The Beauty of Creation – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily October 4, 2020

“On this day, October 4th, if it was not on a Sunday we would be observing the feast of St. Francis of Assisi and what a wonderful model and example St. Francis is. He was an individual who was so totally converted to the Lord that he could appreciate all things as a revelation of God. It’s a time as we remember St. Francis to appreciate more deeply the creation that is entrusted to us that truly there is a beauty in our world, that creation that God has given. St. Francis was known for his sense of poverty that he used on what was necessary, but he was also known for that deep reverence for all of creation. In fact, one of the beautiful passages that he wrote has to do with the canticle of the sun and I would quote just a little bit of that for you today. It begins, ‘O most high all powerful good Lord, yours are the praises the glory, the honor and all blessing. Be praised my Lord through all your creatures especially through my Lord, brother sun who brings the day and you give light through him. Praise be you my Lord through sister moon and the stars, in Heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful. Praise be you my Lord through brother wind, and through the air cloudy and serene and every kind of weather through which you give sustenance to your creatures. Praise be you my Lord through sister water which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste. Praise be you my Lord through brother fire through whom you light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong. Praise be you my Lord through sister, mother Earth who sustains us and governs us and who produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs. Praise and bless my Lord, give him thanks and serve him with humility.’

That beautiful reflection of St. Francis reminds us that all creation is there to praise God. All creation has been entrusted to us to serve each other and to serve God. That gift of creation is such a wonderful blessing for us and it’s important for us to realize in Genesis where God entrusts all creation to us as human beings. He says that you have dominion over the Earth. Unfortunately so often that term dominion has been translated or understood as domination that the earth is there for you to dominate to abuse to just take advantage of, but that truly is wrong. Dominion means stewardship. Dominion means a sense of responsibility that we are called to live with the responsibility for this Earth that has been entrusted to us, first of all, to recognize it’s beauty and then secondly to use it well, to preserve it for future generations. I’m reminded of a story of an individual who died and an angel met him and took him to this place and as he walked around he looked and he said, ‘This is absolutely gorgeous! This is wonderful! Look at those beautiful clear streams! Look at all of those beautiful wild flowers! Look at the mountains and that beautiful sky and look at all the wonder that is there the wheat fields and all the crops and all these beautiful things.’ He said, ‘Heaven is so beautiful!’ and the angel said, ‘You’re not in Heaven yet. This is the earth that God gave you, but you were so busy using it that you never stopped and appreciated it.’ How often we just use rather than truly appreciate the wonder, the beauty of the creation that God has entrusted to us and so often it is abused because of our over-consumerism. We are consumers par excellence and that is unfortunate how much waste there is. Our land fills are filling up rather quickly because of too much use of stuff rather than trying to truly trying to conserve and to use what is more necessary rather than to waste and so, St. Francis is a challenge for us to truly value this gift of creation that we have. 

We also during this month of October respect life because the culmination of creation in this world is our own human life and to remember the dignity, the beauty of each and every human being. This respect life month is a call for us to appreciate more deeply and to reverence more fully this gift of life, this gift of life that is so threatened in so many ways and so undermined so much through abortion through euthanasia through misuse of drugs and alcohol through racism through those various sins that destroy or denigrate rather than build up human life and so once again we are challenged to appreciate the beauty of what God has given us and to truly respect and to enhance to protect and to appreciate all of God’s creation.

This month of October is also the month of the Rosary. This Wednesday we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and that Rosary is a beautiful gift given to us by the Blessed Mother in order to convert our hearts, our lives to invite us more deeply into scriptural prayer to invite us to a deeper union with Christ and Our Lady at Fatima certainly enjoined us to pray the Rosary daily to pray the Rosary so that we might enter more deeply into a union with Christ, but to pray the Rosary as well that there might be peace and healing within our world. How desperately we need prayer in our world in our nation today, the prayer that Our Lady will bring about greater peace of healing of hearts of lives. I encourage you particularly during this time of October to pray the Rosary. At least if every family or every individual could pray at least one decade every day if not the five decades of the Rosary taking that time to reflect upon the mystery of our salvation. That prayer of the Rosary is a prayer that has certainly nurtured the spirituality of so many people over the centuries. It preserved the faith like in Japan where the Eucharist could not be celebrated for over 250 years. It was one of the things that preserved the faith was the Rosary. In Ireland during the time in which the Mass could not be celebrated or only clandestinely it was the Rosary that kept the families together that enabled them to grow into that true family of faith and hope and of love. My mother used to always say that the Rosary is the Blessed Mother’s weapon. It’s a spiritual weapon not one to destroy, but rather one to build up to build up a deeper relationship with Christ through the intercession of our Blessed Mother. A lot of different things these days: the beauty of creation, the wonder of our own human life, the respect that we have for the gift of creation and the gift of our life and the wonderful gift that Mary shares with us as she invites us to deeper union with her so that we may give praise and glory to the Father and enjoy peace within our world. Amen.”