By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM
After having seen that the much-promoted “theory of evolution” of man from an inferior species is scientific nonsense, and that the chromosomal unity of all human races points to a common origin, as the laws of genetic demonstrate, we now enter the field of divine Revelation. We will investigate who were our first parents, from whom the whole of mankind stems.
The Church teaches that God granted to them unique gifts, such as, sanctifying grace, immortality, integrity, happiness, and enlightenment. They were put to the test, to assess their fidelity, in order to deserve the Beatific Vision, but they failed the test. They lost their gifts, but did not lose their free will.
Sanctifying grace was the most precious gift given to our first parents. It made them partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), whereby God Himself was present in their souls as in a Temple, and united Himself to them in the most intimate friendship. It was God’s intention that, after a short time of probation, they would be assumed unto Heaven, without any painful death. Adam would dwell with God as a child dwells with his loving Father, contemplating His Infinite Beauty, not through a veil, but face to face (1 Cor. 13:12), thus making him share in God’s eternal bliss.
Such happiness would be impossible to be achieved by any creature, man or angel, without divine grace. Only grace, which is a participation in the very life of God, would enable men to reach the blissful contemplation of the Divine Beauty in Heaven.
The second great gift given by God to man was integrity. Integrity is defined as completeness, the absence of every defect, perfection of nature. Man had complete control over his feelings and sensations, having consequently no inclination to evil. The inclinations of the flesh, or instincts, which man shares with animals, were completely under the control of his mind. It was what is called a state of innocence, whereby his will was united and subjected to God’s will. His soul and body were united in perfect order.
The third gift was immortality and happiness, or immunity to suffering and death. Those were the good old days for sure! Not because our first parents were indestructible or unable to feel pain, like Superman or someone like him, but because God either shielded them from harm, or provided them with such a great knowledge of nature that they could live with unimpaired vigor, avoiding anything harmful or deadly.
The gift of enlightenment was a very precious one. God filled their minds with such a complete knowledge of nature and everything linked to it; knowledge of the universe, of the angels and whatever else they needed in order to know God better, love Him better, and serve Him to perfection. All they had to do was to use those gifts properly.
God gave them the gift of speech as well. He gave them such knowledge of religious and moral truths as was necessary for their own enlightenment and for the instruction of their children in the future. He gave them such knowledge of secular science as was needed for their happiness, or as befitted the circumstances of their life and work. They got everything!
Here a distinction must be made about the gifts they received: the gift of immortality, of enlightenment, of integrity are called preternatural gifts, because they belong to the angelic nature, the nature right above human nature. But the gift of sanctifying grace is called supernatural, that is, above all created nature, as it belongs to God Himself.
St. Augustine puts it beautifully, in words both true and poetic: “Man lived in Paradise as he pleased, as long as his pleasure lay in what God had ordered. He lived in the enjoyment of God, the source of all the good there is in man. He lived free from want, and might have so lived forever. Food was at hand, lest he should hunger; drink, lest he should thirst; the tree of life, lest old age should undo him. His senses and feelings were undisturbed by bodily decay. He feared no disease from within, no assault from without. In his flesh was perfect health; in his soul, perfect peace.
“As Eden was unvisited by excess of heat or cold, so the will of him who dwelt there was untroubled by fear or greed. No sadness was his, no mere empty pleasure: a steady tide of unceasing joy flowed out to him from God whom he loved with the glowing love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith undimmed by falsehood or insincerity. Man and wife were there, one in mutual trust, one in honorable love, one in the guard they kept over mind and body, one in the easy service of obedience to God’s command.”
But unfortunately, in spite of all this greatness, Adam and Eve managed to mess up the works. It is a mystery how or why they listened to that crawling liberal socialist who, like his descendants, made great promises and delivered nothing but misery, want, and unhappiness.
Defining Original Sin
The Church tells us that we cannot question the literal and historical meaning of the narrative when it relates to facts touching the foundations of religion. Among these facts she enumerates:
1) the unity of the human race;
2) the original happiness of our first parents in the state of justice (sanctifying grace), their integrity, and immortality;
3) the command issued by God to test their obedience;
4) their temptation by the Devil under the form of a serpent;
5) their transgression and its punishment;
6) the promise of a Redeemer.
With regard to the other details the Church has said nothing. Pending explicit direction from her, we are free to follow any interpretations as long as they are not in conflict with Catholic principles.
Here we must define the meaning of the expression, “original sin”: It may denote either:
1) the actual sin committed by our first parents, or
2) the unhappy state to which that sin reduced them and their posterity.
Some people question the gravity of Adam’s sin. Come on, they say, stealing an apple is such a big crime that the whole of mankind pays for it, is born with this stain, this original sin? Is this fair?
Next article: The meaning of original sin.
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(Raymond de Souza is an EWTN program host; regional coordinator for Portuguese-speaking countries for Human Life International [HLI]; president of the Sacred Heart Institute, and a member of the Sovereign, Military, and Hospitaller Order of the Knights of Malta. His website is: www.RaymonddeSouza.com.)