Cardinal Tagle Delivers Season of Creation’s Call: Contemplation, Caring, Conversion

September 8, 2015

Homily delivered by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle at the Mass for the opening of the Season of Creation in the Archdiocese of Manila and the celebration of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation declared by Pope Francis, on September 1, 2015 at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral).

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we thank God for bringing us here to celebrate the Eucharist and to join the many people who have responded to the call of Pope Francis to celebrate this day, for the first time, the World Day of Prayer for Caring for Creation. But we also humbly claim that for us here in the Archdiocese of Manila even before the call of the Holy Father we had already scheduled the first of September to be the opening day for our celebration of the Season of Creation, which will close on the 4th of October, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of Ecology. So, medyo, nauna una po tayo ng tatlong tao pero siyempre, pa humble naman tayo na nakiisa sa Simbahan. Hindi lang tayo one day of prayer but actually more than a month of prayer, study, reflection, asking pardon and action—action—to show that we really care for creation.

The recent encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato si Mi Signore, Praise be you, O Lord, gives us an added impetus to our concern for what is happening to our common home, the earth.

At maganda po na masundan natin ang pamamaraan na itinuturo sa atin ni Pope Francis sa kanyang encyclical. Simple po kung tutuusin. Puedeng gawin nating lahat pang araw araw. Magsimula sa listening, seeing, what is happening to our world. Look, listen, and here in the Philippines, I add, smell. Huwag lang titingin, makinig, at amuyin, ano ba ang nangyayari sa ating kapaligiran?

But aside from our day-to-day seeing, listening, getting in touch with what is happening in our world, in our earth, we should also rely on studies of scientists, of artists, of philosophers for according to the Pope the best science can help us listen carefully to the cries of the earth. Science is supposed to help us see more clearly and hear the true cry of the earth.

Tagle preaching

But that leads us to the second stage. After seeing, hearing, we judge. But how do we judge? We judge first and foremost by goping back to the Gospel of Creation. Bumalik tayo sa Mabuting Balita ng Paglikha. At ano ang Mabuting Balita? God who is love created everything. God is the source of everything. And because God is the source of everything, everything comes from love. Everything, everyone possesses the seed of love. And because God is the creator, God is the owner of everything. We are humble creatures. We are not owners. We are stewards. We are supposed to take care of God’s creation. And everything that God created is good. Everything is good. And every creature is connected to every other creature. Sabi nga po nung ating singer na Filipino, si Joey Ayala, lahat ng bagay ay magkakaugnay. We are all related to one another. And so what happens to one aspect of creation, affects positively or negatively, all the other creatures and every creature has a purpose in God’s creative design. So, environmental ecology and human ecology are connected. We cannot treat creatures apart from human beings. And we cannot review our way of dealing with human beings without at the same time reviewing our way of dealing with the rest of creation. Magkakaugnay.

Now part of judging is going back to the criteria set by the Gospel of Creation with the help of the Gospel of Creation we should go to the roots of the destruction of creation. Ano ang mga human roots? Ano ang mga ugat bakit ang maganda at magkakaugnay na nilikha ng Diyos ay nasisira. Parang hindi na nga tayo magkakauganay, eh. Parang magkaaway na. Minsan nga nagbibiro ako, eh. May darating na lamok,  iiiiiiiiiiiiiingggg sa tainga natin. Nagpaparinig pa lang naman, eh, iiiiiinnnggg. Ano ang gawa natin? PAK!! Wala namang ginagawa, eh. Baka naman nangangamusta. Bakit hindi natin sabihin, gutom ka na? O, eto (shows arm). Kasi natatakot na tayo, baka carrier ng ganito, ng ganyan. Eh, bakit ba siya naging carrier? Saan galing ang dumi na maaaring daladala niya? Baka ibinabalik lang niya sa atin na pinagmulan ng lahat nang iyan.

