Chapter 20. Conclusion
The Triumphant Lamb, after the Revelation of John.
Drawn by Rudolf Koch. Courtesy of Arion Press.
From morning to evening, from spring to winter, all creation praises God and reminds us of Him Who is the "Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End" (Rev 22:13). Only in God do we find our fulfillment. As St. Augustine said, "our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee."
In biology, we learn that "ontogeny repeats phylogeny" whereby the development of the child reflects evolutionary development. Similarly, our earthly lives and our hope in the Resurrection might be considered parallel to the life of the universe, from conception in God's Mind, to expansion of the universe, development of galaxies, birth and death of stars, "restless until it rests in God" when there will be "a new Heavens and a new Earth" (Is 65:17, Rev 21:1).
Although what is visible draws our attention here, we keep our hearts, minds, and souls fixed on our God and our eternal goal, which are invisible. In the quiet of our hearts, may we grow in awareness and appreciation of the blessings of our earthly home. We thank God who made everything good. May we share life abundantly with Him. May we "go in peace to love and serve the Lord" (2 Kings 5:19, Lk 7:50).
Wisdom 13: 3–5
... they should have realized that these things have a master and that he is much greater than all of them, for he is the creator of beauty, and he created them. Since people are amazed at the power of these things, and how they behave, they ought to learn from them that their maker is far more powerful. When we realize how vast and beautiful the creation is, we are learning about the Creator at the same time.
St. Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of Ecology, pray for us, that we may open our eyes to God's Presence in our world and in one another. May we be thankful for the resources we often take for granted. May all these gifts remind us to praise and thank God: sun flecks and moonlit nights, gentle breezes and stormy winds, raindrops and snowflakes, votive candles and campfires, mountains and hills, flowers and fruits, and all creatures, praise be to God. May we be instruments of God's Peace among all the world's people and in harmony with all God's creatures. We constantly pray for a true and lasting peace.
Most high, almighty, good Lord! All praise, glory, honor and exaltation are yours! To you alone do they belong, and no mere mortal dares pronounce your Name.
Praise to you, O Lord our God, for all your creatures: first, for our dear Brother Sun, who gives us the day and illumines us with his light; fair is he, in splendor radiant, bearing your very likeness, O Lord.
For our Sister Moon, and for bright, shining stars: We praise you, O Lord.
For our Brother Wind, for fair and stormy seasons and all heaven's varied moods, by which you nourish all that you have made: We praise you, O Lord.
For our Sister Water, so useful, lowly, precious and pure: We praise you, O Lord.
For our Brother Fire, who brightens up our darkest nights: beautiful is he and eager, invincible and keen: We praise you, O Lord.
For our Mother Earth, who sustains and feeds us, producing fair fruits, many-colored flowers and herbs: We praise you, O Lord.
For those who forgive one another for love of you, and who patiently bear sickness and other trials.—Happy are they who peacefully endure; you will crown them, O Most High!—We praise you, O Lord.
For our Sister Death, the inescapable fact of life—Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your will! From the Second Death they stand immune—: We praise you, O Lord.
All creatures, praise and glorify my Lord and give him thanks and serve him in great humility. WE PRAISE YOU, O LORD.
—Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi (1181–1226). Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love:
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
—Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. A well-known prayer of peace.
Throughout the history of salvation and in our own lives now, God calls us and awaits our response. May our prayer, our relationship to our Creator, grow and be bountiful in the fruits of the Spirit. May we respond by devoting our whole heart, mind, souls, and strength to the love of God and neighbor, to prayer and abundant good works. May we walk with God at all times, both on the difficult Way of the Cross—and on the way to Emmaeus where we finally recognize Him and rejoice with songs of "Alleluia!"
Prayer is lived in the first place beginning with the realities of creation... (2569). The Psalms both nourished and expressed the prayer of the People of God gathered during the great feasts at Jerusalem and each Sabbath in the synagogues.... The Psalms arose from the communities of the Holy Land and the Diaspora, but embrace all creation. (2586).
