இந்த இணையதளத்திலுள்ள புத்தகங்கள் தங்களின் தனி பயன்பாட்டுக்கு மட்டுமே. வேறு தளங்களில் பகிர்வதற்கும், புத்தகமாக்குவதற்கும் அனுமதி இல்லை.

THE CREATION OF MAN--HIS ORIGIN, NATURE AND PERFECTIONS

"And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth, and  breathed into his face the breath of life and man became a living soul" (Gen.2:7)--."What is man that Thou art mindful of him? Thou hast made him a little less than the Angels. Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor and hast set him over the works of thy hands" (Ps.8:5).

The Angels had been created, the stars and planets revolved in the heavens, and the earth was filled with flowers and fruits and all other living creatures, when the Eternal Father paused, to contemplate the world and all other creatures He had called into being by His almighty power. Then, addressing the other Two Divine Persons, God said: "Let Us make man to Our own image and likeness" (Gen.1:26). As Bossuet remarks, until now  God had made everything by commands: "Let light be made . . . . Let there be a firmament made amidst the waters," and so on. But when there is question of the creation of man, the Three Divine Persons hold a consultation. They agree to make man according to Their own image and likeness:  "Let Us make man to Our own image and likeness; and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moves upon the earth" (Gen.1:26). Here God officially proclaims the exalted position of man in relation to all other creatures. "Never was power more extensive; never was sceptre more lawfully borne!" "You have crowned him with glory and honor and have set him over the works of Thy hands.  You have made him a little less than the Angels," cries out King David (Ps.8:5). Under what sublime auspices the first man entered into this world! Like a welcomed prince making his first triumphal entry into his domain, so man came from the hands of God to take possession of the world after all things had been prepared for him.  He was to reign as king over God's created domain.

Naturally then, as descendants of the first man and woman, you and I and every other man and woman are vitally interested in knowing all that can be known about man, his origin, nature and perfections as he came from the hands of his creator. These important facts shall claim our attention in today's discourse.

(O Jesus, assist us with Thy grace!)

Man's Origin.--Man, in his origin, had a most humble beginning. Unlike the other creatures which God called out of nothing, man was formed by God from the slime of the earth. But there he lay, cold and lifeless; beautiful, yet withal wanting something. No warmth, no  motion, was in that body; no pulse was throbbing; no glow of animation softened these rigid features. But now something happened. Here is how simply, yet beautifully, Holy Scripture narrates what followed: "God breathed into his face the breath of life and man became a living soul" (Gen.2:7). And now behold what happened. Adam, the man of earth, leaps to his feet; his nostrils dilate to breathe into his expanding lungs for the first time in the fragrant air of Paradise; he extends his arms in which he feels the thrilling sensation of strength; his eyes are lit up by the spark of intelligence; his brow beams with expression of thought; the silvery threads of speech flow from his lips; every fibre of his body pulsates with life; the blood rushes exultingly through his veins; a jubilant cry of gratitude rings forth from his leaving breath. This mold of dust lives now,  because "God breathed into his face the breath of life and man became a living soul" (Gen.2:7).

Nature of Man.--Here then, my friends, we have the nature of man. He is made up of a body and a rational soul, a mortal body and an immortal soul, a material body and a spiritual soul. And thus man becomes the focal point creation in which matter and spirit meet. He becomes the connecting link between the material and the spiritual world.  For, in the words of St. Gregory, man shares existence with the minerals, nutrition, and growth with the plants, sensation and self-movement with the animals, intellectual freedom and responsibility with the Angels, and immortality with God.

Man's Body.--But God did not wish that man should become proud of his great and beautiful prerogatives. Hence, to remind him forever of his humble origin, God formed man's body from the slime of the earth. He gave him the name Adam, which signifies "earthly." But at the same time God lavished upon man greater gifts than He bestowed upon any other creature on earth. To be convinced of this, we need but consider his majestic bearing, his upright stature, the head raised towards heaven, while the eyes of the animals are bent towards earth. Then consider the beauty, the strength, the suppleness of man; that look which is mild and proud by turns; that expression of his features in which are reflected all the sentiments of the soul. Is there any other living form under the sun to be compared to the body of man?

