Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Pope Benedict XVI

2/7/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The fundamental truth that the stories of Genesis reveal is that the world is not a collection of contrasting forces, but has its origin and its stability in the Logos, the eternal reason of God, who continues to sustain the universe.

The Creed, which begins by describing God as "Almighty Father", then continues that he is the "Creator of heaven and earth", repeating the affirmation with which the Bible begins. In the first verse of Sacred Scripture, we read: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1) God is the source of all things and in the beauty of creation unfolds His omnipotence as a loving Father.

The Creation of Man

The Creation of Man

Highlights

By Pope Benedict XVI

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/7/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Creation, catechesis, creation account, Creed, General Audience, Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - We offer the full text of the continuing catechesis on the Creed offered to the faithful on Wednesday, February 6, 2013, by Pope Benedict XVI:

*****
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Creed, which begins by describing God as "Almighty Father", then continues that he is the "Creator of heaven and earth", repeating the affirmation with which the Bible begins. In the first verse of Sacred Scripture, we read: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1) God is the source of all things and in the beauty of creation unfolds His omnipotence as a loving Father.

God is manifested as Father in creation, as the origin of life, and, in creating shows His omnipotence. The images used in Sacred Scripture in this regard are very suggestive (cf. Is 40.12, 45.18, 48.13, Ps 104,2.5, 135.7, Pr 8, 27-29; Gb 38-39). Like a good and powerful Father, He takes care of what He has created with a love and loyalty that are never lacking (cf. Ps 57.11, 108.5, 36.6).

Thus, Creation becomes a place in which to know and recognize the omnipotence of the Lord and His goodness, and becomes a call to faith for believers because we proclaim God as Creator.

"By faith", - writes the author of the Letter to the Hebrews - "we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the visible world was made out of the invisible" (11.3). Faith implies, therefore, being able to recognize the invisible, by identifying traces of it in the visible world. The believer can read the great book of nature and understanding its language (cf. Ps 19.2 to 5), the universe speaks to us of God (cf. Rom 1:19-20), but we need the Word of His revelation, that stimulates faith, so that man can achieve full awareness of the reality of God as Creator and Father.

In the book of Sacred Scripture human intelligence can find, in the light of faith, the interpretative key to understanding the world. The first chapter of Genesis holds a particularly special place, with the solemn presentation of the Divine creative action unfolding along seven days:

Iin six days God brings Creation to completion and the seventh day, the Sabbath, ceases all activity and rests. The Day of freedom for all, the day of communion with God and so with this, the Book of Genesis tells us that God's first thought was to find a love that responds to His love. The second thought is then to create a material world to place this love in, these creatures who freely respond to Him.

This structure means that the text is marked by some significant repetitions. Six times, for example, the phrase is repeated: "God saw that it was good" (vv. 4.10.12.18.21.25), and finally, the seventh time, after the creation of man: "God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good"(v. 31).

Everything that God creates is good and beautiful, full of wisdom and love, the creative action of God brings order, infuses harmony, gives beauty. In the Genesis it thus emerges that the Lord creates by His word: for ten times "God said" is stated in the text (vv. 3.6.9.11.14.20.24.26.28.29), emphasizing the effective power of God's Word .

As the Psalmist sings: "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, by the breath of his mouth all their host ... because he spoke and all things were created, commanded, and it was done" (33,6.9). Life pours forth, the world exists, because everything obeys the Word of God.

But our question today is does it make sense in the age of science and technology, to still speak of creation? How should we understand the narratives of Genesis? The Bible is not intended as a manual of the natural sciences; it wants to help us understand the authentic and profound truth of things.

The fundamental truth that the stories of Genesis reveal is that the world is not a collection of contrasting forces, but has its origin and its stability in the Logos, the eternal reason of God, who continues to sustain the universe. There is a design of the world that is born from this Reason, the Spirit Creator; believing that this is at the basis of all things illuminates every aspect of life- and gives us the courage to face the adventure of life with confidence and hope.

So the Scripture tells us that the origin of the world, our origin is not irrational or out of necessity, but reason and love and freedom. And this is the alternative: the priority of the irrational, of necessity or the priority of reason, freedom and love. We believe in this position.

But I would like to say a word about what is the apex of all creation: man and woman, the human being, the only ones "capable of knowing and loving their Creator" (Pastoral Constitution. Gaudium et Spes, 12). The Psalmist watching the skies asks: "When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place, What are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them? "(8.4 to 5).

The human being, created with love by God, is a small thing in front of the immensity of the universe, and sometimes, fascinated as we watch the huge expanses of the sky, we too perceive our limitations. The human being is inhabited by this paradox: his smallness and transience living with the magnitude of what the eternal love of God has willed for him.

The stories of creation in Genesis also introduce us to this mysterious area, helping us to know God's plan for man. First of all they affirm that God formed man of the dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7). This means that we are not God, we did not make ourselves, we are the earth, but it also means that we come from good soil, through the work of the Creator.

Added to this is another fundamental reality: all human beings are dust, beyond the distinctions of culture and history, beyond any social difference; we are one humanity formed with the sole earth of God . Then there is a second element: the human being originates because God breathes the breath of life into the body he molded from the earth (cf. Gen 2:7).

The human being is made in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26-27). And we all carry within us the breath of life from God and every human life - the Bible tells us - is under the special protection of God. This is the deepest reason for the inviolability of human dignity against any attempt to evaluate the person in accordance with utilitarian criteria or those of power. Being the image and likeness of God means that man is not closed in on himself;  but has an essential reference in God.

In the first chapters of Genesis are two significant images: the garden with the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the serpent (cf. 2:15-17; 3,1-5). The garden tells us that the reality in which God has placed the human being is not a wild forest, but a place that protects, nourishes and sustains, and the man must recognize the world not as his property to be plundered and exploited, but as gift of the Creator, a sign of His saving will, a gift to cultivate and care for, to grow and develop in accordance and harmony with the rhythms and logic of God's plan (cf. Gen 2.8 to 15).

The snake is a figure derived from the oriental cults of fertility, which fascinated Israel and were a constant temptation to abandon the mysterious covenant with God. In the light of this, the Bible presents the temptation of Adam and Eve as the core of temptation and sin. What does the snake say? He does not deny God, but slips in a subtle question: "Is it true that God said" You shall not eat of any tree of the garden? '"(Gen 3:1).

In this way, the snake raises the suspicion that the covenant with God is like a chain that binds, which deprives of liberty and the most beautiful and precious things in life. The temptation becomes that of building their own world in which to live, not to accept the limitations of being a creature, the limits of good and evil, morality; dependence on the creating love of God is seen as a burden to be freed of. This is always the crux of the matter.

But when the relationship with God is distorted, by our putting ourselves in His place, all other relationships are altered. Then the other becomes a rival, a threat: Adam, having succumbed to the temptation, immediately accuses Eve (cf. Gen 3:12), and the two hide from the sight of that God with whom they spoke as friends (see 3.8 - 10), the world is no longer a garden to live in harmony, but a place to be exploited and of hidden pitfalls (cf. 3:14-19); envy and hatred towards each other enter into man's heart: the example of Cain who kills his brother Abel (cf. 4.3 to 9).

Going against his Creator, man actually goes against himself, denies his origin and therefore his truth, and evil enters into the world, with its painful chain of pain and death. And if all that God created was good, indeed very good, after man's free decision in favor of lies over the truth, evil entered the world.
I would like to highlight one last instruction from the stories of creation: sin begets sin and the sins of history are interlinked. This aspect pushes us to discuss that which is termed "original sin." What is the meaning of this reality, often difficult to understand? I would like to illustrate some elements.

First, we must consider that no man is closed in on itself, no man can live only in and of himself; we receive life from the other and not only at birth, but every day. The human being is relational: I am myself only in you and through you, the relationship of love with the You of God and the you of others. Well, sin upsets or destroys our relationship with God, its presence destroys our relationship with God, the fundamental relationship, when we put ourselves in Gods place. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that with the first sin, man, "chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good."(n. 398).

Once the fundamental relationship is upset, the other poles of relationships are compromised or destroyed, sin ruins everything. Now, if the relational structure of humanity is troubled from the start, every man walks into a world marked by the disturbance of this relationship, enters a world disturbed by sin, by which he is marked personally; the initial sin attacks and injures human nature (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 404-406).

And man cannot get out of this situation alone; he cannot redeem himself alone, only the Creator can restore the right relationship. Only if the One from which we have strayed comes to us and takes us by the hand with love, can the right relationship be re-woven.

This happens in Jesus Christ, who takes the exact opposite path to that of Adam, as the hymn in the second chapter of the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians describes (2:5-11): while Adam does not recognize his being a creature and wants to put himself in the place of God, Jesus, the Son of God, is in a perfect filial relationship with the Father, he lowers himself, becomes the servant, he travels the path of love humbling himself to death on the Cross, to reorder relations with God. The Cross of Christ becomes the new Tree of Life.

