Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,
Glory to Jesus Christ!
With few exceptions, most Catholics alive today have grown up being told that the literal interpretation of the sacred history of Genesis is a protestant phenomenon that began in reaction to Darwinism about 100 years ago. In the words of Dr. Kenneth Miller at Brown University:
Great theologians of the early centuries of the Christian era, like Saint Augustine, did not read Genesis as history. It's only in the last hundred years, mostly in the United States, that you have people coming up with a radically different view.
It is a sad commentary on the state of Catholic scholarship and Catholic piety that these outrageous falsehoods have been allowed to spread without refutation for so many decades.
The acquiescence of Catholic intellectuals in the face of such egregious claims stems mainly from the fact that the authoritative sources of Catholic doctrine in use up to (and well into) the twentieth century have been allowed to fall into oblivion, so that most Catholics have no idea what the Magisterium mandated to be taught in regard to the first eleven chapters of Genesis for the centuries prior to - and for a good fifty years after - the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species. Thanks to the herculean efforts of one man, Christopher De Vos, a high school teacher of economics and a devout lover of God and His Holy Church, from now on it will be easy for any Catholic to verify the authoritative teaching of the Church on the subjects addressed in the opening chapters of Genesis.
I am delighted to announce that the first installment of Christopher's investigations of the theological manuals and catechisms in use throughout the Catholic world - as well as the unanimous teaching of the Doctors of the Church on the contents of Genesis 1-11 - is now available in pdf format on the Kolbe website. The documents that Christopher has quoted and summarized prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the constant teaching of the Church before and after Darwin never changed in regard to the age of the universe, the fiat creation of all things in six 24-hour days, and the geocentric structure of the cosmos.
From the treasure-trove of Christopher De Vos's research, I will just share one excerpt in which he examines the writings of the incorrupt Servant of God Dom Gueranger who revived the traditional Benedictine form of monasticism in France after the French Revolution. With exclusive reference to primary sources, Mr. De Vos proves that this preeminent historian of the sacred liturgy boldly affirms the proclamation of the literal historical truth of Genesis 1-11 throughout the traditional liturgy of the Roman Rite:
The Liturgical Year is such a classic of the Church that these 7,000 plus pages in 15 volumes, have been called the Summa of the liturgy of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. The author, Father Gueranger, was one of the chief theologians instrumental in the defining of two Catholic doctrines to the level of dogma - the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility. This Catholic monk wrote many other Catholic works including a book that explains in detail the Catholic Mass, and another work on the origin, history, and power of the Saint Benedict Medal. Blessed Pope Pius IX, in a letter from April 10, 1876, shortly after the death of Fr. Gueranger, wrote:
By his virtue, piety, zeal, knowledge, and by the work of a lifetime, he showed himself to be a true disciple of Saint Benedict and a perfect monk.
We will limit ourselves mostly to volume one of this 19th century Catholic Liturgical series and one citation from volume seven. Yet, the creation doctrines of Holy Mother Church are seen throughout the 15 volumes. Let us begin with a paragraph that mentions "long ages" and determine what Dom Gueranger means by this phrase. On p. 349, he states:
Let us consider how the various nations on the face of the earth, though differing in customs, and speech, and interests, are all united in the expectation of a Deliverer soon to come. Neither the frightful corruption of morals, nor the long ages which have passed since the promises were given, have been able to efface the tradition, or the hope it inspired.
What are these "long ages" to which Dom Gueranger refers? Let us look at just a few examples in this first volume that covers the beginning of the liturgical year - Advent. Fr. Gueranger states on p. 35:
The new Birth of our Redeemer takes place after four weeks, as the first Nativity happened after four thousand years, according to the Hebrew and Vulgate Chronology.
And again, at the beginning of the fifth chapter of his first volume, this master liturgist writes on p. 62:
With what gratitude ought they not to assist at that divine Sacrifice, for which the world had been longing for four thousand years! God has granted them to be born after the fulfilment of that stupendous and merciful oblation, and would not put them in the generations of men, who died before they could partake of its reality and its riches! This notwithstanding, they must earnestly unite with the Church, in praying for the coming of the Redeemer, so to pay their share of that great debt which God has put upon all, whether living before or after the fulfilment of the mystery of the Incarnation. Let them think of this in assisting at the holy Sacrifice.
