June 26
Article 9: The Ninth Commandment

Article 9

The Ninth Commandment

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 neighbor’s.299

Every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.300

2514 St. John distinguishes three kinds of covetousness or concupiscence: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life.301 In the Catholic catechetical tradition, the ninth commandment forbids carnal concupiscence; the tenth forbids coveting another’s goods. (377, 400)

2515 Etymologically, “concupiscence” can refer to any intense form of human desire. Christian theology has given it a particular meaning: the movement of the sensitive appetite contrary to the operation of the human reason. The apostle St. Paul identifies it with the rebellion of the “flesh” against the “spirit.”302 Concupiscence stems from the disobedience of the first sin. It unsettles man’s moral faculties and, without being in itself an offense, inclines man to commit sins.303 (405)

2516 Because man is a composite being, spirit and body, there already exists a certain tension in him; a certain struggle of tendencies between “spirit” and “flesh” develops. But in fact this struggle belongs to the heritage of sin. It is a consequence of sin and at the same time a confirmation of it. It is part of the daily experience of the spiritual battle: (362; 407)

For the Apostle it is not a matter of despising and condemning the body which with the spiritual soul constitutes man’s nature and personal subjectivity. Rather, he is concerned with the morally good or bad works, or better, the permanent dispositions—virtues and vices—which are the fruit of submission (in the first case) or of resistance (in the second case) to the saving action of the Holy Spirit. For this reason the Apostle writes: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”304

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CCC 2514–2516
IV. Persevering in Love

2744 Prayer is a vital necessity. Proof from the contrary is no less convincing: if we do not allow the Spirit to lead us, we fall back into the slavery of sin. How can the Holy Spirit be our life if our heart is far from him?

Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy.… For it is impossible, utterly impossible, for the man who prays eagerly and invokes God ceaselessly ever to sin.

Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned.

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CCC 2744
II. “Thy Kingdom Come”

2817 This petition is “Marana tha,” the cry of the Spirit and the Bride: “Come, Lord Jesus.” (451, 2632; 671)

Even if it had not been prescribed to pray for the coming of the kingdom, we would willingly have brought forth this speech, eager to embrace our hope. In indignation the souls of the martyrs under the altar cry out to the Lord: “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?” For their retribution is ordained for the end of the world. Indeed, as soon as possible, Lord, may your kingdom come!

2818 In the Lord’s Prayer, “thy kingdom come” refers primarily to the final coming of the reign of God through Christ’s return. But, far from distracting the Church from her mission in this present world, this desire commits her to it all the more strongly. Since Pentecost, the coming of that Reign is the work of the Spirit of the Lord who “complete[s] his work on earth and brings us the fullness of grace.” (769)

2819 “The kingdom of God [is] righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The end-time in which we live is the age of the outpouring of the Spirit. Ever since Pentecost, a decisive battle has been joined between “the flesh” and the Spirit. (2046; 2516; 2519)

Only a pure soul can boldly say: “Thy kingdom come.” One who has heard Paul say, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies,” and has purified himself in action, thought, and word will say to God: “Thy kingdom come!”

2820 By a discernment according to the Spirit, Christians have to distinguish between the growth of the Reign of God and the progress of the culture and society in which they are involved. This distinction is not a separation. Man’s vocation to eternal life does not suppress, but actually reinforces, his duty to put into action in this world the energies and means received from the Creator to serve justice and peace. (1049)

2821 This petition is taken up and granted in the prayer of Jesus which is present and effective in the Eucharist; it bears its fruit in new life in keeping with the Beatitudes. (2746)

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CCC 2817–2821
Question LII: How It Happens that They Who Have Received Such an Abundance of Virtues in Baptism, Are so Slow to Practise Piety

Question LII

How it happens that they who have received such an abundance of virtues in Baptism, are so slow to practise Piety

Nor should it seem strange to any one, if, furnished and adorned, though we be, with so great an abundance of virtues, we yet enter upon or at least finish acts of piety and moral virtue, not without great difficulty and labour; for this happens, not because the virtues, from which these actions emanate, have not been bestowed on us by the goodness of God, but because there remains, after baptism, a most severe conflict of the flesh contrary to the spirit, in which, however, it becomes not a Christian man to be disheartened, or to grow faint; for, relying on the goodness of God, we should have the best hopes, that, by the daily practice of living well, the time will arrive, when whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever holy, the same may also appear easy and agreeable. Be these the subjects of our hearty consideration; be these the objects of our cheerful practice; that the God of peace may be with us.

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RC 2.2.52
Question VI: Concupiscence Twofold, and Which Is Here Forbidden

Question VI

Concupiscence twofold, and which is here forbidden

In common with the other commandments, each of these also is in part mandatory, and in part prohibitory. With regard to the prohibitory part, let the pastor instruct the faithful what sort of concupiscence is proscribed by this law to be shunned, lest some perchance may think that concupiscence to be in some sort vicious, which is not vicious; such as the concupiscence mentioned by the apostle, when he says: The spirit lusteth against the flesh, and that which was the object of David’s most earnest desires: My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy justifications at all times. It is therefore to be known, that concupiscence is a certain commotion and impulse of the mind, by which men are urged to the desire of pleasures they have not; and as the other propensities of the soul are not always evil, so neither is this impulse of concupiscence always to be accounted vicious. Hence it is not evil to desire meat or drink, or, when cold, to wish to become warm; when warm, to wish to become cool. This lawful species of concupiscence was implanted in us by nature, and by the design of God; but, in consequence of the sin of our first parents, passing the limits prescribed by nature, it has become so depraved, that it is often excited to desire those things that conflict with the spirit, and are repugnant to reason.

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RC 3.10.6
Question VIII: In What Sense the Apostle Uses the Word “Concupiscence”

Question VIII

In what sense the Apostle uses the word “Concupiscence”

St. Paul, it is true, has said that concupiscence is sin; but his words are to be understood in the same sense as those of Moses, whose testimony he cites; a sense conveyed by the apostle himself; for in his epistle to the Galatians, he calls it, the lusts of the flesh: Walk in the spirit, says he, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

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RC 3.10.8
Question IV: Of the Motives by Which Men Are Incited to the Desire of the Kingdom of God

Question IV

Of the Motives by which Men are incited to the Desire of the Kingdom of God

The priests, therefore, who are charged with the care of souls, will draw from the most abundant fountains of the sacred letters such considerations as are calculated to excite the faithful to the desire and pursuit of the kingdom of heaven; which set before their eyes our deplorable condition; and which should so affect them, that, reflecting, and coming to themselves, they may call to mind the supreme felicity and the unspeakable goods, with which the eternal abode of God our Father abounds. Here we are exiles, inhabitants of a land in which dwell demons; whose hatred to us cannot be mitigated; seeing they are the most malignant and implacable foes of mankind. What shall we say of those domestic and intestine battles, in which the soul and the body, the flesh and the spirit, are continually engaged against each other; in which we have always to apprehend defeat; nay, in which our instant defeat must be inevitable, were we not defended by the protecting right hand of God? Feeling this weight of misery, the apostle exclaims: O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me. from the body of this death?

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RC 4.11.4
Question XX: How Those Should Be Dealt with, Who Are Unable Utterly to Obliterate All Injuries from Their Minds

Question XX

How those should be dealt with, who are unable utterly to Obliterate all Injuries from their Minds

In this place, however, is required no ordinary prudence on the part of pastors, lest, knowing the difficulty and necessity of this precept, any one despair of salvation. For there are those who, aware that they ought to bury injuries in voluntary oblivion, and to love those that injured them, desire to do so, and do so as far as they are able, but feel that they cannot possibly efface from the mind all recollection of injuries. For there lurk in the mind some lingering grudges, in consequence of which they are agitated by the mighty waves of a troubled conscience, fearing lest, not having simply and sincerely laid aside their enmities, they are guilty of disobedience to the command of God. Here, therefore, pastors will explain the opposite inclinings of the flesh and of the spirit, the one being prone to revenge, the other ready to pardon; from which contrariety arise between them continued struggles and conflicts. He will therefore show that, if the appetites of corrupt nature are ever reclaiming against and opposed to reason, we are not to yield to misgivings regarding salvation, provided the spirit persevere in the duty and disposition of forgiving injuries, and of loving our neighbour.

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RC 4.14.20

Christ the Lord, indeed, did not in the least wish to destroy the very rich heritage of the law and the prophets which was gradually formed from the history and experience of the people of God in the Old Testament, but he brought it to completion (cf. Mt. 5:17) such that in a new and higher way it became part of the heritage of the New Testament. Therefore, although in expounding the paschal mystery St. Paul teaches that justification is not obtained by the works of the law but by means of faith (cf. Rom. 3:28; Gal. 2:16), he does not thereby exclude the binding force of the Decalogue (cf. Rom. 3:28; Gal. 5:13–25, 6:2), nor does he deny the importance of discipline in the Church of God (cf. 1 Cor. 5 and 6). Thus the writings of the New Testament enable us to understand even better the importance of discipline and make us see better how it is more closely connected with the saving character of the evangelical message itself.

This being so, it appears sufficiently clear that the Code is in no way intended as a substitute for faith, grace, charisms, and especially charity in the life of the Church and of the faithful. On the contrary, its purpose is rather to create such an order in the ecclesial society that, while assigning the primacy to love, grace and charisms, it at the same time renders their organic development easier in the life of both the ecclesial society and the individual persons who belong to it.

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Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae
3. The Holy Spirit in Man’s Inner Conflict: “For the Desires of the Flesh Are against the Spirit, and the Desires of the Spirit Are against the Flesh”

3. The Holy Spirit in Man’s Inner Conflict: “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh”

55. Unfortunately, the history of salvation shows that God’s coming close and making himself present to man and the world, that marvelous “condescension” of the Spirit, meets with resistance and opposition in our human reality. How eloquent from this point of view are the prophetic words of the old man Simeon who, inspired by the Spirit, came to the Temple in Jerusalem, in order to foretell in the presence of the new-born Babe of Bethlehem that he “is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, for a sign of contradiction.”232 Opposition to God, who is an invisible Spirit, to a certain degree originates in the very fact of the radical difference of the world from God, that is to say in the world’s “visibility” and “materiality” in contrast to him who is “invisible” and “absolute Spirit”; from the world’s essential and inevitable imperfection in contrast to him, the perfect being. But this opposition becomes conflict and rebellion on the ethical plane by reason of that sin which takes possession of the human heart, wherein “the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh.”233 Concerning this sin, the Holy Spirit must “convince the world,” as we have already said.

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Dom. et Viv. 55
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