Living the virtue of chastity is a step-by-step process

A SHEPHERD SPEAKS

Bishop Fred Henry

April 25, 2011

Our faith takes with joyful seriousness the mystery of the Incarnation: that the Son of God took flesh for our salvation. Jesus' body scourged, crucified and risen for us, tells us that God uses the human body to make his love present in our world. The body is our doorway to salvation, and so how we treat it matters.

Sexuality is a gift from God and a fundamental part of what makes us human. Each of us is called to acknowledge this gift and the One who gave it.

Our sexuality and our spiritual life are intimately linked. The chaste person integrates sexuality within the personality and thus expresses his or her inner unity as a bodily and spiritual being. The chaste person has the capacity to relate to others in a truly human way, reflecting a person's state in life: single, married or consecrated celibacy.

PILLAR OF RIGHT LIVING

The virtue of chastity means placing our desire for sexual pleasure under the guidance of reason and faith. It is one of the cornerstones of the temple of our body, a necessary pillar of right living. It leads to wholeness and unity, for individuals, married couples and society.

The virtue of chastity involves the integration of the powers of love and life placed in us. This integrity ensures the unity of the person and is opposed to any behaviour that would distort it.

Living chastity is not easy business in the sex-saturated world of contemporary Western culture. It's impossible to walk through a shopping mall, turn on a computer or television, glance at an advertisement or browse through a bookstore without being bombarded by sexual imagery of every kind. The challenge of living chastely in these circumstances is difficult for everyone.

Pornography has never been more widespread, reaching almost epidemic proportions. It denigrates authentic sexual expression and encourages masturbation, sexual intimacy outside of marriage and the separation of the life-giving and love-giving meaning of sexual relations.

If we wish to remain faithful to our baptismal promises and resist temptations, we need to develop strategies that will help us live in holiness and freedom. Here are a few suggestions:

MOVE THAT COMPUTER

SIMPLE PRACTICES

Growth requires persistence and resolve to stop giving into lustful thoughts. Developing spiritual muscles requires repetition. Set realistic goals. Never give up but keep striving.