July 29, 2022

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

God’s mercy is there for us when we fall for the devil’s tricks

Sean GallagherMy youngest son Colin experienced his first confession and received his first Communion earlier this year.

In preparing for these important moments in his life of faith, Colin learned about humanity’s tendency toward sin, which our Church’s tradition has called concupiscence.

It is rooted in the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve. Colin learned about how they were tempted by the serpent to think of themselves as equal to God and therefore free to disobey him.

After thinking about this foundational story not just for our faith but for the story of humanity itself, Colin said, “I can’t believe they fell for that.”

My first reaction to hearing my 8-year-old son say that was to laugh. You never know what kids are going to say.

But it didn’t take much reflection for me to see that there was more wisdom in those words than Colin knew.

A Catholic theological understanding of Adam and Eve before the fall was that they were filled with God’s grace. Additionally, their minds were unclouded by sin and had far more power of understanding than we have, burdened as we are by the effects of original sin.

Adam and Eve thus knew exactly what they were doing when they sinned and knew the full ramifications of their sin for themselves and the rest of humanity—and nonetheless chose to do it anyway.

In thinking about that, I made Colin’s words my own. I can’t believe they fell for that.

But they did, and we continue to pay the price for it in the crosses of our own faults and foibles and the world’s brokenness that make life burdensome.

Christ, of course, paid the ultimate price out of his infinite love for us. His death on the cross opened for us the way to heaven that had been barred by Adam and Eve’s sin. The cross gives us hope when we are called to pick up our cross daily and follow him.

Those crosses are especially heavy at times. The hope we find in the cross of Christ is thus a source of strength for us as we carry our own each day.

This is important for parents as they daily struggle for years to form their children to embrace a life of virtue and holiness.

My wife Cindy and I have lived out this mission for 20 years now. And it hasn’t gotten any easier.

The gift of our faith gives us a vision for how we and our children should live. We try to pass that gift on to our boys in what we ask them to do and to refrain from doing, in the ways that we reward them for good behavior and punish them for bad.

But it takes a long time for them to get the message. We’re still teaching them the same lessons that we’ve been going over with them for years. Then again, speaking at least for myself, I’m still trying to learn them, too.

That’s where hope comes in—hope for our boys, hope for Cindy and me and hope for all parents and children.

Even though we, like Adam and Eve, fall for the temptations to sin that we experience each day, Christ’s redeeming grace that we received in our baptism—and in every sacrament we’ve received since—keeps our faults from being the end of the story.

God isn’t surprised when we fall in our temptations. But he never gives up on us. His mercy is always there for us. And, with the help of God’s grace, we parents can be channels of that mercy to our children when they, like we, fall for the tempter’s lies and lures. †

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