Original sin is a term that refers to the state of sinfulness that all human beings inherit from Adam and Eve, the first parents of the human race. According to the Christian doctrine of original sin, Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, and as a result, they lost their original innocence and holiness. This loss of grace was transmitted to their descendants, who are born with a tendency to sin and a need for salvation.
Original sin does not mean that we are personally guilty of the sin of Adam and Eve, but rather that we share in their fallen nature and its consequences. Because of original sin, we are born with a lack of sanctifying grace, which is the supernatural gift that enables us to live in communion with God and to participate in his divine life. We are also born with concupiscence, which is the inclination to sin or to choose what is contrary to God’s will. Concupiscence makes us vulnerable to temptation and weakens our ability to resist sin.
However, original sin does not destroy our free will or our human dignity. We are still created in the image and likeness of God, and we still have the capacity to love and to do good. Moreover, God does not abandon us because of original sin, but offers us his mercy and grace through the redemption that he accomplished in Jesus Christ. By his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins and restored our friendship with God. Through baptism, we receive the forgiveness of original sin and the gift of sanctifying grace, which makes us children of God and members of his Church.
Original sin affects us in many ways, but it does not have the final word. We can overcome its effects by cooperating with God’s grace and by following his commandments. We can also grow in holiness by practicing the virtues, especially faith, hope, and charity. By doing so, we can prepare ourselves for the ultimate goal of our existence: to see God face to face and to enjoy his presence forever in heaven.
How to Deal with the Effects of Original Sin
As we have seen, original sin affects us in many ways, but it does not have the final word. We can overcome its effects by cooperating with God’s grace and by following his commandments. Here are some practical tips on how to deal with the effects of original sin in our daily lives:
Pray regularly and sincerely. Prayer is the communication with God that strengthens our relationship with him and helps us to align our will with his. Prayer also gives us the opportunity to express our gratitude, praise, repentance, and petition to God. We can pray in different ways, such as using the Scriptures, the liturgy, the rosary, or our own words.
Receive the sacraments frequently and devoutly. The sacraments are the signs and instruments of God’s grace that nourish and heal our souls. The sacraments of initiation (baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist) incorporate us into the Church and enable us to share in the divine life. The sacraments of healing (penance and anointing of the sick) restore us to God’s friendship and comfort us in our weakness. The sacraments of service (matrimony and holy orders) empower us to serve God and others in love.
Read and meditate on the Word of God. The Word of God is the revelation of God’s plan for our salvation and his love for us. By reading and meditating on the Scriptures, we can learn more about God’s will and his ways. We can also apply the Word of God to our personal situations and challenges, and find guidance, inspiration, and encouragement.
Seek spiritual direction and accountability. Spiritual direction is the guidance that we receive from a qualified person who helps us to discern God’s will and to grow in holiness. Accountability is the responsibility that we have to report our progress and struggles to someone who can support us and hold us accountable. By seeking spiritual direction and accountability, we can benefit from the wisdom and experience of others who can help us to overcome our blind spots and weaknesses.
Practice self-discipline and mortification. Self-discipline is the control that we exercise over our thoughts, words, and actions. Mortification is the voluntary renunciation of something good or neutral for a higher good or for love of God. By practicing self-discipline and mortification, we can train ourselves to resist sin and temptation, and to offer up our sacrifices for God’s glory and for the good of others.