Saturday, March 17, 2012

Much Ado About Lust

At the ends of various chapters in his books, Christopher West will often include some suggested prayer of his own composition. In Heaven's Song he includes a suggested prayer at the end of every chapter.

A typical example is one such as this:

"Jesus, you came to set the world ablaze with holy desire. Help me not to fear the heat of that divine fire. Crucify my lusts and resurrect my deepest erotic yearnings so that I might seek only what is true, good and beautiful. Show me your perfect eros-agape love so that I might turn from my idols and find myself rejoicing in the wine of your salvation. Amen." (Heaven's Song, pg. 122)


Throughout chapters he might also suggest a practice along with the prayer, like this:

"When lust tempts you, or even overwhelms you, you might say a prayer like this: Lord, I thank you for the gift of my sexual desires. I surrender this lustful desire to you and I ask you please, by the power of your death and resurrection, to "untwist" in me what sin has twisted so that I might experience the transformation of sexual desire as you intend--as the desire to love in your image.

To reinforce your decision to "die" to lust, you may also want to place yourself in the shape of a cross--hands outstretched--while repeating the above prayer. (Theology of the Body for beginners, pgs. 47-48)


I think his prayers are unhealthy to pray, and such practices as the one he suggests about laying down in cruciform while saying the prayer can cause some serious psychological harm.

Christopher West uses the word "lust" with interchangeable meaning, as though it is no different than the inherent "desires" (just in "twisted" form); for most of the time lust is put across in a way that it is not an engendered action. Even in the interiority of "adultery in the heart" there is the germination of the sin and thus its actuation - its being engendered. But with West, lust is only immanently there without an engendering and thus, paradoxically, it is always at a remove from one, like it was there as an "option button" that one should simply not select, while sexual attraction may be in force, but instead give it over to be transformed, and yet in doing so, it is not an "option button" at all but the very thing that propels one to union with God. It is at once wholly at a disconnect and the sole manifestation of your personal meaning:

"Rather than repressing lust by pushing it into the subconscious, trying to ignore it, or otherwise seeking to annihilate it, we must surrender our lusts to Christ and allow him to slay them. As we do, "the Spirit of the Lord gives new form to our desires" (CCC 2764). In other words, as we allow lust to be "crucified," we also come to experience the "resurrection" of God's original plan for sexual desire." (Theology of the Body for beginners, pg. 47)

But wait, West says here:

"Deep in the heart we learn to distinguish between what, on the one hand, composes the great riches of sexuality and sexual attraction, and what, on the other hand, bears only the sign of lust." (Theology of the Body for beginners, pg. 49)

I don't know which he does first: does he separate lust from sexual attraction as though lust does not have sexual attraction in it, and as a result he wholly disconnects lust from an object; or does he first wholly disconnect lust from an object, and as a result cause lust and sexual attraction to be inherently so separate such that lust never springs from or never works within sexual attraction, or so that sexual attraction is ever pure and untainted in our subjectivity without lust being a danger?

Aside from that is the fact that anyone who in the heat of the moment "gives his lusts to Christ for Him to slay", most likely ten seconds later will be saying, "Well, Lord, you didn't slay my lusts, so I'm going to commit sins X, Y and Z alright?" Christ is not the "slayer of our lusts" any more than He is the "impregnator of our sexual desires". He opens to us on His cross free access to die to ourselves, as He Himself who is God submitted His will to the Father. This dying to ourselves reaches further than we can accomplish, such that we become like Him on the cross: we receive life in abundance and we give as a cruciformed, according to our "measure" and yet beyond our measure. As for our "material", such as lusts to be transformed through our self-focused laying on the floor in the shape of the cross as we crucify our lusts? Oh puh-lease. Go plant a garden. Maybe not having your "lusts" crucified is the crucifixion appropriated for you.

Another thing that results is his notion how as "we appropriate the gift of redemption in our lives, lust loses sway in our hearts".

He is reductive of the reader's particular state, whatever that may be, when he says this.

