As we settle into the season of Lent, let’s take a moment to reflect upon the capital sin of lust. Jesus teaches about this sin,
“But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart”
This teaching is important for understanding lust—an inordinate desire for sexual pleasure or enjoyment of sexual pleasure—and how it affects both the body and soul. It shows how we must be vigilant and guard our mind and heart as it truly matters what we intentionally allow ourselves to view, read or participate in.
In understanding the sin of lust, the operative word is inordinate or excessive and allowing the desire for pleasure to alter and consume your mind and heart. Let’s first identify the internal and external acts.
- Internal acts are intentionally dwelling on fantasies and deliberating entertaining impure thoughts and desires. These relate to the sins forbidden by the sixth commandment.
- External acts are sins against chastity which include impurity, viewing pornography, adultery, fornication and other sins against the sixth commandment.
Furthermore, the pleasures of the senses, particularly sexuality, are powerful, and when overindulged cloud or even blind our minds to the beauty of the Gospel message and truths taught by Jesus Christ. This blindness of mind is manifested in inconsideration, the thoughtlessness of the other person as well as inordinate self-love. The person whose mind is blind loses sight of the dignity of the other person and seeks only to satisfy his/her own pleasure.
Another consequence is a weakened will which leads to inconstancy, hastiness, imprudence, and immature actions. The lustful person lives more attached to the world and struggles to find satisfaction in life, not to mention a lack of desire to live as a disciple of Christ.
Living the beatitude—”Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8)— is a remedy to lust and blindness of mind. We have to intentionally make decisions to guard our mind and heart and strive to live a balanced, temperate, and integrated life.
A disciple of Christ living this beatitude…
- Lives a life of charity
- Is intentional about what he or she looks at, watches, and listens to
- Cultivates a life of prayer, especially asking Joseph and Mary to guard the virtue of chastity
- Embraces sacrifices and mortifications to detach from excessive worldly and sexual pleasure
- Cultivate authentic friendships
- Lives honestly and is committed to the truth.
“A clean heart can see God, can speak to God, and can see the love of God in others.” – St. Teresa of Calcutta