Puritas Cordis – a conference on chastity and community

“The Domestic Church” ✠Jerome Lloyd OSJV resumes his reflections and suggestions for orthodox Catholics on how to respond to the challenges of the 21stC in the world and in the Church.

In this episode… “Purity of heart” communion as witness……

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So, lets recap briefly…

Episode 1 Beate mundo corde blest are the pure in heart

God is love and that love which binds the Trinity in Unity is made manifest in Creation

Thus, we are extensions of God’s love – created in His love, to share in His love and to become His love

His love should reside in our hearts, influence our minds, and direct our behavior

Episode 2 Sal terrae salt of the earth

That rather than judging others in sin we are to have compassion for them, loving them to righteousness

Just as Jesus, having compassion for our human condition, loved us to death on the Cross for our redemption – not losing our “savor” for the sake of our Savior!

So then should we love one another as Jesus loves us

Episode 3 Vos estis lux mundi you are the light of the world

By radiating the brightness of Christ’s Truth into our world of confusion and ignorance

Living CHRISTIAN lives bearing testimony to the restoration to perfection begun in our salvation

Proving that CHANGE – even radical change – IS possible and true happiness

Episode 4 verbum reconciliationis the word of reconciliation 2 Cor 5:17-20

We reflected on what it means to be an ambassador of Christ – that as Christians we have a mission to speak words of reconciliation to the world – to speak the truth of the Gospel which is the objective truth, the reality of things – seeing through the eyes of Faith we can perceive the reality of the state and condition of the world around us.

[17] If then any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away, behold all things are made new. Si qua ergo in Christo nova creatura, vetera transierunt: ecce facta sunt omnia nova.

[18] But all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Christ; and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. Omnia autem ex Deo, qui nos reconciliavit sibi per Christum: et dedit nobis ministerium reconciliationis,

[19] For God indeed was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their sins; and he hath placed in us the word of reconciliation. quoniam quidem Deus erat in Christo mundum reconcilians sibi, non reputans illis delicta ipsorum, et posuit in nobis verbum reconciliationis.

[20] For Christ therefore we are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by us. For Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God. Pro Christo ergo legatione fungimur, tamquam Deo exhortante per nos. Obsecramus pro Christo, reconciliamini Deo.

EPISODE 5 Cogito, ergo sum – I think therefore I am

St Paul prayed a powerful prayer for the Ephesian Christians — a prayer I encourage you to pray for yourself and your loved ones:

[18] illuminatos oculos cordis vestri, ut sciatis quae sit spes vocationis ejus, et quae divitiae gloriae haereditatis ejus in sanctis, [19] et quae sit supereminens magnitudo virtutis ejus in nos, qui credimus secundum operationem potentiae virtutis ejus,

[Ephesians 1:18-19]

[18] The eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what the hope is of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. [19] And what is the exceeding greatness of His power towards us, who believe according to the operation of the might of His power, [Ephesians 1:18-19]

There’s an important principle here, for in order for faith to rise in your life, you need to have the eyes of your heart enlightened to God’s calling and “the surpassing greatness of His power.” When you see things through the eyes of faith, God always is bigger than your problems. Fear, anxiety, and hopelessness melt away in the light of His glory.

Episode 6 Puritas Cordis – a pure heart

Reclaiming Chastity: Why Traditional Christian Values Are More Relevant Than Ever!

As I’ve discussed in previous episodes, there’s no need for us necessarily to engage in polemical arguments with ever-changing terminology and definitions when engaged with Christian, traditional Catholic apologetics. The fact remains, there are timeless principles that can be applied to our lives today, and the concept of chastity is a prime example.

Chastity is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the quality or state of being chaste; especially: abstention from unlawful sexual intercourse.” It’s a virtue that has been taught and practiced by many religions, including Christianity, for centuries. In traditional Christian teaching, chastity is seen as an act of self-control that helps us to honour God and respect ourselves and others.

Despite its historical and religious roots, chastity has become increasingly unpopular in today’s culture. We live in a world where premarital sex is not only accepted but expected; where abstinence is often seen as outdated and prudish; and where casual sex has become the norm. Even within the Church, some argue that chastity is no longer relevant or necessary in our modern age.

However, I was raised in a traditional Christian home, where chastity was an important value. We were taught that abstaining from sexual activity outside of marriage was the only way to lead a truly fulfilled life. As I grew older I began to question this value. I wondered why it was so important to the church, and why it seemed to be on the decline in modern society. As I studied more about the idea of chastity and the teachings of the Catholic Church, I began to realize that my upbringing was right.

Traditional Christian values of chastity are more relevant than ever, and I believe it is time for us to reclaim this important value.

Especially in the present time, when it seems like anything goes, we should take the time to re-evaluate our values and make sure that they still align with our beliefs. Chastity is a fundamental part of the Christian faith, and it has been for centuries. By abstaining from sexual activity outside of marriage, we are honouring God’s commandment that sex is reserved for marriage. This helps us to protect ourselves and our partners from potential physical, emotional, and spiritual harm.

In addition to protecting ourselves from harm, living chastely also allows us to focus on other important aspects of life such as developing healthy relationships and pursuing meaningful work. When we are not distracted by sexual temptations or activities, we can focus on our goals and dreams without worrying about the consequences of engaging in promiscuous behaviour. This can lead to greater fulfilment in life as well as better relationships with those around us.

Living a chaste lifestyle helps us to develop a closer relationship with God. The desire to have some experience with God is widespread. Many persons of all ages have a genuine yearning for communion with the spiritual world.  Some people read religious texts to gain a greater understanding of spiritual things, while others take courses in meditation or to obtain a deeper insight into their own emotions.

Some people believe that living a chaste life is the best way to approach God. It may be the best way to protect oneself from harm, from the consequences of promiscuous behaviour, and from any amount of harm that may be caused by social media. It may be the best way to approach themselves and build a closer relationship with God.

Puritas Cordis – purity of heart – to live in allegiance to Jesus Christ and embrace his Gospel is the supreme norm of our lives. Christians understand their lives to be influenced by the power of his Spirit, enabling each to discover the call of the divine to live together in mutual service of one another and of all people. The Christian’s entire life should be characterized by an intense search for God with total adherence to the teachings of Christ. This requires one to be transformed in Christ – a continual process of conversion. Living with this ideal at the forefront, the Christian cooperates in God’s plan and, each utilizing his or her own gifts, finds expression in fraternal life and apostolic zeal. This process of detachment or emptying leads to union with God – the ultimate goal of all human growth. We use expressions such as “purity of heart” (puritas cordis) or “total availability to God” (vacare Deo) and realise them in the physical, conceptual and moral aspects of our lives.

What is Chastity?

Chastity is the practice of refraining from sexual activity outside of the confines of marriage. It is a virtue that has been emphasized in the Christian tradition for centuries. Chastity is seen as a moral obligation and a necessary part of living a fulfilled and meaningful life. It is seen as a necessary practice for those who wish to live a life of holiness and devotion to God. Many people in modern society view chastity as an outdated and rigid moral code, but I believe this is a misunderstanding of its true purpose. Chastity is not about repression or denial; it is about self-control and discipline. It is a practice that can bring incredible spiritual and physical benefits.

As we’ve reflected previously in this series, by our baptism we are “made holy” – blessed, sanctified and set apart by and for God. Holiness is not a state of being, but being in the presence of “Him Who is all holy” God. At the moment of our baptism we were the closest to God it’s possible to be this side of death! likewise, it should be our hope that at the moment of Holy Communion we are likewise in a similar state of grace, and hence the need for us to prepare ourselves properly for Mass, that we are not condemned by receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord unworthily.

Far too many Christians sadly are ignorant of the dimension of grace and its outpouring and outworking in our lives. It is a gift from God, yes, and it is freely given, but only to those who actively seek, ask and are receptive to it. It’s simply not enough to assume that our baptism is enough – every time we sin we put ourselves out of the presence of God, and so we need to be reconciled to Him for us to receive the fullness of His grace.

The practice of fasting is one way that we can prepare ourselves for Communion. Fasting is a means by which we can “empty ourselves” – removing all worldly desires and distractions – and make room for God in our lives. It’s not just about abstaining from food, but also external influences such as television, the internet, gaming etc. We should also take time each day to reflect upon the Lord’s Word and pray for strength, guidance and mercy.

When we fast, it is important to remember that our fast does not have to be long or arduous – it simply needs to be done with a spirit of humility and reverence towards God. We should also be mindful that fasting isn’t just about depriving ourselves of something; rather it is about focusing on the Lord and allowing Him to fill us with His love, with His grace. In this season of Advent, like Lent, fasting is about preparing ourselves to feast! So our deprivation is not forever, only a relatively short time, but done well can be extremely effective for our spiritual lives and our personal lives generally.

