What’s Pope Francis saying?
The big themes and study series structure
Here is a really quick overview of the content of Pope Frances’ encyclical Praise Be to You! showing what we’ll cover each week in our study series. You might also want to check out my sermon notes on this site in which I give a slightly longer ‘first take’ on the encyclical.
Also included below are the bible studies and suggested video which act as a commentary on the chapter we are reading together that week.
Cheers, Matt Bartlett
Study 1: Introduction & Chapter 1
- We’ve got a problem
We face a crisis. We’re all in this together and God has not abandoned us. The cry of the earth, the cry of the poor are interconnected and are calling for collaborative action. We can meet the challenges of this crisis if we work together across differences.
- Midway – go to our Vimeo site to view this scene setting video. Stream it for your group study.
Study: Chapter 2
How we see ourselves makes a difference
- A theology of creation
Our interconnected creatureliness is fundamental to +Francis’ thinking. He takes a deep dive into the creation narrative and other Old Testament readings to get a right understanding of who we are in the world, what our task is, what the world is for. It’s when we objectify ‘nature’ instead of seeing ourselves as part of ‘creation’ that we open the earth to manipulation and exploitation. The difference is made in understanding our God as our creator and parent from whom all families take their name.
- Fr. Barron on +Frances’ encyclical – go to our Vimeo site to view a short introductory, ‘this is the main idea’, video. Stream it for your group study.
- For more background reading around a theology of creation, check out Gillian Cameron’s delightful sermon Our Human Family and Other Animals.
Study 3 : Chapter 3
The human roots of our ecological crisis
- Sin and the vandalism of God’s shalom
The connection between human fallenness and state of the world is deep. The cultural forces that propel us into our present predicament are powerful. Our decisions and habits have major impacts. +Francis has a particular bugbear with consumerism — it looks like freedom, but it’s a veil obscuring what really gives life value. A fundamental and determined change is required – our repentance.
- Fr. Barron on sin – go to our Vimeo site to view a short introductory video on the topic. Stream it for your group study.
Study 4: Chapters 4 & 5
It’s interconnected – action required
- Integral ecology, dialogue and social Action
So we understand the problem(s) and how we got here, what next? +Frances reiterates that the ecological crisis, is in fact a human crisis. Everything is connected and so an integral ecology must address all aspects of life as well as ‘nature’. +Francis is attempting to start a conversation with the whole world. He gives pointers to the kind of dialogue and action that will be needed at different levels — from international relations, national politics, within local communities, families and individuals. He envisions a renewal of politics and economy in the service of humanity for the common good.
- Fr. Barron on the Kingdom of God – go to our Vimeo site to view a short introductory introductory video on the topic. Stream it for your group study.
Study 5: Chapter 6
The happy revolution
- Ecological education and disciplined spirituality
The final chapter is about ecological conversion and living out a deep and authentic Christian spirituality. +Frances looks at how we are formed as people, how this ecological conversion takes place. Ecological education and disciplined spirituality are integral elements in following Christ. The goal is individual, social, cultural and political change for the good of God’s world – “moving gradually away from what I want to what God’s world needs”. Our call as change agents is to be Christ in his world, detached from the cares and preoccupations of our time so we can focus on our calling – to live a life of love: love for God, for God’s world, for God’s creatures – including humanity. It is this love, welling up from gratitude to our creating, saving God which motivates action for this world we call home.
- Fr. Barron on the Beatitudes – go to our Vimeo site to see a challenging and inspiring address, that takes us on from this series.