Friday, April 22, 2022

A Catholic thought for Earth Day

There's nothing new or New Agey in the Catholic tendency to see all creation as a kind of Temple: a house built by God and for God; a dwelling-place where God "rests the soles of his feet" (Ez 43:7). When God chose a people for himself and committed to remaining among them, he gave Moses explicit instructions about how to go about constructing a "tabernacle" or tent that would be God's dwelling-place. It was, as it were, a symbolic representation of the universe itself: the heavens and the earth. The same instructions were followed, with due adaptations, when Solomon built the first Temple in Jerusalem. Made of cedar, with doors of olive wood and fir panels as flooring, the Temple featured angels, palm trees, flowers and fruits carved into the walls and columns (and covered with gold). An immense bronze tub, called the "sea" represented all the waters of the earth. Embroidered with constellations and cherubim, a brocaded curtain of dark blue, red and purple set off the unapproachable Holy of Holies from the sanctuary the way the night sky seems to "wall off" the impenetrable Heavens from the earth. Even now many church buildings echo this sacred architecture, though the "Temple veil" separating Heaven and earth was torn, once and for all, from its inaccessible top all the way to the floor, at the death of Jesus.
"The Lord's is the earth and its fullness; the world and all its peoples. It is he who set it on the seas; on the waters he made it firm" (Psalm 24). 
The Temple has disappeared, as Jesus said it would, since we by baptism have become "living stones" of a new, no longer symbolic Temple. But the earth retains its value as a signpost for us Temples of the Holy Spirit.
"In the cosmic Temple, man is not living primarily in his own house, but in the house of God. That is why he knows he should revere those creatures who do not belong to him, that he can lay hands on nothing without permission. All is holy; the trees are heavy with sacramental mysteries."
Jean Cardinal Danielou, SJ

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A beautiful message, Sr.Ann.