Words of the Saints (and other great people of faith)

about ecology and environmental justice

Presented by the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Conservation Center

 

 

Blessed Mother Teresa (Theresa) of Calcutta

    We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness.  God is the friend of silence.  See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence;  see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence.... We need silence to be able to touch souls.

--“Willing Slaves to the Will of God,” A Gift for God (1975).

    SUFFERING TODAY is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing.  Jesus made it very clear.  Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.  Give a glass of water, you give it to me.  Receive a little child, you receive me.  Clear.

    IF A MOTHER can kill her own child, then what is left of the West to be destroyed?

--Time Magazine's 1989 Interview Conducted by Edward W. Desmond.


Pope St. Clement

The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians (Written Circa 97 A.D.)

    The heavens, revolving under His government, are subject to Him in peace.  Day and night run the course appointed by Him, in no wise hindering each other.   The sun and moon, with the companies of the stars, roll on in harmony according to His command, within their prescribed limits, and without any deviation.  The fruitful earth, according to His will, brings forth food in abundance, at the proper seasons, for man and beast and all the living beings upon it, never hesitating, nor changing any of the ordinances which He has fixed.  The unsearchable places of abysses, and the indescribable arrangements of the lower world, are restrained by the same laws.  The vast unmeasurable sea, gathered together by His working into various basins, never passes beyond the bounds placed around it, but does as He has commanded.  For He said, "Thus far shalt thou come, and thy waves shall be broken within thee."  The ocean, impassible to man, and the worlds beyond it, are regulated by the same enactments of the Lord. The seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, peacefully give place to one another. The winds in their several quarters fulfill, at the proper time, their service without hindrance.  The ever-flowing fountains, formed both for enjoyment and health, furnish without fail their breasts for the life of men.  The very smallest of living beings meet together in peace and concord.  All these the great Creator and Lord of all has appointed to exist in peace and harmony; while He does good to all, but most abundantly to us who have fled for refuge to His compassions through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory and majesty for ever and ever.  Amen.

Chapter XX.-The Peace and Harmony of the Universe.

 


 

St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 107)

    IF ANYONE confesses the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and praises the creation, but calls the Incarnation merely an appearance, and is ashamed of the Passion, such a one has denied the faith.

    LET ME BE food for wild beasts, for they are my way to God.  I am Jesus Christ's wheat.  I must therefore be ground and broken by the teeth of wild beasts that I may become His pure and spotless bread.

 


 

St. Justin (c. 100-165 A.D.)

    GOD DELAYS causing the confusion and destruction of the whole world ... because of the seed of the Christians, who know that they are the cause of preservation in nature.

--The Second Apology of Justin, Chapter VII

    THE GOD OF the Christians is not circumscribed by place; but being invisible, fills heaven and earth, and everywhere is worshipped and glorified by the faithful.

 

 

 

 

 


Saint Irenaeus (Circa 129-203)

   FOR EVEN CREATION reveals Him who formed it, and the very work made suggests Him Who made it, and the world manifests Him Who ordered it.  The Universal Church, moreover, through the whole world, has received this understanding from the Apostles themselves.

    FOR THE CREATOR of the world is truly the Word of God: and this is our Lord, who in the last times was made man, existing in this world, and who in an invisible manner contains all things created, and is inherent in the entire creation, since the Word of God governs and arranges all things; and therefore He came to His own in a visible manner, and was made flesh, and hung upon the tree, that He might sum up all things in Himself.

    WE ARE ALSO NOURISHED by means of the creation (and He Himself grants the creation to us, for He causes His sun to rise, and sends rain when He wills).  He has acknowledged the cup (which is a part of the creation) as His own blood, from which He bedews our blood; and the bread (also a part of the creation) He has established as His own body, from which He gives increase to our bodies.

    GOD HAS created the world with his two hands, the Son and the Spirit.

    THE GLORY OF GOD gives life; those who see God receive life.  Men will therefore see God if they are to live; through the vision of God they become immortal and attain to God himself.

