Tag Archives: Creation

“Laudato Si”

butterflyPope Francis’ Encyclical  “Laudato Si, (Praise Be): On Care for Our Common Home” has generated a lot of publicity.  As is common with many media reports involving our dear Pope Francis, I am certain many things will be twisted and portions will be taken out to suit specific agendas.  I decided to give it a read myself and highly recommend it to everyone!  It is a wonderful document filled with praise for our Creator and an urgent pleading for the greater care of all His creation.  I encourage you to read it for yourself to truly appreciate all the Pope has to say instead of just the bits and pieces the media might pull out.  You can read the full encyclical here.  Here are some of my favorite quotes from the document (it was so hard to choose just a few!):

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made” (Ps 33:6). This tells us that the world came about as the result of a decision, not from chaos or chance, and this exalts it all the more. The creating word expresses a free choice. The universe did not emerge as the result of arbitrary omnipotence, a show of force or a desire for self-assertion. Creation is of the order of love. God’s love is the fundamental moving force in all created things: “For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made; for you would not have made anything if you had hated it” (Wis 11:24). Every creature is thus the object of the Father’s tenderness, who gives it its place in the world. Even the fleeting life of the least of beings is the object of his love, and in its few seconds of existence, God enfolds it with his affection.

The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment.

In the family we first learn how to show love and respect for life; we are taught the proper use of things, order and cleanliness, respect for the local ecosystem and care for all creatures. In the family we receive an integral education, which enables us to grow harmoniously in personal maturity. In the family we learn to ask without demanding, to say “thank you” as an expression of genuine gratitude for what we have been given, to control our aggressivity and greed, and to ask forgiveness when we have caused harm. These simple gestures of heartfelt courtesy help to create a culture of shared life and respect for our surroundings.

Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good because, lived out authentically, it is reflected in a balanced lifestyle together with a capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life. Nature is filled with words of love, but how can we listen to them amid constant noise, interminable and nerve-wracking distractions, or the cult of appearances?

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.

The Father is the ultimate source of everything, the loving and self-communicating foundation of all that exists. The Son, his reflection, through whom all things were created, united himself to this earth when he was formed in the womb of Mary. The Spirit, infinite bond of love, is intimately present at the very heart of the universe, inspiring and bringing new pathways.

Eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place and have something to give those poor men and women who will have been liberated once and for all. In the meantime, we come together to take charge of this home which has been entrusted to us, knowing that all the good which exists here will be taken up into the heavenly feast.

The Beauty of Creation

Winter is not letting up just yet! As we are in the midst of another snowstorm it can be easy to complain about the weather. Instead, I decided to re-blog a post I had written two years ago to invite all of us to look for the beauty in God’s creation. God’s wondrous works can be seen even in the icy weather that surrounds us. Let us all take a moment today to see His glory surrounding us.

roses near running waters

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness.  God is the friend of silence.  See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence;  see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…. We need silence to be able to touch souls.” ~Blessed Mother Theresa

The beauty of creation surrounds us everywhere.  In the trees, flowers, rivers, waterfalls, animals, mountains, deserts, jungles…the list goes on and on.  For me, I find that being in nature always makes me feel closer to God.  It’s hard to walk through the woods on a beautiful crisp fall day with the sun shining through the colorful leaves without thinking of the Creator.  When you look out at the sun rising over the ocean with water and sky merging in glorious colors as far as the eye can see, how can you not marvel at what our God has created?    In the midst of these gorgeous…

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White As Snow

The first snowfall of the season has arrived!  I awoke this morning and looked outside to see the ground blanketed in beautiful fresh snow.  It was the perfect kind of snow. Crisp, white, soft.  It decorated every branch of every tree.  Huge snowflakes fell softly to the ground.   Snowfall

As I walked my dog at the park next door, I was struck by the beauty of the remnants of fall mixing together with the upcoming winter.  Red and orange leaves that has fallen onto the path were frozen and crunched with ice and snow as we walked.  The reds, yellows, and oranges of the fall leaves that had not yet left the trees poked through the snow and left splashes of color. 

The rising morning sun cast beams of light that made the fall colors even brighter hues and made the snow glisten all the more.  As I walked and prayed I thought of Isaiah 1:18:

“though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be like snow;”

I looked at the   scarlet leaves covered with white snow and marveled at our God’s goodness. 

Many people lament the start of the winter season.  It is easy to see the dangerous roads, the poor visibility, the shoveling, the brown sludge of wet snow mixed with dirt and mud, icy sidewalks, and high heating bills!  

Instead we need to pause and take a look at the beauty of the snow that our Creator has sent to us!  We need to be reminded that our lives are like the winter.  They are messy, full of problems and trials.  But oh how beautiful our lives become when we set our gaze on the Creator and live in His love!  He has made such wonderful things and has given us so much.  Our sins are forgotten; made clean and white as winter snow. Our God is truly amazing.