Dear brothers and sisters, to live by faith is to recognize the greatness of God and accept our smallness, our condition as creatures letting the Lord fill us with His love. Evil, with its load of pain and suffering, is a mystery that is illuminated by the light of faith, which gives us the certainty of being able to be freed from it, the certainty that it is good to be human.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Europe

SCARY VIDEO! What the heck blew up in Russia's sky? Was it a meteor or something stranger?! Watch

Image of A still taken from footage of the phenomena that took place in Russia on November 14.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What was the mysterious phenomena that occurred in Russia and was witnessed and captured on camera by dozens of motorists? It appears that nobody knows for sure, and even experts are left scratching their heads while they struggle to find reasonable explanations. ... continue reading


Who really was Jack the Ripper? New evidence points to one man Watch

Image of A criminologist from England may have new evidence that points towards the real identity of Jack the Ripper.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new theory about the identity of infamous 19th century London serial killer Jack the Ripper may explain why the murderer was able to elude contemporary and modern authorities for so long and escape justice. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Dr. Gareth Norris, a ... continue reading


Which countries drink the most beer? Our list may surprise you! Watch

Image of Beer is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Who still drinks beer?  Beer is one of the most widely consumed beverages, behind water and tea.  Beer is also a Catholic tradition, alongside wine-making, and has been widely practiced in monasteries, especially in Europe. Now, a list has emerged detailing ... continue reading


To raise money for the poor, Pope Francis to raffle gifts Watch

Image of The tickets are only a modest 10, but this includes a new Fiat Panda 4x4, with all optional extras.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Talking the talk, walking the walk: Pope Francis has done it again. The pontiff is raffling gifts that have been given to him in order to raise money for the poor. Posters announcing the raffle have gone up all over Vatican City. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Russia could destabilize Eastern Europe if Ukraine left unchecked, Merkel warns Watch

Image of It's exceedingly tough talk from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She says that Russia's annexation of Crimea and subsequent destabilization of eastern Ukraine

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's exceedingly tough talk from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She says that Russia's annexation of Crimea and subsequent destabilization of eastern Ukraine "called the whole of the European peaceful order into question." Adding to the gloomy outlook was a ... continue reading


The Pope Who Builds Showers for the Poor under St Peters Rattles our Comfort Zones Watch

Image of Pope Francis embracing Jesus in the face of the poor

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Those who love the poor - like Jesus loved the poor- are an instruction manual for the rest of us. They are a sign of the kingdom, making it present in their wake. We have such a man in this Pope named Francis. He recognizes that poverty is more than a lack of ... continue reading


Theory: Putin doesn't want war -- he's selling Russian hardware Watch

Image of Putin is playing a dangerous game on brinkmanship with the world -- or he is trying to sell hardware. Nobody is sure.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Vladimir Putin continues to rattle his saber at the western world with bomber flights, naval deployments and the movement of troops within Russia. Some fear the world may be on the brink of a new cold war with the old superpower. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As ... continue reading


More Catholic Than the Pope? Francis Calls Catholics to Work and Pray with Evangelical Protestants Watch

Image of Pope Francis realistically acknowledges the differences and distinctives in doctrine and practice - as well as the divisions among us. However, he focuses on our common Baptism and shared mission in this decisive moment in Christian history. His message is powerful, prophetic and should be read by every Christian, as well as every other person of faith and good will.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Pope Francis carries the burden for Christian unity in his heart, proclaims it in his words, and steps it into his actions. The hoped for healing of our divisions and call to collaboration proceeded from the Second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church and was ... continue reading


Catholic Cardinal fires back at illegal gay marriages in Italy Watch

Image of While gay marriage is illegal in Italy, many city mayors have begun recognizing same-sex marriages performed outside Italy, which has led to great criticism.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Catholic Cardinal is warning that gay marriage may lead to the destruction of family structure if it becomes culturally accepted by the Catholic Church. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the head of the Italian Bishops Conference gave ... continue reading


Sex-selective abortions now running rampant across Eastern Europe Watch

Image of Female feticide is happening in countries which previously had no history of such practices, such as Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia.

By Nita Bhalla, Thomson Reuters Foundation

The practice of aborting female fetuses due to a preference for sons is an  "epidemic" which is spreading beyond countries such as India and China to Eastern European nations, a senior United Nations official warned Monday. NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 10:8-11
8 Then I heard the voice I had heard from heaven ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131
14 In the way of your instructions lies my joy, a joy ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 19:45-48
45 Then he went into the Temple and began driving out ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 21st, 2014 Image

St. Gelasius
November 21: St. Gelasius I, Pope (Feast day - November 21) Gelasius was born ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter