not for fleshly lust do I take my sister to wife, but only for the love of posterity, [children] in which thy name may be blessed for ever and ever.” (The Holy Bible, Tobias 8:9) The Church’s teaching is clear on this point as well, teaching that: “the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children,” (Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii #54) and that is why the secondary end or purpose of quieting concupiscence must always be subordinated to the primary end or purpose of procreation.
In The Revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden, Our Lord Jesus Christ revealed to the saint how He originally intended the marital act to be performed by good and godly spouses before the fall.
The Son of God speaks: “But now, my bride, for whose sake all these things are being said and shown, you might ask, how children would have been born by them if they had not sinned? I shall answer you: In truth, by the love of God and the mutual devotion and union of the flesh wherein they both would have been set on fire internally, love’s blood would have sown its seed in the woman’s body without any shameful lust, and so the woman would have become fertile. Once the child was conceived without sin and lustful desire, I would have sent a soul into the child from my divinity, and the woman would have carried the child and given birth to it without pain. When the child was born, it would have been perfect like Adam when he was first created. But this honor was despised by man when he obeyed the devil and coveted a greater honor than I had given to him. After the disobedience was enacted, my angel came over them and they were ashamed over their nakedness, and they immediately experienced the lust and desire of the flesh and suffered hunger and thirst. Then they also lost me, for when they had me, they did not feel any hunger or sinful fleshly lust or shame, but I alone was all their good and pleasure and perfect delight.
“But when the devil rejoiced over their perdition and fall, I was moved with compassion for them and did not abandon them but showed them a threefold mercy: I clothed them when they were naked and gave them bread from the earth. And for the sensuality the devil had aroused in them after their disobedience, I gave and created souls in their seed through my Divinity. And all the evil the devil tempted them with, I turned to good for them entirely.
“Thereafter, I showed them how to live and worship me, and I gave them permission to have relations, because before my permission and the enunciation of my will they were stricken with fear and were afraid to unite and have relations. Likewise, when Abel was killed and they were in mourning for a long time and observing abstinence, I was moved with compassion and comforted them. And when they understood my will, they began again to have relations and to procreate children, from which family I, their Creator, promised to be born. When the wickedness of the children of Adam grew, I showed my justice to the sinful, but mercy to my elect; of these I was appeased so that I kept them from destruction and raised them up, because they kept my commandments and believed in my promises.” (St. Bridget’s Revelations, Book 1 Chapter 26)
St. Paul warns those who would marry as opposed to those who would remain virgins that spouses “shall have tribulation of the flesh”: “But if thou take a wife, thou hast not sinned. And if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned: nevertheless, such shall have tribulation of the flesh. But I spare you.” (1 Corinthians 7:28) It is certain that St. Paul does not refer to the desire to procreate as a tribulation of the flesh. Consequently, he can be referring only to one thing—sexual pleasure. Indeed, sexual pleasure is a tribulation of the flesh that must hence be fought against in thought and deed in some way or the Devil will succeed in tempting a spouse to fall into mortal sins of impurity either with the other spouse, with himself or with someone other than his spouse. There is no neutral ground with sexual pleasure—one either seek to enjoy it and hence inflame it by foreplay and other vile practices or seek to quench it and hence douse the fire of lust.
