It’s well-known that Pope Francis published an encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” this past June. The contents of the 184-paged encyclical, however, are lesser known and understood. That’s why the Dominican Sisters of Hope are hosting a reflection day, Harvesting the Fruits of Pope Francis’s Encyclical on the Environment, on Saturday, September 19th, from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm. For $45, participants get a copy of the encyclical, lunch, and guidance in exploring the relationship between care of creation, integral human development, and concern for the poor.

Dominican Sister of Hope Nancy Erts, OP, will lead the reflection day.

Although Sister Nancy says that Laudato Si’ is an easy read in terms of language level, she acknowledges that its meaning is complex. Moreover, she says that local parishes often do not provide Catholics with the tools to digest Pope Francis’s message, tools like reading groups, educated facilitators, and allotted time for study.

“Study, meditation, and contemplation [along with community] are helpful in bringing us to higher consciousness,” Sister Nancy says.

She says that Harvesting the Fruits of Pope Francis’s Encyclical on the Environmentwill provide just that.

The reflection day will open with prayer and then lead to a summary of the six chapters of the encyclical. Afterward, the group will discuss what Pope Francis’s call means for their lives, with ample time for questions and reflection.

Overall, participants can expect to walk away with a greater understanding of the call Pope Francis has issued to all of us.

“We need to move away from individuality and self-interest to common good, equity, and mutuality in how we distribute the resources of the earth,” Sister Nancy comments. “It’s crucial to transfer our spiritual, moral, and ethical life to the greater society, to everyday life.”

The program will use Father Thomas Reese, SJ’s Readers’ Guide to ‘Laudato Si” as a guide for summarization and discussion. In the guide, Father Thomas Reese stresses the importance of tackling the encyclical in a group with conversation.

“The encyclical is great for individual reading, but even better for a book club, class or discussion group,” he writes. “Reading and discussing the encyclical in a group is exactly what is called for because throughout the letter, there are calls to dialogue.”

When it comes to ‘Laudato Si’, dialogue is crucial, indeed.

It’s no secret that many people have their most powerful experiences of God outdoors, or that protecting and preserving Earth is of great importance. However, joining together in community to dialogue about our connection with Earth may be the key to finally taking faith-based action on our care of the planet.