Summary of Original Sin

Dominique Deming

When we look at the world around us, we see that something is just not right. People grow old and die. Arguments break out between family members. Every sort of lying, deceit, deception and immorality happens on a daily basis. Fr. Hofer began his lecture by apologizing for his tardiness and recounting his hellish 2 hour trip in traffic to get to St Timothy, chalking up traffic to original sin. Think about all the evil in the world and you get a real sense of original sin.

Original sin is a reality that we all live with on a daily basis, but it wasn’t always this way. Adam and Eve were created in original justice and enjoyed paradise in the Garden of Eden. One can only wonder why Adam committed the original sin. But alas, the Original Sin is a truth of our Faith and the topic of discussion for Thursday’s presentation by the ICC.

The scholastics, like St. Thomas Aquinas, considered Original sin in two parts: Peccatum Originale Originans (Original Sin originating) and second Peccatum Originale Originatum (Original Sin having been originated). In other words, the personal effect that original sin had on Adam and the effect that original sin had on all creation.

Peccatum Orginale Originans, or the Original Sin originating, speaks about the personal effects that original sin had on Adam and Eve. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states “The tree of knowledge of good and evil symbolically evokes the insurmountable limits that man, being a creation, must freely recognize and respect with trust. Man is dependent on his creator and subject to the laws of creation and to the moral norms that govern the use of freedom” (CCC 390). The tree tempted Adam and Eve to decide for themselves what was good and evil rather than recognizing the laws of creation and ultimately the law of God. Adam and Eve no longer wanted to respect God and His laws; they wanted to be like God. After their sin, they shamefully hid themselves, recognizing their state and their sin. As a result of their sin, death became a part of the human reality.

That leads us to the consideration of the result of original sin on humanity as a whole (Pecattum Originale Originatum). The Catechism says “Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the over whelming misery which oppress men and their inclination toward evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam’s sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the ‘death of the soul’.” Original does not have the character of personal fault. Rather it affects our nature. Beyond the spiritual death of the soul, the Catechism states “certain temporal consequence of sin remain in the baptized such as suffering, illness, death and such frailties inherent in life as weaknesses ofcharacter and so on as well as an inclination to sin that Tradition call concupiscence…the tinder for sin” (CCC 1264).

Why would God allow us to suffer these effects? God will always bring a greater good out of evil. Because of our sin, Christ became our divine physician for our spiritual malady. God created us perfect to enjoy paradise. But by allowing Adam to use his free will and freedom to sin, God gives us something even better, redemption by the blood of His only Son, the second person of the Blessed Trinity. The paradise that God created for Man was good, but our reward for “fighting the good fight” is even better. At the Easter vigil, the Church joyfully sings “O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!”

Submitted by James Blankenship

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