CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 17, 2002 ( The contemplation of creation is one of the most direct ways to discover and praise God, says John Paul II.

The Pope made that observation when addressing the 4,000 faithful gathered today for the general audience in the courtyard of the papal summer residence here.

On a rainy morning, the Pontiff meditated on Psalm 148, a "Canticle of creatures," also known as the "Te Deum" of the Old Testament. He described it as "a cosmic alleluia that involves everything and everyone in divine praise."

Continuing his series of meditations on the canticles and Psalms of the Jewish people, the Holy Father explained the constant exhortation of this hymn.

"We are also invited to associate ourselves to this immense chorus, becoming the explicit voice of every creature and praising God in the two fundamental dimensions of his mystery," the Pope continued.

"On one hand, we must adore his transcendent greatness, 'for his name alone is exalted; majestic above earth and heaven,'" he said, quoting the Psalm. "On the other hand, let us acknowledge his condescending goodness, because God is close to his creatures and comes especially to help his people."

John Paul II concluded his address by quoting St. Augustine: "When you observe these creatures and you enjoy them and rise up to the Architect of everything and of created things, and intellectually contemplate his invisible attributes, then a confession rises over the earth and in heaven. ... If the creatures are beautiful, how much more beautiful must the Creator be?"