78. Feeling the Caress of God in All Creation

tatra panorma

I know I’m behind the news curve on this, but I just finished Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si and I found much of it riveting. To chalk this off as the “global warming” encyclical, as many have done, is to miss being enriched by the glorious theology of creation he outlines for his readers.

Quoting Saint John Paul II, Francis observes that “to contemplate creation is to hear a message” (LS 85). What message? “The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us.  Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God” (LS 84).

Encountering God “does not mean fleeing this world or turning our back on nature” (LS 235), as so many “spiritual” persons mistakenly believe. For through the Incarnation, God has “entered into the created cosmos, throwing in his lot with it.” And this means that from “the beginning of the world … the mystery of Christ is at work in a hidden manner in the natural world as a whole” (LS 99).

For those with eyes to see, “there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face,” observes Francis.  Indeed, we are meant “to discover God in all things” (LS 233). Quoting poet and mystic Ali al-Khawas, Francis states in a footnote that we should not “criticize those who seek ecstasy in music or poetry. There is a subtle mystery in each of the movements and sounds of this world.” Those with ears to hear “will capture what is being said when the wind blows, the trees sway, water flows, flies buzz, doors creak, birds sing, or in the sound of strings or flutes, the sighs of the sick, the groans of the afflicted” (note 159).

Go out into creation. Go listen to the wind blow through the trees. Go listen to a creek. Listen to the birds and the insects. Listen! They’re all singing a love song!

Question: Why do you think many so-called “orthodox Catholics” seem to roll their eyes at the very thought of a pope writing an encyclical on the environment? Share your comments on Facebook and Twitter… 

Photo of Tatra Mountains in Zakopane, Poland, by Bill Howard.