PART III: LIFE IN CHRIST
Section Two: The Ten Commandments
Chapter 2: “You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself” (cont’d)
Article 9, The Ninth Commandment
I. Purification of the Heart
§ 2517 The heart is the seat of moral personality: “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication…” (Matthew 15:19). The struggle against carnal covetousness entails purifying the heart and practicing temperance:
- “Remain simple and innocent, and you will be like little children who do not know the evil that destroys man’s life” (HP, “Mandate” 2, 1: PG 2, 916).
§ 2518 The sixth Beatitude proclaims, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). “Pure in heart” refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God’s holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity (cf. 1 Timothy 4:3-9; 2 Tim 2:22); chastity or sexual rectitude [decency] (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:7; Colossians 3:5; Ephesians 4:19); love of truth and orthodoxy of faith (cf. Titus 1:15; 1 Tim 1:3-4; 2 Tim 2:23-26). There is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith:
- The faithful must believe the articles of the Creed “so that by believing they may obey God, by obeying may live well, by living well may purify their hearts, and with pure hearts may understand what they believe” (DFS 10, 25: PL 40, 196).
§ 2519 The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face-to-face and be like Him (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Jn 3:2). Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God. Even now, it enables us to see according to God, to accept others as “neighbors”; it lets us perceive the human body – ours and our neighbor’s – as a temple of the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of Divine beauty.
II. The Battle for Purity
§ 2520 Baptism confers on its recipient the grace of purification from all sins. But the baptized must continue to struggle against concupiscence of the flesh [tendency toward sin] and disordered desires. With God’s grace, he will prevail
- by the virtue and gift of chastity, for chastity lets us love with upright and undivided heart;
- by purity of intention which consists in seeking the true end of man: with simplicity of vision, the baptized person seeks to find and to fulfill God’s will in everything (cf. Romans 12:2; Col 1:10);
- by purity of vision, external and internal; by discipline of feelings and imagination; by refusing all complicity in impure thoughts that incline us to turn aside from the path of God’s Commandments: “Appearance arouses yearning in fools” (Wisdom 15:5);
- by prayer:
- “I thought that continence [self-restraint or abstinence from sexual activity] arose from one’s own powers, which I did not recognize in myself. I was foolish enough not to know…that no one can be continent unless You grant it. For You would surely have granted it if my inner groaning had reached Your ears and I with firm faith had cast my cares on You” (Conf 6, 11, 20: PL 32, 729-730).
Tomorrow – The Battle for Purity (to be continued)
(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]”
- “Conf” – St. Augustine, “Confessiones [Confessions]”
- “DFS” – St. Augustine, “De Fide et Symbolo [Faith and Creed]”
- “HP” – Hermae Pastor [Hermes Shepherd]
- “PG” – “Patrologia Graeca [Greek Patrology]”, an enormous collection of writings of the Church Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers in the Greek language published by J. P. Migne, (Paris, 1857‑1866 A.D.)
- “PL” – “Patrologia Latina [Latin Patrology]”, an enormous collection of writings of the Church Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers in the Latin language published by J. P. Migne, (Paris, 1841‑1855 A.D.)