ASK FATHER: Why are we responsible for the sin of Adam and Eve when weren’t there?

adam-and-eve-original-sinFrom a reader…

QUAERITUR:

Father, no priest/bishop/theologian/book has ever answered my question on how human beings after Adam & Eve can be responsible for their sins when, apart from our first parents, we weren’t even participants in their disobedience. I really don’t understand and it troubles me greatly! Thanks.

The simple answer is: We are all in this together.

The human race has great solidarity.

When our First Parents committed the Original Sin, the entire human race sinned.  The human race at the time consisted only of two people, but that was the entire race that sinned.

Similarly, our bonds of humanity and of baptism mean that when we sin voluntarily, we hurt everybody else.  Our sins hurt the whole Church, which means that we must be reconciled with the Church.  That is one of the effects of the Sacrament of Penance.

There remains the manner of “transmission” of Original Sin from our First Parents to everyone who followed (with one exception).  The Church teaches dogmatically (it must be accepted) that Adam’s loss of sanctity was not just for him alone, but also for us as well.  He transmitted to all posterity both death and suffering as well as the guilt of the Original Sin.  We are not guilty of Original Sin by imitation, but by natural generation.  The fact that we descend from our First Parents means that we, too, have the effects of Original Sin.

By Original Sin the entire race was deprived of sanctifying grace and the praeternatural gifts of integrity (we suffer from mortality, ignorance, a weakened will, disordered passions, bodily weakness and suffering, etc.).  Therefore, we are also deprived of the Beatific Vision if we depart this life without the cleansing of our guilt and the gift of sanctifying grace which comes through baptism, made effective by the Passion and Death of the Lord in His expiatory Sacrifice on Calvary.

Our personal, voluntary sins are not like this.  Each of us is guilty of our own sins. It is possible, however, that because of our own actions and choices we can share in the guilt of others for sins.  For example, when we counsel someone to sin, we, too, can be guilty of that sin.  When we conceal sins which we are obliged to expose, aid in them, praise them, provide the means, provoke them, etc., we can be guilty of the sinful acts others commit.  However, those are all instances of person, voluntary sins.  Original Sin is a different matter.  We are guilty of the sin of our First Parents because we belong to the human race and, hence, because that guilt is transmitted to every member of the human race through the fact of our generation.

The exception, of course, is Mary.  Through a singular (unique) grace, God preserved her from the stain of Original Sin.  That was fitting, since she would be the Mother of God.  When Christ took our human nature from Mary, the stain of Original Sin was not in Mary to pass along.  Mary, however, was still a member of this fallen human race, which was in need of a Divine Savior.  Therefore, while she was untouched by sin, she was nevertheless also redeemed by her Son.  Dante famously called Mary the daughter of her Son.

I hope that helps.

Please share!
Share

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Our Solitary Boast and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to ASK FATHER: Why are we responsible for the sin of Adam and Eve when weren’t there?

  1. mysticalrose says:

    I’ve struggled with this question myself and the thing that helps me is to think about things also in terms of God’s Providence. God knows from all eternity who would sin, given the very same choices as Adam and Eve, and in this sense we are all, save Mary, guilty. I find that if I think about what the chances would be that I would not have fallen as our first parents did (hint: nil), then original sin seems just (from a human point of view).

  2. anilwang says:

    I personally find the Eastern Catholic concept of ancestral sin easier to understand. [Eastern Catholics also must accept the teachings of the Council of Trent.]

    In the garden, God made Adam and Eve natural but gave them superabundant graces so that they would not die. [Careful. Man was by nature mortal because man is composed of parts. However, man had from God the praeternatural gifts of integrity, which included bodily immortality (“posse non mori”), impassibility (“posse non pati”), knowledge of natural and supernatural truths infused by God. These gifts were received for the whole race and would have been passed on through generation, along with Original Justice (sanctifying grace).] God is the source of all life, truth, beauty and holiness. So when Adam and Eve chose to separate themselves from God they rejected those graces and as a consequence they chose death, lies, ugliness, and sin. When Adam and Eve had children they had no superabundant graces to pass on, because you cannot give what you do not have, but they did pass on the natural graces. [Ummmm…. let’s be precise: as a punishment, they lost the praeternatural gifts of integrity and, as a punishment, they suffered death for their transgression. There was a punishment from God for the sin committed. By the Original Sin our First Parents lost sanctifying grace and they provoked the anger of God, who imposed death as a punishment. Thereafter, the human race was subject to death and the dominion of the Enemy of the Soul.] This is what ancestral sin is. Just as king who renounces his thrown deprives his heirs of the throne, so does Adam deprive his heirs of their royal inheritance. [Original Sin does not consist in external imputation of Adam’s sin to his heirs. Trent taught that Adam’s sin is really transmitted as an inheritance to all the children of Adam (the whole race) and it is in each one of us as our own proper sin.]

