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Concupiscence distances man and woman from personal perspectives and communion

41 (of 129) - Catechesis by John Paul II on the Theology of the Body
General Audience, Wednesday 24 September 1980 - in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. In the Sermon on the Mount Christ said: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt 5:27-28). We have been trying for some time to penetrate the meaning of this statement, analyzing the single elements in order to understand better the text as a whole.

When Christ spoke of a man who looks lustfully, he indicated not only the dimension of intentionality in looking, thus indicating lustful knowledge, the psychological dimension, but also the dimension of the intentionality of man's very existence. In the situation Christ described, that dimension passes unilaterally from the man, who is the subject, to the woman, who has become the object (this does not mean, however, that such a dimension is only unilateral). For the present we will not reverse the situation analyzed, or extend it to both parties, to both subjects. Let us dwell on the situation outlined by Christ, stressing that it is a question of a purely interior act, hidden in the heart and stopping on the threshold of the look.

It is enough to note that in this case the woman—who owing to her personal subjectivity exists perennially "for man," waiting for him, too, for the same reason, to exist "for her"—is deprived of the meaning of her attraction as a person. Though being characteristic of the "eternal feminine," she becomes at the same time only an object for the man. That is, she begins to exist intentionally as an object for the potential satisfaction of the sexual need inherent in his masculinity. Although the act is completely interior, hidden in the heart and expressed only by the look, there already occurs in him a change (subjectively unilateral) of the very intentionality of existence. If it were not so, if it were not a question of such a deep change, the following words of the same sentence: "...has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt 5:28) would have no meaning.

2. That change of the intentionality of existence, by means of which a certain woman begins to exist for a certain man not as a subject of call and personal attraction or as a subject of communion, but exclusively as an object for the potential satisfaction of the sexual need,  is carried out in the heart, since it is carried out in the will. Cognitive intentionality itself does not yet mean enslavement of the heart. Only when the intentional reduction, illustrated previously, sweeps the will along into its narrow horizon, when it brings forth the decision of a relationship with another human being (in our case: with the woman)  according to the specific scale of values of lust, only then can it be said that desire has also gained possession of the heart. Only when lust has gained possession of the will is it possible to say that it is dominant over the subjectivity of the person and that it is at the basis of the will, and of the possibility of choosing and deciding, through which—by virtue of self-decision or self-determination—the very way of existing with regard to another person is established. The intentionality of this existence then acquires a full subjective dimension.

3. Only then—that is from that subjective moment and on its subjective prolongation—is it possible to confirm what we read, for example, in Sirach (23:17-22), about the man dominated by lust, and what we read in even more eloquent descriptions in world literature. Then we can also speak of that more or less complete compulsion, which is called elsewhere compulsion of the body. This brings with it loss of the freedom of the gift, congenital in deep awareness of the matrimonial meaning of the body, of which we have also spoken in preceding analyses.

4. When we speak of desire as the transformation of the intentionality of a concrete existence, of the man, for example, for whom (according to Mt 5:27-28), a certain woman becomes merely the object of the potential satisfaction of the sexual need inherent in his masculinity, it is not at all a matter of questioning that need, as an objective dimension of human nature with the procreative finality that is characteristic of it. Christ's words in the Sermon on the Mount (in its whole context) are far from Manichaeism, as the true Christian tradition also is. In this case, there cannot arise, therefore, objections of the kind. It is a question, on the contrary, of the man's and the woman's way of existing as persons, that is, of that existing in a mutual "for," which—also on the basis of what, according to the objective dimension of human nature, can be defined as the sexual need—can and must serve the building up of the unity of communion in their mutual relations. Such is the fundamental meaning characteristic of the perennial and reciprocal attraction of masculinity and femininity, contained in the very reality of the constitution of man as a person, body and sex together.

5. The possible circumstance that one of the two persons exists only as the subject of the satisfaction of the sexual need, and the other becomes exclusively the object of this satisfaction, does not correspond to the union or personal communion to which man and woman were mutually called from the beginning—on the contrary, it is in conflict with it. Moreover, the case in which both the man and the woman exist reciprocally as the object of satisfaction of the sexual need, and each on his or her part is only the subject of that satisfaction, does not correspond to this unity of communion—but on the contrary it clashes with it. This reduction of such a rich content of the reciprocal and perennial attraction of human persons in their masculinity or femininity does not at all correspond to the "nature" of the attraction in question. This reduction extinguishes the personal meaning of communion, characteristic of man and woman, through which, according to Genesis 2:24, "a man...cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." Lust turns away the intentional dimension of the man's and woman's mutual existence from the personal perspectives, "of communion," characteristic of their perennial and mutual attraction, reducing it, and, so to speak, pushing it toward utilitarian dimensions, within which the human being uses the other human being, for the sake merely of satisfying his own needs.

