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Creation Reveals God’s Glory

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on God the Father
General Audience, Wednesday, 12 March 1986 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. In previous catecheses we have dwelt on the truth of faith about creation from nothing (ex nihilo). This truth introduces us into the depths of the mystery of God, Creator "of heaven and earth." Creation is attributed principally to the Father, according to the expression of the Apostles' Creed: "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator...." It is the work of the three Persons of the Trinity, according to the teaching which was already present in a certain way in the Old Testament, and fully revealed in the New, particularly in the texts of Paul and John.

2. In the light of these apostolic texts we can affirm that the creation of the world finds its model in the eternal generation of the Word, of the Son, who is of the same substance of the Father. Creation finds its source in the Love which is the Holy Spirit. This Love-Person, consubstantial with the Father and the Son, together with the Father and the Son, is the source of the creation of the world from nothing, that is, of the gift of existence to every being. The whole multiplicity of beings participate in this gratuitous gift—the "visible and the invisible," so varied as to appear almost unlimited, and all that the language of cosmology indicates as the "macrocosm" and "microcosm."

3. The truth of faith about the creation of the world leads us to penetrate the depths of the trinitarian mystery. It reveals to us what the Bible calls the "Glory of God" (Kabod Yahweh, doxa tou Theou). The Glory of God is first of all in himself. It is the "interior" glory, which fills the unlimited depth and infinite perfection of the one divinity in the Trinity of Persons. Inasmuch as it is the absolute fullness of being and holiness, this infinite perfection is also the fullness of truth and of love in the mutual contemplation and giving (and hence in the communion) of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God's interior glory springs from the mystery of the divinity. Through the work of creation, it is in a certain sense transferred "outside"—in the creatures of the visible and invisible world, in proportion to their degree of perfection.

4. A new dimension of God's glory begins with the creation of the visible and invisible world. This glory is called "exterior" to distinguish it from the previous one. Sacred Scripture speaks of it in many passages and in different ways. Some examples will suffice.

Psalm 19 proclaims: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.... There is no speech, nor are there words whose sound is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world" (Ps 19:1, 2, 4). The Book of Sirach states: "The sun looks down on everything with its light, and the work of the Lord is full of his glory" (42:16). The Book of Baruch has a very singular and evocative expression: "The stars shone in their watches and were glad; he called them, and they said, 'Here we are!' They shone with gladness for him who made them" (3:34).

5. Elsewhere the biblical text sounds like an appeal addressed to creatures to proclaim the glory of God the Creator. For example, the Book of Daniel states: "O all you works of the Lord, bless the Lord, to him be highest glory and praise forever" (3:57). Or Psalm 66: "Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name: give to him glorious praise! Say to God, 'How glorious are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth worships you; they sing praises to you, sing praises to your name'" (1-4).

Sacred Scripture is full of similar expressions: "O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures" (Ps 104:24). The whole created universe is a multiple, powerful and incessant appeal to proclaim the glory of the Creator. "All the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord" (Num 14:21); for "both riches and honor come from you" (1 Chr 29:12).

6. This hymn of glory, inscribed in creation, awaits a being capable of giving it adequate conceptual and verbal expression, a being who will praise the holy name of God and narrate the greatness of his works (cf. Sir 17:8). This being in the visible world is man. The appeal which goes up from the universe is addressed to him as the spokesman of creatures and their interpreter before God.

7. Let us return again for a moment to the words in which the First Vatican Council expressed the truth about creation and about the Creator of the world. "This one true God, in his goodness and 'omnipotent power,' not to increase his own happiness, nor to acquire, but to manifest his perfection through the gifts he distributes to creatures, by a supremely free decision, 'simultaneously from the beginning of time drew forth from nothingness both the one creature and the other, the spiritual and the corporeal...'" (DS 3002).

This text makes explicit with a language all its own the same truth about creation and about its finality, which we find in the biblical texts. The Creator does not seek any "completion" of himself in the work of creation. Such reasoning would be a direct antithesis of what God is in himself. He is the Being totally and infinitely perfect. Consequently he has no need of the world. Creatures, both visible and invisible, cannot "add" anything to the divinity of the Triune God.

8. And yet, God creates! God calls creatures into existence by a fully free and sovereign decision. In a real, though limited and partial way, they participate in the perfection of God's absolute fullness. They differ from one another according to the degree of perfection they have received, beginning with inanimate beings, then up to animate beings, and finally to human beings; or rather, higher still, to the creatures of a purely spiritual nature. The ensemble of creatures constitutes the universe. In its totality as well as its parts, the visible and invisible cosmos reflects eternal Wisdom and expresses the inexhaustible love of the Creator.

9. The revelation of the wisdom and love of God is the first and principal end of creation. The mystery of God's glory is realized in creation, according to the words of Scripture. "O all you works of the Lord, bless the Lord" (Dan 3:57). All creatures acquire their transcendental meaning in the mystery of that glory. "They reach out beyond" themselves to be open to him in whom they have their beginning...and their end.

Let us admire with faith the work of the Creator and praise his greatness:
"O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
May the glory of the Lord endure forever,
may the Lord rejoice in his works.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing to my God all my life" (Ps 104:24, 31, 33)."

After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Alle Francescane Missionarie di Maria

Je salue tous les pèlerins de langue française, adultes et jeunes, et particulièrement le groupe des Franciscaines Missionnaires de Marie en session de renouveau spirituel auprès de Rome: envoyées dans vos différents pays, vous serez, mes chères Soeurs, les témoins de cet Amour du Seigneur qui nous est sans cesse manifesté par sa Parole et dans son Eucharistie, comme aux disciples d’Emmaüs. A tous, je donne de grand coeur ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai fedeli di espressione inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I wish to offer special greetings to the group of Swedish Lutheran pilgrims resident in France and to the students from Turku, Finland. I also greet most cordially the visitors from Korea. And to all the English-speaking visitors from England, Canada and the United States I extend a very warm welcome. May the Lord bless you all.