The Church makes no such immanent claims, other than to promise that if virtue is persisted in, then the practice of virtue becomes easier. And that of course, makes it "harder" for one to sin. For the Church does not tell you one way or another how much lust "holds sway in your heart", anymore than it tells you how much envy holds sway in your heart. What the Church does tell you is that lust or envy can be discerned in you by such and such thoughts and actions revealed or reminded to you by examining your conscience; and the Church holds to you the remedy, in the forgiveness of the sins, and their antithesis in the practice of virtues.

It is unhealthy to make claims for what Lust will or will not do - such as saying that it "will lose sway". Oh? Did it "have sway" before? To what extent? And according to what? And how much did your will have a play in it and the free exercise of your imagination?

Anyone who knows anything about anything knows that saying "lust will lose sway" is like saying that, having taken all precautionary measures necessary to walk through the tropics, tigers and jaguars will cease to jump out at you from hiding. That's not to say they will of a certainty jump out at you; but it's just to point out that saying such a thing is idiotic.

From the heights of virtue, from the purest love, from a smattering of boredom, from a look, lust can come upon a person as suddenly and unexpectedly as an earthquake - yes, just when one thinks "lust has lost sway". Those who are in God's good graces can be accosted out of nowhere. And they can be as equally left in peace having resisted it.

The point in saying this is not to turn lust into something omnipotent; saying it can strike like an earthquake is just to get across the suddenness and unexpectedness, and moreover, to get across the immediacy with which one tends to forget, with the onslaught, everything else previous to it. What keeps a person from being shaken to the ground, indeed, maybe even from being shaken, is what he has built upon. And what he has built upon is not his "transformed desires".

The point is that Christopher West, in saying that it will lose sway and be transformed, is that he is the one who takes it and turns it into an inescapable monster.

Note: A word on "immanentize" in relation to lust: Yes, our sins come from within the heart and make us unclean. In that way they are immanent. That's not they way I mean in the above paragraphs, but that West makes the sin "wholly immanent", like...well...like the Manichaeans did.

28 comments:

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Paul—

What makes the prayers “unhealthy”?

What “psychological harm” do you envision from “cruciform” posture when praying?

Paul, you wrote:

***Christopher West uses the word "lust" with interchangeable meaning, as though it is no different than the inherent "desires" (just in "twisted" form); for most of the time lust is put across in a way that it is not an engendered action. Even in the interiority of "adultery in the heart" there is the germination of the sin and thus its actuation - its being engendered.***


TOB 41:2—
This change in the intentionality of existence, by which a certain woman begins to exist for a certain man, not as a subject of the call and of personal attraction or as a subject “of communion,” but exclusively as an object for the possible satisfaction of sexual urge, comes to be in the “heart” to the degree in which it has come to be in the will. Cognitive intentionality as such does not yet mean enslavement of the “heart.” It is only when the intentional reduction explained above drags the will into its narrow horizon, when it awakens in it a decision for a relation with another human being (in our case with the woman) according to the scale of values proper to “concupiscence,” it is only then that one can say that “desire” has gained mastery over the “heart.” It is only when “concupiscence” has gained mastery over the will that one can say, it dominates the subjectivity of the person and stands at the basis of the will and of the possibility of choosing and deciding, by which—in virtue of self-decision or self-determination—the very way of existing in relation to another person is determined. It is then that the intentionality of such an existence acquires a full subjective dimension.

Paul, it seems you are the one not taking care to distinguish the intellectual component of lust from the *volitional* expression of it. “Lust” in the intellect is neither sin nor represents lust’s “mastery” over us. There is the point at which we encounter lust in our “thoughts” or as a focal point of temptation, but between that moment of encounter and any future moment in which the will is engaged relative to that encounter, we have the opportunity to avoid giving in to lust’s “mastery” over us.

It is in that moment that we may and should pray for the grace that is the remedy for concupiscence and that can undo lust in the intellect.

Or would you disagree with this?


God bless you,

Deacon Jim Russell

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Another question, Paul:

If Christ is not the slayer of our lusts, as you claim, then why does Aquinas teach that grace is the remedy for concupiscence?

If God cannot "slay lust", then it either sounds like God is not God or that He permits lust to have total mastery over us.

