Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Conservation Center
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Conservation Center
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The Ecology of Saints and Blesseds (Page 2)
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Saint Basil the Great (329-379)

I WANT TO awake in you a deep admiration for creation, until you in every place, contemplating plants and flowers, are overcome by a living remembrance of the Creator. + Homilies on the Hexaemeron, VI, 1. I WANT CREATION to penetrate you with so much admiration that wherever you go, the least plant may bring you a clear remembrance of the Creator... One blade of grass or one speck of dust is enough to occupy your entire mind in beholding the art with which it has been made. + Hexameron, Homily V. O GOD, ENLARGE within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers, the animals, to whom thou gave the earth as their home in common with us. We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty, so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to thee in song, has been a groan of travail. May we realize that they live not for us alone but for themselves and for thee and that they love the sweetness of life. + Quoted in The Greening of the Church, Sean McDonagh, 1990, Maryknoll: Orbis Books YOU COULD HAVE learned of the communion of the Spirit with the Father and with the Son from the initial act of creation... The Father, since he creates by his very will, would not have needed the Son; but he wants to create through the Son. The Son would not even have needed cooperation, since he acts in the same way as the Father, but even the Son wanted to perfect the work through the Spirit... You understand, therefore, that there are three: the Lord who orders, the Word who creates, the Breath who confirms. Who else could have been the confirmation if not the one who perfects? I HAVE ADMIRED the wisdom of God in all things. DO YOU NOT SEE in this little creature a like proof of the power of the Creator?  GOD HAS FORESEEN all, He has neglected nothing.  His eye, which never sleeps, watches over all.  He is present everywhere and gives to each being the means of preservation. + Homily VII BATS, OWLS, and night-ravens are birds of night: if by chance you cannot sleep, reflect on these nocturnal birds and their peculiarities and glorify their Maker. IF WE SIMPLY read the words of Scripture we find only a few short syllables. “Let the waters bring forth fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven,” but if we enquire into the meaning of these words, then the great wonder of the wisdom of the Creator appears. What a difference He has foreseen among winged creatures! How He has divided them by kinds! How He has characterized each one of them by distinct qualities! But the day will not suffice me to recount the wonders of the air. Earth is calling me to describe wild beasts, reptiles and cattle, ready to show us in her turn sights rivaling those of plants, fish, and birds. “Let the earth bring forth the living soul” of domestic animals, of wild beasts, and of reptiles after their kind. EARTH HAS WELCOMED you with its own plants, water with its fish, air with its birds; the continent in its turn is ready to offer you as rich treasures. May He who has filled all with the works of His creation and has left everywhere visible memorials of His wonders, fill your hearts with all spiritual joys in Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom belongs glory and power, world without end. Amen. + Homily VIII BEHOLD the word of God pervading creation. WHAT LANGUAGE can attain to the marvels of the Creator? What ear could understand them? And what time would be sufficient to relate them? Let us say, then, with the prophet, “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all.” CHILDREN LOVE your parents, and you, “parents provoke not your children to wrath.” Does not nature say the same? Paul teaches us nothing new; he only tightens the links of nature. If the lioness loves her cubs, if the she wolf fights to defend her little ones, what shall man say who is unfaithful to the precept and violates nature herself ? ...With animals invincible affection unites parents with children. It is the Creator, God Himself, who substitutes the strength of feeling for reason in them... All bear the marks of the wisdom of the Creator, and show that they have come to life with the means of assuring their preservation. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to find anything superfluous or wanting in creation. + Homily IX FOR, AS WE perceive His wisdom, His goodness, and all His invisible things from the creation of the world, so we know Him. So, too, we accept Him as our Lord. For since God is the Creator of the whole world, and we are a part of the world, God is our Creator. This knowledge is followed by faith, and this faith by worship. + Letter CCXXXV The bread you do not use is the bread of the hungry. The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of the person who is naked. The shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot. The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor. The acts of charity you do not perform are the injustices you commit. ...THE PROPER AND NATURAL adornment of the earth is its completion: corn waving in the valleys–meadows green with grass and rich with many coloured flowers–fertile glades and hill- tops shaded by forests. + Homily II

