இந்த இணையதளத்திலுள்ள புத்தகங்கள் தங்களின் தனி பயன்பாட்டுக்கு மட்டுமே. வேறு தளங்களில் பகிர்வதற்கும், புத்தகமாக்குவதற்கும் அனுமதி இல்லை.

THE SIN OF OUR FIRST PARENTS: ORIGINAL SIN

"Of every tree of paradise thou shalt eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil,         thou shalt not eat. For in what day soever thou shalt eat of it, thou shalt die the death"          (Gen. 2:16-17).

From the previous discourse, my friends, you will recall what noble creatures the first man and woman,  Adam and Eve, were as they came from the hands of God: "To the image and likeness of God He had created them." Their souls were pure, innocent and holy, and adorned with sanctifying grace. Their intellects were enlightened with profound and preternatural knowledge. Their hearts and wills were inclined only to do good and to give praise to God their Creator. They were placed in a garden of exquisite delights, called Paradise, which "God Himself had planted with His own hands," says Holy Writ (Gen.2:8). There they were to live and enjoy all the fruits of God's creation until a ripe old age, when God, without permitting to suffer or die, would transport them body and soul to His heavenly Paradise. "Increase and multiply," He told them, "and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the whole earth" (Gen.1:28). These same prerogatives, bestowed upon our first parents, were also to be transmitted to all future generations.

But, as in the case of the Angels, before Adam and Eve and their posterity should receive all these God-given blessings in heaven and upon earth, God decreed to test their loyalty, obedience and fidelity towards their Creator. This test consisted in the "tree of knowledge of good and evil": "Of every tree of paradise, thou shalt eat, but of the tree of good and evil . . . . For in what day soever thou shalt eat of it, thou shalt die the death" (Gen.2:16-17). The outcome of this period of probation will claim our attention now.

(O Jesus, assist us with Thy grace!)

We know that, sad to say, Adam and Eve did not remain faithful. Lucifer, the rebellious angel, who had been transformed into a demon, also found his way into Paradise. Having forfeited his own happiness, Lucifer resolved to make our first parents the companions of his ruin by making them partners in his guilt. By attacking these two innocent creatures, he resolved by one bold stroke to destroy the whole human race in its origin. Of the various creatures before him, the serpent, the most cunning of all animals as well as the most poisonous, Satan was ready for the approach. Beginning with the woman as the weaker vessel, in order through her to seduce the man, the evil one addressed her thus: "Why hath God commanded you that you should not eat of every tree of Paradise?" Eve herself had unsuspectingly made known to him the command of God not to eat of the forbidden fruit, "lest perhaps we die." In her statement the woman had expressed doubt as to whether the threatened punishment would really be carried out. Satan took advantage of this doubt. With a bold  and blasphemous assertion, he contradicted God's words with the assuring promise: "No, you shall not die." Immediately he held out to her an alluring bait, a tempting promise: "In what day soever you shall eat thereof you shall be as God, knowing good from evil" (Gen.,3:4-5). What a prospect, to become like to God, mighty, wise, independent, omniscient! Hence, upon the word, Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, and she gave to her husband who also ate.

Nature and Gravity of This Sin.--Such, then, was  the sin of disobedience of our first parents. We shall understand the gravity of this sin more fully when we consider the motive that prompted that rash act. The root of this sin was the wish to be like God. Pride and ambition were the motives that prompted them to disobey. The fruit was beautiful to the eye ad pleasing to the taste. Hence, the first sin of man originated in the mind from pride, and was matured by the sensual desire to satisfy the sense of taste. It was also a sin of unbelief, because the word of God, threatening them with death, was disregarded, and the deceitful promise of greatness made by the enemy was trusted and believed. It was a sin of presumption, since they hope, independently of God and in spite of Him, to attain a height which is beyond the reach of all creatures. Finally, it was a sin of levity, committed at the instigation of one whose whole exterior, speech, glance and form as a serpent should have suggested reasons for caution. This obedience of Adam and Eve was, therefore, an enormous crime, and the greatest of all crimes in its consequences; or, as St. Augustine says, "an incomprehensible ruin, and a sin of incomprehensible enormity."

Punishment.-- To convince ourselves of the enormity of this sin, we need but to consider the punishment meted out by God to Adam and Eve and to all posterity for their disobedience. Hardly had they committed the sin when they beheld themselves robbed of that beautiful garment of innocence which, until now, had formed their sole raiment and apparel. Their intelligence, before so active and brilliant, was steeped in darkness. Their hearts, before so pure and calm, were agitated by the storm of numberless passions.