Creation, Science and Faith

Last night I had a terrible headache…the kind where you don’t want to even keep your eyes open.  So after dinner as my husband and I were sitting on the couch relaxing, I handed over the remote for him to choose whatever he might like to watch as I would likely only half listen with my eyes shut anyway.  My husband is a geologist and so chose to watch a National Geographic Amazing Planet program that discussed the forming of earth through plate tectonics and the capabilities, both destructive and otherwise, of volcanoes, earthquakes, and so forth.  As I heard the woman begin to describe the earth as an upset stomach belching forth lava, I fought back a chuckle and fully intended to sleep through the remainder of the program.  But try as I might, the woman narrating the film with peculiar metaphors and overly dramatic warnings of the earth’s future demise caught my attention and I ended up listening to the entire program.

It was quite interesting really.  I have never been one for science but it was intriguing to hear the theories behind the earth’s formation, scientific evidence behind the plate tectonics that shape our planet, and so forth.  What I found most interesting, was how all of these theories seemed to fit well with the creation story I believe in, even though there was a noticeable absence of any mention of God.  This led to a discussion between my husband and me about God and faith as it relates to science.  Scientists desire to explain the why and the how behind everything.  Faith is believing even in the things you cannot understand.  Many people view these as separate things that cannot be combined.  You either believe in science, or God.  But why? 

In the program last night, they showed an animated model of earth forming.  The image was one of the sun in the background as miscellaneous space rock collided together and began to circle around a fiery center which they explained was earth’s core.  The image was striking to me because even as I watched it, I could picture the same image with the hands of God turning the molten rock together to form our planet.  The only difference from my image and theirs was that theirs contained more confusion.  The narrator reached a point in her explanation where she explained that they do not know what drove the space material to combine into our planet, nor why it formed the way it did, being able to sustain life in ways that other planets cannot.  I felt like raising my hand saying “I know! I know!”  To me the answer is simple; the earth formed the way it did because God formed it.  It was not just a random act of space with no rhyme or reason; it was the plan of our Almighty Creator!

The program described the beginnings of earth as essentially a ball of fire, with magma eventually cooling on the outermost layer to form our core.  The density of clouds and gasses produced eventually became rain which caused water to form on the earth.  The fertile soil from the volcanic material was cause for a wide variety of plants to spring forth out of nowhere. And of course eventually the circulation of bubbling molten rock beneath the earth’s surface moved the plates around creating a wide configuration of continents before settling on seven continents the way we know it today.

Now let’s compare that with the Bible’s account of creation:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.   Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.   Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a third day.” Genesis 1:1-13

If we combine this with the scientific approach, it all seems to make perfect sense.  A formless void rock forms as the Spirit of God moves it into position. The water was formed through a separation between the waters above in the atmosphere which rain down to water on the surface.  The water was gathered into one place, land in another, to form continents.  The ground was extremely fertile and every type of vegetation came to be.  Science tells us these things happened largely due to the earth’s inner core.  And I say sure!  That makes sense to me.  Our God is a very intricate creator.  It makes perfect sense in my mind that He would create our earth the way He did, with plates and magma and everything.  Let’s read on into Genesis:

“This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven. Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:1-7

Now doesn’t that mist rising from the earth to water it sound an awful lot like the scientific belief of steam from within the earth coming forth to create gas and then water?  And the Bible definitely had this recorded way before modern science “discovered” it!

Of course scientists believe this took millions, even billions of years to take place.  The Bible says seven days.  What are we to believe?  The importance of the Genesis accounts on creation is that God created everything with purpose and as unique creatures.  I believe that the creation story splits it into seven days for a few reasons: 1) to emphasize the importance of taking a day of rest to worship the Lord and 2) to emphasize that God did not merely create the earth and let nature take its course, seeing what random things would come to be.  But rather that each portion of creation was designed by God and created thusly.  This is not to contradict the Bible.  The Bible is not legend.  It is the Divine Word of God and is truth.  However, we cannot know the exact meaning of a “day” even with the mention of morning and evening.  While this sounds like a typical day, we cannot know if it was literally 24 hours.  We also cannot know whether it was written as an exact chronological account or if it was split up as such to emphasize specific points.  In fact, the order of plants, then animals, and finally man that we read in Genesis 1 is changed in Genesis 2 which places the creation of man first, with plants and animals created afterward for the man. This shows us that the chronological timing is not the focus here.  The focus should be on the f act that God did create everything as individual events and with a specific purpose.  The answer to how long it took to form the earth is, in my mind, irrelevant.  Especially when we consider the Creator.  One thing that fascinates me is the concept of existing outside of time and space.   Days, weeks, hours, years, are all human constraints.  God is not a mere human.  He does not exist within our given time frames.  He is always present, in the past, present, and future.  This is beyond our comprehension. 

