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The Daughters of Lust: 5 Questions on How They Pervert the Soul

Lust is a vice that can easily consume a persons soul. The consequences are dire. Our Lady
of Fatima proclaimed, more souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other
reason. Understand the vice of lust and her daughters so that the Catholic soul may stand
guard against them.
Listers, if a person invites lust into his heart, the daughters of lust will soon
follow and nest deep within it. A vice is not a single act. Both vice and virtue are habits.
Habits are described by both Aristotle and Aquinas as a species of the category of quality,
and qualities are difficult to change. When a person habituates themselves to the evil that is
lust, that repetitive action changes the quality of their soul. Lust is a vice that can easily
consume a person. The consequences are dire. Our Lady of Fatima proclaimed, more souls
go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.1 Understand the vice of lust
and her daughters so that the Catholic soul may stand guard against them.

1. What are the Daughters of Lust?


St. Thomas Aquinas relies on the authority of Pope St. Gregory the Great to enumerate the
so-called daughters of lust. In his Books of Morals, Pope St. Gregory speaks of pride as
the Queen of Sins who after conquering a heart invites her generals to dwell within it. The
generals of the queen of sins, according to Gregory the Great, are the seven capital vices: (1)
vain glory, (2) envy, (3) anger, (4) melancholy, (5) avarice, (6) gluttony, (7) lust. In turn, once
one of the capital vices enters the heart, it calls forth its army of corresponding sins. Aquinas
speaks of the army of lust as the daughters of lust. According to Pope St. Gregory the Great,
the capital vice of lust spawns eight daughters:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

Blindness of mind
Thoughtlessness [Inconsiderateness]
Inconstancy
Rashness [Precipitation]
Self-love
Hatred of God
Love of this World [Affection for this present world]
Abhorrence or Despair of a Future World [Dread or despair of that which is to come]
The capital vice of lust and her corresponding daughters convince the conquered heart to
continue to engorge itself on pleasurable goods, especially sexual pleasures.

2. What are the powers of the soul?


A man passes by a bakery and smells the sweet buttery scent of fresh baked bread.
Immediately, he feels an attraction toward the bread, but he chooses to continue on passed
the bakery. What drama has unfolded in the mans soul? The soul is composed of lower and
higher powers. In the lower powers is the sense appetite. The sense appetite comprehends a
sensible good through the senses and inclines the soul toward that good. The man
apprehended fresh bread and his sense appetite moved him toward it; however, the man did
not follow the movement of his appetite. It is the higher powers of the soul reason and the
will that shouldorder the lower powers; thus, the mans inclination toward the bread was
controlled by his reason and will.2 So too does this order of the soul occur with goods

characterized by sexual pleasure. The soul apprehends the good through the senses and is
inclined toward the sexual pleasure, but reason and will must order the inclination according
to virtue. The capital vice of lust exists when there is a perversion of the relationship between
the higher and lower powers of the soul toward a sexual pleasure.

3. How do the Daughters of Lust disorder the soul?


St. Thomas Aquinas explains how the vice of lust and her daughters disorder the soul.
When the lower powers are strongly moved towards their objects, the result is that the higher
powers are hindered and disordered in their acts. Now the effect of the vice of lust is that the
lower appetite, namely the concupiscible, is most vehemently intent on its object, to wit, the
object of pleasure, on account of the vehemence of the pleasure. Consequently the higher
powers, namely the reason and the will, are most grievously disordered by lust.
The sense appetite or lower appetite of the soul is generally divided into two parts: the
concupiscible appetite and the irascible appetite. The former, concupiscence, is the souls
inclination toward things which are pleasant and an aversion toward those things which are
unpleasant. Consequently, the mans concupiscible appetite would both draw him toward the
sweet smell of fresh bread and push him away from the sordid stench of a sewer. Note also
that the initial reaction to the object in question is often involuntary. The irascible appetite
may draw the soul toward an arduous good (a good that is difficult to obtain) or may push the
soul away from an evil that is difficult to escape. Consequently, the irascible appetite may
spark in the soul a surge of courage to conquer an evil or it may spark fear if it is an evil from
which the soul should flee.3
Lust deals with a disorder of the concupiscible appetite. Specifically, the concupiscible
appetites inclination toward a sexual pleasure. In general, as Aquinas stated, lust disorders
the soul by having the lower power of the concupiscible appetite toward a sexual pleasure
overrun the higher powers of reason and the will. Below are the specifics on how each
daughter of lust corresponds to a darkening of the will and reason.