Man's Soul.--And yet, this is only the beginning of man's prerogatives.  His body is only the material part of man's being. However beautiful and perfect that body, it was of itself unworthy of the end for which God created man. Although the world was created for him, man was not made for this world only. His greatest mission is to love and glorify His Creator and Master. It was necessary, therefore, that man should be endowed with an intelligence capable of knowing God and with a heart capable of loving Him. In a word, man had to have a soul. Not a purely sensitive soul, which perishes with the body, but an intelligent and rational soul--a soul that should never die, a soul like the happy spirits in heaven.

My brethren, God gave this spiritual and immortal soul to man by the breath of life. "He breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul," says the Holy Writ (Gen.2:7). The term, "He breathed," is used in order to convey to our minds the nature of the spiritual element in man. The slime of the earth existed before the  body was formed from it.  But before God "breathed", the soul did not exist. "He breathed." Breath is invisible. The soul is invisible and purely spiritual. It is God's own breath. Hence, the soul is absolutely and entirely of God. It is not, like the body, formed out of earth.  It is from God, and gives life and vitality to the body.

From these words, divine breath, we must be very careful not to infer that the soul is something material or perishable, like vapor or the air we breathe. No, God, being a Pure Spirit, His breath can be only spiritual and immortal like God Himself. That is why it is said that God made man according to His own image and likeness.  "Let Us make man to Our own image and likeness," we read in Holy Scripture (Gen.1:26). Not, mark you, to the image of the Angels, or of anything in heaven, much less modeled after the souls of the other creatures, but to the image of God. "And God created man to His own image, to the image of God He created him" (Gen.1:27). Twice over does Holy Scripture emphasize the spiritual nature of the soul. Or, as the poet, Sir. H.Davy, says:

A sacred spark created by His breath,

The immortal mind of man His image bears;

A spirit living amidst the forms of death,

Oppressed but not subdued by mortal cares.

God's Image in the Soul.--Naturally, man's resemblance to God does not rest in the body, but in man's soul. And how does our soul resemble God? First of all, it is a spirit like God, a pure spirit. Secondly, although not eternal like God, yet our spiritual soul is immortal. Thirdly, by its three distinct faculties of memory, understanding and free will, the soul is a striking image of  the Most  Holy Trinity. Therefore, when our material body perishes, our soul, being spiritual, does not perish. This is an important fact to remember. It is one of the fundamental doctrines of our holy religion upon which rest other important truths which we shall consider in due time. For upon the immortality of the soul is based the dogma of original sin, of the Redemption and of a future life. And the existence of another life, forever happy or unhappy, is the sanction to the Commandments and the groundwork of the morals of the Gospels. If there were neither heaven nor hell, many in their ignorance or obstinacy, might regard the laws of God and the Church as difficult and irksome. And if the soul were to die with the body, if after our death all would be over for men as for the brute, for whom would be the rewards or punishments of another life?

Really, it ought not to be necessary among Christians to accentuate and insist upon the immortality of the soul. I am quite sure that of all who are listening to me, not one has any doubts or misgivings on that all-important truth. But we go out into the world and mingle daily with all classes of people.  We hear theories and principles enunciated, calling into question truths that for centuries have been regarded ascertain and unalterable. For example, rationalists and their ilk tells us that man has no soul--least of all, one that is immortal. Man, they tell us, is an animal, a little more clever, a little more shrewd, a little more perfect, a little more developed than other animals. But still, man is an animal, and is a descendant from animals. He lives for a time to eat and to drink, and then he dies. And when he is dead, as in the case of all other animals, all is over.

Answer.--Can all this be true? No, a hundred times no! The rationalist's theory is diametrically opposed to Holy Scripture. It is in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Church. It is opposed to reason. It upsets the whole basis upon which man's self-respect rests. No, from whatever point of view we look at these repulsive doctrines which degrade mankind, it is apparent that they cannot be true.

Behold the human countenance! It bears engraven upon it the stamp of the spirit. As the poet says: "His eyes are raised to the stars." His vision may carry a long way, but the eyes of man's soul reach further still. They penetrate back to the very origin, and as far into the future as the very last end of all things. No mere animal has a gaze so searching and so profound. Hence, Ruskin avows that the basest thought possible concerning man is that he has no spiritual nature.

