instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The trouble with mankind

The fall of man is generally recognized as a Bad Thing, felix culpa-type chatter notwithstanding.

The index of the Catechism lists the following under "consequences of original sin":
  • difficulty in knowing God, 37
  • harmony destroyed, 400
  • invasion of evil, 401
  • loss of the grace of original holiness, 399
  • in man's history, 402-06, 1250, 1607, 1609, 1707, 2259, 2515
  • whole world held in the power of the evil one, 409
Particularly suggestive is how many times mention is made of the consequences "in man's history." In this man's history, certainly, mention could be made hourly.

The though occurs that one consequence, which makes most of the other consequences worse, is that we humans don't know what we're for any more. Rocks, squirrels, photons -- they may groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now, but they do it for the end for which they were created. We, on the other hand, have to work it out as we go along.
It make for a hard-to-read Venn diagram, and it makes for a lot of mistakes. If, for example, we had lost the grace of original holiness but still knew we were supposed to be holy, then we'd at least be pointed in the right direction; as it is, though, it's like we're all getting off at a strange train station and trying to find the taxi stand based on where everyone else is heading.

One mistake that seems particularly besetting these days is to think that having to figure out your own end means getting to figure out your own end -- that is, that whatever end you settle on for yourself is good and proper.

And of course, when you get the end wrong -- as you will, if you think you get to figure it out and you are a fallen human being -- you get most of the means wrong, too.