Hunger

Concupiscence, Lust, Spiritual Hunger

Life Night Outline

Goal of this Night

The goal of this Life Night is to introduce teens to the virtue of chastity as it stands in opposition to concupiscence. It will challenge teens to recognize their desire for relationships, and to act on that desire in a healthy and chaste way.

About this night

This Life Night introduces the virtue of chastity to the teenagers and explains how it can help them overcome concupiscence and experience true freedom. The Life Night begins with a meal that everyone experiences differently. This meal illustrates the three responses we can have to our desire for relationships — starvation, junk food, and a banquet. After the meal teens will process their experience and then hear a teaching about chastity and how the virtue allows us to control our desires and have a healthy relationship with God and others. This teaching leads into men’s and women’s-only sessions where teens will discuss the challenges they face to living chastely and ways to avoid sin. Teens will have an opportunity to pray over each other during these sessions, and will close the night as a large group in prayer.

Parental Notice

This week at Life Night we discussed our spiritual hunger for community and relationships and the positive and negative ways that we express that hunger. We challenged the teens to realize that, although the world may say that it is best to feed our hunger for relationships with sexual relationships and experiences, ultimately this hurts us spiritually, emotionally, and even physically. We introduced the virtue of chastity, which is the integration of our sexuality into our spirit and body, allowing the spirit to control our body and desires. This is a very counter-cultural idea to many teenagers, but is very important because it allows us to practice true freedom. During the Life Night we broke up into men’s and women’s groups to discuss the specific challenges to chastity faced by each gender.  We closed the night with a time of prayer, allowing the men and women to pray with each other for continued strength in their lives to resist temptation.

This is an important topic to talk about with your teenager, as there are many temptations that teens face in their lives that threaten chastity. Below are a couple of questions to get your discussion started:

  • What are some of the biggest things that threaten teenagers’ chastity today? Why?
  • What can we do as a family to support each other spiritually? What can we do to strengthen prayer in our community?

Environment

The environment for this Life Night should be set up as a dining hall. Divide the room into three sections using white tape on the floor. Leave the first section completely empty. Don’t put chairs, table, or food in it. The second section should have folding tables set up in it with piles of junk food on each. In the final section, have one or two tables set up with candles, tablecloths, plates and silverware. This final section should look like seating in a fancy restaurant.

Gather

Feast or Famine

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As the teenagers gather into the main meeting space they should be divided into three groups. The first group should be led to a section that is taped off from the rest of the room. These teens should be instructed to stay behind the taped line for the Gather activity. The second group should be seated at tables that have a lot of junk food on them. Have bags of potato chips, cookies, cans of soda, etc. set out on each of these tables. The final group of teens should be smaller, only six to eight. A couple of Core Members can escort these teens to the fancy tables and explain to them that their food will be ready shortly.

Prepare a full meal for this final group of teens.  Ask a couple of parents to help prepare good food for these teens to eat, and have some Core Members serve it to them. It is important not to do this right away, though. As these teens wait, have some vegetables set out on the table for them to eat in the meantime.

Welcome and Introduction

(5 min)

The youth minister should gather all of the teens together and welcome any teens that are attending Life Night for the first time. He or she should lead an opening prayer to begin the Life Night.

Eat Up

(20 min)

The youth minister should then allow the teens to have time to eat and socialize. Instruct the teens that they are not allowed to move from their section, so teens who are in the “taped off” section can socialize but not leave the section. Have Core Members spread throughout each section to talk with the teens. Have some music playing as the teens eat.

Large Group Processing

(5 min)

The youth minister should begin a large group discussion while the Core Members remove food from the main meeting space. The following questions can be used to facilitate a discussion:

  • What did you enjoy about this meal?
  • What, if anything, made it difficult? Why?
  • Do you wish that you were in a different section? Why?

Proclaim

Key Term Definitions

Chastity: Chastity is the remedy to the deadly sin of lust. Those who are chaste are morally clean in their thoughts, words, and actions. The integration of our sexuality within our person that allows us to be unified body and soul is called chastity.
Lust: Lust, one of the seven deadly sins, is the disordered desire for sexual pleasure that seeks its own selfish gain.
Temperance: The virtue that moderates the desire for pleasure. Temperance enables us to keep from doing what is wrong, even when we have strong feelings for it.

"Hunger" Teaching

(10 min)

The youth minister should use the responses of the teens to transition into the teaching for the Life Night. This teaching focuses on our desire to be in community and our hunger for relationships, and the impact concupiscence has on that hunger.

The Heart is a Battlefield

In the beginning, there was a garden where God placed a man and a woman. He gave them dominion over the whole garden, but one rule: They were not allowed to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The man and the woman were tempted, however, into disobeying God. This first act of disobedience is called original sin, and because of it, the world that existed in harmony was thrown into disorder.

This disorder spread to all humanity. Every one was implicated in Adam and Eve’s sin. Through the first sin, death and sin entered and filled the world.

