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Ecology Reflections from Fr. John Surette, SJ

A reflection by Fr. John Surette, SJ


The story of God’s Universe is our story. We are located within it. Today we do not know ourselves adequately unless we know this story.

It is widely held among our scientists that the universe as we know it has its beginnings some 13.9 billion years ago in a fireball of almost unimaginable energy. That fireball contained within itself the energy for all that the universe would ever unfold. The galaxies were potentially there and so was our Earth with its ocean, mountains, plants, animals…you and me. We spring from the primordial fireball. Our “oral histories” go back that far. In other words, all life on Earth has a common ancestry. We are all “cousins.” To be is to be related and these relationships shape us throughout our lives. “We are an integral part of the evolutionary history of life on Earth,” Australian theologian Denis Edwards.

Everything in the Universe can be said to have some kind of consciousness or psychic dimension. As far as we know it is in the human species that matter arrived at a reflective kind of consciousness. In other words, “we know that we know.” Mystic Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ, referred to humankind as “the process of evolutions becoming conscious of itself.” We are those beings in whom Earth thinks, reasons, questions, writes poetry and sings love songs. What a dignity and responsibility for you and me!


These new ways of perceiving ourselves carry the potential for the emergency of new images of the Divine.

Biologists estimate that Earth has unfolded some 6,000 species of bacteria, 65,000 species of algae and mold, 300,000 species of plants, 1.5 million species of live, including us humans. God has created a Universe that is self-creative. There is no need for any interventions from the “outside” to fix things and help them along. What can we say of the Creator who possesses such an imagination and dreams such a dream? We can say that the Divine is One whose imagination and creativity are without limits and whose dreams are almost beyond belief!

We find ourselves in an evolutionary, time-developmental, Universe. From its beginning it has never been fixed or finished. Chaos, change, and transformation are intrinsic to it. What can we say about the Creator of such a dynamic and unpredictable evolution? We can say that the Diving is One who enjoys taking risks, is immensely patient, and has a fundamental trust in the creative process!

It has taken the universe 13.9 billion years to arrive at our human reflective consciousness. There is evidence that the universe seems to be in search of us. Herein lies our uniqueness as humans. What can we say about the Creator who has given us such a special and responsible role in the order of things? We can say that the Divine is One who has a special love for us!

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