Word in the cosmos and lectio mundi
The beauty and the goodness of things
by Antonietta Augruso

I know that heaven and earth and all creation
are large, generous, good and beautiful.
Julian of Norwich

The Old Testament Scripture begins with the creative force of the Word (dabar). The world is born by the vitality of the Word: “God said ‘Let there be light’ and there was light” (Gen 1.3). The New Testament presents us the creative power of the Word (Logos) by which all things come to life (cf Jn 1.2).

Word in the cosmos

The Word is creative in a variety of directions: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, by the breath of His mouth all their host” (Ps 33.6). Wisdom points out that it is possible to contemplate the Author, starting from the beauty of his accomplished work (cf Wis 13.1 to 9). We read a poem, we contemplate with admiration a work of art, and date back to the genius of the Author, his draws, as if the images express the fullness of the energy that creates. The Psalms and whole the Scripture are beautiful when they conduct the reader to a sort of reconciling wonder. How can it be otherwise, before the images that evoke the creation almost a dancing harmony? “The heavens declare the glory of God, the work of his hands announces the firmament” (Ps 19.2), the psalmist proclaims.

And the same eternal Word speaks to his child through a dialogue of freedom, seeking with persistent attention of his fate: “Where are you?” (Gen 3.9). Creating Word is the same that frees and safes. The religious listening also involves the ability to see the divine care of the nature’s color and in the variety of its landscapes. Starting from the conviction of the goodness of creation, the post-synodal exhortation can condemn the desecration label: “The revelation, as announced us the plan of God on the universe, leads us also to denounce the wrong attitudes of man, when does not recognize all things as a reflection of the Creator, but merely material to be manipulated without scruple” (VD 108).

So, the word of God appeals to man’s heart, urging him to don’t terminate in indifference or, worse still, in their horizons, thinking that the goods to protect and defend are only those of your own home. The Word, which takes form in the creation and in it shines for those who can grasp, is now deeply marred in its beauty; it is likely to suffer a kind of blackout just in a channel that has inspired poets and saints; the writings that are now part of world literature. For all, just think of the Canticle of St. Francis of Assisi.

“Lectio mundi “

But the Word itself comes helping us, if we listen with understanding heart: it is the sap from which we draw for the formation of consciences that still want to make the world habitable. Benedict XVI insists on the maturation of a renewed vision of theological education as a path to the wonder, and shows of having accepted signs where the Synod Fathers stated: “To accept the word of God attested in Scripture and living Tradition of the Church creates a new way things to see, fostering a genuine ecology, which has its deepest roots in the obedience of faith … (and) developing a renewed theological sensibility on goodness of all things, created in Christ “(VD 108).

The Word is communication. Speaking to the heart of man encouraged him to look with new eyes the entire cosmos, to make educational projects maturing sense of wonder and discovery of his tracks. Amazement, listening and meeting with the Other educate the sense of limitation, arouse in us the question, the proper testing, especially when you realize to sow destruction for the benefit of a few, to develop and implement strategies of death and destruction of non-renewable resources. The land today is really a planet in the balance. The media inform us daily of huge masses of radioactive and toxic waste buried in unimaginable places: “So the man lacks that essential humility that allows him to recognize the creation as God’s gift to be accepted and used according to his purpose “(VD 108).

The exhortation invites to rethink the choices even from the Word present and eloquent in the universe that awaits his release: “We know that all creation is groaning in travail” (Rom. 8:22). It comes to feeding a living and constant relationship with the Logos living and working in history (cf Jn 1.2).

Of the four ideal pillars on which the Word in the New Testament leans -announcement, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer- one is the preaching of the kérygma: hope in the resurrection of Christ leads to communication wherever life calls to work and to meet the others. Jesus remains the guiding light of all sorts of Scriptures‘ reading, but he explains and interprets the Bible has to go down at present of the listener: Jesus himself had done so in the itinerary from Jerusalem to Emmaus with two of his disciples. This is what the deacon Philip did along the road to Gaza, when he encounters the Ethiopian official, with whom he weaves this emblematic dialogue: “Do you understand what you’re reading?”. He receives the answer: “How can I understand if no one guides me?” (Acts 8.30-31). Interpreting the Word and making it enter into the history of each is not the result of improvisation. One can not ignore the “carnal and literal” data of the Word, or put in brackets the diversity of audiences and cultures to which it is announced.