6. It seems possible to find this content again, charged with the human interior experience characteristic of different ages and environments, in Christ's concise affirmation in the Sermon on the Mount. At the same time, we cannot in any case lose sight of the meaning that this affirmation attributes to man's interiority, to the integral dimension of the heart as the dimension of the inner man. Here lies the core of the transformation of ethos aimed at by Christ's words according to Matthew 5:27-28, expressed with powerful forcefulness and at the same time with admirable simplicity."

After the catechesis, Papa Giovanni Paolo II greeted the pilgrims in various languages:

Al pellegrinaggio francese della Savoia

J’ai noté la présence des pèlerins des trois diocèses de Savoie, accompagnés de leur Archevêque, Monseigneur Bontems. Je vous félicite, chers amis, de cette démarche de foi, que vous accomplissez pour puiser une nouvelle vigueur spirituelle sur les lieux sanctifiés par les Apôtres Pierre et Paul, et par tant de martyrs et de saints romains, et aussi pour raffermir, autour du Successeur de Pierre, votre sens de l’unité de l’Eglise. Chez vous aussi, vous avez des exemples admirables de vie chrétienne, de sens pastoral, de charité: n’est-ce point la patrie du cher François de Sales et de Jeanne Françoise Frémont de Chantal? A votre tour, soyez, non seulement des gens qui vivent de la foi, des témoins, mais aussi des éducateurs avisés de la foi: je pense spécialement à vos jeunes. Et je vous bénis de tout cœur.

Ai rappresentanti di diverse province francesi

Je désire saluer aussi la délégation qui représente les diverses provinces françaises, lesquelles tiennent à juste titre à ne rien perdre des richesses de leurs traditions, liées à une histoire régionale très ancienne qui a contribué au patrimoine culturel de l’ensemble de la nation française. La foi chrétienne et l’art chrétien ont aussi marqué chacune de ces provinces, dans un style original. Gardez-en la fierté, et sachez en extraire le meilleur pour l’éducation des générations à venir. Mon voyage à Paris et Lisieux ne m’a point fait oublier les diverses provinces françaises. Que Dieu vous bénisse, qu’il bénisse vos cités, vos villages, vos familles!

Al simposio internazionale "Basi biologiche ed implicazioni cliniche della radioresistenza dei tumori"

With deep respect and profound esteem I welcome the members of the Second Rome International Symposium, dealing with Biological Bases and Clinical Implications of Tumor Radioresistance. Your meeting, dear friends, signifies a moment of hope for millions of people throughout the world. May your scholarship and dedication, coupled with a refined sense of compassion and fraternal love, truly effect a lasting contribution to the future of humanity. And may God himself assist you in all your lofty endeavours.

Al pellegrinaggio statunitense proveniente dalla diocesi di Des Moines

I am very happy to greet the members of the Anniversary Pilgrimage to Rome led by Bishop Dingman of Des Moines, Iowa. On this occasion it is a joy for me to recall my journey to Rural America just one year ago. I remember my visit to Living History Farms and to Saint Patrick’s Parish at Irish Settlement. Memories? Yes! But more than memories. We gathered in the heartland of America as one community to celebrate our lasting unity in Christ and his Church. My congratulations and best wishes to the priests among you, who with the Bishops, are commemorating the fortieth anniversary of their ordination. And once again, my greetings to everyone back home in Iowa.

Ad un pellegrinaggio proveniente dalla Repubblica Federale di Germania

Einen besonderen Willkommensgruß richte ich an den großen Pilgerzug der"Kirchenzeitung für das Erzbistum Köln". In euch grüße ich alle Gläubigen eures Erzbistums, das soeben sein Domjubiläum so festlich begangen hat. Das sichtbare Gotteshaus soll uns stets an die unsichtbare Gegenwart Gottes inmitten seines Volkes erinnern. Ich freue mich, in Kürze eurer Domstadt selbst einen Besuch abstatten zu können. Schon jetz gelten euch, euren verehrten Oberhirten und dem ganzen Erzbistum Köln meine besten Segenswünsche.

