VATICAN CITY, NOV. 9, 2005 ( God's created works are the first sign of his existence and love, says Benedict XVI.

From "the greatness and beauty of created things" one knows, by analogy, their author, the Pope said at today's general audience. He was commenting on Psalm 135(136):1-9, as part of his ongoing series of reflections on biblical passages used in the Liturgy of Vespers.

"God does not appear in the Bible as an impassible and implacable Lord, or an obscure and indecipherable being, or fate, against whose mysterious force it is useless to struggle," the Holy Father explained when commenting on the Jewish poetic composition.

About 25,000 pilgrims gathered for the audience in St. Peter's Square.

The Pontiff told them that God manifests himself "as a person who loves his creatures, he watches over them, he follows them in the course of history and suffers because of the infidelity with which the people often oppose his hesed, his merciful and paternal love."

"The first sign of this divine charity," he noted, quoting the psalmist, must be "sought in creation: … the heavens, the earth, the waters, the sun, the moon and the stars."

"Even before discovering the God who reveals himself in the history of a people, there is a cosmic revelation, open to all, offered to the whole of humanity by the Creator," Benedict XVI said.

"There is, therefore, a divine message secretly inscribed in creation," a sign of "the loving faithfulness of God who gives his creatures being and life, water and food, light and time," he added. "From created works one ascends ... to the greatness of God, to his loving mercy."

When the Pontiff finished his address, he put his papers to one side and commented on the thought of St. Basil the Great, a Doctor of the Church, who said that some, "deceived by the atheism they bear within them, imagined the universe deprived of a guide and order, at the mercy of chance."

"I believe the words of this fourth-century Father are of amazing timeliness," said Benedict XVI. "How many are these 'some' today?"

"Deceived by atheism, they believe and try to demonstrate that it is scientific to think that everything lacks a guide and order," he continued. "The Lord, with sacred Scripture, awakens the drowsy reason and says to us: In the beginning is the creative Word. In the beginning the creative Word -- this Word that has created everything, which has created this intelligent plan, the cosmos -- is also Love."

The Pontiff concluded, exhorting his listeners to allow themselves "to be awakened by this Word of God" and invited them to pray that "he clear our minds so that we will be able to perceive the message of creation, inscribed also in our hearts: The beginning of everything is creative Wisdom and this Wisdom is love and goodness."

Other papal commentaries on the canticles and psalms of the Liturgy of the Hours are posted in the Wednesday's Audience section of ZENIT's Web page.