Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Universal Call to Chastity

We are all called to live a chaste life.  That’s right; not just priests and religious, but all of us.  Falling under the cardinal virtue of temperance, “which seeks to permeate the passions and appetites of the senses with reason,” chastity applies this virtue to our human sexuality.  It is not the same thing as celibacy or abstinence, but refers to the, “successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being.  It involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift.”  Our sexuality is a gift we freely choose to give over to God in the consecrated or ordained life, or to God through our spouse in the married life. 

This form of self control is a, “long and exacting work. One can never consider it acquired once and for all. It presupposes renewed effort at all stages of life. It can be more intense in certain periods, such as when the personality is being formed during childhood and adolescence.”  Like all of the virtues, we work on, fail at, go to confession for, resolve to do better at chastity, all of our life.  We assist ourselves in this pursuit through frequent reception of the Sacraments and fidelity to prayer. 

St. Augustine said, "Indeed it is through chastity that we are gathered together and led back to the unity from which we were fragmented into multiplicity." Without living chastity, our lives become “fragmented”, disconnected, duplicitous, a mess.  On the contrary a person living chastity by the grace of God, is, “training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.”  What our culture promotes as “freedom” is actually only a dark shadow of freedom, called “license”.  Freedom is the ability to do what is best for us, what we should do.  License leads only to enslavement to our passions, and to doing, as St. Paul said, not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (Rom. 7:19) 

As usual, the Church wants what is best for us, a true understanding, integration and enjoyment of God’s gift of our sexuality.  The world tries to sell us a cheap imitation (the words “dumpster diving” come to mind).  Chastity is a way we honor our own and others’ dignity.  It is a facet of our lives, most beautiful, and most easily scarred.  Protect it as you would any other precious gem.  But don’t forget, God can polish any “scratch” in His confessional.

All quotes are from the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2337-2345, which is definitely worth a read. www. Chastity.Com is also a great source of information.

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