Creation: Original Blessing, Original Goodness at Work

My teaching about Original Blessing that so disturbed the previous two popes can be understood as an exegesis of the first page of the Bible.  There we are told that creation is “good” in all its parts and “very good” taken as a whole.  I invite the reader (and followers of the previous two popes) to re-read Genesis 1.

“Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.” Painting by Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1615. Wikimedia Commons.

To speak of love as we have in our recent meditations on Divinity is to speak of goodness, original goodness, since God is understood as the origin of creation and the goodness of creation. 

Thomas Aquinas, mystic and doctor of the church, had a lot to say about goodness.  For him, “God is sheer goodness.”  Such goodness may well account for the existence of all that is.  “Goodness of itself is generous.  God is supremely good and therefore supremely generous.” 

Unlike idealists who see creation as a step down for divinity, Aquinas proposes that “there is no loss of the original goodness involved in the sharing” of goodness with all creatures.  Notice the term “original goodness”–where does that come from?  

A glimpse of pristine creation….and what is happening to it. Incredible Earth

For out of the love of God’s own goodness it happened that God wished to pour forth and share the divine goodness with others, as far as was possible, namely, through the mode of likeness, with the result that the divine goodness not only remained in God but also flowed out to other things.    

Aquinas defines love in terms of goodness: “The habitual or conditioned appetite for something as for its own good is called love.”  Love is our response to the good therefore and brings love alive in us.

Love, by which God loves, is the actual existence of goodness in the things themselves, and on account of this one says that everything is good, since it preexists causality in the good .

God, who is the cause of all, on account of an excess of the goodness that is God’s own, loves all things.

“Great Spirit.” A prayer for creation sung by Nahko. Video by Gro Films

From love God makes all things, giving them being.

God perfects all things by filling them individually with their own perfections.

God contains all things by preserving them in being.

God converts all things, that is, God orders them toward the Godself as toward an end .  

We are a long way from a punitive father God when we meditate with Thomas Aquinas on creation.  The Bible itself begins with the Via Positiva.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp. 99f. 108.  

See also Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times, pp. 33-36.  

And Fox, Original Blessing.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: A moment of trust and beauty: giving nourishment to a wild bird. Photo by Karo Kujanpaa on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Do you agree that the Bible, Genesis one, begins with the Via Positiva?  What follows from that?  Do you agree that love and goodness go together?  What follows from that?

Recommended Reading

Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him.  He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French).  He  gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way. 
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

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): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story

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7 thoughts on “Creation: Original Blessing, Original Goodness at Work”

  1. Avatar

    I prefer not to debate the Bible, especially the ‘Old Testament’. There are many in the world that neither agree or disagree with statements in the Bible as they may not even read the Bible. They rather rely upon and find their foundation upon the Living Truth. As such, the True Self, the self that is intrinsically within each and every one of us, call it our soul and oft hidden, is a living and eternal reflection of God.

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    I so needed to hear Mathews words spoken in today’s video clip… as I’ve been deeply grieved, feeling the collective pain and suffering of all that is not good in this world. I reiterate Mathews words again, as my soul thirsts for living water, as the salt from many shed tears has engraved lines in the crevices of my heart; that have felt like a vast canyon swallowing me up in a descent to deep for me to escape from. Today’s words, are like an echo…

    “Inviting me to look for the good, which is not always easy to do. Remember to choose life, the good; even when deeply wounded or in the midst of darkness and uncertainty. TRUST… TRUST in the goodness of creation. There is more goodness than evil in the world, but not by much. Keep making the effort to balance this little bit more of the good. Discern the good… fill yourself up with this goodness. See the blessedness, the sacredness of the goodness, the beauty in nature… God’s essence and presence among us. Recognize the Divine goodness… God… whom causes this Divine goodness and the beauty of this to emerge from within. Let this be what strengthens and deepens within you. Let this Original Blessing refresh and renew you.”


  3. Avatar

    Yes I also believe that Love and Goodness go together, they’re almost synonymous. Our Mother~Father Creator seems to have created the Cosmos, including beautiful sacred Mother Nature and All Her graceful abundance and living creatures, including our unique eternal souls, out of ongoing Divine Love~Wisdom~Creativity… Eternally Present in our co-Creation~Incarnation~Evolution within our sacred multidimensional-diverse Loving Oneness Cosmos….

  4. Avatar

    I discovered “Original Blessing” decades ago during a spiritual autobiography group of a few women, who were exploring the different ways that women develop their spirituality from the way that men develop theirs. It is an eye-opening, refreshing book that I have gone back to over the years. The whole concept of original blessing is revolutionary and subversive to organized religion, not just Roman Catholicism. It is so refreshing to imagine that we are blessed–loved–from the very beginning. It turns everything in religion and society upside down, as Jesus did in the way of life that he lived and modeled for us to follow. It gives us a new way of looking at things from the bottom up rather than the top down–all hatred, divisiveness, tyranny, oppression of those who are different from the established powers–which include women–violence, etc. etc., are called out as evil in the light of love, which is primal goodness IMO. Love endures, always, even though it does not appear to in too many cases. But along with the horrors of massacres, there are also the people who rush in to comfort the victims’ families and friends.

  5. Avatar

    Aquinas is speaking “Mysticism translated into Christian theology” which was/is fully in agreement with the Biblical “Goodness” of Creation. Mystical Awareness is deep affirmation.

    The “difficulty” of Genesis comes when it gets to the bored, precocious youngsters God turned loose in His garden. God didn’t make them perfect machines. He gave them free will, signified by the commandment NOT to do something that was made an option. He made them curious (or at least his females were “scientifically inclined”…) and capable of sneaky nastiness (“it’s HER fault, she made me do it!”). When the kids inevitably pushed their limits and chose “knowledge of things you shouldn’t know”, God created (or had ready…) a special dimension, tailored to learning about choices and the CONSEQUENCES of cruelty, stupidity, greed, hatred and arrogance. But God also made laws and covenants, sent prophets and mystics, and inspired holy texts to guide the children through the dangerous Teaching-Dimension they had signed on for. God knew they’d need lots of help for their dangerous task. But it’s interesting that God didn’t erase humans and re-design them into perfect, obedient, contented robots. Humans still feel an urge to pursue knowledge, for better or for worse, just as they were originally designed. Humans may be capable of astonishing hate and stupidity, but they’re designed to (hopefully) learn…and to love…and maybe to become wiser.

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