Neither concept is to be found in TOB, btw--(see passage above)....

God bless you,

Deacon Jim Russell

Deacon Jim Russell said...

"...Christopher West invites us to open our ears to the song that God is singing to us through our bodies, through our creation as male and female, and through our natural desire for intimate union. The invitation to hear this song--which tells of God's original plan for sexuality--is desperately needed today, because our culture's native "beat" has made us deaf to it. And no one is better suited to deliver the invitation than Christopher West."

Now there's a quote to remember....

God bless,

Deacon Jim Russell

jvc said...

I think I've changed my mind on the wisdom of banning Jim Russell from these blogs. He refuses to answer a single question in any post but has the audacity to post fresh comments in new posts. How brave.

jvc said...

Depending on the time of the day, West's followers tell us either that West is wholly within the fabric of Church Tradition or they tell us that West is leading a new revolution in the history of the Church that is opening our eyes in a way we could not see before.

So, with that preface, could Jim Russell please tell us how the prayers suggested by West fit into the context of the Saints' writings on prayer? Which Saints or Doctors of the Church do they most resemble? Why do they sound so different from anything that resembles a prayer?

Wade St. Onge said...

jvc, I'm not even reading anything more from any defender of West posting here until they answer those questions.

So, here we go again ...

http://wademichaelstonge.blogspot.com/2012/02/tob-silence-that-speaks-volumes.html

There are a number of unanswered questions from previous posts I would like to re-present:

From the Feb23 post:

1. Reconcile the following statements: “I see West and his students saying that ‘mature purity’ is akin to perfect contrition. For those who can attain it its great” and “I don't think anyone is making a case that ‘historic’ man is capable of *wholly* avoiding objectification in such circumstances [seeing a naked or provocatively dressed woman]”.

2. How does one reach such a state to view [beautiful, shapely women in bikinis at the beach] and by what means does a person reach such a status?

3. Would you allow Christopher West to see the numerous women of your family naked? Would you encourage them to? If not, why?

4. Responding to “it requires hard work to maintain one’s state of grace, including seeking to attain a ‘mature purity”, I added, “including continuing to practice custody of the eyes – something West would disagree with”. I was told, “your argument is with JP2, not West”. I asked for a citation.

From the Feb25 post:

5. If your archbishop changed his mind on Christopher West and publicly rescinded his support for him, would you agree with his judgment or would you continue to believe West’s theology is sound?

6. What is your archbishop’s position on custody of the eyes?

7. Is your archbishop aware of Mr. West’s position on “custody of the eyes” as a “negative step” that is to “give way” to “looking rightly” which consists in looking at shapely women at beaches and “looking rightly” at Dr. Regis Martin’s wife as a more proper response than practicing custody of the eyes and looking away?

From the Feb29 post:

8. Two of West’s most faithful listeners called practicing custody of the eyes an objectification of women. Please justify this position.

Wade St. Onge said...

From the Mar 3 post:

9. Do men like Christopher West who have achieved “mature purity” generally continue to “look rightly” at naked and provocatively dressed women and only in rare cases feel the pull of concupiscence and decide at that point to practice custody of the eyes and "look away"?

10. Is there other reasons to practice custody of the eyes by looking away from provocatively dressed or naked women besides the man’s lust? In other words, if a man achieves “mature purity”, are there still other reasons why he should look away? If so, what are they?

11. "Would it ever be appropriate for the conjugal act to be performed in the presence of an audience for the purpose of fostering a Catholic and integrated view of marriage and sexuality? Let us hypothetically establish that this would be arranged among close friends, all of whom are well-versed in TOB and intend only to exalt God’s intentions for marriage and sexuality. If this would not be appropriate, please tell me why.

12. Would nudism ever be appropriate among those who have advanced in the Theology of the Body, say, at a Mass in order better express the unity of the languages of the body and the liturgy? If not, would this only be because of the danger of participation by someone not properly prepared or, perhaps, because of the possibility of misunderstanding. Or, on the other hand, would this violate some fundamental moral principle or otherwise be contrary to Catholic orthodoxy and orthopraxy? If so, why?

