"Purity makes possible clarity of the intellect and strength of the will."
Previously, I posted a sermon on St. Bernardine and Holy Chastity and Purity. Also, I mentioned that I wanted to make a few comments regarding the sermon to exhort further my friends on the topics. And while this blog is open to the public, I will address whoever ends up reading this as if you were my own, dear friends for some time. Many of my friends may already be living in the spirit of holy chastity, but since the subject is hardly ever discussed at all despite the fact that our culture is directly opposed to it, I think it's good discuss it here.
One could be chaste, but not in the full sense. The interior life must mirror the exterior habits, otherwise, eventually the exterior habits will be compromised, because sin begins with a thought. Therefore, for one to live chastely according to one's state, the spirit of chastity must be embraced. Marriage, for example, is not an excuse to not abide in the spirit of chastity. The spirit of chastity is of God, as it is of the gift of holy purity. If a person abhors chastity as a hardship, they will find marriage very difficult, to say the least. We are meant to prefer in our hearts those things that are of grace, the gifts that are of God imparting Himself to us, over all the creatures of the earth. If we find ourselves called to the state of holy marriage, we should still have holy chastity as something to obtain as great a degree as possible according to our state and constantly.
Some of the common pitfalls even among Catholics where the spirit of the world leads a soul rather than the spirit of chastity are:
1.) All forms of music, art, other entertainment that, although it is not diametrically opposed to the spirit of chastity, it celebrates more the selfish motivations of vanity/ego, and the lesser passions over the will. Rock and pop music, at its very essence, deliberately seeks to accomplish this. Even such music with lyrics that are intended to be reverential to God, fall short because of the underlying means is to celebrate Self, yet in the name of worship to God.
2.) Absence of the mortification of the sense of taste. While a person may even pride themself on fasting once a week, and/or doing the minimum of abstaining from meat on Fridays (according to the norm Church requirements), they may always wish to have their food seasoned and prepared in such a manner that it is most pleasing to their tastes. This is one of the Deadly Sins, although it doesn't have to do with portions, yet it is gluttony all the same. The stronger the resistance to mortification of the tongue, the weaker the resistance of the wounds of concupisence. While it is ok to enjoy your food occasionally, it should hardly be the rule for every meal.
There should be times when we celebrate God and His goodness sharing with us an abundance of necessary goods, such as food. Such celebrations, however, should be done well, but directed in our hearts first out of love and gratitude to God above all creation. The love of the spirit of mortification is also opposed to immoderation or scrupulosity. For example, the sick and dying may benefit from a carefully prepared meal to one's taste because the tastes or desire to eat at all may very well be diminished, and it is prudent in such situations to coax the patient to eat.
Everything in moderation! We cannot expect to mortify our senses to the degree held by saints who lived on Holy Communion and water alone. However, we can offer up, for example, 2 to 3 of 3 meals each day, and/or have Sunday and Holy Days, and other public celebrations as exceptions. The key is to be humble about it, and desire more to grow in virtue in order to more readily chose and execute the will of God as He wills it, as this practice strengthens the will.
2. b.) Mortification can be denying anything that is licit, yet not necessary to doing the Holy Will of God. First and foremost, mortification of the taste must be acknowledged, as it is closely linked to the wounds of concupisence. There are many other things that we can abstain from, however, which may be useful to purifying our will.
A gentleman might abstain from having company or a meal at a restaurant, and rather, do the opposite of his whim, and remain alone at home. You might say, "What is the point of that?" The point is that while it is not a bad thing to have lunch with a friend, if always you choose for yourself what is most desireable to yourself, how then will your desires be quieted enough ever to hear the Voice of God? Not only would you eventually not be able to act upon His Holy Will, but His voice will become as if it were silent to you. Instead, it will become drowned out by your own will's voice, prefacing each thought with, "I want..." or "I will..." or even, "What do I want?" And while this may not always show to be devisive against the lower passions, it contributes to their weakness all the while it weakens the will's desire to please God on the whole. "Sacrifice," as The Little Flower of Jesus, St. Therese, had said, "teaches the heart to love." Since love is an act of the will, what love could one spare who so frequently did his own will and was careless in not desiring to discern the Will of God in day to day matters? While a person might frequently confuse zealousness for love and say, "I am willing to DIE for the holy Faith!" would our Lord choose such a foolhardy soul for so great an honor as martyrdom? Answer: Probably not, as long as the little battles are hardly attempted let alone won, such a crown will never be presented. We must will first to die to ourselves, since it is hear where an even greater battle. "How could this be?" you may ask, when so many modernist apologists of the day would have you believe that our first objective as Christians is to evangelize. This activism mentality will do your soul no good. Also, all the knowledge, even theological scholarship will do no good to get you to heaven, unless you put first, God's will in the forefront of your mind, heart and actions. Our primary concern should be to love God by desiring conformity to His Will.
(Another recommended reading: THE STORY OF A SOUL)
3.) Always trying to will what God gives you.
One thing I've noticed is that those people with the greatest amount of holy purity always seem to make the largest impression on me. I've noticed also, that others who strive to be devout Catholics express the same. It seems that those who have deliberately done the most to put God first in their hearts have a greater capacity to love. But of course, this stands to reason, since God is Love Itself, the source of all love. This reasoning goes against the new age thinking, that puts humanity at the center, even so far as to claiming that the highest good is what man can do for man, rather than the highest good being God Himself (the heresy of immanentism). Those friends or even acquaintances, even those with whom we may have lost contact, or who have since passed from this world, who loved God to the degree that they embraced holy purity, seem to leave indelible impressions on hearts that (at least) aim to seek God alone. Perhaps, it is Christ's love that we recognize in others, by grace, that leaves such lasting impressions.
In memory and dedication to Daniel Ziglinksi +,
who although having left this world on the vigil of the Ascension, May 15, 2010,
remains in memories held by his friends and families, and many countless other hearts he touched.
May the memory of his desire to seek and please God continue to be an inspiration to us to seek