Concupiscence

Q. What does concupiscence mean as it relates to Catholic teaching?

A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:  

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Concupiscence stems from the disobedience of the first sin. It unsettles man’s moral faculties and, without being in itself an offence, inclines man to commit sins” (No. 2515). Baptism removes original sin, but does not free us from finding sin attractive, so concupiscence is the part of our human condition that responds to the allure of sin.

We commonly associate concupiscence with sexual temptation, but it affects us on a far deeper level, opening us to the attraction of all sin. If we surrender, our sin weakens the bonds that ought to unite us to the other members of the Body of Christ, and makes us more apt to sin again.

As a remedy, the Catechism urges us to strive for the purity of heart Jesus commends in the beatitudes (see Mt 5:8). This purity refers to charity, chastity and love of truth (see Catechism, No. 2518) and not only equips us to embrace physical purity, but enables us to view the world “according to God, to accept others as ‘neighbors’” (No. 2519). With practice, this effort becomes a virtuous habit that enables us more and more to turn away from ourselves, that we may discern, “find and … fulfill God’s will in everything” (No. 2520).