Understanding Pope Francis on “The Message of Each Creature in the Harmony of Creation”
“None is superfluous.” What an interesting phrase and the one Pope Francis uses to describe the importance of each creature and its purpose. As Christians we believe that we are made “in the image of God,” but what about the rest of creation? In this section of Laudato Si, the Pope wants us to understand that God not only created us, but he created every creature and element of nature which connects us more closely to him. (Paragraph 84)
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All of Creation Speaks of God’s Glory
In agreement with leaders before him and bishops conferences alike, Pope Francis gives us number examples of how God continues to reveal himself to us through his creatures. Quoting the Canadian bishops, he shares, “From panoramic vistas to the tiniest living form, nature is a constant source of wonder and awe” and from the Japanese bishops he shares, “to sense each creature singing the hymn of existence is to live joyfully in God’s love and hope.”
By experiencing and reflecting on the beauty and the divine hand in creation, we can hear the “silent voice” of God and come to know him and the lessons he desires to teach us. We can, as Pope Francis expresses, “learn to see ourselves in relation to all other creatures” and “in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us.” (Paragraph 85)
Serving Each Other Through Relationship
Looking through the wisdom of St. Thomas of Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae, Pope Francis points to the intertwined relationship of all things. God’s goodness, he quotes, “could not be represented fittingly by any one creature.” Each creature serving its purpose cannot be properly understood on its own. It’s only when we consider it “within the entirety of God’s plan,” that we can really begin to see the relationships God has created for us “in the service of each other.” (Paragraph 86)
This the Pope explains, is described beautifully in the hymn of St. Francis of Assisi, where he expresses praise to God in gratitude for our “brothers” and “sisters” sun, moon, stars, wind, water, and fire. In finding God through them and praising God with them, our relationship of reciprocal service brings great glory to God. (Paragraph 87)
It is these interdependent relationships with all of creation and God’s spirit that dwells within each one, that draws us deeper into relationship with God himself. This implores and calls us to respond and to “cultivate” what is described as the “ecological virtues,” yet remembering that even in its expression of God, creation in all its majesty still falls short of the fullness of God. (Paragraph 88)
In the next section of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis expands on the “message of each creature” and share with us how our mutually-dependent relationships with nature, draw us into what he titles, “A Universal Communion.”
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