Laudato Si is a great title for Pope Francis’ brave, direct encyclical on our collective human responsibility for polluting and endangering our home here on earth. Francis of Assisi was the first European environmentalist. He wrote his Canticle to the Sun back in 1223 in Italian, and this 2015 encyclical by our modern Francis, eight centuries later, is named Laudato Si after the 5th line in the Canticle. “Laudato sie, mi Signore cum tucte le Tue creature” translates as:
Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures
All “creatures” on this earth give simple, pure praise by their very existence and diversity. Canticle of the Sun is, in a way, a “Third Testament”, more evolved than the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament, in Genesis 1: 26, clearly expresses God’s wish that we be masters of all the other creatures. It is easily seen as flawed and human-centric when viewed in today’s precarious setting by all but the most closed minds. Here I offer an original song about interconnectedness. It is called Sapphire, after the iconic photo from space that helped us realize how beautiful and precious is Planet Earth. The New Testament tells Christians that God the Father sacrificed his son, Jesus, to redeem humanity from our sins.
Brother Sun and Sister Moon… What I call the “Third Testament” was perceived back in 1223 by the revolutionary genius and sensitivity of Francis of Assisi and by indigenous peoples many millennia ago. In Canticle of the Sun Francis personifies even the inanimate to show the intimacy of every thing in our universe. Here, Francis celebrates not the triumphant division of creation into masters and chattels, but the oneness and interdependence of all living and non-living things on earth. What the “Third Testament” tells us, if we are truly listening, is that we must now struggle in extreme hasteto see creation as one. We must see our “enemies,” in love and vulnerability, as partners in our urgent struggle.
My Leafs Song was written for a contest organized by CBC Radio’s Here and Now connected to the Toronto Maple Leafs Eastern Conference Final Series with the Carolina Hurricanes in May, 2002. My wife is a big Leafs fan. I’m a Montrealer and a Hab fan, but she looked at me in that special way and said, “Please.” Contestants had to sing their song into the phone. Anita held the phone while I strummed and sang into the receiver. Real high tech. Over 300 songwriters participated. Somehow I won. My song was played repeatedly on the radio and I was interviewed by Andy Barrie twice on CBC’s Metro Morning program. After I won CBC needed a CD right away, so my son, Marcus, helped me record it and played tambourine. It was a rushed job but we did it up proud. A CBC producer drove to my place of work and picked it up. I took flak from my Montreal friends and relatives, but it was worth it.
We flew to Raleigh for game 5, which Toronto won 1-0. I was never prouder to be Canadian than when the Toronto fans sang O Canada so loud that they blew the roof off the place. Tucker scored the winner. The photos in the YouTube video are ours. The tail gate parties before the game were a treat.
We partied after the game with some friends of mine who had driven from Toronto to Raleigh on Friday night for the game.
My professor of chemistry at Loyola College in Montreal pegged me as a late bloomer back in 1965. Yep. He got that right. I am rather slow to catch on to some things. For instance, the following question avoided my awareness for years:
How can a religion whose most dedicated souls strap 8-year-olds for not doing their homework be taken seriously as a sign of God’s grace?
Gotta be a few screws loose somewhere. I was lucky. All that happened to me was that I got whacked hard across the backside by my Grade One teacher for innocently sitting on my heels while practising kneeling at the communion rail, strapped by the Christian Brothers beginning in Grade Three, lifted off my feet and smashed against the lockers outside my Grade Nine classroom, and propositioned cleverly, but unsuccessfully, by the religious principal in my senior year. There were other offences, but these stand out. So how was I lucky? Continue reading “Same Pot, Different Glazing”
In view of the increased awareness of the abysmal history of mistreatment of Canada’s first nations in our Residential School system, our dismal treaty record and the current interest in the Idle No More Movement, this song is particularly timely and appropriate.
I’m not 100% certain of a few of the words; if you can recommend any changes, please comment.
Thanks to Anishanabe elder, Lloyd Fournier, who set me straight on the legendary chiefs’ names at the top of page 2.