Secular Franciscan Order

Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

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MARCH 2013 – YEAR 4 – No.39

by Blessed Pope John Paul II

Dossier prepared by the CIOFS Ongoing Formation Team
Ewald Kreuzer, OFS, Coordinator
Lucy Almiranez, OFS
Mike and Jenny Harrington, OFS

The human heart – TOB 24 – 63




We have looked at our original state, created by God, which was innocent, pure, happy, untouched by sin and its consequences. Adam and Eve were joined in a blissful union with selfless reciprocal love, experiencing the fullness that every married couple longs for. They were created with the capacity to be united with God in love forever and this capacity could only be fulfilled with free choice. But our first parents did not accept this loving invitation and by their disobedience humanity is now subjected to sin and death.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you: Whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt 5:27-28)


This passage also has a significance for the theology of the body.  It brings about a fundamental revision of the way of understanding and carrying out the moral law of the Old Covenant. We thus find ourselves at the heart of the ethos, or the inner form, the soul, as it were of  human morality. Christ appeals to the inner man.

Original Sin - breaking the original covenant with the Creator

When they disobeyed God "the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons... 'I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself'" . (Gen 3:7,10)

In comparison with original humanity our condition since the fall has been diminished.

Without Christ man is now unable to attain the destiny set out for him by God.

Concupiscence / lust / shame (Gen 3: 8-11)

With Original sin, John Paul II observes that concupiscence enters the human heart. Concupiscence is a disorder in our desires that inclines us towards sin, it infects our sexuality that instead of seeing the body as a transparent expression of the interior life and true depth of the person, we are tempted to view it as an object to be used for pleasure or self gratification.

The human heart has now become a battlefield between love and lust. The more lust dominates the heart, the less we experience the spousal meaning of the body (TOB 32.3) Instead of becoming a gift, we are tempted to grasp. Concupiscence "obscures" the spousal meaning of the body

The shame Adam and Eve experienced was a result of this rupture in the unity of spirit and body. It was a profound distress at the awareness of something contrary to their dignity as persons.

John Paul highlights the contrast between the lack of shame over their nakedness experienced by Adam and Eve in the state of original innocence and on the shame over their nakedness they experience after their fall from grace.

The man who picks the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil makes a fundamental choice and carries it through against the will of the Creator, God - Yahweh.. man turns his back on God - Love, on the "Father". He detaches his heart and cuts it off, as it were, from that which "comes from the Father": in this way, what is left in him "comes from the world." (TOB 26.4)

"Then the eyes of both were opened, and they realized that they were naked" Gen 3:6 .. speaks explicitly about the birth of shame in connection with sin. That shame is, as it were, the first source of the manifestation in man - in both the man and the woman - of what "does not come from the Father, but from the world." (TOB 26.5)

Because of their shame man and woman find it necessary to hide from God. "The need to hide shows that, in the depth of the shame they feel before each other as the immediate fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, a sense of fear before God has matured: a fear previously unknown" (TOB 27.1). ..... he suffered damage in what belongs to nature itself, to humanity in the original fullness "of the image of God."

Shame is the sign that a radical change has come over man. In the state of original innocence nakedness did not express a lack but rather a full acceptance of the body in all its human and personal truth. it was  "a faithful witness and a perceptible verification of man's original 'solitude' in the world while becoming at the same time, through masculinity and femininity a transparent component of reciprocal giving in the communion of persons. (TOB 27.3) But now as a result of original sin and of the concupiscence that has entered his "heart" man has lost in a way "the original certainty of the image of God" expressed in his body: (TOB 27.4 )

  • Lust refers to sexual desire void of God's love. Lust leads a person toward self-gratification at the expense of the other, while love leads a person toward self-donation for the good of the other. Lust, therefore, is a reduction of the original fullness God intended for the sexual relationship..
  • Shame also has a possible function as "a natural form of self-defence for the person against the danger of descending or being pushed into the position of an object for sexual use" (LR p 182)
  • Shame, in its negative sense, indicates that we have lost sight of the dignity and goodness of the body as a "theology" - a revelation of God's mystery. In its positive sense, shame indicates a desire to protect the revelation of the dignity of the person and goodness of the body from the degradation of lust.


Tension / Conflict – human relationships and created universe - (Gen 3: 12-13, 16-19, Rom 8:20-21)

After their sin man and woman no longer enjoyed the free and unhindered fellowship with God they had before. Tormented by guilt, they fear God as a distant lawgiver and harsh judge. The relationship enjoyed by the first couple is also broken. They now have difficulty trusting and understanding one another. There is now  tension and conflict.

An intrinsic consequence of their sin is a disharmony within the whole created universe. (Rom 8:20-21)

There is now a discord between humanity and the natural world, for which humanity was supposed to care.

