Did all of nature itself fall? Any other sources confirm this?

In reading 'The Imitation of Christ" by Kempis, in book 3, chapter 55, we are at a climax of describing how nature itself drags us down. I was wondering if indeed God created nature in a way that drags us down by design. But then, in this chapter he tells us that the fall of man through Adam is to blame for the fall of nature itself. I found this extremely comforting. It basically says two things to me, 1: God did not create a natural world that drags us down by design, 2: there is a way out. A way that existed since the beginning.

My question is, are there any other Catholic sources that agree or confirm this? Or is this unique to Kempis? Is this correct Catholic theology? Did the fall of man cause the fall of nature itself?

Here is the quote:

“There is need of Your grace, and of great grace, in order to overcome a nature prone to evil from youth. For through the first man, Adam, nature is fallen and weakened by sin, and the punishment of that stain has fallen upon all mankind. Thus nature itself, which You created good and right, is considered a symbol of vice and the weakness of corrupted nature, because when left to itself it tends toward evil and to baser things. The little strength remaining in it is like a spark hidden in ashes. That strength is natural reason which, surrounded by thick darkness, still has the power of judging good and evil, of seeing the difference between true and false, though it is not able to fulfill all that it approves and does not enjoy the full light of truth or soundness of affection.”

See Romans 8:20 through 8:22.

Also, concupiscence:

catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=32697

Hope this helps,
Ed

In short, yes. The sin of Adam “profoundly wounded” our nature which is why we have the inclination to sin. Before the fall, human nature was sinless and had not yet severed its special unity with the Divine Nature. However, it is interesting to note that because of sin, out of love, God gave us his Son as a redeemer. Christ, by taking on the fallen nature of Adam, brings it to the Cross and in conquering sin and death in the Paschal Mystery, actually elevates human nature to a state higher and more noble than before Adam’s sin. Christ, the new Adam, in taking on human nature sanctifies and raises it so that we might share in his own Divine Sonship. In conquering sin, he elevates our nature to the highest level. St. Thomas Aquinas thus calls the sin of Adam a “happy fault”, because Christ gave himself up to death to deliver us from it, and to do so took human flesh and sanctified it by his divinity. So Satan’s victory in the garden is turned on its head by the Paschal Victory. Christ destroys sin, and elevates human nature higher than it ever was before the fall.

I find it confusing that God damned us all save for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ due to the actions of one man and woman deceived by Satan.

First…WHY did God allow Satan into the Garden? I thought He cast Satan into Hell? So WHY is he allowed to wander the Earth and gather souls that should belong to God?

Second…How is it fair that all of humanity to follow should suffer the consequences of the decisions of Adam and Eve? Is this a Mystery? Isn’t God ultimately a Fair God? So WHY would we all be tainted by “original” sin? Couldn’t God have just started over, instead of having to send his Son as a sacrifice for humanity?

So much of Christianity is puzzling to me logically, even though I so much want to be a Catholic and want to have Faith.

Umm… hang on – not so quick. :wink:

I think Frankenfurter is asking a question about ‘nature’, not ‘human nature’, and by that, means ‘the entire natural world’:

[quote=Frankenfurter]I was wondering if indeed God created nature in a way that drags us down by design. But then, in this chapter he tells us that the fall of man through Adam is to blame for the fall of nature itself.
[/quote]

Frankenfurter,

Perhaps I’m misunderstanding you, but it seems to me that you’re asking about nature as in ‘Mother Nature’ or the entire natural world. Is that what you’re asking? If so, the answer is ‘no’, and christus_vincit explains why – here, the discussion of ‘nature’ is really one about ‘human nature’… :wink:

Ahhh! I should have read more carefully! lol

Well, I think it’s unfair to say that God damned us, don’t you think? The story of the fall of humanity asserts that the fall occurred because man wanted to make his own rules and not follow God’s commands. :shrug:

First…WHY did God allow Satan into the Garden? I thought He cast Satan into Hell? So WHY is he allowed to wander the Earth and gather souls that should belong to God?

Are you referring to the Book of Revelation? Where the devil is bound for a thousand years? In the context of that book, the ‘binding’ happens far after the woman’s children (i.e., the Church) are on the scene. Rather, the devil had been kicked out of heaven by St Michael and thrown to earth. That would seem to be the more appropriate context.