13. Do you believe in the idea of “positive shame” – namely, that the body is beautiful and sacred enough that it should only be unveiled for the most special, rarest of occasions and to select people only, and therefore, custody of the eyes is still an important practice despite one’s level of purity?

14. Reconcile West’s belief in mature purity with the following statements from St. Alphonsus Liguori in his admonitions on practicing “mortification of the eyes”: Gaze not upon another’s beauty; for from looks arise evil imaginations, by which an impure fire is lighted up … ‘If,’ says St. Augustine, ‘our eyes should by chance fall upon others, let us take care never to fix them upon any one’ … The saints were particularly cautious not to look at persons of a different sex … Brother Roger, a Franciscan of singular purity, being once asked why he was so reserved in his intercourse with women, replied, that when men avoid the occasions of sin, God preserves them; but when they expose themselves to danger, they are justly abandoned by the Lord, and easily fall into some grievous transgressions”.

Wade St. Onge said...

From the Mar7 post:

15. Should the Blessed Virgin Mary be painted and sculpted with large and ample breasts? If so, why? Do you then disagree with Dr. von Hildebrand when she treated this issue? (see the link above under the subheading “ANALOGY and MYSTERY”).

From the Mar. 9 post:

16. Do you agree with Dr. Kreeft’s position as outlined in his article, “Is there Sex in Heven?” Is there anything in that article you disagree with? If so or if not, why?

17. If it is true that two-thirds of what the Catholic Church has ever said on the subjects of sex and marriage have come from the pontificate of John Paul II, who would you account as being the best five writers from the other one-third, and specifically which works or treatments of these subjects would you specifically recommend?

18. Did the Catholic Church have a deficient understanding regarding sex and marriage before Vatican II? If so, why did this happen?

19. Did John Paul II and his writings, especially “Theology of the Body”, greatly increase our understanding of sex and marriage? If so, please provide specifics.

20. Did JPII change the teachings of the Church on sex and marriage? Did he reveal them in some way that had never been fully revealed before? If so, how? And why was this knowledge never revealed earlier?

Wade St. Onge said...

jvc: "Depending on the time of the day, West's followers tell us either that West is wholly within the fabric of Church Tradition or they tell us that West is leading a new revolution in the history of the Church that is opening our eyes in a way we could not see before".

"Expediency trumps truth" - another theme I've noticed in the Theology of the Body Debate.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

God bless you, JVC--

There are many unanswered questions being left in the wake of these numerous posts--questions I've posed and questions asked of me (I presume they are asked of me since I'm the only one offering an alternative view to that expressed by Paul).

Perhaps our discourse would improve if we lifted up each other in prayer?

As it is, maybe we can simply take turns asking questions and having them answered.

Ask me a first question to get us started, and I will answer it. And then I will ask a question of Paul, and he can answer.

Sound fair?

You're in my prayers,

Deacon Jim Russell

jvc said...

Jim Russell writes:Ask me a first question to get us started, and I will answer it. And then I will ask a question of Paul, and he can answer.

Looks like Wade has posted 20 questions for you already. Why not start there?

Wade St. Onge said...

Start with the first.

love the girls said...

Wade St. Onge writes : "7. Is your archbishop aware of Mr. West’s position on “custody of the eyes” as a “negative step” that is to “give way” to “looking rightly” which consists in looking at shapely women at beaches and “looking rightly” at Dr. Regis Martin’s wife as a more proper response than practicing custody of the eyes and looking away?"

I have no idea what this question is about, but I did long ago know Roseanne Langley, now better known Roseanne Martin. (I dated her sister from 75-80 when they were growing up here in Colorado.

In other words, Roseanne is kind of getting up there in years, (nice enough in her day), but I doubt she would have the same capacity to allure as she did in here earlier years.