    Note, Catholics do not believe in total depravity. God does not bring new infants into this world who are naturally corrupt because of Adam and Eve. He simply abstains from giving superabundant graces to Adam’s children except through the means Christ established. This is more than fair since God doesn’t owe us superabundant graces. [God doesn’t owe us anything. Infants lack sanctifying grace. They also inherit the effects of Original sin, wounds to our human nature. After they have sanctifying grace (through baptism) they still suffer the consequences of Original Sin, including death. Also, “superabundant” usually describes the merits of Christ (and later the saints), which surpass even the fall of Adam. Let’s not attach it every time we talk about grace or unmerited gifts.]

    Even in the case of St. Mary, God’s granting of superabundant graces to her at the time of conception through Christ, was not owed to her. But it was fitting that there be a new Eve that said yes to a Holy Angel and encouraged Christ, the new Adam, to begin his work of redemption to reverse the disgrace that the old Eve brought into the world by listening to a Fallen Angel and encouraging the old Adam to fall with her.

    There is a great deal of rich theology and typology in original sin/ancestral sin and it is well worth investigating. Pope Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is only a small part of this richness.

    [Review the Church’s teaching on Original Sin, which Eastern Catholics are also bound to accept.]

  3. acricketchirps says:

    When asked, I answer, “if I hadda bin there, I wudda done the same d**ned thing. An’ so wud you-uv.

  4. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Another important point is that we only have punishements applied in hell for personal sins. Original Sin deprives us of the Beatific Vision. The idea of Limbo Infantum goes along this line. Unbaptized babies have no personal sin, so (if Limbo exists) babies in Limbo are not tortured but simply experience the lack of the bliss of heaven. At least that’s how it has been explained to me.

    [Original Sin resulted in the deprivation of grace. Trent defined Original Sin as “mors animae… death of the soul”, which is the absence of supernatural life (sanctifying grace). An effect of the loss of sanctifying grace (along with the loss of the gifts of integrity) subjugation to the Devil, whom Christ called “the prince” of this world. Some Fathers of the Church, such as Augustine, taught that children who die in Original Sin must still suffer the loss of the Beatific Vision (“poena damni“) and a “poena sensus“, but only a very mild one. Other Fathers thought that they suffer only the poena damni, which opens the way to the possibility of a kind of natural happiness. After that, some propose a special state for children who die without baptism, a limbus puerorum… limbo of children). This is, however, a theory. This has not been defined. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,'[30] allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.” The ITC – which is not an official teaching body – said in 2007 that while we hope that unbaptized infants might enjoy the Beatific Vision, “We emphasize that these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge. There is much that simply has not been revealed to us.” Bottom line: We just don’t know and we commit them all in prayer to God’s mercy.]

  5. Magash says:

    While not exactly the same I find this concept to be most easily understood by comparison to a genetic fault. If a mother ingests a toxic substance which causes a genetic defect then, provided that defect is not fatal, and carried over to the eggs or sperm of the child, then that defect will be passed on to subsequent generations.
    The members of the subsequent generations will suffer from the defect, even though they had no part in the initial in-gestation.
    When Adam and Eve sin and lost the praeternatural gifts all of us, who are their descendants, suffer from the lost of those gifts. I suppose in a way Original Sin is really the lack of having those gifts. Baptism doesn’t return them, but it gives us access to the supernatural gifts (which were also possessed by our first parents) through the grace of Christ’s sacrifice.
    Of course one of the big questions is: Did Mary since she was born without Original Sin possess the praeternatural gifts? Some say that she did. If true then her behavior and actions during life take on a different tone than if she did not. It also goes a long way toward explaining the Dormition of the Theotokas, because death(mortality) is the result of the loss of the praeternatural gifts and should not afflict one who possesses them. Since another of the preternatural gifts is absence of concupiscence it makes it much easier (though not impossible) for someone with preternatural gifts to not sin. Of course both Adam and Eve had this too and managed to sin anyway. The last preternatural gift is infused knowledge. Much easier to say yes if you know the big plan. Or tell waiters to listen when directed to fill jars with water, if you know what I mean. Of course it also means you know the real stakes of events, much scarier than being able to ignore what’s happening by burying things in a sea of minutia.

  6. bcpsummers says:

    Would humanity be any different if the singular grace that was given to Mary, was applied to humanity as a whole? Or is Mary’s sinless life a reality of her character in addition to the absence of original sin?

  7. Poor Yorek says:

    The most succinct summation of Original Sin that I have heard is this: an ontological catastrophe.

    > bcpsummers

    Humanity as a whole? Who knows. But, the score is 2:1. Of those three human persons created without the [i]fomes[/i] of original sin (albeit Mary did not enjoy the preternatural gifts of Adam & Eve), two fell to sin out of pure choice (not weakness or ignorance), one did not.

  8. threej says:

    More and more I find myself thinking of this question as an “American” question– the specific values and philosophy of our particular society lead us to this question in a way I wouldn’t expect to see in a non-western culture.

    Namely, the debate is about “what is true freedom/justice.” In the American mindview, “If I wasn’t there, it’s not my problem. If I didn’t do it, it’s not my problem. I should be able to make my own choices for myself, and only be responsible for the choices I make.”

    We tend the value this very highly, and often accept it as innately true– but never question if it actually might not be.

    Biblically, it is clear that the sacred authors did not hold this view– sin has social consequences as well as personal. Eastern cultures maintain this as well– a single person can bring dishonor on the whole family.

    So which is right? Which is fair?

    I think the answer is revealed if we look to nature.

    What if my parents were severe gambling addicts, so I grew up in a family that was poor and destitute? Was that my choice? No. Do I suffer the consequences of their sin? Yes.

    What if my parents were black, and we live in a place and time where there is high racism and crime against blacks? Was that my choice? No. Do I suffer the consequences of their lineage? Yes.

    What if my parents fight violently every night and don’t know how to live in harmony? Was that my choice? No. Will I pick up the same brokeness in my own personal life? Without the intervention of grace, yes.

    And so we see that sin very distinctly DOES have a hereditary effect in the natural world. We suffer the consequences of things that we are not personally responsible for ALL THE TIME.

    Our American values get angry about this, because our philosophy wants to see the world working in a specific way.

    But it doesn’t. And reason and revelation both show us the true consequences of sin.

  9. robtbrown says:

    I wrote my doctoral thesis on Original Innocence and Original Sin. The theology of Original Innocence and Sin is based on Romans 5:12

    1. The paradox of Original Sin is expressed in this way:
    >>>>If it is inborn, how c an it be voluntary.
    >>>>If it is voluntary, how can it be inborn.

    2. OS can be distinguished in its punishment (poena) and culpability (culpa). It’s fairly easy to understand the punishment, which is death and disease. This immunity to death followed from the soul having received sanctifying grace by which it could communicate its incorruptibility (immortality) to the naturally corruptible body. Thus Original Sin must be understood as the Lack Of Original Inncoence.

    The example above of genetic faults being passed on the offspring applies to punishment.

    3. By virtue of the grace of Original Innocence, there was a certain harmony between the soul and body.

    4. St Augustine says that God would be unjust if we were to be culpable of something we didn’t do. Obviously, we weren’t present when First Man threw away the grace of Original Innocence. So how does man now receive the culpability?

    5. It must be understood that by sin the orientation of a man’s will toward the Good is damaged. A good example is someone with evil habits. The will of a Just man is more inclined to the Good than is the will of an Unjust man.

    6. In so far as culpability of sin is in the will, the loss of the grace of Original Innocence damages the will’s inclination toward the Good just as actual sin does.

  10. thepapalbull says:

    Fr. Z, do you have a document to cite which corroborates your claim that the Eastern Catholic Churches must accept the Council of Trent? I’m assuming by that you mean they must accept the teachings and formulations of Trent as normative and binding.

    As I’m sure you know, Orientalium Ecclesiarum advised that the Eastern Churches should “take steps to return to their ancestral traditions,” and those who are in frequent communication with Eastern Churches or our faithful “should be instructed according as their office demands in the knowledge and veneration of the rites, discipline, doctrine, history, and character of the members of the Eastern rites.”

    In light of the latter, you cannot limit “ancestral traditions” merely to matters of liturgy. While in communion with Peter, the East has a different way of defining the same reality and need not use the same formulations as developed in the West.

