Mysticism Laudato Si’


Laudato Si’ Mysticism 8


Towards the end of Laudato Si’there is a magnificent paragraph, all too short, on the Eucharist. Every line is rich, and we will unfold its meaning over the next few reflections. The theologian von Balthasar says, ‘the cosmos is the monstrance of God’. Pope Francis develops that insight: he says that nature is not simply an outer frame for the sacred, but is itself sacred and reveals the divine. He then goes deeper yet: he says that Jesus, the Son of God, emerges from within creation.That challenges our imaginations! The Pope says:

‘He comes, not from above, but from within’ (236).

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Laudato Si’ Mysticism 7


Our topic is the mysticism underpinning Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’. We try to make this mysticism our own. In other words, we try to meet God in nature’s limitless manifestations. A flower, a fly, a snail, a sunbeam, a shadow, a silhouette, a cloud, is more than just itself. Each of these simple things is a manifestation of God, and we are invited to catch on to their revelatory quality. Before being a problem to be cleared away, a messy pile of autumn leaves is a poem! Nightfall is not simply a moment when you have to turn on the light: deeper down it is a moment for awe, which leads us into mystery, and there God resides.

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Laudato Si’ Mysticism 6


This is our sixth reflection on the mysticism of Laudato Si’. Look back for a few moments on what is happening to your heart as you move along. Are you becoming a mini-mystic by now? This is important, and also thrilling! The theologian Karl Rahner remarked in the 1980’s that ‘the Christian of the future will be a mystic, or will not be a Christian at all.’

You may not be a person who spends much time alone with God—which is how we used to think of mystics—but as you contemplate nature is your capacity for wonder being enriched?

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Laudato Si’ Mysticism 5


Perhaps we used to think that spirit and matter were opposed to one another, but Laudato Si’ stresses that the Spirit is active in all matter in order to bring it home to God. Matter is spirit-endowed; it has vast potentiality; it is ‘on the move’. The theory of evolution is now accepted by the Church, with the added religious dimension that it originates in the Spirit, who has been playing in creation over some fourteen billion years, kneading and moulding it like clay, creating the most beautiful and extraordinary diversity of species. Each of these carries the stamp of life, which is the mark of the enlivening Spirit.

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Laudato Si’ Mysticism 4


A fundamental theme of Laudato Si’ is that everything is interdependent, so wherever we stumble on this interdependence, we are catching on to the work of the Holy Spirit, because the role of the Spirit is to unify and to facilitate creativity. We tend to think that the first Pentecost occurred after Jesus’ resurrection; but was the Spirit unemployed until two thousand years ago? No, the first Pentecost took place at the beginning of creation: the Spirit of God, brooding over the formless cosmos, gave it shape and meaning. God made us humans come alive by breathing the Spirit into random dust (Gen 2:7). As the Liturgy says, ‘The Spirit of God fills the whole world’. We live in a world reverberating with the Spirit!

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Laudato Si’ Mysticism 3


The perspective of Laudato Si’ is that every molecule of creation is sacred, and that through each single one God’s love is revealed. Creation is God’s first self-revelation, and it reveals God’s limitless love and affection for us. It is as if God were saying, ’Let’s pull out the stops, so everyone on the face of the earth will be able to see our love. All they have to do is to look at what is surrounding them!’  God sees all creation as good. When our impaired vision is corrected we come to see the world as a loving gift, and so are drawn towards God, and then towards care of the gift of creation that has been entrusted to our care. This is the goal of Laudato Si’. From this 20/20 mystical vision of nature as divine gift, our care for the earth will flow.


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Mysticism Laudato Si’ 2


The more we come to love nature in all its detail, the more we will want to care for it, because we care for the things we love. Here’s a poet’s vision of a single flower–a narcissus–coming into bloom:

When from a world of mosses and of ferns

At last the narcissus lifted a tuft of five-pointed stars

And dangled them in the atmosphere,

Then every molecule of creation jumped and clapped its hands:

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Laudato Si’ Mysticism 1


Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’ on Care for Our Common Home makes painful reading. It challenges us to change our flawed attitudes to Earth, and such change is hard. But behind the tough news is a mysticism, a faith-filled way of looking at Creation with ever-deeper love. Over the coming year we will explore this profound way of viewing creation. Then the pope’s challenges to us will be charged with new urgency, because as we come to love our Earth more, we will be drawn to defend it better.


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