Posts Tagged ‘chastity’

Week 8: The Battle for Purity

September 14, 2011

Last week  we covered: Resenting Chastity

This week at Love & Responsibility in NYC we covered the chapter, “The Battle for Purity.” (Check it out online; not as extensive as the book, but handy.)

This chapter explains that the word chaste literally means clean – and no that does not mean that the Catholic Church teaches that sex is dirty – it means that being chaste is being in a state of being clean – a state of purity.
Sri explains, “We must see chastity as a positive virtue that enables us to love, and protects love from being tainted by the selfish tendency to use the other person for our own pleasure. Wojtyla says chastity is emphatically not “one long ‘no.'” Rather, it is first and foremost a yes — a yes in our hearts to the other person, not just to his or her sexual values. It is a ‘yes’ that requires certain ‘no’s’ in order to protect love from falling into utilitarianism. “The essence of chastity consists in quickness to affirm the value of the person in every situation, and in raising to the personal level all reactions to the value of ‘the body and sex'” (p. 171). This positive, wider context of love for the person is key for understanding the ‘no’s’ of the Church’s teaching on sexual morality.”

The chapter then goes on to explain that there seems to be two “battlefronts” where this fight to be pure – to be chaste takes place: the physical realm and the emotional realm.

In most cases men struggle most with the physical realm and women struggle most with the emotional realm.

The chapter then explains that it is natural to experience the initial thrust towards lust whether it be physical or emotional, but that in itself is not sinful.  The problem is when we step over those bounds and ACT on those initial impulses.

The truth is, until one masters these impulses to act, one is controlled by them.  If we do not have power over it, then it has power over us.   Ick!

Don't let lust imprison you!

Our breakout discussion in our small group largely focused on emotional chastity, what it is, and how to know how to apply it without going overboard.  One gal, (I think her name was Lorena), said that her mom’s advice to her was: Fall in love with your head first until you are married, then fall in love with your heart.

The gals in our group also commented that this battle is difficult whether it is for physical chastity or emotional chastity because it comes so naturally from our innate call to love.

In the larger discussion group when everyone came back together multiple people gave the advice of using prayer to assist us in this “Battle for Purity”.  Because our weakness is in chastity (until and even after we master it), it not only is a physical or emotional battle we are fighting it is a spiritual one.  So, it is wise for one to strengthen themselves spiritually with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that we can gain in the sacraments and by saying the Rosary.

What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“Paragraph 1831 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.

Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God . . . If children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”

What are the Spiritual Fruits of the Rosary?
taken from: http://www.prayerfulrosary.com/Prayerful.html

The Fruits of the Mysteries
The Meditative and Soul of the Rosary. Each mystery has a deep meditative virtue or grace associated with it known as the “Spiritual Fruits of the mystery”. When the meditative mode of prayer is developed, the mysteries become connected to the soul which leads to contemplative prayer.

Do you know the Spiritual Fruits of the Rosary?

Joyful Mysteries

  1. The Annunciation ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Humility
  2. The Visitation ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Love of Neighbor, Charity
  3. The Nativity ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Poverty, Love of God
  4. The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Obedience
  5. The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Zeal for God

Sorrowful Mysteries

  1. The Agony in the Garden ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Sorrow for Sin/Contrition
  2. The Scourging at the Pillar ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Purity
  3. The Crowning with Thorns ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Courage
  4. The Carrying of the Cross ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Patience
  5. The Crucifixion ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Perseverance

The Glorious Mysteries

  1. The Resurrection ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Faith
  2. The Ascension ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Hope
  3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Love of God
  4. The Assumption of Mary ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Grace of a Holy Death
  5. The Coronation of Blessed Virgin Mary ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Trust in Mary’s Intercession/Devotion to the Blessed Mother

Luminous Mysteries

  1. The Baptism of Jesus~Fruit of the Mystery: Sacrament of Baptism
  2. The Wedding at Cana~Fruit of the Mystery: To Jesus through Mary/Gratitude for the gift of Faith
  3. Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Repentance and Trust in God/Desire for Holiness
  4. The Transfiguration~Fruit of the Mystery: Spiritual Courage
  5. The Institution of the Eucharist~Fruit of the Mystery: Adoration of the Eucharist

One gentleman commented that it’s much harder to resist something good at the wrong time if you are starving.  His advice (which I think is brilliant!!) is to fill one’s mind with beauty and to work at being emotionally connected with people – in general – so that you won’t be so starved of this beauty and emotional connection that you will grab at it with the wrong types of people.  He commented that he had just finished having dinner with his sister and that  this connection with her helps fill that desire for emotional connection.

Are you starving for beauty and emotional connection?

For many of us, especially in NYC, our family lives far away so this particular example is not available for us.  However, we can create a NYC-family to  have dinner with: a roommate, someone we met at a  MeetUp group, someone we met at a volunteer activity, or perhaps even someone we met at Love & Responsibility in NYC! (I’m just stayin’) 😛

His point was that, “It’s easier to not eat junk food if you are eating healthy food.”  Taking these steps is part of setting ourselves up for success in this battle for purity.

Megan had a similar imagery:  “Don’t date cupcake men.  Date apples and pears.”

Don't date cupcake men!

Her point is that some people look nice on the outside but what’s inside isn’t really good for you.  You should date people who are good for you and who you are good for too!

So yes, the Battle for Purity will be difficult…. but it’s totally worth it! Good luck and see you at the next L&R in NYC!

Advertisements

Week 7: Resenting Chastity

September 7, 2011

Last week  we covered: Love…and Responsibility?

This week at Love & Responsibility in NYC we covered the chapter, “Resenting Chastity.” (Check it out online; not as extensive as the book, but handy.)

(Unfortunately, I could not be there for the group discussion.  So I’m merely going to summarize the chapter and then provide a few reflections.)

This chapter deals discusses the dynamic that seems to surround Chastity.  In short, Chastity is met with a frown not a smile. This of course is nothing new.  Today just as in the days of John Paul II’s interaction with married couples as a Parish priest, there is a resenting of Chastity.  This chapter delves into why it seems that people resent Chastity.

Simply:

  • living a virtuous life is not easy,
  • because of our fallen nature (thanks to Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden) we tend to find it easier to follow our emotions and desires than submit those emotions and desires for the good of another
  • as we notice that a virtuous life is harder and requires more of us we start to talk ourselves out of it (in other words, we usually take the path of least resistance).
  • the virtue of chastity is often misunderstood as abstinence or a rejection of something that is very good
  • because of a misconception of what chastity is, chastity is seen as a threat not a strength.
  • if we focus on the subjective side of love and ignore the objective side of love, it then furthers the focus on the emotions of love and further instills the fear that chastity will crush it.

Ed Sri then goes on to describe Chastity as the “Guardian of Love.”  He states, “Now we can see why chastity is so necessary for love. Far from something that hinders our love, chastity is what makes love possible. It protects love from falling into selfish, utilitarian attitudes and enables us to love selflessly — irrespective of the powerful emotions or sensual delight we may receive from our beloved.”

Explained that way, I’m sure many more people would be rushing to sign up for that plan.  🙂

I wish I had received that explanation and this book sooner!  Until about 6 years ago I thought that chastity was merely abstinence.  “No intercourse till marriage.” was all I can remember hearing.  I never heard “Chastity is a Guardian of Love.”

I learned the hard way that Chastity really is the best policy.  I’m sorry that I had to learn it the hard way, but I am happy that I learned the lesson.  In fact, I learned the lesson just in time to protect the love that was and is the basis for my marriage.  Now I see that a lack of chastity is the cancer that eats away at true love.  I see that self mastery especially in regards to chastity is essential in propagating and sustaining love.

Striving and strengthening virtue gives one the ability to make good choices.  Even after I learned about the truth about chastity and threw away those misconceptions that I had about chastity, I still struggled with it.  Not only did I feel like I was up against the rest of the modern world regarding their idea of what sexual intimacy meant, I was up against myself.  All of my old habits had to be replaced with new acts of virtue.  It sounds heroic, and it is, but let’s just say that I had a few crash landings after trying out my new chastity superhero cape and flying abilities.

Mastery of Chastity will help you land on your feet!

The hidden secret is: The person who you love (who you are in a relationship with or who you are married to) will appreciate this mastery the most! No one wants their hearts to be hurt by someone they love being unchaste…. with someone else!  They want someone who has the ability to integrate their body with their hearts, minds, and souls so that their actions say that they love you.

So, your loved one will want it for their benefit so that they won’t get cheated on and they will also want it for themselves.

Perhaps not at first though. 😛

Like the people described in this chapter, often those who do not yet possess the virtue of chastity are the ones to most quickly criticize chastity or ridicule chastity.  They think: “Oh – well of course, let’s apply that “rule” over there, but not over here between us because that’s just awkward.  Besides, we don’t need that.  Right?”

I think that when I first met the man who is now my spouse, he thought I was nuts when I was so exuberant about the joys and freedom of chastity.  He thought, “umm… what? sounds more like the date fizzling than freedom.”  In fact I think that he was concerned that if we did not use our emotions to fan the fire of our passions (and therefore fall into unchaste actions), that we were in danger of having a bland passionless relationship.

Don't let your emotions fan the flames of passion... that will end up burning up the love that exists!

Luckily God invented chemistry, so that has never been a problem for my husband and I.  Through our dating experience we learned that chastity was actually necessary to really show to what extent we loved each other.  Honestly, a part of me thinks, “Chastity is the hard part – saying, ‘I do’ at the altar was easy!” For us, it was a huge challenge that has strengthened our marriage.  I know (proved by his willingness to persevere in chastity) that I married a man of virtue – one of perseverance and fortitude.  Likewise he knows that I am willing to “go the distance” – to fight against what I might be initially inclined to do and fight for what is right.

For us, chastity is no longer a thing to be feared, it is a thing to be understood and cherished.  It’s a tool in really loving someone in that mature love that seeks the good of the other.

It’s tricky, but I highly recommend it! I challenge you: resist resenting chastity and learn to eagerly embrace it!

Ok – that’s all for now.  More next week on “The Battle for Purity.”