I also don’t think that the devil is “gathering souls;” rather, he’s attempting to deceive humanity and get people to throw away their eternal life by their own actions. It’s not about Satan trying to ‘win’ so much as it is about him trying to make God ‘lose’…

Second…How is it fair that all of humanity to follow should suffer the consequences of the decisions of Adam and Eve? Is this a Mystery?

I would point you to Paul; in Romans 5:12, he asserts that the original sin belongs to “one man” (i.e., Adam), but that death belongs to us all, “inasmuch as all sinned.” So, it’s not just that we suffer the consequences of another’s sin – we suffer the consequences of our own sin!

Couldn’t God have just started over, instead of having to send his Son as a sacrifice for humanity?

Would that have been ‘fair’, though? Are you asserting that a ‘second chance humanity’ would be sinless? Unless that’s the case, then it doesn’t matter how many chances we’d get – not only the 1st chance, but also the 2nd chance and 3rd chance and 4th chance humans would all fall to sin and require a savior. We aren’t fallen because Adam got it wrong (and someone else would have gotten it right) – we’re fallen because we’re human. In His providence, God saw that He could have both a humanity with free will and a humanity with the chance of salvation… if that humanity had a savior.

Notice, too, that Christ isn’t so much a ‘sacrifice’ as a ‘redeemer’; Catholics don’t believe in penal substitution, but rather, in substitutionary atonement.

I appreciate your answer Gorgias, but it still begs the question…“Why? Why has God created creatures (both Angels and Humans) that would “rebel” against Him, their Creator?” It seems like a cruel game, that many of us are drawn to recurring sin, perhaps because of certain natural tendencies that are part of our nature, but then we must pay for eternity!

I have read that God loves us “unconditionally”…in fact, the Bishop in my diocese used that very term today in a homily. But how does eternal punishment equal love? Also, I have seen God’s love equated to a Father’s love for his child, but I would not punish my child because of the child’s bad choice for eternity, and certainly not upon equal measure no matter the type of bad choice, from murder to lying. Yet we are told that ALL Mortal Sin is treated equally, and deserves Hell! None of us asked to be born into this. There are certain behaviors which are considered “mortal sins” that hurt nobody, but yet God has deemed them bad enough to merit Hell if not confessed, and repented, Now maybe you will argue that all sin hurts somebody, even if that person is the person committing the sin. And it hurts God. Yet if a parent is hurt by the actions of his child, he still loves his child, and would not ever wish to be separated from his child forever, and would always leave the door open to a return…WITH NO TIME LIMIT. But we are told there is a time limit…our life on Earth. I do have attachment to sinful behavior. I know it is wrong according to Catholic teaching, yet I find it hard to be sorry for it. Do I want to go to Hell? No. I don’t think my sin deserves Hell, but according to the Church, it does, and that’s that.

I have never been more depressed about God, religion, and my eternal prospects as I am now that I have learned so much about the Catholic Church and am in the process of joining. I wish it would make me feel better, and I feel worse.

Correct. My understanding of Kempis is that he is referring to all of the natural world. My question is if there are any other Catholic sources that claim that all of the natural world was indeed fallen after Adam? And if this is correct Catholic theology.

I am not referring to man’s nature, but all of nature. Nature itself.

This seems like a very important point. Something I had not understood before from reading the Imitation of Christ. But it jumped out at me this time.

I had also been going to the zoo an spending time with wild animals (literally). So this notion of nature itself having fallen due to original sin really hit home. Animals seem very simple and pure, but they are clearly locked into all the earthly ways that Kempis describes regarding nature. The Imitation of Christ paints a pretty clear contrast between ‘nature’ and ‘grace’. So when I came to this explanation of why we find ourselves in this predicament, the scope of the fall of man hit a new high for me.

Well, on the face of it, it seems like God had two choices when he created us: His intent was that we love Him, so he could have either created us with free will and allowed us to freely make the choice to love Him… or He could have created us without free will and forced us to love Him. The second choice seems hideous: we would have been mindless robots, unable to make a choice for or against God, and simply wandering around the world, oblivious to the notion of how awesome love is when it’s offered freely and accepted freely. Or, we would have been like citizens in a despotic dictatorship – aware of what we want to do, but instead, forced to do what Big Brother wants us to do. That seems even more monstrous – compelled to do things against our will!!!

