Reading Hildegard of Bingen’s term “Original Wisdom” or Julian of Norwich’s “Original Goodness,” one is reminded of “Original Blessing” that a number of years back riled certain Vatican poohbahs and brought the wrath of the Inquisition (now called the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith) down on me. 

Fortunately the present-day Vatican has made some progress out of the patriarchal dungeons of clericalism that was unhinged by the fear that clergy would all be out of a job were original sin removed as a starting point for religion. 

Pope Francis’ encyclical may be read or downloaded here

The pope’s encyclical “Laudato Si,” which we have considered in three previous meditations, documents the goodness and therefore blessing that our earth is. Its very title means Praise.  Maybe if previous generations of believers and their clergy had been better instructed in the ways of blessing (or read the first chapter of Genesis more thoroughly), we would not have so easily been seduced by original sin ideas that have helped to cripple humanity, feed its narcissism and ignore the beauty and goodness of the earth.

Indeed, the cynics of said Inquisition labeled Original Blessing “dangerous and deviant.”  But given the latest reports of the goings-on after hours at the CDF as reported in Martel’s book, In the Closet of the Vatican, the shoe is on the other foot and it is hard to ignore a pot calling another pot black, the glass house people throwing stones, etc. etc.  Hypocrisy and the hunger for power combined with a gobsmacking arrogance and cynicism now suggests that it is the Inquisition, not my writings, that is “dangerous and deviant.”

Be that as it may, let’s let history decide.

NGC 6946, “the fireworks galaxy,” is a medium-sized, face-on spiral galaxy about 22 million light years away from Earth. In the past century, eight supernovas have been observed to explode in the arms of this galaxy. Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/MSSL/R.Soria et al, Optical: AURA/Gemini OBs

Meanwhile, our whole journey into what it means to be a mystic and prophet in the face of a declining planet is at stake in these Daily Meditations, so we don’t want to lose our focus over ecclesiastical battles.  Let’s stick to the reality. 

Which reality is that our Universe is a blessing.  All two trillion galaxies of it!  And what a blessing that our species has discovered so much about it, its expansion and size and age and our place in it has been put into a far fuller context since I first wrote my Original Blessing book in 1983.  To begin with, original blessing does not ignore the evil of which humans are capable—that too has become even more prominent and obvious since 1983.  We will be dealing more with evil as we move along through the Four Paths.  But one grounds one’s battle with evil in the Via Positiva.  In Love.

See Matthew Fox, Original Blessing. 
And Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest.
Banner image: “Monarch on Blossom” Photo by Mike Lewinski on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

What does the term “original blessing” mean to you?  Be with it.  What does it stir up in you of Gratitude?  Of Reverence?  Of Generosity?

Recommended Reading

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

In this book Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology). Here Fox lays out the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.

Matthew Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions, reveals his personal, intellectual, and spiritual journey from altar boy, to Dominican priest, to his eventual break with the Vatican. Five new chapters in this revised and updated edition bring added perspective in light of the author’s continued journey, and his reflections on the current changes taking place in church, society and the environment.

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6 thoughts on “Original Blessing revisited”

  1. Avatar

    Genesis 31 says: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” The Roman Catholic Church has always believed that the creation was originally “very good” or a blessing at the time of its origins.

    St. Symeon wrote: “Neither Eve nor Paradise were yet created, but the whole world had been brought into being by God as one thing, as a kind of paradise, at once incorruptible yet material and perceptible.”

    St. John of Damascus wrote: “The creation of all things is due to God, but corruption came in afterwards due to our wickedness…For God did not make death, neither does He take delight in the destruction of living things” (Wisdom 1:13). But death is the work rather of man, that is, its origin is in Adam’s transgression.”

    St. Ignatius Brianchaninov wrote: “Plants were not subjected either to decay or to diseases; both decay and diseases and the weeds themselves, appeared after the alteration of the earth following the fall of man.”

    St. Basil the Great wrote: “…it is customary for vultures to feed on corpses, but since there were not yet [before Adam’s sin] corpses, nor yet [before Adam’s sin] their stench, so there was not yet [before Adam’s sin] such food for vultures. But all [animals] followed the diet of swans and all grazed the meadows…such was the first creation, and such will be the restoration after this.”

    Genesis 1:30 reads: “…and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so…” The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church says: “Jesus came to restore creation to the purity of its origins” (CCC, n. 2336). A Bible scripture states that “the creation itself,” will be “delivered from its bondage to corruption” (Romans 8:21). Isaiah 65:25 says: The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox,…”

    U.S. Catholic Bishops wrote: “The whole Bible is spanned by the narrative of the first creation (Gn 1:3) and the vision of a restored creation at the end of history” (RV. 21:1-4) The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Jesus came to restore creation to the purity of its origins.” Modern-day scientific discoveries have proven these Bible based Roman Catholic Church doctrines to be untrue and deceptive. The creation was not “very good” at the time of its origins.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Thomas,
      Thank you for your comment referring to the writings of several Catholic theologians on the subject of original sin. Most of these men point to the Garden and Adam’s sin as the initiation of the collective sin. The word original has (at least) two meanings here, one is as in the beginning of time and matter, the origin of creation. The second way, and the doctrine that Matt refutes is about each individual, our flawed instincts, created “not good” – each person born sinful and released to find their way into grace, or count on Jesus’ death to buy it for them. Matt insists that we are born consistent with the goodness of the rest of creation, that we, too, are created in original blessing. Contrary to your final point, he finds science to support creation as very good from the time of its origins.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditations Team

  2. Avatar

    In his encyclical on the environment (Laudato Si’) Pope Francis offers this prayer to God: “You are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.” Notice the word [in]; not just “above and beyond.”

    So, the monotheistic God of Catholicism is both [above and beyond] the creation and immanent [in] all of creation.

    The Roman Catholic Church seems to be now moving in the direction of embracing Reverend Matthew Fox’s Creation-Centered Spirituality. And the Catholic Church also seems to be moving in the direction of embracing some aspects of New Age theology.

    The late New Age leader, Benjamin Creme, wrote: But eventually a new world religion will be inaugurated which will be a fusion and synthesis of the approach of the East and the approach of the West. The Christ will bring together, not simply Christianity and Buddhism, but the concept of God transcendent—-outside of His creation—-and also the concept of God immanent in all creation—-in man and all creation.

    Paramahansa Yogananda, widely recognized as the Father of Yoga in the West, wrote: Spirit existed before God. God is the Creator of the universe, but Spirit is the Creator of God.” The Hindu name for “God” is Brahma. “This Sanskrit word [Brahma] derives from the verbal root b?h ‘to expand, grow, fructify’, because ‘Brahma expands’ and becomes the Universe woven out of his own substance” – Theosophy Wiki.

    A Hindu sacred text states that after Spirit (the Supreme God) emanated/created the subordinate God (Brahma) He sinned, causing H/him to manifest as the U/universe. Because of Brahma’s original sin H/he now has both a divine manifestation and a less-than-divine manifestation, meaning the U/universe is, both, an essentially undifferentiated mass of light permeated with Christ/Krishna/Buddha God Consciousness and the material universe is a corrupted, less-than-divine, illusionary manifestation of the divine manifestation of the Universe. The less-than-divine manifestation of the U/universe, the material universe, has a soul, it is the world soul.

    One of the founding figures of the modern New Age Movement, David Spangler, wrote: “The idea of a world soul, an anima mundi, a planetary Logos, is an ancient one found in both Eastern and Western culture. The world soul is usually conceived as a ‘formative force,’ an active, intelligent, purposeful spiritual presence at work in the material world to guide and guard the course of planetary evolution. It is generally not accorded the status of being the ultimate source, or Creator [Spirit], but might be looked upon as a [less-than-divine] great angelic or archangelic being presiding over the well being of the world, or the gestalt, the wholeness of all the lives and patterns that manifest upon, and as, the earth.”

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Thomas,
      May the anima mundi that you lift up from so many religious traditions guide our planetary evolution so that we can live into a more tolerant, joyous, and peaceful world together.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditations team

  3. Avatar
    Anne Marie Raftery

    Today’s meditation moves me to Gratitude that Rev. Matthew Fox was able to endure his pain from the Vatican and use his expulsion to catalyze his (and our) spiritual growth and development as in the Four-Fold Path.

  4. Avatar

    Dear Kind Sir Fox,
    The courage and fortitude that it must of taken to stand up to the Vatican and the dismissive belittling energy IT gives this planet is massive. That when IT is directed at one person…IT could be like Jesus felt when the Roman Empire, etc., etc., attacked him…that you can express your vulnerability that you can rise up with renewed life and verve is a miracle and a testimony to Gods imperial and Magnifical love for ALL.
    I am really glad I bumped into your name in a writing of Fr. Richard Rohr’s and decided to take a closer look.
    1983 is a long time ago and LOVE’S still small voice will become like thunder in the ears of those who need to awaken to this call.
    Exciting and mysterious is HIS future.
    Let love reign.

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