St. Edmund Campion Catechism Group - Series 4 Lesson 10

Theology for Beginners: Chp 10. The Fall
Theology for Beginners: All chapters
Scripture: Gen 2-3, Rom 5:12I Cor 15 
Penny Catechism: Q110-127
Catechism of the Council of Trent (The Roman Catechism): The Creed Art.10
Sermon: The Supernatural Order
Catholic Encyclopedia: Original Sin
Aquinas 101: Do we really inherit Original Sin?
Summa Theologica: Prima Secunda Q81a2Q85
Companion to the Summa: Vol2 Chp 15, Chp16

The Fall


  1. Recap:

    Chapter 1: Why study theology?

    - Theology is wisdom which is the knowledge of all things in relation to their highest cause.

    - Theology is the greatest of all sciences by the sublimity of its object: God; and by the certitude of its conclusions: the certitude of faith.

    - Theology teaches us our finality: the finality of man is the supernatural perfection of all his faculties - the greatest among these are his intellect and will.

    - Theology helps us attain our finality in respect of ourselves by the perfect love of God.

    - Theology helps us attain our finality in respect of our neighbour: if we love God, then we love everything He loves.

    Chapter 2: Spirit

    - A spirit is an immaterial intelligent living being (types: God, the angels and the souls of men)

    - A soul is defined as the first principle of life of those material things which live (plants, animals and men). Plants, animals and men have souls, but only the souls of men are spirits.

    - Properties: a spirit does not change in its being, does not corrupt, does not die (and is therefore eternal), has no mass, no shape, and no place e say that spirits are subsistent, which means that they have all they need to exist - they do not need a body to exist (like a plant or animal soul).

    Acts: to know and love. No material organ is required for these activities.

    Chapter 3: The Infinite Spirit

    God is the Infinite Spirit. 

    - God is all knowing, all loving, all powerful

    - God is His own existence

    - God was not created, He does not change, He has no past and future, God perpeturally in the present.

    - God is naturally everywhere: by His essence (per essentiam), by His power (per potentiam), by His knowing (per scientiam)

    God is Actus Purus, He cannot ever be in potency to doing anything; He is His action.  St. Thomas says that He is Actus Purus – one , simple, infinite and perfect action which is always in the present.

    Chapter 4: The Blessed Trinity

    The Blessed Trinity is the term used to express the central doctrine on the Christian religion: the truth that in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, these Three Persons being truly distinct from one another. There is one being, with one nature and there are Three Persons. The Blessed Trinity is known only by revelation, but can subsequently be explored by reason.

    Chapter 5: The Three Persons

    In an attempt to understand as much as possible about the Blessed Trinity using revelation and our knowledge of the intellect and being (by the science of metaphysics), St. Thomas, building on theologians before him, makes a best attempt to reconcile the unity of God and the distinction of the Three Persons in God. God has one nature by which the Three Persons operate. The distinction of the Three Persons is discerned in the mutually opposed relations resulting from the act of God knowing Himself and loving Himself. The Persons, are distinguished as the subsistant relations or Paternity, Filiation and Passive Spiration.

    Most of us, however, do not have a sufficient grasp of metaphysics to understand this complex theory and so a simpler one is proposed: In the act of knowing Himself, God generates a mental Word which is identical to the Generator. In the generator we discern the Father, in the generated, we discern the Son. These are Persons Who will naturally love each other, this love being personified in the Holy Ghost

    Chapter 6: Making the doctrine of the Trinity a living and loved reality

    For most people something like that happens when they embrace a mystery of the faith revealed to them by the Church:

     - first there is an intellectual response as they grasp the theological exposition of the mystery

     - then a vital response as the wonder and beauty of the mystery draws the observer in

     - then a loving response as the mystery becomes a light and a power in our lives.

    Chapter 7: Creation

    God created all things from nothing and sustains all things in existence from moment to moment - all for His glory. 

