“The study of the universe is an act of worship,” says the director of the Vatican Observatory, Jesuit Br Guy Consolmagno. Source: Crux.
Speaking to a crowd at a New York State parish, he cited Psalm 139, “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me,” and added: “There are places in the universe we haven’t set foot on yet, and maybe we won’t,” but they are “as much a part of God’s creation” as the Earth.
“God is bigger than just what we see around here,” Br Consolmagno said.
Attendees were visibly moved by the photos he shared of planetary landscapes, moon craters, stars and galaxies. He was quick to note that none of the images were artists' renderings; close-up photos showed places “we have visited with our machinery and left our footprints.”
Br Consolmagno related all of this to faith in his talk last month at Christ Sun of Justice Church in Troy, Albany, as part of the parish’s annual Lenten speaker series.
Referring to St Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Sun, Br Consolmagno said although it was composed in the year 1225, its spirit is just as applicable today. He pointed to Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, which expressed similar ideas about respect for creation.
“We are made by God and we are siblings,” the astronomer said. “To exploit nature is to exploit your little sister.”
Br Consolmagno is a native of Detroit. He shared his own life story, from studying the moons of Jupiter to serving in the Peace Corps, teaching physics and, in 1993, joining the staff at the Vatican Observatory, where he has studied meteorites and asteroids and now serves as director.
Br Consolmagno also has travelled to Antarctica to search for meteorites. He noted that the photos he took there resembled the surfaces of other planetary bodies: harsh, barren landscapes that, nevertheless, have much to reveal about creation.
Even the smallest meteorite cross section - thinner than a human hair - shows incredible crystalline structures, he said, noting “that sense of discovery, that I’ve seen this little thing … it’s like the voice of God behind me, saying, ‘Isn’t this cool?'”