“O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.” Psalm 139:1-6

God is everywhere at all times.  While this knowledge is too wonderful for us to ever understand, it is truth. 

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8

Therefore, the exact number of hours as we know them to be that it took to create the universe is not for us to know.  God is the beginning, He is the end, He is all things in between.  Nothing can exist outside of God.  

We do not need to have all the answers.  This we know:  God created the earth with divine purpose.  It did not just happen to create itself from nothing.  The theories of science may very well be true.  Perhaps earth did form the way the National Geographic woman explained in the program.  But it was not an accident.  It was God who directed the magma to flow, the seas to form, rain to fall, and plants to grow.  It was God who created every living thing.  If creatures evolved in some way it was because God willed it so.  Whether this took one week or billions of years in time as we know it is outside our understanding and does not matter.  God created it all.

Although I started the program with a splitting headache and my mind was racing a mile a minute comparing scripture to the scientific theories presented, I went to bed with my head feeling at ease and my body relaxed.  Despite the lack of mention of God within the program, the sheer awesomeness of earth’s beginnings shout the glories of the Creator even without saying His name.  The thought of this awesome power from such a loving God filled my heart with gladness and peace knowing that I am loved by the Divine Creator of it all.

“Let the glory of the LORD endure forever; Let the LORD be glad in His works” Psalm 104:31

A Wonderful Vacation

603144_10101549991147344_2073213547_nI can hear the sound of the waves on the shore before I can see it. The sound is so soothing and instantly relaxing. The wind blows gently and I can smell the salt, the sand, the sea. The surrounding trees grow towards me as I walk towards the shore. Years of winds from the ocean have permanently molded them to grow this way. It looks as though God took His hand and brushed the branches of these trees all in one direction and they never changed. The sea oats planted securely in the dunes wave with the breeze coming off the shore. We walk over a small hill and there it is. Seemingly endless waters. The blue of the water reaches up to the blue of the sky and down to the soft brown sand of the beach. The sand is soft beneath my feet and I take off my shoes and let my toes sink in. We walk down to the waves that are coming up on the shore. Small shells are scattered about; some almost whole, others rounded and beat up from being tossed and tumbled in the waves. I walk towards the water and let the foam of the sea reach out and surround my feet with the refreshing water before receding again into the ocean. The constant ebb and flow is so relaxing. I hold my husband’s hand and we walk together in the early morning light along the water. I stop and just look out at the immense beauty of it all. How wonderful is our Lord?

 
 970829_10101549971811094_1462811235_nLater we go back in the middle of the day with the family. Slathered in sunscreen we lay on the beach enjoying the warmth of the sun on our bodies as we listen to the shore. Birds fly by. We talk, we laugh, we simply lay in silence taking in the beauty around us. When we begin to feel the heat and need to cool off, we swim. We go into the water and await the perfect wave to dive beneath. The salty taste of the sea clings to our lips. The water is cool, but refreshing and invigorating. We bob in the waves and ride them to shore and when we have had enough, we begin to walk again. The tide is going out and small tide pools are forming. The warm shallow water has many things in it to discover. We walk along the shore and find a starfish, perfectly beautiful, gently moving with the waves. We see little clams digging their way deep into the sand to avoid becoming lunch to one of the birds flying overhead. I see a perfect little seashell and reach down to pick it up only to discover a small hermit crab scurrying back inside to hide. We walk in awe of the majesty of God’s creation from the vastness of the ocean to the tiniest of clams.

431854_10101549976097504_1723537399_n At night we go to the seashore again. It is dark and the stars and moon are shining brightly. It is high tide and the waves reach almost all the way to the dunes leaving us only a small patch of sand to walk upon. We walk quietly and carefully using our flashlights to spot ghost crabs running sideways along the sand as they head out towards the waters. The sea looks so different at night. The bright blues and greens of the day have faded into black. The black of the rolling waves with the reflection of the moon and stars shimmering upon them meet eh black of the night sky. I stare out at the sea and up at the sky. I take it all in, the waves, the stars, the moon, the presence of family. The wind is a bit chilly now at night but I don’t mind. After a while we decide to head in for the night, knowing we will return to the shore again tomorrow. As we head back to camp and get ready for bed my mind is filled with the sights and sounds of the day and praise for our Lord. My mind cannot comprehend the awesome power of our God to create all of this beauty. To create the stars burning brightly millions and millions of miles from here. To create the sea, so vast that we cannot even know what lies in its depths. To create all the creatures and every plant with such detail! To create us in His very own image and because He loves us so, give us His only Son so that one day we will be with Him in a place even more glorious than we can imagine. My heart is filled with happiness and peace as I lay next to my husband, my family in the campsite next to use. We say our prayers and as I fall asleep with the soft sound of the waves in the distance, my soul sings praise to the Lord for all He has given us.