The Catholic Church’s Teachings on Chastity

The Catholic Church has long emphasized the importance of chastity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being” (CCC 2337). The Church teaches that sexual activity outside of marriage is a grave sin and that individuals must practice self-control and moderation to lead a truly fulfilled life. The Church also emphasizes the importance of consent in sexual relationships. The Catechism states that “consent to sexual activity must be freely given” (CCC 2351). The Church condemns sexual assault, rape, and any form of sexual coercion. In addition, the Catholic Church emphasizes the importance of using natural methods of family planning rather than artificial contraception. This is in keeping with the Church’s belief that every sexual act must be open to the possibility of procreation.

As St Bernard said of chastity, “Chastity is the safeguard of honour. It is the blossom of purity, the observance of temperance, and the bond of love.” Chastity is a virtue that should be cultivated in all aspects of life, and it requires both self-control and respect for others to be practised effectively. As St Augustine said, “Chastity is the lily of virtues, it adorns all others.” And as St Thomas Aquinas says, “Virtue is the habit of doing good” (ST II-II, Q. 65, A. 2). The practice of virtue is not just about our good then, but also about our ability to love and serve others. For our faith is about incarnating communion with God, and that means with each other too!

The practice of chastity is not just about ourselves – for sure, we are the ones who must manifest it – but the effect is not just for ourselves, not just for our good. If everyone unmarried, practised chastity our society would be, far from fraught and repressed like most people think, respectful and honouring of the other. For chastity as a virtue inclining us to the good, our motivations would be rightly ordered, not focused on the instinct of our base passions towards the other’s superficial and physical attractiveness, but instead seeing them first and foremost as a person created by God, loved by Him and called into relationship with Him.

For we should relate to each other in terms of our respective relational aspects with God; first recognising that every person brought into this world is purposed by God; second that He desires their ultimate good, which is defined by His commandments and Christ’s teachings; and thirdly that He desires them to know Him in this life and be with Him in the next. This should be our first thought when regarding another person! What we want or desire from them should be less than even a secondary consideration – the first is God’s! This is why the first commandment of the decalogue and of the summary of the law, places God first in our mindset – for everything is about His Will, not ours.

The Benefits of Chastity

Chastity is a practice that can bring incredible spiritual, physical, and mental benefits. First and foremost, it can bring a sense of peace and joy to those who practice it. Imagine a calm mind, a quieted conscience, unburdened with the preoccupations of finding love and satisfying base passions from using and abusing others! Consider how such a freed mind would be able to energetically engage with charitable and honourable pursuits in virtue, seeking the good of others!

Let’s be frank, the vast majority of people, trained by the world with romantic notions of love and physical interaction, are obsessed with thoughts of possession and abuse of each other. Chastity, however, encourages us to look beyond the physical and to seek out a deeper connection with other people. We can learn to appreciate beauty in its many forms without succumbing to the temptation of exploiting it for our selfish desires.

Abstaining from sexual activity outside of marriage can help individuals to focus on their relationship with God, and can bring a sense of spiritual fulfilment. After all, seeing and appreciating others as God sees them, should change our whole approach, attitude and regard for them, this is how Jesus saw those He interacted with in His incarnation. Though He had the added perspective Divinity brings i.e. He could see their hearts, which is why He admonishes us not to judge others, because we can’t! Chastity is Christ-like and that is the purpose of our lives as Christians, to become more like Jesus!

In addition, practising chastity can bring physical benefits. Studies have shown that those who abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage are much less likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases. Furthermore, practising chastity can reduce the risk of pregnancy and can help individuals to avoid the risks associated with unprotected sex. By refraining from sexual activity, we can conserve energy and focus our efforts on other pursuits – such as exercise, education or even just relaxation!

Finally, chastity can bring mental health benefits. Studies have shown that those who practice chastity are less likely to experience feelings of guilt or shame associated with sexual activity outside of marriage. By abstaining from sexual activity we can reduce stress levels and maintain a clearer focus on our goals in life. We can also gain greater self-control over our impulses and desires – allowing us to make more rational decisions in difficult situations. Furthermore, those who practice chastity are more likely to have healthier relationships and avoid the emotional turmoil that can arise from sexual relationships outside of marriage.