4. How do the Daughters of Lust pervert reason?


The Angelic Doctor lays out four different ways reason acts and how, if corrupted by lust, a
daughter of lust perverts the act.
(1) Now the reason has four acts in matters of action. First there is simple understanding,
which apprehends some end as good, and this act is hindered by lust, according to Daniel
13:56, Beauty hath deceived thee, and lust hath perverted thy heart. On this respect we have
blindness of mind.
(2) The second act is counsel about what is to be done for the sake of the end: and this is also
hindered by the concupiscence of lust. Hence Terence says (Eunuch., act 1, sc. 1), speaking of
lecherous love: This thing admits of neither counsel nor moderation, thou canst not control
it by counseling. On this respect there is rashness, which denotes absence of counsel, as
stated above (Question 53, Article 3).

(3) The third act is judgment about the things to be done, and this again is hindered by lust.
For it is said of the lustful old men (Daniel 13:9): They perverted their own mind . . . that
they might not . . . remember just judgments. On this respect there is thoughtlessness.
(4) The fourth act is the reasons command about the thing to be done, and this also is
impeded by lust, in so far as through being carried away by concupiscence, a man is hindered
from doing what his reason ordered to be done. [To this inconstancy must be referred.]
[The sentence in brackets is omitted in the Leonine edition.] Hence Terence says (Eunuch.,
act 1, sc. 1) of a man who declared that he would leave his mistress: One little false tear will
undo those words.
In short, (1) understanding is perverted by blindness of mind (2) asking for counsel is
perverted by rashness (3) judgment is perverted by thoughtlessness and (4) the command to
act is perverted by inconstancy.4

5. How do the Daughters of Lust pervert the will?


The Universal Doctor lays out how the will submitting to lust spawns the daughters of lust.
(1) On the part of the will there results a twofold inordinate act. One is the desire for the end,
to which we refer self-love, which regards the pleasure which a man desires inordinately,
while on the other hand there is hatred of God, by reason of His forbidding the desired
pleasure.
(2) The other act is the desire for the things directed to the end. With regard to this there is
love of this world, whose pleasures a man desires to enjoy, while on the other hand there is
despair of a future world, because through being held back by carnal pleasures he cares not
to obtain spiritual pleasures, since they are distasteful to him.
Note that not all pleasurable goods are disordered, but if man seeks pleasurable goods in an
inordinate manner he becomes selfish. In turn, selfishness leads to a hatred of God and his
order of creation. Similarly, the man who wills inordinate pleasurable goods simultaneously
demonstrates a love of this world and his despair of the future world to come.
Lastly, note that a vice is not a single act. A vice is a habit and a habit is a species of quality
specifically the quality of a mans soul, and both Aristotle and Aquinas agree that a quality
is difficult to change. Therefore, the more lust is allowed to pervert the soul, the greater it will
entrench itself and the more the daughters of lust will nest.
1.

Fatima Quote: Read the cited quote and more about Our Lady of Fatima at 4 Things You Must Know about Our

2.

Lady of Fatima. [
]
Further Reading on the Powers of the Soul: For those interested, please consult a Thomistic explanation of
the sense appetite, the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Concupiscence, and St. Thomas Aquinas explanation of

3.

the power of sensuality. [


]
Concupiscible & Irascible: Aquinas further categorizes these appetites into different passions. The
term passion means something that acts upon the soul in distinction to the will first moving the soul toward an
object; thus, if a man sees a beautiful woman he may be struck with a passion that affects his soul and inclines the
soul toward the woman. Aquinas lists specific passions for each appetite. Under the concupiscible appetite, he lists

love (good as such) and hatred (evil as such), desire (good is absent) and aversion (evil is absent), joy (good is
present) and sadness (evil is present). Under the irascible appetite, he lists hope (an absent but attainable good) and
despair (an absent an unattainable good), courage (a conquerable evil), fear (an unconquerable evil), and anger

4.

(present evil). For more see Concupiscence and the Sense Appetite. [
]
Are All Sexual Acts Lustful? The obvious answer is no, but Aquinas answer is worth reading especially
when attempting to explain the movement of the soul toward pleasurable goods which are in fact good and virtuous.
He states, A sin, in human acts, is that which is against the order of reason. Now the order of reason consists in its
ordering everything to its end in a fitting manner. Wherefore it is no sin if one, by the dictate of reason, makes use of
certain things in a fitting manner and order for the end to which they are adapted, provided this end be something
truly good. For more on lust in general, visitLust & the Common Good.