Man, having been wounded in his nature by original sin, is subject to error and inclined to evil in exercising his freedom. (Catechism of the Catholic Church section 1714) One of the many things that has gone out of fashion over the years (it was only whispered in some circles that we were taught that our perfect selves are stained by the deliberate disobedience of a couple running around in a garden) that we return to is the teaching on Original Sin, particularly during Lent.
Years ago, while I was teaching Baptism Prep to a group of parents, many who admitted that they hadn't been inside a church since their wedding-- a grandmother called me out.
I was soft peddling Baptism to this group on the fringe of the church-- emphasizing community and family history and the long generations of their family, all our families, united under this big bosomy umbrella of love and kumbaya.
This grandmother raised her hand and asked "what about Original Sin?" I fumbled momentarily but I had my answer: we are now emphasizing community and loveydoveyness. She walked out.
I saw the back of her and I knew she was right.
We can couch all our faults and troubles and personality defects in terms of "it's all my parents fault" or the catch all basket of "society"-- eternal cries of the adolescent mind-- which is where more than one generation of baby boomers and Gen x, y 's and z's have been encouraged to wallow.
At some point we have to grow up and face facts.
We are sinners.
We are sinners with a positive attitude, assertiveness training and seekers of our very own specialness and empowerment.
Yeah for us!
So we give up soda or chocolate or television or potato chips for a couple of weeks. That 's good for our health, so two birds with one stone.
Giving up chocolate is good for us. Giving up chocolate and facing our temptations to indulge is better. And much more difficult.
Which is the point where I usually seek out a bag of Hershey's Kisses tucked away in the back of the pantry. It's just one. Or two. When the evidence of all those shiny bits of foil piles up, I can roll them together and really, that's not so much, is it?
So we either rationalize or we wrestle.
Over they years (I am now the grandmother asking the pesky question) I have come to realize that wrestling is an essential part of Lent. Well, of course, it's an essential part of conscious life, Christian or otherwise, but we take the time now during these weeks when the seasons will change from bare branches and dark to blossoms and light to exercise that ancient skill.
But facing our sins is an exercise in morbidity if there is no hope of redemption and forgiveness. That's where prayer and grace come in. That's where the Holy Spirit and the sacraments come in, and that's where 'the peace that passes all understanding' will fill us.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 ©
May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.