Baltimore Catechism: On our First Parents and the Fall
LESSON FIVE: On our First Parents and the FallQ. 233. Who were the first man and woman?
A. The first man and woman were Adam and Eve.
Q. 234. Are there any persons in the world who are not the descendants of Adam and Eve?
A. There are no persons in the world now, and there never have been any, who are not the descendants of Adam and Eve, because the whole human race had but one origin.
Q. 235. Do not the differences in color, figure, etc., which we find in distinct races indicate a difference in first parents?
A. The differences in color, figure, etc., which we find in distinct races do not indicate a difference in first parents, for these differences have been brought about in the lapse of time by other causes, such as climate, habits, etc.
Q. 236. Were Adam and Eve innocent and holy when they came from the hand of God?
A. Adam and Eve were innocent and holy when they came from the hand of God.
Q. 237. What do we mean by saying Adam and Eve "were innocent" when they came from the hand of God?
A. When we say Adam and Eve "were innocent" when they came from the hand of God we mean they were in the state of original justice; that is, they were gifted with every virtue and free from every sin.
Q. 238. How was Adam's body formed?
A. God formed Adam's body out of the clay of the earth and then breathed into it a living soul.
Q. 239. How was Eve's body formed?
A. Eve's body was formed from a rib taken from Adam's side during a deep sleep which God caused to come upon him.
Q. 240. Why did God make Eve from one of Adam's ribs?
A. God made Eve from one of Adam's ribs to show the close relationship existing between husband and wife in their marriage union which God then instituted.
Q. 241. Could man's body be developed from the body of an inferior animal?
A. Man's body could be developed from the body of an inferior animal if God so willed; but science does not prove that man's body was thus formed, while revelation teaches that it was formed directly by God from the clay of the earth.
Q. 242. Could man's soul and intelligence be formed by the development of animal life and instinct?
A. Man's soul could not be formed by the development of animal instinct; for, being entirely spiritual, it must be created by God, and it is united to the body as soon as the body is prepared to receive it.
Q. 243. Did God give any command to Adam and Eve?
A. To try their obedience, God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of a certain fruit which grew in the garden of Paradise.
Q. 244. What was the Garden of Paradise?
A. The Garden of Paradise was a large and beautiful place prepared for man's habitation upon earth. It was supplied with every species of plant and animal and with everything that could contribute to man's happiness.
Q. 245. Where was the Garden of Paradise situated?
A. The exact place in which the Garden of Paradise -- called also the Garden of Eden -- was situated is not known, for the deluge may have so changed the surface of the earth that old landmarks were wiped out. It was probably some place in Asia, not far from the river Euphrates.
Q. 246. What was the tree bearing the forbidden fruit called?
A. The tree bearing the forbidden fruit was called "the tree of knowledge of good and evil."
Q. 247. Do we know the name of any other tree in the garden?
A. We know the name of another tree in the Garden called the "tree of life." Its fruit kept the bodies of our first parents in a state of perfect health.
Q. 248. Which were the chief blessings intended for Adam and Eve had they remained faithful to God?
A. The chief blessings intended for Adam and Eve, had they remained faithful to God, were a constant state of happiness in this life and everlasting glory in the next.
Q. 249. Did Adam and Eve remain faithful to God?
A. Adam and Eve did not remain faithful to God, but broke His command by eating the forbidden fruit.
Q. 250. Who was the first to disobey God?
A. Eve was the first to disobey God, and she induced Adam to do likewise.
Q. 251. How was Eve tempted to sin?
A. Eve was tempted to sin by the devil, who came in the form of a serpent and persuaded her to break God's command.
Q. 252. Which were the chief causes that led Eve into sin?
A. The chief causes that led Eve into sin were: (1) She went into the danger of sinning by admiring what was forbidden, instead of avoiding it. (2) She did not fly from the temptation at once, but debated about yielding to it. Similar conduct on our part will lead us also into sin.
Q. 253. What befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin?
A. Adam and Eve, on account of their sin, lost innocence and holiness, and were doomed to sickness and death.
Q. 254. What other evils befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin?
A. Many other evils befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin. They were driven out of Paradise and condemned to toil. God also ordained that henceforth the earth should yield no crops without cultivation, and that the beasts, man's former friends, should become his savage enemies.