In other words, looking at matronly old women if probably a rather safe place to start for practicing Chrisopher West's method.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

One of my favourite stories about St. Faustina involves her struggle against the sin of impurity. It was the most terrible temptation for her, and her fight against it was agonising, even taking its physical toll. One night, she had a vision in which Jesus took a white sash from around His waist and wrapped it around hers, promising that she would be protected from impurity forever. After the vision, the same temptations kept coming as if nothing had happened. But St. Faustina had Jesus's guarantee that no matter what was thrown at her (and a lot more would be thrown at her), she would not give in and it would not win.

Now, it would have been nice if the temptations had been slain, never to bother St. Faustina again. Or nicer yet, transformed into their flipside on the puritanical pancake . . . And I was totally going to go somewhere significant with that, Stilwell, but was suddenly struck by the parallel between W***'s model and a certain way of looking at the universe that you'll find in a lot of occult books. (You remember my shady past, yes?)

Occultists generally believe that everything is "energy"--that "black" and "white" (or "good" and "evil"!) are necessary to each other, the way the two sides of a pancake are to the very existence of the pancake. A lot of them would support W***'s idea that something "bad" like lust can be transformed into something "good" like (mature) purity without losing any of its integrity--because they are actually the same thing. But if occultists think this way, it's because they are already Catholic and just don't know it. (Bwahahahahahahahaha!)

It is simply a lie to say that lusts are just the twisted form of perfectly natural, perfectly good desires. And it is terrible spiritual advice to say that they should be tolerated or welcomed in, like drunk guests who just need some special coffee (a potion!) so they can sober up and be productive members of your household.

Wade St. Onge said...

New unanswered question:

21. Have you paid any attention to US Bishops the last 50 years? They just noticed that Obama doesn't like them 5 minutes ago, after doing everything in their power to elect and support him before that. I'm not exactly expecting them to ride to the rescue of Catholic Tradition. We can't even get them to support priests who withhold Holy Communion from gay or abortion activists. You think they're going to spend the time researching West?

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Hi, JVC—if you would like to me to, I will address the following request:

1. Reconcile the following statements: “I see West and his students saying that ‘mature purity’ is akin to perfect contrition. For those who can attain it its great” and “I don't think anyone is making a case that ‘historic’ man is capable of *wholly* avoiding objectification in such circumstances [seeing a naked or provocatively dressed woman]”.

Firstly, since I am being quoted above, I will offer the full paragraph I wrote such that the context is clear. I wrote:

****…I think that, objectively speaking, “custody of the eyes” is a “negative” response (not negative as in “bad” because it is the *proper* and good response when one fears loss of control). Think of it as analogous to the distinction between imperfect and perfect contrition. “Imperfect” contrition—sorrow for sin arising from fear of eternal punishment for it—is totally sufficient for a valid Confession. It’s a totally useful, helpful, and necessary aspect of the Sacrament. But *perfect* contrition—sorrow for sin arising from pure love of God—is even better and *more* than sufficient so to speak for the Sacrament of Confession. Likewise, I see West and his students saying that “mature purity” is akin to perfect contrition. For those who can attain it, it’s great. In this sense it’s “positive” whereas “custody of the eyes” is “negative”. Custody of the eyes arises from the fear of sin (just as imperfect contrition arises from the fear of hell, let’s say). “Mature purity” is then the “positive” of that negative—it arises from response to grace and love of God.****

Likewise, in regard to the second quote, in context I wrote:

*** I don't think anyone is making a case that "historic" man is capable of *wholly* avoiding objectification in such circumstances. I think the case is being made that, for example, in the case of a doctor whose daily practice requires him to see naked persons, a virtuous habit of "seeing rightly" is totally possible to the extent that the person asks for grace, which the Church teaches is the remedy for concupiscence, and responds to it. There is no argument being made that it's *wholly* possible, though.***

So, in context, my assertion is that “mature purity” is attainable—and this is clearly the assertion of JPII’s TOB. It’s attainable as a habitual virtue (or virtuous habit). But it is by no means some “transcendental” state of being in which one is no longer subject to temptation and the possibility of “objectification” of another. The analogy of “imperfect/perfect contrition” seems applicable because in any given moment or situation, “seeing rightly” is preferable to the inability to see rightly (this is also clear in TOB), and it is the inability to see rightly in a particular moment that is the very reason we must “look away.” Contrition, like our response to the temptation to lust, resides in the *will* and attaches concretely to specific moments and situations. Attaining “perfect contrition” in the will, relative to a given sinful act, by no means implies that the type of contrition attached to the *next* such sinful act will automatically be perfect, but if one pursues the habit of willing perfect contrition, it’s reasonable to conclude that the person will be predisposed to that act of the will. I see this as analogous to what JPII says about purity in TOB.