Ai pellegrini di lingua tedesca 

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!

Werden wir uns, liebe Brüder und Schwestern, dieser unseren hohen menschlichen und christlichen Berufung wieder neu bewußt. Das erbitte ich euch als besondere Gnade für diese Audienz, 2U der ich euch alle sehr herzlich begrüße. Einen eigenen Willkommensgruß richte ich an die Diakone und den Herrn Regens des Priesterseminars in Paderborn sowie an die Gruppe von Religionslehrern aus Menden. Es ist geradezu eure Berufsaufgabe, die Menschen im Auftrag der Kirche auf den tieferen Sinn ihres Lebens und ihre ewige Bestimmung hinzuweisen und darin zu unterrichten. Weist ihnen vor allem durch euer persönliches christliches Lebenszeugnis den Weg zu einem erfüllten Leben aus dem Glauben. Die Diakone begleite ich mit meinem Gebet bei ihrer weitern Vorbereitung auf das Priestertum. Zugleich erteile ich euch und allen hier anwesenden Pilgern deutscher Sprache von Herzen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai numerosi fedeli di lingua spagnola 

Vaya mi más cordial saludo a todas las personas, familias y grupos de lengua española.

Saludo en particular a los sacerdotes, religiosos y religiosas aquí presentes, a quienes aliento a una generosa entrega al Señor en este tiempo de Cuaresma, preparación a la Pascua.

Igualmente saludo al grupo de jóvenes de la Institución Teresiana así como a los alumnos, profesores y religiosas del Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepción de Barcelona.

A todos los peregrinos procedentes de los diversos Países de América Latina y de Espanta imparto con afecto la Bendición Apostólica.

Ai connazionali polacchi

Serdecznie pozdrawiam pielgrzymów z Polski, w szczególności z Krakowa z parafii Najświętszego Salwatora z księdzem proboszczem; pielgrzymkę Klubu Inteligencji Katolickiej z Krakowa; grupę diecezjalną z Tarnowa; nauczycieli z Poznania; pielgrzymkę Krucjaty Eucharystycznej dzieci i młodzieży z Kanady z siostrami Urszulankami Szarymi oraz uczestników grup turystycznych Orbisu, PTTK i Turysty.

Ai diversi gruppi di lingua italiana raccolti nell’Aula “Paolo VI” 

Voglio ora salutare tutti i gruppi di lingua italiana, qui convenuti da diverse regioni della penisola.

Rivolgo un affettuoso pensiero ai Sacerdoti del Movimento dei Focolari, che partecipano alla scuola “Il Vivaio” di Loppiano; ai Cappellani Ospedalieri Cappuccini, riuniti a Roma per un corso sul tema “Come servire meglio il malato”; ai Missionari Comboniani, che partecipano a Roma ad un incontro di rinnovamento spirituale; e alle Suore della Congregazione “Pie Madri della Nigrizia”, le quali frequentano un Corso di aggiornamento, promosso dal loro Istituto.

Carissimi, vi esprimo plauso ed incoraggiamento per il vostro impegno di rinnovamento interiore, che mostrate partecipando ai menzionati convegni. Vi auguro che da questi incontri possiate ricavare uno stimolo per rinvigorire gli ideali religiosi da voi abbracciati e per esprimere in modo sempre più generoso la vostra dedizione verso i fratelli.

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Saluto pure il folto gruppo dei fedeli della Parrocchia romana di San Giuseppe all’Aurelio, che ricordano il 25° anniversario della erezione della loro chiesa. Questa circostanza vi faccia sentire sempre più la necessità di considerare la vostra Parrocchia un vero focolare spirituale che vi trovi uniti nella preghiera e nella solidarietà verso i bisogni altrui, e vi faccia diventare veri discepoli del Maestro divino. Interceda per voi San Giuseppe, a cui è affidata la vostra Comunità parrocchiale.

* * *

Vada ora il mio cordiale saluto agli Allievi della Scuola della Motorizzazione, del Comando Scuola Trasporti e Materiali e del Centro Informazioni e Difesa Elettronica, partecipanti a questa Udienza insieme con i loro Superiori. Vi ringrazio per la vostra presenza e vi auguro successo nei vostri rispettivi settori di impiego, come pure nella vostra vita civile, familiare e spirituale.

Agli ammalati 

Carissimi ammalati, saluto voi che siete raccolti attorno al Vicario di Cristo e al Successore dell’Apostolo Pietro.

La vostra esistenza porta i segni della sofferenza, della malattia e della croce. Sappiate testimoniare a tutti che tali segni sono per voi una occasione continua e privilegiata dell’incontro con Cristo, il quale, con la sua Croce portata in obbedienza al Padre e per amore nostro, ci ha resi eredi della Vita.

Agli sposi novelli 

Carissimi sposi novelli, mi è particolarmente gradito rivolgervi il mio augurio, a metà del cammino Quaresimale.

Il Signore che avete incontrato da poco, nel rito sacramentale, ha dato a tutti noi l’esempio massimo di un amore che ha saputo giungere fino al sacrificio più grande. Vi auguro, carissimi sposi, di essere capaci, con l’aiuto del Signore, di amarvi nel dono totale, reciproco di voi stessi, e di essere disponibili ad accogliere con amore i figli che il Dio della vita vorrà donarvi.

© Copyright 1996 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana