Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,
Glory to Jesus Christ!
The first of the psalms of David tells us:
Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence.
But his will is in the Law of the Lord, and on His Law he shall meditate day and night (Psalm 1:1-2).
Again, what is the Law that we should meditate upon day and night?
It is the Torah, the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, in which Genesis stands at the head, forming the foundation of the Law.
So, here is some more food for meditation from the Law of the Lord:
Why during the Hexameron (the six days of Creation) did God with one fiat make a multitude of things and then "rest" for the balance of the day?
St. Athanasius comments:
For as to the separate stars or the great lights, not this appeared first, and that second, but in one day and by the same command, they were all called into being. And such was the original formation of the quadrupeds, and of birds, and fishes, and cattle, and plants; thus too has the race made after God's Image come to be, namely men; for though Adam was formed out of earth, yet in him was involved the succession of the whole race (emphasis added).
Robert Sungenis explains that St. Athanasius teaches the fiat creation of different kinds of creatures on each of the six days of creation:
Notice that Athanasius specifies that on the day the stars were made they were not made separately; rather, "in one day and by the same command, they were all called into being..." The same, of course, would be true on the fifth day when, as Athanasius says, the birds and fishes were made. By the words, "same command" Athanasius is not saying that the stars and animals were created together, but that each category of creation was made in one day by a specific command on that day.
It could be objected that elsewhere in the same Discourse St. Athanasius opts for an Origenistic instantaneous creation of all things:
For in saying, 'Before all He begot me,' He intimates that He is other than all things; it having been shown to be true in an earlier part of this book, that no one creature was made before another, but all things originate subsisted at once together upon one and the same command (emphasis added).
Those who favor this interpretation note that St. Athanasius says that "all things subsisted at once, together," - not just the things made on each day. But, again, this statement must be understood in the context of all that St. Athanasius wrote on this topic. For example, in writing of the creation of Adam in the passage quoted above, St. Athanasius writes:
thus too has the race made after God's Image come to be, namely men; for though Adam only was formed out of earth, yet in him was involved the succession of the whole race (emphasis added).
If we were to interpret this passage out of context, we might conclude that all of the human beings who will ever live were created "at the same time" as Adam because "in him was involved the succession of the whole race." In a similar way, all things were in Christ, as logoi, or "divine ideas," before they were created. And they existed together in the Eternal Word as divine ideas. But that does not preclude their having been created in time, one after the other, on the six days of creation.
So, let us return to our question. Why during the Hexameron did God with one fiat make a multitude of things and then "rest" for the balance of the day?
Here is one possible interpretation and its practical application.
God acts and then rests in His act. He allows a single act to illuminate a whole life or a long period - from our point of view - of our lives. We read of the miracles of the saints and think that their lives were a continuous stream of miracles. But this is not so. Venerable Antonio Margil, the Apostle of Texas, was one of the greatest wonder-workers who ever lived, but the study of his day-to-day life clearly reveals that his miracles were exceptional. His life was filled with day after day of delays, defeats, and disappointments, in which the miracles appeared like flashes in a darkness that was normally only illuminated by the supernatural light of Faith.
Whether or not He grants the gift of miracles, Almighty God illuminates the life of every one of His children. It is up to us to have eyes to see and to allow those epiphanies to illuminate our lives - just as His fiats in the Hexameron illuminated each entire day with their splendor until when the work was finished, He took a whole day just to REST in the wonderful work that He had done.
We can see this same pattern repeated in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary our Mother, the one who undoubtedly gave St. Luke the true date of Christmas. (For, as a priest friend of mine likes to say, "Is there any mother who doesn't remember the birth-date of one of her children?") In his account of the Nativity of Our Lord, St. Luke tells us:
And there were in the same country shepherds watching and keeping the night watches over their flock. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear. And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people: For, this day, is born to you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying:
Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.
And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us. And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child. And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart (Luke 2:8-19)
During the holy seasons of Advent and Christmas, let us take the time to meditate on the "Law of the Lord" and to reflect on "the wonders He has done" in each of our lives. And, pondering them in our hearts, let us ask God for the grace to fully appreciate His gifts, and to love Him with the love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Yours in Christ through the Holy Theotokos,
P.S. During this Christmas season, the Kolbe Center would like to offer you a simple way to beautify your homes, delight your children and grandchildren, and reinforce the true Catholic doctrine of creation, by offering a magnificent 54-piece puzzle of the holy icon of the first day of creation from Monreale Cathedral for a donation of $15 or more to support the work of the Kolbe Center. When writing the icon of the first day of creation, it is customary for iconographers to show the Eternal Word bringing forth the angelic hierarchies and physical light simultaneously. In this way, the holy icon gives the lie to the many modern commentators who insist that "There could not be days without the sun," by reminding us that God created the light on the first day of creation to alternate with darkness to form the day-night cycle, continuing in that role until God created the Sun on the fourth day of Creation Week to "rule the day" that He had created on Day One.
As your children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, assemble this beautiful puzzle, your simple catechesis will allow them to delight in the beauty of the first day of creation when God created "the heavens and the Earth" and "the light" so that "there was evening and there was morning, one day." These puzzles make wonderful Christmas presents that will beautify your homes and the homes of your children, grandchildren, relatives and friends!
Photo of Nativity painting in the Chapel of the Angels, Palestine, by Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons