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Mentorship Series: The Nature of Nature: Reframing the Pandemic

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Newman Centre - Virtual Platform

89 St. George Street

Toronto, ON M5S 2E8

Canada

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The Nature of Nature ; Reframing the Pandemic

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This photograph was taken in 2015 amidst the wreckage of an old mining site in Britannia Beach. For this installment of the mentorship series, I want to open up the conversation about the pandemic as wide as my arms are in the picture. A few months before this photograph was taken, Pope Francis gave us the gift of the encyclical Laudato Si', and called us to listen to "the message of each creature in the harmony of creation" (LS 84-88). Does SARS-CoV2 have a message? Does the pandemic have a message? If so, what is it? The Holy Father reminded us that "creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other" (LS 86, citing CCC 340). He even darily wrote that "everything is, as it were, a caress of God" (LS 84). If we take stock of our current situation with the "gaze of Jesus" (LS 96-100), how can our perspective be reframed? With the Apostolic Letter Patris Corde "With a Father’s Heart”) in December 2020, Pope Francis proclaimed a Year of St Joseph during our current pandemic. He encourages us to look to Joseph to accept reality with fortitude, with open eyes, "to embrace the way things are, even when they do not turn out as we wish" (PC 4) and be "open to a deeper meaning" (PC 4), and proposes that we "review our priorities'' (PC 6). As fathers make their children "capable of deciding for themselves, enjoying freedom and exploring new possibilities" (PC 7), the pandemic is an opportunity for conversion. I believe that by studying how creation works, and embracing disease, vulnerability, and death with Christian realism, we can reframe our relationship with the natural world, including the coronavirus, ourselves, each other, and ultimately God. Over the past several years I have engaged with philosophy of nature and metaphysics to build a bridge between faith and science. Together with young scientists I have also explored the relationship of faith, reason, and science in an ongoing group study of the Toronto Chapter of the Society of Catholic Scientists. In this evening of dialogue we will reflect upon the profound mystery of the nature of nature, in hopes that it will help us live in harmony during the pandemic, and welcome our common home as coming from the loving hands of our merciful Father.

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Newman Centre - Virtual Platform

89 St. George Street

Toronto, ON M5S 2E8

Canada

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