Dromantine Novena 2012 – Day 3
God’s love of Creation
Fr Fergus Tuohy SMA, FVC Director in Munster, celebrated the Mass for the 3rd night of the Novena in Dromantine. He preached the following homily on God’s Love of creation.
I welcome you here tonight as you continue your Novena. I wish to speak about Creation and God’s love for Creation – not in a technical way but I hope in a way that will encourage you to appreciate Creation.
St. Columban said ‘If you want to know the Creator, learn about Creation’
God’s love for us is shown through his action of sending Jesus, his Son, to die for us. His love for us is also shown through his Creation every single day of our lives. We humans are the FOCAL point of God’s Creation.
Genesis 1:31 tells us how God created everything in 6 days. He saw all he created and it was very good. So we see God loves us .You are very good in God’s eyes. The Prophet Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 6:3 – ‘the whole earth is full of God’s glory’. God created us in his own image. We can Reason and Speak, we have a will to choose, like God. We also have the power to act out our reasoning, our speech and our choices. God wants us to be HIS people. His image is in us. But we SIN and therefore we need Jesus and his Holy Spirit to renew us.
We read in Psalm 32:
‘Lord God, your Light which dims the stars awakes all things And all that springs to life in you, your Glory sings. Your Peaceful presence giving strength is everyehere, And fallen men may rise again on wings of prayer. We praise you Father, with your Son and Spirit blest, In whom Creation lives and moves and finds its rest.’
There is so much talk today about the earth and about the role we have to play in saving the Earth, Evolution, The ‘Big Bang’ – did God create the world or did it evolve? I am not qualified and I am not going into discussion about these theories but I want to share with you what I feel today about Creation.
A famous Native American Chief, Chief Seattle, said: “The Earth does not belong to man: Man belongs to Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the Sons and Daughters of the Earth. Man does not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. What he does to the web he does to himself. The Earth is precious to God and to harm the Earth is to heap contempt upon its Creator.”
So the choice is ours. We have God’s wonderful Creation but are we destroying it? Are we courageous enough to stand up for what we believe in? Chief Seattle also said: “Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints.”
I am reminded of a story told by Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP, in his book ‘What is the point of being a Christian?
A famous Archbishop – George Patrick O’Dwyer [Archbishop of Birmingham] – was presiding at a Parish Eucharist in the late 1960’s. The Parish Liturgy team had worked hard to prepare a wonderful collection of the most modern hymns and songs. There were massed guitars, drums and keyboards. Halfway through one song the Archbishop slammed the hymn book shut and shouted ‘Enough of these trivial ditties. Let’s sing something decent. Turn to page 82’ or whatever. At the end of the Mass the Parish Priest thanked everyone for their contribution and then publicly apologised for the dreadful rudeness of the Archbishop. There was a long silence and then the Archbishop said: ‘Now I have something to say. At least there is one courageous Priest in the Diocese.’
We cannot but be touched by God’s creation – Day and Night so perfectly sequenced, the Plants and Animals – where do they come from? God’s Wisdom and Power are present in every aspect of Creation. All Life, all Intelligence, all Creativity and all design throughout the entire Universe, directly or immediately, points to God.
Fr Thomas Berry had a unique vision of what religion and, in particular, Christianity should be about – NOT primarily about Individual salvation but care of the Planet for the wellbeing of all living things. He said: “The future can only exist if humans understand how to commune with the Natural World rather than exploit it. Already, the Planet is so damaged and the future is so challenged by its rising human population that the terms of Survival will be severe beyond anything we have known in the past.” [Thomas Berry, Dream of the Earth, 1988]
Is it all Bad news? NO !! To quote a saint who lived in the 18th Century, St. Alphonsus Liguori [founder of the Redemptorists]:
‘God has loved you from eternity, and through pure love ,he has selected you from among so many people whom he could have created in place of you, but he has left them in their nothingness, and has brought you into existence and placed you in the world. For the love of you, he has made so many other beautiful creatures, that they might serve you, and that they might remind you of the LOVE which he has borne to you and of the gratitude which you owe to him. Heaven and Earth, says Saint Augustine, and all things tell me to love you. When the Saint beheld the Sun, the Stars, the Mountains, the Seas , the Rains, they all appeared to him to speak, and to say: Augustine, Love God, for He has created us that you might love Him.
