I was thinking about that this morning at adoration. I'm reading The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger who became Pope Benedict XVI. As I read the section on Sacred Time I thought, "I want to look up the derivation of some of these words: liturgy, reality, epiphany, cosmology."
It isn't that I don't understand what I'm reading and need word definitions. But I think understanding can be enriched by plumbing the depth of word meanings. Where did they come from? How has the word changed? Why does the author use this particular word instead of another? I guess that's my inner English major coming out.
The chapter on Sacred Time sent my mind off to C.S. Lewis' space trilogy. I think it was because the cardinal was discussing the relation of the liturgical year to the cosmos: the sun as a metaphor for the Son, the Communion of saints like constellations the Moon having no light of its own, but reflecting light -- as Mary reflects her Son. Lewis was fascinated by the universe, particularly the Medieval Cosmos. That's not what Ratzinger is discussing, but that's where my mind went. And one particular section about the Magi stopped me short with its depth and beauty:
The narrative of the adoration of the Magi became important for Christian thought, because it shows the inner connection between the wisdom of the nations and the Word of promise in Scripture; because it shows how the language of the cosmos and the truth-seeking thought of man lead to Christ. The mysterious star could become the symbol for these connections and once again emphasize that the language of the cosmos and the language of the human heart trace their descent from the Word of the Father, who in Bethlehem came forth from the silence of God and assembled the fragments of our human knowledge into a complete whole.I have always loved nature in all its manifestations: the night sky, the power of thunderstorm, the rhythm of waves like the heartbeat of the earth, the fascinating life of a honeybee hive. All of them seem to me to bear the fingerprint of God. Which is why I can never understand atheism; God is so clearly the Master of the universe. Since reading Cardinal Ratzinger's book I will, from now on, think of all these things as the "language of the cosmos and the truth-seeking thought of man" that "lead to Christ." Nature and faith -- they go together like the stem and the flower.