You have been following the Vices and Virtues Series here at comshalom.org. We have already talked about the signs of the presence of a vice called impurity, but also known as lust. Today we will talk about the virtue of chastity and the remedy to fight the temptations of lust in ourselves.
But what is chastity?
Chastity is, along with poverty and obedience, an evangelical council. Christ himself kept his chastity throughout his entire life for the love of humanity.
A chaste man or woman is the one who has an undivided heart, that is, who is not fragmented by sin. With their whole heart they place themselves completely in union with God and follow his teachings as set out in the old and new testament.
We are inspired by Gods never ending love and mercy. God’s love also guides us in our thoughts, actions and continues to shine as a beacon of light for us even in our darkest moments.
The remedy against lust
Chastity exists in relationships. We can clearly see that we already have this in our relationships with our God, friends and family but we must strive to retain this virtue in all aspects of our lives and ensure it remains a central feature in any of our future relationships we may have in our lifetime.
We refer briefly to chastity in the book “Virtues: the path of imitation of Christ“, in which we affirm:
“Chastity unifies again, it heals the inner division generated by sin. (Virtues: the path of imitation of Christ, chapter 7)1.
Chastity can be lived in continence, in the case of sinners and celibates, and in the conjugal relationship, in the case of married people.
As the Catechism teaches, “sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage, the corporal intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Among the baptized, the bonds of marriage are sanctified by the sacrament” (CCC 2360).
Within the conjugal relationship, pleasure is not banished, but is welcomed as the fruit of the union of love:
“The acts by which the spouses unite intimately and chastely are honest and dignified; carried out in an authentically human way, they express and nourish the mutual self-giving by which they enrich each other with joy and gratitude. Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure: it was the Creator himself who established that, in this function of generation, the spouses should experience pleasure and satisfaction of body and spirit. Therefore, the spouses do nothing wrong in seeking this pleasure and enjoying it. They accept what the Creator has destined for them. However, they must know how to remain within the limits of just moderation”. (CCC 2362)
Tips for growing in the Virtue of Chastity
1 – Prayer: St. Augustine is clear in his Confessions when he says that it is only possible to live chastely by divine grace. Prayer is that place where we allow ourselves to be transformed by grace, so that only with a life of prayer is it possible to live chastely.
2 – Escape from occasions of sin: here we are not talking about a position of fear, but of prudence. In the book “Virtues: a path of imitation of Christ” we dedicated a whole chapter to reflection on prudence. Fleeing from occasions of sin requires being attentive to objective reality, analyzing whether the situation will collaborate with my experience of chastity and, if not, renouncing it. Nothing that threatens this virtue can be good, so that nothing can be so good that it makes it worthwhile to lose having an undivided heart and being united to God.
3 – Mortification: small renunciations educate our will to be able to submit our instincts and passions to reason. It is worth making small sacrifices often. It is a matter of contradicting our will in order to strengthen it, so that when we are faced with the possibility of sinning, we may be strong enough (with God’s grace) to say no to sin.
4 – Deepening of deep convictions about Christian values: it is salutary to constantly renew our option to live the Gospel through good readings, sacramental life, human and spiritual formation, retreats, etc. Our memory is weak, so it is important to always keep alive our convictions regarding our moral values, so that in times of temptation, we do not forget why we chose what we did. This is not about ‘remembering the rule’, it is about renewing the experience and deepening our knowledge of Jesus, the reason why we say yes to living chastely.
5 – Making radical choices for the experience of chastity: there are moments in life when we are placed between two opposite choices. When it comes to the values of the Gospel, we must not hesitate to always choose the will of God. If there are places that leave us prone to sin against chastity, it is good to stop going there; if there are relationships that make us fall, then it is better to distance ourselves; if there are moments that lead us to sin, we must avoid them. Sin ruptures our relationship with God, and every time we sin we make a radical choice in this sense. Perhaps it is time to make equally radical choices for good, for God, for chastity.
May the Lord give us the grace to be more and more like Him, pure and blameless.
Translation: Sérgio Godoy Jr.
¹ LÉNIZ, Juan José. Virtudes: caminho de imitação de Cristo. Edições Shalom, 2020.