GENESIS: THE LOVE STORY
THE SOUL IN THE WORD OF GOD
Welcome! These blog entries will be my humble Christ centered view of the spiritual mysteries contained within the Book of Genesis chapters 1 and 3; “connecting the dots” between Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and St. John of the Cross’ writings on the soul. I’m ever-learning devout a lay Catholic and St. John of the Cross admirer who in January of 2017 saw something interesting in Genesis, and began to write it down.
Permission granted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for reprint of the Biblical Text from The New American Bible, Saint Joseph Edition. The USCCB has not reviewed or approved my comments on the Biblical text. The Biblical text is the only text highlighted by italics. It is my fervent hope that readers will be inspired to visit the USCCB website for further meditative reflection of the Daily Readings, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and other Faith aids.
“Excerpts from the English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for use in the United States of America Copyright © 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc. — Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Used with Permission. English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Modifications from the Editio Typica copyright © 1997, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops—Libreria Editrice Vaticana.”
Much of what the Church has learned about the theology of the soul comes from the Saint and Doctor of the Church, John of the Cross, who has taught us the paths and pitfalls of the soul’s journey by faith toward union with God. The writings of the Mystical Doctor will accompany us in this reflection of Genesis, Chapters 1 & 3:
The Complete Works of St. John of the Cross, translated by E. Allison Peers 1953. Reference abbreviations: A: Ascent of Mount Carmel, D: Dark Night of the Soul, F: Living Flame of Love, C: Spiritual Canticle. Reference footnotes for St. John are in the order of: Work, Book, Chapter, Paragraph, as in: A2,3,1 = Ascent of Mt Carmel Book 2, Chapter 3, Paragraph 1.
Prayer for guidance:
Father of lights, from whom all good giving and every excellent gift comes down from above, illumine my heart, my mind, and my pen – let not the shadow of confusion dim these pages – but grant your perfect understanding to listener and scripter.
Jesus, Light of the World, guide my pen in your truth made manifest in your body that is Holy Scripture. Eternally begotten from the Father, Light from Light – I pass on your light in these pages like the light of the paschal candle on Holy Saturday.
Most Holy Spirit, Author of Sacred Scripture, overshadow my weak efforts, so that the Word becomes incarnate by the ink of my pen. Amen.
All For Jesus
Easter morning at the tomb of Jesus, Mary Magdalene arrived with ordinary expectations of what she would find there; a life at its end. Jesus shattered that presumption when he appeared to her alive, asking her who she was looking for. 1 That morning in the garden, age old beliefs about death along with the Genesis declaration, For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return 2 collapsed before her and turned into dust itself. From now on, for followers of Jesus, death is the start of life everlasting. It is the new beginning…
I: THE PRIMEVAL HISTORY
First Story of Creation. In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. Genesis 1:1-2
The book of Genesis, Greek for “beginning” or “origin,” contains beginnings important to the Catholic faith. It is the beginning of salvation history and God’s plan for every soul. As early as Genesis chapter 1 God reveals he had his Church in mind from time immemorial. The most precious of all his creations, the human soul, is manifested as well. Genesis chapters 1 and 3, besides natural creation, is the story of the creation of man, both body and soul, his fall from original grace and holiness, and God’s detailed, loving plan for humanity’s restoration. This is contained in Genesis chapters 1 and 3, symbolically and pre-figuratively.
Chapter 2 of Genesis is an older creation account of man. 3 It tells of God forming man out of the clay of the ground then breathing the breath of life into him. This chapter and interpretation is not what will be reflected upon here.
Holy Scripture is making it known in the very first sentence, when God created the heavens and the earth, that this is going to be an account of both spiritual and natural creation. The heavens and the earth, in Genesis 1, will be the dwelling places for God and man. Earth as the natural dwelling of man which includes his needs and all the rest of earth’s creatures, and the heavens as the dwelling place of God. But not the heavens above the clouds where we think of God, the angels, and the holy souls reside, for there are no subsequent verses of this place. The “heavens” Genesis is referring to is the other dwelling of God, which is the soul. St. John of the Cross tells us God is present substantially in every soul, even in the greatest the sinner in the world.4
In Scripture, especially in Jesus’ parables, we see God’s love for using nature to express spiritual lessons for it was his own will each reflect the other. This is magnificently true in the vivid creation account in Genesis. Genesis chapters 1 & 3 are a grand tour de force of symbolic literary sense, telling the creation story of the soul and God’s plan for its salvation exquisitely woven throughout and veiled beneath the story of natural creation.
St. Ephrem the Syrian, poet theologian and Doctor of the Church, tells us: “From manifest things it is easy to learn about hidden things.”
The spiritual unfolding in Genesis will often and naturally parallel the teaching contained in the Daily Scripture Readings on the USCCB website, making them relevant to your Lenten journey. For example, the creation of light in Genesis, which spiritually is the light of faith, parallels the Daily Readings at the beginning of the Lenten Season about faith. Then we’ll take up the Fall of Man in Genesis chapter 3 which also reveals surprising parallels to the USCCB Daily Readings of Holy Week.
I hope you will join me here, beginning Ash Wednesday February 14th, for a daily reflection unfolding the “wonders of his love” God has for souls in the mysteries of Genesis.
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