“The lover of beauty”

Each man lives his own unique history ; the communication needs always humble listen of the other, to identify the correct language, to generate dialogue. As the care of the Father is expressed in the gift of the Incarnation, the Church, the guardian and interpreter of the Word, has always been committed because people are not deprived of a profound relationship with the Scriptures: “God reveals himself in the abstract, but taking languages, images and expressions related to various cultures. This is a fruitful relationship, testified extensively in the history of the Church” (VD 109).

The Word, with the docility and strength that come from the Spirit, more than any other tool transforms the human soul, brings joy to the heart and enlightens the eyes (cf Ps 19.9) of those who lights in the light of the Word: eyes “contemplate” the world in its beauty and, in looking at it, sing it with heart or reveal in creative ways. When the Word becomes music, song, image, its fruits are very abundant and awaken openness to transcendence.

“With the Synod Fathers, we read in the exhortation, the whole Church expresses appreciation, esteem and admiration for the artists ‘lover of beauty’, which were inspired by the sacred texts” (VD 112). The Word is made visible and audible through the genius of artists inspired by the Holy Spirit, one can hardly imagine the world without the works of art and music that expressed the mystery of the Father’s love in the revelation. Benedict XVI on many occasions in recent years has met the artists and has never missed to enhance the contribution, in order to evangelize: “I urge the competent bodies to be promoted in the Church a solid training of artists related to Sacred Scripture in the light of the living Tradition of the Church and the Magisterium “(VD 112).

Word and new media

All peoples in the diversity of space and time have left a priceless legacy of art and buildings, institutions and symbols, religious traditions and literary products to transmit the faith. The joys and the hardships, returns and exiles of every people -enlightened and comforted by the Word- were narrated by the different cultural codes and often found in the word of God the opportunity to express hopes and dreams: the beauty of Incarnation! “The word of God, as the Christian faith, revealed a deeply cultural character , able to meet and bring together different cultures” (VD 114). A process as complex located in the traditional media and new forms a valuable tool to make known the mystery of God’s love who enters into history of peoples and of every man.

For this reason, to acquire new methods to know the Gospel is an integral part of evangelization, although it is understood that it “can take advantage of the virtual offered by new media to create meaningful relationships, if you come into personal contact, which remains irreplaceable” (VD 113).

The Word is living, comforts, and calls for change, queries, and indicates the paths of light. This is because the personal relationship is the way forward: a relationship between alive. We do not fully understand people if we do not listen, if we do not know their history. There is an empathy that you live only for yourself, your emotions and your heart. Similarly is for the Word of God, which penetrates deeply into the human heart, respecting a possible refusal. Christ stands at the door and knocks, but you have to open the door (cf Rev 3.20).

Meetings and faces

You may be familiar with all existing techniques and design varied sites, but this remains pure instrumentality: “The virtual world can not replace the real world” (VD 113). The exhortation warns against the conviction and habit ingrained in digital man to inhabit the virtual reality as if it were the only and real one, with the conviction to communicate with others, to say everything to everybody. The result will be nothing to say (F. Ferrarotti).

Everyday life is made of encounters, faces, listening. Jesus has always favored the language related to life, and his announcement is in the most ordinary, and especially from similarities and understandable narratives from his listeners. While the technology remains an invaluable tool, it involves a serious reflection on the limits and style of communication that conveys and produces. The style of homo zapping is certainly not characterized by long times, typical in the internalization.

The Message of the Synod Assembly in fact, warned: “This new Communication adopted a specific and expressive grammar and, therefore, we must be equipped, not only technically but also culturally prepared for this task.” There is a time for everything: love asks fidelity and acceptance, creativity, and pauses. In the transmission of the Word, the Christian community gives to brothers in faith his precious baggage, but you have to poke insistently and intelligence to find the precious pearl, and above all to remember, look for a vital relationship, as the angel says to the seer of Patmos ” Take and eat; will be bitter to the bowels, but in your mouth will be sweet as honey “(Revelation 10.9). In the journey towards the fullness of humanity is sustained by his love: “… mankind will be saved is including everything, I mean everything that is created and the creator of everything, because in the man is God, and in God is everything” (Julian of Norwich).

Antonietta Augruso
Teacher of Religion