Saint Ambrose (Circa 339-397)

I GIVE THANKS to our Lord God, who made a work of such a nature that he could find rest therein. He made the heavens. I do not read that he rested. He made the earth. I do not read that he rested. He made the sun, moon, and stars. I do not read that he found rest there. But I do read that he made the human person and then found rest in one whose sins he would remit. HERE ARE PEOPLE who find no delight in tapestries of purple or costly stage curtains. Their pleasure lies rather in their admiration of this most beautiful fabric of the world, this accord of unlike elements, this heaven that is spread out like a tent to dwell in to protect those who inhabit this world. They find their pleasure in the earth allotted to them for their labors, in the ambient air, in the seas here enclosed in their bounds. In the people who are the instruments of the operations of God they hear music which echoes from the melodious sound of God's word, within which the Spirit of God works. + Creation, in Creation, Paradise, Cain, and Abel, Trans. John Savage, 42 and 70 WITHOUT THE SPIRIT no creature could endure, but even that the Spirit is the creator of every creature. Who could deny that the creation of the earth was the work of the Holy Spirit? Who could deny that, if the creation of the earth was the work of the Holy Spirit, then its renewal is also the work of the Spirit? + On the Holy Spirit, II, 34-35  WHY DO INJURIES of nature delight you? The world has been created for all, while you rich are trying to keep it for yourselves. Not merely the possession of the earth, but the very sky, air and the sea are claimed for the use of the rich few... Not from your own do you bestow on the poor man, but you make return from what is his. For what has been given are common for the use of all, you appropriate for yourself alone. The earth belongs to all, not to the rich. + De Nabuthe Jezraelita 3, 11 IN TRUTH, THE SUN is good, because it serves, helps my fruitfulness and nourishes my fruits. It was given to me for my good and is subject with me in my labor. It groans with me, for the adoption as sons and the redemption of the human race, so that we also can be released from slavery. At my side, together with me, it praises the Creator. Together with me it raises a hymn to the Lord our God. Where the sun blesses, there the earth blesses, the trees that bear fruit bless, the animals bless and the birds bless with me. + I Sei Biorni della Crezione, SAEMO, I, Milan-Rome, 1977-1994, pp. 192-193. EVEN THE SERPENTS praise the Lord, because their nature and aspect reveal to our eyes a certain beauty and show that they have their reason for existing. + I Sei Biorni della Crezione, SAEMO, I, Milan-Rome, 1977-1994, pp. 103-104 FOR THE MYSTERY of the Incarnation of God is the salvation of the whole of creation. + On the Christian Faith (De fide), Book V, Prologue

Saint John Chrysostom (347-407)