Snowflakes from Heaven

As the year draws to an end, I find myself (like so many others) thinking back upon 2012.  Moving, searching for new jobs, starting new jobs, adjusting.  There was a lot of uncertainty in the past year and will continue to be in the upcoming year simply because as humans we do not know what God has in store for us.  With a new year beginning, my husband and I have already begun to plan.  To plan our financial budget for the new year, to plan vacations and time off work, to plan for visits with family and friends, and so on.  This has been and still is a weak point for myself.  Sometimes I get so caught up in my plan that I forget to look and listen for His plan for my life.  It is something I work on and pray about daily and with God’s grace I know I am getting better at listening and waiting.  But it still can be a struggle!

There are many passages I have turned to when I feel that “planning panic” creep up and know that it is time to calm down and listen to Him.  I think about Jesus telling us not to worry about today and to look at the flowers who don’t worry at all but are so beautiful.  I think about Him telling us that if He cares and provides for a tiny sparrow…how much more will He care for us?

Recently a new image has come to mind and it is quite fitting for this time of year.  Snow.  There is at least a foot of snow outside my home at the moment and it seems to just keep coming down!  I cannot tell you how many times my husband has been out shoveling in the past week alone!  And that is just in my little town.  Snow covers so many places during the winter in a beautiful blanket of white.  But what is truly amazing to me is to consider each tiny snowflake.  There are so many millions of snowflakes falling from the sky and each one is so incredibly intricate and unique.  It is believed that no two snowflakes are alike due to the complex freesing process that creates these tiny crystals.  In the winter I love to wear dark colored gloves or mittens so that when I catch a snowflake in my hands, for a brief second before it melts away, I can glimpse this tiny but spectacular snow crystal!  And while we know that the freezing process causes these crystals, I also know that it would never be possible without God’s hand.   What a glorious work of creation in each perfect snowflake!

Our loving God who creates the flowers with such beauty, who knows the hairs on our heads, who sees every sparrow that falls, He also forms each and every snowflake that falls to the ground.  Snow blankets the ground and leaves everything feeling a little more peaceful and calm.  And I know that our loving God who creates each snowflake with such spectacular and unique shapes and designs surely has a plan for me and that I need not worry.  I will simply look out the window at the beautiful white snow and be reminded of my Creator’s awesome power and know that everything is in His hands.

Happy New Year to you all and God Bless!

All images are of real snowflakes photographed with a special photomicroscope.  Here is the link to the full gallery if you would like to see more

http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/photos/photos.htm

Maker of Beautiful Things

flower-204857_640While the title of my blog may refer to roses, my favorite flower is the daisy.  For our wedding, all I wanted were white and yellow daisies.  It was surprisingly difficult to find!  Most florists would try to convince me I needed a more impressive bouquet, that daisies were too plain or simple.  Some florists offered to combine daisies in with a large variety of other “fancy” flowers.  One florist offered to include daisies with little gems and jewels attached to them.  All I wanted though, were daisies.  And eventually I found a florist who gave me just that.  Beautiful daisy bouquets.  Simple.  Elegant.  Beautiful.

The fact that daisies are considered just plain, or boring, or simple, is exactly why I love them.  The distinct white petals seem so pure when contrasted with almost any background.  The small yellow center just seems to be a little pop of joyful color.  In their simplicity, they remind me that beauty is all around us.  That makeup, designer clothes, expensive haircuts, are not what make us beautiful.  Our God is a Maker of beautiful things of all shapes and sizes.  We only need to look around us to see all the beauty surrounding us. 

The way the leaves on the trees seem to dance in the wind outside my window as the sun peeks through them while beginning to set.  The way that the river gently flows through the forest.  The way that the clouds make designs in the sky and create small holes where the sunshine pours through like angels coming down to earth.  God makes beautiful things all around us.  And we are no different.  He can take our ordinary lives and make them into something beautiful. He can turn our lives into beautiful lives filled with the love of Christ and the peace of the Holy Spirit.  And we can share that love, that peace, with those around us.  I may be a “simple” girl.  But just like the daisy can be so simple and yet so beautiful through its Creator, I pray that God will take my ordinary life and make it beautiful. 

Below is a video of the song “Beautiful Things” by the band Gungor.  I heard this song come on the radio the other day.  It’s a song I’ve heard before but always just in the background.  I never really paid attention to the lyrics.  But it seemed to hit me in just the right place.  In all the confusion and chaos of everyday life, I pray that God will fill me with peace, love, and light so that my soul will be beautiful in the eyes of our Maker.