmentally, economically, socially, culturally, and humanly integral, since each influences the others. It may be no accident that “Care for God’s Creation” is last of the seven general themes of Catholic Social Teaching. Without this theme, acting as a capstone, promoting a healthy natural environment, the life and dignity of human beings, especially of the poor, and their participation in family, community, work, and solidarity in building a just and peaceful global society would surely suffer if not be impossible to realize.

Protection of the environment is not an option. Not to care for the environment is to ignore the Creator’s plan for all of creation and result in an alienation of the human person. (Pope St. John Paul II, message for the World Day of Peace, 1990)

Christian care speaks to the dignity of the human person, created in the image of a compassionate and caring God, who wills fulfillment for his works. Pope Francis describes as a fallacy the “technocratic paradigm” to solve all problems, including climate change. If the world’s people do not understand the death-dealing in present economic and social structures, and begin to adopt an alternative vision for human activity, there is little science can accomplish.

Again, such a revolution must begin with repentance and conversion of heart. Catholics are in a privileged place in this regard given the church’s long-standing social justice tradition, which acts as a scaffold not only to protect the environment but to renew it.

As Lent approaches, it may well be spiritually beneficial to reflect prayerfully on Laudato Si, easily downloaded online, and to petition for compassion of heart, enlightenment of mind, and courage to care for our common home, through which the world receives the loving nurture of a generous God. In this Year of Mercy, what actions are necessary to envision and to understand our place in the garden God has created? What is required of those who are to live the Beatitudes?

How blessed are those whose strength is in You,

In whose heart are the highways to Zion.

Passing through the bitter valley, they make it a spring;

the early rain also covers it with blessings (Ps 84:6-7).

Send forth your Spirit and let us be created, and renew the face of the earth.

Father Seminara is the Associate Director of the Ministry Formation Program. He resides at Sioux Spiritual Center, Howes.

Combating climate change requires conversion

planet

 

By Fr. Ron Seminara, SJ

In his encyclical Laudato Si, after stating that human-generated climate change must be urgently addressed, Pope Francis calls all people to conversion, which lies at the heart of his plea on behalf of the environment.

Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect (Rom 12:1-2).

The denial, continued destruction, and modern distractions which militate against any hope for healing our “common home,” our planet, need to be vigorously challenged. Yet, Christians, as people of hope, trust in the God of salvation, who has promised his presence until space and time end. Firmly grounded in holy hope and in a sacramental view of creation, Catholics are morally obliged to confront still another aspect of the “culture of death” promoted by a society bent on self-annihilation under the guise of individual freedom as it exploits nature and the human beings who depend upon creation for survival.

For thus says the Lord, the creator of the heavens, who is God,

The designer and maker of the earth who established it,

Not creating it to be a waste, but designing it to be lived in:

I am the Lord, and there is no other (Is 45:17-18).

Our Holy Father reminds us of Saint John Paul II’s call for a global ecological conversion which not only respects the human person but also concerns itself with the planet’s

systems of support for its living organisms; a moral conversion is necessary to “take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system” (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 1987; “everything is closely interrelated” (LS 137). We may well heed the wisdom of our Lakota brothers and sisters in this respect, repeated in so many ways in Laudato Si.

Conversion and catastrophe both involve a turning. One is intentional and active; the other unintended and passive. The encyclical demands what may be most difficult: a conversion not merely from fossil fuels to renewables, but a conversion which begins with the heart and mind, even while a change of behavior is underway. Most seculars would call for a “change of attitude”; Christians descend deeper, designating it metanoia or repentance: a revolution from self-centeredness and a turning to the communion which the Creator desires for every one of his creatures. This transformation is none less than feeling with the

Father’s heart, and gazing upon the world through Jesus’ eyes.

“There is no communion with God without transformation of the heart, and there is no transformation of the heart apart from Jesus Christ. An unconverted heart walks in darkness; it loves the darkness more than the light and does not seek to escape from the shadows” (Jn 3:19-20). (Pope Francis, “Open Mind, Faithful Heart Reflections on Following Jesus,” p. 74)

The Lord’s vision derives from a change of heart which focuses on an ecological view environmentally, economically, socially, culturally, and humanly integral, since each influences the others. It may be no accident that “Care for God’s Creation” is last of the seven general themes of Catholic Social Teaching. Without this theme, acting as a capstone, promoting a healthy natural environment, the life and dignity of human beings, especially of the poor, and their participation in family, community, work, and solidarity in building a just and peaceful global society would surely suffer if not be impossible to realize.

Protection of the environment is not an option. Not to care for the environment is to ignore the Creator’s plan for all of creation and result in an alienation of the human person. (Pope St. John Paul II, message for the World Day of Peace, 1990)

Christian care speaks to the dignity of the human person, created in the image of a compassionate and caring God, who wills fulfillment for his works. Pope Francis describes as a fallacy the “technocratic paradigm” to solve all problems, including climate change. If the world’s people do not understand the death-dealing in present economic and social structures, and begin to adopt an alternative vision for human activity, there is little science can accomplish.

Again, such a revolution must begin with repentance and conversion of heart. Catholics are in a privileged place in this regard given the church’s long-standing social justice tradition, which acts as a scaffold not only to protect the environment but to renew it.

As Lent approaches, it may well be spiritually beneficial to reflect prayerfully on Laudato Si, easily downloaded online, and to petition for compassion of heart, enlightenment of mind, and courage to care for our common home, through which the world receives the loving nurture of a generous God. In this Year of Mercy, what actions are necessary to envision and to understand our place in the garden God has created? What is required of those who are to live the Beatitudes?

How blessed are those whose strength is in You,

In whose heart are the highways to Zion.

Passing through the bitter valley, they make it a spring;

the early rain also covers it with blessings (Ps 84:6-7).

Send forth your Spirit and let us be created, and renew the face of the earth.

Father Seminara is the Associate Director of the Ministry Formation Program. He resides at Sioux Spiritual Center, Howes.