HOMILY VI: The creation of luminous bodies.

1. AT the shows in the circus the spectator must join in the efforts of
the athletes. This the laws of the show indicate, for they prescribe that
all should have the head uncovered when present at the stadium. The object
of this, in my opinion, is that each one there should not only be a
spectator of the athletes, but be, in a certain measure, a true athlete
himself.(2) Thus, to investigate the great and prodigious show of creation,
to understand supreme and ineffable wisdom, you must bring personal light
for the contemplation of the wonders which I spread before your eyes, and
help me, according to your power, in this struggle, where you are not so
much judges as fellow combatants,(4) for fear lest the truth might escape
you, and lest my error might turn to your common prejudice. Why these
words? It is because we propose to study the world as a whole. and to
consider the universe. not by the light of worldly wisdom, but by that with
which God wills to enlighten His servant, when He speaks to him in person
and without enigmas. It is because it is absolutely necessary that all
lovers of great and grand shows should bring a mind well prepared to study
them. If sometimes, on a bright night,(1) whilst gazing with watchful eyes
on the inexpressible beauty of the stars, you have thought of the Creator
of all things; if you have asked yourself who it is that has dotted heaven
with such flowers, and why visible things are even more useful than
beautiful; if sometimes, in the day, you have studied the marvels of light,
if you have raised yourself by visible things to the invisible Being, then
you are a well prepared auditor, and you can take your place in this august
and blessed amphitheatre. Come in the same way that any one not knowing a
town is taken by the hand and led through it; thus I am going to lead you,
like strangers, through the mysterious marvels of this great city of the
universe.(2) Our first country was in this great city, whence the murderous
daemon whose enticements seduced man to slavery expelled us. There you will
see man’s first origin and his immediate  seizure by death, brought forth
by sin, the first born of the evil spirit. You will know that you are
formed of earth, but the work of God’s hands; much weaker than the brute,
but ordained to command beings without reason and soul; inferior as regards
natural advantages, but, thanks to the privilege of reason, capable of
raising yourself to heaven. If we are penetrated by these truths, we shall
know ourselves, we shall know God, we shall adore our Creator, we shall
serve our Master, we shall glorify our Father, we shall love our Sustainer,
we shall bless our Benefactor, we shall not cease to honour the Prince(3)
of present and future life, Who, by the riches that He showers upon us in
this world, makes us believe in His promises and uses present good things
to strengthen our expectation of the future. Truly, if such are the good
things of time, what will be those of eternity? If such is the beauty of
visible things, what shall we think of invisible

things? If the grandeur of heaven exceeds the measure of human
intelligence, what mind shall be able to trace the nature of the
everlasting? If the sun, subject to corruption, is so beautiful, so grand.
so rapid in its move-meat, so invariable in its course; if its grandeur is
in such perfect harmony with and due proportion to the universe: if, by the
beauty of its nature, it shines like a brilliant eye in the middle of
creation; if finally, one cannot tire of contemplating it, what will be the
beauty of the Sun of Righteousness?(1) If the blind man suffers from not
seeing the material sun, what a deprivation is it for the sinner not to
enjoy the true light l

2. “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to
give light upon the earth, and to divide the day from the night.”(2) Heaven
and earth were the first; after them was created light; the day had been
distinguished from the night, then had appeared the firmament and the dry
element. The water had been gathered into the reservoir assigned to it, the
earth displayed its productions, it had caused many kinds of herbs to
germinate and it was adorned with all kinds of plants. However, the sun and
the moon did not yet exist, in order that those who live in ignorance of
God may not consider the sun as the origin and the father of light, or as
the maker of all that grows out of the earth.(3) That is why there was a
fourth day, and then God said: “Let there be lights in the firmament of the

When once you have learnt Who spoke, think immediately of the hearer.
God said, “Let there be lights . . . and God made two great lights.” Who
spoke? and Who made? Do you not see a double person? Everywhere, in mystic
language, history is sown with the dogmas of theology.

