From Aug. 11-16, hundreds of geeks and their telescopes will once again descend on Indian Trail Spring in the Ochoco National Forest. I, too, make an effort to join the crowd of stargazers to peer into the night sky until sleep comes upon me or the sun rises in the early morning. This is called the Oregon Star Party.
Why do I do this? Great Question. It is similar to why does the Church spend any time on astronomy in the first place. You might be asking, the Church is involved with astronomy? And the answer is, absolutely! In fact, the Church has two professional observatories, on in Rome and another near Tuscan, AZ. We study to heavens to understand how the heavens go. We study the sky to know more about our place in the cosmos which science is excellent at discovering. We study the heavens to understand more deeply who God is and what he has created. For me, peering through my telescope helps me to more deeply comprehend how small I am and how therefore more great is God's love for me. The following video helps greatly in understanding why the Church is involved in astronomy.
Through my telescope I have been able to see hundreds of galaxies as well as nebula, and all the planets, even the dwarf planet, Pluto. In my desire to become more involved and support the Church's efforts in this regard, I have joined the Vatican Observatory Foundation and attended a workshop for priests and educators by the VOF. I am reminded that in the Scriptures is says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the works of his hands (Ps. 19:2). So, astronomy gives me another avenue to praise God.
Attending the Oregon Star Party also gives me a chance to share the faith amidst a crowd, may of whom are skeptics at best. I have encountered many faith-filled people and I enjoy encouraging them in their faith and hobby of astronomy. Please say a prayer for all who come that they may recover the awe that we all once had and be lifted up in their hearts and mind as well as in their faith.
Fr. William Holtzinger