By Alice von Hildebrand* on CNS
When God completed the six days of creation, He saw that “it was very good.” Indeed, everything coming out of the Divine Hand reflects, however modestly, the perfections of the Creator. From sun and stars to the smallest insect, all His works sing His glory. This “goodness” clearly refers to the ontological perfection of existence, and not to moral perfection, for the plain reason that matter is neither morally good nor morally evil. This should be kept in mind, for confusing ontological goodness with moral goodness is a trap into which some thinkers have fallen.
The most perfect among all the creatures mentioned in Genesis, is man, (homo) for he is made to God’s image and likeness. There is an endless hierarchy among creatures, but those that are “images” (imago) of God are greatly superior to those who are just traces (vestigium) of His power.
Man is a person – a perfection he shares with angels – and therefore is able to sing God’s praise in tones that the most magnificent star cannot match.
But by the very fact that he has this gift, he can, alas, revolt against His Creator – envying His metaphysical glory – by refusing to serve Him. Whereas all impersonal creatures, by their very existence, will inevitably play the modest instrument assigned to them in the immense orchestra of creation, man can – in his foolishness – refuse to join this glorious choir and echo the satanic words: non serviam.
Adam and Eve were created beautiful. I am not only referring to the ontological beauty of creatures made to God’s image and likeness, but also “artistically” beautiful. The body of a human person is a masterpiece. Magnificent as animals are and can be, none of them has the dignity and nobility of a human body.
*Alice von Hildebrand is a lecturer and an author, whose works include: The Privilege of Being a Woman (2002) and The Soul of a Lion: The Life of Dietrich von Hildebrand (2000), a biography of her late husband. She was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of St. Gregory by Pope Francis in 2013.