As the Congregation celebrates the closure of its 31st Congregational Chapter, we continue to journey with Aguchita in light of Pope Francis' encyclical letter Laudato Si': On Care for our Common Home. In this fifth week of reflection, we shall focus on Chapter Four of the encyclical, 'Integral Ecology', as we seek to be enlightened, challenged, and inspired through Francis' words and Aguchita's life.
In this fourth chapter, Francis presents an alternative vision capable of addressing every aspect of the global crisis and develops the idea that everything is connected and interrelated. In part five of the chapter, 'Justice between the generations', Francis discusses how the intragenerational relationship between our current generations also extends to future generations. In particular, he writes:
We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity. Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others. Since the world has been given to us, we can no longer view reality in a purely utilitarian way, in which efficiency and productivity are entirely geared to our individual benefit. Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us.
On Friday, December 3, in her speech of thanksgiving for having been elected 13th Congregational Leader, Sr. Joan Marie Lopez spoke of how the future is coming towards us at a rapid pace. She told of how the future is appealing to us to make the necessary shifts in our consciousness and work at radically transforming ourselves, the earth and the environment. And she also spoke of how the Congregation is following in the footsteps of its founders and the many committed people who have gone before us. Through her prayer that we may be 'drawn together by love and be passionate for justice', she weaves the concept of intergenerational solidarity and intergenerational justice into her words.
Aguchita’s actions demonstrate her understanding of the connected and interrelated nature of everything. Her approach went beyond mere utilitarian function as she used every opportunity to radically transform the lives and the surrounding environment of the women and children she supported. The world and her life within it were gifts that she wished to share freely with others – right to the total gift of self.
As you reflect on Aguchita's life and Francis' words in light of Sr. Joan's speech, what choices can you make to deeply honor your intragenerational and intergenerational responsibilities and ensure that the Congregation, the Mission, and the world you have received also belong to those who will follow you?