Reclaiming Chastity in the 21st Century

In an increasingly secular society, the practice of chastity is often seen as outdated and irrelevant. However, I believe that it is more important than ever for Christians to reclaim this important value. By embracing chastity, we can find true fulfilment and joy in our lives and can avoid the physical, mental, and spiritual risks associated with sexual activity outside of marriage.

This is especially important for our young people who more and more are being deliberately targeted through indoctrination in our schools by activist proponents of the contemporary zeitgeist. We need to provide our children with a strong moral foundation, and by teaching them the value of chastity we can help them develop healthier attitudes towards sex and relationships to counter what they are being invited to explore and experiment by contemporary pedagogical practice.

Innocence – which does not mean ignorance – is under attack, the childhood of our young is being destroyed by the introduction of ideas and concepts that are just not suitable for their age. Manipulating their natural curiosity to encourage dangerous practices that can affect their bodies and harmful concepts that will affect their souls. As we’ve reflected previously, the impressionability of young minds is such that, they are extremely vulnerable to suggestion – most abuse of minors occurs because of the emotional manipulation of the young person’s mind and emotions, playing on the fact that they are unfamiliar with the concept of sexual deviancy and thus of what is right or wrong.

Perversely, justification of the new approach to informing children about sex and sexuality claims it’s “for their protection” so that they can know what’s right and wrong… but all this does is introduce knowledge to them they can’t properly process and may distress or worse, disturb them. Research among addicts shows that the average age of introduction to pornography and subsequently addiction or compulsive behaviour is just 8 years old. Resulting in a marked dissociation of sex from friendship, affection, caring and other normal healthy emotions and traits which help marital relationships. Introducing the concept of sex and sexual imagery and intimacy in immaturity leads to an inability to mature into healthy attitudes in later adult life.

We’ve seen an exponential rise in divorce, unwanted pregnancies and broken homes since the 1960s and the “sexual revolution” and it’s not difficult to see why. The attitudes of the time have been passed down to the next generations and there is now a culture of casual sex, promiscuity and a lack of respect for marriage and intimate relationships, all of which are linked to the early introduction of sexual knowledge.

It’s time to take responsibility for our youth and to ensure that they are protected from being exposed too early to the concept of sex. We must ensure that they are allowed to grow into adulthood with healthy attitudes towards sex, marriage and relationships by keeping them in a safe environment where they can mature at their own pace.

That’s not to say there isn’t a need to educate children about physical intimacy at an appropriate level of maturity, the proper appreciation, regard and respect for other people, and indeed the nature of committed relationships, especially marriage. It would serve our children better to teach them the complementarity of the sexes, the benefits of monogamy and emotional stability and the importance of communication and intimacy in relationships. But of course, this would go against the zeitgeist of social experimentation and promiscuity.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that sex education should not equal the promotion of promiscuity or the encouragement of casual sex. Rather, it is about providing young people with the knowledge and tools they need to make informed decisions about their sexual health and relationships.

Ultimately, the choice to practice chastity is an individual one – but by embracing this ancient virtue we can benefit greatly in our physical, mental, and spiritual lives.

Examples of Chaste Living in the 21st Century

Though it may seem old-fashioned, there are many examples of people living chaste lifestyles in the 21st century. Many Christians choose to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage and to use natural methods of family planning. Many individuals choose to remain celibate and devote their lives to God and service. These individuals are an example of the power of chastity, and how it can bring true fulfilment and joy to our lives.

These individuals are not just avowed celibate sacred ministers, monks, nuns and religious brothers and sisters. More people are embracing the concept of “private vows” i.e. choosing to promise themselves to chastity or celibacy in the world rather than away from it.

For all the Christian faithful, life in union with God is lived out by receiving His grace through the sacraments and striving to fulfil His primary precept, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength, and with thy whole mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” (Luke 10:27). The secondary precepts, the ten commandments, are the necessary means to fulfil the primary one. However, ordinarily, a person cannot fulfil the primary precept by these means only. While it is possible to remain in grace by refraining from mortal sin and observing common justice, which are the minimum requirements of the spiritual life, additional means are required if one would want to advance towards perfection, striving to fulfil our Lord’s command “to be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt 5:48) Therefore, those desiring greater union with God strive to imitate His Son’s life more closely. They commit themselves by sacred bonds, such as vows or promises, to practice a greater detachment from earthly goods, to remain celibate, and to be obedient to the Father in all aspects of their life. Jesus Himself counselled all to imitate Him in this manner. Traditionally known as the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, they are typically adhered to in institutes of consecrated life.

