After the fall of Adam & Eve from pride & disobedience, all mankind inherit original sin.

The Catholic Church teaches that the original sin can be removed by the Sacraments of Baptism but the stain of original sin or the concupiscence of the flesh still remains.

St. Paul describes this in Romans 7:15-24 as;

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

"So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

In light of this dilemna, is there a way to remove concupiscence or wash-away the stain of sins in our bodies. Does Christ leave the Church with any teaching how to remove or wash away the stain of sins after we are cleansed by baptism?

Unfortunately, this is a tough challenge for many striving Christians as we can see from Scriptures, Christ has elevated the definition of adultery:

"You shall not commit adultery," Christ spoke of adultery in the heart. "Everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt 5:28).

Now, I'm looking for Church teachings on how to remove concupiscence, as clearly based on Saint Paul himself as he overcame concupiscence when he exclaimed;

"I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)

So, its not hopeless for us.

**My question is how did Saint Paul overcame concupiscence, and what does it mean when Saint Paul overcame concupiscence his body is sinless like Adam & Eve?


4 Answers 4


In Galatians 2:20, you quoted shows that faith in the Son of God plays the critical role in overcoming concupiscence. Indeed, we know very well that Ephesians 2:8-9 provide the precise formula for spiritual salvation: we are saved by God’s gift of grace which is a function of faith:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. - (Ephesians 2:8-9)

The verses naturally throw up two questions:

  1. What is precisely the faith referred to in Ephesians 2:8?
  2. Given that one’s deed (action or performance, as opposed to words) is not a prerequisite for God’s gift of salvation grace, how then does one say or proclaim this faith and to whom should one proclaim this faith?

We can argue that the Lord's Prayer, authored by no sinful mortal but by Jesus Christ himself, is the foremost proclamation of faith that is referred to in Ephesians 2:8; that in praying the Lord’s Prayer daily, we are in fact proclaiming our faith or belief that the Son fulfilled the will of the Father. Thus, the Lord’s Prayer encompasses the teachings and exhortations of Paul the Apostle - (Romans 10:8–10, New KJV):

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. - (Romans 10:8–10)

An excellent source is the book "The Creed of Christ: An Interpretation of The Lord's Prayer" by Gerald Heard (1889 - 1971). A well-known author, philosopher and lecturer, Heard studied history and theology at the University of Cambridge, graduating with honours in history. He lectured from 1926 to 1929 for Oxford University's extramural studies programme. More information about him can be sourced from Wikipedia.

In the book, Heard describes The Lord's Prayer as the "real creed of Christianity." On page 6 of his book, he writes:

At the heart of the Gospels there is, however, one other thing. Beside the new Commandments, beside the new Law, more lovely but far more exacting than the old, there is, put more briefly and tersely, a master-instruction, a set of key-rules as to how that Law may be kept. There is only one passage in the biographies more central than the Sermon on the Mount. It is more central because it is the root from which the action ordered by the Sermon must spring, because it shows the source of power without which the Sermon, the Beatitudes, remain a magnificent but impossible demand, a splendid promise which cannot be fulfilled. That passage is therefore rightly called by a supreme title, the Lord's Prayer.

Heard goes on to link faith and the Lord's Prayer (for example, as implied by the following passage, page 94):

It is so against the grain of our present nature to realize that any right prayer must first and foremost be something which alters the self, a process whereby desire is transcended and the will transmuted."Bread of the Coming Day...My bread is to do the Will of Him Who sent me." How are we to do that will which is so different from ours? Are we not here involved in a vicious cycle? To live as God would have us live His eternal Life we have to do His will, but to do His will we have to become part of his Life. As long as we are self-willed, motivated by our wills, we do our wills, not His.

Through the fulfillment of the will of the Father in His Son, Jesus Christ, the Father declared us righteous in His sight. That is, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is our justification, the declaration of God that we are free of guilt and penalty of sin and acceptable to Him - (Romans 4:25, NIV):

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. - (Romans 4:25)

Our justification also marks the beginning of sanctification, a continual process of being made holy by the power of the Holy Spirit, a lifelong process that makes us more and more like Jesus Christ.

Therefore, the Lord's Prayer is a means to justify ourselves to the Father. Via the Lord’s Prayer, prayed daily, we are led by the Holy Spirit in our daily lives and become more like Jesus Christ – the precise outcome of sanctification.

