Nature's Priests .w HEN the priest offers on the altar bread and wine, that they may become the matter of the Sacrament, he is acting as the representative not only of the faithful but of the earth from which come wheat and grapes. In so doing he observes the principle laid down by Pius XI when, in the Encyclical Divini Redemptoris, he wrote: It is therefore according to the dictates of reason that ultimately all material things should be ordained to man as a person that through his mediation they may find their way to the Creator." The same thought is to be found in the profound passage from the Epistle to the Romans which forms the Lesson for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost. Quoting from Mgr. Knox's translation we find St. Paul saying: " If creation is full of expectancy, that is because it is waiting for the sons of God to be made known. Created nature has been condemned to frustration not for sense deliberate fault of its own, but for the sake of Him Who condemned it, with a hope to look forward to, namely, that nature in turn will be set free from the tyranny of corruption, to share in the glorious freedom of God's sons." On the strength of this we might go so far as to say that as God became man in order that we might become God-like, so it is necessary for man to descend into the , depths of the physical creation in order that, being, as it were, humanised, it might, in and through man, be offered to the Creator. The divine economy requires that the universe should be a co-operative whole with God Himself as its End. Our position between pure spirits and inanimate matter in the hierarchy of creation defines our vocation as that
of intermediaries, " priests of nature." Humanity is the ladder by which the physical creation climbs back to its Source.
Our generation is keenly interested in the exploitation of the earth's resources but comparatively indifferent as to whether the methods employed impoverish nature or whether the use to which the wealth extracted is put is such as to further the Creator's purpose. The day is still far distant when, through the Second Adam nature is delivered from " the tyranny of corruption " through the sons of God and we recover our lost Paradise, Every misuse of the wealth derived from nature violating the divine purpose and the integrity of the universe delays it still further.
STANLEY B. JAMES.