Tagle greeting people

What are the human roots of the ecological disaster? And there the Holy Father tells us, that really, magkakaugnay. There are roots in the human heart. We need to also discover the way the economy goes, the way we do business, the labor practices, the exclusion of the poor who become more vulnerable to ecological changes, to climate change. We should look at the culture, what the Holy Father calls, the throw-away culture. Sabi nga ng isang ecologist, the more we grow, the more we throw! Akala mo you’re growing. Ang dami kong sapatos! Marami ka rin itatapon!

The models of development, the models of growth that seem to support a segment of society excluding the bigger portion of the earth, why do some people have no access to clean water? Bakit walang mainom na tubig yung iba samantalang yung mga golf courses, alagang alaga ng tubig! Bakit yung iba ang iniisip, ano bang kulay ng sapatos ang isusuot ko sa araw na ito? Samantalang yung iba sa isang pares ng sapatos tatlo, apat na mga anak, nagsasalo-salo?

We judge the situation from the light of the Gospel and the light of the Gospel will reveal to us if we are honest and humble enough. The roots: the human, societal, cultural, economic roots of destruction. And there the Holy Father says, what we need is integral ecology. Bakit? Kasi magkakaugnay.

And we need ecological conversion. See, listen, judge. And third, act.

After seeing, listening, and seeing the roots of the destruction we have to act, in different areas. First is education. And I will say a few more elements of education later. But for us, it is education in spirituality: the spirituality that is manifested in little gestures, change of lifestyle, review of lifestyle. Mabuti maraming kabataan dito. Maliliit na bagay na maaaring gawin. Say grace before meals. Magpasalamant naman sa Diyos. Say thanks after a meal. Pag hindi kailangan ang ilaw, patayin. Sobriety. Simplicity. Makuntento sa sapat. Sapat lang. Recover gratitude.

Sabi nga po ng isang social scientist, Anna Arent, our generation has already killed, has already ignored God the Father. And we are also ignoring Mother Earth. Wala ng God the Father, wala ng Mother earth, what are you a child of? We are not connected to God. We are not connected to the earth. We are not connected to anyone. I BECOME GOD. I BECOME SUPREME! And my wishes become law. That is the root of destruction. I destroy creation. I destroy human beings. I destroy my relationship with God. I am not connected to God as my father. I am not connected to the earth as my mother. I am alone and self-sufficient. A recovery of the spirituality of communion.

At sana part of the action is CELEBRATE. Celebrate. Part of our spirituality is rest. Kaya nga may observe the Sabbath. Kasi  We have made work, profit, salary, our gods. Ayaw ng magpahinga, kailangan sambahin ang suweldo! Yung iba mayroon ng regular job, may part time, nag-o-overtime pa, kasi parang ginagawa na nating Diyos ang trabaho. Kaya part of spirituality is rest and as we rest we don’t only allow our body to recuperate, we allow the earth to also rest. Contemplate. Rest. See and listen, judge, act.

Paki-ulit nga po: See, listen, judge, act. Iyan po ang gagawin natin this whole season. Every week we focus on an element: See and listen; judge using the Gospel; and Act.

Let me close with a few suggestions. Puro letter C, kasi Caring for Creation.

C – Contemplation. Let us go back to contemplation. Let us go back to that spirituality of being able to look, not because I want to manipulate, but to look because God might reveal something to us. Alam po ninyo makapagpahinga ang creation kung tayo ay babalik sa contemplation. Tatanungin ko po kayo, kapag nakakakita kayo ng kapirasong, halimbawa, bato, ano ang pumapasok sa isip niyo? Yung iba titignan lang yung bato, at sasabihin: Ahh, bato. At kahit nakatitig, hihintayin baka may makita, baka may ipakita sa akin ang Diyos sa pamamagitan ng bato. Yung iba, kapag nakakakita ng bato, ang papasok sa isip, ano kaya ang magawa ko dito? Ahh, puede ko itong gawing almires. Ahh, puede ko itong pang-ano diyan. Kaya kuha agad ang kamay… maya-maya, wala na si bato!

