Never should we forget our destiny and our dignity that flow from God’s loving kindness and abundant mercy. You were created in the image and likeness of God. Then, as a result of God’s infinite bounty, He endowed you with one of the greatest gifts: the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. From this you entered into a deep and intimate union with the Trinitarian Family—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In all truth, you are loved infinitely by God. In the Mystery of the Trinity and your own personal life of grace, God is your Loving Father, Jesus is your Older Brother, and the Holy Spirit is your Close and Best of Friends. How good God is and how your heart should be overflowing with gratitude!
Now we will turn the corner and lift our minds, hearts, and souls to God through the contemplation of the beauty of Creation. All that is noble, pure, beautiful, and worthy of praise emanates from God. To be clear, creation is not God! This would be the error of Pantheism. Rather, the beauty of all of creation points to God who is the Author of all created beauty! We will offer as a stimulus for your meditation a few treasures of God’s creation as a springboard into a deep prayer of overflowing gratitude to God, our loving Creator. With the Psalmist we acclaim: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever” (Ps 136:1).
In all of God’s beautiful creation, what adornment or masterpiece captivates you most and leads you deepest into contemplative prayer and union with God? As you read and reflect upon the different manifestations of God’s beauty in creation, have this question in the back of your mind!
1. The Sun. How easy it is to contemplate the sun and have your mind lifted to God by means of symbol, allusion, and reference. Jesus is the Light of the world; Jesus is the “Sun of God”. The sun rises on high, just as the consecrated Host is elevated in the hands of the Catholic priest. The sun is circular, and the Consecrated Host also is circular. By means of properties, the sun transmits both light and heat. So does the Holy Spirit as we see on Pentecost when He descended in Tongues of Fire over the heads of the Apostles. Jesus desires that His Real Presence in the Eucharist fill you with the Light of truth and the Fire of burning love! Jesus said: “I have come to cast fire on the earth, and I am not at peace until that fire be enkindled” (Lk 12: 49). Still more, the rising sun symbolizes Jesus who rose from the dead to give us life and life in abundance!
2. The Stars. A modern writer describes the night sky with its diversity and splendor of stars as an image of heaven. Thus, the stars speckled over a wide range with varying degrees of light, some brighter than others, symbolize the various saints in the firmament of heaven. Therefore, as you lift your gaze to the night sky, symbolic of heaven and the inhabitants of heaven, the saints, you might feel moved to open up your heart and talk to the saints. If there were ever a true and enormous multitude of authentic friends, these are the saints. They long to listen to your prayers; they long to talk to you; they long to intercede for you before the throne of the Almighty God. Get a little help from your friends—go to the stars in heaven, the saints. Who are your favorite saints to talk with, imitate, and go to with your prayer requests? Incidentally, Saint Ignatius of Loyola loved to step out on the terrace when he lived in Rome and contemplate the stars in their majestic beauty. He could spend long periods of time arriving at God through the beauty of creation—the starry night sky!
3. Ocean Waves. Perhaps you feel captivated by another masterpiece of God’s creative Hand—the ocean, with its waves and immensity. Standing on the seashore or walking along the shore close to the waves, you can contemplate the huge, powerful, and majestic waves that forcefully batter against the shore, then return to the depths. If time permitted, you could spend hours simply contemplating the endless waves and their enormity. Once again, it is God who created the ocean and all its properties. Two of God’s attributes jump out at us as the waves come crashing in and recede out again: God’s omnipotence and God’s eternity. How you might ask? A powerful wave, like that of a Tsunami, can engulf an entire town and the people who inhabit it. God indeed is All-Powerful. Also, no matter how many hours, days, or years you spend walking along the seashore, the waves will continue to come in, break, then recede. Does this not point to the reality that God is Eternal? God has no beginning and He has no end. Our Lady of Fatima stated that if we would meditate on the reality of eternity, we would be converted in no time!
4. Solid Rock & Sand. At the very end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus leaves us with a poignant contrast: that of the house built on rock and the house built on sand (Mt 7: 24-27). When the storm kicks up, the rains pour down and the winds become fierce, and the house built on sand collapses and is submerged beneath the waters, totally destroyed. Quite the opposite with the house built on solid rock. Despite inclement weather conditions that assault the house solidly constructed on rock, it remains stable and firm, even when the storms are most violent and the winds rage most fiercely! This image from nature can gently draw you into a serious examination of conscience of your own spiritual life. Is your life built on the Rock which is Jesus the Lord or on mere transitory and ephemeral feelings and emotions?
5. Blue Sky: Mantle Of Mary. Have you ever lifted your gaze to the sky, to the heavens and found yourself almost mesmerized by the deep and penetrating blue? Possibly this blue sky that seems to be covering you, cloaking you, embracing you, is the mantle of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What a mystical grace: to identify the blue sky with the blue mantle of Mary and experience her maternal love and protection!
6. Life-giving rain: As we point out these various aspects of nature, our purpose is to help you connect with the reality of God as Creator. All that God created is beautiful. Therefore, creation should lift our minds, hearts, and souls to the God of all beauty! Raindrops can be viewed as the tears of Jesus and Mary due to the indifference of many towards the love that Jesus and Mary have for them, as well as the immensity of sins committed daily throughout the world. This could move you with a desire to console the Hearts of Jesus and Mary and make prayers of reparation.
7. White Clouds And White Snow. These can easily point to the absolute purity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the challenge to strive to embrace a life of purity in a world that has totally lost appreciation of this virtue. “Blessed are the pure of heart; for they will see God” (Mt 5: 8).
8. The Red Rose. Much can be said about the presence and the beauty of flowers, most especially the rose. The poet Dante portrays the Blessed Virgin Mary in The Divine Comedy as the Mystical Rose. However, there are other symbolic interpretations of the rose and a very eloquent one is to see the rose as symbolic of the Paschal Mystery—the Passion, death, and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Before the blossoming of the beautiful and fragrant red rose comes the thorn. Ven. Fulton Sheen expresses the concept with this depth and eloquence: “Without Good Friday, there is no Easter Sunday.” So it is in nature with respect to the red rose: first comes the thorn and the sharpness of pain, then the beautiful, blossoming red and celestial fragrance of the rose, the spring flower!
9. Color All Around Us. God could have created the world in black and white, but He preferred to create colors. Consider the stunning and dramatic explosion of colors painting the leaves in the New England Fall! Or look up and contemplate the beauty of the rainbow spanning the sky as the sun breaks through after a violent storm! Saint Ignatius reminds us that the storms of desolation will pass if we are faithful to prayer, and then the sun will shine and the rainbow enlighten our path.
10. The Beauty Of Creation. All the beauty of creation, in its variety, immensity, and majesty points its finger to the Author of all creation and the Author of all beauty, and that is God. As the Psalmist reminds us: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims His handiwork” (Ps 19: 1). May you become more and more aware of God’s all-abiding Presence in your life. In the words of the Greek poet quoted by Saint Paul: “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17: 28).