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Unknowing Worship

cross, night sky, wonder

While watching the feats of the athletes in the Tokyo Olympics, this post (from 2017, one of my favorites) seems like a fitting reflection to share again…

You have heard scientists extol the wonders of the cosmos, passionate about the laws of physics and the discovered bodies of the universe. You have seen artists, brilliant with color, line, and texture, draw out the beauty of the natural world and the extraordinary in the ordinary. You have watched dancers, and athletes, too, move in rhythm, strength, and agility with the fine mastery of muscle and nerve in the poetry of motion.

And, perhaps, none of these people ever speak about God.

But … don’t they?

They may be atheists, agnostics, or secular humanists, but their passion, brilliance, athleticism, and artistry are rooted in the Divine. God is the Divine Maker, Shaper, and Mover. Do they not participate in the divine life whenever they discover, express, and leap?

The Gospel, the Good News of God’s personal love and merciful gift, is written in words. But it is received, loved, and lived in and through the heart. Sometimes, the heart knows what the mind does not.

cross, night sky, wonder

This was my experience when I did not believe in God and yet loved the beauty of the Earth and the joy of human love. No matter how many times that I said “No” to the existence of the Infinite/Eternal One, my enthrallment with the vast reaches of space glimpsed through the starry night sky, my musings on flower petals and snowflakes, my affections for my family and sympathies for the suffering all said “Yes”.

I, like Saint Augustine, came to find the Earth, sea, and sky proclaiming the Beautiful One, the Source of All, by simply being. This truth is written in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, (para 34) the wisdom of truth that changed the direction of my life:

The world, and man, attest that they contain within themselves neither their first principle nor their final end, but rather that they participate in Being itself, which alone is without origin or end.  Thus, in different ways, man can come to know that there exists a reality which is the first cause and final end of all things, a reality that “everyone calls ‘God.’”

When St. Paul preached the Gospel to the people of modern-day Turkey, he gave this reassurance — and challenge — to the pagans he found there: “In past generations he [God] allowed all Gentiles to go their own ways; yet, in bestowing his goodness, he did not leave himself without witness, for he gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filled you with nourishment and gladness for your hearts.”[1]

And, in speaking to the pagans of Greece, St. Paul encouraged them to broaden their minds and open their hearts to the true reality of God, always and everywhere, who has given every human being personal connection to Him and eternal life, through Jesus Christ.

“You Athenians,” he said, “I see that in every respect you are very religious.  For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’  What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.

“The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything.  Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.

“He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us.  For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’ as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’”[2]

The “Unknown God” made Himself known to humans by becoming human. Although God allows myriad and beautiful ways to interact with Him in all unknowing, through Christ Jesus we are called to intimately know God, love God, and serve God with all of our lives, with our whole selves — body, mind, heart, and soul.  The Infinite/Eternal One is not far off or merely mystical and poetic. God is here, in our midst. God is in our fellow human beings through Christ, because God assumed human nature and redeemed humankind, and in His Church, giving Himself sacramentally to us, sustaining our faith, hope, and love.

The scientists, artists, and athletes who unknowingly partake in the beauty of God’s Creation and His generous gifts will find the full fruition of all their endeavors and enthusiasms if and when they recognize and realize the full, intimate reality of who God is — and of who they are as God’s children.

May all people everywhere repent of ignorance, arrogance, and selfishness and humbly receive the Good News, praising the glory of God and the wonders of God’s Creation and Salvation in all that they say and do.

And me, too.

original post © 2017 Christina Chase

[1] Acts 14:16-17

[2] Acts 17:22-28

Photo credit: Joshua Earle  on

Christina Chase View All

Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.

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