The motive follows which caused the lights to be created. It was to
illuminate the earth. Already light was created; why therefore say that the
sun was created to give light? And, first, do not laugh at the strangeness
of this expression. We do not follow your nicety about words, and we
trouble ourselves but little to give them a harmonious turn. Our writers do
not amuse themselves by polishing their periods, and everywhere we prefer
clearness of words to sonorous expressions. See then if by this expression
“to light up,” the sacred writer sufficiently made his thought understood.
He has put “to give light”(1) instead of” illumination.”(2) Now there is
nothing here contradictory to what has been said of light. Then the actual
nature of light was produced: now the sun’s body is constructed to be a
vehicle for that original light. A lamp is not fire. Fire has the property
of illuminating, and we have invented the lamp to light us in darkness. In
the same way, the luminous bodies have been fashioned as a vehicle for that
pure, clear, and immaterial light. The Apostle speaks to us of certain
lights which shine in the world(3) without being confounded with the true
light of the world, the possession of which made the saints luminaries of
the souls which they instructed and drew from the darkness of ignorance.
This is why the Creator of all things, made the sun in addition to that
glorious light, and placed it shining in the heavens.

3. And let no one suppose it to be a thing incredible that the
brightness of the light is one thing, and the body which is its material
vehicle is another. First, in all composite things, we distinguish
substance susceptible of quality, and the quality which it receives. The
nature of whiteness is one thing, another is that of the body which is
whitened; thus the natures differ which we have just seen reunited by the
power of the Creator. And do not tell me that it is impossible to separate
them. Even I do not pretend to be able to separate light from the body of
the sun; but I maintain that that which we separate in thought, may be
separated in reality by the Creator of nature. You cannot, moreover,
separate the brightness of fire from the virtue of burning which it
possesses; but God, who wished to attract His servant by a wonderful sight,
set a fire in the burning bush, which displayed all the brilliancy of flame
while its devouring property was dormant. It is that which the Psalmist
affirms in saying “The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire.”(4)
Thus, in the requital which awaits us after this life, a mysterious voice
seems to tell us that the double nature of fire will be divided; the just
will enjoy its light, and the torment of its heat will be the torture of
the wicked.

In the revolutions of the moon we find a new proof of what we have
advanced. When it stops and grows less it does not consume itself in all
its body, but in the measure that it deposits or absorbs the light which
surrounds it, it presents to us the image of its decrease or of its
increase. If we wish an evident proof that the moon does not consume its
body whet, at rest, we have only to open our eyes. If you look at it in a
cloudless and clear sky, you observe, when it has taken the complete form
of a  crescent, that the part, which is dark and not lighted up, describes
a circle equal to that which the full moon forms. Thus the eye  can take in
the whole circle, if it adds to the illuminated part this obscure and dark
curve. And do not tell me that the light of the moon is borrowed,
diminishing or increasing in proportion as it approaches or recedes from
the sun. That is not now the object of our research; we only wish to prove
that its body differs from the light which makes it shine. I wish you to
have the same idea of the sun; except however that the one, after having
once received light and having mixed it with its substance, does not lay it
down again, whilst the other, turn by turn, putting off and reclothing
itself again with light, proves by that which takes place in itself what we
have said of the sun.

The sun and moon thus received the command to divide the day from the
night. God had already separated light from darkness; then He placed their
natures in opposition, so that they could not mingle, and that there could
never be anything in common between darkness and light. You see what a
shadow is during the day; that is precisely the nature of darkness during
the night. If, at the appearance of a light, the shadow always falls on the
opposite side; if in the morning it extends towards the setting sun; if in
the evening it inclines towards the rising sun, and at mid-day turns
towards the north; night retires into the regions opposed to the rays of
the sun, since it is by nature only the shadow of the earth. Because, in
the same way that, daring the day, shadow is produced by a body which
intercepts the light, night comes naturally when the air which surrounds
the earth is in shadow. And this is precisely what Scripture says, “God
divided the light from the darkness.” Thus darkness fled at the approach of
light, the two being at their first creation divided by a natural
antipathy. Now God commanded the sun to measure the day, and the moon,
whenever she rounds her disc, to rule the night. For then these two
luminaries are almost diametrically opposed; when the sun rises, the full
moon disappears from the horizon, to re-appear in the east at the moment
the sun sets. It matters little to our subject if in other phases the light
of the moon does not correspond exactly with night. It is none the less
true, that when at its perfection it makes the stars to turn pale and
lightens up the earth with the splendour of its light, it reigns over the
night, and in concert with the sun divides the duration of it in equal