In the holy Gospels, Jesus teaches us about these counsels and their universal nature. “What I say to you, I say to all” (Mk 13:37). He invites all to a greater detachment from earthly goods when He says, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” (Mt. 19:21)

For the sake of perfect chastity, He invites all to follow Him in living a celibate life, “there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (Matt 19:12)

St. Paul also counselled celibacy when he said, “ I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about … how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. . . .I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord. (I Cor. 7: 32-35)

In being chaste and detached, one can now more easily respond to Jesus’ challenge to follow Him in being perfectly obedient to God the Father. “Come, follow me.” (Mt. 19:21)

A vow indicates a binding to do or omit some particular thing. It firmly fixes one’s will in a deep resolve to carry out an action or to live one’s entire life in a certain way. It gives strength to one’s will in forming virtuous habits. Thus, for those who come to understand that there is no greater good than God, it’s reasonable that one would want to make use of all the means available, including vows, in order to possess Him always, with an undivided heart.

To follow the counsels through vows obliges one to give himself to God. Therefore, unfaithfulness to one’s vows would be an injustice towards God. Faithfulness towards one’s vows is known as practising the virtue of religion, giving to God what is due to Him.

The evangelical counsels are not commandments of God. Ordinarily, one is free to follow them or not. To follow them by means of a vow is to form habits that are better for personal sanctification. All those, therefore, who have received and accepted the grace to follow our Lord’s counsels, but who have remained in the world, are known as consecrated laity. But such is a vocation not necessarily meant for, let alone given to, all unmarried Christians.

How to Reclaim Chastity in Your Own Life

If you are looking to reclaim chastity in your own life, the first step is to commit to abstaining from sexual activity outside of marriage. This can be a difficult step, but it is an important one. It is also important to commit to using natural methods of family planning rather than artificial contraception. Finally, it is important to practice self-control and moderation in all areas of life, and to practice the virtues of temperance, purity, and holiness.

All Christians are called to live a chaste life who are not married. Because of their baptism, all Christians are called to live a life in the pursuit of holiness i.e. in the pursuit of experiencing communion with God, living in His presence in this life – not just in the next! The fellowship of the Church, the communion of the people of God, reflecting the charity that binds the Trinity in unity, are to manifest that same charity with each other here on earth. In this charity is communion realised with God and each other.

Remember that in the Mass we always begin with a communal confession, harking back to the time when the Early Christians would confess to each other before the assembly their faults and failings, why? Because when we Christians sin, we offend not only God but all those who are of Him and in Him, through Our Lord Jesus Christ in Whose mystical body we were incorporated by our baptism. Again, as we’ve reflected before in this series, the Christian life is not and can never be lived “alone” – for even the stylites and hermits enjoy the constant company of their guardian angels and the company of God, living in His Presence.

So the same is true for us all, we experience the Christian life communally – it is impossible to experience it truly in any other way – and we live then for each other, charity i.e. the love of God, which is by its very nature sacrificial, self-emptying as exampled ultimately by Christ on the Cross. So we are all called as Christians to live sacrificially not just for God, but for each other. Realising God’s will for each other i.e. the ultimate good of the other. This is humanity rightly ordered, i.e. restored as God had originally intended it to be experienced. This is why as a species we humans are socially orientated, to live in social groups; the family, the neighbour, the local community, the wider society, the nation, etc. All this is truly “natural” and why the Church herself is understood and realised in communion – fellowship.

This is the very antithesis of the worldly zeitgeist, particularly today, that places consideration of the self over and above anyone and anything else. This has corrupted humanity to think in and so to act in selfish ways – this is where wars, conflict, racism and xenophobia come from – a corruption of the notion of communion, of community – pitting one nation over another. But also of course too, in the way people regard others today – no longer differentiated just by borders, but by cultures, by ethnicity, by language, by lifestyle, by the pursuit of selfish interests over others. It’s so bad today that we no longer just war with other nations but among ourselves – no longer just between tribes but between persons, fighting over identity itself!

As Christians, we should have no sense of identity other than in Christ! To become like Jesus IS the whole point of our faith.  It is not to be like any other person, group, nation or culture – but to be like Jesus. To think like Jesus and to act like Jesus. To love as Jesus loves and to serve as Jesus serves. It’s all about communion – fellowship – it’s all about relationship – it’s all about being in harmony with God, with one another and with creation itself!

