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Chastity: The Way to Love

“Love [flowing] from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith” (1 Tim 1: 5) is the source of the greatest happiness. Originating in Jesus Christ, it endures forever after death.

Man’s supreme goal is to love and to be loved. Man is the only creature to be endowed with an aptitude for love. Created in the “image and likeness of God,” man has an immortal soul and the ability to reason and choose between good and evil. Pope John Paul II stressed that “man became the ‘image and likeness’ of God not only through his own humanity, but also through the communion of persons, which man and woman form from the very beginning…[Man is] an image of an inscrutable divine communion of persons” (Catechesis, November 14, 1979).

The joyous truth of human sexuality

The union of a man and a woman in the marital act is so close and intimate that the two persons become “one body” (Gen 2: 24). Upon this bond the Creator bestows the blessing of fruitfulness. Divine Revelation tells us that this loving union of the spouses in which the latter, in the purity of their hearts, become a total and unselfish gift to each other is a sign and image of a “divine communion of persons.” In the holy act of sexual union the spouses become “one body” and gift each other with all the spiritual and bodily riches of their humanity; above all, they confer upon each other that fruitful love which they receive from Christ. Thus experienced, the sexual union of the spouses becomes the seal of the sacrament of marriage. It is a sacred experience of the love of Christ, who unites the husband and wife in a community so close and intimate that they become “one body” — an image of “a divine communion of persons.”

God willed the domain of human sexuality to be a special locus of experiencing His creative presence, which sanctifies and joins the couple in love and calls new human beings into existence. Sexuality is a sacred domain that we need to entrust to Jesus and thus enable Him to free it from every evil, healing and cleansing it of every tendency to selfishness and lust.

John Paul II stated that, “uniting with each other (in the conjugal act) so closely as to become ‘one flesh,’ man and woman, rediscover, so to speak, every time and in a special way, the mystery of creation. They return in this way to that union in humanity (‘bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’) which allows them to recognize each other and, like the first time, to call each other by name. This means reliving, in a sense, the original virginal value of man, which emerges from the mystery of his solitude before God and in the midst of the world. The fact that they become one flesh is a powerful bond established by the Creator. Through it they discover their own humanity, both in its original unity, and in the duality of a mysterious mutual attraction. However, sex is something more than the mysterious power of human corporality, which acts almost by virtue of instinct” (Catechesis, November 21, 1979).

Why does sex outside of marriage destroy love?

God tells us that the sexual bond is to be a “language of love” which expresses the spouses’ unselfish, total, fruitful, and enduring self-gift to each other. This “language of love” in the sexual act should also transmit the love of God Himself, and it is fully achieved only in a sacramental marriage.

Love is something infinitely greater and deeper than the feelings and passions associated with the sexual urge. Love is a freely made decision to devote oneself to the highest good of the beloved person. It means a readiness to make a gift of oneself to another — a gift that is total, exclusive, and fruitful. Only in the sacrament of marriage can the sexual act transmit the love of God and be a sign of Christ’s sacramental presence — a moment of becoming “one body” in mutual spousal love. The sexual bond is a special kind of language that must speak the truth. A man and woman who engage in sexual intimacy outside of marriage inflict an untruth and spiritual death upon each other, for they break God’s commandment not to commit adultery. By engaging in the sexual act they are saying that they belong to each other totally and exclusively, and yet the language of their body is a mutual lie, since they have not pledged themselves to each other in marriage, which alone guarantees the totality and permanence of this gift. The sacrament of marriage is necessary for sexual intimacy to be able to express the truth about love and be a source of mutual sanctification. When a couple express their marriage vows, they become transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. From that moment they become man and wife. By the power of the same God, they are joined in a bond so strong that only the death of one of the spouses can break it.

A boy and girl who are mature and of age find themselves in love and wish to express their love in sexual intimacy. This is a sign they are to become a married couple. Until they make that pledge, formally, in the sacrament of holy matrimony, they abstain from sexual intercourse so as not to destroy this great treasure, which is their mutual love. Only Jesus, in the sacrament of marriage, can confer upon them the right to express their mutual love through the “language of the body” — in sexual intimacy. If they have sex before their wedding, they betray their ignorance of the meaning of sex and marriage; and, in so doing, they wreak great harm on each other and destroy their love.

