Thursday 23rd November 2017

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Creation, The CCC, Evolution, And Angels

July 12, 2017 Frontpage No Comments

By PHILIP TROWER

My purpose in writing this article is twofold: in the first place, to look at what the new Catechism has to say on its subject, and secondly to see whether it is possible to throw any light on why there has been suffering and disorder in nature not only since the fall of Adam and Eve, as was once thought, but seemingly since the creation of the first living beings.
As St. Paul puts it in his Epistle to the Romans: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail until now; and not only the creation but we ourselves.” As for the reason he only makes the mysterious statement: “for the creation was subjected to futility not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope.” Meanwhile, “it waits with eager longing for the adoption of the sons of God,” when “it will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:19-23). In other words, that will be at the end of time and the Second Coming.
The apostle does not, here or anywhere else, tell us when he thought nature began to groan, but as a man of his time, he would presumably have believed in a creation lasting six 24-hour days and attributed any suffering in nature outside the Garden of Eden, like everything else that had gone wrong, to our first parents’ sin. They were expelled from the garden into a world that had only just begun to groan. Before that, like the rest of his Christian and Jewish contemporaries, he would presumably have believed that it had been, if not in a paradisal state (it needed in some way “subduing” or tilling), at least in a state that excluded “groaning” and suffering.
However, all this, as we know, has had to be reconsidered by Christians, Mother Church included, once the geological and paleontological sciences began to reveal the apparently immense age of the Earth and the evidence that the biological species did not all come into existence at once exactly as they are today but by some kind of transformism.
Not only had there been suffering and imperfection for eons before the fall. Some degree of suffering and imperfection seems to have accompanied the very process by which all the marvels and beauties of the natural order came successively into existence.
As we all know, the Church’s task has not been made any easier by most of the evolutionary or transformative theories put forward to explain all these new facts, with Darwin’s in the forefront. To use the words of the Anglo-German theologian, Dom Anscar Vonier, only too often these theories “are designed to exclude divine oversight and direction.” (1)
However, he continues, provided they do not do that “the Catholic is free to speculate and think as he likes on the question of the immediate causes of the world’s variety,” or, as he could have put it, “the origin of species.”
Prior to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the most significant magisterial statement on the subject of evolution or the origin of man was Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis.
Here is the relevant passage. “The Magisterium of the Church, does not forbid that in the present state of the human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussion, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of ‘evolutionism’ insofar as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter — for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God” (n. 36).
In other words, for Adam’s body God could have used some kind of already existing anthropoid. At the same time the Pope pleads for moderation all around.
What the existence of suffering and death before the fall does throw light on is why the creation and fall of our first parents took place in a special enclave, the Garden of Eden. Outside it, death and disorder already tarnished the marvels of biological nature.
What is difficult to see is how, if they hadn’t sinned, they could they have fulfilled the command to “fill the earth and subdue it” without at the same time meeting death and disorder in the process? This was no problem for our forebears for whom the world outside the Garden would presumably have been seen as not all that different to the world inside it.

II

In relation to all this the CCC adopts what we could call a mild form of theistic evolutionism.
Here are the most significant passages.
“Creation has its own goodness and proper perfection, but it did not spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator. The universe was created ‘in a state of journeying’ (in statu viae) towards an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it. We call ‘divine providence’ the dispositions by which God guides his creation towards this perfection.”
To this, quoting Vatican I and the books of Wisdom and Hebrews, the same text adds, “For ‘all are open and laid bare to his eyes,’ even those which are yet to come into existence through the free action of creatures” (CCC, n. 302).
Then on the problem of evil it says:
“But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better. But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world ‘in a state of journeying’ towards ultimate perfection. In God’s plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. . . . With physical good there also exists physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection” (n. 310).
This last clause introduces an idea still unknown to the great majority of Catholics, although foreshadowed in the Vatican II documents: Namely, that in carrying out His command to “fill the earth and subdue it,” which includes the arts and sciences, we are helping God complete His creation. “God . . . enables men,” says the relevant text, “to be intelligent and free causes in order to complete the work of creation, to perfect its harmony for their own good and that of their neighbors” (n. 307).
It is like a mother letting her child help her decorate the Christmas cake after she has mixed and baked it. Creation is not something that came to an end or its climax with Adam and Eve. It is still going on.
On the subject of the fall, the authors of the catechism tend to be more traditional, or less innovative and developmental. “Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject ‘to its bondage to decay’. . . . .Death makes its entrance into human history” (sic) (n. 400).
With all respect I would suggest that this sentence needs clarifying. Death enters human history because of man, Yes. But one can hardly say that about nature as a whole. Nature has been “groaning” since the first appearance of biological species unless we suppose it was allowed for some reason in anticipation of the fall.
It is here that I would like to offer an idea which might throw some light on this relatively recent problem of a biological world apparently “groaning” from the outset and with suffering and death seemingly built into the process by which it developed. Why did God choose this particular mode of creation for living beings; this “state of journeying” from imperfection to perfection which will only be complete on the Last Day? What we are really confronting is the “problem of evil” set in a new philosophical and cultural context.
Holy Mother Church has never had any doubts about the ultimate origin of evil, so it is here, in this new context that we must look for a possible reason why, as we now know, some degree of “groaning” was built into God’s chosen method of creation from the start.
To quote my friend the English theologian Fr. John Saward: “before the fall of man, there had been another fall,” that is, the fall of the angels. Can we then, or should we, leave them out of our attempts to explain the history of creation as the CCC now presents it; that is, in the light of the genuine scientific knowledge available today?
Can we make a case for seeing the angels in God’s initial plan of creation not just as messengers but as in some way active agents with a specific role in the development of the evolutionary process, a role which He did not withdraw from those who rebelled, in the same way that He does not always or instantly remove bad rulers who affect the development of the historical process?
For this it will be necessary to say something about what the Church actually teaches about the angels rather than the little that most people think it does. In addition to the CCC, I shall rely on the Anglo-German theological writer and thinker Dom Anscar Vonier or rather his chapter on angels in the two-volume compendium of Catholic doctrine which I have relied on for many years. (2)

III

Most practicing Christians, I would suggest, think of angels as supernatural beings who from all eternity have existed to sing God’s praises in Heaven. This was and still is their main role. Then, since the creation of the universe, they have had the added work of acting as God’s messengers to individual members of the human race from time to time or as their personal guardians.
As for the rebel angels, their fall occurred some time long before God thought of creating “a universe.” This indeed is more or less what I myself thought until I looked into the matter more closely.
Here in contrast is what the CCC tells us, quoting Lateran Council 1V. “God, from the beginning of time made at once (simul) out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and corporeal, that is the angelic and earthly, and then the human creature, who as it were shares in both orders, being composed of body and spirit” (n. 327).
The word simul suggests that the angels were made simultaneously with the big bang, if that is indeed the way everything began. Then confirming this we are told that “angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation” (n. 332). And “as intelligent and free creatures,” they “have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. . . . Thus has moral evil . . . entered the world” (n. 311).
“Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels . . . they belong to him because they were created through him and for him” (n. 331)
In the light of this it seems to me we can say the angels and the universe have from the start been part and parcel of a single system.
I now turn to Dom Anscar.
“Christian thought is not satisfied with the merely ministerial role of the heavenly spirits; the angels are more than ministers and messengers; they are above all, a portion of the universe (created being); they are its noblest portion, and very early in the history of Christian thought we find them occupying a most important cosmic position.”
Furthermore, they are not supernatural beings. They are natural beings “elevated to the supernatural order, the state of grace” (pp. 258, 259). “It is a favourite theme with St. Thomas Aquinas to represent the whole physical world as being entrusted by God to the keeping of the angels” (p. 268).
“The angelic guardianship of man by angels is only the last instance of the mighty tutelage of the spirit world over the material world, with this difference . . . that free will comes into play where man is concerned” (p. 269). “This angelic guardianship is something natural, something normal, as normal as the great powers of the physical cosmos” (p. 271). When created “the angels did not find themselves in heaven with God (what the theologians call caelum sanctae Trinitatis); they found themselves in that other ‘heaven’ which may be called the highest part of the natural cosmos” (p. 274).
What these passages seem to suggest, above all, is that in God’s original plan of creation, as the CCC describes it, the angels were to have much more than a supervisory role, and that when some of them fell He did not remove their power to influence the evolutionary or transformative creative process, anymore than when we act badly He removes our power to affect the historical process.
None of this would involve violating the laws of nature. Who today could say that free beings cannot seriously damage or alter nature without altering its laws?

FOOTNOTES

1. Dom Anscar Vonier (1875-1938). In addition to being a gifted writer and thinker he was responsible for rebuilding the abbey of Buckfast in Devon, England, of which he was for many years abbot.
2. The Teaching of the Catholic Church, 2 volumes, London; Burns, Oates and Washbourne, 1948.

