Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Meditation on Original Sin Causing the Pains of Labor

I would be remiss if I did not ponder the spiritual implications of the upcoming sufferings I will endure from childbirth.

Remember, the Bible teaches us that the pains of childbirth come from the consequence of original sin.  Our greatest grandmother Eve chose to eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, even though God instructed her not to.  She chose to give in to the temptations of the devil.

And she likely did this because Adam was not at his post.  He was not beside her.  He was not supporting her with encouragement to follow God's ways.  The Bible makes no mention of him during this critical time because, most likely, he was nowhere around.  Or, if he was around physically, he certainly wasn't focused spiritually.

Even today we can see the sad effects of what happens to families when a man loses his sense of responsibility as provider and protector.

And later Adam, too, ate of the fruit of the tree, at Eve's persuasion.  Today we can also see the sad consequences of what happens to men when women tempt them with things that they shouldn't.

As a result of these choices, in Genesis 3:16, it says, "To the woman [God] said, 'I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you will bring forth children.'" 

To the man God said, "By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, 'till you return to the ground," thus implying that a man's life will always be full of hard work to make a living for his family.

As you may have heard previously, Jesus is often referred to as the "new Adam."  Unlike the old Adam, Jesus did not leave his post.  Jesus did not abandon us.  Jesus suffered all for us and broke the bonds of sin and death for us!

Thus, praise God, the Sacrament of Baptism wiped my soul clean of original sin.  Similar to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Sacrament of Baptism made me fully right with God, my soul then unstained and clean before Him.

But while our loving Heavenly Father forgives fully and with ease, the natural consequences of original sin are still all about us in this world that is full of disease, sadness, and death.  These things were never intended by (although they were anticipated by) God and are nothing less than a cosmic tragedy, the result of that original fall which happens when love is removed from the human heart and replaced by selfishness.  And they exist because God has, from the very beginning, given us CHOICE.  His creatures always have free will, either to love Him in return or to reject Him.

Like Eve, in the course of my life, I, too, have sometimes given in to the temptations of the devil.  I, too, have sometimes disobeyed God.  And although He has fully forgiven me in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, my indiscretions pain me.

But so far, they have only pained me emotionally.  Or spiritually.  Or mentally.  I really haven't suffered any physical pains because of my sins.

They say that Purgatory is a place where souls (headed toward Heaven) experience pain willfully because they want to purify themselves by God's mercy in order to more reverently enter into the beautiful place of Heaven which their eyes can see and their hearts long for.

And the Church teaches us that certain actions here below can lessen our time in Purgatory.  Those "indulgence" actions could be the praying of special prayers, going on special pilgrimages, or even enduring suffering itself.  United with the suffering of Christ on the cross, these loving actions can mitigate the natural consequences of sin in our lives presently.

Quite beautifully, it sounds like childbirth will be an opportunity for me to make meaningful my suffering by uniting it with Jesus' suffering on the cross, that through this experience of God's grace I will take further steps toward sanctity, that it will mitigate some of the natural effects of sin that are currently present in my life, and that it will lessen my time in Purgatory at the end of life and more speedily prepare my heart and soul for Heaven.

These things my head and heart shall hold onto tightly as the pains of childbirth begin.