Our Sacred Story: How the Pascal Mystery reveals itself throughout the Creation Story

The Encyclical Letter of the Holy Father entitled "Laudato Si'" asks Christians to see God’s creation as a sacred book that gives us a glimpse into the loving heart and mind of the Creator.

Our Sacred Story

How the Pascal Mystery reveals itself throughout the Creation Story

 “If you want to know the Creator look at creation” (St Columban)

by Fr. Vincent Busch, SSC 


In 2015, the Church published the “Encyclical Letter of the Holy Father, Francis, on care for our common home” entitled “Laudato Si”. Pope Francis calls for all Christians “to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbors on a global scale”. Laudato Si # 9

The Encyclical asks Christians to see God’s creation as a sacred book that gives us a glimpse into the loving heart and mind of the Creator.  This invitation affirms our biblical belief that creation is a sacred gift of God; it is good, and the Spirit is guiding creation to the fullness of life in a new heaven and a new earth. 

Pope Francis points to St. Francis as a Christian exemplar of one whose life was faithful to the way, the truth and the life. “Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis. 13:5).  Indeed, God’s “eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world” (Rom 1:20).”  Laudato Si #12

Christians belong to different cultures and all of us can prayerfully read the bible in our own languages.  We are enabled to read how God speaks to us in the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts of holy scripture thanks to the brilliance of generations of language experts and translators. Likewise, Christians can prayerfully read how God speaks to us through the book of nature thanks to the brilliance of generations of scientists whose careful research has revealed how the earth works and how it has evolved.   

Thanks to the science of ecology the faithful can read more deeply and prayerfully about how the beauty and goodness of God sustains all life in and through its renewable ecosystems. Thanks to the science of cosmology, we can read more deeply and prayerfully about the history of creation and see how that story evolves through deaths that resurrect into communion-building transformations.

When reading the Bible through the eyes of faith, the Holy Spirit leads us to profess that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – Our Pascal Mystery – is the way, the truth and the life who continues to bond and form Christian Communities.  The Holy Spirit leads us to see how the ongoing creative work of God eventually blossomed into our vibrant blue-green planet, and how the evolution of our Earth happened via transformations that call to mind the communion-building power of the Pascal Mystery. Reading the sacred book of nature is such a way can help us understand more deeply the words of scripture: “His eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world” (Rom 1:20).

In an attempt to visualize how the Pascal Mystery might unfold within the fabric of the creation story, I have designed an image for a pascal candle.  In this image, natural history unfolds in a series of transformations which, if we use pascal language, can be described as a series of deaths that resurrect into ever more communal ways of existing. Eventually, these communal ways of existing became the interconnected habitats of the Earth community.


 Here’s the full image of that Creation Pascal Candle design: 



 This design highlights significant transformations in the story of the universe. The flames at the base of image mark the beginning of that story (The Big Bang).   From there, the design spirals upward until it unfolds into a shape of a human whose outstretched arms is clothed in a landscape that stretches from the sea to the mountains.  Behind the head of the human rises the sun and crescent moon above the Earth Community.  

  Here is a more detailed look at the community-building transformations in the design: 



The transformation from heat into galaxies:

As the heat and energy of the Big Bang cooled it “died and resurrected” into communions of particles and atoms which, in turn, gathered into vast communions of stars and galaxies.


The transformation of simple elements into complex ones:
Some super-large stars, composed of simple elements, died, in supernova explosions, and resurrected into communions of ever more complex elements and molecules.  



The transformation of complex elements into Solar systems: 

Over time, clouds of complex elements gathered into communions called solar systems filled with planets and moons.




The transformation of molecules and elements into living beings:

Some of the more complex elements and molecules in the waters of our warm volcanic Earth died and resurrected into animated communions of simple one- celled creatures.



The transformation of one-celled creatures into complex life-forms:
These simple cells, over geological time, evolved into complex life-forms with roots, legs, fins, and wings...



 .... which lived within interdependent communions of ecosystems that compose the Earth Community.




The transformation of the Earth Community into consciousness:
It was within these ecosystems that humans evolved into a species in which the universe comes to consciousness.