Ad un gruppo olandese

Ik ben blij een groep bezoekers uit Nederland welkom te heten. Heel bijzonder begroet ik de leden van de Rotary Club van Rotterdam, en ook de deelnemers aan de Bedevaart Naar Sint Gerardus Majella. Aan de vooravond van de Synode van Bisschoppen over de familie wil ik u, en alle broeders en zusters in Nederland, vragen hun beste krachten te wijden aan het uitbouwen van de familie tot een God-gerichte en mens-bewogene gemeenschap. Moge God u en al uw dierbaren zegenen.

Ai pellegrini di lingua spagnola

Saludo ahora con gran afecto a los miembros de la numerosa peregrinación procedente de Caravaca de la Cruz, presididos por el Pastor de la diócesis de Cartagena-Murcia, Monseñor Javier Azagra, y acompañados por los sacerdotes diocesanos que celebran sus Bodas de Plata de ordenación sacerdotal.

Sé que un dinstintivo peculiar de la religiosidad en Caravaca y en la comarca cercana es la devoción profunda a la Santa Cruz, realidad reflejada en el nombre de vuestra ciudad.

En esta ocasión os exhorto a continuar cultivando esa hermosa devoción, de tal manera que os conduzca a una creciente cercanía al centro del misterio de la salvación: Cristo Jesús, Redentor del hombre, camino, verdad y vida. Sea ese el constante estímulo hacia una vida verdaderamente cristiana, en el ámbito personal, familiar y social.

Pido a Dios que así sea y que las celebraciones programadas para el próximo año se conviertan en un impulso de renovación interior, de incremento de la fe y de la fidelidad al mensaje del Evangelio. Con esta esperanza imparto a vosotros, a vuestro Pastor y sacerdotes acompañantes, a vuestros familiares amigos y conciudadanos una especial Bendición.

Ai membri della Corale della Cattedrale de la Redonda de Logroño

Mi saludo, especialmente cordial y afectuoso, se dirige ahora a los miembros de la Coral de la Catedral de la Redonda, de Logroño.

Me alegra profundamente encontrarme con vosotros, queridos hermanos y hermanas, que dedicáis una parte considerable de vuestra vida y actividad artística al servicio del Señor en la liturgia y a la elevación espiritual de tantos conciudadanos vuestros.

Os aliento en vuestro generoso esfuerzo, tan apreciado por la Iglesia. Seguid adelante, haciendo de vuestro trabajo una fuente de propio enriquecimiento interior, de alabanza al Señor, de amor a la Iglesia y de apostolado. Con mi Bendición particular para vosotros, vuestros seres queridos y ciudad.

Al pellegrinaggio delle "Antiguas Alumnas Concepcionistas de España"

Otro grupo al que doy muy gustoso la bienvenida a esta Audiencia es el de las "Antiguas Alumnas Concepcionistas de España".

Sé que estimáis profundamente los valores humanos y cristianos recibidos a través de la formación en colegios religiosos. Ellos son parte importante de vuestra personalidad como jóvenes cristianas. Seguid cultivándolos en vuestra propia vida y esforzaos por llevarlos, con fidelidad y alegría, a tantas otras jóvenes que los buscan y necesitan. Os sirva de aliento en esos propósitos la Bendición que cordialmente imparto a vosotras y a todas las Antiguas Alumnas Concepcionistas.

A un pellegrinaggio proveniente dall’Arcidiocesi di Split-Makarska (Jugoslavia)

Sada želim upraviti najsrdačniji pozdrav vama, dragi vjernici iz Hrvatske, iz Splitsko-Makarske nadbiskupije, koji ste došli posjetiti Papu na svom hodočasničkom putu u Gospino svetište Lurd. Dragi hodočasnici! Poznato nam je, da su Hrvati veliki štovatelji Majke Božje, što lijepo izražavaju i pjesnikove riječi uklesane u vašem nacionalnom svetištu u Mariji Bistrici: « Dušo, duše hrvatske, Isusova Mati, / Sunce naših stradanja, ne prestani sjati! ». Imajte neograničeno pouzdanje u Mariju i njezinu moć, jer Ona je Majka Isusa Krista, Osloboditelja ljudi i naroda. Blagoslivam sve vas, ovdje prisutne, kao i vaše drage kod kuće, čitavu vašu nadbiskupiju i Domovinu.

