Saint Ignatius High School

The Achilles Heel of the Soul

The last of the seven deadly sins, lust, is possibly the most misunderstood. The writings of Aquinas and Dante are typical of the traditional Catholic position on lust - it is a sin of weakness, not power, and of the flesh, not of the soul. As times have changed, lust has become, Mr. Healey writes, the Achilles heel of the soul.
The last of the seven deadly sins, lust, is possibly the most misunderstood.  Certainly there are confusions about what pride really means or where the lines are for something like gluttony, but when it comes to lust there seems to be little consensus about whether it is “all that bad” or the “worst of all sins” as well as little understanding of what lust, at its core, really means in people’s lives.
From the standpoint of sheer importance and deadliness it comes in last of the seven deadly sins.  The writings of Aquinas and Dante are typical of the traditional Catholic position on lust - it is a sin of weakness, not power, and of the flesh, not of the soul.  Pride is the deadliest because it is the true stance of the demonic: I will not serve.  But lust, in some sense, is the opposite for it very often provides the platform for the manifestation of shame and regret.
And yet, the modern, post-modern, and post-postmodern view of lust provides a different picture and shows that even the least deadly sin can be a gateway to the most deadly.  From the time of the leading atheists of the 19th Century like Nietzsche through to the present day’s flavor-of-the-month “philosophers” like Yuvall Noah Harari there has been a subtext of the meaninglessness of life, with its adjoining belief that the Christian vision is a mere illusion, and a bad one at that.
We don’t usually see the devilish connection between the philosophical musings of the intelligentsia and the lives of the people who live ordinary lives, but Aldous Huxley, author of the classic dystopian novel Brave New World, lets the cat out of the bag when he writes:
“I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning….The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is….concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning - the Christian meaning, they insisted - of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.”
To understand the brave new world in which we live there is a need to understand the minds of those who created it, and Huxley - as well as Nietzsche before him and Harari after him - is one of those minds.  Modern, post-modern, and post-postmodern philosophers all seem to have one thing in common - their personal lives are a manifestation of the revolt against chastity and in favor of lust.
This is a sad fact, but sadder still is the fact that they have taken so many people with them on their journey of debauched and debased sexuality, a journey that has consequenses way beyond STDs, divorce, and abortion.  At least Huxley, unlike most, is pretty honest about what is happening, as this quote from Brave New World shows:
“As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensating to increase. And the dictator (unless he needs cannon fodder and families with which to colonize empty or conquered territories) will do well to encourage that freedom. In conjunction with the freedom to daydream under the influence of dope and movies and the radio, it will help to reconcile his subjects to the servitude which is their fate.”
We live in the world of “soft” totalitarianism described by Huxley, but do we even notice it?  Huxley mentions “dope and movies and the radio” as the means of increasing sexual freedom while diminishing political and economic freedom, but what would he think of what has been added since he wrote those words in 1931?  I’m guessing he would say something like “This is way too easy.”  The plan of the elites - whether you call it the New World Order or Build Back Better or the Great Reset - is working all too well.
Lust is not the most deadly of sins, but for way too many people it is the Achilles heel of the soul.  It is not by chance that the Sermon on the Mount tells us that “blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”  They shall also have lives of real freedom, lives of meaningful pleasure, lives of true beatitude.