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What is original sin?

Original sin refers to the human condition of not being in natural unity with God. The Council of Trent referred to it as the absence of "the state of grace and adoption as children of God." This same council speaks of the absence of "holiness and justice" in this regard. The story of creation in the Bible expresses the ultimate purpose of God in this creative activity.

The biblical story of the Fall expresses the connection between human sin and the curse of the thorns and thistles of life: the pain of childbirth, the sweat of the brow, the social injustices and the wars. The truth, which the Bible tells us about, is that at the very beginning of the human race, something went wrong -- what went wrong was disobedience to God's commands. Thus, sin entered the world, and we later human beings can no longer inherit the state of original innocence from our ancestors.

The reality of our fallen state is expressed by the Second Vatican Council in these terms:"What divine revelation makes known to us agrees with experience. Examing his heart, man finds that he has inclinations toward evil too. ... Indeed, man finds that by himself he is incapable of battling the assaults of evil successfully, so that everyone feels as though he is bound by chains."

What is the relation of original sin to the sin of the world?
The sin of the world refers to the interplay of the personal and social sinful actions of human beings throughout history and the resulting sinful human environment. In other words, the sins of other people influence us to sin and our sins influence other people to sin. The notion of an intimate bond between the sin of the world and original sin is inescapable. Through original sin we are in a condition of being weak in our struggle against evil. The combination of the state of original sin and our experience of the sin of the world affirms the universality of evil and our universal need for a Redeemer.

Through baptism a person is initiated into a life-long struggle against sin. Although we will not be completely free of the influence of original sin or sin of the world in this life, there is no doubt that humble prayer, holy living, and the faithful and frequent reception of the Eucharist will help us to live as "adopted children of God." The Blessed Virgin is an excellent model for our living in grace as adopted children of God. Living in a sinful world, she shared the pain of the world, but not in wickedness. She is our sister in suffering, but not in evil. She overcame evil in her life by complete faith, obedience and love.

In summary, original sin describes the natural condition of every human being, except Jesus and His mother, Mary. Because of the universality of human sin, God permits death to be a factor in our history. But the Christian message is rightly called the Gospel -- Good News-- because it proclaims that the power of grace is greater than the power of sin. The fulfillment of God the Father's creative purpose is brought to fruition in His Son, the Lamb of God who takes away our sins and calls us into eternal glory.


To obtain a printed copy of the Evangeline Scripts write to:
Evangelization Office
Diocese of Lake Charles
P.O. Box 3223
Lake Charles, La. 70602

Copyright 1991 Diocese of Lake Charles, La.
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
+ Jude Speyrer, S.T.L., D.D.
June 1991
Used with permission