—Excerpts from the English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for use in the United States of America Copyright 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.—Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Used with Permission.
Like the praying of the Psalms during Morning Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours, the joyful mysteries of the Rosary offer a beautiful meditation about the goodness of creation and the hope of salvation. With Mary, our Blessed Mother conceived without original sin, we pray over the happy stages of the life of Jesus. In the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel announced God's favor to Mary. As all creation has eagerly waited, in her fiat, Mary accepted God's Will for her to be the Mother of the Savior. By her Spouse the Holy Spirit, Mary conceived God made incarnate. Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth who is with child. The child John the Baptist leapt in Elizabeth's womb. We celebrate Christmas—Mary gave birth to Jesus the Christ, the Savior, Son of God and Son of Man. Mary and Joseph presented Jesus to God in the temple. The Christ Child grew up. Mary and Joseph found Jesus teaching in the temple. All times to rejoice with Mary and the Church.
The sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary present the very sad events of Good Friday. Once again we find ourselves in a garden, but not the garden of paradise, but at the Mount of Olives. Jesus suffered agony here as He prayed about His suffering and death. He accepted the chalice of suffering. Jesus suffered terrible scourging at the hands of other men. He was crowned with thorns and thistles, beaten, and ridiculed. He carried the Cross and fell three times. He was nailed upon the Cross and died for the forgiveness of our sins. The Cross became the "tree of life" once more (Rev 22:14).
The glorious mysteries of the Rosary uplift our hope. The tomb is empty. The Shroud and wrappings are marked with the image of the Resurrected Jesus and the flowers and spices placed around His Body. Jesus is risen. Alleluia! He past through the locked doors to reassure His apostles, "peace be with you" (Jn 20:19). He gaves them a new breath of life so that they would receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus ascended into Heaven to prepare a place for us. He sent the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, to remind us of all that He taught us. God remembered His Spouse, Mary, the Blessed Mother, upon her death, and assumed her body and soul into Heaven. Mary was crowned Queen of Heaven and now prays for us Her children, that we may love God and one another and share in God's Life now and in Heaven.
Like at Fatima, Portugal, our Blessed Mother Mary, "the Gospa", has reportedly been regularly appearing to six young people of Medjugorje since June 1981. She tells us that even the smallest flower speaks us of God our Creator's Love for us. May we "take time to smell the flowers", praise and thank God for His Love, and share that love with one another.
Dear Children! Also today I call you to give glory to God the Creator in the colors of nature. He speaks to you also through the smallest flower about His beauty and the depth of love with which He has created you.
—Attributed to "Our Lady of Medjugorje", 25 August 1999.
In this month's message, it concerns our developing a new relationship between our hearts and God the Creator. Mary tells us...
Also today I call you to give glory to God the Creator in the colors of nature.
All of nature speaks of God. Nature is the first step in God's revelation. God spoke and the world was created. So that which has been created is really the first proof that God exists, and that is because nothing can come about or exist by itself. The second step of revelation is the Biblical Revelation. God has spoken about Himself and about His relationship toward all of humanity and most especially toward the Israeli nation which he called "the Chosen People" from whom the Messiah was meant to come into existence. In all nature-based religions God the Creator was recognized and prayed to, and that is because every man in his heart is certain that the world and the entire Universe points toward someone who created it all. We know through history and until this very day that there always existed and still exist people who do not believe in a Creator. This means that the created world does not speak of God, but rather they declare that the world came about by itself or that material is in itself eternal. Everything that has an end must at some point also have had its beginning. And so nature speaks of God who revealed Himself in the Bible and who especially through Jesus Christ has shown Himself as our Father. And Mary wants of us to again think of this and that we may discover God in nature and then to again give Him glory.
Especially when one reads the Psalms, one often finds how the Psalmist praises the Creator and gives Him honor, and how he calls on everything that has been created to, along with him, praise and to adore God. Here let us think of Psalm 8: "O Lord, how glorious is thy name in all the earth! ...who hast set thy glory above the heavens. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained. What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All the sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O Lord our Lord, how glorious is thy name in all the earth!" ...and of many others Psalms.