The result is that the human heart became a battlefield between the original design that God had for us, and concupiscence — the inclination to sin. We are pulled in two different directions, one direction toward God and the other toward our selfish desires.

We are pulled toward God because we were created to love and to serve God. This is our purpose and we can never get rid of that. It is our deepest longing; we long to return to God.

Our hunger for union with God was expressed by St. Augustine, who wrote, “O Lord, our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Even if we don’t realize it, our hearts desire communion with God.

Because we were created in community, our hearts also desire communion with other people as well. It is not good for us to be alone; we need other people to be in relationship with.

These two desires are written on our heart, and before the Fall they were rightly ordered — they made sense. After the Fall, these desires become distorted by concupiscence.

Concupiscence pulls us toward ourselves instead of into genuine relationships with God or others. It distorts these desires. It whispers the same lie as the serpent in the garden. It tells us that we should be able to make our own decisions, that we should be able to determine right and wrong — that we should be like God.

Concupiscence can take three forms — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. This is important to understand when it comes to our sexuality.

Lust Vs. Love

Jesus speaks directly about lust during the Sermon on the Mount. He begins by calling the minds of the people to the sixth commandment: Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Then Jesus helps people understand that this commandment goes beyond a physical action. He tells the people, “I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Lust is the disordered desire for sexual pleasure that seeks its own selfish gain. Lust is the opposite of love because it turns someone into an object to be used for someone’s pleasure, rather than a person made in the image and likeness of God.

Lust is a result of concupiscence. We were made for union and community, but lust makes us selfish by viewing another person as an object to be gained, rather than a person to be received as a gift.

Lust of the eyes comes when we objectify people by their appearance. Pornography is built on this idea — it turns people into products rather than persons. Lust of the eyes can also happen when we objectify other people through our words or our gaze.

This is challenging  because it seems like in our world there are so many opportunities for lust. Since we live in fallen world, a world tainted by original sin, we are going to face temptations to lust.

Additionally, we are hardwired to desire union with other people; we want to give ourselves and be received by others. We want union with God — we want to be loved. This desire for love is a good and holy desire.

Lust is the opposite of love, but it is a convincing counterfeit. We can easily convince ourselves that we are finding what we are looking for by giving into lust and calling it “love.”

So how do we manage these desires in the battlefield of our heart? How do we sort out our desire to love and be loved from lust?

Three Responses to Hunger

Think of our desire to love and be loved as a hunger. When people get hungry, there are a few things that they can do:

1. Starvation

Some of us, for different reasons, may have been told that our desire to love and be loved is a bad thing; that it will only lead to sex and sin. We feel guilty about this, so we avoid it.

This isn’t how God created us. As a teenager, you are called to abstain from sex — that is, not engage in it. Sex happens in the context of marriage, but there is a difference between abstinence and denial.

Abstinence acknowledges that sometimes there will be temptations, but we are going to make a conscious decision to avoid them. When we know what we are fighting, we can fend off attacks. We can choose to find appropriate expressions of love in our family and friendships instead.

Denial represses our desire for love, and rather than trying to order our lives so that we can fight temptation, we completely ignore it.

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The problem with starving our hunger rather than confronting it is that the hunger never goes away, instead it grows and grows internally until we cannot wait any more. Starvation eventually leads to the second way that we can deal with hunger.

2. Junk Food

Which is easier when you are hungry: Waiting to get home to cook a meal for an hour, or going through a fast-food drive through?

Obviously, going through the drive through is much easier and quicker. But, which will make you feel better afterwards? If you cook for yourself you can be healthier, but if you are eating a ¼ lb cheeseburger and fries with a large soda, you may be feeling a little sluggish.

If you keep making that decision, eventually your overall health  starts to suffer.  The more often you choose the junk food, the more the rest of your body starts to suffer.

Instead of “starving” themselves, some people completely give into lust. They indulge their sexual desires through hookups, premarital sex, pornography, and masturbation.

These “quick fixes” are like junk food. They are easy, but not healthy. Spiritually these things will wear us down, make us sick spiritually and physically, and eventually can even kill us.

The challenge is that these things are available now and are presented as more appealing than eating something healthy. They don’t require any self control, and we can get them anytime we want them.

Like the first way of dealing with hunger, this one leaves us feeling empty. Our bodies weren’t created for junk food — it won’t give us what we are really seeking. We need something more.

3. Eating Healthy and the Banquet

Our third response to our desire is to eat healthy for what our body needs at our stage in life. We are made for communion, both with God and with others; if we deny that we starve, and if we indulge it we get sick.

If we recognize it, though, and feed that desire in appropriate ways, we grow and become healthy. In order to do this, we need to know how to appropriately express our sexuality at different stages of our life.

The integration of our sexuality within our person that allows us to be unified body and soul is called chastity. Every person, regardless of their state of life, is called to chastity.

Chastity helps us keep our desires in check — it keeps us from starving and from eating a bunch of junk food. It is the self mastery of our soul over the body. Chastity allows us to be truly free.

So how does chastity allow us to express our longing for love and still be free from sin?