In this context, Halitgar, a ninth-century bishop who was known as The Apostle to the Danes, declared that: “God did not create men and women so that they might enjoy carnal desire or live in the delights of the flesh”, adding that: “if there had been no transgression of God’s command [in the garden of Eden by Adam and Eve], no one would experience carnal pleasure in the intercourse of the married.” In perfect agreement with 2000 years of Church tradition, The Apostle to the Danes summed up his teaching on Original Sin in the following way: “Carnal pleasure is an uncleanness of the body which comes from uncontrolled lust and the weakness of the soul which gives in to the sin of the flesh.” (Halitgar, De Vitiis et Virtutibus et de Ordine Poenitentiarum Libri Quinque)
St. Thomas Aquinas in his great work The Summa Theologica also agreed “that the infection of original sin is most apparent in the movements of the members of generation, which are not subject to reason.” He also taught that a man’s lack of rational control over his arousal and orgasm was the result of “the infection of original sin.” Although all aspects of the human soul were seen as “corrupted by original sin,” the three aspects pertaining to human sexual response were most deeply infected, namely, “the generative power, the concupiscible faculty and the sense of touch.” The sense of touch was “the most powerful incentive to concupiscence.” Thus, St. Thomas linked the physical touching of bodies, with the effects of original sin. The Angelic Doctor concluded that: “Whoever, therefore, uses copulation for the delight which is in it, not referring the intention to the end intended by nature, acts against nature.” (cf. Summa Theologica, Supplement, Q. 49, Art. 5; In Sententiarum, 22.214.171.124)
In truth, all our senses were soiled by the original sin after the fall—even our thoughts. Thus, people who let themselves grow attached to pleasures and feelings of various kinds will never be able to advance very far in their spiritual life, and in their search for God, since they will always be drawn towards earthly, carnal and perishable things. We read in the book of Genesis how God cursed the earth because of Adam and Eve’s transgression:
Genesis 3:16-19 “To the woman also He [God] said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee. And to Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee, that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work: with labor and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.”
There are, sad to say, too many things to recount that arose as a direct cause of the original sin of Adam and Eve. Death, injury, physical as well as emotional pain, painful childbirth, fatigue, hunger and thirst, and fleshly lusts and desires did not even exist before the fall of humanity into death and sin, and not only that, but nature also completely obeyed the will of humans. Thus, everything in nature was perfect, and matter and animals was in complete subjection to the will of man. In truth, “Matrimony was first instituted in Paradise so that the bridal chamber might be unblemished and marriage honorable, and so that conception be without lust and childbirth without pain [cf. Gen. 3:16].” (Gratian, Marriage Canons From The Decretum, C. 32, Q. 2, P. 2)
After the fall of man and his disobedience against God, all of nature – not only animals, but also the human body – started to rebel against the will of man in consequence of this first sin, the body consequently no longer being subservient to the will of man as before the fall. Thus nature started to act against man and harm him, and the body started to tempt man and disobey his will, especially in the private parts.
In The Revelations of Saint Bridget, Book 5, also called The Book of Questions, and in Interrogation 5, Christ Himself reveals to Saint Bridget in a supernatural revelation that the only reason why nature and animals are able to harm us is because we consent to sin. In fact, Christ tells us that we humans endure illnesses “because of the vice of incontinence and excess, in order that people may learn spiritual moderation and patience by restraining the flesh”, thus showing us very clearly how the sin of concupiscence is especially effective in bringing about the many different illnesses that we humans endure today.
“First question. Again the monk appeared on his ladder as before saying: “O Judge, why did you create worms that are harmful and useless?”
“Answer to the first question. The Judge [Our Lord Jesus Christ] answered: “Friend, as God and Judge I have created heaven and earth and all that are in them, and yet nothing without cause nor without some likeness to spiritual things. Just as the souls of holy people resemble the holy angels who live and are happy, so too the souls of the unrighteous become like the demons who are eternally dying. Therefore, since you asked why I created worms, I answer you that I created them in order to show forth the manifold power of my wisdom and goodness. For, although they can be harmful, nevertheless they do no harm without my permission and only when sin demands it, so that man, who scorns to submit to his superior, may bemoan his capacity to be afflicted by lesser creatures, and also in order that he may know himself to be nothing without me – whom even the irrational creatures serve and they all stand at my beck and call.”
“Second question. “Why did you create wild beasts that are also harmful to humankind?”
