Pope Francis continued his catechetical series on vice and virtue by delving into the distinction between love and lust. He emphasized that Christianity does not condemn the sexual instinct. Drawing inspiration from the Song of Songs, he described love as a selfless act that respects and seeks the happiness of the other. The Pope cautioned against lust, which can pollute pure love and destroy relationships. He urged patience in the pursuit of love, emphasizing that the path to love must be taken slowly and with discipline. Lust, if not controlled, can deprive individuals of their freedom. Pope Francis concluded by highlighting the lifelong battle against lust and the importance of preserving the beauty of love as envisioned by God.
Love vs. Lust: Pope Francis Explores the Difference
In his ongoing series on vice and virtue, Pope Francis dedicated his recent general audience to shedding light on the distinction between love and lust, emphasizing that Christianity does not condemn the sexual instinct.
A Beautiful Expression of Love
The Pope centered his reflection on the “human experience” and drew inspiration from the Song of Songs, also known as the Canticle of Canticles or the Song of Solomon. He described it as a “wonderful poem of love between two lovers,” showcasing the astonishing reality of falling in love. He highlighted how love transforms a person into a generous individual, focused on the happiness of the other.
“To love is to respect the other, to seek his or her happiness, to cultivate empathy for his or her feelings, to dispose oneself in the knowledge of a body, a psychology, and a soul that are not our own, and that must be contemplated for the beauty they bear,” the Pope told the faithful gathered in the Paul VI Audience Hall.
The Need for Patience
While extolling the purity of falling in love, Pope Francis acknowledged the risk of it being tainted by vice, particularly by the demon of lust. He cautioned against naivety in love, where one might idealize the other person and make promises without fully comprehending their weight.
“This ‘garden’ where wonders are multiplied is not, however, safe from evil…defiled by the demon of lust,” the Pope explained, highlighting how lust can destroy relationships.
Chastity and the Lack of It
Reflecting on modern dating and romance, the Pope asked how many relationships, which began on a positive note, later turned toxic due to possessiveness and a lack of respect. He emphasized that chastity should not be confused with sexual abstinence but rather with the will never to possess the other person.
“Lust plunders, it robs, it consumes in haste, it does not want to listen to the other but only to its own need and pleasure,” the Holy Father added.
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The Importance of Patience
Pope Francis stressed that the path to love must be traveled slowly, and patience, far from being synonymous with boredom, actually ensures happy and loving relationships. Lust, on the other hand, seeks shortcuts and can deprive individuals of their freedom if not disciplined.
“It involves all the senses; it dwells both in the body and in the psyche,” the Pope said, highlighting the pervasive nature of lust.
A Lifelong Battle
In conclusion, Pope Francis acknowledged that the battle against lust and the objectification of human beings is a lifelong process. However, he emphasized that this battle preserves the beauty envisioned by God in the creation of love between man and woman.
“That beauty that makes us believe that building a story together is better than going on adventures, cultivating tenderness is better than bowing to the demon of possession, serving is better than conquering,” the Pope concluded.
This insightful message from Pope Francis serves as a timeless reminder of the importance of love and the dangers of lust in our relationships.
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Note: While content aims to align with Catholic teachings, any inconsistencies or errors are unintended. For precise understanding, always refer to authoritative sources like the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Always double-check any quotes for word-for-word accuracy with the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.