And finally....


The transformation of our consciousness of being part of the Earth Community into ecological commitment:

Because of our awareness of the history and ecology of the Earth, human beings can rejoice in the beauty and bounty of the Earth. At the same time, we can understand how we must live within its limits.    The next transformative stage in the story of Earth Community will require that human societies learn to transform our earth-killing economies into earth-friendly ones.  Such a task will require the community-building love of the Pascal Mystery.  Enkindled by that love, we can renew the face of the Earth.

Pope Francis calls all nations and institutions to, consciously, oppose and let die any earth-killing economic system. He asks that the faithful resist unsustainable lifestyles and consumption which such systems glamorize and promote, especially in advertisements.   He challenges us to rise together to find personal ways of living within economies that will cherish, protect and share the gift of God’s creation.  The Pope realizes that such economic transformations will require  societies and individuals to undergo an ecological conversion:

“The ecological conversion for which we are appealing will lead us to a new way of looking at life, as we consider the generosity of the Creator who has given us the earth and called us to a share it in joy and moderation. This conversion must be understood in an integral way, as a transformation of how we relate to our sisters and brothers, to other living beings, to creation in all its rich variety and to the Creator who is the origin and source of all life.” Message of the Holy Father Francis for the celebration of the 53rd World Day of Peace (1 January 2020)

In the lives of Christians, this ecological conversion will require that our “encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in our relationship with the world”. (Laudato Si #217)

Suggesting that the faithful can better understand the community-building workings of the Love of God by using a biological analogy is not new. St Paul used  such an analogy when he tells the Christian community of Corinth: “You are the Body of Christ and individually members of it” 1st Cor. Chapter 12.   In Chapter 12, Paul elaborates his analogy to point out that just as human body is composed of different parts that work together for the good of the whole body, so too the Christian Community is composed of different people whose Spirit-endowed gifts are at the service of the common good. By using this “body” analogy Paul gives us another example why the God seems to favor the least among us.  “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’. On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” 1st Cor. 12: 21,22. 

The image on the creation Pascal Candle expands Paul’s “body of Christ” analogy.  Imagine that our bodies and the bodies of all past, present, and future beings were “conceived” in the Annunciation of the Big Bang.  This conceiving event began through the power of the Holy Spirit and enveloped in the Love of the Spirit it went through eons of “gestation” via many community-building transformations. Eventually, the present Earth Community emerged from this Spirit-guided process, and every creature including every human was and will be made flesh through that process.  

The Annunciation and Incarnation Jesus are more fully celebrated when put in the context of a pascal transformations that mark the story of God’s creation. The molecules and cells that composed the body of Mary are descendants of the big bang and the body of Jesus was made from the flesh of Mary.   After Gabriel announced to Mary that she is to be the mother of Jesus, Mary went to visit her relative Elizabeth.  Upon seeing Mary, Elizabeth, “filled with the holy Spirit cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’”  In the contest of the story of Creation we can say, paraphrasing the words of Elizabeth – “Blessed are all the fruits emerging from the of the womb of God’s Creation”.

By thinking of the Universe and the Earth as one interconnected and interdependent community that gestated through eons of community-building transformations, we can expand the “body” analogy of St Paul to include the “body” of all creation.  Within such a community-building story we can see better how creatures “complete each other in the service of each other”, and “understand better the importance and meaning of each creature within the entirety of God’s plan.” Laudato Si #86.   The above pascal-candle image is at the service of this understanding of God’s love at work in and through the story of creation.     

At the end of his encyclical Pope Francis proclaims that all creation finds its fulfillment in the “good gift” (the word “eucharist” in Greek means “Good- Gift”) of Jesus sent by the Father out of love for the world (“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” John 3:16).  In this eucharistic context, Our Lord “comes not from above, but from within, he comes that we might find him in this world of ours.” LS# 236.  Ans so, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, “The whole cosmos gives thanks to God.  Indeed the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love: ‘Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world.’” When we celebrate the Eucharist our Earth Community which “came forth from God’s hands”, via eons of community-building transformations, “returns to him” and finds its fulfillment in communion with our Creator.  Laudato Si #236.