by Mariel Caldas
During Laudato Si’ Week, the Holy Spirit united hundreds of thousands of Catholics in praying, learning, and honoring the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change and ecology. Catholics united creatively as well.

Dozens of Catholics used their artistic skills to commemorate Laudato Si’ turning five last week. Some painted rocks. Some wrote poems and prayers.

Laudato Si’ rocks
Heart of God in the world by Sr. Naiyang Ancilla of Papua New Guinea
Laudato Si’ rocks
Heart of God in the world by Sr. Naiyang Ancilla of Papua New Guinea

U.S. musician Curtis Stephan sang about the transformative power of Laudato Si’.

Stephan’s song “Tend the Ground” is on the “Our Common Home” album, which was inspired by Laudato Si’ and features songs about caring for creation and the most vulnerable among us.

We spoke with Stephan about how Laudato Si’ has inspired him, why his 87-year-old mother still gardens, and how his pastor reminds him to care for creation daily.

Curtis Stephan

GCCM: Can you briefly explain how this song came about?

Stephan: My colleague Bob Hurd invited me to be part of a group of composers to write liturgical music inspired by Laudato Si’. Having been so inspired by Evangelii Gaudium, I was honored to be asked.

Q: What was your purpose/goal of writing the song?

A: Any time we set out to write music for liturgy, we aspire to write something true that the Church can both sing and pray. I tried to capture the essence of the parable of the sower and the seed in that, in charity, (we) must generously tend to our neighbor’s needs so that the Gospel can grow.

We must not be stingy in sharing that love! Our God is a God of abundance, and we must share and care for each other like He cared for us!

Q: What did Laudato Si’ mean to you when it was released, and what does it mean to you today?

A: My parents were poor farmers in their youth and even now at 87, my mother plants tomatoes and cucumbers in her garden for us to eat. As technologically advanced as we can be, we can still learn so much from the process of planting seeds in the Earth and patiently helping them grow.

As a full-time music minister in the Catholic Church for 23 years now, I feel more connected to Jesus the gardener than ever, patiently tending to those who come into my path and at the same time, allowing myself to be pruned in order to bear fruit.

Q: How do you try to bring Laudato Si’ to life in your own life?

A: Laudato Si’ made me more aware of how taking care for the Earth affects others, especially the poorest among us. We should steward this gift in a way that makes it better for those who will come after us.

While It can seem overwhelming to impact pollution levels on a global scale, my 74-year-old pastor reminds me that we must focus on every little thing we CAN do as he walks the grounds of the church property daily, humbly picking up trash.

No one is above it! If we all do our part to care for the world Immediately around us with a humble and generous heart, our world will be a better place!