From that moment on they were subject to the law of sin, to concupiscences which would be, in the course of time, the source of so many disorders and the cause of so much misfortune. God, as it were, surrendered them to the servitude of Satan. They were ignominiously driven from earthly Paradise, and condemned to till the earth and eat their bread in the sweat of their brow. They were made subject to death, to all the diseases of body and soul. And, to complete their misfortune, eternal damnation would inevitably be their portion if, before dying, they did not repent and do penance. "To the woman, the Lord said: 'I will multiply thy sorrows and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children; thou shalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have dominion over thee.' And to Adam He said: 'Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife and hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou should not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labor and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till you return to the earth.' . . . .  And the Lord sent him out of our paradise of pleasure" (Gen. 3:16-24).

Hence, great indeed was this sin of disobedience of our first parents; and great indeed were the consequences, not only for Adam and Eve but for all future generations, ourselves included. Those wonderful preternatural gifts or prerogatives of both soul and body, enjoyed before their fall, were lost to our first parents and to all their descendants until the end of the world. This is a truth of faith about which we are not permitted to entertain the least doubt. Much of our faith rests upon this foundation, this truth. The consequences are, of course, self-evident.

This truth of the fall is revealed to us in hundred of passages of Holy Scripture. Let me mention but one. In his Epistle to the Romans (5:12), St. Paul tells us that sin entered the world through one man and death through sin; and that thus all men have become subject to death, because all men have sinned in one man: "As by one man sin entered this world, and by sin, death: so death passeth upon all men, in whom all have sinned."

Original Sin.--The sin which we inherit from our first parents is known to us as original sin, because it was committed at the very origin of the human race. Adam and Eve are the first parents of the whole human family. As such, they represented the whole human race from the beginning; and as such, they transmitted their sin also to all posterity. They conceived us in the state of sin; and so also are we born in the state of sin.

There are those who deny that anyone but Adam and Eve suffered from their sin of disobedience. The 'forbidden fruit,' spoken in Scripture, they explain to mean "forbidden carnal pleasures." But the effects of man's first fall upon the world in general, and upon man in particular, is masterfully described by the versatile Cardinal Newman.

"To consider the world," he says, "in its length and breadth, its various history, the many races of man, their starts, their fortunes, their mutual alienation, their conflicts; and then their ways, habits, governments, forms of worship, their enterprises, their aimless courses, their random achievements and acquirements, the impotent conclusion of long-standing facts, the tokens so faint and broken of a superintending design; the blind evolution of what turn out to be great powers or truths, the progress of things, as if from unreasoning elements, not towards final causes; the greatness and littleness of man, his far-reaching aims, his short duration, the curtain hung over his futurity, the disappointments of life, the defeat of good, the success of evil, physical pain, mental anguish, the prevalence and intensity of sin, the pervading idolatries, the corruptions, the dreary hopeless irreligion, that condition of the whole race, so fearfully yet exactly described in the Apostle's words, "having no hope and without God in the world"--all this is a vision to dizzy and appal, and inflicts upon the mind the sense of a profound mystery, which is absolutely beyond human solution.

"What shall we shall to this heart-piercing, reason-bewildering act? I can only answer that either there is no Creator, or this living society of men is in a true sense discarded from His presence. Did I see a boy of good make and mind, with the tokens on him of a refined nature, cast upon the world without provision, unable to say whence he came, his birthplace or his family connections, I should conclude that there was some mystery connected with his history, and that he was one of whom, from one cause or another, his parents were ashamed. Thus only should I be able to account for the contrast between the promise and the condition of his being. And so I argue about the world: "If there be a God, since there is a God, the human race is implicated in some terrible aboriginal calamity. It is a fact, a fact as true as the fact of its existence; and thus the doctrine of what is theologically called original sin becomes to me almost as certain as that the world exists, and as the existence of God."

Objection.--There are those who say that it is easy enough to understand why, being children of Adam,  we should come into the world in as manner displeasing to God. But why this should constitute a sin for us, is difficult to understand.

