Meditations for Layfolk - The Creative Word

We learn as children that God created all things by His word, and Saint John, in the tremendous preface that he puts to his Gospel, tells us who this Word of God is: "In the beginning was the Word . . . all things were made through Him, and without Him was made nothing . . . The Word was made flesh." It is obvious, then, that God the Father created everything through the Son, who was therefore the image according to which everything was formed. Thus is the whole world stamped with a divine personality, whose traces are conspicuous in the details and laws of created nature. The old idea of a blind force working its way through all creation, trampling under foot in its mad fashion the ineffective and inefficient wastrels, slaughtering the welter of all unselfish being, cannot readily obtain any evidence to support it. Even evil as well as good shows clear signs of an intelligence directing, controlling, planning. Here too the whole value of evolutionary research, such as has been gathered by the science of our own and past time, can be appreciated by no one more than by ourselves. I as a Catholic welcome the many detailed laws that are now found to govern even the formation of a crystal. Some take shape in one figure, some in another, all in definite mathematical precision. As in the child's story of Robinson Crusoe, there are evident traces of intelligent being on the shores of nature. And the deeper our knowledge becomes, the more clearly do we see the gradual break-up of that old-fashioned materialism that supposed nothing rational in the organization of the universe.

Indeed, so full is the world of personality that it is the lover alone who discovers the full meaning of life. Unless you are in love, you will never find a purpose in the ebb and flow of existence. Thus to love is to understand. The lover, as he sets about his daily toil, finds in all the earth things that remind him of his beloved. Every corner of the street comes to him and tells him of some excellence or the memory of some past happiness. The whole world spells to him just one name. Hence the object of his love, because it is a personality, does give him the meaning of life. The personality may actually, because of the very vehemence of his passion, obscure for him the divine idea, human forms may block out the radiance of the divine, but the fact remains that they alone who are in love find an answer to life's riddle. The old pagan idea that found the gods lurking in field and wood and stream was evidence of the instinct of man's nature. Faulty were their legends, gross and carnal their interpretation, but human nature did find out the high secret of earth that it sprang from the hands of a personal God. A mother discovers the meaning of sorrow in the heart of her child: she sees that God deals with her as she with her little ones. The lover finds the name of his beloved written across the stars; the sighing of the wind, the fragrance of the flowers and delicate hue of the rose, and the music of the birds, do but repeat to the friend his friend's loveliness. For the love of a person alone can unlock the secrets of creation, and make pain almost divine, and even parting such sweet sorrow, since it was through a person that the world was made. It is just, then, this personal touch that can alone explain it.

Further, it will be noticed that the nearer the person we love approaches to the Divine Ideal through whom all things were created, the more true is our understanding of life. The more clearly their souls mirror the perfections of Christ, the better is the vision that they unfold to us of the inner depths of life. One meaning of the devotion to the saints is precisely for that purpose. They are the imitators of Christ, and because they so closely followed in His footsteps they do the better explain to us, once we have found a love for them in our hearts, the troubled perplexities of our existence. Our love for them, just because they are human and because they do reproduce in some way the life of our Master, helps our own lives along. But it is only in Him that we shall find the complete answer: the saints are at best faulty copies of a faultless original. By taking, then, into our hands His Gospel and setting the Crucifix before our eyes, and feeding upon His broken Body and His outpoured Blood, we shall be getting into our minds the real vision that alone will make the universe explainable. Through Him all things were made; it will be therefore in our increasing knowledge of Him and in a corresponding love of Him that we shall find our way about in the little furrows of our lives. In the perfect realization of Him alone can the meaning of all things be made clear; not indeed as though the world explains Him, though this too is true, but rather that He explains the world. Frequent communication with Him, frequent communion in the Blessed Sacrament, will therefore be of great help to me. It will help me to know Him better, experience His love, and find the answer to all the troubles of life in Him.

- text taken from Meditations for Layfolk by Father Bede Jarrett, O.P.