Monday, November 13, 2006

"How to live chastity"

DC 'Hood vs. St Andrew's basketball game: this Friday night, I will be playing with the team of priests and seminarians (DC 'Hood) against St Andrew's. It is scheduled for 7 pm, but IT WILL NOT BE AT KENNEDY HS; Kennedy is now hosting a playoff football game that night. We are working on finding an alternate site, and I will let everyone know when we have it. Either way, it will be fun!!
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Many people have left questions and comments recently about living chastity. Here are some excerpts from Rev. Thomas Morrow's leaflet, "Is Chastity Possible?" To view the full text, please click on the title of this post.

"How to live chastity"

"How does one live this? How does one develop the virtue of chastity whereby one habitually lives this way without a struggle, or, as Thomas Aquinas put it, "joyfully, easily and promptly"?

Certainly, as a fruit of the Holy Spirit chastity is not something one arrives at without considerable prayer and effort. The fruits of a tree appear last, and so it is with the Holy Spirit's fruits: they require a good deal of cultivation through God's grace. So to begin to live this in our world requires a strong spiritual life. Fifteen minutes of meditation daily (rosary or meditation on the gospels) plus frequent Mass and reception of the sacraments would seem essential to anyone hoping to arrive at this virtue.

But are there any methods one may employ to effectively use the grace received from spiritual exercises to develop chastity?

Yes there are. One must begin by observing with Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica, I, q 81 a3), that the sexual appetite listens not only to reason, but to the senses and the imagination as well. Thus, one must first be careful what he/she looks at or watches. Viewing sexually explicit movies or videocassettes, or pornography, or even focusing on provocatively dressed members of the opposite sex is poison for one seeking chastity. The worst of these is using pornographic materials, since pornography depicts sex as merely recreational and women (or men) as mere objects of enjoyment. Both are terrible lies.

The imagination is another potential danger area. When one becomes aware of an impure thought he/she should immediately try to crowd out the thought with another colorful thought, such as a ball game, or a beautiful sunset, etc. In addition, one should take the advice of St John Vianney to make a sign of the cross to drive away the temptation, and with St Catherine of Siena, say the name of Jesus repeatedly in the heart (which is how she fought off a series of foul temptations). An uninvited impure thought is not sinful, but once a person wills its continuation, sin enters in, and as Jesus pointed out, one can sin seriously in the heart.

In addition, since there are competing voices for the control of the sexual appetite, it doesn't work for reason to deal with the appetite 'despotically,' simply saying "no" to the appetite's appeal. If it does, it will repress the appetite into the unconscious where it will await a chance to explode (Pope John Paul II, in his pre-papal Love and Responsibility, henceforth LR, Ignatius Press, p. 198). At a moment of weakness the appetite will indeed explode with an outburst of sexual activity. This is seen in the person who contains himself/herself for several weeks but then goes on a spree, and repeats this cycle over and over.

The intellect must deal 'politically' with the appetite, setting forth the values which will be gained by living chastity, to make up for the value of the sexual pleasure which is sacrificed."

15 Comments:

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That will be an interesting game.

 
At 3:20 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

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At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question that is unrelated to the current discussion. I am trying to study faith, and something I see a lot in my reading is that a fear of God is essential. Why are we supposed to fear God if He is so loving? Does it mean that we should fear God's judgment at the time of our death -- i.e., that we should fear the moment when God will ask us to account for our lives and how we lived it? Or does it mean that we should fear God's power to inflict terrible suffering while we are on earth, like in the form of tragedies and mass disasters. I have to say honestly that I do not feel a fear of God and I do not think that most people do. If I did, I might be able to commit myself more to a religious and holy life, which is something I am having a hard time doing. Could not having a fear of God be the thing that is in the way?

 
At 4:51 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kat,

You really a strong person. Going through cancer and also having an abusive father. That is really rough. Despite all that you have gone through you have been able to be diplomatic. Wow.

 
At 7:33 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 6:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So will there be adoration this Friday?

 
At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Kelly said...

