RCIA

Class #6

How Does Jesus Save Us?

The Crucifixion of Jesus

The Crucifixion of Jesus

 
 

In this sessions we talked about why the human race needs to be saved. We answered these basic questions about the Catholic doctrine of “Original Sin” (explanations have been included here in addition to the answers given in class):

 

What was God’s command to Adam and Eve?

To know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him, and therefore to be happy.

You’ll remember from Class #5 that this is the purpose of all human life.

 

Did Adam and Eve do this?

No.

Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the fruit of the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” (Genesis chapters 2 and 3). This is symbolic of the fact that they wanted to be like God (being free and intelligent creatures), but not with God. They did not trust that serving God alone would make them happy, so they chose to serve themselves by sinning.

 

Who proposed to Adam and Eve that they should disobey God?

Satan.

Satan appears in the story of Genesis as the serpent who has entered into the Paradise of Eden.

 

Who created Satan?

God.

 

What kind of creature is Satan?

An angel.

Angels are pure spirits. Satan was created by God as the greatest of all the angels, whose name was “Lucifer”, which means “Light-bearer”. After he fell from heaven by his sin, he became the darkest of all the fallen angels.

 

What sin did the angels commit who were banished from heaven?

They refused to serve God.

Satan and the rest of the fallen angels rebelled against the authority of God, and refused to serve him. This is the exact same thing which Satan and the evil spirits tempt Adam and Eve to do.

 

What is hell?

The permanent separation of the sinner from friendship with God and the saints.

Hell is not really a place with fire and pitchforks, but a state of soul where one has been cut off by sin from God’s love and life. God does not send anyone to hell. Instead, God goes to great lengths to ensure that all of us will be saved from this sadness and suffering. However, if anyone persists in their desire to exclude God from their life, God will respect the freedom of that person and allow them to choose to live in hell.

 

What happened to Adam and Eve because of their sin?

They lost the grace of “original justice”.

Original Justice is also called “Original Holiness”. For an explanation of what these terms mean, see the next question.

 

What is “original justice”?

The gift of friendship with God given to Adam and Eve, which put them in harmony with themselves, with each other, and with all creation, and which meant that they would not have to suffer or die.

God intended for Adam and Eve to live forever. He gave them a special grace (grace: a gift from God) in their souls which united them perfectly to Himself. This grace is called “original justice” or “original holiness”, and it made it easy for them to obey God’s commands and kept them in his friendship and love, and it meant that they would live forever in paradise.

 

What have we inherited as a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience?

Original sin.

In short, “original sin” is the loss of “original justice”. When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost the grace that God gave them to be perfectly obedient to His will.

 

What are the results of original sin?

1.     Concupiscence

2.     Harmony between man and woman is broken

3.     Harmony between man and creation is broken

4.     Human beings will die

For an explanation of “concupiscence”, see the next question. Because of the loss of “original justice”, all of the harmonies between God, human beings, and the rest of creation are disrupted, and human beings begin to suffer and die.

 

What is “concupiscence”?

A weakness in doing good and an inclination to do evil.

Concupiscence is an effect of original sin that makes it hard to be good and easy to be bad. It can be thought of like an addiction – even though we know something is wrong, we do it anyway because we can’t help ourselves. This addiction to sin was brought into the world by Adam and Eve, and could not be overcome until God himself had cured it in His Son Jesus.

 

Did God abandon Adam and Eve after they sinned?

No.

God continued to offer humanity covenants in order to restore the friendship between God and human beings. However, because of the effects of original sin, we could never be faithful to the covenants God made with us (see class #5).

 

What did God promise to Adam and Eve after they fell into sin?

He promised to send them a redeemer.

This promise of God to send a redeemer can be found in Genesis 3:15, immediately after Adam and Eve have fallen into sin. God says to the serpent about the Savior and his mother: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel.” In statues of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, you can often find a serpent beneath her feet with an apple in his mouth, symbolizing the fulfillment of this prophecy.

 
 
 
Mary, the Mother of God, stepping on the head of the Serpent

Mary, the Mother of God, stepping on the head of the Serpent

Why did God not prevent Adam and Eve from sinning?

He respected their freedom, and he knew that he could bring good out of evil.

God created us with free will, and free will means that human beings can choose things that hurt themselves, even sin and death. God did not want us to serve him out of force or fear, but out of freedom and love. God also knew that he could bring some greater good out of the evil of human sin, namely the salvation won for us in Jesus.

 

How are we set free from original sin?

Baptism.

Baptism is the cleansing of a person of original sin. It also unites the person to Jesus as a son or daughter of God.

 

What are we given in baptism to combat the effects of original sin?

Sanctifying grace.

Sanctifying grace is given to us in baptism. It is a gift from God which resides in the soul of every baptized person, and it points them on the way to heaven. It gives us the wisdom to know God’s will, and the strength to do it. Without sanctifying grace in our souls, we are lost in the darkness and weakness of concupiscence and sin.

 

Can we lose sanctifying grace? How?

Yes. By committing mortal sin.

By freely choosing to turn one’s back on God by committing a mortal sin, even a baptized person effectively cuts themselves off from God like Adam and Eve did. In order to receive forgiveness and be reconciled to God once again, the person should confess their mortal sins to a priest and receive absolution (see next class for more of an explanation).

 

Homework:

Read the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-8.

 

Resources:

Click here for a blank copy of the worksheet from this class.