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163. The Sin of the First Man

1. Adam's sin could not have been a sin of the flesh.For in the state of innocence there was no rebellion of fleshagainst spirit. Therefore, the first inordinateness in the humanappetite could not possibly have been a desire for any material orsensible good. The first human sin must have been connected withthe desire for some spiritual good. And, since the actual desiremust have been ordinate (because inordinateness did not come intoman until the first sin was committed), the inordinateness musthave been in the thing desired. This thing must have been somethingbeyond the reach or above the mark of a human being. And to aspireto such a thing is pride. Hence, the first human sin was a sin ofpride. The ordinate desire of the first man was made inordinate bythe unsuitableness of a too-excellent object, and the desire wasthus transformed into a prideful aspiring.

2. The first sin, a sin of pride, was the first man'swillful desire to have something that belongs to God alone. It maybe said that man, made in God's image, tried to extend undulythat image in himself. In particular, the first man wanted"knowledge of good and evil," so that, by his own naturalpower and without reference or deference to God, he could know whatwas good or evil for him to do, and could know beforehand what goodand evil would happen to him. Thus, in a fashion, the first manaspired to a kind of equality with God, and so he sinned by pride,even as the fallen angels sinned by pride.

3. Was the sin of our first parent more grave than otherhuman sins? In itself, as we have seen, pride is the greatest ofsins. Yet there are degrees of pride, and many sins of pride, asacts performed, are not more than venial sins. And even in gravesins of pride there are rankand scale: the pride of denyingor blaspheming God is more grave than the pride of coveting theenlargement in oneself of the divine image. Therefore, taken simplyas a sin of pride, the sin of Adam was not the mostgrievous sin of its kind. Nor was Adam's pride more grievous initself than the pride of other men. But when we consider Adam'ssin, not simply or absolutely, but in relation tothe one who committed it (a perfect man, with a nature entirelyuntroubled by unruly passions, and dowered with most wonderfulsupernatural gifts and graces) we must conclude that this wasindeed the most grievous of all the human sins of pride. Therefore,summing the matter up, we say: taken simply or absolutely,the sin of Adam was not the most grievous of human sins; takenrelatively (that is, in relation to the state ofperfection of the sinner), it was the most grievous of sins.

4. The sin of the first woman was, in itself, more grievous thanthe sin of the first man. For while Adam and Eve both sinned bypride, Eve believed the devil, God's enemy, and, in fullawareness that what the devil suggested was against God's will,she ate the fruit to obtain the sort of knowledge that belongs toGod alone. The sin of Adam did not spring from trust in the devil;Adam wanted the inordinate good and wanted it pridefully, but notinasmuch as it was clearly seen in opposition to God's will (asdevil-inspired), but as aspired to by his own unaided power.Further, the woman not only sinned, but tried to lead the man tosin; she sinned both against God and neighbor. Yet it is Adam'ssin, not Eve's, that brought deprivation and punishment uponthe race, and is "the original sin."

"He who wishes to be perfectly obeyed, should give but few orders."
St Philip Neri

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"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."
St Augustine

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"Happy is the youth, because he has time before him to do good. "
St Philip Neri

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