Love One Another! 10/2008 → rue Love Waits - Pure Hearts
I am twenty-two years old. For the past four and a half years I have had a wonderful boyfriend; and, of course, he has had me. Our journey together began in the hospital, where our mothers shared the same maternity ward. Born six hours before me, my boyfriend was already waiting for me in the nursery. Of course, we were not aware of each other’s presence then, but I think we can speak here of predestination. We met formally in high school, where we went to the same class. By the time we began going out with each other, we had already established a solid friendship and got to know each other’s views on God, marriage, and family.
Our early days together were both beautiful and stormy. Most young people will know what I am talking about. Seeking a solution to our problems, we joined the Movement of Pure Hearts. We went on a three-day retreat together and learned a great deal about a loving couple’s relations and how — concretely — to struggle for purity in our lives. We were delighted by what we learned and felt convinced that from then on everything would be smooth sailing.
Unfortunately, our problems returned just a month later. Yet despite this, our decision to walk the way of Truth, to go against the current, was so strong that we refused to give up. We resolved to meet the challenge. It was then that the most difficult and most important stage of our wonderful relationship began.
The struggle for purity is by no means easy. It requires courage and determination. Above all, it requires perseverance and a decision of the will, which must be carefully made and maturely embraced. The struggle for purity is a battle for love — true love. True love is forever! Love is not a feeling. It is a desire for the good and holiness of the other person. Often, in moments of doubt, crisis, and disagreement, that initial decision of ours is all that remains — the decision that you and I want to go to Jesus and enjoy heaven already here on earth. My boyfriend and I experienced such a crisis exactly one year ago, when were both working in London. Exhausted and homesick, we were especially vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. It was not our feelings that saved us then but that very decision, which we had made together.
Why have my boyfriend and I decided to abstain from sex until our wedding night? There are several reasons. Above all, we want our love to be real. We are not interested in just saying that we are in love. Words alone will not enable us to lead each other to God. We want to have the right attitude of mind. Everyone can say, “I love you,” but not everyone understands the meaning of these words, for they entail a great responsibility for the other person.
Many people have sex before marriage without putting up any resistance. They even take pride in doing so. They do not respect the gift of the other person and treat each other as objects of pleasure. I do not want my love to be like that. I want to give my future husband the greatest gift I have — myself. I want this gift to be pure and blessed by God. On my wedding night, I want to tell my boyfriend (if, indeed, he turns out to be my husband) the following: “My darling, today I give you myself, along with the treasure of my body, my character, which you helped to perfect, and my soul, which thanks to you stands closer to God. I give you myself — a virgin, chaste and pure; for it was for you that I remained this way, that I might offer this gift to you this very night.” What man would not like to hear such words from his bride on this special occasion?
Thanks to the virtue and practice of purity, I am happy. Purity enables me to trust my boyfriend and to be sure of his love for me. There was a time in our relationship when this was not the case. I had no assurance that my boyfriend loved me, or that anyone could love me. Sin breeds uncertainty, a lack of acceptance of oneself. It is the cause of great pain, which undermines our happiness. Only now that we have been living pure lives do I see this. God has bestowed upon us the indescribable joy of being truly present to each other.
I wonder how many of you girls out there are sure of your boyfriend’s love for you. How certain are you that he is able to respect your body, to keep it holy and unsullied, until such time as you will offer it to him on your wedding night? True love is the most beautiful gift a person can offer another. But we have to grow to love. We must fight for it; and the struggle requires sacrifice.
By striving for purity, I am able to foster my spiritual development and remain close to God, for as Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” We can see God already here on earth — in that other person, on whom we bestow our love and who, in turn, gives us his time, care, trust. Purity of heart brings us closer to God. It enables us to love not only another person, but also God. God becomes the bonding agent between two people. With His gift of love God teaches us how to love one another.
I remain chaste, because I want to have a happy marriage. Purity builds mutual trust. If a man can deny himself sex before marriage, if he can practice self-discipline and learn to gain mastery over his body, then he will remain faithful in marriage, when longer periods of abstinence are often required (e.g. during illness or absences from home). In the same way, the woman will not seek sexual gratification with other men, for she will have acquired the same self-discipline. Purity ensures that my beloved is my friend. It enables me to trust him implicitly, for by foregoing his pleasures with me now, he is proving to me that he respects me, and therefore I can count on him as a person and not merely as an object of pleasure.
Purity of heart is not just a beautiful idea. Nor is it some pie-in-the-sky theory. It is the tried and true experience of many people. It is a life of happiness and love as exceptional as the love of God itself. To become a man or woman of pure heart it is not enough to attend a spiritual retreat, know the Ten Commandments, or go to church when your parents tell you to. Above all, you have to have a personal relationship with God, be awed by His essence — His love — and to be ready and open to His gifts.
In my daily plan I try to find time for Holy Mass, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the rosary, the chaplet of divine mercy, and at least a small fragment of Sacred Scripture. Though this is not always easy to carry out, I generally find these activities manageable. From experience I know that one can always find time for Mass. It requires only good organization of the day and an effort of the will. Holy Mass is a priceless treasure and I can personally attest to the many graces that can be obtained from receiving the Eucharistic Jesus with a loving heart. I know that without Holy Mass my spiritual development (and the love that accompanies it) would be set back considerably. By receiving Jesus into my heart every day, I allow Him to live in me and therefore to love, rejoice, and suffer through me. Jesus remains with me in my joys and hardships. I always feel His presence.
Like any other struggle, the struggle for purity comes with its victories and failures. With the latter one must come to terms. It is precisely in our moments of failure that we most need the virtue of perseverance — above all, perseverance in going to confession. There was a time in our relationship when we went to confession on three consecutive days! I know this was a terrible waste of God’s graces, but seeking His forgiveness was our only salvation. I know that God took pity on our wretched efforts and responded to them. Now, armed with the gift of His love, we are able to teach each other. St. Augustine said, “As long as you struggle, you are victorious.” We are proving these words true by our lives. By refusing to give up this struggle in the face of today’s world and culture, by continually waging this struggle with our weaknesses, we score a victory for love. By so doing, we trust we will one day win the crown of eternal life.
There is no way to Heaven but through love. First, love of God, then love of
others. We must fight for this love and never surrender. Even in
the greatest setbacks we must be patient and persevere, for God
sees not only our efforts, but also the impulses of our hearts;
and at the moment we least expect it, He comes with His grace and
delivers us from the greatest fall of all.