St Augustine’s famous line, “O God, our hearts are restless until they rest in You” is the foundation of human desire. We are so often thrown out of our peace by our desires and we fear that if we follow our desires we will get into trouble. Therefore we retreat into a dull life of unquestioning conformity rather than embarking on the great adventure of life–one in which we wrestle with our desires rather than retreating from them.

To wrestle with our desires appropriately we need to recognize firstly that our basic desires at the root of our being is for all that is beautiful, good and true. God created us good and created within each of us an innate desire and longing for the beautiful, good and true. However, our desires become degraded into the desire for something else–and the desires are degraded in four ways, and I hope you’ll forgive my addiction to alliteration…

First the desires are Distorted. They are twisted by the concupiscence which is a result of original sin. The desire is pure and undistorted when it is the desire for the thing itself for its own intrinsic value. We are called to “love all things according to their worth” as Thomas Traherne has put it. So, for example, I may desire good French wine. If I desire it for the flavor, the refreshment and the value of the hard work and fruit of the land that it represents, then the desire is wholesome and good. To illustrate this desire, to drink a bottle of good red French wine in an auberge in the French countryside where that wine was grown, along with a well cooked French meal with some French country folk is a truly authentic pleasure and the fullness of appreciation of a bottle of wine. That desire is distorted, however if I drink the wine or want the wine for some other subsidiary pleasure. I may desire it because I am a wine snob or a Francophile snob. I may desire it because I am a glutton and worship the flavor, or I may desire it to get drunk.All these are distortions of the desire.

Praise the Lord

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