    Chapter 8: The nature of man

    Man is made in the image and likeness of God, possessing an intellect and a will. He is different from the animals because he loves the things he knows whereas animals are attracted to the thing they sense; and he can choose what to love whereas animals are attracted to things by nature. Man is capable of moral good or evil, whereas animals always act according to their nature. The ultimate purpose of man is to know and love God. The ultimate purpose of non-intelligent creatures is to adorn creation for the glory of God.

    Chapter 9: The Supernatural Life

    Man is made for the Beatific Vision (that perfect possesion of God in heaven) but with his fallen nature he is radically incapable both of attaining this end and remaining in this state of perfect happiness. By sanctifying grace, man begins a supernatural life here below. He is transformed by grace and receives supernatural virtues and the Gift of the Holy Ghost with grace. He begins to live and act with the life and actions of God. He enters on to the path to heaven and progresses towards it. If he die in a state of grace, then the supernatural life within him is perfected to the point of perfect bliss in union with God.

  2. Original Justice

    Adam was created with a perfectly ordered human nature in which:

    - the passions were submitted to the will

    - the will was submitted to the intellect

    - the intellect was submitted to God

    - intellectual and moral virtues grew with repeated acts of understanding and moral good

    Adam was also endowed with gifts -  we say that he was created in a state of Original Justice, which means that he was in a state of supernatural grace (which includes supernatural virtues and gifts). He was also endowed with praeternatural gifts

    (i) knowledge - infused knowledge so that he could know the Map of Life (himself, heaven "X" and the law to get there).

    (ii) integrity - which gave the intelligence power over the will, and gave the will power over the passions.

    (iii) impassibility -  which was perfect health due to the perfect possession of the body by the soul.

    (iv) immortality - by which Adam could attain heaven without passing through death.

  3. Sin

    : Sin is an offence against the law of God.

    Division: Sin is divided as follows:

    - Original Sin: the sin committed by Adam and transmitted to all his progeny.

    - Actual sin: sin committed by an individual. Actual sin is further divided:

       - Mortal sin: a grave offence against the law of God which turns man from his supernatural end.

       - Venial sin: an offence against the law of God which hinders man in the pursuit of his supernatural end, but does not turn him away from that end.

  4. Original Sin

    Original sin may be taken to mean:

    (1) the sin that Adam committed;

    (2) a consequence of this first sin, the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam.

  5. Original Sin: The sin that Adam committed

    Genesis 2:17 & 3:1 et seq. tells the story of Adam's fall in which:

    (a) Adam received a command from God to test his obedience;

    (b) but through the temptation of the devil in the form of a serpent he transgressed the command.

    His sin was disobedience born of pride (which implies that the praeternatural gift of integrity does not include submission of the intellect to God).

  6. Original Sin: The consequence of this first sin

    When Adam committed Original Sin:

    (i) he lost the state of Original Justice which was the state of grace and the supernatural gifts & virtues that he was created with; 

    (ii) he also lost the praternatural gifts of knowledge, integrity, impassibility and immortality.

    Now, as these were gifts that were given to his human nature by God, there was no natural reason that they should be given to his offspring.

  7. Existence of Original Sin

    - By faith: It is an article of faith 

       - Scripture: Rom 5:12

       - Tradition: St. Thomas, goes back to St. Anselm and even to the traditions of the early Church, as we see by the declaration of the Second Council of Orange (A.D. 529): one man has transmitted to the whole human race not only the death of the body, which is the punishment of sin, but even sin itself, which is the death of the soul [Denz., n. 175 (145)].

       - Reason: We cannot pretend to prove the existence of original sin by arguments from reason only. St. Thomas makes use of a philosophical proof which proves the existence rather of some kind of decadence than of sin, and he considers his proof as probable only, satis probabiliter probari potest (Contra Gent., IV, lii).

  8. Transmission of Original Sin

    Not through the soul because God creates individual souls which are infused into the matter prepared by the parents.  

    Not through the body because the body is not a subject for the gifts of Original Justice.

    Original Justice was a gift to the human race which was personified in Adam. His sin was the sin of the human race.