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Bannon Discusses Growing Up in ‘a Very Observant Catholic Family’ in the South Where the KKK ‘Tarred and Feathered’ Priests

In a freewheeling new interview with author Keith Koffler, Steve Bannon recounted his upbringing in a “very observant Catholic family” in the 1950s and 1960s and how that molded who he is now. Koffler, author of Bannon: Always the Rebel, asked Mr. Bannon—Breitbart…Continue Reading

Bishop McElroy decries extremism on religious freedom, calls for solidarity in American politics

WASHINGTON (RNS) — In an address at Georgetown University, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego criticized both extremes in the fight over religious freedom and called for public consensus based on solidarity to heal our nation in this hyper-partisan age. McElroy…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke makes ‘final plea’ for clarity to Pope Francis on dubia anniversary

ROME, November 14, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – One year to the day after the dubia were made public, Cardinal Raymond Burke today is turning again to Pope Francis and to the whole Church in an urgent and final plea for clarity.…Continue Reading

Giving bishops final word on Mass translations would ‘destroy’ Church unity: Cardinal Muller

November 10, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The unity of the Church would be “destroyed” if bishops’ conferences, not the Vatican, had the final word over translations of liturgical texts, said Cardinal Gerhard Müller in a recent interview. The former prefect of…Continue Reading

Notre Dame reverses decision to end coverage of birth control in university insurance plans

notredame

In a reversal of school policy, the University of Notre Dame announced this week that it would continue to cover contraceptives for its employees, according to a report in the South Bend Tribune. The news marked a departure from Notre Dame’s announcement…Continue Reading

House Tax Reform Bill “Unacceptable” As Written, Say U.S. Bishops Chairmen

WASHINGTON—In a letter of November 9, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Bishop George V. Murry, SJ of Youngstown, Ohio called for amendments to the current draft of the House…Continue Reading

Truck honoring Dubia Cardinal stopped by police while circling Vatican

ROME, November 6, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Today in Rome, a publicity truck carrying billboard-size images of Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, the dubia Cardinal who passed away three months ago, and Pope John Paul II made its way through the streets of…Continue Reading

Trump admin asks Supreme Court to ‘discipline’ lawyers for rushing teen’s abortion

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 6, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Department of Justice (DOJ) is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to punish the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for lying to the government about the timeline of an underage illegal immigrant’s abortion.…Continue Reading

Christian nurse sues hospital for requiring her to assist abortions

DURHAM, North Carolina, November 3, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A Catholic nurse is suing Duke University Hospital, claiming that the university discriminated against her religious and pro-life beliefs by requiring her to assist in abortions. Sara T. Pedro was told during her employee…Continue Reading

It’s ‘impossible’ to change Catholic teaching against contraception: Cardinal

ROME, October 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Church’s teaching against contraception as expressed in Humanae Vitae is an “extraordinary example” of how the “truth of faith” deepens and develops while “continuing to be identical to itself,” Cardinal Walter Brandmüller stated at a…Continue Reading

Thousands sign online petition to remove Madison’s bishop

MADISON (WKOW) — There’s an online petition being circulated to remove the Bishop of the Diocese of Madison. Bishop Robert Morlino is being criticized for his attitude about the LGTBQ community.  Earlier this week, an email was sent to priests in the…Continue Reading

Pontifical Academy of Sciences welcomes leftist California Governor Jerry Brown to keynote

ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) – The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is again throwing open its doors to abortion and population control activists. From November 2–4, the Vatican’s scientific academy will host a conference on the environment that will feature, among others, far-left…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Today . . .

U.S. bishop defends pro-LGBT priest speaking at Catholic college as thousands protest

DALLAS, Pennsylvania, November 20, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A U.S. bishop is defending a local Catholic university’s invitation to a pro-homosexual priest to have him speak at its winter commencement in the face of almost 20,000 Catholics having signed a petition asking that the invitation be cancelled. Scranton Bishop Joseph C. Bambera is defending Jesuit homosexualist Fr. James Martin’s speaking engagement at Misericordia University’s winter commencement on December 17, saying that the priest’s latest book condoning…Continue Reading

Progressives hate everything old, including the elderly

November 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Earlier this year, Maclean’s Magazinepublished an article asking a question that seemed to capture the prevailing mood on the Left: “Should older people lose the right to vote?” Because old people are practically dead, the author explained, there are some today who feel that they vote with only a short-term vision in mind, and thus should be barred from interfering with the Progress that would be brought about should young people be allowed…Continue Reading

Venerable Solanus Casey: the priest who answered the doorbell.