    [All Catholics, Eastern and Western, must accept the Church’s definitive teachings, dogmas. If you do not accept the definitive teachings of the Council of Trent, you are not Catholic. Likewise, if you do not accept the definitive teachings of the Council of Chalcedon (concerning the two natures of Christ), you are not Catholic. If you do not accept Vatican I’s teaching about how the Roman Pontiff can teach infallibly, you are not Catholic. Etc. This isn’t hard. If you are Catholic, you accept what the Church teaches definitively.]

  11. If the original person who asked this question is interested in the mechanism by which this transmission of Original Sin happens, it is explained by a metaphysical nuance that is not often clearly taught. Adam, as the primogeniture of the human race is what is called a Universal Equivocal Cause of human nature. It is precisely because of this ontological character, that only he possessed, that makes Original Sin a trait passed on through generation.

    This point is often further explained by the following scenario: Say that Adam never committed Original Sin. If his son or grandson chose to sin mortally, that sin would not redound to all later humanity. This is because only a primogeniture as a Universal Equivocal Cause of a particular nature can affect the nature being transmitted itself.

  12. stephen c says:

    Robt Brown – thanks for that very interesting explanation of the inspired words St Paul wrote on the subject; although I had to read it five or six times to follow it! I have never for a second thought the concept of original sin might be unfair to me, personally, but I have wondered about others – not just children of 2 saints like St. Therese Martin and, maybe, Abel and John the Baptist, but I have also wondered about some of the very (and in one or two cases, almost miraculously) charitable people I have met over the last 7 decades. Your explanation and Father Zuhlsdorf’s explanations make it clearer….

  13. tpodonnell says:

    Fr. Gabriel, are there other examples of Universal Equivocal Causes? Or is this a category really one that helps us to understand Adam? I.e. was there a Universal Equivocal Cause of the Oak Tree?

  14. My Sisters Brother says:

    If baptism erases Original Sin, how do a pair of baptized parents transmit it to their children?

  15. Andrew_81 says:

    Father,

    Might I add as well that Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange (in his Grace, p. 24) summarizes St. Thomas in ST I, q. 95, a.1) saying that Original Justice consisted in :

    1. in the perfect subjection of the reason to God by grace and charity ; 2 in the perfect subjection of the sense appetites to reason ; 3. in the perfect subjection of the body to the soul.
    As long as the soul adhered to God by grace, the rest were perfectly subject to it ; however, it was capable of failing in this perfect subjection to God through sin, for the will was not yet confirmed in goodness.

    He will go on to say that the preternatural gifts, then, were given to man’s nature because of this ordering, but they did not change man’s nature. They merely prevented certain natural things (like death) from occurring.

    When Adam sinned, there was a disorder caused, and it was fitting that part of the punishment was the removal of these gifts. If these gifts were removed, the natural processes, like death and suffering, returned.

    God, then, can be seen as perfectly just (like a human father) who takes away from his children superfluous gifts He freely gave when the children have misbehaved.

    In fact, Scripture supports just such an understanding, since in Genesis (3.14), the serpent is cursed to “crawl on your belly” (which is what he does by nature). And Adam (and men) were punished in a similar way, what was natural (but prevented by a special gift), would now be both natural, and a punishment.

    Neither did Original Sin change man’s nature. Nature was not “destroyed” but wounded by the disorder caused by sin, producing those four wounds to our four powers : Ignorance, Malice, Weakness and Concupiscence.

    The preternatural gifts depended on Sanctfying Grace and man’s ordered nature in Original Justice. But because God has chosen not to heal the wounds in our nature here in this life (only in the next), the gifts do not return, even when Sanctifying Grace does.

    Were Baptism to make us immortal, many people would pursue the Faith for fairly bad motives, and if suffering were to cease, so would merit would be decreased.

    That explains the loss of the privileges of Original Justice, not the transmission of the guilt of Original Sin, which St. Thomas will say is voluntary in us not by our own will, but Adam’s will as Fr. Gabriel suggested. I will say, I full accept it (and Trent), but the answer St. Thomas gives left me less than satisfied. Perhaps I just need to study it again.

  16. Daniel W says:

    Fr Z commented:
    “Original Sin does not consist in external imputation of Adam’s sin to his heirs. Trent taught that Adam’s sin is really transmitted as an inheritance to all the children of Adam (the whole race) and it is in each one of us as our own proper sin.”

    I find it helpful to clarify that it is not in us as our own actual sin (actuale peccatum), but as our own sin in the sense of our own proper habit, or our own sin of nature (peccatum naturae). (STh Ia IIae q.82 a.1):
    Ad secundum dicendum quod actuale peccatum est inordinatio quaedam actus, originale vero, cum sit peccatum naturae, est quaedam inordinata dispositio ipsius naturae, quae habet rationem culpae inquantum derivatur ex primo parente, ut dictum est. Huiusmodi autem dispositio naturae inordinata habet rationem habitus, sed inordinata dispositio actus non habet rationem habitus. Et propter hoc, peccatum originale potest esse habitus, non autem peccatum actuale.

    We (the children of Adam) are responsible for original sin in the same sense that we are responsible for an infectious disease that we caught through no fault of our own. We are not responsible for catching it, but we are responsible for what we do with it now that we have it.

    [While it might be helpful to some people to clarify that, it probably wouldn’t be helpful to clarify that to the average reader here who send a question to me.]

  17. btb says:

    It follows logically that it would be impossible for Adam and Eve, having committed sin and thereby losing their original perfection, to bear children with perfect, unbroken human natures. What is imperfect cannot (pro)create what is perfect (the extraordinary grace of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Mother being the single exception).

  18. robtbrown says:

    My Sisters Brother says:

    If baptism erases Original Sin, how do a pair of baptized parents transmit it to their children?

    It relieves the Baptised of the culpa (guilt) immediately. There is no effect on the poena (punishment, penalty), however, until the Resurrection of the Body.

    Also: By virtue of the Incarnation Christ would not have taken on either culpa or poena. In the Diviine Pity, however, he takes on the poena

  19. robtbrown says:

    Fr Gabriel op,

    Equivocal Cause explains why after Adam could not transmit Grace to the Human Race after his repentence. Also why now parents in a state of grace generate children born in Original Sin.

    It does not explain why before the First Sin Adam would have transmitted the Grace of Original Innocence to all mankind. Nor why Adam has transmitted Original Sin to all mankind Both are, as you say, because of his status as First Man. Neither situation, however, can be called an equivocal cause.

  20. Ann Malley says:

    @MySistersBrother

    “…If baptism erases Original Sin, how do a pair of baptized parents transmit it to their children?”

    Think of Original Sin like a congenital defect. We may have our heart problem fixed, thank goodness, but our children will still receive our genetic makeup which contains said defect. That said, because that defect was there in our makeup, even after the heart surgery, we have to be very careful about the care of our heart for it has been forever weakened by said defect.

    That’s why staying in the state of grace and remaining close to the Sacraments is key. Just like visiting the cardiologist on a regular basis to assure heart health.

  21. un-ionized says:

    It doesn’t erase Original Sin.

  22. un-ionized says:

    An oak tree doesn’t need to have a Universal Equivocal Cause because it’s a physical thing that reproduces.

  23. The Masked Chicken says:

    Der Fr. Gabriel, OP,

    Dang. I thought I knew the difference between univocal, equivocal, and anological, seeing as how I use the terms in humor theory research, but a Universal Equivocal Cause? I assume that universal refers to its span or scope, equivocal refers to its relationship to other objects having partial set inclusion in it, and cause refers to what it does. If so, here is what the term (UEC) might mean (feel free to correct me, so that I might learn, not being a metaphysician, myself):

    Each man (hu-man) may be thought to be a collection of attributes, some natural (size, weight, etc.) and some supernatural (or even preternatural) that form an attribute set. Consider each set to be a little circle. Now, Adam is a circle, as well, but his set circle sits in the center, like the hub of a wheel, so, he touches all of the other set circles surrounding him. His reach is to ll other circles, so, universal.

    Equivocal refers to the case, in linguistics, where the is one term referring to two or more attribute collections. For example, nut can refer to an edible fruit composed of a hard shell and seed; an hexagonal steel connector to a bolt; or, a mildly insane person. Edible nuts are not made of steel; hex nuts do not grow on trees; mental nuts are not (usually) roasted over an open fire. Thus, we have the same designator term for three different attribute sets: nut(edible, shell), nut(hexagonal, steel), and nut(human, skin). About 25 years ago, I defined an index, the f-index, which measures the degree of equivocalness of a language. Equivocation is a large part of how humor occur.

    Rats. Low battery warning. Will finish, later.

    The Chicken

  24. The Masked Chicken says:

    I pulled out my trust back-up!