Q. 255. Were we to remain in the Garden of Paradise forever if Adam had not sinned?
A. We were not to remain in the Garden of Paradise forever even if Adam had not sinned, but after passing through the years of our probation or trial upon earth we were to be taken, body and soul, into heaven without suffering death.
Q. 256. What evil befell us on account of the disobedience of our first parents?
A. On account of the disobedience of our first parents, we all share in their sin and punishment, as we should have shared in their happiness if they had remained faithful.
Q. 257. Is it not unjust to punish us for the sin of our first parents?
A. It is not unjust to punish us for the sin of our first parents, because their punishment consisted in being deprived of a free gift of God; that is, of the gift of original justice to which they had no strict right and which they willfully forfeited by their act of disobedience.
Q. 258. But how did the loss of the gift of original justice leave our first parents and us in mortal sin?
A. The loss of the gift of original justice left our first parents and us in mortal sin because it deprived them of the Grace of God, and to be without this gift of Grace which they should have had was to be in mortal sin. As all their children are deprived of the same gift, they, too, come into the world in a state of mortal sin.
Q. 259. What other effects followed from the sin of our first parents?
A. Our nature was corrupted by the sin of our first parents, which darkened our understanding, weakened our will, and left in us a strong inclination to evil.
Q. 260. What do we mean by "our nature was corrupted"?
A. When we say "our nature was corrupted" we mean that our whole being, body and soul, was injured in all its parts and powers.
Q. 261. Why do we say our understanding was darkened?
A. We say our understanding was darkened because even with much learning we have not the clear knowledge, quick perception and retentive memory that Adam had before his fall from grace.
Q. 262. Why do we say our will was weakened?
A. We say our will was weakened to show that our free will was not entirely taken away by Adam's sin, and that we have it still in our power to use our free will in doing good or evil.
Q. 263. In what does the strong inclination to evil that is left in us consist?
A. This strong inclination to evil that is left in us consists in the continual efforts our senses and appetites make to lead our souls into sin. The body is inclined to rebel against the soul, and the soul itself to rebel against God.
Q. 264. What is this strong inclination to evil called, and why did God permit it to remain in us?
A. This strong inclination to evil is called concupiscence, and God permits it to remain in us that by His grace we may resist it and thus increase our merits.
Q. 265. What is the sin called which we inherit from our first parents?
A. The sin which we inherit from our first parents is called original sin.
Q. 266. Why is this sin called original?
A. This sin is called original because it comes down to us from our first parents, and we are brought into the world with its guilt on our soul.
Q. 267. Does this corruption of our nature remain in us after original sin is forgiven?
A. This corruption of our nature and other punishments remain in us after original sin is forgiven.
Q. 268. Was any one ever preserved from original sin?
A. The Blessed Virgin Mary, through the merits of her Divine Son, was preserved free from the guilt of original sin, and this privilege is called her Immaculate Conception.
Q. 269. Why was the Blessed Virgin preserved from original sin?
A. The Blessed Virgin was preserved from original sin because it would not be consistent with the dignity of the Son of God to have His Mother, even for an instant, in the power of the devil and an enemy of God.
Q. 270. How could the Blessed Virgin be preserved from sin by her Divine Son, before her Son was born?
A. The Blessed Virgin could be preserved from sin by her Divine Son before He was born as man, for He always existed as God and foresaw His own future merits and the dignity of His Mother. He therefore by His future merits provided for her privilege of exemption from original sin.
Q. 271. What does the "Immaculate Conception" mean?
A. The Immaculate Conception means the Blessed Virgin's own exclusive privilege of coming into existence, through the merits of Jesus Christ, without the stain of original sin. It does not mean, therefore, her sinless life, perpetual virginity or the miraculous conception of Our Divine Lord by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Q. 272. What has always been the belief of the Church concerning this truth?
A. The Church has always believed in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin and to place this truth beyond doubt has declared it an Article of Faith.
Q. 273. To what should the thoughts of the Immaculate Conception lead us?
A. The thoughts of the Immaculate Conception should lead us to a great love of purity and to a desire of imitating the Blessed Virgin in the practice of that holy virtue.