Original Sin is a concept we Catholics have inherited from St. Augustine. In his book,“Confessions,” he explains why you and I are such a mess.
|Adam and Eve, detail of tomb (Gerald Watt)|
Read the “Confessions of St. Augustine” and you will begin to understand why we have to suffer simply because two young people picked and shared forbidden fruit. Why are we “attracted to evil” as one of the founders of my Congregation put the problem? Who would want to do bad? Who would choose to be evil?
Before you dismiss the idea that you might be attracted to evil, think of this: Doing evil can be fun (So I’m told). Getting away with it can be more fun.
What does it feel like to steal an apple? Well, you have to steal an apple to find out.
To toy with the possibility of sinning can be thrilling, heart-pounding, energizing. To finally decide to do an evil thing is to experience a surging wave of pride. Then, to actually do the evil act can be like the rush a diver feels as he jumps off of the high diving board. (“I could break my neck, but …what the heck!”)
Sin is even better when a punishing angel chases you and is unable to catch and chastise you. The thrill of escape is captured by the poet who in the “Hound of Heaven” says “I fled Him down the nights and down the days… and under running laughter….” (Francis Thompson)
When you think about doing something evil that promises you some pleasure, your heart warms to the idea like a child who contemplates the forbidden coconut macaroons in the cookie jar in the kitchen. Such is the way of Original Sin.
We don’t choose to do evil because something is evil but because we are attracted to it as good. That’s how twisted our motivations become. It’s only after the deed that we experience how sour sin can be.
As the Christian learns to ward off sin and depend on grace, he/she embraces more deeply the life of a follower of Jesus Christ.
The sweet act of forgiveness which we experience in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, brings with it the sanctifying grace which begins to heal our troubled hearts. That grace is the same grace that was poured over us at our Baptism setting us free from the domination of Original Sin.
“…where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more….” (Romans 5:20)