Answer.--This difficulty exists in the minds of those who do not understand the difference between original sin and actual sin. Original si is a sin of nature, and not a personal sin with us. It is our misfortune, not our fault. We do not inherit the actual sin of Adam. We inherit a nature that has been tainted by sin. For Adam, his first fall was an act: "He took and ate." But for us, Adam's fall is not an action, but a condition. In other words, our initial sinfulness consists in the state of sin in which we come into the world. We may understand this better by comparison with other facts in life we know. For example, that a child is born into this world deformed, black or white, rich or poor, healthy or diseased--any of these conditions depends, not upon the child, but upon the child's parents. It is thus that a tree damaged at the root can bring forth only poor fruit. A spring infected can give forth only polluted water. In like manner, through no fault of ours,  we are deprived at birth from certain preternatural perfections, loss of integrity, marked with the loss of sanctifying grace and bodily immortality, as the result of the sin of our first parents.

Those who doubt our doctrine of original sin know not the Scriptures, nor the universal testimony of human history. Besides repeated confirmations in Holy Writ, the history of all peoples and nations, be they pagan or Christian, gives testimony in the plainest of terms of a universal belief in the original fall of the human race. All agree substantially in this: that in the beginning man lived innocently and happily; but a woman, at the instigation of the evil spirit in the form of a serpent, sinned, and seduced her husband also; that this sin consisted in the eating of a forbidden fruit; that the caus of the sin was a vain desire of knowledge; and that, in consequence of this sin, the people were cast out of Paradise and punished with various with various miseries. Everywhere in history are traces of certain rites or ceremonies, similar to our Baptism, whereby all were to be cleansed in some manner from the stain with which every child is born into this world.

But we need not go so far as to the wilds of Asia or Africa for proofs of the fall. Man bears within his breast the strongest evidence of the marks of original sin. Of all God's creatures, man alone, by his very nature, proclaims a knowledge of better days. Man alone chafes under the trials and miseries of life. He can never become resigned to his present lot. He is as one groping in the dark.  He yearns for peace and rest. He longs for a better world. All other works of creation fulfill their destiny without apparent struggle or opposition. Man alone must struggle and strive to maintain his position. Of all living creatures on earth, man alone must weep and mourn. All this is the result of original sin. "By one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned" says St. Paul (Rom.5:12).

St. Augustine, foremost among all the early doctors of the Church, has laid special stress on the doctrine of original sin. In confuting certain heresies, even in his day, he says: "It is not I who have discovered the doctrine of original sin, which has been held by the Church from the most ancient times, but it is you who by denying it are innovators."

Conclusion.--We admit that it is truly deplorable that our first parents sinned in Paradise. But let us not censure them too severely. Had they remained faithful, and had any one after Adam and Eve disobeyed God's command, we might have suffered a like fate. It is true that our first parents possessed gifts and graces which we do not now possess. However, not once but repeatedly we, too, deface the supernatural image of God, sanctifying grace, in our soul by grievous sin. We have before us what Adam was not privileged to see, the Christ crucified, the price of our Redemption after the Fall--a treasure so great, that on Holy Saturday the Church in her prayers cries out with St. Augustine: "O happy fault that merited for us such a Redeemer." Furthermore, we are now in position to see what sin leads to, to sorrow, pain and death. We also realize what Adam never experienced, how great an enemy to mankind the evil spirit is, how deceitful, how powerful, how bold. "Precisely because man is raised so high, therefore, can he fall so low; precisely because he can glorify his Maker so perfectly, therefore, can he outrage Him so vilely; precisely because he can honor Him by his obedience, therefore, can he dishonor Him by disobedience; and this honor, this outrage, this fall is what we call sin."

If we are weaker than Adam, we have now the powerful grace of the Sacraments which were not given to Adam. He sinned, but, as far as we know, he sinned but once. He spent the rest of his long life of 930 years in doing penance, and the Church honors him as a Saint in heaven today. How often have we sinned, and where is our penance? Our first parents sinned grievously because they wished to be like God. We sin only too often for a trifle of money, for a momentary pleasure, or from some motive so petty and mean that it is degrading to all human intelligence.

Therefore, let us not blame too much, but rather pity our first parents. Too often we attribute to our first parents a great deal for which their disobedience was not at all responsible. Rather let us learn from their fall, the gravity and consequences of our own sins. Let us ever be grateful to merciful Creator Who did not abandon man after his disobedience as he did the fallen angels.  Instead, as we shall soon see, a Savior was sent to redeem us and restore to the soul of man its former position in the supernatural life. In this life, we shall ever be reminded how our first parents turned Paradise into a world of wreckage, of suffering and woe. But if we follow them in their repentance, we have Christ's assurance that the gates of the Heavenly Paradise are again open to receive us. Amen.