How much time do you spend ensuring your heart is pure and emptying yourself from the spirit of the world? It is interesting to think about this notion in the context of virtue and sin. God is revealing much to me as I work my way through a consecration to Jesus through Mary to celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th. When we examine our conscience, pray, renounce our own will, and practice subduing our bodily desires, we become more pure of heart. And this is crucial for contemplating God in heaven, seeing Him on earth and knowing Him by the light of faith.
We cast off the spirit of the world by letting go of anything contrary to that of Jesus Christ:
The spirit of the world consists essentially in the denial of the supreme dominion of God; a denial which is manifested in practice by sin and disobedience; thus, it is principally opposed to the spirit of Christ, which is also that of Mary. It manifests itself by the concupiscence of the flesh, by the concupiscence of the eyes and by the pride of life. By disobedience to God’s laws and the abuse of created things. Its works are sin in all forms, then all else by which the devil leads to sin; works which bring error and darkness to the mind, and seduction and corruption to the will. Its pomp’s are the splendor and the charms employed by the devil to render sin alluring in persons, places, and things.Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort’s Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary
As we conclude our series on how sin and vice divert us from living the good life, we are have learned how to win the spiritual battle by understanding the insidious nature of sin and how virtue will help us prevail. This is how we cast off the spirit of the world. Today we look at the seventh and final deadly sin, lust, and learn about the cure for this dis-ease, which is chastity. This strategy works because sin separates us and turns us away from God. Practicing virtue and choosing what is good reorients us to God and His goodness. A list of the seven deadly sins of pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony and lust, and the corresponding cures are here.
What is lust?
Lust is a very strong sexual desire or a strong passionate desire for something. It is the disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purpose. It can lead us down the path of considering others as mere objects of our sexual desire. It can also be an unrestrained sexual craving an intense desire or need. Lust is a corporal sin where we need to call upon the cardinal virtue of justice.
This vice requires a bit more attention than the others because of the society and culture in which we live today. God created the pleasure attached to sexual intercourse and God planned for humans to experience this love and pleasure – as he intended. But what does that mean? It means that God
intended these amazing pleasures to be experienced within the bond of marriage. The pleasure experienced by the couple is intended to shore up the unitive bond of marriage, to bond couples tightly together as they share this gift with one another, and as they form a family. Sexual intercourse was designed by God with procreation in mind. The married couple can experience, in some small way, the joy, love, and pleasure of creating as God experiences it as our Creator. Out of the love between husband and wife comes this joyous expression of that love in the form of new life which is beautiful.
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.Matthew 5:28
What are some of the characteristics and effects of lust?
- Impurity is what transforms what God created as good and beautiful into sin.
- Lust is when we see others as objects of pleasure where people become a means to an end.
- It leads to dehumanization, which then leads humans down the path to much evil.
- Lust has led to contraception, abortion, rape, pornography, prostitution, molestation, divorce, co-habitation, incest, and more. Without lust, none of these would exist.
How can I identify lust within me?
- Blindness of mind – turning a blind-eye and acting on temptations.
- Thoughtlessness – no consideration for others.
- Inconstancy – not faithful or dependable, constantly changing.
- Impulsiveness – acting without thinking or forethought.
- Self-love – tending to be smug or superior.
- Hatred of God.
- Love of the world.
- Contempt for heaven – beneath consideration.
Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for moreEphesians 4:19
Chastity or Modesty overcomes the sin of lust.
Chastity is a fruit of the Holy Spirit which helps us right-order our desires and cultivate a pure heart. It is a purity and freedom from immorality, especially of a sexual nature. Our thoughts are not sins unless we dwell on them, indulge them, or act on them. Concupiscence is bound to put thoughts into our heads from time to time, but if we dismiss those thoughts and refuse to give them life, we have not sinned.
Chasity overcomes the sin of lust.
- Be pure and guard your heart. Properly order physical appetites to your vocation.
- Dress modestly. There is no reason to let it all hang out, and when we do, we send the wrong message when we avoid modesty. If our objective is to attract others, we are appealing to their lustful nature, and not to what our heart truly needs and desires. We can dress modestly and still look attractive. We want to attract others for the right reasons.
- Practice self-denial. We are not animals, and our human sexuality is more than brute animal instinct. We do not have to give in to every urge that passes through our body. We can have mind over matter and function on a higher plane.
- Find something higher than the flesh to love. Give yourself a project, or exercise when you are bored.
- Stay away from red flag situations. If you know that a certain location, certain scenario, or certain friendships bring out the worst behavior in you or the greatest temptations that you have difficulty avoiding, then give those up.
- Choose your entertainment carefully and thoughtfully. It’s difficult in today’s world to find clean entertainment. Books, movies, television, theater, any social scene really – they all seem to be infected with material that pushes us down the path of sinful behavior. The entertainment industry gives people what they want and what brings the most revenue. Let your money and time follow your values.
Pullout scripture: I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven. Luke 7:47
As we renounce sin in our life, we strengthen our connection with God. When this becomes the flow of our life, we develop a pure heart with right ordered desires. As we contemplate our God in heaven, we begin to see Him on earth and know Him by the light of faith. Let’s live in this perfection as beloved sons and daughters, shaking the sin of disconnection from our Creator and from life.
May we be Smitten with Chastity,