On Saturday we prayed with our #SmartFreedom Bible Study which addressed the Triple Concupiscence and our phones. Today we take this discussion about the Triple Concupiscence further--particularly as it relates to Lent. Oh, Theology Thursdays! I've missed you!
Welcome to Lent!
As discussed in a previous post, "Triple Threat"--one symptom of Original Sin is the triple concupiscence or threefold lust. For full (and much more eloquent and entertaining) explanation you can read the previous post, but here are bullet points...
Here’s what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about the threefold lust (or triple concupiscence):
CCC 377: The “mastery” over the world that God offered man from the beginning was realized above all within man himself: mastery of self. The first man was unimpaired and ordered in his whole being because he was free from the triple concupiscence that subjugates him to the pleasures of the senses, covetousness for earthly goods, and self-assertion, contrary to the dictates of reason.
The First Letter of John explains the threefold lust like so (CCC 2514):
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. 1 John 2:16
And while man was not "subjugated" by the triple concupiscence before the Fall, we see shadows of the threefold lust in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:
The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. Genesis 3:6
In The Spiritual Life, Adolphe Tanquerey notes the connection between the seven deadly sins and the triple lust.
The lust of the flesh refers to the passions and desires that have to do with pleasure. Thus, lust leads to gluttony, lust, and sloth.
The lust of the eyes leads us to greed--a disordered desire for material possessions.
Finally, pride of life, which to Americans may not sound negative, is arguably the worst of the disordered desires. From this springs forth pride, anger, and envy. This understanding of pride is present any time we prefer ourselves to God or his loving commands, or if we place ourselves above our neighbor.
In Luke 4, Jesus is approached by the Father of Lies. He is offered three temptations…
Temptation #1: Turn Stone into Bread (Lust of the Flesh)
Temptation #2: All the Power + Glory of All of the Kingdoms (Lust of the Eyes)
Temptation #3: Throw Yourself Down (Pride of Life)
In sum, Jesus says “Not today, Satan” where our First Parents couldn’t. When we face temptation we can to ask Jesus to give us the strength, the trust, the courage, to say “Nope."
Now what does this have to do with Lent?
I'm so glad you asked. What three spiritual practices are we given by the Church as a suggestion for our Lent?
Fasting, Almsgiving, and Prayer (CCC 1434). Do you see it yet?? This stuff is so cool!
Fasting, or the practice of depriving oneself of small pleasures, helps us to develop a deeper sense of self-mastery. By giving up coffee, or screen time, or hot water in the shower (for example), we experience a privation that helps us build up our strength against disordered desires for the pleasures of the flesh. If I can say "No, thank you" to coffee (extreme example, I know) when I really reeally reeeeally want it, I become more likely to say "No, thank you" to disordered desires or attachments to other fleshly pleasures. Fasting directly affects our struggles with the lust of the flesh.
Almsgiving or willingly departing with more of our material goods can help us to overcome what? GREED! The more detached we become from things, money, excess, etc. the better prepared we are when we get tempted by the lust of the eyes.
Prayer is not only conversation with God, but the very substance of our relationship with Him. By being in a relationship with God we have to say... well, you are God. And I am not. When we pray, we acknowledge our needs, our praise, our thanks, our desires... we ask for help. We grow in humility--and that growth helps us to fight the pride of life.
Mind-blowing, no? THERE'S MORE!!
Our commitments to Fasting, Almsgiving, and Prayer directly affect our spiritual growth when it comes to fighting temptations everyday... but for those of us that are called in an extraordinary way, to leave everything behind and follow Jesus, something deeper than a commitment or even promise is required: a vow!
The Evangelical Counsels: Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience... the vows our religious make (and practices we should all be committed to in accord to our state in life) are vows against what??? The Threefold Lust! Chastity is a renunciation of the nuptial union (which when disordered is a result of the lust of the flesh). Poverty is a renunciation of material wealth (which when disordered is a result of the lust of the eyes). And Obedience, well... what better for your Pride than submitting your will totally to the Lord, and intermediately to a Superior!
Sigh. It's like it's all true.
So next time someone calls the Church antiquated, out of date, and out of touch with the modern human heart... beg them to reconsider. She claims to be an expert in humanity--and she sounds pretty smart to me.