The Glory of Creation

Dear Friends in Christ:

I am writing this letter a couple of weeks ahead of time. As I write it, I am looking out to beautiful snowcapped mountains near Glacier View, Alaska. I am honored to be up here for the wedding of a former altar boy from my time at Sacred Heart. The scenery is breathtaking. It is a gorgeous day with brilliant sunshine. There was a light frost this morning and I couldn’t help but think of the heat in Houston. This morning I took in a little hiking. Although I am not too much of an outdoorsman, it was still wonderful and invigorating. As I walked the trails, I would stop and take everything in – the sounds, the fresh breeze, the shadows, the sun, the trees and the flora, the rocks, the wildlife and the insects, but especially the views of the mountains. I am surrounded by indescribable beauty. While I experienced and reflected on this beauty, my thoughts turned to God. The majesty of God is reflected in his creation. How anyone can deny the existence of God is either utter silliness or extreme arrogance. You begin to feel very small when you are looking at a mountain.

On my hike I noticed how, in the wilderness, life literally springs up everywhere. There was one tree in particular that caught my attention. This particular tree had fallen and had been mostly uprooted. Yet, it not only clung to life, it sprouted new life in leaves and branches. This piece of vegetation in its own simple and natural way was proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and the teaching of our Catholic faith. Life is special and valuable and life is worth living! If this tree was a contemporary person, chances are it would be arguing about the quality of life, it would be questioning life’s value based on its productivity, economic impact or pleasure quotient. It would be arguing the worth of its life when considering the cost and the burden. It would be challenging the value of life when trying to consider how much space it was taking up on the planet. If this tree were a person, it would likely be questioning if it had any significance or meaning compared to others. Oh, how silly we human beings are!

Life is a gift that is precious and unique. Life is a gift that we are given not because of any merit of our own. Life is a gift that each of us receives from God, who is the author of all life. God, the one and only living God, is the creator and ultimate source of all living things. All living things are given life so that they may share in existence with the living God and give him glory! All creation and living things proclaim the greatness and goodness of God. How silly and foolish we are if we think life points only to itself. The mountains and the skies, the oceans and the forest, the heights and depths of the earth, the stars and the moon, all point not to themselves, but beyond themselves. All creation points to that which is more glorious and greater than any one created thing and all created things combined. All creation proclaims the glory of God! And what is the crown of creation? St. Irenaeus of Lyons (140 -202) summed it up beautifully, Gloria Dei homo vivens, the glory of God is the living person. A person alive, fully alive, sees how glorious life is. The living person recognizes how every breath, from the first breath of a baby to our last breath on our death bed, is a gift. As human beings we are not only recipients of this incredible gift, we are also stewards.

When we come to cherish life in all of its moments, challenges, joys and struggles, we come to appreciate how precious not only life is, but we are. We come to more clearly see not only ourselves, but the God who made us. To be fully alive is to know and love the one and only living God, the God who made heaven and earth and all things visible and invisible.

In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately