On earth, humans have a lot of things against them. One of those is concupiscence. This is a long, hard-to-say word that stands for the problem humanity developed as a result of the first sin, original sin. After Adam and Eve sinned against God (Gen 3:1-8), they were now afflicted with the tendency to sin (CCC 405). No matter how hard they tried, they would always struggle with sin. Their relationship with God would be weak and always under threat. Not only would this affect Adam and Eve, their children, grandchildren, and so on would have to deal with it.
The Catholic Church named this condition concupiscence. Since all humans descended from Adam and Eve, we all have to live with this condition (CCC 407). This condition is what causes our inner temptations to sin. Satan can also tempt us, but with concupiscence we can be our own worst enemy. This is St. Paul referred to when he wrote about doing what he hated (Rom 7:19). No matter how good a person is their internal sinful desires will eventually get the best of them.
This can be a very sad thing to learn about. How can we possibly do good when our own bodies are against us? It’s all thanks to God. In his goodness he provides a counteracting force to oppose concupiscence. This force for good is grace (CCC 420). Where concupiscence constantly urges people to sin, God’s grace, through the Holy Spirit, constantly urges people to do good. Within each of us, good and evil are constantly battling (CCC 409).
At the same time, God still honors people’s free will. Just as our temptations to sin can never force us to sin, God’s grace will never force us to do good (CCC 155). We always have the choice. God’s grace is simply a positive influence. It’s plants in the mind a positive thought to do good and gives a taste of the warm, fuzzy feeling that will be felt after taking that good action. Even though God’s grace will never force us to do anything, sometimes that constant urging to do good is just enough.
I remember reading about a priest who for years ignored the grace of God calling him to join the priesthood. He ignored the call, constantly refusing to accept it, but eventually, he just couldn’t stand the constant urging from God. God never forced this man to become a priest, but he definitely made it hard to ignore the idea. Ultimately, God knows what is best for each of us. When he persistently calls us to do something, we should listen. It’s for our own good. That doesn’t mean it will be painless, but it the long run, we will be better off doing whatever it is God wants from us.
May God bless you with his abundant grace,