So in nature we recognize God the Creator, God the Strong One, God the Almighty One, God whose word is so almighty that it is enough that when He speaks everything is created. All of nature is in itself an absolute masterpiece, and man with all his knowledge and all his technology really creates nothing and only discovers. How touched are those scientists who became famous for discovering new laws! One of these once said: "I feel like a small boy who is playing on the beach along that huge ocean and who then finds a special little stone." Another one said: "When I succeeded at opening one door, I simply got to see 10 new doors that I knew not how to open." These are really expressions of humility in front of the secret of that which has been created. For us believers nature should really be a constant call for us to meet with God the Creator and, as it says in Holy Scripture, to give Him and only Him glory and then to pray to Him. Here we may not forget that all of nature and all of nature's laws are cooperating with God. Every growth, every move and the entire Universe and its lack of boundaries and the infinite number of stars and planets, and primarily that all of it works the way it does, is a constant miracle that should repeatedly call us to this adoration of God and to pray. Still it remains true that we first must see all this with our hearts, otherwise it can happen that although we can see everything that is happening in front us, we can still remain blind toward God the Creator. Mary, of course, wants us to discover this God the Creator and to give Him glory. Then Mary continues with...
He speaks to you also through the smallest flower about His beauty.
So we should really only accept this. When we stand before a true masterpiece and say "it is beautiful", then this remark, "it is beautiful", primarily speaks about the Master, the artist who created it. But at the same time in order to have made it, he must have first received the necessary talents—the talents of the lines or the colors that he has discovered—from God to have been able to make it and then to present it to us viewers. So no person has grounds for making himself famous or for being proud for having done something, because everything that he has, first had to come to him from God. This is a simply a grace that God gives to each one of us so that we may serve the others, but, of course, we must be grateful for all that we are able to do because again, without our free cooperation, things would also not be possible. God, who made us with our freedom, also respects our freedom.
How is one able to speak about God's beauty when St. Paul, after a vision, said: "The eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, and the heart has not hoped for what God has prepared for those who love Him"? When we think of St. Francis of Assisi or of many of the other Saints, then we can only get an inkling of what that really means what it is to feel the beauty of God with one's heart. Our visionaries, when they have spoken of their experiences with Heaven or when they just try to describe Mary, then they always say: "It is indescribable." So here we again stand before a call that all over again, I believe I may say, throws us onto our knees before God the Creator who gives us glimpses of His own infinite beauty. When a color, a flower or a fruit can be so beautiful, then how beautiful must He who created all these be!? And for this we most certainly must also be grateful in prayer and in our daily lives. It is most especially important for us to discover what Mary says next...
The depth of love with which He has created you.
...and with which He created everything. This then is certainly another step toward God, not only that nature speaks of God's beauty and His Almightiness, but about His infinite love. When God created the world, so tells us the Bible, He always said: "it is good." About man He said: "it is very good", and every one of us is for each of us a wonderful masterpiece. God gave man the strength and the possibility to cooperate with Him in the creation of life. That is why from the very beginning man was man, from the moment of conception in the mother's womb all the way to death as well as beyond death, man remains man.
What kind of secret is our physical, our psychological and our mental life really? This we will never be able to discover. So every one of us is a great secret of God's love. God wanted us, and even so if perhaps our parents did not want us or did not want a child, still God thought about each one of us! Once we have discovered this depth of love, then something really wonderful opens itself for us, and that is to be healed through God's love for us. Like it says in the Bible: "Even when a mother is able to forget her child, I will not forget you. You are written into my hand." So this love of the Father, with which He created us, should really heal us deep down in our roots of our life. This then is the reason that each of us ought to accept our life with love out of God's hand and then ought to cooperate with God in His creation.