ONE WAY OF coming to knowledge of God is that which is provided by the whole of creation, and another, is that which is offered by conscience. AMONG THE GROWTH springing up from the earth it was not only plants that are useful but also those that are harmful, and not only trees that bear fruit but also those that bear none; and not only tame animals but also wild and unruly ones. Among the creatures emerging from the waters it was not only fish but also sea monsters and other fierce creatures. It was not only inhabited land but also the unpeopled; not only level plains but also mountains and woods. Among birds it was not only tame ones and those suitable for our food but also wild and unclean ones, hawks and vultures and many others of that kind. Among the creatures produced from the earth it was not only tame animals but also snakes, vipers, serpents, lions and leopards. In the sky it was not only showers and kindly breezes but also hail and snow. And if anyone had a mind to examine the list in detail, you would find in each case not only things considered not useful to us but even harmful, so that no one would be free after this to survey created things and find fault with their origins, saying, What’s the purpose of this one? What’s the use of this one? This one’s well made, but this other one not so. Hence, Sacred Scripture checks those people endeavoring to show ingratitude, you might say, by adding after the creation of everything on the sixth day, “God saw everything he had made, and behold, it was very good”. THE EARTH, you know, is our mother and provider; to it we owe our beginning and our growth; this is homeland and grave for us all alike; to the earth we come back in the end, and through it we lay hold of countless benefits. + Homilies on Genesis 1-17, trans. Robert C. Hill, vol. 74 of Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1986) Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430) SOME PEOPLE, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead He set before your eyes the things He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that? QUESTION THE BEAUTY of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air distending and diffusing itself, question the beauty of the sky...question all these realities. All respond: "See, we are beautiful." Their beauty is a profession. These beauties are subject to change. Who made them if not the Beautiful One who is not subject to change? THE EXPLANATION, then, of the goodness of creation is the goodness of God. It puts an end to all controversies concerning the origin of the world... The heretics mention, for example, fire, cold, wild beasts and things like that, without considering how wonderful such things are in themselves and in their proper place, and how beautifully they fit into the total pattern of the universe, making their particular contributions to the commonweal of cosmic beauty. + The City of God 11.22 GOD HIMSELF has created all that is wonderful in this world, the great miracles as well as the minor marvels I have mentioned, and he has included them all in that unique wonder, the miracle of miracles, the world itself. TRULY THE VERY FACT of existing is by some natural spell so pleasant that even the wretched are for no other reason unwilling to perish; and, when they feel that they are wretched, wish not that they themselves be annihilated, but that their misery be removed. Is it not obvious how nature shrinks from annihilation? What! Do not even all irrational animals from the huge dragons to the least worms all testify that they wish to exist, and therefore shun death by every movement in their power? Nay, the very plants and shrubs, do not they all seek in their own fashion to conserve their own existence by rooting themselves more and more deeply in the earth, so that they may draw nourishment and throw out healthy branches to the sky? BY THE TRINITY, thus supremely and equally and unchangeably good, all things were created; and these are not supremely and equally and unchangeably good, but yet they are, good, even taken separately. Taken as a whole, however, they are very good, because their ensemble constitutes the universe in all its wonderful order and beauty. + The Enchiridion, 420 IT IS NECESSARY that we, viewing the Creator through the works of his hands, raise up our minds to the contemplation of the Trinity, of which creation bears the mark in a certain and due proportion. + De Trinitate, VI, 10, 12 THE TRACE of the Trinity appears in creatures. + De Trin. vi, 10 THE EARTH IS GOOD by the height of its mountains, the moderate elevation of its hills, and the evenness of its fields; and good is the farm that is pleasant and fertile; tile; and good is the house that is arranged throughout in symmetrical proportions and is spacious and bright; and good are the animals, animate bodies; and good is the mild and salubrious air; and good is the food that is pleasant and conducive to health; and good is health without pains and weariness; and good is the countenance of man with regular features, a cheerful expression, and a glowing color; and good is the soul of a friend with the sweetness of concord and the fidelity of love; and good is the just man; and good are riches because they readily assist us; and good is the heaven with its own sun, moon, and stars. + De Trinitate THEREFORE, IT IS in the nature of things, considered