by Joseph Nangle, OFM
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace

September 4, 2022 — This year’s Season of Creation has as its theme “Listen to the Voice of Creation.” Surely much of the listening will concentrate on the “suffering cries of Creation” that sound so loudly at this time of human existence. Our common home is in mortal danger brought about by humanity’s neglect and avarice.

However, we also need to hear the Voice of Creation as, in the words of Pope Francis, we come again to pray “in the great cathedral of creation, enjoying the ‘grand cosmic choir’ of innumerable creatures singing praises to God.” We need to make this season one of contemplation as well as lament because, as in the words of the beautiful song written by Bernadette Farrell, “Creation tells your story” [God’s story].

Humanity has arrived at a point in its history qualitatively unlike any other. We have left the confines of Earth’s atmosphere and journeyed into space. This capacity has brought new perspectives on space and time. And that has allowed human beings to look on Planet Earth from an entirely new vantage point and wonderment. It is the perfect place to begin this Season, reflecting on God’s great project, Creation.

A look, then, at Planet Earth from the point of view of our place in the universe.


The space probe, Voyager 1, launched in 1977, left our solar system and entered interstellar  space in 2012, a 35-year journey. Traveling at an astounding 35,000 mph, it went 14 billion miles from Earth. 

Again, Earth’s position in our solar system points to our relative size among the planets. We are about in the middle among them. Mars, at this moment the closest planet to Earth, is on average 450 million miles from us and it would take an estimated nine months to reach it. From Mars we merely look like an “evening star” in its sky. 

This brief data point to realities beyond vast and our relatively modest place among them. 

Now consider the reflections of those privileged human beings, astronauts, who first saw  Planet Earth from outer space.

 “… the overriding sensation I got looking at the Earth was “my God, that little thing is so fragile out there.’” (Michael Collins)

“…it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful you can imagine.” (James Irwin)

“.. how robust it [Earth] is. Life has managed to essentially cover this planet in all sorts of different places – it finds a way.” (Ed Lu)

Finally, to paraphrase one astronaut who looked at this beautiful blue and white dot in the emptiness and darkness of space: “That little place in the universe is where everything that is precious about my life is located.”

That brings us to the Season of Creation and Earth’s grandeur despite its aloneness in the Universe. Our Mother Earth does indeed tell God’s story, a necessary beginning place for these blessed five weeks. Aren’t we overcome with extreme humility and awestruck wonder and praise for the Creator? Aren’t we astounded and have no words to describe the Holy Mystery who loved it into being?

We call that Mystery “God,” but as Karl Rahner put it, “God is the final word before a wordless and worshipful silence in the face of the ineffable mystery.” Or returning to Bernadette Farrell’s hymn: “God is beyond our dreams; beyond all names; beyond all words; beyond all time.”

What’s more, the contemplation of God’s creation brings us to the profound realization that this Holy Mystery is entirely incomprehensible. We will never “capture” God or say that we understand God. In his typical way Rahner said: “Those who would presume to know God are ‘taking shelter in the din of their own perspicacity.’” [shrewdness].

And yet. And yet – Jesus the Christ called him Father!

These Seasons of Creation are a journey that will end only in eternity.

Joe Nangle OFM is a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace. As a member of the Assisi Community in Washington, D.C., he is dedicated to simple living and social change. Joe also serves as the Pastoral Associate for the Latino community at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Arlington, Virginia.

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