The Modern Catholic Dictionary defines concupiscence as:
Insubordination of man's desires to the dictates of reason, and the propensity of human nature to sin as a result of original sin. More commonly, it refers to the spontaneous movement of the sensitive appetites toward whatever the imagination portrays as pleasant and away from whatever it portrays as painful. However, concupiscence also includes the unruly desires of the will, such as pride, ambition, and envy. (Etym. Latin con-, thoroughly + cupere, to desire: concupiscentia, desire, greed, cupidity.)
When I present Catholic Teaching in Inquiry during the RCIA process I always teach this word to the adults. The few times I have had a chance to teach our little ones at the Parish School of Religion I teach this word.
It's a good word. It explains a lot, especially in light of the problems I witness every day on FaceBook and other Social Media Platforms. Constantly on display are the 'unruly desires of the will" and I struggle with those unruly desires as much as the next person.
Every once in awhile I am able to master those unruly desires and when I do I am always surprised. I am surprised because I know me, I know my tendency towards being way too judgmental and unforgiving. I really have to watch myself. I can lose my patience with people in a heartbeat, especially if I am overly tired.
What mastering those unruly desires looks like, for me, is keeping my big mouth shut. It means saying something kind to someone who drives me crazy with what I perceive as constant complaining and an inability to 'suck it up, buttercup'.
Master that desire to take someone down a notch or get them to just shut UP already is firmly rooted in two things - frequent reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and a nightly Examination of Conscience.
As my desire for a closer relationship with Jesus and His Church has grown, my need to look myself squarely in the mirror has grown. Without willingness to see the total me - faults and warts and assets and all - I cannot master the unruly desire to be number 1 in the eyes of all those around me. I can stop thinking that YOU being loved somehow diminishes God's ability to love ME. I can scoot over and make room at the banquet table without wondering if my giving up that little bit of space on the bench somehow means I am less likely to get dessert.
Taking the time to understand ourselves is, I believe, imperative to growing closer to Christ. While self-knowledge may avail me nothing in terms of conquering my alcoholism it helps tremendously in my quest for deeper spiritual communion with the One True God. If I can accept the fact that it is only me and my selfishness that closes me off to God's Grace then I am more willing to look at why I do that in the first place.
Inevitably I discover that the core of my sin is self-obsession, pride and lack of trust in God.
My prayer today is that God relieve me of this obsession and that He accept my prayer:
Lord, I believe.
Help my unbelief.