in itself, without regard to our convenience or inconvenience, that gives glory to the Creator... And so all nature's substances are good, because they exist and therefore have their own mode and kind of being, and, in their fashion, a peace and harmony among themselves. + Quoted in The Greening of the Church, Sean McDonagh, 1990, Maryknoll: Orbis Books WHEN YOU OBSERVE these creatures and delight in them, when you look to the Architect of all things, and when you contemplate his invisible attributes in things created through the intellect, then let us confess his name over the earth and in the heavens... If the creatures are beautiful, how much more beautiful must the Creator be? + Esposizioni sui Salmi, IV, Rome, 1977, pp. 887-889. BUT WHERE IN all the varied movements of creation is there any work of God which is not wonderful, were it not that through familiarity these wonders have become small in our esteem?   Nay, how many common things are trodden under foot, which, if examined carefully, awaken our astonishment! THE CREATION OF any living creature compels every one who considers it with piety and wisdom to give to the Creator praise which words cannot express; and if this praise is called forth by the creation of any living creature whatsoever, how much more is it called forth by the creation of a human person!   + Letter CXXXVII. THOSE WHO ARE engaged at work in the fields are most given to jubilate; reapers, or vintagers, or those who gather any of the fruits of the earth, delighted with the abundant produce, and rejoicing in the very richness and exuberance of the soil, sing in exultation; and among the songs which they utter in words, they put in certain cries without words in the exultation of a rejoicing mind; and this is what is meant by jubilating... 5. When then are we jubilant? When we praise that which cannot be uttered. For we observe the whole creation, the earth and the sea, and all things that therein are: we observe that each have their sources and causes, the power of production, the order of birth, the limit of duration, the end in decease, that successive ages run on without any confusion, that the stars roll, as it seems, from the East to the West, and complete the courses of the years: we see how the months are measured, how the hours extend; and in all these things a certain invisible element, I know not what, but some principle? of unity, which is termed spirit or soul, present in all living things, urging them to the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, and the preservation of their own safety; that man also has somewhat in common with the Angels of God; not with cattle, such as life, hearing, sight, and so forth; but somewhat which can understand God, which peculiarly does belong to the mind, which can distinguish justice and injustice, as the eye discerns white from black. In all this consideration of creation, which I have run over as I could, let the soul ask itself: Who created all these things? Who made them? Who made among them thyself? ... I have observed the whole creation, as far as I could. I have observed the bodily creation in heaven and on earth, and the spiritual in myself who am speaking, who animate my limbs, who exert voice, who move the tongue, who pronounce words, and distinguish sensations. And when can I comprehend myself in myself? How then can I comprehend what is above myself? Yet the sight of God is promised to the human heart, and a certain operation of purifying the heart is enjoined; this is the counsel of Scripture. Provide the means of seeing what thou loves, before thou try to see it.  For unto whom is it not sweet to hear of God and His Name, except to the ungodly, who is far removed, separated from Him?... 6. Be therefore like Him in piety, and earnest in meditation: for "the invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made;" look upon the things that are made, admire them, seek their author. If thou art unlike, thou wilt turn back; if like, thou wilt rejoice. + Expositions on the Psalms, PSALM C THE MANIFOLD DIVERSITY of beauty in sky and earth and sea; the abundance of light, and its miraculous loveliness, in sun and moon and stars; the dark shades of woods, the color and fragrance of flowers; the multitudinous varieties of birds, with their songs and their bright plumage; the countless different species of living creatures of all shapes and sizes, amongst whom it is the smallest in bulk that moves our greatest wonder–for we are more astonished at the activities of the tiny ants and bees than at the immense bulk of whales. Then there is the mighty spectacle of the sea itself, putting on its changing colors like different garments, now green, with all the many varied shades, now purple, now blue. Moreover, what a delightful full sight it is when stormy, giving added pleasure to the spectator because of the agreeable thought that he is not a sailor tossed and heaved about on it! + The City of God THAT YOU MUST BE PRAISED all these show forth: from the earth, dragons, and all the deeps, fire, hail, snow, ice, stormy winds, which fulfill your word, mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all cedars, beasts and all cattle, serpents and feathered fowls; kings of the earth and all people, princes and all judges of the earth, young men and maidens, the old with the younger; let them praise your name. + Confessions