  • Is "justification by faith" already wash away the concupiscence? St.Paul still humbly admit the presence of "concupiscence" after his conversion experienced. What did St.Paul underwent to arrive at saying "it is no longer I who lives but Jesus", meaning the struggles of the flesh, the concupiscence is gone. St.Paul had a "new flesh/healed flesh" and experience a transformation. Is St.Paul received other graces aside from "justification by faith"? Nov 25, 2018 at 17:30

Concupiscence cannot be removed in this life, since our mortal bodies must put in incorruption (1 Cor. 15:53), which alone is free from concupiscence, and on which we wait in "the redemption of our bodies:"

Romans 8:23 (DRB) And not only [creation groans], but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.

The Council of Trent taught infallibly concerning baptism and concupiscience:

If any one denies, that, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted; or even asserts that all that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away, but says that it is only erased, or not imputed,—let him be anathema. For, in those who are born again, God hates nothing, because, There is no condemnation to those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism into death; who walk not according to the flesh, but, putting off the old man, and putting on the new one, who is created according to God, are made innocent, immaculate, pure, harmless, and beloved of God, heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ; so that there is nothing whatever to retard them from entrance into heaven. But this holy Synod confesses and is sensible, that in the baptized there remains concupiscence, or an incentive [to sin];" which, since it is left for us to strive against, cannot injure those who consent not, but resist manfully by the grace of Jesus Christ; yea, he who shall have striven lawfully shall he crowned. This concupiscence, which the apostle sometimes calls sin, the holy Synod declares that the Catholic Church has never understood to be called sin, as being truly and properly sin in those born again, but because it is of sin, and inclines to sin. And if any one is of a contrary opinion, let him be anathema. This same holy Synod doth nevertheless declare, that it is not in its intention to include in this decree, where original sin is treated of, the blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, the mother of God; but that the constitutions of Pope Sixtus IV, of happy memory, are to be observed, under the pains contained in the said constitutions, which it renews.

Decree on Original Sin, Canon 5


The most direct answer seem to come from Catechism of the Catholic Church

1000 This "how" exceeds our imagination and understanding; it is accessible only to faith. Yet our participation in the Eucharist already gives us a foretaste of Christ's transfiguration of our bodies:

Just as bread that comes from the earth, after God's blessing has been invoked upon it, is no longer ordinary bread, but Eucharist, formed of two things, the one earthly and the other heavenly: so too our bodies, which partake of the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but possess the hope of resurrection.

The Holy Eucharist is the only sacramental means that can heal our wounded flesh or restored back our fallen nature. Transfigured bodies means a glorified body freed or healed of concupiscence.

*990 The term "flesh" refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality.

536 The "resurrection of the flesh" (the literal formulation of the Apostles' Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our "mortal body" will come to life again.537*

Biblical explanation

Jesus came to Redeemed us to restore back Divine Life in us thru Sacrament of Baptism. This mystery was first revealed in the Wedding in Cana. The Blessed Virgin Mary had seen the state of soul of the people which although are celebrating a worldly feast said to Jesus the words "they have no wine" meaning "they have no life or Divine Life".

The whole world was created in Jesus sake and the fallen world would be recreated by Jesus thru His Life offering by the cooperation of the Woman. The six jar of wine represents the six days of creation which Jesus filled with wine or filled with all of His Most Precious Blood.

Jesus emphasized clearly his God given mission to restored Divine Life and to give us Eternal Life.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John10:10)

To give us a Life that is Full, Jesus founded His Church and instituted the Sacraments that would restore the Divine Life thru Sacrament of Baptism. The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist was instituted to give us Eternal Life. But, Jesus knew that our fallen nature is bound to fail along the way of our christian journey and so the Sacrament of Confession was also needed. This vital Sacraments is the reason why the "fullness of the means of salvation" can only be found in the Catholic Church. As scriptures teaches "nothing defiled shall enter God's Kingdom".

Our christian and non-christian brothers & sisters although can avail of the Baptism thru other means outside the Church which are acceptable to God and some recognized by the Catholic Church. But they have no means of removing the "concupiscence", so only thru the Catholic Church can a soul be cleanse fully to become worthy of entrance into Heaven.

This is the reason why Jesus insisted the Bread of Life discourse. Only the Holy Eucharist can restore our wounded flesh who had inclination to commit the sins of the flesh. Jesus fullness of life means giving us a "new flesh" thru receiving His very own flesh "body & blood" in the Holy Eucharist.

