Teachings of Pope Francis
The topic of the Bible or the Word of God is treated in Laudato Si in relation o the action of God present in the beauty of creation and in sacredness of human being, created at the image and similarity of God: “«For the believer, to contemplate creation is to hear a message, to listen to a paradoxical and silent voice». We can say that «alongside revelation properly so-called, contained in sacred Scripture, there is a divine manifestation in the blaze of the sun and the fall of night». Paying attention to this manifestation, we learn to see ourselves in relation to all other creatures” (n.85). “«By the word of the Lord the heavens were made» (Ps 33:6). This tells us that the world came about as the result of a decision, not from chaos or chance... The creating word expresses a free choice. The universe did not emerge as the result of arbitrary omnipotence, a show of force or a desire for self-assertion. Creation is of the order of love... Every creature is thus the object of the Father’s tenderness, who gives it its place in the world” (n.77).
Pope Francis affirms that the sacred word situates human being in zenit of creation, but not as its ultimate purpose, that can’t be other than God himself, revealed in his Son, Risen Christ. Human being cannot consider itself and less present itself as a center and final of anything or anybody. That was the sin of angels demons. Yes, in effect, in contemplation of the beauty of nature and its own beauty as image of God and his similarity, it acknowledges itself in relation with other creatures, fundament of christian ecological spirituality: “What the great biblical narratives say about the relationship of human beings with the world? In the first creation account in the Book of Genesis, God’s plan includes creating humanity. After the creation of man and woman, «God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good» (Gen 1:31). The Bible teaches that every man and woman is created out of love and made in God’s image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26). This shows us the immense dignity of each person, «who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons»” (n.65). “These stories suggest that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbour and with the earth itself. According to the Bible, these three vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us. This rupture is sin. The harmony between the Creator, humanity and creation as a whole was disrupted by our presuming to take the place of God and refusing to acknowledge our creaturely limitations… today, the sin is manifest in all its destructive power in wars, the various forms of violence and abuse, the abandonment of the most vulnerable, and attacks on nature” (n.66). “All sound spirituality entails both welcoming divine love and adoration, confident in the Lord because of his infinite power” (n.73). “The ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us. Rather, all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things. Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator” (n.83). “The unbridled exploitation of nature by painting him as domineering and destructive by nature is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church” (n.67).“Disregard for the duty to cultivate and maintain a proper relationship with my neighbour…, ruins my relationship with my own self, with others, with God and with the earth. When all these relationships are neglected, when justice no longer dwells in the land, the Bible tells us that life itself is endangered… These ancient stories, full of symbolism, bear witness to a conviction which we today share, that everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others” (n.70).
Experience and testimony of Francisco Palau
Bible, together with teachings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church is a principal source of experience of Fr. Palau. He nourished himself with it, incarnated it in his life, was his stronghold, support in his journey and teacher od spirituality. “The Word of God is invulnerable”, his taught to his pupils (Letter 21,3). He defines himself as “a minister of divine word” (Letter 44,8) and this Word was an inexcusable instrument in his pastoral and missionary actions: “My attack was not directed against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers, the rulers of this world of darkness, the evil spirits [Eph 6,12]; I, therefore, took from the arsenal of the temple of the Lord an entirely spiritual armor [Eph 6,13] such as the Cross, the sack and cilice, penance and poverty, together with prayer and the preaching of the Gospel” (SL 19). The Word of God was basis and fundament in spiritual accompaniment: “Hold on to the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God [Eph 6,11ff], from whom alone you can receive strength and courage invoking him in spirit” (Letter of a director 12), “the words which he speaks and the promises made are those found in the holy Scriptures, the words of which I have retained literally as far as possible are in the teaching of the Church” (Id. 35). This turning up to the Bible as substantial source is obvious in his writings and he himself confesses: “when God preaches and speaks in me and through me, I am the first recipient of the gift of the divine word, and the word of God will save me and will encourage and strengthen me” (Letter 54,1). “In my doubts I look for support in the Sacred Scriptures and in the teachings of the holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church” (MR 4,22). It is a conviction and experience of faith: “If the understanding believes with lively faith all that has been revealed about the Church, the light of faith sees the eternal truths much more clearly than external objects. Believing is seeing” (MR 4,8). “Believing in the Word of God is hearing him all the more clearly and surely the greater the faith with which we believe. The Word of God will remain and endure for ever, like God himself; and what he said was heard and will be heard for all ages. To believe means to apply the ear of the soul, and to pay attention in silence to listen to it” (Id, 4,9. Cf. Is 40,8; 1Pe 1,25).
May testimony and teaching of blessed Palau impel us to give to the Sacred Scripture a preferred place and not only to have a Bible as a decorative object, to take the Word of God as source and nourishment of our human and spiritual doings, but this reflection doesn’t embrace the wide spectrum that palautian teachings offer in this meaning, only give some input in the context of Encyclical Laudato Si and eclesial palautian experience.
His first autobiographical writings present him as a wild solitary who, in direct contact with the nature, contemplates the tragic situation that in his times society and the Church traversed, that he qualifies as “mystery of iniquity”: “I have climbed the mountain heights, and from their peaks I have contemplated the crimes and virtues of the Christian people and their clergy” (SL 37). “A most horrible disaster, already predicted by the oracles of the Holy Scripture, will disclose all accomplices and will reveal the proofs of all their crimes. There is no doubt that there are criminals among us, and the cry of their crimes has reached to heaven” (SL 29). “The extraordinary strength which hell has acquired in Spain forming so many wicked sects… had closed the mouth of the preachers so that they cannot freely announce evangelically the divine word, except at the risk of liberty or life” (Letter of a director 10).
His vision, historically real, is tinted with apocalyptic accents, not like in subsequent writings impregnated with his mystic ecclesial experience which maximum exponents are My Relationships with the Church and The Church of God represented by the Holy Spirit in Sacred Scriptures. In both writings, charism is impregnating each page and his cosmic vision: creation, edification, city, humanity, spouse, empire, work of God, etc. are synonyms to present and describe the Church of God and human being as its living image.
- In My Relationships:
“The divine word which you administer is the seed, which, received in the heart of this island, form the souls according to the law and image of God. The divine word, received into the heart, translated to works, is the Son and Daughter of God: it is that which engenders and gives life to souls” (7,9).
“In you I see the figure, the features and the image of God, three and one; and this image, although worth little in itself, just as the portrait of a king is of little worth, but on account of what is represented, which is God, you are loveable, just as God is, you are beautiful and lovely like God, because that beauty is but God’s beauty impressed upon man and communicated to the creature [Gn 1,26-27; I Cor 11,7; Jas 3,9]” (9,18)
“The image of God is but one in the whole body of the blessed and the same in each one of them, because the special characteristics which constitute it are in all: «Let us make man in our own image and likeness» [Gn 1,26]” 22,31)
- In The Church of God:
“In his purest mind he did not only fix the plan of the Holy city of the Heavenly Jerusalem, but he also preordained the manner and the time of bringing his great work to its ultimate perfection. Having conceived the plan, God uttered one word and that word was the building of his Church in the course of the Century” (Lamina 1,1)
“The Supreme Architect forgets nothing and his plan, conceived by his infinite intelligence, remained drawn and delineated … it is not possible neither to add, nor to remove nor to erase nor to correct not even the least shadow of the head” (Lamina 4,2)
“The Holy city of Jerusalem, preordained by the Supreme architect in eternity, a parte ante, said only one word and the eternal Word, which is God, constructed the city and executed the plan conceived in the divine mind… With the passing of the centuries and of time, another eternity comes, a parte post, in the work of God wherein the holy Church will be presented all finished, completed and perfected’ (Lamina 4,4).
“Where Jesus Christ has the city, there his throne and his kingdom must be, because Christ and the Church are one body. Where Christ is there, there the Church is” (Lamina 18,5).
“The material sun is at the centre of creation and the Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ… is at the centre of the universe with his chosen ones and the visible moving world is figured within the celestial – heaven as a great body destined for the perishable life of humankind” (Lamina 20,10).
“The Celestial – heaven is the place, space, or premises created by God for the eternal mansion of his favourite daughter, the Spouse of his Son, the Holy Church: The Holy Triumphant Church is the end, to whose glory everything and the entire universe are created. Omnia propter electos [2 Tm 2,10]” (Lamina 21,2)
“We put at the centre of the universe Christ and his Spouse… and after such this time she comes out to the light, breathes and enjoys the new Heaven and new country the air of eternal and imperishable life” (Lamina 21,3).
“The humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ is the noblest body of all with such excellence that unites him in all the physical perfection of the sun, the stars and all the heavenly bodies together are fulfilled. For this reason, it is right that he must be at the centre of all created matter” (Lamina 21,5).
Hna. Josefa Pastor Miralles CMT