For us Christians, who have had the special grace that this has been revealed to us, there really exists no reason at all for us to develop and carry in us inferiority complexes, or that we become jealous of someone else, or that we become greedy for something, or sad for something that we do not have that others might. God has thought about each one of us personally, has created each of us, has given us life and also all our talents. He knows and loves each of us whether we are doing well or doing badly, whether we are happy or are sad, whether we are loved by others or not, whether we are able to love the others or not, God is always here as the reason for our life, and this then also gives us the inner strength because we are afterall built on a strong foundation. God is this foundation. That is why faith and trust toward God is really what we need more than anything else in the world.
Sin is really the anti-thesis of all creation. Sin destroys, sin pulls away from the center, removes the foundation and only for this reason does man remain destroyed in the relationship toward himself, toward the others and then also toward God. That is why man, when he is in sin, remains desperately unhappy, unsatisfied, without peace, and without the ability to love. But in the depth of His love, God has also thought of this and given us by way of His Son, Jesus Christ, the opportunity to regret, that we can ask for forgiveness, and that we can then again with all trust throw ourselves into the loving lap of the Father. And when we discover God the Father's love, then he is really able to go his human way in peace, despite all his difficulties, problems and despite all his sinfulness. And this inkling of the depth of God's love will constantly give us the strength to continue with Him on the path and then one day to live eternally with God the Father, and that then is Heaven, to be in the presence of His love, constantly seeing and adoring His beauty and His Almightiness.
Here we may also mention very briefly how terrible abortion really is. There where God has given man the opportunity to cooperate in His "very good" creation, that exactly there man destroys life! Abortion is the anti-thesis of God, is an attack against God Himself, and is an attack against His love for each one of us. It is, so to say, betrayal of God the Creator that man, at some moment, says, yes to picking up his own hand and destroying what God wanted all along and kills that so wonderful life. We will only understand how terrible the sin of abortion really is as compared to how we deep we have discovered and experienced the beauty and the love in God's creation and when we find ourselves in His love with all our hearts. In other words, aborted children are only possible because we have not yet discovered and experienced God's love, beauty and Almightiness. That is why we are also able to see Mary's education. She first wants us to discover God the Creator in all that He does for us, and then we will begin to accept, love and protect our own lives and that of all others. Then Mary calls us...
Little children, may prayer flow from your hearts like fresh water from a spring.
Here Mary relies on a reality that is very easy to understand during these hot days—how important fresh water is for us. It is a condition for our lives, and so Mary wants us to go to this spring from which life flows. How can this happen? When we have been given the grace to discover the love, the Almightiness and the beauty of the Father, then it will become completely natural to pray with all our hearts, with all of our soul and in this way to seek God. And when we, for instance, love someone and know that he did something, and then begin to admire his work, then the words, the compliments and the joys are never missing. This is the way that Mary wishes us to be toward God. So when prayer becomes difficult, when we do not know what we are supposed to pray, when prayer becomes boring, or when we are distracted, it is simply because we have yet discovered God in all these dimensions. Therefore it is again so important for us to pray for the grace of discovering God the Creator. Then...
May the wheat fields speak to you about the Mercy of God toward every creature.
God's mercy is again a dimension of God's immeasurable love toward all of us, and when Mary, as she does here, wishes us to see His mercy in those everyday fruits of nature, then it is just another sign that He accepts, respects and never rejects any one of us, even when we might be rejecting ourselves, the others or even God himself. God's mercy is, only once again, immeasurable. Discovering His mercy is really healing for us because we all experience so much lack of mercy and so many wounds. And how often do we hear the questions: "How is it possible that the innocent must suffer, that there are wars, that there are people who hunger, that there are catastrophes? Where do the love and mercy of God remain?"
Certainly these questions are posed and come by themselves, but it is God's will that all people are at peace and when people are not at peace, then God wishes to turn everything to the good. God's mercy is also often praised in the Psalms and for us only one thing then remains, and that is that we, and especially so this month, discover and experience God's mercy, and then really to believe in His mercy. We must also be very careful not to project all that is merciless around us and all the wounds that we have experienced onto God Himself. God is merciful, and He will in His love someday also show His mercy to each of us. Then all this, at the end of the message should lead us again to thank and so Mary again calls us...