Identity politics is a damning indictment of our modern age, preventing people from exploring and discovering their true selves as children of God, by focusing only on “what” they are rather than “who” they are.  To truly experience the freedom and peace that comes with being in the right relationship with God, we must reject identity politics and instead embrace a Kingdom Identity in Christ. It doesn’t matter whether we have same-sex attraction, are born even with innate predispositions, different physical attributes or different abilities, or whether we are rich or poor, male or female, black or white. What matters is that we are all loved by God and accepted in Christ.  This is our true identity – the only one that matters.

So let us reject the spirit of the age and embrace instead the spirit of God which is found in communion; fellowship; relationship; love; service; unity; peace; justice and joy! Let us make sure that our identity is found solely in Christ, for then we will truly live in harmony with God and with one another.

All the worldly behaviour and attitudes so many Christians live are the opposite of charity and thus also of chastity, properly understood to mean the sacrifice of self for the ultimate good of the other and thus of God. So to be chaste is to manifest communion, to manifest community – to protect and preserve the special communion that is marriage, that itself is not just between the couple concerned, but between them with God – and by extension to preserve and protect the family, another communion – and then by extension the whole community – sacrificing individual selfishness for the peace of all. This is the principle underlying the Ten Commandments – the preservation of communion with God and with each other – which of course Our Lord summarised as “love God and love neighbour”.

The Role of the Church in Promoting Chastity

The Church has an important role to play in promoting chastity in modern society. The Church must teach its members about the importance of chastity and provide guidance and support to those who are struggling to live a chaste life. The Church should also work to combat the culture of sexual promiscuity that is so prevalent in our society today.

It is a responsibility that we share in communion – communally, together – not just those who are “official” representatives of the Church e.g. clergy and religious, but ALL who claim to live not for themselves but for Christ in them. Just because we are unmarried, just because we don’t have children, does not negate us from sharing in the burden of responsibility to seek the common and ultimate good of all. We should take our cooperation and participation in society seriously, not as citizens enjoying liberty – but as children of God desiring the ultimate good for everyone.

This means, yes, engaging with the world around us – not succumbing to it, not adopting worldly values and ideologies – but challenging them when necessary to shape a society that reflects God’s kingdom and His values. We no longer live in Christendom – we live in a post-modern, post-Christian society – yes, we are citizens as the world understands liberty, we who are fortunate to live in democracies – so we should use that liberty and so-called “rights” to refashion and reshape our societies to once again reflect Judaeo-Christian values. Remember that the liberty of today’s politics is not the principle of freedom granted to those who live in and for God, rather it is a corruption of that principle moulded to look like a society of and for the common good – but there is no good without God! Look at the so-called socialist states – not one of them operates for the good of its citizens whatever its constitution says!

So we should engage in politics, public debate, and difficult conversations with colleagues, friends and family. Remembering that we desire their ultimate good – God – to realise that restoration in Christ is the good news of the Gospel. It doesn’t matter that such may never be realised in our lifetimes, nor our children’s lifetimes – if ever – what we should be concerned with is realising here on earth the kingdom that ultimately will be established by Christ. And we do this by living it, manifesting it in our interactions with others, and displaying the behaviours appropriate for citizens of heaven, for children of God.

We must protect the institutions i.e. communions of marriage and the family, we must protect the vulnerable, the elderly, the disabled and most especially our children, the future of our society.

We must work within our legal and political systems to ensure that the laws of God are upheld, that justice is done, that mercy is shown and that grace is given. We must strive for a society where the rights of all are respected and protected, where everyone can have an equal opportunity to succeed and contribute positively to their community.

We must also be aware of the spiritual forces at work in our world – forces of darkness which seek to destroy all that is good, right and just. We must stand firm against these forces with prayer, fasting and intercession. We must remember that we are engaged in spiritual warfare – a battle for souls – and we cannot afford to be complacent or apathetic towards this struggle for the good.

We must remember too that ultimately our hope lies not in politics or policies but in God alone – He alone can bring about true restoration, true justice, true peace and true freedom.

That is why the way we experience Church should be as a family, a community of believers united in love, faith and hope. A communion of faith, a community of encouragement and support, realising in common the true vocation of humanity as a society. We must be committed to working together to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth, and to do so in a way that reflects the values of Jesus Christ.