4. “And let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and
years.”(1) The signs which the luminaries give are necessary to human life.
In fact what useful observations will long experience make us discover, if
we ask without undue curiosity! What signs of rain, of drought, or of the
rising of the wind, partial or general, violent or moderate Our Lord
indicates to us one of the signs given by the sun when He says, “It will be
foul weather to-day; for the sky is red and lowering.”(2) In fact, when the
sun rises through a fog, its rays are darkened, but the disc appears
burning like a coal and of a bloody red colour. It is the thickness of the
air which causes this appearance; as the rays of the sun do not disperse
such amassed and condensed air, it cannot certainly be retained by the
waves of vapour which exhale from the earth, and it will cause from
superabundance of moisture a storm in the countries over which it
accumulates. In the same way, when the moon is surrounded with moisture, or
when the sun is encircled with what is called a halo, it is the sign of
heavy rain or of a violent storm; again, in the same way, if mock suns
accompany the sun in its course they foretell certain celestial phenomena.
Finally, those straight lines, like the colours of the rainbow, which are
seen on the clouds, announce rain, extraordinary tempests, or, in one word,
a complete change in the weather.

Those who devote themselves to the observation of these bodies find
signs in the different phases of the moon, as if the air, by which the
earth is enveloped, were obliged to vary to correspond with its change of
form. Towards the third day of the new  moon, if it is sharp and clear, it
is a sign of  fixed fine weather. If its horns appear thick and reddish it
threatens us either with heavy  rain or with a gale from the South.(3) Who
does not know how useful(4) are these signs in life? Thanks to them, the
sailor keeps back his vessel in the harbour, foreseeing the perils with
which the winds threaten him, and the traveller beforehand takes shelter
from harm, waiting until the weather has become fairer. Thanks to them,
husbandmen, busy with sowing seed or cultivating plants, are able to know
which seasons are favourable to their labours. Further, the Lord has
announced to us that at the dissolution of the universe, signs will appear
in the sun, in the moon and in the stars. The sun shall be turned into
blood and the moon shall not give her light,(1) signs of the consummation
of all things.

5. But those who overstep the borders,(2) making the words of Scripture
their apology for the art of casting nativities, pretend that our lives
depend upon the motion of the heavenly bodies, and that thus the Chaldaeans
read in the planets that which will happen to us.(3) By these very simple
words “let them be for signs,” they understand neither the variations of
the weather, nor the change of seasons; they only see in them, at the will
of their imagination, the distribution of human destinies. What do they say
in reality? When the planets cross in the signs of the Zodiac, certain
figures formed by their meeting give birth to certain destinies, and others
produce different destinies.

Perhaps for clearness sake it is not useless to enter into more detail
about this vain science. I will say nothing of my own to refute them; I
will use their words, bringing a remedy for the infected, and for others a
preservative from falling. The inventors of astrology seeing that in the
extent of time many signs escaped them, divided it and enclosed each part
in narrow limits, as if in the least and shortest interval, in a moment, in
the twinkling of an eye,(4) to speak with the Apostle, the greatest
difference should be found between one birth and another. Such an one is
born in this moment; he will be a prince over cities and will govern the
people, in the fulness of riches and power. Another is born the instant
after; he will be poor, miserable, and will wander daily from door to door
begging his bread. Consequently they divide the Zodiac into twelve parts,
and, as the sun takes thirty days to traverse each of the twelve divisions
of this unerring circle, they divide them into thirty more. Each of them
forms sixty new ones, and these last are again divided into sixty. Let us
see then if, in determining the birth of an infant, it will be possible to
observe this rigorous division of time. The child is born. The nurse
ascertains the sex; then she awaits the wail which is a sign of its life.
Until then how many moments have passed do you think? The nurse announces
the birth of the child to the Chaldaean: how many minutes would you count
before she opens her mouth, especially if he who records the hour is
outside the women’s apartments? And we know that he who consults the dial,
ought, whether by day or by night, to mark the hour with the most precise
exactitude. What a swarm of seconds passes during this time! For the planet
of nativity ought to be found, not only in one of the twelve divisions of
the Zodiac, and even in one of its first subdivisions, but again in one of
the sixtieth parts which divide this last, and even, to arrive at the exact
truth, in one of the  sixtieth subdivisions that this contains in its turn.
And to obtain such minute knowledge, so impossible to grasp from this
moment, each planet must be questioned to find its position as regards the
signs of the Zodiac and the figures that the planets form at the moment of
the child’s birth. Thus, if it is impossible to find exactly the hour of
birth, and if the least change can upset all, then both those who give
themselves up to this imaginary science and those who listen to them open-
mouthed, as if they could learn from them the future, are supremely