And so, my question for Paul is derived from the above in the first comment on this post:

Do you agree, along with West and JP II, that lust is not an immediately “engendered action” but instead must arise first in the intellect and that it is therefore possible to pray for the grace to “see rightly” and not allow the temptation to lust residing in the intellect to penetrate the *will*, and that God will give the grace (to those earnestly seeking it or praying for it) necessary to avoid engaging lust in the will?

God bless you,

Deacon Jim Russell

Paul Stilwell said...

"it is the inability to see rightly in a particular moment that is the very reason we must “look away.”"

No it's not.

Paul Stilwell said...

Love your comment Enbrethiliel.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Hi, Paul--I wish to give you a chance to answer the question I posed, so let me for the time being say that it seems reasonable to conclude that one "looks away" to avoid seeing "wrongly" (sinfully or lustfully). But I'll ponder your objection to this point.

God bless you,

Deacon Jim Russell

Paul Stilwell said...

"Attaining “perfect contrition” in the will, relative to a given sinful act, by no means implies that the type of contrition attached to the *next* such sinful act will automatically be perfect, but if one pursues the habit of willing perfect contrition, it’s reasonable to conclude that the person will be predisposed to that act of the will."

No, one would expect that the person would be predisposed to stop sinning and to avoid sin. Contrition is in relation to sins already committed. One does not have contrition in order to have better contrition in the future. Your analogy doesn't work.

Paul Stilwell said...

"Do you agree, along with West and JP II, that lust is not an immediately “engendered action” but instead must arise first in the intellect and that it is therefore possible to pray for the grace to “see rightly” and not allow the temptation to lust residing in the intellect to penetrate the *will*, and that God will give the grace (to those earnestly seeking it or praying for it) necessary to avoid engaging lust in the will?"

You prove how wrong West is, and prove the point of my post. Errors as old sin itself: intellect is divided from the appetite: lust is just an option button: it is not engendered along with the lower appetites: neither can inform the other: the disorder exists in the "lustful desire" rather than the disorder existing between will and intellect, lower and higher faculties: the lustful desire thus ultimately not being a sin: you preach angelistic spiritualism.

Wade St. Onge said...

So what you are saying is that mature purity is attainable, but it's not really attainable because historical man cannot "wholly" avoid objectification in this life.

Logically, then, if this is the case, he should continue to practice custody of the eyes despite his level of purity.

So, in other words, you are in contradiction to West and in agreement with us.

So far so good.

Next question, please ...

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Paul wrote:

****You prove how wrong West is, and prove the point of my post. Errors as old sin itself: intellect is divided from the appetite: lust is just an option button: it is not engendered along with the lower appetites: neither can inform the other: the disorder exists in the "lustful desire" rather than the disorder existing between will and intellect, lower and higher faculties: the lustful desire thus ultimately not being a sin: you preach angelistic spiritualism.****

I don't see how this answers the question being asked.

I assume you agree with JPII when he says:

[[Cognitive intentionality as such does not yet mean enslavement of the “heart.” It is only when the intentional reduction explained above drags the will into its narrow horizon, when it awakens in it a decision for a relation with another human being (in our case with the woman) according to the scale of values proper to “concupiscence,” it is only then that one can say that “desire” has gained mastery over the “heart.”]]

The question I pose is in regard to this idea expressed by JPII.

The "disorder existing between will and intellect" does not negate the will (or the intellect) itself. Rather, the *remedy* for the disorder is *grace*, as Aquinas says.

So perhaps you could bolster your claim by describing your view as to how grace is the "remedy" for concupiscence.

As such, I will suggest this as a "rephrase" of the question above, which is less clumsily worded and may be easier for you to answer directly:

"How does grace work to 'remedy' concupiscence relative to intellect and will?"