Responding to Challenges to Traditional Christian Values of Chastity

In an increasingly secular society, traditional Christian values of chastity can be seen as outdated and oppressive. Christians need to respond to these challenges thoughtfully and respectfully. We should be mindful of the hurt and pain that many have experienced as a result of unrealistic expectations about sex and relationships. We should also be open to dialogue and discussion about the importance of chastity, and how it can bring fulfilment and joy to our lives.

We can talk frankly about how we all have experienced hurt, disappointment, and suffering ourselves – for sadly there are few today unaffected by the corruption of sin in contemporary society. We can talk personally about our own lived experiences – have we not all felt awkwardness compared to fashionableness, shame for poverty, guilt for the hurt inflicted on others, witnessed or experienced cruelty at the hands of others or ourselves, broken-hearted and broken hearts, suffered frustration, depression, loneliness, hate and greed, jealousy and regret? Have we not all done things we should not have done? And yet, our hope of redemption, of forgiveness and ultimately of heaven, enables us to strive to live better, to improve – not just for our sakes but for all those around us.

We know that others who have sinned and were trusted hurt others in unconscionable ways, but often as victims themselves perpetuating a cycle of despair, and that others have felt rejection when they should’ve experienced love. Think back to the true communion of humanity I described earlier – it is rarely experienced in the so-called fellowship of our churches. But whose fault is that? OURS! Because we have collectively bought into the secularist – selfish – mindset, we abnegated our responsibility for each other – we absented ourselves from realising the ultimate good of and for each other. If this is to change, WE must change! Acquiescing through a misperceived sense of supposed collective shame to worldly regard, however, is not the way to redeem the world!

We are NOT responsible for the sins of others, it is not our place to take on the guilt of others of which we are innocent. But it IS our place to be the light of hope, the example of love, and to strive for and live better ourselves – for the benefit of all.

We must rise above our failings, which we can never fully escape, and strive for a higher good – for ourselves and those around us. We must have faith that through our collective effort we can create a better world where love prevails, where truth is respected and where mercy triumphs over judgement. This is the ultimate good that we should all strive for – together.

All too often we hear voices infantilising humanity – claiming that freedom means the right to choose self and selfishness over others and even God!  But true freedom is the ability to choose and act for the greater good – to choose what is right and just, and to act in a way that benefits, not just ourselves but also those around us. We must be brave in our choices, understanding that this is not only a way of life that God desires for us but also the path to true freedom.

It means to break free from our supposed “natural” desires and impulses, from compulsions and behaviours, and recognise the reality of our condition – we don’t live in the Garden of Eden! We live in a fallen and corrupt world, where things are not as God had intended them to be, where humanity is not as God had conceived us to be, where things are not fair, nor equitable and our experience of this life may be a “valley of tears”  – a place of suffering, pain and injustice.

But this is not the end of the story – God commands us to love one another and to actively seek justice and equity for all, despite the brokenness of our world. To exercise true freedom means to rise above ourselves, our judgement and prejudice and instead strive to understand one another – to sympathise with those who suffer, be kind to those who are different, forgive those who have wronged us, help those in need, and ultimately seek a world where everyone is treated equally and with respect.

One of the saddest aspects of the contemporary mindset is the want to adopt extreme positions and condemn and reject those who disagree with them. We need to learn to accept that we are all imperfect, “for all have sinned”. We must also remember that God’s love for us is greater than our failings, and His grace is always available if we are willing to humble ourselves before Him.

We should recognise that the world needs redemption – redemption from sin, hurtful behaviour, selfishness and greed, from pride and arrogance. The only way this can be achieved is through a collective effort of showing love, acceptance and understanding – not just towards our fellow humans but also towards God Himself. We must strive together to create a culture of love, forgiveness and grace – a culture where it is safe to make mistakes without fear of judgement or condemnation. This is the only way in which we can truly hope to effect change.

We don’t do this, however, by failing to acknowledge what sin is and what it does to us. We must recognise that God’s Word is true, and that sin has consequences in this life and the next. We must also learn to extend grace to others, understanding that none of us is perfect and we all need God’s help along the way. By doing this, we can create a culture of love, acceptance and understanding – one that will ultimately lead to true redemption for all.

What is truth? It is God! What is life? It is God! What is love? It is God. Experienced subjectively and realised collectively. It is not about “the individual” but about “us”. It is about communion, community, and commonality. This is the redemption of humanity. This is how it’s realised.