We have only given two examples thus far, (on p. 35 and p. 62) and yet we are able to see that the "long ages" since these promises were made (the promises of a Redeemer for Adam and his posterity) are "four thousand years" according to this Catholic author. However, more noticeable is that the title (underlined on p.62), of the fifth chapter of this first volume is:
"ON HEARING MASS DURING THE TIME OF ADVENT"
Let us ponder the preceding part of the paragraph. What did the author want to remind the reader to think about when assisting at Holy Mass? The author was clearly pointing out the blessing of being born in the approximately 2,000-year period after the Redeemer had come into the world, versus the approximately 4,000-year period that was spent waiting for the fulfillment of the promise of the Redeemer to Adam. The author reminds the reader of the blessing the reader has been granted by God "...to be born after the fulfillment of that stupendous and merciful oblation..." (the saving Passion and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ).
Yes, dear Catholic, these Catholic doctrines of Creation can help us while assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!
The reader can continue in this first volume of Dom Gueranger's work on p. 417:
...the world had been created, and the human race had dwelt on this earth full four thousand years, before the Son of God took to Himself the nature of man.
Byzantine Icon from St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai, Egypt
Writing on the Immaculate Conception during the time of Advent, Fr. Gueranger states at the bottom of p. 421 and continuing on p. 422:
Let us listen once more to the salutation, and we shall find from its last words that Gabriel is announcing the fulfilment of the divine oracle, and is addressing Mary as the woman foretold to be the instrument of the victory over Satan. 'Blessed art thou among women.' For four thousand years every woman has been under the curse of God, and has brought forth her children in suffering and sorrow: but here is the one among women, that has been ever blessed of God...that shall bring forth the fruit of her womb without travail.
Again, consider that this Catholic priest, Fr. Gueranger, who died in the late nineteenth century, has made four different references to a specific number of thousands of years before the birth of Jesus Christ since Creation. However, the reference from p. 417 only states that the world was created, and that the race of mankind dwelt on earth for about four thousand years. Is this referring to mankind's creation only? What of the world itself? Had it been existing for millions, billions, and maybe trillions of years before the creation of man?
We shall let the learned and holy Father Gueranger answer this for us with the voice of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
Citing the words of part of the Divine Office of the Catholic Church (these are prayed during the office of Prime), our expert liturgist, Fr. Gueranger, points out that these words are chanted with great solemnity. These words, a part of our holy liturgy, state, at the bottom of p. 536 and continuing onto the top of p. 537:
The year from the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created heaven and earth, five thousand one hundred and ninety-nine: from the Deluge, the year two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven: from the birth of Abraham, the year two thousand and fifteen: from Moses and the going out of the people of Israel from Egypt, the year one thousand five hundred and ten...
We have now quoted from the public prayers of Holy Mother Church, as cited by our author, Fr. Gueranger, to the effect that "the creation of the world" refers not only to the creation of mankind (Adam and Eve) but that this creation included all of "heaven and earth." Moreover, a time stamp is given of "five thousand one hundred and ninety-nine" years since the beginning of creation until the birth of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, as is stated on p. 537, "The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh!"
Also to be noted is the phrasing of, "in the beginning God created heaven and earth." This wording throughout this Catholic liturgical prayer, as one can notice, is not meant to be a mere Biblical quoting of Genesis; rather it is a prayer about a literal creation by God. This whole work of creation is done "in the beginning," a reference to the period of creation (the six days), that takes place literally several thousand years ago, as is stated, in reference to another literal event: the real birth of a real baby in a real place by a real mother who is a real virgin.
As one can see in the enclosed box (and underlined) on p. 537, the literal reality of this historical event is stated:
- the real birth of a real baby is: Jesus Christ - the real place is: Bethlehem - the real mother is: Mary - and the reality that defies our senses and our comprehension is that She is a: Virgin
How many of these realities just listed do modernists deny?
