"We are losing our attitude of wonder, of contemplation, of listening to creation and thus we no longer manage to interpret within it what Benedict XVI calls 'the rhythm of the love-story between God and man.'"
+ Pope Francis
A reason for hope
On this the sixth anniversary of the pontificate of Pope Francis we meet Victor Cid—a young man from the City of Linares in Jaén, Spain. He’s a photographer, hiker, and a local animator for the Global Catholic Climate Movement. His love of nature found new meaning when he read Pope Francis's Laudato Si'—a document that has also helped Victor understand his struggle with leukemia.
Victor is 31. While his job is related to computers, he has always loved nature and photography. He shares his photographs and his thoughts at his website derutasporlanaturaleza.es.
“Since Pope Francis published Laudato Si', I’ve tried to help preserve our
common home from my little place (my website) from a Christian perspective.” Victor added that “working to preserve our common home implies being concerned about joining all the human family to search for a sustainable way of development for everyone. We know that things can change.”
Things did change for Victor with the diagnosis of cancer. But rather than fall into despair, he found meaning and hope in the words of the Supreme Pontiff.
“I have already received a bone marrow transplant, and now I am at home, fighting to overcome this situation. My doctor has told me to go out to nature and breathe fresh air because the pollution of the city can damage my health."
Victor said those words reminded him of this passage in Laudato Si’:
Nowadays, for example, we are conscious of the disproportionate and unruly growth of many cities, which have become unhealthy to live in, not only because of pollution caused by toxic emissions but also as a result of urban chaos, poor transportation, and visual pollution and noise. Many cities are huge, inefficient structures, excessively wasteful of energy and water. Neighbourhoods, even those recently built, are congested, chaotic and lacking in sufficient green space. We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature. (LS, 44)
Victor remembers that when he first read Laudato Si' he thought that as a Christian and as a lover of nature he had to do something.
Since then, he’s taken part in environmental protection projects and joined an association that works on these topics, as well as a local volunteering program.
“My feelings when I spend my time surrounded by nature cannot be put in words. True life happens in a moment, when we are alone, weighing, feeling, being aware of ourselves. True life happens in water, in the forest, surrounded by the landscape that reminds us who we are. I meet God every time I go to nature. I meet Him in the animals, in the rivers, in the plants, in the environment.”
Victor said that many people think that we have created our own environment. Rather, “we have created the illusion that thanks to our advances in modern science and technology that we do not depend on nature anymore. Preserving the planet biodiversity is of major relevance. We humans need to coexist with the species and the habitats to recover the equilibrium of our ecosystems.”
When asked what is the most important message he hopes to share in his work as a photographer and as an environmental advocate, he said this: That looking after our common home and God's creation is a very serious thing.
“Our common home is in danger,” he added. “We can think of it as a giant tree, and we humans are like small axes that are cutting that tree bit by bit. And the most affected ones are the ill.
“I mean the ill people, no matter their condition, but overall, I think of the ill people due to poverty, starvation, thirst. These are conditions that human beings have created when destroying the common home. We have to be responsible for our own lifestyle. We can’t over consume, for instance. If we do not act responsibly, we will strangle creation.”
Please pray for Victor as he continues his treatments. We ask this favor of Our Lord so that Victor may continue his work as a lover and defender of nature.
He is, after all, a man we can learn from. His example shows us that eco-leaders do not need to be the heads of large organizations or have worldly honors. Victor's story is a reminder that one person, inspired by Pope Francis and Laudato Si’, can go forth into the world to protect God's creation, so that creation may continue to nurture and protect the human race.
Photo: Carlos Cid, used with permission.
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About the Blog
Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.