Saint Cyril of Alexandria (378-444)

WHY DOES [GOD] say through the prophet, "Do not I fill heaven and earth?, says the Lord" (Jer. 23:24), and again "I am a God who is near and not a God who is far off, says the Lord" (Jer. 23:23)? For Christ, begotten of the Father by nature, fills all things together with him and is near to all. Moreover, the prophet David says "Where shall I go from thy spirit and where shall I flee from thy face?" (Ps. 139:7). No, it is impossible to be able to find heaven or earth ever void of the ineffable Godhead, for, as I said, the divine and consubstantial Trinity fills all things... Christ himself said just before his ascension to the Father "Behold I am with you, always, even to the end of the world." + Select Letters, p. 143, quoting "Answers to Tiberius" 2 

Pope Leo the Great (Circa 395-461)

THAT POWER, that wisdom, that majesty is to be adored which created the universe out of nothing, and framed by His almighty methods the substance of the earth and sky into what forms and dimensions He willed. Sun, moon, and stars may be most useful to us, most fair to look upon; but only if we render thanks to their Maker for them and worship GOD who made them, not the creation which does Him service. Then praise GOD, dearly beloved, in all His works and judgements. Cherish an undoubting belief in the Virgin's pure conception. Honor the sacred and Divine mystery of man's restoration with holy and sincere service. Embrace Christ born in our flesh, that you may deserve to see Him also as the GOD of glory reigning in His majesty, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit remains in the unity of the Godhead for ever and ever. Amen. THERE IS NOTHING, dearly-beloved, in which the Divine Providence does not assist the devotions of the faithful. For the very elements of the world also minister to the exercise of mind and body in holiness, seeing that the distinctly varied revolution of days and months opens for us the different pages of the commands, and thus the seasons also in some sense speak to us of that which the sacred institutions enjoin.         

The Council of Ephesus (431) 

FOR ALTHOUGH VISIBLE and a child in swaddling clothes, and even in the bosom of His Virgin Mother, He filled all creation as God. 

Monk Jonas, Writing About Saint Columban (559?-615)

AND DO NOT wonder that the beasts and birds thus obeyed command of the man of God [St. Columban]. For we have learned from Chamnoald, royal chaplain at Laon, who was his attendant and disciple, that he has often seen Columban wandering about in the wilderness fasting and praying, and calling the wild beasts and birds. These came immediately at his command and he stroked them with his hand. The beasts and birds joyfully played, frisking about him, just as cats frisk about their mistresses. Chamnoald said he had often seen him call the little animal, which men commonly name a squiruis from the tops of a tree and take it in his hand and put it on his neck and let it go into and come out from his bosom.    + By the Monk Jonas, 7th Century

Saint Maximus the Confessor (580-662)

"IF, INSTEAD OF stopping short at the outward appearance which visible things present to the senses, you seek with your intellect to contemplate their inner essences, seeing them as images of spiritual realities or as the inward principles of sensible objects, you will be taught that nothing belonging to the visible world is unclean. For by nature all things were created good." "THIS IS THE BLESSED DESTINY for which the cosmos was brought into existence. This is the ultimate design which God had in mind before the beginning of anything created - the end foreknown, by reason of which all things exist...that everything created by God would finally be in him recollected into their original unity. This is the great mystery that embraces all the aeons...that revealed the heart of hearts of the Father's loving kindness, so that he might show to us, in his own person, the ultimate destiny toward which has been created everything that arose and came into being."

Saint John Damascene (676 - between 754 and 787)

I HONOR ALL matter and venerate it. Through it, filled as it were, with a divine power and grace, my salvation has come to me. Was not the thrice happy and thrice blessed wood of the cross matter? Was not the sacred and holy mountain of Calvary matter? What of the life-giving rock, the holy sepulcher, the Source of our resurrection: was it not matter? Is not the most holy book of the gospels matter? Is not the blessed table matter which gives us the bread of life? Are not the gold and silver matter, out of which crosses and altarplate and chalices are made? And before all these things, is not the body and blood of our Lord matter?... Do not despise matter, for it is not despicable. + "Holy Images" 16, Word and Redeemer: Christology in the Fathers, ed. James M. Carmody, S.J., and Thomas E. Clarke, S.J. (Glen Rock, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1966) 120. THE WHOLE EARTH is a living icon of the face of God. Read more ->
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