Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Eden - and - Adam and Eve Weren't German?!

Eden must have been a really nice place. (Genesis 2:8-9)

The visible creation is still a really nice place, for that matter. I think we can, if we look, see a sort of echo of how it's supposed to work. Bear in mind, though, that I'm some guy with a blog. I don't speak for the Church.

I've been reading about "Man in Paradise," Catechism of the Catholic Church, 374-379. ("Man?!" I've been over that before. (April 10, 2012) As I've said before, posts like this are a way for me to make sure I study what the Catholic Church has to say. You're welcome to come along for the ride.

Harmony, Mastery, and Loss

What made Eden special wasn't a good climate. Humanity lived in friendship with God. (Catechism, 374) There was a three-fold harmony, too.
"The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original 'state of holiness and justice.'250 This grace of original holiness was 'to share in . . . divine life.'251"
(Catechism, 375)
There's more, about a state called "original justice," a life without suffering or death. This involved a sort of three-fold harmony:
  • Inner harmony of the human person
  • Harmony between man and woman
  • Harmony between the first couple and all creation
    (Catechism, 376)
We still have a large measure of the "mastery" over the world that was designed into us. What we lost was inner mastery:
"The 'mastery' over the world that God offered man from the beginning was realized above all within man himself: mastery of self. The first man was unimpaired and ordered in his whole being because he was free from the triple concupiscence254 that subjugates him to the pleasures of the senses, covetousness for earthly goods, and self-assertion, contrary to the dictates of reason."
(Catechism, 377)
I'm going to break out that bit about concupiscence:
  • Pleasures of the senses
    • Contrary to the dictates of reason
  • Covetousness for earthly goods
    • Contrary to the dictates of reason
  • Self-assertion
    • Contrary to the dictates of reason
I think the message here isn't that our senses are bad, or that earthly goods are evil, or that having opinions is wrong. Again, I've got the authority of some guy with a blog.

It seems to me that:

Concupiscence: 'I Want It Anyway'

What I see in Catechism, 377, is that concupiscence is a tendency to let things of this world override reason. It's the sort of 'I know it's wrong, but I want it anyway' urge that's all too familiar to me.

Although "concupiscence" is often associated with sex, there's more to it. A person can want quite a few things 'contrary to reason,' that have little or nothing to do with sex. Freud notwithstanding, I can imagine someone obsessing over getting some special sort of cigar - just because he or she likes cigars to a degree that's "contrary to the dictates of reason."

I put more about concupiscence, Catholic style, at the end of this post.1

Eden, and Looking Ahead

If that harmony and "original justice" doesn't sound much like the world we live in: you're right:
"This entire harmony of original justice, foreseen for man in God's plan, will be lost by the sin of our first parents."
(Catechism, 379)
Now that's a cliffhanger, if I ever saw one.

Adam and Eve Weren't German?!

Albrecht Dürer's Adam and Eve (1507), Oil on panel, currently at Museo del Prado, Madrid; via The Yorck Project and Wikipedia, used w/o permissionI'm a practicing Catholic, so I believe that Adam and Eve existed.

That's not the same as thinking that Adam and Eve looked like the schöne Deutsche paar Albrecht Dürer painted five centuries back.

I posted about Adam, Eve, and getting a grip, yesterday:

The Bible and Me

I also take the Bible very seriously: and realize that it wasn't written by an American. I've been over that sort of thing before:
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have a pretty good overview for folks wanting to read and study the Bible:
    "Understanding the Bible"
    Mary Elizabeth Sperry, Associate Director for Utilization of the New American Bible, USCCB
If that doesn't sound very "Biblical," bear in mind that Catholics aren't Calvinists, and that's another topic.

Related posts:
1 More about concupiscence:
"CONCUPISCENCE: Human appetites or desires which remain disordered due to the temporal consequences of original sin, which remain even after Baptism, and which produce an inclination to sin (1264, 1426, 2515)."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary

"Yet certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the baptized, such as suffering, illness, death, and such frailties inherent in life as weaknesses of character, and so on, as well as an inclination to sin that Tradition calls concupiscence, or metaphorically, 'the tinder for sin' (fomes peccati); since concupiscence 'is left for us to wrestle with, it cannot harm those who do not consent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ.'67 Indeed, 'an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.'68"
(Catechism, 1264)

"Conversion to Christ, the new birth of Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Christ received as food have made us 'holy and without blemish,' just as the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, is 'holy and without blemish.'13 Nevertheless the new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life.14 This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us.15"
(Catechism, 1426)

"Etymologically, 'concupiscence' can refer to any intense form of human desire. Christian theology has given it a particular meaning: the movement of the sensitive appetite contrary to the operation of the human reason. The apostle St. Paul identifies it with the rebellion of the 'flesh' against the 'spirit.'302 Concupiscence stems from the disobedience of the first sin. It unsettles man's moral faculties and, without being in itself an offense, inclines man to commit sins.303"
(Catechism, 2515)

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.