Generally, the idea is that man commits a sin because of his weak ‘human’ nature. Many today, even few Priests, tell us that we are all bearers of the nature of sin that is part us by the cause of the Original Sin. Well, it is true that we humans (with the exception of the Immaculate Virgin Mary – Mother of God) are born with that stain. However, we are also born with one unique gift, which we share even with the angels (not in the same dimension though). The gift of free will. One of my confessor’s had once said that many people come and confess their sins because they tend to remember them for the sake of sincere reconciliation with God, inner healing, grace, to be pure while receiving sacraments, etc. But not rarely, he underlines, do penitents desire to remember and omit the occasions or ‘triggers’ of sin, especially their most common private sins. According to Catholic theology man has not lost his natural faculties: by the sin of Adam he has been deprived only of the Divine gifts to which his nature had no strict right: the complete mastery of his passions, exemption from death, sanctifying grace, and the vision of God in the next life.
Concupiscence comes from the Latin word ‘con’ – with + ‘cupi’ – cupid – desire + ‘escere’ – a suffix that denotes the beginning of a process or state. It is an ardent, usually sensual, longing. In Christian theology, concupiscence has the name “Fomes peccati”, as the selfish human desire for an object, person, or experience. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches that Adam and Eve were constituted in an original “state of holiness and justice” (CCC 375, 376 398), free from concupiscence (CCC 377). Through the sacrament of Baptism, we Catholics believe, in the cleansing of the human soul off original sin and turns a man back towards God. The inclination toward sin and evil persists, however, and he must continue to struggle against concupiscence (CCC 2520).
Each one of us experiences concupiscence as often as everyday. We humans are sexual beings, and as explained above it is in our innate nature to be attracted to the vice of sin, by the influence of temptation or concupiscence. In the life of a child it could be the ardent desire of seeking attention by all around him, so that he feels loved or cared for. If a parent does not notice this and continues to encourage the child to cry, crib and does not discipline the child, then this desire continues to grow through the years but this time as concupiscence for fame and adulation, which in-turn results in pride, and pride negates humility – which is close to Godliness. Such pride is also capable of making man wander blindly within the wilderness of sexual dominance over women, irrespective of their age. Consider now an adult, whose life has be chiseled by various experiences in the world – through friends and foe, education and hobby, circumstances and preferences, religious beliefs or new age ideologies, philosophical or commercial, these numerous experiences both volunteered and influential, bring man to a deeper and deeper understanding his physical, intellectual, spiritual and biological prowess. This understanding expands desires which the very nature of man. Most significant is the desire of the flesh.
However, what is very essential to understand is that all of life’s experiences with different people in different situations and appearances, form a unique idea or concept of love and sexuality in every person’s heart & mind. Those ideologies can also have shades of concupiscence in them. For example: some ideologies of sex and love are formed through the way people of a culture dress like, live and talk. For some it may be fascination & intrigue while learning about the human body through the intricacies of science. For some concupiscence of the flesh may be formed by penchant for certain type of art or literature. These influences sometimes are embedded so deep in man’s emotional & biological fabric that even that slightest of cue such as a the visibility of any woman’s neck while her hair is tied up could incite a man’s desire which might want him to satisfy his sexual hunger that day or night with his wife (or partner for some), even if his wife is not willing at that moment. This is an act of gratifying a selfish sexual desire, which is nothing but concupiscence. And in today’s world one cannot neglect a person’s great struggle with concupiscence when sexuality prefers one from his / her same kind.
Catholic theology, going back to St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, has identified Saint Paul’s “law of sin” or “flesh” with the concupiscence or inordinate desire that remains in Christians. Concupiscence is of itself not sinful and it is not a “sin nature” (contrary to the NIV translation of Romans 7). The process of sanctification is the battle against concupiscence. St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century described two divisions of “sensuality”: the concupiscible (pursuit/avoidance instincts) and the irascible (competition/aggression/defense instincts). With the former are associated the emotions of joy and sadness, love and hate, desire and repugnance; with the latter, daring and fear, hope and despair, anger.
Concupiscence therefore my friends, I think, is choosing to let our being to be chastised / flogged by the wretchedness of evil, before, someday letting sin to lead us to the gallows of mortal sin. Therefore, may man’s soul, which is set on the battle field concupiscence, fortify itself with the effects of the gift of free, by choosing to God, His mercy & love through His Catholic Church, pray, be humble, receive the sacraments worthily and nail itself to the worship & adoration of the holy Eucharist in the Blessed Sacrament.