February 9, 2001
volume 12, no. 40

Acute Awareness in Examining Our Consciences
part seven

    Several articles in recent weeks have been presenting an examination of conscience. They can be found in the archives of this website. I encourage you to print these articles out and refer to them for helping you make a good confession. My reference is a booklet entitled: A Contemporary Adult Guide to Conscience for the Sacrament of Confession by Fr. Richard J. Rego.

    Today I will treat the Ninth Commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” This Commandment forbids covetousness for another person(s). To “covet” means to desire inordinately. It certainly is not wrong to desire things that we are permitted to have. For example, we all need food, shelter, and clothes. Certainly, married people may desire to share conjugal love with their spouses. However, to desire anything that we are not morally permitted to have or to desire anything to the point that we would be willing to sin in order to secure it, is sinful and can often be mortally sinful and we must confess these before going to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion.

    Regarding the Ninth Commandment Jesus said: “Every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). This Commandment, therefore, forbids “the would if I could mentality” for both single and married persons. It forbids the DESIRE to have sexual pleasure with anyone who is not lawfully a spouse. Even if the action is not actually carried out, to desire to do the action, if one could, is sinful and usually mortally sinful.

    As humans, we cannot stop all thoughts and desires that first come into our minds. However, we can and must stop the ENTERTAINMENT of such thoughts, as soon as we recognize them as thoughts that we are not permitted to have. We, also, can avoid looking at impure movies and pictures which can arouse the “would if I could mentality.” We may not engage in bad reading. How many novels are out today that are read by so many that describe in detail sexual desires and activities. How many people commit mortal sins because they read these stories and then fantasize or act out what they’ve read? How anyone with a good conscience today can watch the impurities taking place on TV and remain pure is quite questionable.

  • Do you allow your children to watch French kissing, nudity (even partial) and immoral and impure acts on TV?
  • What about telling dirty jokes at work or in front of children?
  • Have you consented to having impure thoughts?
  • Have you neglected to control your imagination?
  • Do you pray at once to banish impure thoughts and temptations?
  • Do you wear immodest clothing which can arouse someone else to sin?
  • Do you keep company with people who speak impurely or tell dirty jokes and stories?
  • Do you go to strip joints or bars?
  • Do you subscribe to impure magazines?
  • Do you play games, such as strip poker?
  • Do you avoid all persons, places, and things which can lead you to sin?

    Those are called “occasions of sin.” In other words, dear reader, any thought, word, deed or omission that excites the mind and/or imagination to desire anything of a sexual nature, which is not our right by justice and Sacrament, is a sin against the Ninth Commandment and usually a mortal sin.

    Next week, we shall consider how covetousness against our neighbor’s goods is sinful. God bless you!

Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

For past columns by Sister Lucy, see GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER Archives

February 9, 2001
volume 12, no. 40
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