In what will be a frustration for those "modernists" whose primary religious belief is a denial of a personal God, Pope Benedict XVI's sermon of a couple of days ago spoke to the evidence of God's power and mercy shown in His intricately created order.
Taking as his texts Psalms 135 and 136, the Pope explained, "God does not appear in the Bible as an impassible and implacable Lord, or an obscure and indecipherable being, or fate, against whose mysterious force it is useless to struggle." Indeed, he continued, God manifests himself "as a Person Who loves His creatures, He watches over them, He follows them in the course of history and suffers because of the infidelity with which the people often oppose His hesed, his merciful and paternal love."
"The first sign of this divine charity," he noted, quoting the psalmist, must be "sought in creation: … the heavens, the earth, the waters, the sun, the moon and the stars...There is, therefore, a divine message secretly inscribed in creation," a sign of "the loving faithfulness of God who gives his creatures being and life, water and food, light and time," he added. "From created works one ascends ... to the greatness of God, to his loving mercy."
After his formal sermon, Pope Benedict delved further into the controversy that swirls around evolution, intelligent design, and the deist concept of a disinterested watchmaker deity. He did so by setting aside his notes and commenting on St. Basil the Great who said that some, "deceived by the atheism they bear within them, imagined the universe deprived of a guide and order, at the mercy of chance."
"I believe the words of this fourth-century Father are of amazing timeliness," said Benedict XVI. "How many are these 'some' today?"
"Deceived by atheism, they believe and try to demonstrate that it is scientific to think that everything lacks a guide and order," he continued. "The Lord, with sacred Scripture, awakens the drowsy reason and says to us: In the beginning is the creative Word. In the beginning the creative Word -- this Word that has created everything, which has created this intelligent plan, the cosmos -- is also Love."
The Pontiff concluded with an encouragement to his listeners to allow themselves "to be awakened by this Word of God" and invited them to pray that "he clear our minds so that we will be able to perceive the message of creation, inscribed also in our hearts: The beginning of everything is creative Wisdom and this Wisdom is love and goodness."