    There seems to be some disagreement, up thread, about what, exactly, Adam, as an equivocal cause, is. Adam is unique, in that he is not only his own attribute set, but, is at least metaphysically, a part of all man’s attribute set (which would, technically, make him analogical (but, I digress)). Adam has his own, unique, hair color, but he is the primogenitor of all of the other people sets, so shares something with them as to nature (ontology). Adam’s nature was harmed by Original Sin, so, so is ours. He is the cause of all of our spiritual/physical weakening through nature or ontology, but not through individual manifestation of our own particular attributes – he does not cause me to have red hair, say (if I did).

    So, Adam is a Universal Equivocal (and analogical?) Cause of our weakening due to Original sin.

    Probably, a flawed explanation. So, do I get at least a C?

    The Chicken

  25. robtbrown says:

    un-ionized says:

    It doesn’t erase Original Sin.

    See my comments above

  26. robtbrown says:

    un-ionized says:

    An oak tree doesn’t need to have a Universal Equivocal Cause because it’s a physical thing that reproduces.

    An example of an equivocal cause of an oak tree would be a brute animal.

  27. robtbrown says:

    Ann Malley,

    Think of Original Sin like a congenital defect. We may have our heart problem fixed, thank goodness, but our children will still receive our genetic makeup which contains said defect. That said, because that defect was there in our makeup, even after the heart surgery, we have to be very careful about the care of our heart for it has been forever weakened by said defect.

    See my comment above: The example of inheriting a physical defect refers to the poena (penalty) of Original Sin–not the culpa.

  28. robtbrown says:

    Andrew 81,

    Original Justice refers to the Triple Harmony, between: the soul and the body; the body and corporeal things; and the soul and God. Original Innocence refers to the first, the harmony between the soul and the body.

  29. robtbrown says:

    add: harmony between the soul and the body produced by the harmony between the soul and God

  30. revueltos67 says:

    Something not mentioned here – it’s my understanding that our first parent’s original sin disordered not just our nature but all of creation, i.e. all of nature. Thus scripture’s mention of all of creation groaning. Is this correct?

  31. Pingback: THURSDAY EDITION | Big Pulpit

  32. GregB says:

    To me the Fall of Man story in Genesis cries out for a mystical exegesis.
    *
    When I read about the seven days of Creation in Genesis, to me the seventh day, the day of rest, looks like it was made for contemplation. When God rested on the seventh day could it not be said that this rest was contemplation? The passage that covers the Fall of Man describes the forbidden fruit as being desirable, and makes reference to Adam and Eve’s eyes. The eye is talked about in Matthew 6:22-23:
    *
    “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be”. (NABRE)
    *
    In Original Sin Adam and Eve valued the gifts more than the gift Giver, which suggests an unholy lust for the things that are God’s. Thus concupiscence entered the world. In Original Sin Adam and Eve corrupted their contemplation.
    *
    The choice of the talking snake was an excellent representation of Satan. The mouth can produce lying speech. In a snake this is also where the fangs are located, which in the case of poisonous snakes can produce deadly venom. We can find a description of the devil in John 8:44:
    *
    “44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (RSVCE)
    *
    If you carefully read the Fall of Man in Genesis, what the snake was promising Adam and Eve was autonomy from God. The Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit exist in harmonious intimate union. They are not competitors. The snake was setting things up that the relationship between God and Adam and Eve was a competitive zero sum power struggle.
    *
    In Christianity there are two kinds of death. The first is the death of the body, and there is second death of mortal sin that leads to Hell. When Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened this was when the poisonous venom of the snake’s lies found its target and Adam and Eve’s spiritual life died. They no longer saw things with eyes illuminated by God’s graces.
    *
    The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. To me the loin cloths are the mystical representation of the barrier between God and man that was brought about by Original Sin, and represents the veil of the temple, because Adam and Eve’s bodies could no longer be the Holy of Holies where there could be the pure indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The loin cloths, the veil of the temple, were the mystical representation of the stain of Original Sin on the souls of Adam and Eve, the same veil of the Temple that was torn in two when Christ died on the Cross for our sins, and opened the Gates of Heaven.

  33. robtbrown says:

    revueltos67 says,

    Something not mentioned here – it’s my understanding that our first parent’s original sin disordered not just our nature but all of creation, i.e. all of nature. Thus scripture’s mention of all of creation groaning. Is this correct?

    St Thomas’ understanding, and mine, of the groaning of all creation is that it refers to the anticipation of the end of Time, i.e., the end of the constant movement in the universe. For example, the movement of the plants in the solar system is circular–circular movement of itself admits no end.

    Re the disorder of human nature: See my comments above about harmony.