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Michelle wrote:

Hi, guys —

I'm wondering if someone can help me understand original sin. I know some of these questions are a bit basic but I would really appreciate actual answers rather then being directed to various materials.

  • What exactly is original sin?
  • Is it an inherited guilt or an inherited nature?
  • Where exactly does it come from and how it is transmitted?
  • Why is original sin significant, as in, what are it's consequences?
  • How does it differ from personal sin?
  • Is every single person born with it?
    • What about Mary?
    • or babies?
  • How are we cleansed of original sin?
  • What role does Baptism play?
  • What is the effect of Jesus' Death and Resurrection on original sin?



  { Can you answer some questions on original sin? }

Mike replied:

Hi Michelle,

These are the type of questions we hesitate answering, not because we can't answer them, but because they appear to be basic questions related to basic Catholic teaching . . . like the type that are on a homework assignment you want us to do for you. Especially when you say:

I know some of these questions are a bit basic, but I would really appreciate actual answers rather then being directed to various materials.

As we say in the Questions we do not answer page, we don't do other peoples homework but we can direct you to references. Nevertheless, because our Church is so uncatechized and many Catholics are unfamiliar with the basics of the Catholic faith, I error on the side of answering.

For that reason, you said:

  • What is original sin exactly?

Original sin is original because is was the first or original fall the parents of our humanity, Adam and Eve. You can read about this in Genesis 3. All of human history that has been pro-created down from generation to generation to today is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.

You said:

  • Is it an inherited guilt or an inherited nature?

It is an inherited nature as we can't be personally guilty for sin we did not willfully commit.

You said:

  • Where exactly does it come from and how it is transmitted?

Original sin comes from the original temptation from that bastard satan in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve's joint disobedience to what God asked from them caused all humanity to inherit original sin.

Original sin is transmitted by what men and women do naturally — procreate!

You said:

  • Why is original sin significant, as in, what are it's consequences?

Original sin is uniquely significant because, though the Trinity saw the fall of humanity by satan's temptation (the happy fall of Adam and Eve), Jesus redeemed all of mankind through His Passion, Death and glorious Resurrection. We can partake in the fruits of His Redemption by being validly baptized into His Body.

You said:

  • How does it differ to personal sin?

We were not directly responsible for original sin — Adam and Eve were.

We are responsible for sin we deliberately chose to act on or commit through the weakness of the flesh. The Catechism says:

CCC 405 Although it is proper to each individual, (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513.) original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence.

Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

You said:

  • Is every single person born with it?
    • What about Mary?
    • or babies?

All but two people have been born with original sin: Jesus and His mother, Mary. This was foreshadowed in the Old Testament as the Law or Ten Commandments (Jesus) could only be put in an immaculate container, the Ark of the Covenant (Mary).

Babies are born with original sin and should always be validly baptized soon after birth.
Infant Baptism was a common practice among the Early Church Fathers, the very first Christians.
Any idea of waiting until they were an age where they could choose to accept Jesus as their personal savior would have been ridiculous to them. Do the historical research yourself!
Jesus made the necessity of Baptism very clear in Mark 16:16.

You said:

  • How are we cleansed of original sin?
  • What role does Baptism play?

We are cleansed of original sin through valid Trinitarian Baptism.

You said:

  • What is the effect of Jesus' death and Resurrection on original sin?

The Catechism tells us:

CCC 388 Although to some extent the People of God in the Old Testament had tried to understand the pathos of the human condition in the light of the history of the fall narrated in Genesis, they could not grasp this story's ultimate meaning, which is revealed only in the light of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
(cf. Romans 5:12-21)

Jesus' Passion, Death and Resurrection undoes the effects of original sin for those who chose to be validly baptized into His Body. One question you did not ask, that I would want to add to your list is:

  • What role, if any, does Jesus' Mother play in Original Sin?

The very first Christians, call the Early Church Fathers, clearly saw a parallel between:

  • Jesus as the New Adam, and
  • Mary as the New Eve

Obviously, Jesus being the God-Man could not sin but Mary was just as immaculate as Eve and had as much free will to [obey or not obey | follow or not follow] God's will through the angel/messenger, Gabriel, as Eve did to [obey or not obey | follow or not follow] God with Adam.

Without Mary's Yes, (to the angel Gabriel), no separated Protestant brethren could even say the word Jesus!

This is why the Church has always referred to Mary as the co-redemptrix with Jesus. She was an important, key helper in bringing salvation to all of mankind by Jesus' choice! Mary has also been given the job to crush the head of satan, because she is the Mother of the Living.

Read Genesis 3:14-15.

And guess what, Protestants and Catholics together are co-redemptrices as well!
We work, In Christ, to help redeem the world of its sin. Protestants have a hard time understanding this because they have a hard time accepting the Catholic belief of the Eucharist.

If these questions come from a homework assignment that was given to you, next time you go to Confession, tell the priest you cheated on your homework assignment and did not answer any of these questions you were given.

If you want more and you should, buy a Catechism of the Catholic Church, or

read it on-line:


Paul replied:

Dear Michelle,

Here's just a few quick thoughts to add to Mike's good answers.

Original sin occurred due to the fall, when the first parents, who represented all of mankind that was to come after them, rejected God and chose themselves. This is the ultimate choice every person has to make but when the first parents made that choice, they made it for all human beings that were to come after them and through them (by virtue of them passing on their nature, which included their genetic material, DNA, etc.). When they rejected God, mankind rejected God. As they earned the penalties of this primordial rejection all of mankind experiences those penalties.

We are not personally guilty for original sin, but we are corporately guilty. Although we incur no personal sin from it, it would be right to say that man sinned against God by taking the forbidden fruit. Now man must live with the consequences of that decision. We are part of man. Jesus, the new Adam, came so that we might overcome what the old Adam gave to us in his sin.

Cooperating with the grace that Jesus won for us to overcome our tainted nature is what the path to holiness and to salvation is all about.



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