When Abbe De Rance, [founder of Le Trappe] looked at the hills, the fountains or flowers, he said that all these creatures reminded him of the Love which God had borne him.
Saint Thérèse used to say that these creatures reproached her with her ingratitude to God.
Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to feel her heart wounded with Divine Love and would say within herself: “Then my God has thought from eternity of creating this flower and this fruit that I might love Him.”
How do we experience God’s Creation today? As we learn more and more about the world it does not have to mean that we forget our Creator. Rather, we learn more about ourselves and about God and we can have an even closer relationship with him.
In the TALMUD, [Jewish Book, second only to the TORAH] we read: ‘We don’t see things the way THEY are. We see things the way WE are’.
To quote Fr. Berry again: ‘As we look up at the evening sky, with stars emerging against the fading background of the sunset, we think of the mythic foundations our future. … The experience that we have as we look up at the starry sky at night, and as in the morning, we see the land scape revealed as the Sun dawns over the earth – these experiences reveal a physical world but also a more profound world that cannot be bought with money, cannot be manufactured with technology, cannot be listed on the stock market, cannot be made in the chemical laboratory, cannot be reproduced with all our Genetic engineering, cannot be sent by Email. These experiences require only that we follow the deepest feelings of the human soul … Within the universe, the Planet Earth, with all its wonder, is the place for the meeting of the Divine and the Human’ [ibid].
Blessed John Paul II said ‘Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from Idolatry and False Absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish’.
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Rome said: ‘We are committed to ensuring that all inhabitants of this planet receive their daily bread, fresh air to breathe and clean water to drink as we are aware that if we want Justice and Peace we must protect the habitat that sustains us. The Believers among us ask God to grant us this wish.’
God has shown his LOVE for us in Creation. Let us now reciprocate this love by looking after that which He has given to us. I am reminded of a poem by an Irish poet, Joseph Mary Plunkett. Many of you may know it:
I see his blood upon the rose, And in the stars the glory of his eyes, His body gleams amid eternal snows, His tears fall from the skies.
I see His face in every flower. The thunder and the singing of the birds Are but his voice- and carven by his power Rocks are his written words.
All pathways by his feet are worn, His strong heart stirs the ever- beating sea, His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn, His cross is every tree.
In the world today we need to think of all those sharing the world with us. We need to remember that we are interdependent on each other. Our foot print on earth is bigger than ever. When we harm the Earth and the environment – God’s Creation, we harm ourselves.
St Hildegard of Bingen, a Benedictine nun who lived in the 12th Century, wrote: ‘God desires that all the world be pure in his sight. The Earth should not be injured. The Earth should not be destroyed. As often as the elements, the elements of the world are violated by ill treatment, so God will cleanse them through the sufferings, through the hardships of mankind.’
St. Thérèse, the Little Flower, delighted in Nature. From the garden of her house, she would return laden with flowers. The daisies, buttercups and wild flowers made a deep impression on her childish heart. She felt that her soul was lifted up to heaven when she saw the flowers.
In section 38 of his Encyclical, Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul spoke of our role as co-workers of God in caring for the world of the new age, the world of space flights, the world of the previously unattained conquests of science and technology. He says we must see in visible things the message of the invisible God.
Pope Benedict XVI, speaking at the celebration of the World Day of Peace on 1 January 2007 said, “it becomes more and more evident that there is an inseparable link between Peace with Creation and peace among men, both of which presuppose peace with God.” He reminds us of the need to feel a common responsibility towards present and future generations.
In Psalm 19:1 we read: The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork’
Let me finish with A Prayer for Creation.
God, our Creator, You have given us the earth, the sky and the Seas. Show us the way to care for the earth, not just for today but for ages to come. Let no plan or work of ours damage or destroy the Beauty of your Creation. Send forth your Spirit to direct us, to care for the Earth and all Creation. AMEN.