If like me you’ve had children fly the nest to University or to work away from home you may be familiar with the way landlords ask for a large deposit. At the end of the tenancy considerable chunks of it are retained by the landlord for minor incursions such as a blu-tac mark which requires a whole wall to be re-painted at a cost that would be sufficient to purchase several gallons of emulsion.

Whilst attending a session run by CAFOD for its supporters in our Deanery, we considered the Pope’s recent letter Laudato Si’. When I say ‘Letter’, it is not the customary two sides of A4 we receive from the Bishops at certain times of the year, it is really a book, not any old book, but a really important one.

Now a document this size (184pages) can take time to wade through, so here is a taste of the first two paragraphs:

  1. “Laudato si’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
  2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.

The earth is our home but we do not own it, we are temporary tenants, with God as our landLord. When you look around, and consider how we have plundered its resources, polluted the atmosphere, the soil and the oceans, it is quite clear that we are going to lose our deposit.

It is not too late to put things right. But we have to change. Quite simply, we have to quit consumerism and live more simply. Do we really need all those gadgets in our homes? Do we have to buy ready meals? Do we need 2 for 1 deals where we never eat the second item so it is thrown out?

On October 5th, the UK Government is bringing in law that we must pay 5p for each carrier bag we use at a shop. My guess is that most people will just pay and continue to use and throw away the same number of bags so the environment will not improve. But imagine if we all brought our own re-usable shopping bags manufactured from a natural product such as hemp? Suppose we refuse the so-called special offers and just bought what we needed? Suppose we switched off appliances at night instead of keeping them on standby? It is said that one power station in the UK is required to produce the electricity to light up all those little red neon lights on switches – do we really need them?

If we want to get our full deposit back, the human race is going to have to change NOW.

Will you?