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!!
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."

No comments: