Earth Community and Mercy Consciousness

Earth Community and Mercy Consciousness, by Ilia Delio, OSF

In his ground-breaking encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis calls for a new catholicity, one that expresses a new consciousness of belonging to a global community. “Catholicity” means having a “sense of the whole” or consciousness of belonging to the whole. Catholicity, like consciousness itself, is not a static, fixed ideal. Rather, it is an expression of human awareness in relation to the surrounding world; a thread connecting the human person and the cosmos. Catholicity undergirds the question: Are we aware of belonging to a whole greater than our own immediate vision?

I contend that our “ecological” crisis is actually a crisis of catholicity; that is, a crisis of consciousness that lacks a sense of the whole. I would like to examine the roots of this crisis by first exploring the unmaking and remaking of the western mind. Then, in light of this Year of Mercy, I would like to ask what type of consciousness is needed for a world of mercy that builds community. I will look briefly at the life of Jesus and Saint Francis of Assisi from the perspective of the relationship between consciousness and mercy. Finally I will explore the challenges we face in our struggle for a merciful world today.

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