Sunday Devotional: Lent and the Fall of Adam & Eve

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Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7

The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground
and blew into his nostrils the breath of life,
and so man became a living being.

Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,
and placed there the man whom he had formed.
Out of the ground the Lord God made various trees grow
that were delightful to look at and good for food,
with the tree of life in the middle of the garden
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals
that the Lord God had made.
The serpent asked the woman,
“Did God really tell you not to eat
from any of the trees in the garden?”
The woman answered the serpent:
“We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;
it is only about the fruit of the tree
in the middle of the garden that God said,
‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.'”
But the serpent said to the woman:
“You certainly will not die!
No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it
your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods
who know what is good and what is evil.”
The woman saw that the tree was good for food,
pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.
So she took some of its fruit and ate it;
and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her,
and he ate it.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened,
and they realized that they were naked;
so they sewed fig leaves together
and made loincloths for themselves.

The Fall of Adam and Eve is a mystery wrapped in a conundrum. For, having everything in that bucolic first garden, including and especially the unimaginably sublime gift of seeing and conversing with the Creator (Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day” –Genesis 3:8), they still chose disobedience and betrayal.

All because of the sin of grandiose narcissism — of wanting to be “like gods,” so as to determine for themselves “what is good and what is evil” although Adam and Eve already knew right from wrong. As the Book of Jeremiah 31:33 says, when God created humans, He placed His law within each of us, written in our very hearts:

[D]eclares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

But our first parents wanted to be their own gods, that is, with their own notions of right and wrong, which is nothing other than a contravention of the First Commandment (“You shall have no other gods before me.” –Exodus 20:3). Another way to say “wanting to be their own gods” is “Do as thou wilt” — the motto of satanist Aleister Crowley and the church of Satan, and the zeitgeist of our time.

That first sin by our first parents was so cataclysmic that it fundamentally changed the natural order of the world.

A door was opened to chaos; henceforth a price must be paid for being human. Where once was joy and ease, there would be banishment, toil, pain, hardship, sickness, disease, and eventual death (with painful labor you will give birth to children; “by the sweat of your brow”; for dust you are and to dust you will return”). Humankind’s relation with other creatures and the physical environment turned askew as “visible creation has become alien and hostile to man”.

So cataclysmic is the breach that human nature itself became perverted. Henceforth, all of Adam’s progeny would be born with the stain of Original Sin — tinder for sin (fomes peccati) with an inclination to evil. As St. Anselm lamented¹:

I fell before my mother conceived me. Truly, in darkness I was conceived, and in the cover of darkness I was born. Truly, in him we all fell, in whom we all sinned. In him we all lost.

¹St. Anselm: Basic Writings, translated by S. N. Deane (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1961), p. 24.

Wrongs require restitution.

The dictionary defines “restitution” as reparation made by giving an equivalent as compensation for loss, damage, or injury caused; indemnification.

So immense was our first parents’ Fall that no man could make amends. Only God Himself, in the person of the Son, could make restitution — by becoming incarnate, only to be tortured, to suffer, and to die on a cross.

And so we come to Lent.

Since Jesus prepared Himself for His public ministry in 40 days, Christians imitate Him with prayer and fasting during this time of Lent to prepare for Holy Week. In remembrance of how Christ our Lord was tortured, suffered, and died for our sins, we are asked to make small sacrifices during Lent:

  • Abstinence: Refrain from eating meat on the Fridays of Lent for all age 14 and older. Why Friday? – because Jesus died for our sins on (Good) Friday.
  • Fasting: Eating one full meal and two small meals for age 18 through age 59, exempting persons with special dietary needs or medical conditions that require a greater or more regular food intake.
  • Surrender something that gives us pleasure, and/or do something good that we don’t ordinarily do.

Most of all, tell Jesus that you love Him with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength.

May the love and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you, always,

~Éowyn

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5 responses to “Sunday Devotional: Lent and the Fall of Adam & Eve

  1. In my opinion, eating one large meal and two small ones is no sacrifice at all, whatsoever. The Western World especially has been first propagandised and now conditioned in the last 65 years to believe three large meals a day is a supposed good idea that should be standard.

    As well, these companies created a food pyramid which emphasises a caloric consumption that is 70% carbohydrates, albeit some of these are vegetables & fruit. It would be far better for us as individuals and society as a whole if we had only one meal a day, as our bodies can adjust in 72 hours, and the many benefits would become apparent within a few weeks.

    It also would be a good idea I think if the greatest majority of society would eat only fish protein on Fridays. I admit that my views are not mainstream at this time; in 10 years they will be much more so.

     
    • “eating one large meal and two small ones is no sacrifice at all, whatsoever.”

      I totally agree. By that measure, I fast every day. Nor do I eat meat, not just during Lent. 🙂
      Eating three large meals a day is a sure-fire way to obesity.

       
  2. Steven Broiles

    The late psychiatrist Dr. Nathanael Branden, an atheist, gives us the most persuasive argument for Original Sin in his book, “The Psychology of Self-Esteem.” In it, he explains that as rational creatures, it is our “job” or function to think clearly and with right reason; Yet this clear thinking and right reason, a function of ours—the chief function that makes us rational animals—is not automatic. So if even an atheist can describe at least one of the consequences of our nature (in its fallen state), then you give that man a fair hearing.