This is the key why St. Paul able to overcome his concupiscence. St. Paul teachings on the Holy Eucharist can be read here in this link below. A good source of St. Paul explanation on the Holy Eucharist.

Eucharistic Theology in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians

It also worth mentioning one the Great Theologian of the East, St. John Damascene who's hand was cut-off and miraculously healed and restored by the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. John Damascene's teaching that St. Joachim "concupiscence" was removed or cleansed by means of the "Bread of Life and Wine" administered to him directly by the angel.

This is the mystery behind why the human nature transmitted by St. Joachim is worthy to received the "sanctifying grace" at the first instant of conception.

  • St. John Damascene's teaching are not based on Scripture here. Do the Scriptures support the Angel story with St. Joachim? Or is it Apocrypha?
    – Ken Graham
    Mar 15, 2019 at 23:50
  • @Ken Graham St.John Damascene is a Doctor of the Church, his teaching on "spotless seed" coincides with the Tradition of the Church giving Mary the title "House of Gold" relating to the Ark of the Covenant. What is the material use in the Ark? it is pure & uncorrupted. So, St.John Damascene teaching can be traced to Tradition and Church Father teachings. Are you saying that Mary comes from a "tainted seed" of St.Joachim? Church Father and St.JP2 teaches using the word "ABSOLUTE", perennial enmity meaning no part of Mary was touch by satan even the seed of St.Joachim. Mar 16, 2019 at 0:57
  • @Ken Which is Divine for God to do,cleanse the seed of St.Joachim at the moment of conception or cleanse the seed from the origin before it is release?.Remember the "seed" will be generated by "sensual pleasures or concupiscence" which is a mark of lust and Council of Trent defined "concupiscence" as the method of transmitting original sin. The Ark of the Covenant will be upheld only if Mary's flesh comes from pure or spotless seed.Otherwise it will contradict scriptures, Apostolic Tradition and Church Father teachings on the Ark of the Covenant. Mar 16, 2019 at 1:17
  • CCC 1000 Refers to How do the dead rise? Thus you do not truly answer your own question.
    – Ken Graham
    Mar 1, 2020 at 16:25
  • St. Joachim’ s possible purification which the Church has not pronounced on was more in view of the penance done before the conception of the Virgin Mary, than by how you say it: St. Joachim "concupiscence" was removed or cleansed by means of the "Bread of Life and Wine" administered to him directly by the angel. Can you even source out such a preposterous assumption as being Catholic doctrine? If so please do. This whole thread is totally based on unfounded doctrine and poisons true doctrine of the Church.
    – Ken Graham
    Mar 1, 2020 at 20:51

According to Catholicism, how can a Christian be freed from concupiscence and thereby possess a sinless body?

Man can never truly be liberated from concupiscence and thereby possess a sinless body, while on earth. But he can make great strives towards perfection towards union with God.

Well, while on earth it takes a lot and I mean a lot of hard work, patience, fortitude and guidance from an excellent spiritual director gifted in the arts of the spiritual life.

The Church calls this the Way of Perfection and is normally divided into three stages: the purgative way, the illuminative way and the unitive way.

The purgative way

The purgative way is the way, or state, of those who are beginners, that is, those who have obtained justification, but have not their passions and evil inclinations in such a state of subjugation that they can easily overcome temptations, and who, in order to preserve and exercise charity and the other virtues have to keep up a continual warfare within themselves. It is so called because the chief concern of the soul in this state is to resist and to overcome the passions by nourishing, strengthening, and cherishing the virtue of charity. This can and ought to be done not only by keeping the Commandments, but by foreseeing the occasions in which the precepts oblige, so as to be ready by a prompt and well disposed will to resist and avoid any sins opposed to them. This state, although, in one sense, it is imperfect, in another sense may be called a state of perfection, because the soul remains united to God by grace and charity so long as it is free from the stain of mortal sin. Purity of soul may be said to be the proper end of the purgative way, and the forms of prayer suitable for this way or state are meditations on sin and its consequences, and on death, judgment, hell, and heaven. The acts which aid toward uprooting the remnants and habits of former sins, and preventing one from ever returning to them, are corporal austerities, mortification of the appetite, abnegation of one's own will, and conformity to the will of God. In a word, the distinctive notes of this state are war against those temptations which entice the soul to sin by the attraction of pleasures of the senses and the natural shrinking from pain; and repugnance to acts known to be contrary to the will of God. The characteristic virtue of this state is humility, by which the soul is made sensible of its own weakness and its dependence upon the succours of the grace of God.