    God is the source of all activity throughout creation. He cannot be seen or described in his own nature and in all his greatness by any of his creatures.  Yet he is certainly not unknown.  Through his Word the whole creation learns that there is one God the Father, who holds all things together and gives them their being.  As it is written in the Gospel, "No man has ever seen God, except the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father; he has revealed him."

    From the beginning the Son is the one who teaches us about the Father; he is with the Father from the beginning.

    The Word revealed God to men and presented men to God.  Life in man is the glory of God; the life of man is the vision of God.  If the revelation of God through creation gives life to all who live upon the earth, much more does the manifestation of the Father through the Word give life to those who see God.

-Against the Herisies, by Saint Irenaeus, circa 180-185

    BUT SINCE CREATED THINGS are various and numerous, they are indeed well fitted and adapted to the whole creation; yet, when viewed individually, are mutually opposite and inharmonious, just as the sound of the lyre, which consists of many and opposite notes, gives rise to one unbroken melody, through means of the interval which separates each one from the others.  The lover of truth therefore ought not to be deceived by the interval between each note, nor should he imagine that one was due to one artist and author, and another to another, nor that one person fitted the treble, another the bass, and yet another the tenor strings; but he should hold that one and the same person [formed the whole], so as to prove the judgment, goodness, and skill exhibited in the whole work and [specimen of] wisdom.  Those, too, who listen to the melody, ought to praise and extol the artist, to admire the tension of some notes, to attend to the softness of others, to catch the sound of others between both these extremes, and to consider the special character of others, so as to inquire at what each one aims, and what is the cause of their variety, never failing to apply our rule, neither giving up the artist, nor casting off faith in the one God who formed all things, nor blaspheming our Creator.

-Against the Herisies,  Book II


 

Hermas (Written circa 160 A.D.)   

    He showed me again many trees, some budding, and others withered.  And he said to me, "Do you see these trees? "  "I see, sir," I replied, "some putting forth buds, and others withered."  "Those," he said, "which are budding are the righteous who are to live in the world to come; for the coming world is the summer of the righteous, but the winter of sinners."

--Pastor of Hermas


 

Theophilus of Antioch (Circa 115-168-181 A.D.)

    HE IS LORD, because He rules over the universe; Father, because he is before all things; Fashioner and Maker, because He is creator and maker of the universe; the Highest, because of His being above all; and Almighty, because He Himself rules and embraces all.  For the heights of heaven, and the depths of the abysses, and the ends of the earth, are in His hand, and there is no place of His rest.  For the heavens are His work, the earth is His creation, the sea is His handiwork; man is His formation and His image; sun, moon, and stars are His elements, made for ... seasons, and days, and years, that they may serve and be slaves to man; and all things God has made out of things that were not into things that are, in order that through His works His greatness may be known and understood.

    CONSIDER HIS WORKS, the timely rotation of the seasons, and the changes of temperature; the regular march of the stars; the well-ordered course of days and nights, and months, and years; the various beauty of seeds, and plants, and fruits; and the divers species of quadrupeds, and birds, and reptiles, and fishes, both of the rivers and of the sea; or consider the instinct implanted in these animals to beget and rear offspring, not for their own profit, but for the use of man; and the providence with which God provides nourishment for all flesh, or the subjection in which He has ordained that all things subserve mankind.  Consider, too, the flowing of sweet fountains and never-failing rivers, and the seasonable supply of dews, and showers, and rains; the manifold movement of the heavenly bodies, the morning star rising and heralding the approach of the perfect luminary; and the constellation of Pleiades, and Orion, and Arcturus, and the orbit of the other stars that circle through the heavens, all of which the manifold wisdom of God has called by names of their own.  He is God alone who made light out of darkness, and brought forth light from His treasures...."

 


 

Clement of Alexandria (Circa 153-193-217 A.D.)

    HUMAN ART produces houses, and ships, and cities, and pictures.  But how shall I tell what God makes?  Behold the whole universe; it is His work: and the heaven, and the sun, and angels, and men, are the works of His fingers.  How great is the power of God!  His bare volition was the creation of the universe.  For God alone made it, because He alone is truly God.  By the bare exercise of volition He creates; His mere willing was followed by the springing into being of what He willed.  Consequently the choir of philosophers are in error, who indeed most nobly confess that man was made for the contemplation of the heavens, but who worship the objects that appear in the heavens and are apprehended by sight.  For if the heavenly bodies are not the works of men, they were certainly created for man.  Let none of you worship the sun, but set his desires on the Maker of the sun; nor deify the universe, but seek after the Creator of the universe.  The only refuge, then, which remains for him who would reach the portals of salvation is divine wisdom.