Okay, to live chastity, means more than just saying no to an action or thought. It also involves avoidance of things that feed the imagination....porn, inappropriate reading materials, and all the items mentioned. So that all makes sense. You lost me during the last 2 paragraphs: 1. sexual appetite must be dealt with politically
2. one must be aware of the benefits of living chastity in order to control sexual appetite
3. Comment about person will explode in a flurry of sexual activity or repeat same cycles if they just repress their desires.
I have seen #3 happen repeatedly to others throughout my lifetime.

Why is it that for some or even most people this is a MAJOR struggle? Are you saying frequent reception of sacraments, avoidance of things/persons that stimulate sexual imagination, learning to immediately change a lustful thought to a benign thought as well as understanding this virtue's values are the way to living chastely?

Lastly, why is it such a lifelong struggle for so many and for others living chastely seems natural? My theory is that every one has different weak points or vices.

 
At 10:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Its hard to look in the mirror every morning and see the physical scars he has given me and contemplate forgiving him never mind all the emotional ones."

I have never understood how a father can abuse his own flesh and blood.

 
At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Kelly said...

Last anon,

I, too, had many hurts from my father and stepfather. I can't say I know your pain because every one's experience is different. Throughout my adult life, I have gone to therapy (with a person grounded in the Catholic faith), grieved over it , and just carried the whole cross of it. It hurt the most when I married a man who was brought up in a loving home. He treats our daughters like precious gold. This is when I began to really feel a deep longing for what I had missed from my own father and stepfather. It is hard to miss what you never had.....

The Lord healed me, I believe, through many hours spent in adoration and benediction. Jesus poured out His love for me in such a profound all encompassing way....it has changed my entire life. To know and embrace and revel in the perfect love of my Heavenly Father completely healed wounds from my earthly father. It is hard for me to put into words how Christ's love enveloped me and healed profound feelings of loss/hurt concerning my earthly father. I know God has a different plan and His timing for all of us. Please know that my prayers are with you. An hour with Jesus is worth 1000 hours of therapy in my opinion!:)

 
At 1:21 PM, Anonymous markov said...

"Throughout my adult life, I have gone to therapy (with a person grounded in the Catholic faith)",


It is interesting that you say that because my therapist kept telling me the best way for me to get over my pain was to leave the church so I instead left the therapist. All the "important" people in my life have told me to leave the church but I am not going to leave my anchor. Leaving the church is leaving Jesus and I can't leave Him. For whatever reason Jesus has decided to throw a lot of crosses in my direction but I get my strength by praying to Him and seeing how strong people are in their own crises. In the last 2 weeks I have become a much stronger person by helping and emulating the strength others have in their great times of need.
I feel the same way for the other bloggers who are undergoing so much pain and suffering and yet are able to pray and comfort others here. That is tres cool!

 
At 10:03 PM, Anonymous kelly said...

Markov, I would never see a therapist who is not well grounded in the Catholic Faith. Many therapists have distorted, prejudiced, uneducated viewpoints concerning our faith. I am sorry to hear of your tough times. I can only say that this is the time to cling to Churh and Jesus more than ever! I, too, have some tough times now....the only thing carrying me through is the grace of God. I thank Him for that all day long. Does that mean I have a great attitude and handle it all? Heck no! Simply means I can go through the day knowing that Jesus is with me. I will pray for you.

So glad you left the therapist and not the church. Are you a St. Francis parishioner? I am! That's how I meant Father Greg before he was ordained.

 
At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Markov said...

Hi Kelly,

Got back from St. Francis and rotated some books in the library in the gathering space. Its hard to tell what types of books people like to read so I put out a variety and hope for the best.

To answer your question yes, I am a parishoner at St. Francis. Which mass do you go to?

 
At 10:14 AM, Anonymous Kelly said...

Markov,

We recently have been attending 5pm Mass at St. Francis. My daughter likes to go to youth group right after Mass. I have tons of books about the faith. I will bring them and add them to the library as well. Which Mass do you attend? Sometimes we are at 11:15. 5pm Mass with Father D'Silva was awesome yesterday.

 

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