St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Chastity                                                                                -Homily August 30 & September 6, 2015                           

 

I would like to talk about chastity today. It is not easy to do it properly in a homily, so please try to follow me. Jesus says: “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23) I would like to focus on the most important aspect of chastity, which is the interior aspect. Nobody can see a sinful thought or a sinful desire, but nonetheless they stain our conscience, and it may become so burdensome for us. Only one aspect, if I can, so that we may see how right and just the commandment of God is. So that we may say with the Scripture: “What other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?” (Deut 4:8).

 

Chastity is the right use and appreciation of the relational aspect of my person, which is written in our human body. The human body cries aloud: “I am not meant to be alone, I cannot function alone.” We have two ears to learn and one tongue to teach, we have two cheeks to be kissed and one mouth to kiss. We have a hole in our stomach which speaks to us about our mother. Other signs of this relational aspect we discover when we grow up. We are meant to love, to be loved and to share life. We are meant to give ourselves entirely to another person, to help that person to fulfill all his or her capacities (his capacity of being a father or a mother, his capacity of being an educator), we are meant to be happy by making that other person happy. The point I want to make is that the relational aspect of our bodies is meant to establish a relationship with a person, not with an object. The bodily language of love is the concrete expression of an act of freedom, of a choice to love one person completely and forever. Consecrated life, when it is rightly understood, is the same thing, but the person chosen is God himself.

 

St. Paul speaking about this issue says something very interesting: “Stop lying to one another.” To lie is to use a word that means one thing when that thing did not happen or is not real. The bodily language of love means one thing: a perfect love, a love that is so strong as to involve every dimension of one’s life, body and soul. It is a love without conditions of time or space, because it is meant to be fruitful in children, and because true love is forever, not for a while (“I love you for ten years” “I love you until I find a better deal…” would it not be ridiculous?). When a person says to you “I am yours”, there is nothing else in the world that can be compared with this. It is the greatest gift a person can give, his or her own freedom, his or her own entire life, out of love. The bodily expression of this decision is marriage, and the expression is beautiful because what is meant is beautiful. But this bodily expression, when someone does not mean what is meant, is a lie.

 

The abuse of this relational aspect of our bodies implies an abuse of another person, implies to make of the other person not someone to love, but something to use. The human capacity to love must not be considered a capacity for self-gratification, because this would mean to reduce the other person to someone we need for our purposes, someone to use and not someone to love. And even when another person is not really involved, the consequences are the same: one greatly diminishes the truth of one’s own nature, one lies to oneself, and one disposes oneself to consider the other person as an object.

 

The problem will always be the same. The battle for chastity is a hard one, because the enemy is within ourselves, because of the original sin, because of so many attacks to chastity in modern society. You have just to open your eyes in the street, not to mention the beach. You cannot even watch a hockey game, sometimes. The exaltation of the beauty of the human body in modern society has not the purpose of praising God but of diminishing human love. Human love is no more an act of freedom but an urge. They want us to see our brothers and sisters as objects of enjoyment. Some people have lost the freedom to love, because they have become slaves of their passions. Some people have fallen into addictions that are very difficult to control. The battle for chastity is a hard one, but it is important, because it is a battle for freedom, and for the true dignity of our human nature. We are not made for pleasure but for love. “The youth are not meant for pleasure but for heroism.”[1]

 

What are the weapons in this battle for chastity? Stay away from the occasions of sin: shows or conversations that are not appropriate should not be part of our life. Dress properly: Do not become an occasion of sin for your brother or sister. Do not waste your time on internet: When we are doing nothing, we will probably finish doing something wrong. The best way to stay away from sin is to have always something good to do or to think about. Keep an eye on your children. I would suggest one thing that a priest suggested to us when we were children: Make a commitment not to watch TV any more. Nobody will die because he or she has not watched TV. Or maybe today we should say: Never play with the computer, or use the computer only to study, or do not have an internet phone, or something like that. One decision like this may change the life of a child. Because he or she may open his or her eyes, and realize that there are so many other options in the real life. Because the battle for chastity may become very hard, last but not least, we need the help of God: Prayer and frequent confession are the best means to preserve purity of heart.

 

May the Lord grant us and our children the virtue of chastity. May we not be deceived by those who consider the body an object of use. May we realize that God himself became flesh to show us how much he loves us, how great our dignity is, and how great is the dignity of our body. May we make of our bodies worthy temples of Jesus, who abides in our heart.  –Fr. Andrew



[1] The phrase is from Paul Claudel.