    FOR IF WE HAVE as our teacher Him that filled the universe with His holy energies in creation, salvation, beneficence, legislation, prophecy, teaching, we have the Teacher from whom all instruction comes; and the whole world ... has already become the domain of the Word.

    THE DELIGHT derived from flowers, and the benefit derived from ointments and perfumes, are not to be overlooked.

 


 

St. Anthony of Egypt, Father of Monasticism (c. 251-356)

   

MY BOOK, philosopher, is the nature of created things, and as often as I have a mind to read the words of God, it is at my hands.

--Quoted in The Greening of the Church, Sean McDonagh, 1990, Maryknoll: Orbis Books

 

 

 


 

St. Athanasius (296-373)

    THE FIRMAMENT, through its magnificence, beauty and order, is a prestigious preacher of its author, whose eloquence fills the universe. 

(PG 27, 124)

    THE CREATURES are like letters proclaiming in loud voices to their Divine Master and Creator the harmony and order of things.

    THE FATHER creates and renews everything through the Word in the Spirit.... All creation participates in the Word in the Spirit.

--Letter to Serpion   

    IT IS, THEN, proper for us to begin ... by speaking of the creation of the Universe, and of God its Artificer, that so it may be duly perceived that the renewal of Creation has been the work of the self-same Word that made it at the beginning.

    DIVERSITY of bodies and parts argues a creating intellect.

    THE WORD, then, visited that earth in which He was yet always present;  and saw all these evils.  He takes a body of our Nature, and that of a spotless Virgin, in whose womb He makes it His own, wherein to reveal Himself, conquer death, and restore life.  For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm, although he was not far from us before.  For no part of Creation is left void of Him:  He has filled all things everywhere, remaining present with His own Father.  But He comes in condescension to show loving-kindness upon us, and to visit us.

    FOR THOUGH man was created in grace, God, foreseeing his forgetfulness, provided also the works of Creation to remind man of Him...  For whereas the grace of the Divine Image was in itself sufficient to make known God the Word, and through Him the Father; still God, knowing the weakness of man, made provision even for their carelessness: so that if they cared not to know God of themselves, they might be enabled through the works of Creation to avoid ignorance of the Maker.

    SO IT WAS open to them, by looking into the height of heaven, and perceiving the harmony of Creation, to know its Ruler, the Word of the Father, Who, by His own Providence over all things, makes known the Father to all, and to this end moves all things, that through Him all may know God.

    MAN, UNMOVED by Nature, was to be taught to know God by that sacred Manhood, Whose deity all Nature confessed, especially in His Death.  But all this it seemed well for the Savior to do; that since men had failed to know His Providence revealed in the Universe, and had failed to perceive His Godhead shown in Creation, they might at any rate from the works of His body recover their sight, and through Him receive an idea of the knowledge of the Father, inferring, as I said before, from particular cases His Providence over the whole.

-ON THE INCARNATION OF THE WORD

    THE CROSS has been not a disaster, but a healing of Creation.

    FOR THOUGH THE body has eyes so as to see Creation, and by its entirely harmonious construction to recognize the Creator; and ears to listen to the divine oracles and the laws of God; and hands both to perform works of necessity and to raise to God in prayer; yet the soul, departing from the contemplation of what is good and from moving in its sphere, wanders away and moves toward its contraries....  And so, instead of beholding the Creation, she turns the eye to lusts, showing that she has this power too; and thinking that by the mere fact of moving she is maintaining her own dignity, and is doing no sin in doing as she pleases; not knowing that she is made not merely to move, but to move in the right direction....  Evil, then, consists essentially in the choice of what is lower in preference to what is higher.

