The 6 Secrets That Every Young Catholic Should Know About Chastity
|By Michael Chad Shibler|
|January 14, 2016|
There is a brilliant concept called the Invincible Castle of Chastity.
If you look at the picture you will see a castle complete with towers, a keep, walls and a gate. This is the Castle of Chastity. In the center is the keep where the sublime virtue of chastity is guarded. You will note that parts of the castle are labeled. The walls and gates protect the inhabitants from the attacks of their enemies. The towers give you the ability to overcome temptation and also the means to maintain, develop and perfect the virtue of chastity.
Secret #1: Modesty
If you notice, the outer wall is labeled modesty. Modesty is the moral virtue that guards and protects chastity. The Bible tells us: “Let your modesty be known to all men” (Phil. 4:5). Let it be known to men, not hidden. This virtue is not passive, but active. We should be boldly modest and openly fight impurity. If we do not act this way, we will end up making a pact with impurity and impurity will win. Therefore, we must be more modest than the minimum standard of decency. Our modesty should shine for all men.
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Our very manner should breathe modesty as a constant reminder to those around us. St. Francis of Assisi said that we should preach at all times… and when necessary with words. Our pure and respectful manner of dressing and acting can be a constant sermon to those who look upon us. Please don't deny people this simple act of apostolate.
Sadly, some modern Catholics misunderstand modesty. They consider it a restraint imposed by Holy Mother Church to cause us discomfort on hot days. The more progressive look upon it as old fashioned, stuffy, prudish, designed to keep women "subjugated." However, modesty is nothing of the sort. It is rather our most effective protection against the attacks of the enemy. Think of the walls of our sturdy castle. Modesty is a strong barrier against the assaults of our enemies who would like to rob us of our most precious treasure -- our chastity.
Secret #2: The Gate of the Castle -- Your Eyes
Today, people say: “Don't stand out. Just fit in." Granted, the feeling of being different, of swimming against the current and facing the world at large can be daunting. But there is nothing wrong with being a "rock of scandal" after the example of Our Divine Savior (Romans 9:33).
The gate of our mighty fortress is a weak spot. The gate to the soul is controlled by our eyes. It is said that Eve first looked at the forbidden fruit and then desired it in her heart. So we first see, then we desire. Using the metaphor of the castle, our eyes represent the gate in the wall through which our enemy can make a breach in our soul. Holy Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes, that I would not so much as think upon a virgin” (Job 31:1). The pact was with his eyes to keep tempting thoughts out. He closed the gates to his enemy and lived tranquilly inside the walls of his modesty.
St. John Chrysostom notes a curious thing about Job. He was a man of God and severely persecuted by the Devil for his virtue. Yet, although Job was able to face the devil head on, as well as his friends and the rest of the world, he did not have the courage to face the illicit thought of a girl. Because when the flesh is involved, the only heroic thing to do is to flee. It is the only situation where true courage consists in retreating every time.
The prophet David, author of the Penitential Psalms, looked with lust upon a woman and thus put his soul and that of his entire kingdom at risk. It would have been so easy for him to look away, but since he did not, he became an adulterer, and then a murderer, and fell from the grace of God.
Chastity is the easiest of all the virtues to maintain when we control our eyes, but it becomes impossible to uphold when we practice it halfheartedly. Our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Bible scholars, even though it was impossible for Him to sin, always maintained custody of the eyes as an example for the rest of mankind. But He went further when He solemnly proclaimed, “If thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee having one eye to enter into life, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire” (Matt. 18:9).
Secret #3: The Tower of Humility
The first tower of our castle represents the virtue of humility. Knowledge of and distrust for oneself is the surest path to resist temptations of the flesh. We know that pride always comes before the fall. Therefore, if we practice humility, the virtue that helps us know and acknowledge the truth, we will be able to discern the subtle tricks of the devil for what they really are -- lies.
It is well to remember that God never sends us a temptation that is too great for us to confront. Generally, when we fall, it is not because we lack strength, but more commonly because we lack proper vigilance. “Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation" (Matthew 26:41) was Our Lord’s admonition to the Apostles. Many people pray, even pray a lot, but how many people watch as they ought?
Secret #4: The Tower of Mortification
The second tower represents mortification. We must mortify our soul and body. To mortify our bodies we practice penance, which, done with proper moderation, is most efficacious in combating concupiscence.
Subjugating the body, bringing it to heel and controlling the appetites are the primary reasons for penance. Fasting gives us great moral strength by conquering the insistent urgings of our lower nature and putting them in their proper place. No pain no gain. Our spiritual life improves to the degree that we embrace sacrifice. However, it is not enough to bring our bodies under control, we also have to regulate our souls. And that is where charity comes in.
"Charity covereth a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8). But can charity also prevent sins from happening in the first place? Yes. One way to fight against impurity is by doing active apostolate with others. Since sins of the flesh are by nature selfish acts, any unselfish act that we do causes the devil to lose ground. So, when tempted against chastity, first flee the thought. Then if possible, in order to harm the devil, search out a way to perform some act of apostolate. Offer to alleviate the workload of someone who is overburdened. In short, look for occasions to do good and practice charity towards others.
All this causes the devil great pain and makes him furious. It goes without saying that one should absolutely avoid doing “apostolate” with those who might drag us into sin; flee from those people with your honor intact. There are many stories about the devil using misguided “charity” to make people feel sorry for a wolf in sheep's clothing. Don't fall for it.
Secret #5: The Tower of Confession and Holy Communion
In one of his prophetic dreams, St. John Bosco asked for advice to combat the sin of impurity. The response he received: use the anvil and the hammer. Somewhat confused, he asked what it meant. The guide in the dream replied: the anvil and the hammer represent frequent and sincere Confession and frequent and devout Communion. These two gifts are represented by the third tower, a sure path to salvation.