“Answer to the second question. “As to why I created wild beasts, I answer: All things that I have created are not only good but very good and have been created either for the use or trial of humankind or for the use of other creatures and in order that humans might so much the more humbly serve their God inasmuch as they are more blessed than all the rest. However, beasts do harm in the temporal world for a twofold reason. First, so that the wicked may be corrected and beware, and so that wicked people might come to understand through their torments that they must obey me, their superior. Second, they also do harm to good people with a view to their advancement in virtue and for their purification. And because the human race rebelled against me, their God, through sin, all those creatures that had been subject to humans have consequently rebelled against them.”
“Third question. “Why do you let sickness and pain into bodies?”
“Answer to the third question. “As to why sickness comes upon the body, I answer that this happens both as a strong warning and because of the vice of incontinence and excess, in order that people may learn spiritual moderation and patience by restraining the flesh.”
“… Fifth question. “Why is the human body afflicted even at the point of death?”
“Answer to the fifth question. “As to why the body suffers pain in death, it is just that a person should be punished by means of that in which she or he has sinned. If she sins through inordinate lust, it is right for her to be punished with proportionate bitterness and pain. For that reason, death begins for some people on earth and will last without end in hell, while death ends for others in purgatory and everlasting joy commences.” (The Revelations of Saint Bridget, Book 5, Interrogation 5)
The Apocalypse of Moses and Life of Adam and Eve (LAE) also devote a considerable space to the results of the fall. God’s judgment on the first human transgression profoundly affected both humanity and the rest of creation. The disobedience of Adam and Eve resulted in sin becoming part of the experience of all humanity (LAE 44.3). The whole human race is under God’s wrath (Apoc. Mos. 14.2; LAE 49.3; 50.2) and will face God’s judgment and destruction (LAE 49.3; 50.2; Apoc. Mos. 14.2). There are two judgments: (1) The water judgment undoubtedly refers to the flood. (2) A judgment by ‘fire’, which refers to the end of the world or eternal hell fire for the wicked and unrepentant.
Although the final judgment is expected, the books emphasize the changes that the fall brought to life in this world. When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost their original glory and were estranged from the glory of God (Apoc. Mos. 20.2; 21.6). All people lost immortality (Apoc. Mos. 28.3) and death became certain (LAE 26.2; Apoc. Mos. 14.2). Life is now full of hardship, labour, enmity, strife, disease, pain, suffering and other evils (LAE 44.2-4; Apoc. Mos. 24.2-3; 25.1-4; 28.3). Due to the fall, human life is marked by futile labour and failure: ‘those who rise up from us shall labour, not being adequate, but failing’ (LAE 44.3; cf. Apoc. Mos. 24.3). Humanity is banned from paradise, with all its pleasures and comforts (Apoc. Mos. 27–29).
There are several physical aspects to God’s curse on the human race in response to the fall: (1) death, (2) disease and bodily pains and (3) birth pangs. These affected not only Adam and Eve, but also all their descendants (LAE 34.2; 44.2 [=Apoc. Mos. 14.2]; 49.3; 50.2).
Due to the transgression of Adam and Eve, not only Adam and Eve but also all of their descendants die (LAE 26.2; Apoc. Mos. 14.2; 28.3). Human beings would not have died if Adam and Eve had not disobeyed God.
The book also describes how Adam and Eve’s transgression brought disease and bodily pains. There are ‘seventy plagues’ on the body (LAE 34.2 [=Apoc. Mos. 8.2.]). Seventy is probably a symbolic number indicating that the ailments affect the entire body. Sin leads to affliction of the entire body, ‘from the top of the head and the eyes and ears down to the nails of the feet and in each separate limb’ (LAE 34.2). This is a figure of speech in which the extreme members of the body are mentioned to indicate the whole body. Prior to the fall there were no disease (LAE 34.2). When Adam is on his deathbed, Seth asks, ‘What is pain and illness?’ (Apoc. Mos. 5.5. [=LAE 30.4]; LAE 31.5). Seth’s query suggests that the curse of illness was delayed until just prior to Adam’s death, since illness was still unknown to Adam’s children at that time. Romans 5:12 say in this regard: “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.” The physical curse due to the fall also brought pain in childbirth (Apoc. Mos. 25.1-3). This important change in the operation of the physical world is based on Genesis 3:16.
