The Guéranger Blog

Welcome to the Gueranger Blog! You have stumbled across the notebook I use to record my thoughts as I read through Dom Prosper Gueranger's 15-volume set, The Liturgical Year. I do not have any special expertise in liturgy, but I have some general knowledge of Catholic theology and an enthusiasm for Gueranger's magnum opus. Think of it as the Liturgical Year fan site!

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How Adam sinned

Canisius | 17 February, 2006 17:47

Throughout Septuagesma week, Dom Gueranger has focused his meditations on the story of the Fall in Genesis 2. His account of it is fascinating.

One paragraph in Vol. 4, p. 138 seems to sum up his thesis about Adam and Eve's decision: "They sinned through sheer ingratitude. They began by weighing the proposal of revolt, when they ought to have spurned it with indignation and conquered by flight. Then, by degrees, the proposed crime seemed no great harm, because, though God would lose their obedience, they would gain by the disobedience! And at length, the love of God was made to give place to the love of self, and they declared their independence!"

Most generally, Dom Gueranger seems to have the following in mind: due to original justice, our first parents did not have any positive inclination towards sin; the first step towards sin therefore could not have been the presence of an evil inclination, but the absence of a good inclination.

So far, so good. But what good inclination in particular was lacking in strength? Gueranger identifies it as gratitude: they did not have sufficiently strong gratitude. One might mount an argument for this position as follows. God the creator relates to us his creatures as one who gives a gift, because absolutely everything we have is a gift from him. So there are three things to consider: God the giver, the gift given, and us the recipients. When we consider God in himself, we are led to adoration of his infinite perfection and goodness; when we consider God in relation to the gift he gives, we are led to gratitude; when we consider ourselves in relation to the gift we receive, we see our neediness and are led to ask for what we need (petition); when we consider ourselves in ourselves, we see nothing at all from ourselves except for sin. The four fundamental attitudes or prayers towards God the creator are thus adoration, gratitude, petition, and repentance. Adam and Eve obviously did not have repentance, since they were free of sin. A focus on petition or on our own neediness could conceivably lead to a greater attachment to God, but only (it seems to me) because this consideration leads to gratitude. What Adam and Eve lacked in attachment to God was therefore either adoration or gratitude. Given that, short of the beatific vision, we only encounter God through his gifts, gratitude seems primary--that is, it seems that gratitude gives rise to adoration more than the other way around. So Gueranger's position is quite solid.

The one thing I would add is that Adam and Eve were not simply creatures living natural lives: they also lived by grace. Because of this, they had a calling to the beatific vision, and therefore shared a kind of common good with God, so that they were friends of God rather than merely servants. Beyond the four attitudes listed above, one might have to add love of friendship: the love one has not simply for a benefactor, who gives a good, but for a friend, who shares a good. Gueranger's meditation could possibly be strengthened by taking this into account.


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