A tre gruppi italiani

Desidero, ora, salutare tre gruppi distinti di fedeli, i quali mi hanno recato in questa Udienza una particolare attestazione di omaggio.

Il primo gruppo, guidato dal Vescovo, è rappresentativo di una intera diocesi, quella di Susa. Carissimi, voi avete voluto ricordare il 50° anniversario dell’incoronazine della Madonna del Rocciamelone con varie iniziative diocesane culminanti in questo pellegrinaggio. Nel manifestarvi il mio compiacimento, esprimo l’augurio che la significativa ricorrenza valga a ravvivare nelle anime la devozione a Maria, stimolando in ciascuno un crescente impegno di fedeltà a Cristo e di amore verso i fratelli. Con la mia Apostolica Benedizione.

* * *

C’è poi il gruppo dei Sacristi, aderenti alla Federazione Italiana Unioni Diocesane Addetti al Culto. Il vostro, figli carissimi, è un servizio umile ma nobile, perché vi mette a contatto con i misteri più augusti della nostra religione. Fate in modo che nulla di burocratico o di sciatto si insinui nel vostro lavoro, ma che esso sia per voi motivo di crescita spirituale e, per gli altri, opportuno richiamo ad un atteggiamento di fede e di devozione. Accompagno questo auspicio con una particolare Benedizione Apostolica.

* * *

Vi è poi il pellegrinaggio della parrocchia ambrosiana di San Vittore Olona. Carissimi, la fiaccola che il Papa qui accende, perché arda nella vostra nuova chiesa dedicata alla Madonna del Rosario, è simbolo della spirituale comunione di fede che la vostra Comunità vuole conservare con la Sede di Pietro. Nel congratularmi con voi per questo intendimento, che Sant’Ambrogio avrebbe certamente caldeggiato, esprimo l’augurio che la fiamma della fede brilli sempre luminosa nella vostra parrocchia mediante la personale e comunitaria testimonianza di una vita autenticamente cristiana. Con la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

Ai giovani

Uno speciale saluto vada ora a tutti i giovani, e ragazzi, i quali con l’entusiasmo proprio della loro età, con i loro applausi e con i loro canti rallegrano questa piazza.

Carissimi, vi ringrazio di essere qui venuti a manifestare al Papa e a tutti i fedeli il senso della vostra speranza, del vostro ottimismo e della vostra fraternità umana e cristiana. Sono valori, questi, che il mondo rischia di perdere, se voi, proprio voi giovani, non li proclamate e non li vivete fortemente.

Vi auguro di mirare sempre, senza stanchezze, a questi traguardi luminosi dello spirito. Il Signore Gesù, da cui proviene quanto c’è di più nobile, e di più vero nel cuore dell’uomo, vi sostenga nei vostri propositi e vi sia di conforto la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

Agli ammalati

A voi, ammalati, che portate a questa Udienza l’omaggio delle vostre sofferenze e che mi date l’occasione di esprimervi la mia commossa affezione e di condividere le vostre pene, io rivolgo un pensiero grato e riverente, con l’augurio che torni presto a rifiorire la vostra salute fisica e la gioia dell’animo. A questo fine vi ricordo nella celebrazione della S. Messa al Signore Gesù, perché vi protegga e vi assista sempre. Voi, da parte vostra, accostatevi a Lui, come già facevano i malati della Palestina durante la sua vita terrena, perché Lui emanava una forza che guariva. In cambio, voi sappiate offrire a Lui il vostro dolore per la salvezza del mondo: diventerete così partecipi dell’opera redentrice dell’umanità. Vi sia di conforto la mia Benedizione.

Agli sposi novelli

Un saluto beneaugurante va infine agli Sposi novelli.

Cari sposi, alla vigilia del Sinodo dei Vescovi, che intende approfondire il significato e i compiti della famiglia, voi che avete da poco formato la vostra sotto il segno della grazia propria del Sacramento, non perdete mai di vista le grandi mete che la vita matrimoniale vi addita, anzi vivetela in pienezza, in gioia, in un amore vero, crescente e indivisibile. E il Signore non mancherà di sostenere i vostri passi e di moltiplicare la vostra gioia per la sua gloria e per la vostra pace. Con la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

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