Nature also suffered damage as a result of the disobedience of Adam and Eve. Immediately after Eve ate the forbidden fruit, the nearby plants in paradise lost their leaves, except for the fig tree (Apoc. Mos. 20.4). This suggest a solidarity between humanity and the natural world so that when human beings sin, nature suffers damage. By contrast, when God entered paradise to judge the original humans, the plants blossomed and prospered (Apoc. Mos. 22.3). God’s divine glory and righteousness bring healing to nature, but human unrighteousness damages the natural world.
Indeed, we see that this fact is also true after the fall since man lived to about 900 years before the flood, and that after this judgment, the human lifespan was drastically changed, undoubtedly as a direct result of the sins of men. Man’s actions are thus directly effective and causative in bringing either destruction or healing from God, and this shows us the inherent need of all men to conform to God’s Laws.
The fall brought a profound change in plant life. The curse on the ground (Apoc. Mos. 24.1-3), which is based on Genesis 3:17-19, involves several aspects. First, the Ground would require hard labour to grow crops (vv. 2-3. Second, the ground would never be as productive as before the fall (v. 2, ‘it shall not give its strength’). Third, weeds, thistles and thorns would grow easily and abundantly, but these plants would be of no value for food and would make growing food crops more difficult (v. 2). After Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise, they no longer had access to many plants that grew in paradise (LAE 2.2; 4.1). Thus humans were reduced to eating the same food as animals (LAE 4.1). The only special plants Adam and Eve could take from paradise were certain aromatic spices (LAE 42.4; Apoc. Mos. 29.3-6).
The fall also brought changes to the animal world. The serpent was cursed because it allowed itself to be used as a vessel for the devil (Apoc. Mos. 26.1-4). The serpent underwent fundamental changes in its physical nature: It was forced to crawl on its belly. Although other animals did not undergo such radical physical changes, their behavior changed profoundly after the fall. Prior to the fall, animals were subservient to humanity, since the image of God is in humans (Apoc. Mos. 10.3). When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the nature of animals was changed and they began to rebel against humans (Apoc. Mos. 11.3; 24.4). Animals took on some of the rebellious nature that is passed on to the descendants of Adam and Eve.
The rebellion of the animals is illustrated by the attack of a wild animal who bites Seth (Apoc. Mos. 10–12). In the Apoc. Mos., the attack is a result of a fundamental change in animals due to the fall (Apoc. Mos. 11.2-3; cf. 10.2). The type of wild animal is not specified, since it represents the fundamental change in the nature of all animals. In LAE, however, the animal is identified as a serpent (LAE 37.1; 44.1), the animal that the devil indwelt. Yet, even in the passage where the wild animal attacks Seth, the beast obeys Seth when he commands it to be silent and to leave (Apoc. Mos. 12.1-2. Thus although nature was corrupted by the fall, the damage is not comprehensive or to the same extent as for the future generations. This again suggest a solidarity between humanity and the natural world so that when human beings sin more, nature suffers more and rebels more.
It is indeed perfect justice that man, who refused to obey God, should labor under the servitude of inferior passions, desires and creatures that rebel against him – just as man rebel and rebelled against God – so that through humility and acknowledgment of our own worthlessness, sin, weakness, infirmity, and nothingness, we should again be able to humbly approach Our Lord and God “with the assistance of grace”.
Pope Pius XI, Mit brennender Sorge #25, March 14, 1937: “‘Original sin’ is the hereditary but impersonal fault of Adam’s descendants, who have sinned in him (Rom. 5:12). It is the loss of grace, and therefore eternal life, together with a propensity to evil, which everybody must, with the assistance of grace, penance, resistance and moral effort, repress and conquer.”
