Laudato Si’ revisited: God heals our spiritual disconnectedness


Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ reminds us that health of the natural world and the health of the soul are inextricably connected. Fr. Stan Muyebe reflects on the need for inner healing , which will in turn bring healing and restore the balance of the natural world.

We are celebrating the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’ at a time when humanity is struggling with three global tragedies: COVID-19, climate change and the global economic recession.

Influenced by a technocratic and capitalist paradigm, many believe that the primary solution to these tragedies can be found solely in technology, market forces and science. There is less emphasis on solutions that address the underlying spiritual root causes. We forget that the tragedies of humanity are symptoms of a deeper crisis – an ethical and spiritual crisis.

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis argues that, when humanity is confronted by tragedies, it should give serious consideration to the spiritual root causes because all of life is interconnected. Our tragedies are a result of a crisis of spiritual disconnectedness.

The darker side of modernity

Decolonial studies remind us that there is both a bright side and a dark side of modernity. On of the darker side of modernity is the culture of disconnectedness from the inner self, the natural world and others who are different from us.

This disconnectedness constitutes a spiritual crisis and ultimately signals our disconnection from God. The two feed into each other and find expression in each other. When we are disconnected from the divine rhythm in the inner self, others and natural world, we miss out on the prospects of a deep encounter with God as the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sanctifier.

This disconnectedness constitutes a spiritual crisis and ultimately signals our disconnection from God.

We miss out on God’s graces that flow from three spiritual encounters with the healing presence of God in the inner self, the face of God in those different from us, and the Creator in the beauty and sacredness of God’s creation. As a result, we fail to encounter God who hears the cries of the poor and the cries of creation.

Spiritual disconnectedness with the inner self

In the discourse about COVID-19 and climate change, there is little emphasis on how disconnectedness with inner self is one of the spiritual root causes, but we can see it emerging in the unresolved grief, social trauma, mistrust, anger and greed.

Yet, we are spending less and less time focusing on what is happening in the inner self, partly because we have reduced human identity to material patterns of consumption and production.

We believe life will become more meaningful when we are busy producing and consuming something, be it at the workplace, social media, family spaces, sports and recreation spaces and relationship spaces. We find security in the noise and in being busy. In this way, we avoid the inner issues, including unresolved grief and social trauma.

Aware of the immense baggage that we carry inside, our consumerist society also has numerous advertisement campaigns that convince us that the pain and emptiness we experience in the inner self can be satisfied by unlimited consumption.  To achieve this objective, we extract unlimited oil and mineral resources and manufacture goods without limits. In turn, this has generated conditions for the onset of climate change. We pursue technological interference with the natural world without limits and the consumption of the animal world without limits, which may also have contributed to the conditions that are conducive to COVID-19.

It is when we reconnect with the inner self, that we realise that the wounds and deep emptiness in our soul can be satisfied only by God’s healing grace. In our own healing, we also begin to heal the wounded soul in our society and enable it to recover from COVID-19 and the impact of climate change.

Church: the sacrament of the grace of interconnectedness

As we face COVID-19, climate change and the impending global economic recession, the greatest challenge in our society is not merely the task of finding market-based, technical and scientific solutions. It is also the challenge of searching and finding God inside our inner self, in those different from us and in the natural world.

The wounds and deep emptiness in our soul can be satisfied only by God’s healing grace.

While we need technical and scientific solutions, the soul of our society is in urgent need of healing. As in the Gospel, Christ enters our disconnected world with the grace of interconnectedness and restores wholeness.

In the Gospel, when Christ heals a person, we notice that what is healed is not solely the physical illness. First, the wounds in the inner self are healed. The person rediscovers the joy in the inner self, which God alone can offer, and then goes into the world praising God. Second, the wounds of disconnectedness in society are also healed. The person is reintegrated into the community.

Christ’s healing is deeper that we can imagine. This is the grace that the Church, especially the family as domestic Church makes manifest in the world.

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* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.


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Laudato Si’ revisited: God heals our spiritual disconnectedness