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Monday, September 22, 2014

I Know You are but What am I?

There is a topic I would love to write on this morning but it would simply open the door to more problems.

For that reason, I will refrain from sharing my boundless wisdom and hearty opinion.  Suffice to say, I am so grateful to those people who have walked this path before me because without their feedback and guidance I would really be up a creek without even the slightest ability to paddle.  I would be drifting, drifting, drifting from one angry little current to another.  Instead, because of the amazing men and women in my life, I can make my case and let it go.  No need to keep defending myself.

In other words, get off the cross, Leslie.  We need the wood.

Tonight I get to teach in Inquiry for RCIA.  The topic will be Original Sin and quite frankly, the topic comes right on time.  It is perfect for me to be reminded of the Fallen Nature of Man, the strength of concupiscence in our lives and to be able to honestly and open mindedly accept that scrupulosity is also a sin that I must be willing to avoid at all costs.

Servant of God Father John Hardon compiled a great Modern Catholic Dictionary.  This dictionary defines Original Sin as:

ORIGINAL SIN. Either the sin committed by Adam as the head of the human race, or the sin he passed onto his posterity with which every human being, with the certain exception of Christ and his Mother, is conceived and born. The sin of Adam is called originating original sin (originale originans); that of his descendents is originated original sin (originale originatum). Adam’s sin was personal and grave, and it affected human nature. It was personal because he freely committed it; it was grave because God imposed a serious obligation; and it affected the whole human race by depriving his progeny of the supernatural life and preternatural gifts they would have possessed on entering the world had Adam not sinned. Original sin in his descendants is personal only in the sense that the children of Adam are each personally affected, but not personal as though they had voluntarily chosen to commit the sin; it is grave in the sense that it debars a person from the beatific vision, but not grave in condemning one to hell; and it is natural only in that all human nature, except for divine intervention, has it and can have it removed only by supernatural means.

What do you suppose the act was that completely deprived us of our preternatural gifts?

What are preternatural gifts anyway?

Well, we know that whatever they are they are favors granted by God.  The gifts are not stuff we would just have on our own; if they were, then they wouldn't be gifts.

We know that these gifts perfect nature, but don't carry it beyond the limits of our creation.  In other words, if man cannot fly because it is not a part of his created nature then a preternatural gift would not be the ability to fly.

However, we do have the ability to know, to learn.  With that in mind, the preternatural gift would be Infused Knowledge.

That makes these preternatural gifts pretty fabulous.  In fact, it makes sense that God would give these gifts to us as it would go along perfectly with the idea of being made in His Image and His Likeness.  Being born with Infused Knowledge, the absence of concupiscence, and - say - bodily immortality would mean being pretty darn close to God.

That is what Adam threw away when he made the choice...the choice to believe the lie.

If you look at the Book of Genesis, what becomes clear is the sin or the action was not just eating a piece of fruit.  Instead, one can gather from the words of the ancient, inspired writers the following:

Human Freedom is vast (You may eat from all the trees).

Human Freedom has limits (Don't eat from that one).

A Relationship with God requires trust on my part and a relationship that includes sin means I have rejected Truth.  It means I made all the decisions.  I can be god like and decide what is good for me, what works for me, how I use my body, my sexuality, my mouth, my brain - it is all up to me, me, me.

And then - if I really want to take it to the limits - I can then blame God and those around me when my life goes south.

So now, going back to my original question:  what was the sin that Adam committed?

Was it simply disobeying God's instructions?

Was it just eating a piece of fruit?

I may never know, unless I make it to heaven, exactly what that sin was Adam committed o those many years ago, but I can wager this guess:

Whatever it was, he threw away the opportunity to continue to walk with God in close communion.  He threw the opportunity away because someone (satan) lied to him, and he chose to ignore all the gifts he had been given AND chose to not give a wiff about his wife or future children.  Adam behaved selfishly and self-centeredly, taking the fruit from his wife because he was afraid that if he said no she wouldn't like him anymore, that she would reject him and he would be lonely - and not get to have sex because after all, if she rejected him then that part of their relationship would be over.

In other words, Adam acted out of fear.

And isn't fear at the root of all my problems today?  Isn't my fear of rejection, of not being good enough, of not measuring up to some sort of magic line of acceptance the reason I give in and say, "Sure, ok, whatever you want...just please don't leave me alone?".  And isn't that fear of being alone the foundation of any and all sins I commit - sins against Faith, against Hope and (most of all) against Charity?

Deciding to not fear being alone has been a difficult decision for me to make but it has been incredibly liberating.  I wish I could tell you that I never, ever take back that decision.  That is not true.  I slip and I fall all the time - but when I do, I know what to do:

I apologize when appropriate.

I head to the confessional.

I no longer engage in the battle.

Thank you, Lord, for the life you have given me today.  It is hard, it is lonely and it requires great strength.  Thank you for giving me the Sacraments because it is those that allow me to walk with grace and dignity and to leave the battlefield with honor.

Thank you.

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