-AGAINST THE HEATHEN

 


 

St. Ephraim the Syrian (Ephrem, Ephraem)

(306-373)

 

Hymn XIII    

    THIRTY YEARS He [Jesus] went in poverty upon the earth!  The sounds of praise in all their measures let us twine, my brethren, to the years of the Lord, as thirty crowns to the thirty years.  Blessed be His Birth! 

    In the first year, that is chieftain over the treasures and Dispenser of abundant blessings, let the Cherubim who bare up the Son in glory, praise Him with us!...   

    In the fourth year, let the whole earth praise Him with us.  It is but small for the Son, and it marveled because it saw that it entertained Him in its bed that is so very mean.  He filled the bed, and filled the Heaven.  To Him be Majesty!...  

    In the fifth year, the Sun shone unto the earth.  With its breath let it praise our Sun Who brought His breadth down low, and humbled His mightiness, that the subtle eye of the unseen soul might be able to look upon Him.  Blessed be His brightness!...  

    In the sixth year again, let the whole air praise Him with us, in whose wide space it is that all things are made glorious, which saw its mighty Lord that had become a little Child in a little bosom.  Blessed be His dignity!

    In the seventh year, the clouds and winds rejoiced with us and sprinkled the dews over the flowers, for they saw the Son who enslaved His brightness and received disgrace and foul spitting.  Blessed be His Redemption!  

    In the year also that is eighth, let the fields give praise, that suckle their fruits from His fountains.  They worshipped because they saw the Son in arms and the pure One sucking pure milk.  Blessed be His good pleasure!

    In the ninth year, let the earth glorify the might of her Creator, Who laid seed in her in the beginning that she might bring forth all her produce; for it saw Mary, a thirsty land, who yielded the fruit of a Child that was a wonder, yea, a marvel.  [Then] it praised Him more exceedingly, for that He was a great Sea of all good things.  To Him be exaltation!  

    In the tenth year, let the mount Sinai glorify Him, it which trembled before its Lord.  It saw that they took up stones against its Lord; He received stones, Who should build His Church upon a Stone.  Blessed be His building!  

    In the eleventh year, let the great sea praise the fists of the Son that measured it, and it was astonished and saw that He came down, was baptized in a small water, and cleansed the creatures.  Blessed be His noble act!...  

    In the sixteenth year, let the wheat praise by its type that Husbandman, Who sowed His Body in the barren earth, since it covers all, spreads itself out and yields new Bread.  Blessed be the Pure One!...   

    In the year that is thirtieth, let the dead praise Him with us, because they are quickened, and the living, because they have turned to repentance, because height and depth were set at one by Him.  Blessed be He and His Father!

Hymn III

    FOR SEE HOW, when He was wholly hanging upon the Cross, His Power was yet making all creatures move!  For He darkened the sun and made the earth quake;  He rent the graves and brought forth the dead!  See how when He was wholly on the Cross, yet again He was wholly everywhere!  

    Thus was He entirely in the womb, while He was again wholly in everything!...  For while His Power was dwelling in the womb, He was fashioning infants in the womb!  His Power compassed her, that compassed Him.  For if He drew in His Power, all things would fall; His Power upholds all things; while He was within the womb, He left not His hold of all.  He in His own Person shaped an Image in the womb, and was shaping in all wombs all countenances.  

    Whilst He was increasing in stature among the poor, from an abundant treasury He was nourishing all!  While she that anointed Him was anointing Him, with His dew and His rain He was anointing all!  

    The Magi brought myrrh and gold, while in Him was hidden a treasure of riches.  The myrrh and spices which He had prepared and created, did the Magi bring Him of His own.  

    It was by Power from Him that Mary was able to bear in Her bosom Him that bears up all things!  It was from the great storehouse of all creatures, Mary gave Him all which she did give Him!  She gave Him milk from Himself that prepared it, she gave Him food from Himself that made it!... 

    The sea when it bore Him was still and calmed, and how came the lap of Joseph to bear Him?  For every creature whether above or below obtains each his measure of knowledge;  He the Lord of all gives all to us....  

    He made the water wine as Maker: and yet he drank of it as a poor man....  