What mystical writers describe as the active and passive purifications of the spiritual life may be brought under, and arranged according to, their three states of perfection, though not confined to any one of them. The active purification consists of all the holy efforts, mortifications, labors, and sufferings by which the soul, aided by the grace of God endeavors to reform the mind, heart, and the sensitive appetite. This is the characteristic work of the purgative way. The passive purifications are the means which God employs to purify the soul from its stains and vices, and to prepare it for the exceptional graces of the supernatural life. In the works of St. John of the Cross these purifications are called nights, and he divides them into two classes, the night of the senses and the night of the spirits. In the state of beginners the soul is often favored by God with what are called "sensible consolations" because they have their beginning and are felt chiefly in the senses or sensible faculties. They consist in sensible devotion and a feeling of fervour arising from the consideration of God's goodness vividly represented to the mind and heart; or, from external aids, such as the ceremonies of the Church. These consolations are often withdrawn, and a state of desolation ensues, and then the passive purification of the senses begins.

The illuminative way

The illuminative way is that of those who are in the state of progress and have their passions better under control, so that they easily keep themselves from mortal sin, but who do not so easily avoid venial sins, because they still take pleasure in earthly things and allow their minds to be distracted by various imaginations and their hearts with numberless desires, though not in matters that are strictly unlawful. It is called the illuminative way, because in it the mind becomes more and more enlightened as to spiritual things and the practice of virtue. In this grade charity is stronger and more perfect than in the state of beginners; the soul is chiefly occupied with progress in the spiritual life and in all the virtues, both theological and moral. The practice of prayer suitable for this state is meditation on the mysteries of the Incarnation, the life of Our Savior, and the mysteries of His Sacred Passion. As Ven. Luis de Lapuente says,

Though the mysteries of the Passion belong to the illuminative way, especially in its highest degree, which approaches nearest to the unitive way, nevertheless, they are exceedingly profitable for all sorts of persons, by whatever way they walk, and in whatever degree of perfection they live; for sinners will find in them most effectual motives to purify themselves from all their sins; beginners to mortify their passions; proficients to increase in all kinds of virtue; and the perfect to obtain union with God by fervent love. (Introduction to "Meditations on the Passion")

The fundamental virtue of this state is recollection, that is, a constant attention of the mind and of the affections of the heart to thoughts and sentiments which elevate the soul to God — exterior recollection which consists in the love of silence and retirement, interior recollection in simplicity of spirit and a right intention, as well as attention to God in all our actions. This does not mean that a person has to neglect the duties of his state or position in life, nor does it imply that honest and needful recreation should be avoided, because these lawful or necessary circumstances or occupations can well be reconciled with perfect recollection and the most holy union with God.

The soul in the illuminative way will have to experience periods of spiritual consolations and desolations. It does not at once enter upon the unitive way when it has passed through the aridities of the first purgation. It must spend some time, perhaps years, after quitting the state of beginners in exercising itself in the state of proficients. St. John of the Cross tells us that in this state the soul, like one released from a rigorous imprisonment, occupies itself in Divine thoughts with a much greater freedom and satisfaction, and its joy is more abundant and interior than it ever experienced before it entered the night of the senses. Its purgation is still somewhat incomplete, and the purification of the senses is not yet finished and perfect. It is not without aridities, darkness, and trials, sometimes more severe than in the past. During the period of desolation it will have to endure much suffering from temptations against the theological virtues and against the moral virtues. It will have to endure sometimes other diabolical attacks upon its imagination and senses. Also, God will permit natural causes to combine in afflicting the soul, such as the persecutions of men, and the ingratitude of friends. Patient suffering and resignation have to be borne during all these trials, and the devout soul should remember the encouraging words of the pious and learned Blosius:

Nothing more valuable can befall a man than tribulation, when it is endured with patience for the love of God; because there is no more certain sign of the divine election. But this should be understood quite as much of internal as of external trials which people of a certain kind of piety forget.