An accurate description or definition of the current state of humanity’s existence that best describe our state would be that we are living in exile. In truth, we are exiled from the presence of Our Lord and the Tree of Life because of the sin of our first parents. Very few people understand this great truth which says that we are living in exile and that we are enduring a most grievous punishment of exclusion from the presence of Our Lord. The direct consequence of this lack of knowledge and understanding of the state of our miserable existence, undoubtedly contributes enormously to the amount and severity of sin that people commit. The main reason behind this is that a person who knows or considers that he is in a state of punishment, or living under a curse, will almost always act more cautiously and refrain from doing more to infuriate his Lord.
In fact, the power of original sin over humanity is so great that Pope Eugene IV in TheCouncil of Florence infallibly declared that all children are born under “the domination of the Devil” through original sin, and that the only way to save them from this lamentable state of servitude to our eternal foe, the Devil, is to give them the sacrament of Baptism, “through which they are snatched from the domination of the Devil [original sin] and adopted among the sons of God” (Denzinger 712).
But there is yet another truth very important to remember. As soon as we wish to speak of education, Our human nature, the nature of every man who comes into this world since the original sin (except for Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary) is no longer an intact or balanced nature that is subject to God. This human nature that all human beings have inherited from Adam, is a wounded, corrupted, and fallen nature, “whose will is no longer directed towards God, but is self-centered, and consequently, selfish; a nature whose tendencies and passions are no longer adapted to reason, but are carnal and opaque, permeated with the selfishness of the will.”
St. Thomas Aquinas writes concerning this: “Through the sin of our first parents, all the powers of the soul are left destitute of their proper order, whereby they are naturally directed to virtue. This destitution is called a wounding of nature. First, in so far as the reason, where prudence resides, is deprived of its order to the true, there is the wound of ignorance. Second, in so far as the will is deprived of its order to the good, there is the wound of malice. Third, in so far as the sensitive appetite is deprived of its order to the arduous, there is the wound of weakness. Fourth, in so far as it is deprived of its order to the delectable moderated by reason, there is the wound of concupiscence.” St. Thomas adds: “These four wounds, ignorance, malice, weakness and concupiscence are afflicted on the whole of human nature only as a result of our first parents’ sin. But since the inclination to the good of virtue is diminished in each individual on account of actual sin, these four wounds are also the result of other sins, in so far as, through sin, the reason is obscured, especially in practical matters, the will hardened to evil, good actions become more difficult, and concupiscence more impetuous.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, First Part of the Second Part, Q. 85, Art. 3)
Although we are born under the domination of the Devil through original sin, this “wounded” nature that we have all inherited from Adam is nonetheless redeemed by Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism. Thus since original sin, grace is not only elevating, but also healing. We are redeemed in Christ, healed by his wounds, and called to sanctity by our conformity to Christ crucified, offered in sacrifice. To resume, grace makes our human nature partake in the Divine Nature, and it is thus elevating; and since our human nature is wounded, it is also healing.
2 Peter 1:3-10 “As all things of His [Our Lord Jesus Christ’s] divine power which appertain to life and godliness, are given us, through the knowledge of him who hath called us by his own proper glory and virtue. By whom He hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature: flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world. And you, employing all care, minister in your faith, virtue; and in virtue, knowledge; And in knowledge, abstinence; and in abstinence, patience; and in patience, godliness; And in godliness, love of brotherhood; and in love of brotherhood, charity. For if these things be with you and abound, they will make you to be neither empty nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he that hath not these things with him, is blind, and groping, having forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore, brethren, labour the more, that by good works you may make sure your calling and election. For doing these things, you shall not sin at any time.”
Since human nature is wounded in every man and woman as well as in all our children, education must strive to heal, to rectify, and to purify the tendencies of our fallen nature, with the grace of Jesus Christ, with authority that dares to command, and with the use of punishment when they refuse to obey. Today, there are far too many parents who, through living an ungodly and selfish life, refuse to understand the inborn weakness of our human nature, and the inherent evilness of sexual desire or concupiscence, as well as its inherent danger and potential to tempt us to commit evil acts, “