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The Our Father: Our Environmental Teacher
Paula Gonzalez, S.C., Ph.D.
Source: St. Anthony Messenger magazine
Published: Saturday, April 21, 2012
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Sr, Paula Gonzalez, S.C., Ph.D.
Isn’t “What Would Jesus Drive?” an unusual question to be coming from the Evangelical Environmental Network? Not if you realize that its members are part of a growing movement to help people connect Earth’s ecological crisis with their faith journeys.

Many Catholics have heard these challenging words from Pope John Paul II’s 1990 World Day of Peace message: “Christians must realize that their responsibility within creation and their duty toward nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith.”

Recently, a religious community responded to this by asking me to expand a workshop on the connection between ecology and faith into a five-day retreat. In searching for a connecting theme, I was drawn to the most basic guidance Jesus left people for all time: the Our Father.

Our Father Who Art in Heaven

Except in the Temple, Jesus spoke Aramaic. In Aramaic, Father means much more than it does in English. I was amazed to learn that when Jesus said, “Father,” he actually meant, “birther of the cosmos”—a much more expansive image of the Eternal Creator! In Prayers of the Cosmos, Neil Douglas-Klotz also tells us that, in Middle Eastern thinking, heaven would actually be the “universe.”

All of creation is the vibration, the “name” which expresses divine mystery in space and time. Teilhard de Chardin recognized this so well when he said, “To those who know how to see, nothing is profane—everything is sacred.” Have we modern-day humans forgotten how to see the awesome world of which we are a part?

When we proclaim God’s name as “hallowed” (holy), do we recognize the echo of God’s name in the wonder all around us? Might God be calling us to be co-creators of a transformed Earth, a heaven of peace and harmony?

In our times we are blessed with the fact that science is constantly uncovering truths about our magnificent planet. Much is being written about “the New Story,” an understanding of the created universe as God’s 13.7-billion-year drama: creation.

No longer is the universe seen as finished, with the sun, stars and planets in unchanging orbits, but as an expanding process of which we are a part. Scientifically, it has become quite clear that God has chosen an evolutionary mode of expressing divine mystery.

This story, as told from a theological perspective, can be interpreted as “the unfolding presence of God within the universe,” says Dominican theologian Cletus Wessels. Haven’t we all been saying this since our childhood catechism days? “Where is God? God is everywhere.” But have we really believed this?

If we learn to see more clearly through the eyes of faith, assisted by what scientists discover, we can contemplate “the Word of God being made flesh in space and time."

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