But, the ‘cruel game’ that you refer to, is what God chose. The ‘cruel game’ is the opportunity to choose on your own what you want – life with God or life without God. The ‘cruel game’ is that God not only gives you the opportunity to choose, but allows you to have what you want – and not just temporarily, but eternally! :wink:

So, God didn’t create creatures “that would rebel against Him”, but rather, He created creatures that were free to cleave to Him. That freedom – if it is to exist at all – must necessarily also allow for the freedom to rebel; it’s the price one pays for freedom. That, I think, is why God allows it.

But, is it truly the case that because of “natural tendencies”, we are doomed to eternal damnation? Not at all! Yes, we are sinners, and we sin over and again. Yet, God is a forgiver – and He forgives, over and again. Our inclination to sin doesn’t trump God’s inclination to love; in fact, in the face of sinfulness, God’s forgiving love wins out every time. There’s only one thing that a sinner has to do, in order to win out over his sinful tendencies: don’t. give. up. That’s it! That’s the whole ‘trick’ right there! Don’t despair; don’t lose hope; don’t stop trying. In the end, you’ll ‘win’… :thumbsup:

Also, I have seen God’s love equated to a Father’s love for his child, but I would not punish my child because of the child’s bad choice for eternity, and certainly not upon equal measure no matter the type of bad choice, from murder to lying.

Not all lying is mortal sin. In fact, not all murder is mortal sin, per se: mortal sin requires grave matter (e.g., murder, theft), but also full knowledge and deliberate consent. If these last two aren’t present, it isn’t mortal sin.

But what about your real concern: would a loving father ‘punish’ his child eternally? I have two thoughts about that: first, hell isn’t a ‘punishment’ by God, it’s a ‘choice’ made by a person. God simply allows people to have what they’ve demonstrated that they want. If you’re planning a family vacation trip somewhere awesome, and your adult child wails and moans and complains and throws a tantrum that he… just… doesn’t…want…to…GO! … then what do you, as a loving father, do? Do you force him to go, and then watch him be miserable in a place that he has no interest in being? Or do you allow him to have the choice that he wants?

None of us asked to be born into this.

I’ve heard this thought offered in many contexts and as a response to many questions, but it doesn’t resonate with me. No, we weren’t asked whether we wanted to live, but here we are. So… since I’m here and that’s that, why does my consent matter? I’m here; that’s a fact. What I do with my situation, now, is what matters, not how I got here!

There are certain behaviors which are considered “mortal sins” that hurt nobody

I would challenge you to name one. :wink:

Now maybe you will argue that all sin hurts somebody, even if that person is the person committing the sin. And it hurts God.

Exactly. :thumbsup:

Yet if a parent is hurt by the actions of his child, he still loves his child, and would not ever wish to be separated from his child forever, and would always leave the door open to a return…WITH NO TIME LIMIT. But we are told there is a time limit…our life on Earth.

No, it’s not the case that there’s no time limit: you would leave the door open while you had the least little bit of hope that your child would return. Would you leave the door open after you child died? At that point, there is no longer hope of return. Same case here: we can only make choices up till the point of our death; after that point, we cannot change the course we’re on. Therefore, there’s no “leaving the door open” anymore. Can you see that the two cases are identical? It’s not the case that the human father is more loving than God, but that the two both show love to the utmost boundary possible!

I do have attachment to sinful behavior. I know it is wrong according to Catholic teaching, yet I find it hard to be sorry for it. Do I want to go to Hell? No. I don’t think my sin deserves Hell, but according to the Church, it does, and that’s that.

There’s a lot going on, under the surface, in your comment here. This is a public forum, and so it wouldn’t be fair to you to ask you what the nature of the sin is, and why you believe that it’s a mortal sin, and why you feel that you cannot overcome that sin – or at least, repent of it and try to avoid it. I would recommend that you sit down with a priest whom you trust and talk it through with him…!!!

He’s not. Here, in chapter 55 from which you quote, he’s talking about human nature; sometimes, he abbreviates it and calls it ‘nature’, but he’s talking about human nature the whole time.

After all, animals are not ‘evil’ – they can’t be, since they don’t have the capacity to reason and make moral judgments!

The quotation that you provided gives the very answer that you’re looking for: what is it that has the power to see through the weakness of a corrupted (human) nature? Natural reason! Natural reason can “judge good and evil,” and “see the difference between true and false”! But, animals cannot judge between (moral) good and evil or between (moral) truth and falsehood, and even less can rocks or dirt. Therefore, it’s clear that Kempis is talking about human nature, and not all of natural creation.

This seems like a very important point. Something I had not understood before from reading the Imitation of Christ. But it jumped out at me this time.