And again he says,

It is the chain of patient suffering that forms the ring with which Christ espouses a soul to Himself. (Institutio Spiritualis, viii, 3)

The unitive way

The unitive way is the way of those who are in the state of the perfect, that is, those who have their minds so drawn away from all temporal things that they enjoy great peace, who are neither agitated by various desires nor moved by any great extent by passion, and who have their minds chiefly fixed on God and their attention turned, either always or very frequently, to Him. It is the union with God by love and the actual experience and exercise of that love. It is called the state of "perfect charity", because souls who have reached that state are ever prompt in the exercise of charity by loving God habitually and by frequent and efficacious acts of that Divine virtue. It is called the "unitive" way because it is by love that the soul is united to God, and the more perfect the charity, the closer and more intimate is the union. Union with God is the principal study and endeavor of this state. It is of this union St. Paul speaks when he says: "He who is joined to the Lord, is one spirit." (1 Corinthians 6:17). Souls thus united to God are penetrated by the highest motives of the theological and moral virtues. In every circumstance of their lives the supernatural motive which ought to guide their actions is ever present to their mind, and the actions are performed under its inspiration with a force of will which makes their accomplishment easy and even delightful. These perfect souls are above all familiar with the doctrine and use of consolations and desolations. They are enlightened in the mysteries of the supernatural life, and they have experience of that truth proclaimed by St. Paul when he said: "We know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to His purpose, are called to be saints." (Romans 8:28). The form of prayer suitable to persons in the unitive way is the contemplation of the glorious mysteries of Our Lord, His Resurrection, Appearances, and Ascension, until the coming of the Holy Ghost, and the preaching of the Gospel. These mysteries may also be the subject of meditation for beginners and for those in a state of progress, but in a peculiar manner, they belong to the perfect. Union with God belongs substantially to all souls in a state of grace, but it is in a special manner the distinguishing characteristic of those in the unitive way or in the state of the perfect.

It is in this state that the gift of contemplation is imparted to the soul, though this is not always the case; because many souls who are perfect in the unitive way never receive in this life the gift of contemplation and there have been numerous saints who were not mystics or contemplatives and who nevertheless excelled in the practice of heroic virtue. Souls, however, who have attained to the unitive state have consolations of a purer and higher order than others, and are more often favored by extraordinary graces; and sometimes with the extraordinary phenomena of the mystical state such as ecstasies, raptures, and what is known as the prayer of union.

The soul, however, is not always in this state free from desolations and passive purgation. St. John of the Cross tells us that the purification of the spirit usually takes place after the purification of the senses. The night of the senses being over, the soul for some time enjoys, according to this eminent authority the sweet delights of contemplation; then, perhaps, when least expected the second night comes, far darker and far more miserable than the first, and this is called by him the purification of the spirit, which means the purification of the interior faculties, the intellect and the will. The temptations which assail the soul in this state are similar in their nature to those which afflict souls in the illuminative way, only more aggravated, because felt more keenly; and the withdrawal of the consolations of the spirit which they have already experienced in their greatest affliction. To these trials are added others, peculiar to the spirit, which arise from the intensity of their love for God, for Whose possession they thirst and long. "The fire of Divine love can so dry up the spirit and enkindle its desire for satisfying its thirst that it turns upon itself a thousand times and longs for God in a thousand ways, as the Psalmist did when he said: For Thee my soul hath thirsted; for Thee my flesh O how many ways" (St. John of the Cross, op. cit. infra, bk. II, xi). There are three degrees of this species of suffering designated by mystical writers as the "inflammation of love", the "wounds of love", and the "langour of love". - State or Way (Purgative, Illuminative, Unitive)

When starting out in the true spiritual life and trying as Christian to be freed from concupiscence and thereby possess a sinless body, the purgative way is indeed the hardest and longest to obtain. Because of this, most do not prevail past this stage. This first stage requires one to purify oneself of as much personal sin as possible through penance, sacramental confession and sound spiritual advice from a spiritual director. This is a hard and forceful stage.

For further information on this subject I would recommend reading about it from both Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP and the French abbess Mother Cécile Bruyère

For those who can read French, I would highly recommend Mother Cécile Bruyère‘s book La vie spirituelle et l'oraison. It is based on both solid Catholic doctrine and tradition, as well as by personal experience in a monastic setting.

Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP writes in a more formal style, true to being as great theologian and a university professor at the Dominican Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelicum, in Rome from 1909 to 1960.

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