6. But what effects are produced? Such an one will have curly hair and
bright eyes, because he is born under the Ram; such is the appearance of a
ram. He will have noble feelings; because the Ram is born to command. He
will be liberal and fertile in resources, because this animal gets rid of
its fleece without trouble, and nature immediately hastens to reclothe it.
Another is born under the Bull: he will be enured to hardship and of a
slavish character, because the bull bows under the yoke. Another is born
under the Scorpion; like to this venomous reptile he will be a striker. He
who is born under the Balance will be just, thanks to the justness of our
balances. Is not this the height of folly? This Ram, from whence you draw
the nativity of man, is the twelfth part of the heaven, and in entering
into it the sun reaches the spring. The Balance and the Bull are likewise
twelfth parts of the Zodiac. How can you see there the principal causes
which influence the life of man? And why do you take animals to
characterize the manners of men who enter this world? He who is born under
the Ram will be liberal, not because this part of heaven gives this
characteristic, but because such is the nature  of the beast. Why then
should we frighten ourselves by the names of these stars and undertake to
persuade ourselves with these bleatings? If heaven has different
characteristics derived from these animals, it is then  itself subject to
external influences since its causes depend on the brutes who graze in our
fields. A ridiculous assertion; but how much more ridiculous the pretence
of arriving at the influence on each other of things which have not the
least connexion! This pretended science is a true spider’s web; if a gnat
or a fly, or some insect equally feeble falls into it it is held entangled;
if a stronger animal approaches, it passes through without trouble,
carrying the weak tissue away with it.[1]

7. They do not, however, stop here; even our acts, where each one feels
his will ruling, I mean, the practice of virtue or of vice, depend,
according to them, on the influence of celestial bodies. It would be
ridiculous seriously to refute such an error, but, as it holds a great many
in its nets, perhaps it is better not to pass it over in silence. I would
first ask them if the figures which the stars describe do not change a
thousand times a day. In the perpetual motion of planets, some meet in a
more rapid course, others make slower revolutions, and often in an hour we
see them look at each other and then hide themselves. Now, at the hour of
birth, it is very important whether one is looked upon by a beneficent star
or by an evil one, to speak their language. Often then the astrologers do
not seize the moment when a good star shows itself, and, on account of
having let this fugitive moment escape, they enrol the newborn under the
influence of a bad genius. I am compelled to use their own words. What
madness! But, above all, what impiety! For the evil stars throw the blame
of their wickedness upon Him Who trade them. If evil is inherent in their
nature, the Creator is the author of evil. If they make it themselves, they
are animals endowed with the power of choice, whose acts will be free and
voluntary. Is it not the height of folly to tell these lies about beings
without souls? Again, what a want of sense does it show to distribute good
and evil without regard to personal merit; to say that a star is beneficent
because it occupies a certain place; that it becomes evil, because it is
viewed by another star; and that if it moves ever so little from this
figure it loses its malign influence.

But let us pass on. If, at every instant of duration, the stars vary
their figures, then in these thousand changes, many times a day, there
ought to be reproduced the configuration of royal births. Why then does not
every day see the birth of a king? Why is there a succession on the throne
from father to son? Without doubt there has never been a king who has taken
measures to have his son born under the star of royalty. For what man
possesses such a power? How then did Uzziah beget Jotham, Jotham Ahaz, Ahaz
Hezekiah? And by what chance did the birth of none of them happen in an
hour of slavery? If the origin of our virtues and of our vices is not in
ourselves, but is the fatal consequence of our birth, it is useless for
legislators to prescribe for us what we  ought to do, and what we ought to
avoid; it is useless for judges to honour virtue and to punish vice. The
guilt is not in the robber, not in the assassin: it was willed for him; it
was impossible for him to hold back his hand, urged to evil by inevitable
necessity. Those who laboriously cultivate the arts are the maddest of men.
The labourer will make an abundant harvest without sowing seed and without
sharpening his sickle. Whether he wishes it or not, the merchant will make
his fortune, and will be flooded with riches by fate. As for us Christians,
we shall see our great hopes vanish, since from the moment that man does
not act with freedom, there is neither reward for justice, nor punishment
for sin. Under the reign of necessity and of fatality there is no place for
merit, the first condition of all righteous judgment. But let us stop. You
who are sound in yourselves have no need to hear more, and time does not
allow us to make attacks without limit against these unhappy men.

