VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2002 ( John Paul II referred to the universe as "another sacred book" that, together with the Bible, allows man to discover the beauty of God.

"With the interior vision of the soul, with religious intuition not distracted by superficiality, man and woman can discover that the world is not dumb but speaks of the Creator," the Pontiff said today when addressing thousands of pilgrims gathered in Paul VI Hall for the midweek general audience.

He was reflecting on Psalm 18(19), part of a yearlong series of meditations on the Psalms and canticles of the Old Testament that comprise parts of the Liturgy of the Hours.

"Creation is like a first revelation, which has its own eloquent language," the Holy Father said. "It is almost like another sacred book whose letters are represented by the multitude of creatures present in the universe."

John Paul II gave the key to the reading of this book, when he quoted a passage from the Book of Wisdom: "from the greatness and beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen."

The inspired poet who wrote the Psalm was captivated, in particular, by the beauty and power of the sun. The biblical passage becomes, in fact, "a poetic song addressed to the sun and its shining on the face of the earth," the Pope emphasized.

However, the text sees in the sun a sign of divine action. According to the Psalm, on one hand "God illuminates the universe with the brilliance of the sun and illuminates humanity with the splendor of his Word contained in biblical Revelation."

The first analogical reality makes the sun a "cosmic" manifestation "of the Creator"; the second metaphorical reality is "a historical and free manifestation of the Savior God," the Pope said.

Because of this, Christianity, especially in its Eastern tradition, has discovered the synthesis of these metaphors in the risen Christ, the sun who is victorious over the darkness of sin, he said.

Quoting from the Byzantine liturgy, the Holy Father said: "Christ our Pasch has risen from the tomb as a sun of justice shining on all of us the splendor of his charity."

The Pope concluded by quoting two outstanding Christian thinkers.

From St. John Chrysostom, Father of the Church born in Antioch in the fourth century, John Paul II borrowed these words: "The silence of the heavens is a voice that resounds more intensely than a trumpet: This voice cries to our eyes, and not to our ears, the grandeur of the one who made it."

From St. Athanasius, born at the end of the third century, he quoted the following: "The firmament, through its magnificence, beauty and order, is a prestigious preacher of its author, whose eloquence fills the universe."