|The Andes Mountains|
All around us are countless mysteries in the world and many of them can, when we reflect on them in quiet show the beauty and mystery of God. Take for example, water. It’s a simple thing that we have all around us. Here in Chicago we’re blessed with Lake Michigan which provides much of our drinking supply. But liquid water in this solar system is exceedingly rare, and very rare indeed anywhere else in the universe. God has given us a miracle, the miracle of having nearly three quarters of the planet covered in liquid water from which we could live and thrive on. Even more spectacular and unlikely is it how everything in the universe was able to come together to become what it is today so that we could live and come to know God. There ought to be a wonder and awe about us when we consider all that God has made and put before us, even the smallest things like a pebble or an ant crawling on the ground can evoke in us some awe in how small it is and yet how incomprehensible it is to us in its essence. We can see the rock and measure the rock and know many things about the rock but isn’t there something about the rock that stands apart from us, something that perhaps calls us to reflect on the deeper mystery of the rock’s existence. Perhaps this is getting to philosophical, but the point is that God’s creation is full of mystery and we should be full of awe about it.
No less then, does St. Augustine of Hippo, a Catholic bishop in the 4th and 5th century, remarks in his book Confessions:
“These things I knew not at that time, and I loved these lower beauties, and I was sinking to the very depths; and I said to my friends, Do we love anything but the beautiful? What, then, is the beautiful? And what is beauty? What is it that allures and unites us to the things we love; for unless there were a grace and beauty in them, they could by no means attract us to them” (Book 4, Chapter 13)
only to later remark that all these things which possess beauty point us to the Lord:
“Too late did I love You, O Beauty, so ancient, and yet so new! Too late did I love You! For behold, You were within, and I without, and there did I seek You; I, unlovely, rushed heedlessly among the things of beauty You made. You were with me, but I was not with You. Those things kept me far from You, which, unless they were in You, were not. You called, and cried aloud, and forced open my deafness. You gleamed and shine, and chase away my blindness. You exhaled odors, and I drew in my breath and do pant after You. I tasted, and do hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I burned for Your peace.” (Book 10, Chapter 27)
Sometimes like St. Augustine we can get lost in the little things in life and forget to praise God, but we should always remember that God has given us many of the wonderful things in life to enjoy and to use in order to come closer to God. He gives us food so that we can live and strive and continue to live together as brothers and sisters in peace in Christ, and He gives us sunlight to provide us a means of growing and living, among many other things.
All in all then, we are to reflect that the whole of God’s creation reflects His love for us and that He love us into existence simply for us to embrace His love1. Creation similarly reflects His Wisdom in that all things in the universe are well ordered and intelligible. Simply stated, this is why the study of science has been so successful, because our universe was made according to the Word of God, the Second Person of the Trinity in the unity of the Father and the Holy Spirit according to their Wisdom. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Because God creates through wisdom, His creation is ordered: ‘You have arranged all things by measure and number and weight’ (Wisdom 11:20) The universe, created in and by the eternal Word, ‘the image of the invisible God,’ is destined for and addressed to man, himself, created in the ‘image of God’ and called to a personal relationship with God (Colossians 1:15, Genesis 1:26). Our human understanding which shares in the light of the divine intellect, can understand what God tells us by means of His creation, though not without great effort and only in a spirit of humility and respect before the Creator and His work (cf Ds 286; 455-463; 800; 1333; 3002)…” And so we understand that because Creation is ordered and in some measure orderly and even beautiful we can see, by the exercise of humility and kind thinking towards God that God Himself is good and beautiful.
In conclusion, there are many ways to see God’s goodness, strength, love, mercy, and wisdom through observation of creation, and a keen and humble heart will see when it is that God is leading us to see Him and His goodness through observations of what He has given to us in the world.
1. English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America copyright 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc. –Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC 293, “Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this fundamental truth: ‘The world was made for the glory of God.’ (Dei Filius, can. Section 5: DS 3025) St. Bonaventure explains that God created all things ‘not to increase His glory, but to show it forth and to communicate it,’ (St. Bonaventure, In II Sent. I, 2, 2, 1.) for God has no other reason for creating than His love and goodness: ‘Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened His hand.’ (St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent 2. Prol.) …
CCC 294, “The glory of God consists in the realization of this manifestation and communication of His goodness, for which the world was created…”