God bless you,

Deacon Jim Russell

Paul Stilwell said...

"The "disorder existing between will and intellect" does not negate the will (or the intellect) itself."

Uhm, I never said it does. Nor did I deny grace. My whole point in bringing that up was to show where the freaking real disorder exists, and how it does not exist where freaking West says it exists, such as when he says lust is "twisted" desire that needs to be "untwisted". The sin lust is in fact a result of concupiscence.

Thus, when I said lust is "engendered" I am using the word to specifically distinguish it from an "immanent" sense that West distinguishes it as. I am using it in the sense that even in the arising of it in the intellect there is an "engendering" happening, because, well, there's the word "arising", whereas West lumps it in as one and the same with our "rocket jet" "desires". It just needs to be "untwisted" - or the "rockets" "pointed in the right direction". (As though greed was just "twisted" generosity that needed to be "untwisted", and not just that, but that this "twisted generosity" exists wholecloth within you, and to the degree that you "untwist" it is the degree by which the amount of your virtue of generosity is assessed).

But it's funny you should say that, because it is actually West who denies both the intellect and the will - or rather, uses one to deny the other. For he says lust is just a twisted desire that needs to be untwisted: so when one is excercising the will towards its end, which is West's "mature purity", one is using the will to deny the intellect, because the lust which arises in the intellect is, in West world, not an arising in the intellect, but is the wholly immanent rocket-jet of desire, and thus the intellect which realizes its object of lust is denied, because its object is denied. And when an arising of lust happens in the intellect the Westian disciple must recognize it and bow down to it in denial of his will, because it is a rocket-jet desire geared toward union with God that is just twisted up, thus the will to not will the thoughts further is not allowed.

"How does grace work to 'remedy' concupiscence relative to intellect and will?"

Not sure why you're asking this, but here's a small example: It works on the person exercising custody of the eyes to make exercising custody of the eyes easier - also leading that person into the deeper layers of his personal meaning as a child of God, none of which entails the "pure gaze of love". You might say that custody of the eyes draws down grace.

You're talking about something else.

"[[Cognitive intentionality as such does not yet mean enslavement of the “heart.” It is only when the intentional reduction explained above drags the will into its narrow horizon, when it awakens in it a decision for a relation with another human being (in our case with the woman) according to the scale of values proper to “concupiscence,” it is only then that one can say that “desire” has gained mastery over the “heart.”]]"

Please provide what audience this is from, as I would like to read it's entire context, such as when he says, "explained above". But either way, this quote only goes to show how much West is not in conformity with what JP II was teaching.

Paul Stilwell said...

Or that is to say, as though generosity was just greed that has been untwisted.

Or rather, that generosity is just untwisted greed that has been twisted.

Or that is to say, even if the intellect does not consciously desire to possess, one can still objectify and be guilty of lust, which is what the Westian disciple is guilty of when he gazes with the pure gaze of love at a woman's body.

Even conscious desire to possess would be better, because even then the sinner is still recognizing someone outside of himself, and not completely sucking her into his objectifying gaze as an instrument of his ability to not consciously desire to possess her.

And when the will denies the object of the intellect it is not the denial of the proffering of sin; rather, it is the holding on to lust that has resulted from the intellect's consideration of, or engendering pleasures from, an object while denying the reality in and by which the intellect has its powers and exercise.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Hi, Paul—hope you’re doing well.

You said: [[… such as when he says lust is "twisted" desire that needs to be "untwisted". The sin lust is in fact a result of concupiscence.]]

Take a closer look at your statement, Paul—and ask yourself what concupiscence is. Concupiscence is disordered desire. West uses the word “twisted” instead of “disordered.” Originally, man’s gift of integrity enabled the “ordering” of our desires/appetites, which were “untwisted”. Sin negated the gift of integrity and particularly the gratuitous gift of God’s grace that kept our desires “untwisted” such that those desires became “twisted.” And, simply put, our call to holiness involves our pursuit of the grace that can re-order/untwist our disordered/twisted desire—the same grace Aquinas says is the remedy for concupiscence.