That is why, renew prayer of thanksgiving for everything He gives you.
Then, what is left to all people other than a "thank you"? We must therefore thank God and from this gratitude have peace, faith, hope and joy, and from the thanks toward others, then also have more of the same. This gratitude must be in our hearts and in our prayers, because this stance of gratitude is also a constant theme of Mary's. In Mary's school we wish to practice thanking every day for all that is good and to also believe that we may also thank for all the problems that we have because God will turn everything to the good.
So, let us pray...God our Father, Creator of Heaven and of earth, along with Mary, Your most humble servant, and in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, we wish to thank You today. Thank You for being our Father and our Creator, thank You for Your Almightiness and for Your beauty, and for Your love. But we also ask that You, O Father, open all our eyes so that may from day to day give You more and more honor and praise because You are an almighty, beautiful and loving Father. Give us the grace, O Father, that from our hearts prayer may flow like the fresh water from the spring. Open all our eyes for Your mercy and open all our hearts with the spirit of gratitude, so that we may constantly become more grateful toward You. Therefore we ask You, in the name of Your son, Jesus Christ, free us of all pride and egotism, free us of all Godlessness, from all praying to false gods, so that we may belong only to You, because You, and only You, are our God. We ask You on behalf of all those who do not yet recognize You, who do not love You, who do not hope in You and who still doubt in Your mercy, let us all discover Your love and Your Mercy, so that we all may then become witnesses to Your love, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
—Fra Slavko Barbaric (1946–2000), Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzecogvina; 27 August 1999: <http://www.medjugorje.org/sb0899.htm>. With Permission.
If only everyone could see themselves, their families and communities, the environment and the entire world as God sees the world and us as a new creation precious in His Sight. May we be grateful for each person as a child of God, a temple of the Holy Spirit, then we can take better care of our neighbors. In order to have true justice and peace in this world, we have to start with our own hearts and families, then the nations can be at peace.
May we remember that we are servants of each other, and caretakers of the earth, of life and the environment, not one or the other, but both human life and the rest of creation that shares the earth with us. May we use the earth and its resources prudently, wisely, and kindly. How can we better conserve the resources we use? ... We need to foster an attitude of respect for God, and all human life from the moment of conception until natural death. To gain the correct mindset to do good, we need to pray and to ask, "What would Jesus do?" In the Lenten spirit of fasting, prayer, and good works, may we better conserve water and energy, recycle, and help and teach those in need.
With human ecology founded in human solidarity, we strive to restore the land, sea, and air. May we renew the natural environment and our cities conscientiously in harmony with the natural world. We hope to protect both human lives and the life of endangered and threatened species. May God bless scientists who research the interrelationships between humankind, the flora and fauna, and their environment, and those who manage natural habitats, and our dwellings with thought for present and future generations. May pray for all people, lay and religious, teachers, doctors, nurses, and parents, that all may serve one another as Jesus. May we cooperate in justice and peace to join our efforts toward a renewed earth for now and future generations. Then with renewed enthusiasm, we can sing praise and thanks to God our Creator with all creation for His wondrous works.
If you want peace, work for justice. If you want justice, defend life. If you want life, embrace truth—truth revealed by God.
—Pope John Paul II, 27 January 1999 (VIS—Vatican Information Service). With permission.
Our gathering, although it is at a distance, allows us to express together the common will of safeguarding creation, to support and sustain every initiative that truly improves, cares for and preserves the earth which God gave us so that we would conserve it with wisdom and love.
—Pope John Paul II, upon signing the Declaration on Environment in Vienna, 10 June 2002 (VIS—Vatican Information Service). With permission.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your Love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you will renew the face of the earth. Amen.
—Come Holy Spirit! A well-known prayer.
(C) 2002 by Anthony R. Brach.