April 12, 2024

Reflection / Sean Gallagher

‘Sun and moon, bless the Lord, praise and exult him above all forever’

Sean Gallagher“Sun and moon, bless the Lord, praise and exult him above all forever” (Dn 3:62).

I prayed those words on the morning of April 8 as part of Morning Prayer of the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours for the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

This feast, which celebrates the Blessed Virgin Mary consenting to the invitation of God given through the Archangel Gabriel to become the mother of the Lord, is ordinarily observed on March 25—nine months to the day before Christmas.

This year, though, it was moved to April 8. Why? Because March 25 fell during Holy Week and the week after was the Octave of Easter. During those two holiest weeks of the liturgical year, the Church observes no other feasts.

The nearest day to March 25 on which it could be celebrated was on April 8—the day on which, for the first time in more than 800 years, a total solar eclipse occurred on the land that is now Indianapolis where my family and I live.

The Church’s worship isn’t just a way for us to give praise and thanks to God for the ways he has entered human history to save us and reconcile us with himself, although that’s reason enough.

It is also a daily invitation to our hearts and minds to be open, not just to God’s immense providence in general, but to dare to believe that his act of creation of the universe is an expression of his infinite love for each one of us and all of us together.

The canticle from the Book of Daniel that includes the verse above calls all creation to bless the Lord.

And, indeed, all creation does this at all times since the entire universe wondrously shows forth the work of his hands by its mere existence.

God, the ground of being of the entire universe, created us in his own image and likeness, blessing us out of all living creatures with minds and hearts able to take in with awe and gratitude this astonishing reality.

Our scientific knowledge of the wider created world can increase this amazement and thankfulness when we learn that the size of the sun, moon

and Earth had to be at their particular size and at their precise relative position from each other over nearly 100 million miles, for such an eclipse to be possible.

The sheer weight of divine providence on magnificent display in a total solar eclipse is breathtaking.

My family and I viewed it together in the backyard of our home on the east side of Indianapolis, a tiny speck in the celestial dance of the sun,

moon and Earth in the eclipse, but still precious in the eyes of the Lord.

As we took in the darkening of the world and the bright ring of the sun’s light shining out from around the edge of the moon, I was moved to drop to my knees and pray, “Sun and moon, bless the Lord, praise and exult him above all forever. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”

As grateful as I was to view it, it was even more heartening to hear my 10-year-old son Colin say, “I’m so blessed. I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.” As great as the sun, moon and Earth are, some day they will cease to exist. But Colin’s soul is immortal.

May God in his providence in the eclipse of 2024 move all of our hearts to bless him in the countless small, but no less beautiful ways, he cares and shows his love for us every day of our lives.

(Sean Gallagher is a reporter for The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.)

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