Laudato Si 233: Sacramental Signs and the Celebration of Rest

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Sections 233-237 treat the topic of “Sacramental Signs and the Celebration of Rest.” As you might guess, I feel an affinity for these passages, and gladness that Pope Francis is reaching into the Church’s common life of prayer to assist in making his argument in favor of environmental sensitivity and connection.

233. The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face.* The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things. Saint Bonaventure teaches us that “contemplation deepens the more we feel the working of God’s grace within our hearts, and the better we learn to encounter God in creatures outside ourselves”.[In II Sent., 23, 2, 3]
* The spiritual writer Ali al-Khawas stresses from his own experience the need not to put too much distance between the creatures of the world and the interior experience of God. As he puts it: “Prejudice should not have us criticize those who seek ecstasy in music or poetry. There is a subtle mystery in each of the movements and sounds of this world. The initiate will capture what is being said when the wind blows, the trees sway, water flows, flies buzz, doors creak, birds sing, or in the sound of strings or flutes, the sighs of the sick, the groans of the afflicted…” (Eva de Vitray-Meyerovitch [ed.], Anthologie du soufisme, Paris 1978, 200).

“God in all things.” One can’t get more Ignatian than that.

That quote from Saint Bonaventure is also intriguing. Another commentator once said that one of the outward signs of holiness is how one treats animals, what gentleness and compassion one can muster for those “creatures outside ourselves.” Contrast that with the way animals are mistreated these days, animals abused for sport and for the maximization of food cultivation.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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