October 12, 2012

Pornography and Envy: Unwanted Desires

Catechism paragraphs 2514 - 2557

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbors.  Ex 20:17

The Ninth and Tenth Commandments at their heart are about greed, excesses of what we want.  It is good for man to have sexual desires or desires for things, but there is a line which can be crossed, whether we desire too much for ourselves or are envious of what our neighbor has.  These commandments have to do with temperance and modesty, limits on our wants.

“The spiritual tradition of the Church also emphasizes the heart, in the biblical sense of the depths of one’s being, where the person decides for or against God.  358   The heart is the seat of moral personality: ‘Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication’ (Mt 15:19) … The struggle against carnal covetousness entails purifying the heart and practicing temperance. 2517   The sixth beatitude proclaims, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  ‘Pure in heart’ refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God’s holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity; chastity or sexual rectitude; love of truth and orthodoxy of faith.  2518   Even now it enables us to see according to God, to accept others as ‘neighbors’; it lets us perceive the human body – ours and our neighbor’s – as a temple of the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of divine beauty.” 2519

“The baptized must continue to struggle against concupiscence of the flesh and disordered desires.  With God’s grace he will prevail: by the virtue and gift of chastity, for chastity lets us love with upright and undivided heart; by purity of intention which consists in seeking the true end of man; by purity of vision, by refusing all complicity in impure thoughts; and by prayer.  2520   Modesty means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden.  It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons.  Modesty is decency; it inspires one’s choice of clothing.  It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. 2521-2   Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person.  2524   So-called moral permissiveness rests on an erroneous conception of human freedom; the necessary precondition for the development of true freedom is to let oneself be educated in the moral law.” 2526

“Envy is a capital sin.  It refers to the sadness at the sight of another’s goods and the immoderate desire to acquire them for oneself, even unjustly.  When it wishes harm to a neighbor it is a mortal sin. 2539   Envy comes from pride; the baptized person should train himself to live in humility. 2540   Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command.  This is what man’s first sin consisted of.  397   Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them ‘renounce all that (they have)’ for his sake and that of the Gospel (Lk 14:33).  The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven.  All Christ’s faithful are to ‘direct their affections rightly, lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect charity by the use of worldly things and by an adherence to riches which is contrary to the spirit of evangelical poverty.’  2544-5   The Lord grieves over the rich, because they find their consolation in the abundance of goods.  Trust in God is preparation for the blessedness of the poor.  They shall see God.  2547   It remains for the holy people to struggle, with graces from on high, to obtain the good things God promises.  In order to possess and contemplate God, Christ’s faithful mortify their cravings and, with the grace of God, prevail over the seductions of pleasure and power.”  2549

YOUCAT Q464   What good is shame?  Many young Christians live in an environment where it is taken for granted that everything should be on display and people are systematically trained to ignore feelings of shame.  But shamelessness is inhuman.  Animals experience no shame.  In a human being, in contrast, it is an essential feature.  It does not hide something inferior but rather protects something valuable, namely, the dignity of the person in his capacity to love.  Q466:  What is envy, and how can you fight against it?  Envy is sadness and annoyance at the sight of another’s well-being …  Envy decreases when we try to rejoice more and more in the accomplishments and gifts of others.  Hate no one.  Do not be jealous.  Do not act out of envy.  Do not love quarreling.  Flee arrogance.  (St. Benedict of Nursia)

This wraps up our reading and learning the section of the catechism titled:  Life in Christ.  This section began with the beatitudes and feelings of the heart, how we should desire to live good lives.  The section ended with the Ten Commandments, the underpinnings of the beatitudes.  Accepting these and obeying the call of these, together, this is living a Life in Christ. 

The section we just finished heavily addressed how man is to live in relation to man.  Next we will pursue the last of the four sections of the catechism:  Christian Prayer --- how man is to live in relation with God.  This section talks about prayer in general, and then the specific prayer Jesus taught us, the Our Father.  On a separate blog post I will lay out the timing for proceeding through this section.       

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