Hmm… are you ‘understanding’ this because Kempis uses the term ‘nature’ without calling it ‘human nature’? In that case, then you’re misunderstanding him. In his day, it was possible to just say ‘nature’ in this context and be understood as meaning ‘human nature’. Today, since we generally don’t have the background in theology that people would have, back then, we misunderstand their references and think their expressions mean what they would mean in a 21st century context; but that’s not the case.

I had also been going to the zoo an spending time with wild animals (literally). So this notion of nature itself having fallen due to original sin really hit home.

Original sin doesn’t affect animals. They aren’t subject to it.

Animals seem very simple and pure, but they are clearly locked into all the earthly ways that Kempis describes regarding nature.

The fact that animals are “locked into earthly ways” reflects the fact that they have an ‘animal nature’, not a ‘human nature’! They have earthly ways because, well… they’re purely earthly!

The Imitation of Christ paints a pretty clear contrast between ‘nature’ and ‘grace’.

Right: there’s a contrast there between the limitations of human nature and the limitlessness of God’s grace.

I’m sorry I must break my response into two posts because of length…please bare with me.

No, I don’t think its monstrous at all. I would rather be “compelled to love God with no other choice” than to have a nature inclined to sin and the threat of eternal damnation hanging over my head. If being with God eternally is true happiness, why give us the choice to not be happy? What good does that do? It creates conflict, and the mere fact that religion in general requires “Faith”, which is a gift, which not all of us have, at least not strongly, creates a situation like mine.

Again, sadly I don’t think that the rules are set up so that this is a fair “choice”. It is a choice based on fear! You used the “Dictator” as an example above, but isn’t that what God is doing here? Love Me, Obey Me, or be thrown into eternal prison. Sounds like North Korea.

But he did. Because he KNEW ahead of time what would happen.

I don’t want to lose hope, but we are also not supposed to assume forgiveness, especially if we “confess” knowing we will sin again! That’s a mortal sin too. And I can’t see myself giving up my sin.

But Jesus says even our thoughts are sinful. What is lust but a thought? I should tear out my eyes?

I force him to go…with the idea that he may not know how much he will truly enjoy it! His experiences up to that point would not give him the information to have FAITH that he might enjoy it!

As for whether its a "punishment " or a choice?

[Those who do not know God and those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus] shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. (2 Thess. 1:8-9)

“The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born” (Matt. 26:24)

masturbation…especially in light of a marriage in which “sex” has mainly fallen away altogether

BUT WE ARE ETERNAL, in body and soul, whether in Heaven or Hell - we are ALL ETERNAL…so therefore there really isn’t a time limit with God, is there, even with earthly death? It isn’t comparable to a father-child on earth at all. IF it was, then there would be no death on Earth, and the father’s child could always come back, whether it be in 1 year or 1,000.

Well, I basically stated it above. That is essentially it. We are born with sexual inclinations by nature. Men are stimulated visually. Sex is enjoyable. I don’t really want to avoid it. Divorce is not an option (and she is aware, and doesn’t really care). I could live my life continuing what I do, and be fine, but I know it will send me to Hell if the Catholic Church is right. It does no harm to anyone, and I stand by that in my opinion. Yet, I can burn forever for it. And because I don’t really want to stop, even if I go to confession, it does me no good. I’m not generally a happy, positive guy in the first place, but that’s one of the few things I enjoy. So I guess the Devil wins? Or I wait until I’m old enough, if I live that long, that sex doesn’t matter to me anymore? You can’t “game the system”, right? Its all very depressing.

I’m not ignoring the rest of your posts, but I have to run and get some work done right now. However, before I do, I wanted to briefly correct your misunderstanding on one point…

This isn’t the standard that’s given to us. The question of presumption isn’t “knowing we will sin again” – after all, we’re all human, and we’re all sinful: all of us, walking out of the confessional, pretty much know we’re going to sin again! Since we tend to know ourselves and our personal weaknesses pretty well, we probably even know in what way we’re going to sin again!

However, that doesn’t equate to the sin of presumption! Reconciliation requires only contrition and a firm resolve not to sin. That’s not quite as high a bar as you’re setting, in your claim! Presumption, on the other hand, is something else entirely: it’s when you’re planning on sinning again, and presuming on God’s mercy afterward. There’s a big difference there! As we walk out of the confessional, we can trust in God’s mercy when we sin again; but, if we walk out of the confessional not contrite – or worse yet, contrite but consciously intending to sin again – then we’ve sinfully presumed on God’s mercy! As the catechism says in paragraph 2092, in its definition of presumption, “man… presumes upon God’s … mercy (hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion).”

