The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf , in mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to opass from the exterior to the interior to discover God in all things, but also to discover God in all things. Saint Bonaventure teaches us that ‘contemplation deepens the more we feel the working of God’s frace withn our hearts, ahd the better we learn eo encounter God in creatures outside ourselves.
Saint John of the Cross taught that all the goodness present in the realities and experiences of this world is present in God eminently and infinitely, or more properly, in each of these sublime realities is God” This is not because the finite things of this world are really divine, but because the mystic experiences the intimate connection between God and all beings, and thus feels that ‘all things are God. ’ Standing awestruck before a mountain, he or she cannot separate this experience from God, and perceives that the interior awe being lived has to be entrusted to the Lord: ‘Mountains have heights and they are plentiful, vast, beautiful, graceful, bright, and fragrant. These mountains are what my Beloved is to me. Lonely valleys are quiet, pleasant, cool, shady, and flowing with fresh water, in the variety of their groves and in the sweet song of the birds, they afford abundant recreation and light to the senses and in their solitude and silence, they refresh us and give rest. These valleys are what my Beloved is to me.’….
“Encountering God does not mean fleeing from this world or turning our back on nature. This is especially clear in the spirituality of the Christian East. ‘Beauty, which in the East is one of the best loved names expressing the divine harmony and the model of humanity transfigures, appears everywhere: in the shape of a church, in the sounds, in the colors, in the lights in the scents’ For Christians, all the creatures of the material universe find their true meaning in the Incarnate Word, for the Son of God has incorporated in his person part of the material world, planting in it a seed of definitive transformation. ‘Christianity does not reject matter. Rather, bodiliness is considered in all its value in the liturgical act, whereby the human body is disclosed in its inner nature as a temple of the Holy Spirit, and is united with the Lord Jesus, who himself took a body for the world’s salvation.”
The Eucharist: “Laudato Si”
- “It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly, found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures. The Lord, in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter. He comes not from above, but from within, he comes that we might find him in this world of ours. In the Eucharist, fullness is already achieved; it is the living centre of the universe, the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. Indeed the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love: “Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world”.The Eucharist joins heaven and earth; it embraces and penetrates all creation. The world which came forth from God’s hands returns to him in blessed and undivided adoration: in the bread of the Eucharist, “creation is projected towards divinization, towards the holy wedding feast, towards unification with the Creator himself”.Thus, the Eucharist is also a source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment, directing us to be stewards of all creation.
- On Sunday, our participation in the Eucharist has special importance. Sunday, like the Jewish Sabbath, is meant to be a day which heals our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world. Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, the “first day” of the new creation, whose first fruits are the Lord’s risen humanity, the pledge of the final transfiguration of all created reality. It also proclaims “man’s eternal rest in God”.In this way, Christian spirituality incorporates the value of relaxation and festivity. We tend to demean contemplative rest as something unproductive and unnecessary, but this is to do away with the very thing which is most important about work: its meaning. We are called to include in our work a dimension of receptivity and gratuity, which is quite different from mere inactivity. Rather, it is another way of working, which forms part of our very essence. It protects human action from becoming empty activism; it also prevents that unfettered greed and sense of isolation which make us seek personal gain to the detriment of all else. The law of weekly rest forbade work on the seventh day, “so that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your maidservant, and the stranger, may be refreshed” (Ex 23:12). Rest opens our eyes to the larger picture and gives us renewed sensitivity to the rights of others. And so the day of rest, centred on the Eucharist, sheds it light on the whole week, and motivates us to greater concern for nature and the poor.”