    By power from Him did Simeon carry Him; he that presented Him, was by Him presented [to God].  He gave imposition of hands to Moses in the Mount, and received it in the midst of the river from John.  In the power of His gifts John was enabled to baptize, though earthy, the heavenly.  By power from Him the earth supported Him: it was nigh to being dissolved, and His might strengthened it.  Martha gave Him to eat: viands which He had created she placed before Him.  Of His own all that give have made their vows: of His own treasures they placed upon His table.

   ...LONG YE FOR my Well-beloved, that He may dwell in you; and ye also that are impure that He may sanctify you! ye Churches also, that the Son of the Creator Who came to renew all creatures, may adorn you!  He received the foolish who worshipped and served all the stars;  He renewed the earth which was worn out through Adam, who sinned and waxed old.  The new formation was the creature of its Renewer, and the all-sufficient One repaired the bodies along with their wills.

    THE WHOLE CREATION became for Him as one mouth and cried out concerning Him.

--NINETEEN HYMNS ON THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST IN THE FLESH.  

 


 

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386)

    AND WHY DID he call the grace of the Spirit water?  Because by water all things subsist; because water brings forth grass and living things; because the water of the showers comes down from heaven; because it comes down one in form, but works in many forms.  For one fountain watereth the whole of Paradise, and one and the same rain comes down upon all the world, yet it becomes white in the lily, and red in the rose, and purple in violets and hyacinths, and different and varied in each several kind....  Thus also the Holy Ghost, being one, and of one nature, and indivisible, divides to each his grace, according as he will: and as the dry tree, after partaking of water, puts forth shoots, so also the soul in sin, when it has been through repentance made worthy of the Holy Ghost, brings forth clusters of righteousness.

--Lecture XVI, as found on Christian Classic Ethereal Library server at Wheaton College

    BUT HE WAS crucified not for sins of His own, but that we might be delivered from our sins.  And though as Man He was at that time despised of men, and was buffeted, yet He was acknowledged by the Creation as God: for when the sun saw his Lord dishonored, he grew dim and trembled, not enduring the sight.

-LECTURE IV, ON THE TEN POINTS OF DOCTRINE.

    THE DIVINE NATURE then it is impossible to see with eyes of flesh: but from the works, which are Divine, it is possible to attain to some conception of His power, according to Solomon, who says, For by the greatness and beauty of the creatures proportionably the Maker of them is seen.  He said not that from the creatures the Maker is seen, but added proportionably.  For God appears the greater to every man in proportion as he has grasped a larger survey of the creatures: and when his heart is uplifted by that larger survey, he gains withal a greater conception of God.

LECTURE IX. ON THE WORDS, MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, AND OF ALL THINGS VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE.

    AT WHAT SEASON does the Savior rise?  Is it the season of summer, or some other?...  The winter is past, the rain is past and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the pruning is come.  Is not then the earth full of flowers now, and are they not pruning the vines?...  It is already spring....  This is the season of the creation of the world: for then God said, Let the earth bring forth herbage of grass, yielding seed after his kind and after his likeness.  And now, as thou seest, already every herb is yielding seed.  And as at that time God made the sun and moon and gave them courses of equal day (and night), so also a few days since was the season of the equinox.  At that time God said, Let us make man after our image and after our likeness.  And the image he received, but the likeness through his disobedience he obscured.  At the same season then in which he lost this the restoration also took place.  At the same season as the created man through disobedience was cast out of Paradise, he who believed was through obedience brought in.  Our Salvation then took place at the same season as the Fall: when the flowers appeared, and the pruning was come.  A garden was the place of His Burial, and a vine that which was planted there: and He hath said, I am the vine!  He was planted therefore in the earth in order that the curse which came because of Adam might be rooted out.  The earth was condemned to thorns and thistles: the true Vine sprang up out of the earth, that the saying might be fulfilled, Truth sprang up out of the earth, and righteousness looked down from heaven.

LECTURE XIV.

