Friday, March 8, 2013

Genesis 1 - 3 and Women

According to the immutable Order of Creation established and revealed in the earliest chapters of Genesis, a woman, because of her creation, must be quite radically different from a man in every way. In every way, that is, except for the essence of a common human nature. Oh.... what we women have lost by being deprived of the lessons taught by the literal sense of Genesis! In Genesis I, the narrative delivered by God Himself, and given to Adam, the First Man, Adam is created and given dominion over all things below him. In Genesis 1:27, God specifies that mankind is a human nature consisting of "male and female": to the image of God He created Adam: male and female He created them. And God, blessed them saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over it. (Gen. 1:26-27)

There is great mystery here; but I pass on to Genesis 2. (I accept the patriarchical theory of Henry Morris as described in detail in his Genesis Record.) Even in Genesis 1, God gives us the first of many dietary laws: both mankind and all animals are to be herbivorous, eating only plants. In Genesis 2, the narrative attributed to Adam by the patriarchal (based on the Toledoth) theory, there is the description of Eve's creation. As noted, it is radically different from that of Adam, and surely contains many lessons for us women of today. Adam was made (body) - directly from the moistened earth (slime) - and created (soul) directly by God's own breath - not His Word of command as were all other things, but by His own very Life which in us is Divine Grace, the supernatural life of an infinitely higher order than merely natural life, which Adam received either just before, or simultaneously with, the Divine Life of Grace. Now this is a great mystery, indeed, for us women!

How and when, did and do, we receive this divine life of Grace? Well, it is certainly a question for the theologians, and in the absence of the literal sense of Holy Scripture today, we have only tradition to guide us. In the light of this tradition (and relying on my own memory), I suggest the following: based on Genesis 2:18-25 and St. Thomas' summation of all his predecessors: human nature was complete in Adam, but not completely good. Human nature, as in Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ Incarnate, was absolutely complete and even completely Good because He is God. But in the human order, Adam simply, or per se, is not complete nor completely good without the added perfection of gender, the female woman. Our Divine Lord conceded this in what we see and must acknowledge as the real necessity for Mary, the Woman of Genesis 3:15 and the mother of all those who live in the Order of Divine Grace (Gen.3:20)

The position of Duns Scotus, that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity would have become Man even if Adam had not sinned, is an extremely precarious position, because it calls into question the very essence (potency) of human nature in Adam and in Our Lord Jesus Christ. If Adam had not sinned, there are two possible scenarios: First, in the presence of Lucifer - serpent - who tempted her, Eve's intellect was equal to Adam's and she was not deceived, as he was not deceived, but seduced. (See Genesis 3:13, and Genesis 3:12 and 17 and this writer's study of the question in St. Thomas.) This scenario is impossible in the light of both scripture and tradition. Duns Scotus was in serious error. Second, if Eve had sinned but Adam had not sinned, the result would have been a tragically and really impossibly divided human nature. Just try to imagine it! In fact, much of modern literature, especially in the novels written by women like the Bronte's and thereafter, is based on just such a scenario. This is why such novels, as Wuthering Heights and George Eliot's -- Middlemarch --, are so very unsatisfying. They are not true to reality. They lack the necessary quality of verisimilitude. Aristotle's definition of a good plot, a mimesis, includes this verisimilitude in its definition as mimesis.

But there is a third possible scenario that is as unreal as the previous ones, and that is that Lucifer did not fall, either, and so there is no enemy of God and human nature. All of subsequent history gives the lie to such scenarios. And so, the position of John Duns Scotus must be rejected as the Neo-Platonic idealistic heresy that it is. The Franciscans who follow Duns Scotus must be converted to the realism of St. Thomas and the tradition of the Church. As St. Thomas teaches, Eve was not created from Adam's head because she is not Adam's equal in the strength of his intellect. Therefore, he could not spare any of that superior strength. Nor was she created from Adam's feet or lower extremities, because she was never intended to be his or anyone's slave. This is where the Muslim religions are greatly in error and need the example of our Catholic Tradition. But Eve was created, St. Thomas teaches, from Adam's side, - the side where his heart is, because this defines her vocation: to be Adam's helper, to supply the warmth and tenderness he lacks in his heart. As the theologian quoted in the National Catholic Reporter for Feb. 15-28, 2013, says, in his defense of the traditional position on women as priests, "none of this means that women hold an inferior place in the church.." Well, actually, it is more accurate to admit, as St. Paul and all of history testify, that woman is inferior to man, intellectually as well as physically. But the theologian speaks most truly when he asserts that "women have a special access to the Heart of Jesus..." What greater power could we ask! And is this not the very vocation of woman in essence, from Cana all through history?

Examine all the women saints, especially those who wrote theological treatises, like Hildegard of Bingen, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, and see the emphasis upon the will, which is to say, the heart, the seat of the emotions. And to whom did Our Lord reveal the infinite Mercy of His Heart but to a woman - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque!

Oh, the depth of the mercies of the Merciful Love of God in the Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Please, all you women who labor in the workplace while your children and your husband wreak havoc in the "home"! My grandmother used to complain that all she did was cook, eat and wash dishes! When I knew her, she certainly would not have been happy doing anything else! She loved feeding those hard-working men who came in at the sound of the big bell, to sit down at her well-supplied table with a plentiful supply of meat and vegetables, all from the farm, and her wonderful hot biscuits with newly-churned butter and fresh milk from the dairy. Father Denis Fahey knew what he was talking about when he called for Catholics to return to the land. On a farm, no one is ever idle, summer or winter, spring or fall. The doctor to whom my mother took me as a child, had received his entire elementary education at his mother's knees!
Women, return to the home, full time! Men, return to the land, or to the crafts of the guilds. It is the only way to begin to build a truly Catholic State and civilization. We have the example of scripture and tradition to teach us this. In the meantime, read Solange Hertz on the "Valiant Woman" of Proverbs and on Mary, the Mother of all who live in Divine Grace.
But wait!! Does not all this mean that Adam's sin was inevitable and therefore willed by God? No. If Adam had not sinned and if Eve had not been deceived, the only possible scenario, I submit, is that Eve first took counsel from Adam, discussed with him the proposition of Lucifer, for she possibly saw in the tempter, merely an angel, perhaps not knowing then or yet of the Great War in Heaven, although in Paradise Lost, she and Adam knew of it, (if my memory is reliable and it may not be.) Check on that.

In other words, if Eve had consulted Adam, recognizing in him the superior nature of his intelligence and he had used it according to nature and grace, what St. Thomas considers to be the one and only cause of the Incarnation, would not have been necessary. Theologians have speculated, (a good research project for some seminarian or other student), how relatively easy it would have been to save one's soul. I remember Father Urban Snyder, (former Trappist monk and novice master at Gethsemane, replaced by Thomas Merton), speaking about this possibility, quite at length. However, I forget most of what he said. It would make an interesting novel - one of those "what if" possibilities. Realists prefer to meditate on St. Augustine's, O felix culpa! And it being Lent, that is a far more appropriate subject for meditation. Leave such other speculations to Duns Scotus and his Franciscan followers.
Kyrie Eleison!

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