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Considerations on the Encyclical «Laudato si'»

by Mario Carrera

«The creatures of this world cannot be considered a possession without an owner: “They are yours, Lord, lover of life” (Wis 11,26). This leads to the belief - wrote Pope Francis in the encyclical “Laudato si'” - that, having been created by the same Father, all of us beings in the universe are united by invisible bonds and form a sort of universal family, a sublime communion that it pushes us to a sacred, loving and humble respect."

This "humble respect" was in the DNA of Don Guanella's sanctity; for him everything was sacred: from people to this "room without walls", which is our world. Nothing in this world is indifferent to us and for Don Guanella everything was interesting and worthy of attention. Pope Francis says: «The whole material universe is a language of God's love, of his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains, everything is a caress of God.

The story of one's friendship with God always develops in a geographical space which becomes a very personal sign, and each of us keeps places in our memory, the memory of which does us so much good. Those who grew up in the mountains, or those who sat next to the stream to drink as a child, or those who played in a square in his neighborhood, when they return to those places, feel called to recover their identity." Luigi Guanella, son of the mountains and the harsh nature of its valleys, saw in all people, with his celestial eyes, a bright spark of God that shone with the light of truth, goodness and beauty.

The truth was the ability to discover the meaning of living. The good was the fragment of divine goodness that we all hid in our hearts. The seed of beauty in every creature is similar to a splendid cathedral, where God lives. In every human creature the mirror of beauty is not hidden away in a hovel or a shack but in a house, where you can breathe the tenderness of love. Tenderness is the melody of thanks for the gift of life, it is the song of joy in feeling loved. For this reason the life of Saint Luigi Guanella was a constant pilgrimage in the streets of men in search of precious pearls to emerge in particular from the fragility of people whose resources of truth, good and beauty were imprisoned in the depths of the soul. In every fragment of human frailty he found a seed of hope; for this reason his spirit, trusting in the paternal goodness of God, confidently bet on the investment of energy so as to promote well-being in people wounded in life. Don Luigi felt nature like the breath of God. In his youth he had suggested to his father, the mayor of the municipality, to channel water from a spring above the poor homes of Fraciscio. Since his youth, his soul became sad when he traveled the last stretch of road that connected Val Chiavenna with Valtellina. An unanswered question occurred to him as he passed through stagnant swamps, often the source of diseases and infections. He, a mountain man accustomed to stealing even a tiny plateau of fertile land from the mountain to recover a handful of hay, every time, wondered why that land had been reduced from a fertile mother to a sterile stepmother.

At the beginning of the 1900th century, as the charity houses managed by his religious congregations took on greater consistency, Don Guanella had intuited and implemented rehabilitative pedagogy through work for people with mental handicaps and here too he took the gamble by allying himself with mother earth , restoring fertility to the earth as a womb of life and to disabled people the joy of participating in the growth of nature, a beloved and supportive life companion. Father Agostino Gemelli, founder of the Catholic University of Milan, will say: «what psychiatric science has not managed to conquer, Don Guanella has achieved with the pedagogy of work». The results of this pedagogy were seen within a few years, with the realization of the reclamation of a marshy area on which a town, Nuova Olonio san Salvatore, was built. For this work Don Guanella first received an honor from the Italian State with a silver medal and then, a few months before his death, 24 October 1915, from the Province of Como with a gold medal for merit.

Alongside the pedagogy of the work, it is interesting to note the methodology of land reclamation both from a technical point of view, for which technicians were used, but above all for an action involving the parishes, neighboring municipalities and the Province itself of Sondrio. For the parish communities, small realities dedicated to agricultural work, he wrote to the parish priests urging: «He (the parish priest) should begin to give the example of studying and seriously dealing with the cultivation of his lands, taking into account the progress made and the discoveries that can multiply products. His example will not remain without imitators and will thus establish harmony between the priest and the people." Again: «In the long winter evenings and on holidays, (the parish priest) organizes some conferences. […] From this, cooperatives, dairies, livestock insurance will be born and the conditions of the farmer will be greatly improved." For this reason, a small volume on agricultural culture remained unpublished, in which this "labourer of Providence" indicated the hand of God in nature and, in a concrete way, suggested different methods of cultivation.

In this publication he talked about the climate, as well as the value of cooperatives. More concretely he described the care of the home garden, the cultivation of mulberry trees, the management of the bees, the vineyard, the orchard, the fields and more. A "do it yourself" handbook based on local traditions. In those years the industrial revolution was underway, many farmers engaged in industry where the salary was guaranteed and was not at the mercy of the weather. With the multiplication of industrial warehouses, a journey of suffering began for this "sister and mother" land which began to protest "for the harm we cause it, due to the irresponsible use and abuse of the goods that God has placed in she. We grew up thinking that we were its owners and rulers, entitled to plunder it. The violence - says the Pope in his latest encyclical - that exists in the human heart, wounded by sin." Even the occasion of his descent to Rome was motivated by the "care of creation", in fact, his first Roman institution was an agricultural school, an apprenticeship for the new generations to learn the use of fertilizers and other things that the industries offered market. A "new" agriculture required updated agricultural operators who collaborated with the land to make it an increasingly prolific and loving mother for its children. It will be good to remember, as the Pope did in "Laudato si'", that our organism is made up of the elements of the planet, its air is what gives us breath and its water vivifies and restores us.

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