Vatican City, Nov 17, 2017 / 06:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Venerable Solanus Casey, a Capuchin priest from Wisconsin, was humble before all else, said the postulator of his cause for sainthood. The life of Venerable Solanus Casey is the story of his “humility, his simplicity, as well as his acceptance of whatever life gave him,” Franciscan-Capuchin Fr. Carlo Calloni told CNA Nov. 15. Fr. Solanus Casey is an American-born Capuchin priest who died in 1957.…Continue Reading

Swiss Planned Parenthood president invited to speak at Vatican

November 18, 2017 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life co-hosted a conference on the topic of end of life issues that included several speakers who oppose the Catholic Church’s teachings on the right to life, including the president the board of Switzerland’s Planned Parenthood affiliate, and the president of the pro-euthanasia Royal Dutch Medical Association. The conference, entitled the “WMA Europ

Catholic priests, activists to stand trial for pro-life witness inside abortion facility

November 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – On Monday, November 20, six pro-lifers will stand trial in a State of Virginia courtroom for their defense of the unborn—facing a possible jail term of up to 90 days. On Friday, September 15, 2017 in three different cities across the United States, pro-lifers entered abortion centers to talk to women scheduled for abortions. By refusing to leave the clinics when told to do so by law enforcement, they offered…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

An Underground Priest In China Tells His Story

MADRID (CNA) — Fr. Joseph of Jesus is a Chinese priest, faithful to the Catholic Church. Life is not easy for Catholics in China. Those who adhere to Rome are persecuted by the Chinese government, which only grants freedom of worship to those belonging to the state-controlled Patriotic Church. Fr. Joseph recently shared his story…Continue Reading

SCOTUS Will Hear California Forced Abortion Speech Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Supreme Court on November 13 agreed to review the California Reproductive FACT Act, which compels pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to post notices regarding the availability of free and low-cost abortions in their physical clinics, printed material and online. The court agreed to hear National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA)…Continue Reading

A Book Review… The Sacred Heart Vs. Secularism

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, From Secularism and the New Age to Christendom Renewed, by Roger Buck (Angelico Press, 2016, 482 pages; $21.95 paperback, $10.12 Kindle). The Cor Jesu Sacratissimum of the title is the Latin for “Sacred Heart of Jesus,” and the premise of Roger Buck’s sizable volume is that the Sacred…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic… Questions In The Aftermath Of The Las Vegas Tragedy

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly]. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society…Continue Reading

A Movie Review… “The Star” Shines For Christmas

By REY FLORES As children, many of us grew up watching television, particularly memorable special broadcasts of The Wizard of Oz, Rankin and Bass’ Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and of course, all the holiday-themed Peanuts animated specials. My favorite was A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving where Snoopy and his little bird friend Woodstock fix a Thanksgiving…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Advent And The Time Of Testing

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER First Sunday Of Advent (YR B) Readings: Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b, 64:2-7 1 Cor. 1:3-9 Mark 13:33-37 As we begin a new Church year, we kick off with a question that burns in the hearts of many people: You are our Father, our Redeemer; why do you let us wander from your ways and harden our hearts…Continue Reading

Fr. Brian Harrison Says… It’s Not “Dissent” To Criticize “Confusing Cascade Of Papal Novelties”

By DIANE MONTAGNA ROME (LifeSiteNews) — Earlier this year, a group of over 60 scholars issued an almost unprecedented “filial correction” to Pope Francis, charging him with permitting the spread of seven heresies. This measure, unseen since the fourteenth century, has generated controversy around the world, while the number of signatories has risen to 250 professors and priests since it…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… The Kingmakers Reject A Papal Favorite

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The approval of one’s peers is a highly prized trophy in the complicated world of adult professional relationships. Many work for years in obscurity with little acknowledgment. The opportunity to be championed and appreciated is a blessing not to be taken askance when other forms of promotion are no longer possible for those already at…Continue Reading

The Sacraments Instituted By Christ… The Cisterns Of Grace

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 In the last article, I finished the text with a prayer for the bishops of Malta, who now allow people living in adultery to receive Holy Communion. May our Lady guide them to repentance, and to correct their wrong teaching, lest they answer before God our Lord for leading people into committing a…Continue Reading

The Recipient, Minister, And Celebration Of Holy Orders

By DON FIER A significant reform of Vatican Council II, as we saw last week, was the restoration of the permanent diaconate in the Western Church “as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy” (Lumen Gentium, n. 29 § 2). An ordained ministry that has always been retained by the Churches of the East, it can be conferred on…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Vicente Liem De La Paz

By CAROLE BRESLIN Vietnam received its first missionaries of the Catholic Church in the 1500s. These missionaries were predominantly Portuguese in the 16th century, with French Jesuits and the Dominicans coming in the 17th century. Throughout the following centuries the priests and missionaries suffered excruciating tortures and martyrdom. When the Communists captured northern Vietnam, Catholics fled to the south and…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Margaret Of Scotland

By CAROLE BRESLIN Quite frequently saints have left their home country and died in another country, but most of them died in a foreign land because they left to serve as missionaries to Asia, Africa, or America. The land of Hungary, however, has seen a few saints depart because they were of royal families, including St. Elizabeth of Hungary, who…Continue Reading