In life, we are given a choice – follow our desires or the Holy Spirit who guides us:
I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. –Galatians 5:16-17, NAB
Concupiscence is a word that you probably wouldn’t use often around the water cooler, but you have probably heard it used in a homily or two. If you’re a nerd like me, after hearing it for the first time, you probably ran home to look it up in your favorite online dictionary.
So, what is concupiscence? Concupiscence is our inclination to sin, an effect of the Original Sin. In other words, we are drawn to sin like a magnet. Our desires of the flesh pull us away from God and toward a sinful lifestyle. Some would say that because of the Original Sin, being a sinner is in our nature.
We may be drawn to sin, but that does not mean that we should simply give in to it. As a Christian, just as we are drawn to sin by the flesh, the Holy Spirit within us draws us towards overcoming concupiscence. The Lord wants to help us by giving us the strength to overcome our selfish desires.
It is impossible to serve both our desires and the Holy Spirit at the same time. We are given a choice: accept the ways of the world or follow the Holy Spirit. Overcoming concupiscence, then, is the key to becoming a good Catholic.
What does it mean to be a good Catholic? Simply put, it means doing what God wants, not what we want. It’s not about our status within the Church or how many Bible verses we can memorize; it’s about our ability to live the life that Christ wants us to live. We need to stop wasting our energy making excuses for our sins and spend that energy on overcoming our sinful ways.
Completely overcoming concupiscence is impossible – no one is immune to it – but that does not mean that we should stop trying. Do not let sin rule over your life; rather, let the King of Kings be the Lord to rule over your every decision. Overcoming concupiscence is not easy, but it is definitely worth it.