Our Lord made it clear: "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day" (John 6:55). Now in order to receive the Blessed Sacrament with good effect, we must have a clean conscience, therefore, we must confess our sins regularly and with contrition. If the just man, as we are told in Proverbs, sins seven times a day, what can we poor sinners do who have so many more sins upon our souls, perhaps grievous ones. It is little wonder then that we are enjoined to make frequent use of the sacrament of Confession. Moreover, the effects and graces available to us when we receive Holy Communion are only limited by our capacity to accept them. The greater our receptivity is to the grace of God, the greater is the gift that the Blessed Sacrament becomes.
Secret #6: The Tower of Love of God and Our Lady
The fourth tower is love of God and Our Lady. Prayer is the raising of the heart and mind to God. Prayer fulfills our primary objective upon this earth, that of loving God. Well did Our Lord combine these two admonitions, "watch and pray."
Prayer fortifies the soul against the attacks of the enemy while watchfulness allows us to foresee insidious traps. If we occupy our minds with prayer, our hearts and minds become filled with God, leaving no room for the devil. Included in prayer is spiritual reading, contemplation of the things of God and devotion to Our Lady. True mental prayer -- not unstructured daydreaming -- is a raising of one's thoughts far above the common everyday to the contemplation of the sublime.
Our Lady, in a special way, embodies the link between the sublime and chastity. She always kept her thoughts on higher things -- so high in fact that she was able to form in her mind, inspired by the Holy Ghost, exactly how Our Divine Savior would be before He was even conceived in her womb. Is the idealization of the God-Man not something of transcendent excellence that causes our souls to be overawed by its magnificence?
Chastity is the angelic virtue that makes men like angels. Through chastity we see the higher aspects of life, the spiritual aspects. “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8).
Theologians and mystics concur that there is a special place in Heaven close to the throne of God reserved for those who maintain their chastity intact throughout their lives (Revelation 14:4). But this ability to see God extends even to those on earth. St. John the Beloved was able to recognize Our Lord long before every other Apostle after the Resurrection. It was always he who, full of wonder, exclaimed, “It is the Lord” (John 21:7).
Moreover, purity gives those who practice it a tranquility of soul and a stability in life that is a natural corollary of a clean conscience. Emotions are under control. Movements of soul are balanced and serene. Nothing perturbs him. God is in control of his life. In short, he is happy. He is content. Isn't that what we all want in life -- to be happy?
How does the impure man compare?
The impure are blind. They see not the things of God and eat of the husks of the swine. They take delight in the swinish pleasure of filth and immorality. Their days are filled with nervous energy where calm repose and simple joys have no place. Their nights are either disturbed by a guilty conscience, or they simply forgo sleep, searching for ever more excitement and frenzied pleasure. Health and general wellbeing suffer.
Seeking ever more thrills, impure people frequently engage in dangerous and unhealthy pursuits. They take drugs, hoping to attain more inordinate and frenzied levels of excitement. In the end, decay and corruption result, and finally, seeing no more pleasure on the horizon the impure one is tempted to take his own life in despair. Not everyone who is impure will reach this final stage, but doesn't the trend sound familiar? How many actors, politicians, bankers, wealthy people, and teenagers have followed this exact trajectory? The devil would want everyone to follow this path to destruction and eternal death.
If we are going to fight impurity and attack its root causes we should expect to be persecuted. But do not be surprised. St. John's Gospel is clear: “If the world hate thee, know that it hath hated me before thee. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of this world but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute thee” (John 15:18-23). These are the words of Our Divine Savior to His followers. We are His followers. He does not promise a bed of roses. He promises anguish, suffering, hatred and the complete abandonment by the world. And we should never hide the reality of the Cross from those who want to follow Christ.
In the words of Professor Plinio Correa de Oliveira, “Do you really think in these times of iniquity that the sacred words of Christ cannot be applied to us? What kind of misguided charity would dull the word of God on our lips, turning the regenerating scourge of peoples into an innocuous weapon whose missing edge expresses timidity rather than zeal.”
Listen then to these inspired words of St. James: “Adulterers know ye not that the friendship of this world is the enemy of God? Whosoever therefore will be the friend of this world becometh the enemy of God" (James 4:4-5).
Holy Scripture is replete with condemnations of the world, the flesh and especially the devil. “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness" (Ephesians 6:10-20).
Our battle is against the devil and his fallen legions, creatures much more intelligent and powerful than we are. Can we face them? Alone, not a chance. But with Our Blessed Mother who crushed with her virginal foot the head of the dragon, we are assured certain victory. Therefore be of good heart.
Holy chastity, understood and practiced, will undermine the rottenness of sensuality. In a world where vice and sin are everywhere the norm, we must, with the help of the most Blessed Mother of God, resist and overcome. We must stop fighting a defensive battle and launch a mighty Crusade of ideals, prayer and action against the world, the flesh and the devil.
The Reign of Christ and His Blessed Mother will not be constructed upon the rotten foundations of pride and immorality. The angelic virtue of chastity is key to overthrow our wayward culture. Let us then subjugate our bodies and fashion our spirits in conformity with the doctrine and teachings of Holy Mother Church throughout the ages, so that we may be a strong foundation for the coming Reign of Mary foretold by the fiery Saint Louis de Montfort. And if we have previously failed, let us be those prodigal sons, beating our breast and weeping at the feet of Mary Most Holy for our sins, begging her to restore our souls to that snow white, pristine condition which we all enjoyed at Baptism.