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October 15, 2012 | Volume 87, Number 25

ARTICLE

photo: Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo sits among the 18 deacon candidates who were part of the Rite of Candidacy Mass Sept. 28 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Richmond.
Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo sits among the 18 deacon candidates who were part of the Rite of Candidacy Mass Sept. 28 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Richmond.

Beauty of nature: How did it come about?

When visitors to the various National Parks in the United States are struck by the beauty of nature in all its glory, some wonder how did it all come about.

Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo used this question in his homily on Sept. 28 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Richmond at the Rite of Candidacy Mass for 18 men who are in the early stages of formation for the permanent diaconate.

While most visitors to the National Parks who believe in God would see the natural beauty as a part of God’s creation, others would not be so sure how the natural beauty of mountains, tall trees and waterfalls came to be.

The first director and founder of the National Park system, developed in 1916 under President Woodrow Wilson, was Stephen Mather, a successful businessman who believed that the beauty of nature could provide solace and restorative effects to those who were prone to depression. Mather himself was among those with this illness, historian Ken Burns pointed out in his documentary on the National Parks.

photo: Seminarian Miguel Melendez, in priestly formation for the Diocese of Richmond, with his father, Jose Melendez, of St. Jude Parish, Radford, a candidate for the permanent diaconate.
Seminarian Miguel Melendez, in priestly formation for the Diocese of Richmond, with his father, Jose Melendez, of St. Jude Parish, Radford, a candidate for the permanent diaconate.

“People were somehow restored and found solace after experiencing deep depression,” Bishop DiLorenzo said.

“Humanly speaking, some persons who are lost in a number of ways, find that nature has a positive effect on their lives,” he added.

Within the Diocese of Richmond, especially as one heads west beyond Richmond on I-64, the Bishop spoke of the natural beauty of Afton Mountain and the Peaks of Otter near Bedford.

But this is only the beginning of what he called a meditation because there is a purpose written into everything, Bishop DiLorenzo said.

“When you see the original beauty, you ask ‘How did it all get here?’

“There has to be intelligence behind it,” he continued. “Where does it come from?

“There has to be someone, some power to bring this all about.”

Then Bishop DiLorenzo commended the men preparing for the diaconate for “making yourselves available” for people they will meet in their ministry who will have questions for why things are as they are.

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