Forgiveness is promised; but atonement must be made. Divine justice must be satisfied, and future generations be taught that sin can never pass unpunished. Eve is the guiltier of the two, and her sentence follows that of the serpent. Destined by God to aid man in peopling the earth with happy and faithful children, formed by this God out of man’s own substance “flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones,” woman was to be on an equality with man. But sin has subverted this order, and God’s sentence is this: conjugal union, notwithstanding the humiliation of concupiscence now brought upon it, is to be, as before, holy and sacred; but it is to be inferior in dignity, before both God and man, to the state of virginity, which disdains the ambitions of the flesh.
Secondly, woman shall be mother still, as she would have been in the state of innocence; but her honor shall be a burden. Moreover, she shall give birth to her children amidst cruel pains, and sometimes even death must be the consequence of her infant’s coming into the world. The sin of Eve shall thus be memorialized at every birth, and nature shall violently resist the first claims of him whom sin has made her unwelcome lord.
Lastly, she who was at first created to enjoy equality of honor with man is now to forfeit her independence. Man is to be her superior, and she must obey him. For long ages, this obedience will be no better than slavery; and this degradation shall continue till that Virgin comes, whom the world shall have expected for four thousand years, and whose humility shall crush the serpent’s head. She shall restore her sex to its rightful position, and give to Christian woman that influence of gentle persuasiveness which is compatible with the duty imposed upon her by divine justice, and which can never be remitted: the duty of submission.
O Lord! King of all ages! who didst create me by thy love; I have been injured by the envy of the crafty serpent, and have provoked thee, my Savior, to anger: but despise me not, O God! Call me back to thee.
Alas! my bright robe has been changed into this garb of shame. I bewail my ruin, O Savior, and to thee do I cry with confidence: My good God! Despise me not, but call me back to thee.
How, my soul, couldst thou, that wast made the lord of serpents and beasts, treat the soul-slaying serpent with familiarity, and use thine enemy as a trusty counselor? Bewail, my wretched soul, thy fatal error!
(To thee do we sing, O Mary, full of divine grace! Hail bright tabernacle of the Incarnation! O fount of mercy, hope of them that are in despair, enlighten me that am dishonored by the dark clouds of my passions.)
This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)