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Renewal calls for simplicity

At the beginning of the Year of the Rooster, everything takes on a new and fresh look. We wish all our readers good health and may your days be filled with God’s grace.

While it is customary to say that the New Year is a time of renewal, the warm winter prior to 2017 being ushered in followed by the heavy smog from the northern part of China reflect a worsening climate change problem.

What should Christians do to renew their lives and protect our common home? Pope Francis’ encyclical, Praise Be: On care for our common home (Laudato Si’), offers a definite basis.

It has stirred various degrees of awakening in the universal Church. In Hong Kong, the diocese set up a study circle and environmental protection groups in parishes to encourage a deepening spirit of care.

Renewal is of great urgency and the pope makes an urgent appeal for a new dialogue and a greater participation. He states clearly that the ecological crisis is calling both the individual and the community to a profound repentance and ecological conversion.

Since the crisis belongs to people, nature and the entire environment, ecological conversion should take account of both human and social dimensions. Apart from deepening the relationship between human beings and God, ecological conversion should connect them with the earth.

Conversion requires sustainability. If faith fails to persist, it will hardly have vitality. In recalling St. Francis of Assisi, the pope points out that reconciliation with creation is one dimension of overall personal conversion, which entails a recognition of our errors, sins, faults and failures, as well as leading to heartfelt repentance.

In affluent Hong Kong, Christian conversion starts with ourselves, demanding we take the initiative in sending out light and warmth. But how can we face this serious ecological crisis in the 21st century with determination and persistence? This lofty commitment cannot be sustained by doctrine alone.

How shall we live out our mission? Our common home, which is interdependent, is falling into serious disrepair. Undoubtedly, we must reconcile with a humble heart, because the wounds of our home on earth are the consequence of ill-considered exploitation of natural resources.

Let us keep silent for a moment and, with a grateful heart, try to alter and adjust our daily lives, together with our daily habits in order to reconstruct our common home. We may try to live a less convenient, simpler life by cutting back on air-conditioning, using non-disposable items, taking regular vegetarian meals and keeping a balance between work and rest in our lives.

Early this year, Pope Francis said that faith is not a result of study and can be clouded by darkness. He also stressed that attending Mass without concern for the poor and the sick makes the Christian life a parroting of words, words, words.

Although the diocesan study group only completed its task at the end of last year, the encyclical has already impacted on the daily lives of people and parishes. It will not become history with time, as the woefully wounded earth will continue to cry out.