So, don’t despair! It’s not as bad as you’re making it sound!

Thanks Gorgias for answering my question while others seem to have there own agenda.

I re-read that section of the Imitation and I see what you mean.

So the answer to my question is ‘no’. Unless anyone else wants to chime in on topic.

Thanks

It would seem to me that the answer is yes.

“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 labour 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” Gen. 3:17-19

"For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us. For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope: Because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now. Rom 8: 18-22

Note in Douay Rheims: The expectation of the creature: He speaks of the corporeal creation, made for the use and service of man; and, by occasion of his sin, made subject to vanity, that is, to a perpetual instability, tending to corruption and other defects; so that by a figure of speech it is here said to groan and be in labour, and to long for its deliverance, which is then to come, when sin shall reign no more

"For the cosmos, Revelation affirms the profound common destiny of the material world and man:

‘For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God . . . in hope because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay. . . . We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.’

The visible universe, then, is itself destined to be transformed, “so that the world itself, restored to its original state, facing no further obstacles, should be at the service of the just,” sharing their glorification in the risen Jesus Christ.

We know neither the moment of the consummation of the earth and of man, nor the way in which the universe will be transformed. The form of this world, distorted by sin, is passing away, and we are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling and a new earth in which righteousness dwells, in which happiness will fill and surpass all the desires of peace arising in the hearts of men."

“Far from diminishing our concern to develop this earth, the expectancy of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human family grows, foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come. That is why, although we must be careful to distinguish earthly progress clearly from the increase of the kingdom of Christ, such progress is of vital concern to the kingdom of God, insofar as it can contribute to the better ordering of human society.” CCC 1046-1049

UbiCaritas15, thank you for the thoughtful reply. The scriptures and CCC material you provide seem to resonate with what Kempis writes in the Imitation. This is a real hidden gem of our faith.

Based on this, it seems I am free to go back to the interpretation that Kempis is talking about that the whole of nature (all of creation) tends to decay.

I actually find this profoundly comforting. But it is a real eye-opener regarding the extent of what the fall of man is really is: ‘…cursed is the earth’.

It seems that our nature and nature itself are intimately linked. Again that is comforting to me since it jibes with science. We know that our nature is linked to nature itself scientifically. Human nature is not some abstract thing but rooted in the natural world.

My understanding of the fall of nature is much informed by Eastern Catholic theology. Original sin, while being in communion with the Roman understanding, isn’t seen as such in Eastern Catholic theology. It is rather seen as the loss of immortality and the subjection to decay. For me, this is a more universal, if you will, understanding of the nature and completeness of both sin and salvation.

I also find this profoundly comforting because, especially due to CCC and Romans 8, the understanding of “anakephalaiOsasthai” Eph 1:10 “recapitulate all things under” and the end of life or end of time.

You express my thoughts exactly. I would truly submit myself to being a mindless God-loving robot if it kept me out of trouble. After all, I feel that people in Heaven have become this, because they’re incapable of sinning (even though they’ve already made their choice while alive).

With regard to masturbation, I too struggle with this and it does hurt myself and others. Masturbation is pleasure sought for one’s self, closed to life, objectifies others, and misuses the faculties in which the genitals were designed for. Masturbation perverts the mind, and makes one selfish.

It is not a choice based on fear; you are not the only being involved. It is a choice based on love — love of God, and love of self, and love of the woman…
If you continue to wilfully live in grave sin, then you “love” none of the above.

  1. You do not love God because you reject His teaching and His love & superior wisdom upon which His commands are based;

2 you do not love yourself because you don’t care if you cause yourself to spend eternity separated from God (in Hell);

  1. you do not love the woman you are having a relationship with because you do not care if she spends eternity in hell. Satisfying your current emotional and sexual desires with her is more important to you than doing all you can to protect her from an eternity in hell. That is NOT love; it is something else – and it is selfish.
    If you truly love this woman, you should be doing all in your power to lead her to heaven. tp protect her from committing serious sin that could result in her condemnation.
    (It brings to mind Adam’s failure in the Garden of Eden.)

I hope you will slowly and prayerfully take the time to consider the good and loving decisions you should make regarding your situation. Being aware of the eternal consequences of your choice, take the time to examine and realize whom/what you are serving.

Stop angrily fearing and start loving.

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