Care for creation is a core value for Franciscans. A young American friar was deeply moved by a film he found on Youtube that both shows the splendour our planet home and how endangered it is. He wants to share it with as many as possible.
“This afternoon, despite the never fading beautiful sunshine, I watched a film … one of the most powerful things I’ve watched in a while.” These were Richard Goodin’s words in an e-mail from Jamaica as he introduced me to a film, Home, which he found on YouTube. The film displays the beauty of our planet, the damage being done to it, and some of the solutions people around the world have found to preserve it. Its creators tell us that the film “has been conceived to take the message of mobilization out to every human being.” Richard wants to share the film “with all who would undertake the bold challenge of listening to such prophetic content.” He says, “It reminds us of the lowliness of humanity and our limits in the face of Mother Nature. This film is an agent and/or catalyst for our vocational call to humility in the face of Creation and the Creator.”
As you can see, Richard, being the passionate young friar that he is, quickly connected the film with his life as a friar. “My initial reactions include ideas of how our friar minor way of life should proceed if this film be true. If some of the statistics hold over the course of the next 40 years… humanity will be shocked into realizing its limits and will be forced to rediscover and live within the harsh biological limits of our ‘home’, planet Earth. We friars, besides sliding away from the intentions of our Father Francis (a life of poverty, simplicity, minority and humility), might best exhibit our Gospel lives by engaging in and modeling how we humans might live in harmony with the Earth and possibly even contribute to its health. We friars likely consume at or above the rate of the average John and Jane Doe… With the majority of the planet suffering from the consumption rates of the rich and our lives being oriented towards striving alongside the poor, I don’t see how we can proceed without a radical remodeling of our modus operandi. A life on the bottom, as Francis lived, is one that approaches some type of harmony as opposed to a gradual increase in oppressive consumptive rates.”
Richard points out that “our past and current trends of living are organically dissipating. Our build, build, build, past is opening up to a future of living smaller and more intentional. Our numbers of the past, quite possibly a parallel movement alongside the industrial military complexof our country, are also shaking down to new levels of fraternal possibility. … Maybe God is placing us ahead of the curve and is asking us to go small, remodel our lifestyle and retool our approach to how we model Christian living in the 21st century.”
Richard finds the words of the Minister General, Jose Carballo, OFM, in Starting Afresh from the Gospel (pg. 14) compelling: “There are three phases of the journey we want to embark on together, which are expressed in this fashion: 1) Let us live the gift of the Gospel, in order to renew our quality of life; 2) Let us give back the gift of the Gospel to the world with concrete gestures and creativity to reanimate our evangelizing mission; and 3) Let us refound our presences and structures, in order to be lighter, freer, and more meaningful and prophetic.”
Richard ties the message of the film Home to the call to live the Gospel life. “I am linking the message of this film, that of pushing into the future under different ecological models that are in sync with the biorhythms of the planet, to the call of new evangelical expressions. If we live the gift of the Gospel we will not oppress our ‘home’ which is at one and the same time the ‘home’ of all humanity. If we give back the gift of the Gospel to the world we will end our destructive practices and model solid sustainable behaviors to the world and live the harmony of the Canticle of the Sun. If we refound our presences we will walk the walk of minority, humility and sine proprio and be lighter, freer and more meaningful and prophetic.”
Richard is well aware that change takes commitment, effort, and time. But, like many before him, this young friar has a dream. The film awakened or energized the dream in him calling him to “reassess not only how I live as a human but how I will/should/want to proceed as a friar minor.” It seems he is also presenting the challenge to those willing to take it up.
Should you wish to accept this mission, you’ll find the film at:
“The earth is full,” writes New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, reviewing a new book about our imperiled planet at:
(Article adapted from “No Place Like Home” by Donna Graham, OSF, writing in SJB News Notes, the newsletter produced by the Franciscans of the Province of St John the Baptist, USA.)