    Some Christians get lost in their attempts to “interpret” the Bible. Should one interpret it “literally” or “figuratively?” Certainly the Church is correct when it says we should interpret Scripture literally wherever possible, knowing that metaphors and other figures of speech are unavoidable. So did Adam and Eve actually eat fruit from an actual tree? Was that fruit an apple, or was it some other fruit?

    God manifests the most sublime discretion in that He Tells us Adam & Eve did sin, and that they sinned in an act “of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge between good and evil.” Whatever act they committed, they did so after being tempted by that evil person we know as Satan, and they did so feeling entitled to do so. So I interpret that in a PHENOMENOLOGICAL MANNER, viz., they were tempted to doubt the Word of God after having a proposition made to them by the Devil.

    Was the sin a sexual sin? Certainly, sexual sins are among the worst people can commit. But whether this was the case or not, certainly Adam and Eve felt ENTITLED to commit whatever sin it was they committed. So they committed the sin of PRIDE in their act of DISOBEDIENCE, and they did so with full knowledge not of the coming consequences of that sin, but with full knowledge that they were, in fact and in deed, sinning.

    FULL STOP. God could have ended the entire human race right then and there. He could have ordered any one of His Angels to slay Adam & Eve right there, and He would have been within His Rights to do so. Yet God did not slay them or have them slain. Under the curse of pain and suffering and death they were—and we, their offspring—remained.

    St. Ignatius of Antioch maintained that their sin ALONE did not get Adam & Eve expelled from the Garden of Eden. Rather, it was their SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS after having sinned that got them expelled. Rather than fall on their faces and repent immediately of their act, they became self-righteous about their deed(s), and it was this furtherance of Pride that moved God to Command they be expelled.

    We also know that God MUST HAVE INTENDED to enter human history Himself at some point along the line. So let us look at the Genesis Account of things. Before the Fall, Adam “walked with God… in the cool of the evening.” So God was present in some manner BEFORE the Fall. And from Our Lord’s entrance into human history, we also know that God not only entered human history after the Fall, but entered it AS ONE OF US, IN EVERY WAY LIKE US, EXCEPT FOR SIN: “For God So Loved the World that He sent His One and Only Son….” So pleased was God to have made Man that He took on our own nature as a man in the Person of Jesus Christ, True God and True Man.

    Evil is a mystery. It is a horrible mystery, but a mystery nonetheless. And Goodness itself is a mystery. The Original Sin of Adam & Eve was a horrible thing, whatever the sin(s) they committed were, and from their own creation—BEFORE THEY WERE EVEN TEMPTED—God Almighty KNEW they would Fall. And from this Fall, this FAILURE OF FREE WILL, God Knew Adam & Eve would corrupt all their children, in that they would be born inclined toward evil and in a state of alienation from God. If this is not a phenomenological explanation of Original Sin, I don’t know what else would be. Yet God Already Had a Plan to save us fallen men: God Himself would come down from Heaven and PAY THE RANSOM HIMSELF: In the Genesis Account itself, the Passion and Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself is contained, is implied itself, in some way.

    Adam & Eve committed some sort of capital crime in their Fall, and because of this, we, too, are under the sentence of Death. Yet they, too, repented, and they, too, can be forgiven. The same opportunity God has Provided to us must have been provided to them in some manner. This alone explains, in a true manner, the Origins of man, in the matter that matters most, the Spiritual Matter. THIS is the conundrum that Christianity ALONE explains.

    This is one of the reasons why we have Lent. I have never been given to fasting itself, and I don’t see what is gained by it, other than physical suffering. (I have found I cannot think straight while starving!) But the willingness to sacrifice and suffering are proofs of Love. We cannot Love God as much as He Loves us, and He Knows that. What is the ROOT? “He it is who keeps My Word—he it is who Loves Me,” says Our Lord. So Humility and Obedience are KEY in walking with Our Lord.

     
  3. Life is balance. To “know” God is to love Him. God loves us in return with a love so immense it is impossible to speak of. For that reason God decided to allow us free will. God could have kept the man and woman in the garden with no volition of their own to live forever perfectly.

    But He so loved his creation that he allowed them to know something of what it is to make decisions and be responsible for the consequences. God wishes us all to know His plan for us so that we can weigh whether our decisions further that plan or run contrary to it.

    Lenten practices are some of a host of aids we have to enhance our faith. By fasting we are forced to acknowledge our dependence on God. We choose ways to show our gratitude. They are little “spurs” to help us remember that we owe God everything.

    God could have left us alone to wander aimlessly and be taken care of. Instead He loved us so much He allowed us the will to accept Him or reject Him. The sin is in forgetting our relationship. Man is neither the creator nor the ruler of life. Man is allowed to learn something of God so that he can better comport to God’s plan. Where man makes his mistake is when he decides that he is God.

     
  4. Lent, and particularly Ash Wednesday, are a helpful observance for all people. We need to keep our hearts on the eternal, not the temporal. Lord, teach us Heaven so we never develope an unhealthy connection with that which will perish.

     

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