The Movement of Pure Hearts

Jesus tells us that we can love only with a pure heart. A chaste heart is a gift that Jesus bestows upon those who ask for it and cooperate with Him. To achieve a chaste heart, we must, as John Paul II tells us, walk “the way of restraint and controlling our appetites, and this from the very beginning, through purely interior struggle” (Catechesis, December 3, 1980). For this reason we need to cling wholeheartedly to Jesus and confide ourselves to His healing care. It is He who will cure us of our addiction to the sins of impurity, which, left untreated, lead us into the hell of absolute selfishness: premarital sex, masturbation, petting, oral sex, homosexual acts, consumption of pornography, etc. Love demands purity of heart. We are all tainted by the consequences of original sin. Alone, by our own efforts, we are unable to overcome the covetousness of the eye and body and subject our feelings and desires to the law of love. Thus Jesus invites us all to join the community of the Movement of Pure Hearts, so that every day we may entrust to Him the healing of our hearts, which are so wounded by sin and enslaved to selfishness. If we want Him to heal us and enable us to love with a pure heart, we must shrug off all fear and apprehension. We need first to unburden ourselves of all our sins in sacramental confession, receive Jesus in Holy Communion, and then say the following prayer of consecration:

“Lord Jesus, I am thankful that You love me with a love that rights the greatest wrongs and heals the most hurtful wounds. I offer You my memory, my mind, my soul, my body, my sexuality. I vow not to engage in sexual acts until I am united with my spouse in the Sacrament of Marriage. From this day forth, I will not read, buy, or watch pornographic materials. [Here, girls may wish to add: I vow to dress modestly and in no way to arouse lustful thoughts or desires in others.] I solemnly promise to meet You every day in prayer, scriptural meditation, frequent reception of Holy Communion, and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I also pledge to avail myself regularly of the Sacrament of Penance, not to give in to discouragement, and to pick myself up promptly every time I fall into sin. Dear Jesus, teach me the practice of self-discipline and to control my sexual desires and feelings. Give me the courage to resist the easy way in my daily walk through life. Help me to avoid everything that weakens and enslaves the will: nicotine, alcohol, and drugs. Teach me to place love at the very center of my life.

Mary, my Mother, guide me in my journey of faith. Lead me to the very source of Love — to Jesus, that I may trust and believe in Him alone. After the example of Servant of God John Paul II, I desire to entrust myself entirely to you: Totus Tuus, Mary! Blessed Caroline, procure for me the gift of a pure heart. Amen!”

We invite our readers to pray these words every morning. Inform us of your decision to join MPH. Send us your personal information (address, date of birth, the date you decided to join us, e-mail, and telephone number). We in turn will enroll you in our Book of Pure Hearts and send you our formational materials and special blessing. We remind all MPH members to undertake the daily task of walking in the way of faith by clinging tightly to Jesus. Place all your trust in Him and express this trust in daily persevering prayer. In this journey of faith and growing in love, do not give in to your changing moods and feelings. Draw up a daily plan that makes time for prayer, work, study, rest, and recreation. Try to realize it with iron resolve and do not succumb to discouragement and apathy. Be demanding of yourself. Exercise in the morning. Get outside and enjoy the fresh air. If possible, practice some regular sport, as this is the best form of rest. Do not waste your time watching TV indiscriminately or idly surfing the net. The daily pursuit of a specific goal requires perseverance and self-discipline. Only then will Jesus be able to heal your wounded heart and form your character. True, the way of faith leading to Jesus is not easy, but what an adventure it is when undertaken daily! Only faith will lead you to love, to perfect happiness in heaven.

Write to us and send your testimonies. Share your experiences of faith with others. Every day we pray the rosary and chaplet of Divine Mercy for our readers and benefactors. My blessings to all!

Fr. Mieczysław Piotrowski SChr & the editorial team

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The article was published with the permission from "Love One Another!" in August 2016.

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