Pictures, as the saying goes, are worth a thousand words. Whether it’s about “a feeling” or “an idea” or “something we believe in”, it helps to get a picture in our mind that captures the essence of what we’re thinking about.
So, I was thinking the other day of what the faith teaches about “the effects of Original Sin”. You re- member Original Sin, right? In the mythic story, Ad- am and Eve disobeyed God’s command to refrain from eating the fruit of that tree. It’s the God inspired picture of an event no one was there to record. It is a great mystery.
The catechism tells us that one of the effects of Original Sin has been the wounding of our human nature. That means the creature, man, made in God’s image, has forfeited his original holiness and justice and “is wounded in the natural powers proper to it.” (reason and will) (Catholic Catechesis #405). In short, we suffer ignorance about who we are, and in this ignorance we are inclined to sin. This leaning toward sin is called “concupiscence”.
So, here’s MY picture. See if this makes any sense. . . . I had an old VW “bug” way back in college. Great little vehicle – started up every time. One problem, it was out of alignment. Driving down the road, if you let go of the wheel, before long it would pull left and take you into the oncoming lane. It wouldn’t happen all at once, but you could feel a leaning. Like the car had a mind of its own, it pulled you into the other lane. To counteract this you had to drive with the wheel pegged to the right. This would keep the car in the proper lane heading straight.
It is the same with us humans. If we let go of the wheel, if we don’t take control over the direction of our lives, we eventually “pull into the wrong lane”.
Each of us experience this pull in our own way. (The classic “pulls” are called the Capital Sins – pride, envy, anger, gluttony, lust, jealousy and sloth). What’s yours?!!
The church’s teaching about the effects of Original Sin makes great sense. It’s a pull, an inclination. Going our own way, without God’s will to guide us, sooner or later we fall. Everyone sins.
Don’t be shocked that you have this tendency to sin – – – everybody has it (except Jesus and Mary – but that’s another story!) We’re in a battle. Be ready to fight. Some battles we win; some we lose. But, we don’t give up the fight.
The good news is that we’ve got the power to overcome this misalignment. Be aware of the pull “and keep our hands on the wheel”!!
Pray and recognize your tendency, and ask God to help correct your alignment. Ask for the strength and avoid the places and things that approach you with the familiar enticements that sin brings with it.
Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to keep in the proper lane. A priest might be able to help you here. Certainly the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation (Confession) is a great source of strength and realignment.
Lastly, do really fun things. The devil hates it when people can laugh at themselves and share friendship with others who are keeping their hands on the wheel.
Please enjoy this summer. God will be pleased if we celebrate this wonderful gift.