The mind has now been clouded by sin, but human beings retain their natural ability to know God through his creation and to live according to their consciences.

The man replied, ' It was the woman you put with me, she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.; Then Yahweh God said to the woman, 'Why did you do that?' The woman replied, 'The snake tempted me and I ate.' (Gen 3: 12-13 )

To the woman he said: I shall give you intense pain in childbearing, you will give birth to your children in pain. Your yearning will be for your husband, and he will dominate you.

To the man he said ...

By the sweat of your face will you earn your food, until you return to the ground, as you were taken from it. For dust you are and to dust you shall return.( Gen 3:16, 19)


It was not for its own purposes that creation had frustration imposed on it, but for the purposes of him who imposed it  with the intention that the whole creation itself might be freed from its slavery to   corruption and brought into the same glorious freedom as the children of God.  (Rom 8:20-21)

In the mystery of creation, the human body carried within itself an unquestionable sign of the "image of God" and also constituted the specific source of certainty about this image, present in the whole human being. The original acceptance of the body was in some sense the basis of the acceptance of the whole visible world. And in its turn, it was for man the guarantee of his rule over the world, over the earth, which he was to subdue.

The words, "I was afraid, because I am naked, and I hid myself" indicate to a radical change in this relationship. Man in some way loses the original certainty of the "image of God" expressed in his body,  he also loses in a certain way the sense of his right to participate in the visibility of the world, which he enjoyed in the mystery of creation. This right had its foundation in man's innermost being, in the fact that he himself participated in the divine vision of the world and of his own humanity, which gave him a deep peace and joy in living the truth and value of his body in all its simplicity, transmitted to him by the Creator. The words of God-Yahweh foretell the hostility, as it were, of the world, the resistance of nature against man and his tasks; they foretell the toil that the human body was then to suffer in contact with the earth subdued by him. : Cursed is the ground...

The body is not subject to the spirit as in the state of original innocence, but carries within itself a constant source of resistance against the spirit and threatens in some way man's unity as a person, that  is, the unity of the moral nature that plunges its roots firmly into the very constitution of the person.


"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you: Whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt 5:27-28)

This passage also has a significance for the theology of the body.  It brings about a fundamental revision of the way of understanding and carrying out the moral law of the Old Covenant. We thus find ourselves at the heart of the ethos, or the inner form, the soul, as it were of  human morality. Christ appeals to the inner man.


Sermon on the Mount –  (Mt 5:27-28)

"Looks to desire,"....... adultery in the heart.

The look expresses what is in the heart. "Looking to desire" indicates an experience of the value of the body in which its spousal meaning ceases to be spousal precisely because of concupiscence. What also ceases is its procreative meaning.... So then. when man "desires" and "looks to desire" .. he experiences more or less explicitly the detachment from that meaning of the body which  ... stands at the basis of the communion of persons: both outside of marriage and - in a particular way - when man and woman arecalled to build the union "in the body."  (TOB 39.5)

A man can commit such adultery "in the heart" even with his own wife, if he treats her only as an object for the satisfaction of drives." (TOB 43.4)


We are pure of heart when we understand,  see, and experience the body as God created it to be, as a revelation of his own divine mystery. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8)

"Purity of heart" is gained by the one who knows how to be consistently demanding from his "heart": from his "heart" and from his "body".

The interior gaze is the "pure look" that Adam and Eve freely exchanged with one another in the state of innocence. It indicates not only a seeing of the body with the eyes, but through that physical vision they were able to gaze upon the interior truth of the person.

What Christ demands ... in the Sermon on the Mount clearly belongs to that interior space in which man , must rediscover the lost fullness of his humanity and want to regain it. .... Should we fear the severity of these words or rather have confidence in their salvific content,  in their power?" (TOB 43.6)

Through ongoing conversion, the desires of our hearts gradually conform to God's law, to the point that we experience freedom from the law which allows us to fulfil its deepest meaning.

"The law of the Gospel... does not add new external precepts, but proceeds to reform the heart" (CCC 1968). In "the sermon on the mount ... the Spirit of the Lord gives new form to our desires" (CCC 2764)

"Christian ethos is characterized by a "transformation of the human person's conscience and attitudes... such as to express and realize the value of the body and sex according to the Creator's original plan" (TOB 45.3)


Questions for reflection:

1. Why do you think original sin had such a major effect on human sexuality?

2. Compare and contrast the original world of life and life with world after the fall?

3. Identify the difference between self donating love as "giving" and self indulgent "love" as "using".


References : 'Man and Woman He Created them' - John Paul II,  Love and Responsibility - Karol Wojtyla , Catholic Catechism