How lucky can a person be. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with biology (and all the allied sciences) and eventually with teaching. And from that came many years of study and teaching in the seminaries – at The Catholic University of America, Indiana University, University of Minnesota, and finally University of Mississippi. And, for basically all my religious life, I have been able to teach the mysteries and wonders of all creation – Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology, Astronomy – and so many of their subspecialties, Botany, Zoology, Microbiology, Anatomy and Physiology, Embryology, Limnology, Field Biology, Tropical Marine Biology, Ecology, Genetics.
My students often asked why I so much-loved teaching Science. I usually replied that it was because there is so much to know, and so much of it is easy enough for me to learn it. But it is more than just that. There is so much of the ancient pagan in me (derived from the same root as paisano, do you think?) –a “fellow-man” meaning we are all one family, brothers and sisters all, as St. Francis declared with Brother Sun and Sister Moon, and the stars, and the plants and Mother Earth and Father God, and such a richness of sights and sounds and tastes and smells and touches to thrill a person into being fully alive.
Years ago, I heard the expression: God makes himself known to different peoples in different times and different places in different ways. And look at how many of those ways I got to learn about, with all that pursuit of knowledge about the universe, in my limited experience. How far we’ve come from thinking just of Earth, Air, Fire and Water (which each has its own verse in Francis’ Canticle) as mere elements. Ah, to push a little deeper, then. In my years of learning so much about the universe, I eventually got to the point in teaching my Earth Science course to introducing it this way. We should first start by asking how people through time have thought about the earth.
– friar Leopold Keffler OFM Conv.
In Part 3 – from thinking about earth like a shoebox, to being flat, to today’s understanding of the universe…