Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Pope Francis, Saint Francis, and Mentor Headlands

Just Thoughts: Laudati Si’--Praise Be to You Lord

Walking on Mentor Headlands Beach the other day brought to mind Pope Francis and his great concern for the environment. He has shown this so clearly by taking the name Francis, after Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of environmentalism, and by the title and theme of the Pope’s great encyclical, Laudati Si’. For the title of the encyclical, the Pope actually borrowed the first two words of St. Francis’ Canticle of the Sun, written in his own Umbrian dialect of Italian. In the Canticle of the Sun, Francis wrote, “Praise be to you, My Lord, for Brother Sun . . . Sister Moon . . .  Brother Fire . . . Mother Earth.”

The reason St. Francis and Pope Francis came to mind when walking on the beach is because in Ohio we have done such a terrible job of caring for Brothers Wind and Air, and Sister Water. At Mentor Headlands the water was filthy with debris; a sign was posted saying the water quality was poor and that there was a risk of toxic poisoning from algae blooms. The sand was also filled with garbage. The bathrooms were filthy and unmaintained. What a judgement on us and the State of Ohio, allowing for such a tragedy to befall Ohio’s most magnificent beach, on one of the world’s great treasures--Lake Erie, the 12th largest lake in the world.

It doesn’t have to be this way. An hour and a half east on I-90 is the magnificent Presque Isle, just off Erie, PA. There are over 20 beaches on this peninsula, clean, cared for, with maintained changing facilities and bathrooms. Ohio’s Lake Erie shores could be like this.

St. Francis wrote, “Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.“ But Lake Erie is not clean or pure. In many places it is shameful and an abuse of God’s creation.

Let us work to clean up this resource. It is a matter of political will. Let us follow Pope Francis and Saint Francis on caring for our home, the Earth, and our back yard, Lake Erie.

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