Soli Deo Gloria!
All for the Glory of God!
Glory to God Alone!
No matter how one translates this motto of the Ursuline Sisters, it was a graced choice as the central theme of the Ursuline College 150th Anniversary of Founding celebration at the Cathedral of St. John in Cleveland in mid-November. Musicians, a chorus of voices, the People of God from every walk of life; alumnae of Ursuline and St. John College from its early days to the present, friends and strangers alike, all joined Bishop Amos and the priests at the altar in giving glory and thanks to our God. The celebration was glorious! Understandably, I wanted to sustain the rejoicing in the days ahead.
Yet, as I drove home, the snow began to fall, and dark clouds formed overhead. It was then that I wondered, with all of the conflict in this world, with the pandemic daily claiming the unvaccinated in its deadly grip, with hundreds of thousands of migrants seeking refuge from wars, political games, power struggles, and with the consequences of climate change; how in this world is God glorified?
St Francis of Assisi in The Canticle of the Creatures, declares:
Most High, all-powerful, good God, yours are the praises,
the glory and the honor and all blessing . . .
Francis then shares a litany of creatures of God, all praising God, Brother Sun, Sister Moon and the Stars, Brother Wind, Sister Water, Brother Fire, Mother Earth. . . “who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.” And I know in my heart that this is true. God is glorified in the cardinal who brings color to our grey days; in the uniquely individual snowflakes that cascade around us; in the strength of the winds that move weather systems over the Great Lakes and remind us of power beyond our own; in the family of deer that peek out of the woods each evening able to freely leap and run without fear; and in the majestic sun display as it greets each new day. God is truly glorified! And the truth to which all creatures witness: ALL is created by God and glorifies God by being exactly what it is and only what it is!
Soon, I will be singing Gloria again! As Advent continues to unfold, I anticipate. I wait. I want the Christ to come. And yet I am aware of the paradox of Advent/Christmas. For while I long for God to come; God is here now! Advent reminds me of the restlessness of my heart, of its searching for its heart’s desire. Yet, at the same time, I grow daily in awareness of His Presence. Joan Chittister wrote: “The God we are seeking is also seeking us.” It is in this seeking and finding that we become more of who we are. This Christmas, may we come to know this God in the very seeking itself. May the New Year continue to be a discovery of these holy moments as we realize this truth! Then, when we join the song of angels, “sweetly singing o’er the plains,” and “hear the mountains in reply echoing back their joyous strains” we can rejoice! We can join all creation as well as the chorus of human voices singing: ”Gloria in excelsis Deo!, Gloria in excelsis Deo” in the real hope that our glorifying of God will be sustained.
What about us? In the words of St. Iraneus, “The Glory of God is the person fully alive!” For each of us to truly give glory to God, we must continuously strive to know who we truly are and to become the person God has created us to be. This is a lifetime journey into the Heart of God and it is this journey that unites us. How do we do that? What do we do now, what do we do next? These questions will always be there. In Sunday’s Gospel, John the Baptist anticipates our concerns. He suggests that we start with what is right in front of us. Today, as we go about our daily routine, if we come across people in need, we can simply respond to that need. We can start with basic acts of compassion and integrity and see where God is leading. In the process, God will teach each of us in Whose likeness we are being created anew. With St. Angela Merici we pray:
"May God be blessed, above the sands of the seas, above the drops of the waters, above the multitude of the stars.”
Soli Deo Gloria!