8. Let its return to the words which follow. “Let them be for signs and
for seasons and for days and years.”[1] We have spoken about signs. By
times, we understand the succession of seasons, winter, spring, summer and
autumn, which we see follow each other in so regular a course, thanks to
the regularity of the movement of the luminaries. It is winter when the sun
sojourns in the south and produces in abundance the shades of night in our
region. The air spread over the earth is chilly, and the damp exhalations,
which gather over our heads, give rise to rains, to frosts, to innumerable
flakes of snow. When, returning from the southern regions, the sun is in
the middle of the heavens and divides day and night into equal parts, the
more it sojourns above the earth the more it brings back a mild temperature
to us. Then comes spring, which makes all the plants germinate, and gives
to the greater part of the trees their new life, and, by successive
generation, perpetuates all the land and water animals. From thence the
sun, returning to the summer solstice, in the direction of the North, gives
us the longest days. And, as it travels farther in the air, it burns that
which is over our heads, dries up the earth, ripens the grains and hastens
the maturity of the fruits of the trees. At the epoch of its greatest heat,
the shadows which the sun makes at mid-day are short, because it shines
from above, from the air over our heads. Thus the longest days are those
when the shadows are shortest, in the same way that the shortest days are
those when the shadows are longest. It is this which happens to all of us
“Hetero-skii” [1] (shadowed- on-one-side) who inhabit the northern regions
of the earth. But there are people who, two days in the year, are
completely without shade at mid-day, because the sun, being perpendicularly
over their heads, lights them so equally from all sides, that it could
through a narrow opening shine at the bottom of a well. Thus there are some
who call them “askii” (shadowless). For those who live beyond the land of
spices[2] see their shadow now on one side, now on another, the only
inhabitants of this land of which the shade falls at mid-day; thus they are
given the name of “amphiskii,”[3] (shadowed-on-bothsides). All these
phenomena happen whilst the sun is passing into northern regions: they give
us an idea of the heat thrown on the air, by the rays of the sun and of the
effects that they produce. Next we pass to autumn, which breaks up the
excessive heat, lessening the warmth little by little, and by a moderate
temperature brings us back without suffering to winter, to the time when
the sun returns from the northern regions to the southern. It is thus that
seasons, following the course of the sun, succeed each other to rule our

“Let them be for days”[1] says Scripture, not to produce them but to
rule them; because day and night tire older than the creation of the
luminaries and it is this that the psalm declares to us. “The sun to rule
by day … the moon and stars to rule by night.”[2] How does the sun rule
by day? Because carrying everywhere light with it, it is no sooner risen
above the horizon than it drives away darkness and brings us day. Thus we
might, without self deception, define day as air lighted by the sun, or as
the space of time that the sun passes in our hemisphere. The functions of
the sun and moon serve further to mark years. The moon, after having twelve
times run her course, forms a year which sometimes needs an intercalary
month to make it exactly agree with the seasons. Such was formerly the year
of the Hebrews and of the early Greeks.[3] As to the solar year, it is the
time that the sun, having started from a certain sign, takes to return to
it in its normal progress.

9. “And God made two great lights “[4] The word “great,” if, for
example we say it of the heaven of the earth or of the sea, may have an
absolute sense; but ordinarily it has only a relative meaning, as a great
horse, or a great ox. It is not that these animals are of an immoderate
size, but that in comparison with their like they deserve the title of
great. What idea shall we ourselves form here of greatness? Shall it be the
idea that we have of it in the ant and in all the little  creatures of
nature, which we call great in comparison with those like themselves, and
to show their superiority over them? Or shall we predicate greatness of the
luminaries, as of the natural greatness inherent in them? As for me, I
think so. If the sun and moon are great, it is not in comparison with the
smaller stars, but because they have such a circumference that the
splendour which they diffuse lights up the heavens and the air, embracing
at the same time earth and sea. In whatever part of heaven they may be,
whether rising, or setting, or in mid heaven, they appear always the same
in the eyes of men, a manifest proof of their prodigious size. For the
whole extent of heaven cannot make them appear greater in one place and
smaller in another. Objects which we see afar off appear dwarfed to our
eyes, and in measure as they approach us we can form a juster idea of their
size. But there is no one who can be nearer or more distant from the sun.
All the inhabitants of the earth see it at the same distance. Indians and
Britons see it of the same size. The people of the East do not see it
decrease in magnitude when it sets; those of the West do  not find it
smaller when it rises. If it is in the middle of the heavens it does not
vary in either aspect. Do not be deceived by mere appearance, and because
it looks a cubit’s breadth, imagine it to be no bigger.[1] At a very great
distance objects always lose size in our eyes; sight, not being able to
clear the intermediary space, is as it were exhausted in the middle of its
coarse, and only a small part of it reaches the visible object.[2] Our
power of sight is small and makes all we see seem small, affecting what it
sees by its own condition. Thus, then, if sight is mistaken its testimony
is fallible. Recall your own impressions and you will find in yourself the
proof of my words. If you bare ever from the top of a high mountain looked
at a large and level plain, how big did the yokes of oxen appear to you?
How big were the ploughmen themselves? Did they not look like ants?[3] If
from the top of a commanding rock, looking over the wide sea, you cast your
eyes over the vast extent how big did the greatest islands appear to you?
How large did one of those barks of great tonnage, which unfurl their white
sails to the blue sea, appear to you. Did it not look smaller than a dove?
It is because sight, as I have just told you, loses itself in the air,
becomes weak and cannot seize with exactness the object which it sees. And
further: your sight shows you high mountains intersected by valleys as
rounded and smooth, because it reaches only to the salient parts, and is
not able, on account of its weakness, to penetrate into the valleys which
separate them. It does not even preserve the form of objects, and thinks
that all square towers are round. Thus all proves that at a great distance
sight only presents to us obscure and confused objects. The luminary is
then great, according to the witness of Scripture, and infinitely greater
than it appears.

10. See again another evident proof of its greatness. Although the
heaven may be full of stars without number, the light contributed by them
all could not disperse the gloom of night. The sun alone, from the time
that it appeared on the horizon, while it was still expected and had not
yet risen completely above the earth, dispersed the darkness, outshone the
stars, dissolved and diffused the air, which was hitherto thick and
condensed over our heads, and produced thus the morning breeze and the dew
which in fine weather streams over the earth. Could the earth with such a
wide extent be lighted up entirely in one moment if an immense disc were
not pouring forth its light over it? Recognise here the wisdom of the
Artificer. See how He made the heat of the sun proportionate to this
distance. Its heat is so regulated that it neither consumes the earth by
excess, nor lets it grow cold and sterile by defect.

To all this the properties of the moon are near akin; she, too, has an
immense body, whose splendour only yields to that of the sun. Our eyes,
however, do not always see her in her full size. Now she presents a
perfectly rounded disc, now when diminished and lessened she shows a
deficiency on one side. When waxing she is shadowed on one side, and when
she is waning another side is hidden. Now it is not without a secret reason
of the divine Maker of the universe, that the moon appears from time to
time under such different forms. It presents a striking example of our
nature. Nothing is stable in man; here from nothingness he raises himself
to perfection; there after having hasted to put forth his strength to
attain his full greatness he suddenly is subject to gradual deterioration,
and is destroyed by diminution. Thus, the sight of the moon, making us
think of the rapid vicissitudes of human things, ought to teach us not to
pride ourselves on the good things of this life, and not to glory in our
power, not to be carried away by uncertain riches, to despise our flesh
which is subject to change, and to take care of the soul, for its good is
unmoved. If you cannot behold without sadness the moon losing its splendour
by gradual and imperceptible decrease, how much more distressed should you
be at the sight of a soul, who, after having possessed virtue, loses its
beauty by neglect, and does not remain constant to its affections, but is
agitated and constantly changes because its purposes are unstable. What
Scripture says is very true,  “As for a fool he changeth as the moon.”[1]

I believe also that the variations of the moon do not take place
without exerting great influence upon the organization of animals and of
all living things. This is because bodies are differently disposed at its
waxing and waning. When she wanes they lose their density and become void.
When she waxes and is approaching her fulness they appear to fill
themselves at the same time with her, thanks to an imperceptible moisture
that she emits mixed with heat, which penetrates everywhere.[2] For proof,
see how those who sleep under the moon feel abundant moisture filling their
heads;[3] see how fresh meat is quickly turned under the action of the
moon;[4] see the brain of animals, the moistest part of marine animals, the
pith of trees. Evidently the moon must be, as Scripture says, of enormous
size and power to make all nature thus participate in her changes.

11. On its variations depends also the condition of the air, as is
proved by sudden disturbances which often come after the new moon, in the
midst of a calm and of a stillness in the winds, to agitate the clouds and
to hurl them against each other; as the flux and reflux in straits, and the
ebb and flow of the ocean prove, so that those who live on its shores see
it regularly following the revolutions of the moon. The waters of straits
approach and retreat from one shore to the other during the different
phases of the moon; but, when she is new, they have not an instant of rest,
and move in perpetual swaying to and fro, until the moon, reappearing,
regulates their reflux. As to the Western sea,[1] we see it in its ebb and
flow now return into its bed, and now overflow, as the moon draws it back
by her respiration and then, by her expiration, urges it to its own

I have entered into these details, to show you the grandeur of the
luminaries, and to make you see that, in the inspired words, there is not
one idle syllable. And yet my sermon has scarcely touched on any important
point; there are many other discoveries about the size and distance of the
sun and moon to which any one who will make a serious study of their action
and of their characteristics may arrive by the aid of reason. Let me then
ingenuously make an avowal of my weakness, for fear that you should measure
the mighty works of the Creator by my words. The little that I have said
ought the rather to make you conjecture the marvels on which I have omitted
to dwell. We must not then measure the moon with the eye, but with the
reason. Reason, for the discovery  of truth, is much surer than the eye.

Everywhere ridiculous old women’s tales, imagined in the delirium of
drunkenness, have been circulated; such as that enchantmeats can remove the
moon from its place and make it descend to the earth. How could a
magician’s charm shake that of which the Most High has laid the
foundations? And if once torn out what place could hold it?[3]

Do you wish from slight indications to have a proof of the moon’s size?
All the towns in the world, however distant from each other, equally
receive the light from the moon in those streets that are turned towards
its rising If she did not look on all face to face, those only would be
entirely lighted up which were exactly opposite; as to those beyond the
extremities of her disc, they would only receive diverted and oblique rays.
It is this effect which the light of lamps produces in houses; if a lamp is
surrounded by several persons, only the shadow of the person who is
directly opposite to it is cast in a straight line, the others follow
inclined lines on each side. In the same way, if the body of the moon were
not of an immense and prodigious size she could not extend herself alike to
all. In reality, when the moon rises in the equinoctial regions, all
equally enjoy her light, both those who inhabit the icy zone, under the
revolutions of the Bear, and those who dwell in the extreme south in the
neighbourhood of the torrid zone. She gives us an idea of her size by
appearing to be face to face with all people. Who then can deny the
immensity of a body which divides itself equally over such a wide extent?

But enough on the greatness of the sun and moon. May He Who has given
us intelligence to recognise in the smallest objects of creation the great
wisdom of the Contriver make us find in great bodies a still higher idea of
their Creator. However, compared with their Author, the sun and moon are
but a fly and an ant. The whole universe cannot give us a right idea of the
greatness of God; and it is only by signs, weak and slight in themselves,
often by the help of the smallest insects and of the least plants, that we
raise ourselves to Him. Content with these words let us offer our thanks, I
to Him who has given me the ministry of the Word, you to Him who feeds you
with spiritual food; Who, even at this moment, makes you find in my weak
voice the strength of barley bread. May He feed you for ever, and in
proportion to your faith grant you the manifestation of the Spirit[1] in
Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.