God can speak to us in many ways. In nature the sun reflects the resplendent glory of God’s face. Meditation on the Bible lifts our mind and heart to God because indeed the Bible is the Word of God. God speaks to us through circumstances, through persons, places and things that He places in our path. In fact, nothing happens by chance. Rather all that has been, is, and will be has been determined in the mind of God in what theologians call DIVINE PROVIDENCE.
Let us return to the glorious splendor and magnificence of nature. Of course, we cannot state that God is actually the beauty of nature. This is the error of the heresy of Pantheism. However, God is the Creator of all the splendor and magnificence and beauty of nature, and the beauty of nature points clearly to the beauty of the Creator behind His creation. In other words, by allowing our eyes to be captivated, mesmerized, enthralled by the majestic splendor of Creation, we can easily be lifted up to God Himself, and consequently burst forth in a hymn, canticle or song of praise.
SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI. Of the many saints present in the firmament of God’s glory in Heaven, Saint Francis of Assisi stands out as one of the most prominent in his love for the utter beauty of creation. Flowing from this inner knowledge of the beauty of creation, Francis wrote one of the first poems in the Italian language—“The Canticle of the Sun.” In this glorious hymn of praise, through nature Francis praises Brother Sun and Sister Moon, and other elements of nature, all emanating from the loving and providential Hand of God, the Creator.
OUR OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF GOD AND NATURE. Let us step back and open our eyes to God’s Book of Creation and ask ourselves what are the elements of God’s creation that seem to touch and move our hearts in the most profound manner? I can help by pointing out, on a personal note, one of my favorites: THE REALITY OF THE SUN!
THE SUN. The sun is fascinating! It rises and sets every day. The rising points to the key moment in the Life of Jesus, namely, His rising from the dead and hopefully our own rising from the dead to be united with the Risen Lord. Then the sunset points to the close of day and can easily set the stage for a meditation on the closing moments of our life—the stark but serious character of our mortality. One day we will all have to die and render an account to the Lord of the living for what we have done with the time, treasure, and talents He has bestowed upon us.
Again, the sun rising. As an ordained Catholic priest, this ascension calls to mind the greatest act on earth (the Opus Dei), the consecration in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Once the words of consecration have been pronounced over the bread and wine, and the two elements are elevated, Jesus the “Son of God” and “The Light of the World” becomes present in my hands. This indeed is the greatest miracle! From the rising of the sun to its setting, may there be a perfect offering of praise made to God. (Book of Malachi)
With respect to the physical qualities and its influence on us, the sun radiates most especially two essential qualities: light and heat. These essential physical qualities point to a supernatural quality and even the reality of a PERSON—the Holy Spirit. Of course, the Holy Spirit is God, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. In His utter goodness, He radiates in abundance both light and heat.
LIGHT. By light He illuminates our intellect so that we can perceive God Himself in His handiwork and His Word, as well as in the persons, places, events and circumstances in our lives. But of great importance, pertinent to our reflection today, we can perceive God in the beauty of Creation.
HEAT. In addition to light, the sun also emits heat. Actually, the sun is like an enormous fire-ball!!! Both enormous and intense! From this many offshoots or sparks can ignite our mystical and poetical mind! Both stark and serious, glorious and triumphant! Let’s go!
FIRE OF ETERNAL LOSS. Hell does exist and Jesus describes it in terms of the eternal fire. When Our Lady of Fatima appeared to the children on July 13, 1917, she presented Hell as a lake of enormous fire.
FIRE OF PURGATORY. Once again, contemplating the sun one can come to the reality of Purgatory. If we die in the state of sanctifying grace but still need to be purified of sin, the fire of Purgatory is our lot. Short or long—that depends on how we lived our lives. Dying with much egotism—most likely a longer duration! Saint John of the Cross depicts the human person in terms of a piece of cold, rusty, hard and smelly piece of iron thrown into a blazing fire. The fire burns away the dross until the iron becomes like the fire itself. So the fire of God’s love must burn away our dross and rust so that we can be worthy to enter His Eternal Dwelling Place.
THE FIRE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Still following up on the analogy of fire is the Presence of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2) Among the many images for the Holy Spirit—dove, wind, cloud, that of FIRE is one of the most prominent. This we witness on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary in tongues of fire. Jesus also mentioned fire in these words: “I have come to cast fire on the earth and I am not at peace until that fire be enkindled.” (Lk. 12: 49) This fire is both the Holy Spirit, as well as Jesus’ ardent love for the Eternal Father and for the salvation of our immortal souls
THE FIRE EMANATING FROM THE HEARTS OF JESUS AND MARY. Once again we turn to Jesus and now His Mother Mary related to fire in our image of the sun. Most of the images of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary depict fire. This intense fire that emanates from their hearts and surrounds them represents love. All too often, it is a love that is neither appreciated, nor accepted. Jesus complained to Saint Margaret Mary Alaqoque manifesting His suffering Sacred Heart: “Behold the Heart that loves so much and receives only coldness, indifference and ingratitude in return.”
THE GARDEN OF GOD’S BEAUTY: THE SUNFLOWER AND IT’S LIFE. Of all God’s glorious plants in the realm of flowers, the Sunflower has a prominent place, especially pertinent to our topic. The life, sustenance, preservation and very existence of the Sunflower depends upon the terrain, the planting, the cultivation, the moisture and rain, but most especially upon exposure to the sun. If this flower receives only a constant downpour of rain, its head droops almost as if it were weeping, almost as if it were a weeping willow. But when exposed to the light and the heat of the sun, the sunflower blossoms. It is almost as if it were standing on its hind legs and chanting a hymn of praise to God, the Creator of all that is good—but most especially the sun.
An interesting linguistic note. In Spanish the word sunflower is translated as such: GIRASOL—meaning, turn towards the sun. How poetic but true is the Spanish translation. The sunflower really does turn towards the sun.
HUMAN AND SUPERNATURAL SUNFLOWERS. Using a poetic, mystical, and sacramental lens, we can assert that we are all called to be a supernatural sunflower. In this sense, the more we draw close to Jesus, the Son of God, present in the Tabernacle, the Monstrance, and Holy Communion, then the more we will rise, grow, and fortify our whole being.
Then at the conclusion of our earthly life, our whole being will be both translated and transferred to God’s Eternal Garden in Heaven. There we will contemplate the radiant Face of Jesus, the Son of the Eternal Father, for all Eternity. May Our Lady, the Rosa Mystica, help us to attain this most glorious reality!