Make each day an Earth Day by respecting creation Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Apr. 21, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

For some astronauts, an unexpected result of their participation in the space program was a deepening of their faith in God.

Frank Borman was commander of the first space crew to travel beyond Earth's orbit. Looking down on Earth from 250,000 miles away, he radioed back a message, quoting Genesis 1: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth."

He later added, "After viewing Earth from space, I experienced an enormous feeling that there had to be a power greater than any of us, that there was a God and a beginning."

Astronaut John Glenn exclaimed, "To look out at creation from space and not believe in God is, to me, impossible."

Reminds us of God's presence

Our vast universe, the mini-universe of a cell, and creation's other marvels can open us to God's presence as it did for these and other astronauts.

Earth nourishes us physically by providing food, clothing, and shelter. Creation feeds our hunger for beauty with flowers, sun, moon, stars, and God's other endless masterpieces.

In Psalm 19: 1-2 it says, "The heavens declare God's glory. The skies proclaim the handiwork of God's hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge."

St. Athanasius wrote, "The firmament with its magnificence, beauty, and order is an admirable preacher of its Maker, whose eloquence fills the universe."

In no. 341 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it says, "Creation's beauty reflects the Creator's infinite beauty and ought to inspire the respect and submission of man's intellect and will.''

St. John Paul II said, "Creation remains kind of a first revelation which speaks to us clearly of the Creator and can lead us ever more deeply into the mystery of God's love for us."

Safeguarding the Earth

In his 2015 Earth Day Message, Pope Francis stated, "The Earth is an environment to be safeguarded, a garden to be cultivated. The relationship of mankind with nature must not be conducted with greed, manipulation, and exploitation, but it must conserve the divine harmony that exists between creatures and creation within the logic of respect and care, so it can be put to the service of our brothers, also of future generations."

Pope Benedict XVI fears that we are losing the attitude of wonder and contemplation by not listening to creation.

In his Memoirs, the Venerable Fr. Mazzuchelli wrote, "How beautiful and sublime are thoughts that come to one who, lying on the vast meadow, was led by countless glowing stars to contemplate the glory of God.

"If God provides for his servants a room so rich as to contemplate in the silence of the night, who could imagine what He has prepared for their enjoyment in the eternal and most radiant day of paradise.

"I believe that King David, St. Patrick, and other shepherds and saints came closer to God by contemplating God's heavenly cities of stars at night."

Wonders of spring

We in the Midwest are graced because after winter, green grass rises from its winter tomb and flowers again delight us as stars of earth. Birds happily sing their alleluias of joy, crickets chirp, and guided by God, geese honk in squadron flight.

The joy of risen life echoes in happy energetic sounds of playing children. Couples walk hand in hand as their eyes glow with love! First Communions, proms, and Pentecost invite us to enjoy Christ's loving risen beauty.

To enjoy and be renewed by nature's wonder and beauty, each year millions of Americans retreat to woods, water, and nature to relax and get in touch with their inner self. Contact with nature resurrects the mystic in us, feeds our hunger for beauty, and can help bring us closer to God as it did for some astronauts.

Celebrating Earth Day

We celebrate Earth Day on Friday, April 22, this year. Earth Day was started by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson to teach us to take better care of the environment.

He declared, "The battle to restore a proper relationship between man and his environment and between man and other living creatures requires a long, sustained political, moral, ethical, and financial commitment, far beyond any effort made before."

We can make each day an Earth Day by responsible recycling, using renewable energy at home and work, and asking elected officials to vote for responsible legislation that helps and heals the environment. If we're able, we can plant trees, walk, ride a bike, or participate in other activities.

A precious gift we can give to future generations is to work together to care for Mother Earth so they can enjoy her blessings as much or more than we do.

Fr. Donald Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.