Confession time: that post came about through reflecting on the Creed as it kickstarts the Rosary, usually as I drove to work through the geological oddity of eastern upstate New York, Albany's Pine Bush. Google images montage here; lots of scrubby pines and sandy soil, much of which now lies underneath sub/urban development and, problematically, the area's largest landfill. Still, much natural beauty lies within, as this cathedral-like trail attests.
Anyway, the point: the Trinitarian foundations for viewing the environment come to us, in this case, through the Rosary, that most Marian and Roman Catholic of prayers.
Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord with you.
Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God,
pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
I suppose the easy route would be to draw an analogy between the Blessed Mother's fertility celebrated by the prayer and the fertility of the natural world itself. While superficially helpful, such a connection might obscure deeper, more authentic and vital, relationships. After all, the Catechism (#773) asserts that the Church's Marian charism--its interior holiness--precedes the Petrine, the external, authoritarian charism. Keep that in mind whenever you hear complaints about Vatican intrusiveness or the Church's unwillingness to change or the old canard "I'm spiritual but not religious." Because of Mary, the Church is spiritual before it is "religious," and so, too, is the natural world.
It is important to contrast the very wildness of nature--forest, beach, prairie, swamp, mountain, ocean, river, lake, or stream--with the ways in which man tries to curtail, co-opt, contain, or control nature. This is perhaps best seen in immaculately manicured lawns. To reach the scene depicted above, you must drive past more than a few very green, and very controlled, suburban lawns. Not a bug or weed to be seen, just uniform green grass.
One of my Vanderbilt philosophy professors once described Nietzsche's will-to-power as the wild, unkempt, unfettered plant growth contrasted to an English garden or a Japanese bonsai tree. The uncontrolled versus the controlled. I heard that and immediately thought: kudzu. Now, though, I think instead:
Humanae Vitae was right all along.
Yep, look at a yard, understand the contraceptive mentality.
The suburbanized lawn looks like all the others and projects a fantastic image, but requires an immense amounts of time, money, and, perhaps most importantly, unnatural, chemical "correctives." So while you see "grass" it's not really natural but rather a chemical recreation thereof. In other words, the lawn-care version of birth control pills. Real, natural grass isn't manicured; it grows in directions unforeseen. Life, too, "finds a way" around the neat, compartmentalizing chemical hurdles we throw in its path.
Thanks to my good friend from upstate New York and the Catholic blogosphere, Michael Seagriff, there's this May 2016 reflection by John Manos on Mary Immaculate and the apostolate of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Manos on Mary's title "Mediatrix of all Graces":
(As an aside, much of what Manos describes may be found in St. Louis de Montfort's writings on Marian consecration and, more recently, in Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP's Mother of the Saviour.)
Father Edward Looney, recently ordained to the priesthood for the Green Bay (WI) diocese, has stated:
Mary can help us to understand the Trinity through her relationship with the Trinity. She is the daughter of the Father, mother of the Son, and spouse of the Holy Spirit. In her we see how she was in a relationship with our Triune God, and how we should be, too. We are beloved children of the Father. We have communion with Jesus every time we receive Holy Communion. Just as Mary dialogued with Jesus each day of her life with Him, we too do that through prayer. And all of us are temples of the Holy Spirit. We have received the Holy Spirit through Baptism and Confirmation, and thus enjoy a closeness to the Spirit.
Finally, Washington DC's Cardinal Wuerl reminds us:
Exactly. And, to the extent I'd add anything to Cardinal Wuerl's words, I'd suggest that the environment thus exhibits this Marian character. In the natural world, in the various environments present on the planet, we find the places where we put that Marian "yes" into action.
So perhaps, as we invoke Mary's intercession, regarding the environment we also should become more like St. Joseph, working quietly where we find ourselves, following the Lord's startling requests. And like St. Joseph, we guide, protect, and care for the Marian presence in our own lives. This takes place in the Church--the actual physical space as well as the human community, of course, but we may and should also find it in the environment. So, yes, when you go to Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon to marvel at the wonders, you can see both the natural science at work as well as this Marian dimension that precedes and sustains it. Through the very specific humanity of Mary the God who created and creates came into the world, and thus through this same world we can see glimpses of Mary's mediation.
In the towering firs of Rainier National Park--a very specific place--God gives us insights into His majesty.
Finally, some green Catholic folks on Twitter worth following for more on all this:
St. Kateri Shrine
St. Kateri Tekakwitha Center
National Catholic Rural Life Conference
There are others, but through these you'll find links to them.