.- As Americans prepare to view a total solar eclipse passing from Oregon to South Carolina, the director of the Vatican observatory has reflected on what the event can teach us about God and his creation.
An eclipse “reminds us of the immense beauty in the universe that occurs outside of our own petty set of concerns,” Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, told Time magazine. “It pulls us out of ourselves and makes us remember that we are part of a big and glorious and beautiful universe.”
The eclipse reflects that “God chose to make a universe that was rational, so that we could predict these eclipses with enormous precision,” he said.
In addition, it shows that God made creation beautiful: “it is not only that the eclipse occurs just when it is supposed to, but that, along with the delight that our calculations are right, there is the delight at seeing the beauty that comes, that we can experience, while we are underneath this eclipse.”
The tradition of appreciating eclipses is a long one in the Catholic Church. In the eighth century, St. Bede the Venerable, an English monk, described how a solar eclipse is caused by the moon hiding the sun’s light from earth.
At Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., another point of totality for the eclipse, the campus is holding a viewing and presentations by Vatican observatory officials.
On Aug. 20, the college’s new Daglen Observatory was inaugurated, and Fr. Christopher Corbally, SJ, president of the National Committe for Astronomy for the Vatican, spoke on the history of astronomy, science, and the Church.
The following morning, Fr. Paul Gabor, SJ, vice director of the Vatican Observatory Research Group, gave a presentation on the history of eclipses in human thought and observation, and how records of the phenomena have yielded scientific advances.