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Unruly Passions

Eve responded, “Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat; and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die.”  Genesis 3:2-3.  Every time a sin is committed, something within us dies.  The result of sin is always death.  This has been true from the beginning of time.

We talk in terms of original sin leading to “the fall of man.”  As Catholics, we believe that as a result of the first sin, man fell from the height of the preternatural to the natural.  What died with that first sin were the three preternatural gifts of integrity (the complete mastery of our desires), bodily immortality, and infused knowledge of God and the secular world.  Something else died with the first sin: the sanctifying grace that was originally placed within the souls of Adam and Eve.

Original sin is automatically communicated to all newly created souls.  Every one of us inherited original sin from our first parents.  Baptism removes original sin and restores sanctifying grace – the friendship of God – within a person’s soul.  Baptism does not, however, restore the preternatural gifts.

Because of the loss of the preternatural gifts, man lost the ability to exercise complete control over his passions.  The Modern Catholic Dictionary defines passion as follows:

Intense motion of a human appetite.  Although commonly associated with bodily desires such as anger or sex, passions can also arise in the spiritual faculties, as happens in envy and pride.  Passions are essentially desires out of control because of fallen human nature.  They are concupiscence in action.  When passion arises spontaneously before the free will has acted, it is called antecedent and, as such, lessens human freedom and responsibility.  When it is intentionally fostered by brooding or preoccupation, it is consequent passion because it comes after the free choice of the will.  Consequent passion is morally culpable.

As a result of original sin, we were all born with seven root passions: pride, lust, anger, avarice, envy, gluttony, and sloth. These are referred to as the Seven Capital Sins, also known as the Seven Capital Tendencies or the Seven Capital Passions.  Prior to original sin, our first parents had complete control over their root passions.  With the loss of the preternatural gift of integrity, they lost the ability to exercise complete control over those passions.

We have to be vigilant about maintaining an awareness and desire to do battle with and conquer our root passions each and every day.

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