Then look into the heart of man. What do we find there? An incessant yearning for happiness, perfect happiness. Is this world capable of satisfying this ceaseless yearning? No, indeed. To fill this unsated longing, the soul has need of a life deeper and fuller than the miserable space of time allotted to us here below. Or, as Carlyle expresses it, "we touch heaven when we lay our hands on a human body. We are the miracle of miracles, the great inscrutable mystery of God."

If we examine still more closely into the character of man, we find, above all, a natural instinct of justice which demands that evil shall be punished and good shall prevail. Is this always true in this world? Alas, too often it is vice that gets the reward, while virtue is frequently frowned upon. Reason, therefore, demands another life where the sense of justice will prevail. Or as Henry Giles, the scientist, avers: "Man is greater than a system of worlds. There is more mystery in the union of the soul with the physical than in the creation of the universe."

This union of the soul with the body enables man to give utterance to words, sentences, phrases--all evidences of spirituality. Have animals ever spoken with intelligence? Hence, every word spoken, written, printed or read is further proof that man is a spiritual being, surpassing all other creatures of earth.  Not to every creature, but to man alone did God say: "Fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth" (Gen.1:28). Other creatures might be fleeter and much stronger than man, yet he is able to restrain, with studied dexterity, the most powerful; to tame the wildest, bend down to his will, and oblige them to serve him.  What makes man supreme over all other creatures?  It is man's spiritual being that makes him lord of the universe. Look where you will, everything tells the same tale. Man's face, his heart, his feelings, his words, his works, his attitude to other creatures of earth, all give proof of his spiritual being.

It is strange indeed, to hear some pluming themselves one moment on the wonderful progress which the human race has made in the course of centuries, while in the next breath, they claim to be no more than animals. Only man has founded states and cities, developed and cultivated the arts and science, promoted the exercise of religion, developed trade and commerce, advance economically. What have the other creatures accomplished? The spider spins its web in the same way that it did 6,000 years ago. The bee constructs its hive just as did the first been that ever lived. They follow their instinct implanted in them by their Creator. Man commands others; they obey their instincts. He rules over all other creatures by the express command of God (Gen. 1:28).

Man holds dominion not only over the animals, but over inanimate creatures as well. "He avails himself of the services of all; but none presume to tax his service. He makes use of the stars to regulate his labors, and to direct his course in the midst of the ocean or the desert. At his voice, the oaks descend from the summits of the hills; stones, iron, slate, gold and silver spring forth from the bosom of the earth, to raise or to embellish his habitation. The hemp and the flax strip themselves that their fibres may furnish him with garments. The ductile metal is moulded in his hands; the hardest marble yields to force of his fingers. The rocks fly in splinters and open to him a passage; the rivers turn aside from their beds, to irrigate his fields and work his mills.

"If he should be attacked, the whole creation comes to his assistance: wood and stone erect barriers against his enemies. Nitre, charcoal and sulphur unite with iron to place him beyond the reach of insult.

"Does he wish to change his climate, to pass beyond the seas, and carry there the supplies of his produce, or bring back the commodities of other countries which he has selected? The winds and the waves lend him their wings for this purpose to convey him round the globe. His vessels place at his feet the rarities of the four quarters of the earth. He holds communication with the most  distant regions, whenever he chooses, without quitting his home. At one time, with the quickness of thought, electricity transmits his desires beyond the sea--nay, flashes round the globe many times a minute;  at another, bird gives him its feather, a plant its bark and a mineral its color: with these, he depicts his thoughts on paper. The writing departs, and, without any trouble to him, passes by millions of men, leaps over mountains, sweeps across and manifest his wishes to persons who are eight or ten thousand miles distant from him. While living, he imparts information to the whole world; and, when dead, transmits it to the most remote posterity."

Rightfully, therefore, could the bard of Avon exclaim:

What a piece of work is man:

How noble in reason, how admirable in faculties!

In action how like an angel!

In apprehension how like a god!

The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!

Creation of Eve.--But let us finish the story of creation. God, after having created the first man, said: "It is not good for man to be alone; let us make him a helper like unto himself" (Gen.2:18). Then God cast a deep sleep upon Adam, a kind of rapture and ecstasy, during which He took from his side one of his ribs and formed a woman. He breathed into her an immortal soul and called her Eve, which signifies "mother of the living."