You and West have said the same thing in the above statement. I hope you see that.

You said: [[Thus, when I said lust is "engendered" I am using the word to specifically distinguish it from an "immanent" sense that West distinguishes it as....etc (see above)]]

But “lust” so-called as it “arises” in the intellect—as in “lustful thoughts”—remains “concupiscence” rather than “sin”—it is not sin until we *willfully* lust—until we engage and embrace and “will” the lustful thoughts. I think part of the misunderstanding is not so much West’s use of the word “lust” in different ways but rather that there is a lack of clarity as to what the different passages you’ve cited are really dealing with. There are really four aspects to consider and identify:

1. There is the innately good natural attraction of the masculine and the feminine, ordained by God, which still has a “pulse” in the human heart—even in the “man of concupiscence.” Our God-given capacity to see the full personhood of the other, which is innate to the reciprocal “spousal meaning of the body.”

2. There is the “twisted” version of this desire or sexual appetite which is the disordered appetite—not the “sin” of lust but rather the UN-willed (due to the disorder) experience of sexual desire or attraction that causes us to reduce the selflessness of aspect #1 to a selfish desire of the pleasure associated with the spousal meaning of the body. The disunity of intellect and will which is concupiscence predisposes us to focus on these inherently good appetites in selfish ways.

continued...

Deacon Jim Russell said...

...continued


3. There is the decision of the *will* that rejects God’s grace, which then immerses the soul into deliberate gratification of selfish desire which has thus far arisen in the intellect due to concupiscence. This—and only this and not aspect #2—is the actual *sin* of lust.

4. There is the decision of the will that *seeks* God’s grace, which then immerses the soul in the experience of purity that pulls both intellect and will back to God and to liberation from the domination of concupiscence. This is a moment of “self-mastery” a la JPII.

And our pursuit of #4 is the call to holiness that, through the “ethos of the redemption of the body” can liberate us from the domination of concupiscence and lust and allow us to develop the virtue of purity that enables us to dwell habitually in that “pulse” of the human heart (or the “echo” as JPII says) in which we can experience the “vision” of #1, not in the “original” manner but in the “redeemed” manner.
By “redeemed” I mean it’s a fruit of Christ’s victory which we must continually fight for by willingly being immersed in the grace of redemption. In the “original” manner, man did not have to fight for it or “will” it, as it was God’s free gift to him.

This is why it’s possible to “see rightly” rather than look away…

You wrote: [[Not sure why you're asking this, but here's a small example: ...etc (see above)...]]

As we drill down more deeply in this discussion, I believe you will come to understand that “looking away” is not the only form of “custody of the eyes.” Another major aspect of confusion in our conversation has been the use of the term “custody of the eyes” as basically meaning “not seeing” or “looking away” when in fact the term “custody of the eyes” should include “seeing rightly.”
A simple proof of this is that Adam and Eve, naked and without shame, definitely had “custody of the eyes” while looking upon each others’ nakedness. “Custody of the eyes” is from the inside out, not merely from the oustide in….

This is a lot to ponder and pray about, but I hope you find it helpful.

God bless you—this has been a good exchange today.

Deacon Jim Russell

PS—you asked for the citation from JPII—it’s TOB 41:2 (see first comment)

Paul Stilwell said...

"Take a closer look at your statement, Paul—and ask yourself what concupiscence is. Concupiscence is disordered desire. West uses the word “twisted” instead of “disordered.”"

Wrong. I know what concupiscence is. West says that LUST - not concupiscence - is desire that's been "twisted".

Let me repeat that a second time: West says that LUST - not concupiscence - is desire that's been "twisted". He thus takes the sin that is engendered and makes it pre-immanent desire. So stop twisting my words.

As I said before, he uses the word with interchangeable meaning.

"I think part of the misunderstanding is not so much West’s use of the word “lust” in different ways but rather that there is a lack of clarity as to what the different passages you’ve cited are really dealing with."

There is no lack of clarity on my part with what the passages were dealing. The obscurity and misunderstanding has everything to do with West's use of the word LUST.