 


 

St. Gregory Nazianzen (328-389)

    YOU, [FATHER], have created the universe, giving each thing its corresponding place and sustaining it by the power of your providence....  Your Word is God the Son.  He is, in fact, consubstantial with the Father, equal to him in honor.  He has reconciled the universe harmoniously, to rule over all things.  Embracing all things, the Holy Spirit, God, cares for and protects all things.  I will proclaim you, living Trinity, the one and only monarch ... the unshakable force that rules the heavens, whose face is inaccessible to the eye but who contemplates the whole universe and knows all the secret depths of the earth down to its abysses.  O Father, be kind to me ... may I find mercy and grace, because to you are glory and grace forever.

--Carme 31, in Poesie/1, Rome, 1994, p. 65-66.

 


 

St. 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.

 

 


 

St. Ambrose (about 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

 


 

St. 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...

 


 

St. Augustine (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

    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

 


 

St. 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 (c. 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 judgments.  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 (A.D. 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 St. Columban (b: 559? d: 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

 


 

St. 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."

 


 

St. 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.

 


 

Saint Theodore the Studite (759-826)

The Precious and Life-Giving Cross of Christ

How precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate! In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste. The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light. This tree does not cast us out of paradise, but opens the way for our return.

This was the tree on which Christ, like a king on a chariot, destroyed the devil, the Lord of death, and freed the human race from his tyranny. This was the tree upon which the Lord, like a brave warrior wounded in his hands, feet and side, healed the wounds of sin that the evil serpent had inflicted on our nature. A tree once caused our death, but now a tree brings life. Once deceived by a tree, we have now repelled the cunning serpent by a tree. What an astonishing transformation! That death should become life, that decay should become immortality, that shame should become glory! Well might the holy Apostle exclaim: Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world! The supreme wisdom that flowered on the cross has shown the folly of worldly wisdom’s pride. The knowledge of all good, which is the fruit of the cross, has cut away the shoots of wickedness.

The wonders accomplished through this tree were foreshadowed clearly even by the mere types and figures that existed in the past. Meditate on these, if you are eager to learn. Was it not the wood of a tree that enabled Noah, at God’s command, to escape the destruction of the flood together with his sons, his wife, his sons’ wives and every kind of animal? And surely the rod of Moses prefigured the cross when it changed water into blood, swallowed up the false serpents of Pharaoh’s magicians, divided the sea at one stroke and then restored the waters to their normal course, drowning the enemy and saving God’s own people?  

Aaron’s rod, which blossomed in one day in proof of his true priesthood, was another figure of the cross, and did not Abraham foreshadow the cross when he bound his son Isaac and placed him on the pile of wood?

By the cross death was slain and Adam was restored to life. The cross is the glory of all the apostles, the crown of the martyrs, the sanctification of the saints. By the cross we put on Christ and cast aside our former self. By the cross we, the sheep of Christ, have been gathered into one flock, destined for the sheepfolds of heaven.

 

 


 

HildegardofBingenSaint Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)

    GOD DESIRES that all the world be pure in his sight.  The earth should not be injured.  The earth should not be destroyed...  As often as the elements, the elements of the world are violated, by ill-treatment, so God will cleanse them.  God will cleanse them thru the sufferings, thru the hardships of humankind.

-From an article by Mary Morrel, Creation Trembles in the Grasp of Selfishness, 1/18/03

    THE TRIUNE GOD "created all things by His will, created them so that His Name would be known and glorified, showing in them not just the things that are visible and temporal, but also the things that are invisible and eternal."

    GOD "marvelously by His will created every creature and marvelously by His will set it in its place."

 

    O ETERNAL STRENGTH, 

You ordered all things within your heart.

All things were created through your Word,

Just as you wished.

 

 

    GOD IS THE FOUNDATION for everything

This God undertakes, God gives.

Such that nothing that is necessary for life is lacking.

Now humankind needs a body that at all times honors and praises God.

This body is supported in every way through the earth.

Thus the earth glorifies the power of God.

 

 

    NOW HERE is the image of the power of God...

I am the one whose praise echoes on high.

I adorn all the earth.

I am the breeze that nurtures all things green.

I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.

I am led by the spirit to feed the purest streams.

I am the rain coming from the dew that caused the grasses to laugh with the joy of life.

I am the yearning for good....

God's majesty is glorified in the manifestations of every manner of nature's fruitfulness.

This is possible, possible through the right and holy utilization of the earth, the earth in which humankind has its source.

