Dear Friends in Christ,
Welcome to this first post of the year – here at the Bishop’s Blog!
On Friday at Sacred Heart Primary School, Thornton, I blessed a library and a new science building, the latter interestingly and perhaps appropriately named after that great Italian Renaissance figure and multi-talented genius, Leonardo da Vinci. The occasion and especially the figure of the polymath, Leonardo da Vinci, led me to reflect on the often fraught and misunderstood relationship between science and religion, or faith and reason.
Leonardo’s unquenchable thirst for knowledge and tireless experiment led him to discover the wonders of science in the broadest possible understanding of that term. Yet that world and its vast mystery is the work of a loving Creator God who has placed it in the care of us human beings. The marvellous power of reason and reflection, which distinguishes us from the rest of the created order, is a reflection of the divine image in which we have been created. When we use our gifts of intellect and curiosity in investigating the world about us in all its many dimensions, as Leonardo did, we are undoubtedly reflecting the glory of God within us, a mark of which is our reason and understanding.
Blessed Pope Paul VI described the gap between culture and the gospel as one of the tragedies of our time, by that he meant the inability of modern man to realise that there is no incompatibility between faith in a loving God, revealed as our Father by his Son Jesus, and the universe as seen through scientific eyes. The facilities now available to the children of the Sacred Heart School in their new da Vinci science block will enable them to delve into and appreciate all the wonder and beauty of that marvellous and many dimensional ‘playground’ which is Almighty God’s gift to us.
The Lord Jesus, especially in his parables, drew on the wonders of nature to proclaim his gospel. He spoke of the mystery of seed sown by the farmer which eventually turns into a harvest, an occurrence quite beyond the understanding of the farmer. He also gives the example of a housewife who, when baking, uses a small amount of yeast which somehow permeates a large amount of dough, to illustrate how God’s kingdom can have small beginnings. He also remarks on the wonder of a tiny seed eventually becoming a great tree, or the seemingly ordinary phenomenon of the wind, yet which we fully cannot explain. We are very familiar with the Lord’s words on the lilies of the field which just mysteriously appear in time in all their beauty.
As the extensive world of science and research continues to uncover the hidden depths of the earth, outer space, and what lies yet undiscovered beneath the seas, or even something as simple but striking as a beautiful sunset, we might in humility make our own the sentiments of the Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins. Speaking of the astonishing variety and diversity in creation, the poet says, ‘He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him.’
May our children come to appreciate not only the beauty of God, but the God of beauty!
Until next week,
As ever in Christ,
Rt Rev Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster