Creation in a State of Journeying

Hi all,

This is not about evolution, but rather how we view creation in the here and now in the context of both the natural beauty and the natural evil (natural disasters, disease etc.) that we see around us.

I am being accepted into full communion with the Catholic Church next month, which I am obviously delighted about. I meet our parish priest weekly for catechism, and all is progressing well.

I do have one issue that I am struggling with, and it’s a bit deep for my catechism discussions so while I will certainly bring it up there, I would appreciate some wider input.

The CCC tells us that creation is in a “state of journeying”, a phrase that is often drawn upon to answer why nature is so brutal and why natural evil occurs. I have two questions that flow from this- firstly does this suggest that creation is journeying towards perfection, that will be attained after the General Judgement? I always imagined that the teaching held that the current Earth would be destroyed and a New Earth created, which seems a bit of a waste if the current one is journeying toward perfection! My second question is since when has creation been journeying? If it is from the beginning of time, the most obvious answer, then why is the Garden of Eden seemingly immune to the natural evils of creation on its journey?

The alternative, it seems to me, is that creation has been “journeying” since the Fall. This would seem to reflected in some parts of the CCC, such as 400 which states that the Fall causes the “Harmony with creation” to become broken, and “visible creation has become alien and hostile to man”. Is this when the “journeying” begins, or is this a separate issue? Having read some Orthodox theology I am familiar with the idea that sin has so disfigured creation that it has a retroactive effect, meaning that all the death and destruction of natural history is essentially caused by man’s sin. This idea seems to be supported by Romans 8.22, “we know the whole of creation has been groaning with the pains of childbirth…”

This would seem to suggest that creation is damaged and broken, rather than “good”. Is this a correct way of viewing it? Which brings me to my final question. How does grace interact with creation? We believe that physical sacraments can be a vessel for grace, but can grace “rain down on creation” through our efforts to steward it, as I read in a recent article I now can’t find?! Through prayer and effort can we help creation along its “journey”?

Thanks in advance to anyone who took the time to read all that!

For Catholic scholarship re. creation theology I recommend
inters.org/creation

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