Think of the food you ate as you grew up — it looked different depending on your age. Ultimately, we are meant for a wedding banquet in our lives — this is the fulfillment of our vocation.

Sex in marriage is that wedding banquet. It is everything sex should be – it is total, free, fruitful, and faithful. It allows the total self-gift of one person to another.

Likewise, people who are called to celibacy also have a wedding banquet. They give themselves totally to God and find their happiness and fulfillment there.

But not all of us are ready for that wedding banquet — just like a young child wouldn’t eat the “grown up food” at a fancy restaurant.

Chastity requires anyone who isn’t married to abstain from sexual activity. Some days this may seem impossible, and it is impossible if we ignore our desire to seek and give love and decide to starve ourselves. We must replace sexual activity with something else.

That “something else” is called  “disinterested friendship.”  It is friendship that is not seeking self-gain, but seeks to support the other person. It is friendship that doesn’t have a sexual component, but is concerned for another person’s holiness. We can do this through loving our families and friends and through serving others.

Our longing for community can be expressed in a healthy way when we have holy friendships that are focused more on what the other person needs than on ourselves — it is like eating a lot of vegetables and fruits so we can grow strong as individuals in our relationship with God and with others before we enter the feast.

Additionally, if we know that we are waiting for something really good, we won’t mind passing on the junk food that we are offered. We know that something really good is coming. This is the difference between chastity and starvation: A person who is starving refuses food indefinitely, but a person who abstains knows that something better is coming and can wait.

Chastity As Freedom

Chastity allows us to be free. If we give in to lust and if we allow concupiscence to win the battle in our heart we become its slave.

There are many people who are slaves to their passions, who sleep around and use people. Are they really free? Those people are seeking a relationship with God and a meaningful relationship with other people, but are looking in all the wrong places. They are not finding what they seek.

Chastity allows us to find our purpose. It allows us to protect ourselves and the precious gift we can give to others. It keeps us from becoming an object and from allowing other people to become an object for us.

Chastity is our response to concupiscence. It is the way we rightly order our desires in our heart, and keep from binging on fast food or starving ourselves to death.

Chastity is also a grace; it is a gift from God. We need to ask God for it and be open to receiving it. Like many of the virtues, the more often we practice it, the more we will receive it.   Chastity isn’t simply about overcoming lust, it is about being truly free and truly fulfilled.

Break

Men's/Women's Sessions

(20 min)

Divide the teens by gender for  large group discussions. Be sure to delegate a Core Member to lead each session prior to the Life Night, and give them the  Proclaim outline and discussion questions ahead of time. The Core Member leading the session should lead an opening prayer, and then use the following questions to begin a large group discussion:

  • What makes it difficult as a man/woman to wait for the “banquet”? Is it worth waiting for? Why?
  • What are some of the “junk foods” that are temptations for men/women? How do these hurt us spiritually?
  • How do things like pornography, pre-marital sex, and masturbation destroy the intention of sex? Why are these “junk foods” so prevalent in today’s world?
  • How do we avoid starving ourselves? What kinds of positive relationships do we need to form in order to fulfill our need for community? How do we keep boundaries on those relationships? Why is it important for us to have strong relationships with people of the same gender?
  • What can we do as a community of men/women to support each other in chastity?

Prayer Partners

(10 min)

Within the men’s and women’s session meeting spaces, have the teens get into small groups of three to four teens. The Core Member leading the session should explain that we need to uphold one another in prayer, and that the men’s/women’s session is going to be closed by praying with each other. Invite each teen to  tell their small group what they need prayer for in order to live a chaste life. The other members of the small group should pray out loud for that person, asking Christ to give him or her the grace to live chastely and to seek holiness. This should be repeated for each member of the group. The Core Member leading the session should close with a final prayer.

Send

Night Recap and Hail Mary

(5 min)

Gather all of the men and women back into the main meeting space for a closing prayer. Recap the main points of the Life Night:

  • Chastity is the successful integration of sexuality within the person; it is an inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being.
  • Lust is the disordered desire for sexual pleasure, which is sought for selfish reasons outside its unifying and procreative purposes.
  • Chastity is a moral virtue, it blossoms in friendship and leads to spiritual communion.

Then, challenge the teens to continue to pray for their prayer partners over the week and to hold each other accountable in their actions. Lead the group in praying a Hail Mary and Ave Maria to close the night.

Conclusion

Adapting This Night

Combine the Proclaim and the Break for longer men’s and women’s sessions. Have a Core Member prepared to give the teaching in each session and adapt it for the specific gender. This will allow for a longer period of discussion and more focused topics.

If you are having set small groups for the semester that are all one gender, consider having these small groups pray together during the Break rather than dividing into new prayer partners.

Going Deeper

Create men’s and women’s groups that meet once per month to hold each other accountable and to pray together. This doesn’t have to be an additional youth group; the teens can meet up before a weekend Mass or go out to lunch together. Delegate a couple of Core Members to oversee these groups. This is also a great way to start a short, mid-week bible series for men and women.