Change and Original Sin


While reading about the restructuring in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, I stopped to say a prayer for everyone involved – everyone from Bishop Zubik to the priests and parish staff to the people in the pew. Change always brings great opportunities and great challenges.

As I’ve written before, priest changes can be quite disruptive and difficult for a parish. Change in general, as I’ve written many times before, is hard. And yet it’s one of the few constants in life. Mull that over for a while.

Everything in life changes. Nothing stays the same. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When you find yourself in a wonderful phase of your life, you have to be thankful that another phase ended so that you could find yourself here. Change brings goodness. As one person tried to console me during a particularly difficult change, “If we didn’t have change, we wouldn’t have butterflies.”

To be honest…I felt like punching that person.

Because change can also be very painful.

Why is change difficult? I’ve decided it’s one of the most poignant reminders of original sin.

First, because only God is immutable. Only God is completely unchangeable, because He is infinite. My desire for a world that does not change will only be fulfilled when I am with Him in Heaven. Where will we possess a happiness that can never be taken away? Heaven. Everything on this earth is fleeting and changing. My desire for constancy and discomfort with change is a sign that I was not created for this world, but the next.

Yet, as much as I hate change…I am in constant need of change: personal change. Cardinal Newman wrote, “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” Our life must be one of constant conversion, or metanoia. In Greek, metanoia has the connotation of turning around.

We have to turn around often. Change… again. Turn around… again. (I’ll spare you any Total Eclipse of the Heart references.) Why? Because I’m a fallen human being, and clearly I’m doing something (we call it “sin”) to turn myself away from God. So I must… again… turn around.

So change remains that reminder of original sin. I desire immutability, which cannot ultimately be found here in this life. My desire for immutability is my desire for God. And therefore I require constant change, because I am not perfect. I have fallen away from Him.

Change is difficult and painful. Perhaps the most difficult and painful change is that personal change which is required of all of us. But with it comes beautiful opportunities, growth, and new life. May we pray for the grace – for ourselves and for others – to turn, again and again, back to the unchanging God who yearns for us to join Him someday in unchanging happiness.


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About the Author

Joannie Watson

Joan Watson was born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana, but college and graduate school took her to Virginia, Ohio, and Rome. After graduating from Christendom College with a B.A. in History and Franciscan University with a M.A. in Theology, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to be part of the explosion of Catholic culture in the middle of the Bible Belt.

She has been blessed to work for Dr. Scott Hahn at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia at Aquinas College. She is presently the Director of Adult Formation for the Diocese of Nashville. She also serves as the Associate Editor of Integrated Catholic Life.

When she’s not testing the culinary exploits of new restaurants or catching up on the latest BBC miniseries, she’s FaceTiming with her eight nephews and nieces and enjoying her role as coolest aunt. She likes gelato, bourbon, and the color orange.

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