Original Sin

Father Pegues continues his discussion of St. Thomas Aquinas’ teaching on virtues and vices by elaborating upon original sin and its tragic consequences for the human race.

Father Pegues explains that concupiscence did not exist before the fall of Adam, but rather, “it exists in man now because of his fall. . . . We are all in this state now because we received our nature from Adam. . . . If Adam had not sinned we would have received our nature from him in the state of integrity, or original justice. . . . The state in which we now receive our nature from the first man is a state of sin. . . . It is called the state of original sin.” And this sin is transmitted to each of us.

Original sin entails “the privation of all the supernatural or gratuitous gifts which God had implanted in our nature in the person of Adam, our common father.” These gifts were “sanctifying grace with the supernaturally infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit; and also the privilege of integrity which was associated with these supernatural gifts.” The principle of integrity implies “the entire subordination of the senses to the reason and of the body to the soul. The effect was that in man’s sensitive appetite there could be no inordinate movement; and his body was rendered impassible and immortal.” Thus, “death and all other bodily ailments are the result of sin.”

Original sin wounds the soul. These wounds are ignorance, malice, weakness, and concupiscence. Ignorance is “that state in which the reason is deprived of that inherent relation it had towards the truth in the state of integrity.” Malice is “that state of the will in which it is deprived of the inherent relation it had to good in the state of integrity.” Weakness is “that state of the sensitive appetite in which it is deprived of the inherent relation to all that is arduous and difficult.” Concupiscence is “that state of the sensitive appetite in which it is deprived of the inherent relation towards sensitive pleasures tempered by reason.” These wounds in our nature are the effects of the sin of Adam, and are made worse by our personal sins, especially by capital sins, which “have an evil influence upon man by leading him to commit other sins.” The capitals sins are pride, avarice, gluttony, lust, idleness, envy, and anger.

“In spite of all these causes of sin in man which come either from the first sin of the first man, or from the personal sins of man, we are bound to say that he is still free in his moral acts, and that he is never necessitated to commit sin. . . . Unless man loses his reason his acts always remain free in such wise that it depends upon him whether he sin.”

Quotations from Thomas Pegues, Catechism of the “Summa Theologica” of Saint Thomas Aquinas, trans. Aelred Whitacre (New York: Benziger, 1922).

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