-Jesus Christ ('Maybe He did not even exist') - Bethlehem ('How do we really know He was born in that city'?) - Virgin Birth (denied continually as biologically impossible), and all because so many Catholic priests, bishops, cardinals, laymen, and others, will not believe and confess publicly, the beginning of the liturgical prayer quoted on p. 536, that in the beginning God created heaven and earth, thousands of years ago.
Now an objection can be made concerning the chronology of the world in this passage. The many passages quoted above cite 4,000 years from the creation of the world (heaven and earth) until the birth Our Lord Jesus Christ. And now this work is citing a little over 5,000 years since the creation of the world (heaven and earth) until the birth of the Savior. Fr. Gueranger answers this objection at the very bottom of p. 537:
On this one day alone, and on this single occasion, does the Church adopt the Septuagint chronology, according to which the birth of our Savior took place five thousand years after the creation; whereas the Vulgate version, and the Hebrew text, place only four thousand between the two events. This is not a fitting place to explain the discrepancy of chronology; we merely allude to it as showing the liberty which the Church allows us on this question.
There is much to unpack from this, so let us look at this reading in detail, with some key words bolded from the bottom of p. 537. The chronologies which are given are:
"five thousand years after the creation" and "four thousand" years after the creation. We already know with certainty according to this Catholic author and the public prayers of the Catholic Church (the Divine Office), that this creation refers to the production of the entire universe (heaven and earth).
Now the key words that Fr. Gueranger gives us, as seen underlined at the bottom on p. 537 are:
"liberty" - "Church allows us" - "on this question"
What is this liberty? What is it that the Church allows us? What is this question?
As Fr. Gueranger states:
This is not a fitting place to explain the discrepancy of chronology; we merely allude to it as showing the liberty which the Church allows us on this question.
What is "this question"?
"This question" is the difference in chronology: approximately 4,000 years vs. approximately 5,000 years, from the creation of the world to the Nativity of Jesus Christ.
What is "the liberty" that is given?
"The liberty" given is the liberty to assent with our intellect to a range of ages for the creation of the world:
-the Hebrew and Vulgate chronology of 4,000 years
-the Septuagint chronology of roughly 5,200 years
Now to the final question of what exactly it is that the Church allows.
This has been partly answered already: the liberty to assent with our intellect to an age for the universe of anywhere from 4000 to 5200 years.
However, what is interesting is that Fr. Gueranger speaks not in his capacity as one priest, but in the name of Holy Mother Church by stating:
"the Church allows us"
"This is not a fitting place to explain the discrepancy of chronology; we merely allude to it as showing the liberty which the Church allows us on this question."
Fr. Gueranger speaks not with words such as "This is what we should believe" - "This is what my research over the years has shown' -'This is what I believe as I was taught this in seminary by sound Thomistically-grounded priests'
Fr. Gueranger rather uses the word "Church" with a capital "C."
This "Church" with a capital "C" is the Holy Catholic Church. Let us, as Catholics, allow our intellects to assent to the Tradition of the Church as this Catholic priest and author did - and this was in 1870! It was almost the 20th century, and yet he held fast against all the false pseudo-science that reigned during his time, just as we must hold fast against the false pseudo-science that reigns in ours.
The first of Mr. De Vos's works is now available on the Kolbe web store, and more are on the way. Please pray that the Kolbe Center will be able to continue to find ever new ways to successfully defend the traditional doctrine of creation, the foundation of our Holy Faith.
Yours in Christ through the Immaculata in union with St. Joseph,
P.S. Our answer to the second of six questions on Genesis for our Trialogue with Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, O.P., and Fr. Michal Chaberek, O.P., has been posted here. You can read Fr. Austriaco's and Fr. Chaberek's responses here.
P.P.S. Jimmy Akin has recorded a three-part podcast attempting to refute the traditional Biblical chronology that was handed down from the Apostles and Church Fathers from the beginning. Kolbe advisor Eric Bermingham has posted a rebuttal to Mr. Akin's podcasts at this link.