We have become too pragmatic. We have become too functional. We don’t even give ourselves the time and space to enjoy the beauty of something or of someone. At ang malungkot pati sa human relationships wala ng contemplation of beauty, of dignity, and of worth. Lahat na functional. Pagnakakita ng tao ang iisipin, mapapakinabanganan ko ba ito? Kapag hindi na kapakipakinabangan ang isang tao, patay ka, buburahin ka! If you are not useful anymore you are dropped, you don’t exist. It is not human dignity; it is not a contemplation of human dignity. Even people are measured by our profitability. That’s why children being conceived in the womb could be aborted. That’s why children are considered as liabilities and elderly people are not cared for. They are not profitable anymore. Back to contemplation…

Mga mag-asawa, may time pa ba kayo to contemplate each other? Mamaya paguwi niyo sabihin niyo sa asawa niyo, umupo ka diyan. Bakit? Huwag, basta umupo ka lang diyan, I want to contemplate you. Huwag ka ng kumilos, huwag ka nang gumawa gawa diyan, kahit wala kang ginagawa, I want to see your beauty, again. May mga religious dito, sa inyong religious community do you have time to sit down and contemplate the aroma of coffee and say to one another, wow, uminom tayo. Eh, minsan kasi, may hawak na kape, tumatakbo, ganito, ganire. We don’t even savor. Sayang yung kape! Kaya lagi tayong mga nagmamadali, eh. Para tayong mga hilo! Be calm. Pati nga sa misa eh, gusto nagmamadali. Ang magandang homilya ay yung one minute lang kahit walang laman basta maikli, maganda iyon.  Ano ba? Contemplate! Kaya ito, hanggang alas-siyete ako mag-ho-homily!  Contemplate! Tingnan natin. Huwag ho kayong tumawa. Habang sinasabi ko ito, nakikinig rin ako. I need to rest! Tingnan niyo itong boses ko na parang nagsasabi sa akin: Hey, contemplate me, I am telling you, I’m too functional. Do you have time, sabi nga nila, to smell the roses? Do you have time to marvel at a blade of grass? Do you have time to thank God for the cool breeze that reminds us that Christmas is just around the bend? We will miss out on a lot of those things if we are not contemplative. The beauty of creation is lost on us and everything becomes a material for our work and function. I am not saying we should not work, but I am saying that true work is accompanied by contemplation, which leads me to the second.

Caring. Let us recover caring. Tayo pa naman, “take care, ah!” Totoo ba iyan? Do we know what caring means. Caring does not mean we are spies. Yung iba kasi ang caring nila para silang mga espiya, nakatingin lagi. Bawat kilos ng asawa, O saan ka pupunta? Ba’t mo ba ako binabantayan? I just care for you. Naku, hindi. Yung caring na hinihingi sa atin ay ito: attentiveness, concern that allows something or someone to bloom, to grow. And if ever I work it is not to destroy. I work so that through my work something will become more what it is. Our century has seen two world wars. We know the capacity of the human person to destroy. Tama na! Let us recover a sense of caring. Pope francis even challenges us, huwag mahihiya to be tender, to be caring in a tender way.

At panghuli po, Conversion. This requires spiritual conversion, a new vision. It requires human conversion. Sabi natin kangina, a review of our priorities; a review of lifestyle, a review of spending habits. Conversion to sharing. Conversion to solidarity.

Contemplation, caring, conversion. Marami pang iba pero hanggang diyan na muna. Marami pa pong aralin, pagdasalan at ipagdiwang. Mamaya po, ano pa man ang kakainin ninyo, huwag dali dali na pagkasubo, lunok. Contemplate, savor the taste, thank God, thank the cook, thank the work of human hands. There is so much to celebrate. And celebrating let us ask pardon for the many, many atrocitities we have done to the Creator by way of harming his beautiful creation, especially our neighbors. And we hope to hear in confession, ecological sins. Sana maging bahagi iyan ng paghingi natin na tawad ang ating kakulangan ng pagmamalasakit at ang ating walang pakundangang paggamit or  maling paggamit sa biyaya ng Diyos sa kalikasan.

Let us now pause and thank God for the gift of creation. Let us also ask for the gift of wisdom to be able to discern His design in creation and the gift to be good stewards of creation and of our brothers and sisters, especially the poor.