CFC Sections VI and VII

Section VI is entitled God Made the People: “Adam and Eve were the first man and woman. Adam and Eve were our first parents. God made Adam and Eve good and free from sin. They were made holy and pleasing to God. God made Adam and Eve free from sickness and death. They had a right to heaven. God put Adam and Eve in a beautiful garden called Paradise. They were very happy in this beautiful garden. God told Adam and Eve not to eat a certain fruit that grew in Paradise.”

“God was good to Adam and Eve. God is good to us. I will always be good. O God, help me love You more and more.”

So here we have the basic back story of Adam and Eve. There’s no discussion about this being a creation “myth” or whether man was made before woman as in the “Second Creation Story” (Gen 2) or whether male and female were created at the same time as in the first chapter of Genesis. It’s kept as simple as simple can be.

Once we get to Section VII things get a little more complicated. Adam and Eve Sinned. “The devil told Eve to eat the fruit. Eve listened to the devil and ate the fruit. Eve gave the fruit to Adam and he ate it. Eating this fruit was the first sin in the world. Adam and Eve were not holy and pleasing to God after their sin. Adam and Eve were punished for their sin in this way: 1. They were driven out of paradise. 2. They had to suffer and die. 3. Heaven was closed against them. We have the stain of Adam’s sin when we are born. The stain of this sin is called Original Sin.”

Well, this story has been the bane of women’s existence for ever. Everything is all our fault because Eve ate the fruit first, and then she used her feminine wiles to trick Adam into eating it, too. My mother-in-law once made a comment to the effect of, “Maybe if Adam hadn’t been such a wimp things wouldn’t have been so bad.” I seem to remember Scott Hahn making a point similar to this in one of his books, though I can’t remember which one off hand. Adam knew exactly what he was doing when he ate the fruit; he was far from innocent. I notice that the CFC skips over the extra punishment that was only handed out to Eve and her daughters: pain in childbirth. (Of course, studies have shown that pain in childbirth can vary greatly among women depending on physical complications and the mental state of the mother as influenced by cultural expectations and personal issues.)

We all suffer now because Adam and Eve were kicked out of Paradise, but I don’t remember every thinking much about the gates of heaven being closed to Adam and Eve. This begs the question of what happened to Adam and Eve after they died. The assumption would be that they went to hell based on what was read in previous sections of the Catechism for First Communicants.

And then we get into the concept of Original Sin. My freshman Religion teacher Mr. Stairs made an interesting analogy about Original Sin, that many 14-year-old students today would probably not understand because of its context. Mr. Stairs describes pre-Fall humans as perfect vinyl records. During the Fall the records were left out in the sun and heat for too long and became warped. Now all copies of those original records are slightly warped and don’t play exactly right. Today a freshman in high school would probably wonder, “What’s a vinyl record?”

So basically I was taught that we are born warped and imperfect and as a result our human nature has a propensity towards sin. Sin is any act of selfishness, but especially those that go against God’s specific laws. This is probably the most real and important thing I ever learned in Catholic school. Unfortunately, we were prevented from learning more great lessons like this from Mr. Stairs because he was forced to interrupt our year of studying the Old Testament to spend eight weeks on “Affective Skills” to teach us how to have self-esteem. (Make your vomit sounds now.)

“Sin offends God and causes all our suffering. O my God, I hate sin because it offends You.” So much of our suffering can be traced back to sin, ours and those of the people around us. I wonder how much people really stop to think about how it offends God. It seems like so many people only feel sorry for something when it effects their ability to get something else that they want.

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