Conclusion: How Reclaiming Chastity Can Lead to Fulfilment and Vocation

an increasingly secular society, the practice of chastity is often seen as outdated and irrelevant. Obsessed with the self, contemporary society fails to see that it is only in the proper regard of the other through selflessness, that true happiness can be realised between people. If everyone in society were truly concerned for the good of the other, if all our messaging and instruction to our young were not about the pursuit of self-happiness, but the happiness of others – imagine what a difference that would make to the world we live in!

I believe that it is more important than ever for Christians to reclaim this important virtue, chastity. Communion. Community. Commonality. Living not for ourselves but for each other. We all know how it feels to have done a good and righteous thing, to have genuinely served another sacrificially with no expectation of reward. That feeling of warmth and satisfaction – that is what is truly fulfilling, that is how God wants us to live.

By embracing chastity, we can find true fulfilment and joy in our lives and can avoid the physical, mental, and spiritual risks associated with sexual activity outside of marriage. Remembering that chastity means the foregoing of self for the ultimate good of all, the pursuit not of one’s happiness but that of others. The realisation of communion with God with each other.

St Alphonsus Liguori writes, Whenever, therefore, God calls us to a more perfect state, he who does not wish to expose his eternal salvation to great risk must then obey, and obey promptly. Otherwise he will hear from Jesus Christ the reproach of that young man who, when invited to follow Him, said: I will follow thee, Lord, but let me first take my leave of them that are at my house (Luke ix. 61). Upon which, Jesus told him he was not fit for Paradise: No man putting his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God (Ib. 62). The lights which God gives are transient, not permanent gifts. Hence St. Thomas Aquinas says that the call of God to a more perfect state must be obeyed as quickly as possible — quanto citius. He proposes in his Summa the question whether it would be praiseworthy to enter Religion without having asked the counsel of many and without long deliberation. He answers in the affirmative, saying that counsel and deliberation are necessary in doubtful matters, but not in this, which is certainly good, because Jesus Christ has counselled it in the Gospel, and the Religious State embraces most of the Counsels of Jesus Christ.

Chastity is not only a way to escape from the world and its foolish ways but also a way to enter into the fold of God. It is a way of life that leads to deeper understanding and connection with Him, as well as better perfecting ourselves in the cause of love.

Chastity can lead to a deeper understanding of our vocation and can bring us closer to God. Without the distraction of the pursuit of worldly pleasure that only leads to disappointment and resentment, we can better discern God’s Will, better listen and concentrate on His Word, and be more focused on prayer and living His commandments. This will enable us to reach true fulfilment in this life, discover His purpose for us and come closer to Him in the next.

Whether we are called to the religious life, the sacred ministry, the honourable state of marriage, to consecrated life or even none of the above, chastity is the key to unlocking our true potential realised through sacrificial love in service of God and others.  Through living a chaste life, we strive to live a life of virtue and holiness, faithfully following the teachings of Christ.

Chastity is not an easy path to take, but it is a road that leads us closer to God and His purposes for us. In a world filled with temptations and distractions, it can be difficult to remain faithful in our commitment. We must ask for the grace of God, the assistance of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints who have followed this path before us so that we may be strengthened in our resolve to remain pure in mind, body and soul.

The Christian life is about taking control of one’s life and mastering self-control over our bodies, our minds and our sense of self.  It is about mastering our passions and desires and using them to serve God’s purpose. By practising chastity, we can learn to better control our bodily appetites and be more open to the will of God in our lives. We can become more aware of the movements of our hearts and better discern what is right and wrong.

Chastity also helps us develop a greater sense of respect for others since it requires us to act with modesty, self-control and respect for ourselves as well as for others. It helps us become more charitable towards others, less judgmental and more understanding of their needs. This also helps foster a deeper sense of unity within the Church as we strive for holiness together.

Finally, practising chastity allows us to grow closer to God by being obedient to His commandments. It is an act of love that demonstrates our willingness to follow His will in all aspects of life, even when it may be difficult or uncomfortable. Ultimately, it shows God that we are willing to put Him first in our lives and to live in a way that glorifies Him.

So, far from being oppressive, chastity sets us free from the constraints and limitations of our wayward will and enables us to realise true freedom and fulfilment following the precepts of God’s way of love, life and truth in Christ.

So, if you are looking to reclaim chastity in your own life, take the first step today! Encourage yourself and others to live a life of chastity and joy. Live with intention and be mindful of your actions. Pray for guidance and strength, and always strive to live in the presence of God.

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