Laudato Si is available on the Vatican site, in case you want to digest the entirety of it, or something else.
The introduction has a title and sixteen paragraphs. We’ll cover five themes very briefly. The title refers to the Italian first line of Saint Francis’s canticle. Much has been made of the non-Latin title of the encyclical. But as we see, the citation of “Laudato si’, mi’ Signore” keeps with Roman tradition of identifying a document by its first few words.
Pope Francis reminds us that “Nothing in this world is indifferent to us” in paragraphs 3 through 6. The appeal of this letter is not just to Catholics, or Christians, but to all human beings. Can he do that? It seems he just did.
We have a reflection on the great saint of Assisi in paragraphs 10-12. Then a personal appeal wraps up the introduction in 13-16. Ready to go?
The document title is set thus:
OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME
1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs”.[Canticle of the Creatures, in Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, New York-London-Manila, 1999, 113-114]
Saint Francis was an observant man. Awareness of one’s surroundings, recognizing that even as pilgrims we have a common home is vital. We may consider our own lives, faith journey, and accomplishments as transitory. But we have a planet. And by God’s hand, the planet sustains us. As a sister, Saint Francis acknowledged a kinship with the Earth. Do we accept the fruits offered us by family, or do we swat away the hand, convinced we can provide for ourselves?
We may even acknowledge our sister as a companion on this pilgrimage. No less than the human journey through life, or the believer’s walk in faith, our planet makes a journey of uncounted and unfathomable distance through the galaxy. Companion pilgrims support and guide one another, do they not?