A Message from the Bishop – Seeing the Divine in autumn’s beauty

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First, I need to say thank you.

My previous column in the Star Herald about my need to undergo dialysis generated scores of cards and messages of concern and, of course, prayers.

I feel lifted up by the love and prayers I have received, some from people I don’t even know, both from the Diocese of Camden and around the country.

This sense of gratitude, combined with the glorious change of season, has caused me to reflect upon the importance of beauty and how God reflects the Divine Beauty through nature. We are blessed to live where we can experience the changing colors of the foliage, the variety of the brilliant colors of the leaves, the fall flowers that add so much beauty.

God must give us the beauty of nature in the fall to prepare us for the drabness and the increasing darkness of winter. That way, we have the memory of the richness of God’s fall palette to carry us through the monochromatic dullness of winter. In our own lives, God continues to reveal the Divine Nature through created beauty.

Pope Benedict frequently speaks of the great gift that our earth is and our need to protect and respect God’s Creation. The rhythm of the seasons is reflected often in the rhythm of our own lives. We experience happiness, beauty and joy, but there are also times of sadness, darkness and tension. God teaches us through Created Nature that as the seasons change, there is the constant of God’s peace, sustaining and always faithfully present. Even in the dead of winter we can discover beauty. We always have the hope of spring and new life.

Beauty remains a pathway to our souls, one of the ways God attracts us. It is pre-evangelization because it sensitizes our souls to the deeper mystery of God.

Just as in the seasons of the year, so in our own lives there is always the promise of new life. Spring is revealed to us in the celebration of Eucharist and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In Eucharist the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus carries us through the reality of our own lives, of dying and resurrection, spiritually and emotionally.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is so like the blooming of springtime after the dead and cold starkness of winter. Sin and emptiness give way to light and fullness of grace.

As we enjoy the beauty of this time of year I pray that it can be an opportunity for reflection, for gratitude, and for a continuing sense of wonder. Nature reminds us that God is present, God lives in us, and that God delights in showing beautiful hints of the Wonder of the Divine.