The sum total of heaven and earth, everything in nature, is thus won to use and purpose.

It becomes a temple and altar for the service of God.

 

 

    THE EARTH is at the same time mother, she is mother of all that is natural, mother of all that is human,

She is mother of all, for contained in her are the seeds of all.

The earth of humankind contains all moistness, all verdancy, all germinating power.

It is in so many ways fruitful.

All creation comes from it.

Yet it forms not only the basic raw material for humankind, but also the substance of the incarnation of God's son.

 

 

    THE HIGH, THE LOW, all of creation, God gives humankind to use.  If this privilege is misused, God's justice permits creation to punish humanity.

 

 

Hildegard2HOLY PERSONS draw to themselves all that is earthly.

 

 

ALL OF CREATION is a symphony of joy and jubilation.

 

 

HOLY SPIRIT,

    making life alive,

    moving in all things,

    root of all created being,

    cleansing the cosmos

    of every impurity,

    effacing guilt,

    anointing wounds.

    You are lustrous

    and praiseworthy life,

    You waken and re-awaken

    everything

    that is.

 

 

    WE SHALL AWAKEN from our dullness and rise vigorously toward justice.  If we fall in love with creation deeper and deeper we will respond to its endangerment with passion.

 

 

    O ETERNAL VIGOR, all of creation is arranged and in order in your very heart.  Through your Word, all things are created just as you wish.

 

 

    AND IT IS WRITTEN: "The Spirit of the Lord fills the Earth."  This means that no creature, whether visible or invisible, lacks a spiritual life.  And those creatures that human beings do not perceive seek their understanding until humans do perceive them.  For it is from the power of the seed that the buds sprout.  And it is from the buds that the fruit of the tree springs forth.  The clouds too have their course to run.  The moon and the stars flame in fire.  The trees shoot forth buds because of the power in their seeds.  Water has a delicacy and lightness of motion like the wind.  This is why it springs up from the Earth and pours itself into running brooks.  Even the Earth has moisture and mist.

 

 

O MOVING FORCE of Wisdom,

    encircling the wheel of the cosmos,

    Encompassing all that is,

    all that has life,

    in one vast circle.

    You have three wings: The first

    unfurls aloft in the highest heights.

    The second dips its way

    dripping sweat on the Earth.

    Over, under,

    and through all things whirls the third.

    Praise to you, O Wisdom,

    worthy of praise!

 

 

PRAYER IS nothing but the inhaling and exhaling of the one breath of the universe.

 

 

    WITHOUT THE WORD of God no creature has being.

God's Word is in all creation, visible and invisible.

The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity.

All creation is awakened, called, by the resounding melody, God's invocation of the Word.

 

 

O MOST NOBLE GREENNESS,

    rooted in the sun,

    shining forth in streaming splendor

    upon the wheel of Earth.

    You are encircled

    by the very arms

    of Divine mysteries.

    You are radiant like the red of dawn!

    You glow like the incandescence of the sun!

 

 

    I, THE FIERY LIFE of the divine substance, blaze in the beauty of the fields, shine in the waters, and burn in the sun, moon, and stars.  And as the all-sustaining invisible force of the aerial wind, I bring all things to life.... I am also Reason, having the wind of the sounding Word by which all things were created, and I breathe in them all, so that none may die, because I am Life. [said of the Holy Spirit}

 

 

--Excerpts are from Hildegard's Book of Divine Works (trans. Robert Cunningham), Letters (trans. Ronald Miller), and Songs (trans. Brendan Doyle).

 

AS THE CREATOR loves his creation

    so creation loves the Creator.

Creation, of course, was fashioned

    to be adorned, to be showered,

    to be gifted with the love of the Creator.

The entire world has been embraced by this kiss.

 

--Quoted in The Greening of the Church, Sean McDonagh, 1990, Maryknoll: Orbis Books

 


 

We have MANY more WONDERFUL quotes from saints and other people of faith on page II.  Click here.

 

 See also (on this website):

Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha, patroness of ecology

St. Francis of Assisi, patron of ecology

St. Therese of Lisieux, lover of nature as a pathway to God

The writings of Blessed John Paul II

 


  

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