Monday, March 2, 2009

What All Catholics MUST Believe About Creation

Was there a primate in your family tree? Was there more than one Adam and Eve?

First and foremost, you must understand, accept and embrace that God is the author of all creation. Period. We must also balance that with the understanding that the Bible is not a science textbook and the writings must be read using all of the senses of Scripture (CCC 115-119). Catholics also understand that Scripture is authored by humans inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Word is God-breathed and the Bible is truth.

Let's look at Church Dogma on God the Creator:

  1. All that exists outside God was, in its whole substance, produced out of nothing by God.
  2. God was moved by His goodness to create the world.
  3. The world was created for the glorification of God.
  4. The Three Divine Persons are one single, common principle of creation.
  5. God created the world free from exterior compulsion and inner necessity.
  6. God has created a good world.
  7. The world had a beginning in time.
  8. God alone created the world.
  9. God keeps all created things in existence.
  10. God, through His Providence, protects and guides all that He has created.
  11. The first man was created by God.
  12. Man consists of two essential parts - a material body and a spiritual soul.
  13. The rational soul per se is the essential form of the body.
  14. Every human being possesses an individual soul.
  15. God has conferred on man a supernatural destiny.
  16. Our first parents, before the fall, were endowed with sanctifying grace.
  17. In addition to sanctifying grace, our first parents were endowed with the preternatural gift of bodily immortality.
  18. Our first parents in Paradise sinned grievously through transgression of the Divine probationary commandment.
  19. Through sin our first parents lost sanctifying grace and provoked the anger and the indignation of God.
  20. Our first parents became subject to death and to the dominion of the devil.
  21. Adam's sin is transmitted to his posterity, not by imitation but by descent.
  22. Original sin is transmitted by natural generation.
  23. In the state of original sin man is deprived of sanctifying grace and all that this implies, as well as of the preternatural gifts of integrity.
  24. Souls who depart this life in the state of original sin are excluded from the Beatific Vision of God.
  25. In the beginning of time God created spiritual essences (angels) out of nothing.
  26. The nature of angels is spiritual.
  27. The evil spirits (demons) were created good by God; they became evil through their own fault.
  28. The secondary task of the good angels is the protection of men and care for their salvation.
  29. The devil possesses a certain dominion over mankind by reason of Adam's sin.
From the work of Dr. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, published by the Mercier Press Ltd., Cork, Ireland, 1955. With Imprimatur of Cornelius, Bishop. Reprinted in U.S.A. by Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford, Illinois, 1974 - below is the Kindle version.

To be honest with you, I really do not care if there are primates in my family tree. I can assure you there have been some colorful characters, but beyond that it really doesn't matter to me. It is the Divine origin of all creation that touches my heart and mind. I was happy to see my sentiment validated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

CCC 284: The great interest accorded to these studies is strongly stimulated by a question of another order, which goes beyond the proper domain of the natural sciences. It is not only a question of knowing when and how the universe arose physically, or when man appeared, but rather of discovering the meaning of such an origin: is the universe governed by chance, blind fate, anonymous necessity, or by a transcendent, intelligent and good Being called "God"? And if the world does come from God's wisdom and goodness, why is there evil? Where does it come from? Who is responsible for it? Is there any liberation from it?

Still, since many continue to be more fascinated with the scientific than the Divine, we must be certain that the voice of the Church is heard clearly. Pope Pius XII declared that "the teaching authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions . . . take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—[but] the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God" (Pius XII, Humani Generis 36). Whether our bodies developed over time to what they are now or if they were directly created by God, Pius XII tells us that souls do not evolve. So there we have it: whether or not Adam and Eve were hair-covered and looked like Quasimodo doesn't matter. When our first parents were created, their ensoulment was complete and created by God.

I was first spurred on to write this entry because of some questions posed by a friend just last night. She is currently going through RCIA at some parish on the U.S. east coast and is seeking Baptism. Like many other Catechumens, she has discovered that the Catechists need some Catechesis themselves. Long story made short, the group told her that there were many Adams and many Eves and that for Lori to say that there was one Adam and one Eve showed that she was taking the Creation narrative too literally. Surely she should have known that Adam is a representation of several Adams?! She assured the group that what they were teaching was contrary to Church understanding. They then directed her to make an appointment with the parish priest the following day so that he could 'set her straight'. Seems the Catechists in her parish have fallen into heresy in at least one vein. I got to work researching to help Lori arm herself with solid Magisterial information and she immediately began printing off sheets that would rival any good doctoral dissertation.

I quoted Humani Generis above and would like to share with you what paragraph 37 says, in its entirety:

37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.

I'll let you know how Lori makes out. Unfortunately, she has more knowledge and understanding about the Catholic Church than the Catechists - and they told her she has to be in the RCIA program for two years in order to be Baptized. Keep Lori in your prayers. I think God is preparing her to be a Catechist - or perhaps she already is one.

For further reading not linked above, see Adam, Eve and Evolution.

1 comment:

Joe said...

God bless, Kelly. This was incredibly interesting. And I'll be praying for Lori. :)