Why God formed Eve from the rib of Adam is beautifully expressed by St. Thomas. This learned Saint tells us that Eve was not taken from the head of Adam, because woman is not intended to be the head of, or ruler over, man; "Neither was she made from his feet, because she is not the slave of man, to be despised and trodden under foot. But why formed from the rib? The holy theologian explains it by saying that it betokens the partnership which is meant to exist between man and woman. Woman is to stand by man's side as his help-mate in life, aiding in his work, consoling him in sorrow, sharing his happiness, taking her place as the nearest and dearest to his heart.

Having thus created Eve, God brought her to Adam and joined them in holy wedlock. They were the first bride and bridegroom. Their union was decreed, ratified and consecrated by God Himself. They were the first married pair on earth. From this first union all other human creatures descend and have their origin.

Objection.--This doctrine is frequently attacked. It is said to be impossible that all mankind can be descended from the same parents when we consider how people differ in build and size, in the color of their hair and skin, which vary from pure white to the deepest black. Their various organisms are on different lines, as are also their mental and moral tendencies and capabilities.

Answer.--Some differences are obvious, we admit. But they do not in the least make the universal descent from Adam and Eve less likely. Although people may differ from one another in color, in the shape of the head, in the features of the face, in character; although some are white men (like the Europeans), and others black (like the Ethiopians), yellow (like the Mongolians), and red (like certain tribes of America), it is nevertheless, possible and true that we all come from the same stem, and that Adam and Eve are the parents of all. In different parts of the world such things as work, mode of life, food, housing, climate, degrees of heat and cold vary greatly. After many thousands of years, all these differences would be sufficient to account for dividing men into the white, yellow and colored races. In Africa today, the descendants of European settlers 300 years back are as dark as the original natives of the country. To deny the unity of the human race, descendant from Adam and Eve, would destroy our doctrine of original sin, the necessity of Christ's Redemption and many other fundamental doctrines of our holy religion.

Original States of Man.--Being so far removed from our first parents, it is difficult for us to understand the original state of our progenitors as God created them. God created them, says Holy Scripture, in a state of innocence, that is, in justice and holiness. When Adam and Eve came forth from the hands of the Creator, they were pure and spotless. They were perfectly agreeable to Him. Their bodies were entirely subject to their soul, their sense to their reason, and their reason to God. They loved God, and in turn were loved by Him. They were like two angels in an earthly body, having as their chief occupation and enjoyment that of praising and blessing God's holy name and doing His holy will in all things.

Besides the supernatural gifts of grace, God gave them the gift of profound intelligence. By nature they knew all that was important for them to know. They possessed a docile will which always inclined them towards good.  They were free from every concupiscence, from every inclination towards evil. God placed them in the Garden of Paradise where suffering and want were unknown. They enjoyed the fruits of the earth, the song of birds, the perfume of flowers, the verdure of the fields, with all other creatures docile and submissive, amidst a perennial spring of delights. Amidst such surroundings they were to increase and multiply. And in their advanced years, without suffering or death, they were to be transported joyously to an eternal Paradise of  of unceasing delights.

Conclusion.--This, then, was the original state of man as he came from the hands of God. Kind David was correct, therefore, when he exclaimed: "Thou have made him a little less than the Angels." Man, a rational creature, was composed of body and soul, and his soul was an immortal spirit, made according to the image of God. What a dignity, what a noble origin! On the other hand, what a degradation and ingratitude when man soils his soul by sin and defiles his body through vice! "Therefore," exclaims St. Ambrose, "man, know thyself, what you are and what you should be!" If it is a crime of high treason to drag into the mire the picture of a prince, what an outrage and sacrilege to prostitute soul and body, the image and likeness of God to the evil one! Far, indeed, has man wandered from his original destiny. But, through Christ's Redemption, we can still save our immortal souls. What was natural for Adam and Eve in the beginning, has become for us a duty, namely, to continue to praise, love and serve God. Though now weakened by nature, God fortifies us and assists us all the more with His graces and Sacraments. Our mission here and hereafter remains the same. If we fulfill it faithfully here, a life of eternal happiness, a Paradise of eternal delights, will still be our portion in the world to come. Amen.