Friday, January 30, 2015

All the discussions about chastity these days may miss a very simple point.

Single heartedness.

It seems to me the real difficulty with chastity - especially for those who have been sexually abused or have abused the gift of sexuality itself, may come down to a lack of charity.  The Catechism defines the virtue of charity this way:

1822 Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.
1824 Fruit of the Spirit and fullness of the Law, charity keeps the commandments of God and his Christ: "Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love. - CCC

Chastity is difficult when our affections are dissipated, inordinate, disordered, and all over the place.

One may be celibate and remain unchaste. So celibacy isn't the goal.

Chastity frees us, open us, expands all our faculties to love God with our whole being, and our neighbor as our self.

[Lust and attraction are not synonymous either.]

Pier Vittorio Tondelli came to understand chastity as a “a mystic virtue for those who have chosen it and perhaps the most superhuman use of sexuality.”

It seems to me that celibacy is more a condition of single life. All are called to chastity. In contemporary understanding, chaste single life pretty much equals celibacy. Religious life does too - yet ordinarily, religious do not make a vow to be celibate, but to be chaste. To love God with their entire being, otherwise celibacy doesn't mean a great deal.

Just like love, chastity is misunderstood and 'not loved' in our culture. It's not a curse. Tondelli suggests it is chosen - on some level that is true - we can eat of the tree of forbidden fruit, or not. We have free will. More deeply, it is a grace, a gift, a valuable pearl, that one needs to sell everything to obtain. Like love, it requires sacrifice.

"Love is a teacher, but one must know how to acquire it, for it is hard to acquire, it is dearly bought, it is won slowly by long labor. For we must love not occasionally, for a moment, but forever." - Dostoevsky, Fr. Zosima


  1. Terry, if you think you've got nothing to offer, you're so wrong. I know you say you dislike attention and don't want people to listen to you, but your offering the teaching of the Church as you do is a great blessing to me and many others. With charity and humor, you bless us all.

    1. Thanks - you're too kind - if anything is worthwhile it is not from me - it's the Holy Spirit. Believe me! Although you know that. LOL!

  2. I ditto doughboy. Have you read Daniel Mattson's article on celibacy and chastity? It's amazing!

    1. Thanks Mary Ann - I did see that and linked to it. It is indeed a pretty amazing article. I think Dan is a pretty amazing guy.

  3. +JMJ+

    The idea that chastity frees love reminds me of another insight I read recently: modesty frees beauty.

    (Did I read that here?)

  4. Please let the Holy Spirit continue to work through you. Your posts state the Truth in Love.


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