On the 18th of June 2015 Pope Francis issued his first papal encyclical "Laudato si", a wonderfully hopeful and beautiful document in which Francis pleads with all people to enter into a new dialogue into how we are shaping the future of our planet. We are reminded throughout that our use of technology, love of the poor, and care for our environment are integrally connected. True care for creation begins in our connection with others.Concern for the environment must never be separated from a sincere love and concern for our fellow human beings and a firm commitment to resolving the problems of society. Today more than any other time in our history we require a new and universal solidarity. This may entail that we need to learn to make do with less, to make sacrifices so that our brothers and sisters can live with dignity. " We need to reject a magical conception of the market which would suggest that problems can be solved simply by an increase of profits of companies or individuals. Laudato Si makes clear that all of us must play a role in saving the earth from ourselves, and that these efforts should be prayerful, deliberate, and even joyful." We are reminded, that while our efforts to save our planet won't always be simple, they'll always be worthwhile. Why am I sharing this short reflection with you today? A little over a year ago I was offered a generous donation to install some stained glass windows in our church. There were no onerous stipulations, no complicated terms and conditions, solely that the windows would be dedicated to the "passing pilgrim" and the donors would remain anonymous. I was, as you can imagine delighted. It's not very often one is so fortunate and I immediately set to work on the project with great excitement with our own Manus Walsh. Earlier that year I had read Pope Francis's challenging encyclical and it resonated deeply with me. I decided to give a copy to Manus to study while sojourning in Spain in the hopes it would get his creative juices flowing. You now have the final results before your very eyes. May these beautiful windows inspire us in our care of the environment and remind us that we are sustained by our relationships not only with our fellow human beings in society but in universal brother and sisterhood with myriad plants and animals in the broader ecological community. My thanks to our generous benefactors who made this wonderful project possible and for embellishing our place of worship.
Fr. Richard Flanagan, Parish of Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare