Daily Series on the Catechism


Section Two:  The Ten Commandments

Chapter 2:  “You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself” (cont’d)

Article 9,  The Ninth Commandment

  • “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17).
  • “Every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

§ 2514  St. John distinguishes three kinds of covetousness or concupiscence: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life (cf. 1 John 2:16). In the Catholic catechetical tradition, the Ninth Commandment forbids carnal concupiscence; the Tenth forbids coveting another’s goods.

§ 2515  Etymologically [the study or origin of a word], “concupiscence” can refer to any intense form of human desire. Christian theology has given it a particular meaning: the movement of the sensitive appetite contrary to the operation of the human reason. The Apostle St. Paul identifies it with the rebellion of the “flesh” against the “spirit” (cf. Galatians 5:16, 17, 24; Ephesians 2:3). Concupiscence stems from the disobedience of the first sin [Original Sin by Adam and Eve]. It unsettles man’s moral faculties and, without being in itself an offense, inclines man to commit sins (cf. Genesis 3:11; Council of Trent: DS 1515).

§ 2516  Because man is a composite being, spirit and body, there already exists a certain tension in him; a certain struggle of tendencies between “spirit” and “flesh” develops. But, in fact, this struggle belongs to the heritage of sin. It is a consequence of sin and at the same time a confirmation of it. It is part of the daily experience of the spiritual battle:

  • “For the Apostle, it is not a matter of despising and condemning the body which with the spiritual soul constitutes man’s nature and personal subjectivity. Rather, he is concerned with the morally good or bad works, or better, the permanent dispositions –virtues and vices – which are the fruit of submission (in the first case) or of resistance (in the second case) to the saving action of the Holy Spirit. For this reason the Apostle writes: ‘If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit’” (DeV 55; cf. Gal 5:25).

Tomorrow – Purification of the Heart

(Part III, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 9 – to be continued)

[Editor’s Note:  The abbreviations in today’s posting are noted below.]

  • “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”
  • “DeV” – Pope St. John Paul II (May 1986), “Dominum et Vivificantem [Lord and Giver of Life]”
  • “DS” – “Denzinger- Schönmetzer”, a compendium of all basic texts of Catholic dogma and morality since the time of the Apostles
Available in several languages

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