St. Paul exhorts us vehemently to keep the body pure! "Brothers and sisters: the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord and the Lord is for the body.... Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own.For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glory God in your body." (I Corinthians 6...) The price that Jesus paid for our salvation was the shedding of His Precious Blood for us on Calvary, Holy Friday! The price was the Blood of God Himself!
Clearly the Holy Spirit, speaking through the words in the Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians is challenging the comunity of Corinth, as well as the whole world, as well as you and me individual to strive with all our effort and the grace of God to live out purity in our lives!
In 1917 Our Lady appeared in Fatima to three shepherd children and spoke several times about the virtue of purity. She said that most souls are lost due to sins against the virtue of purity; also, that many immodest fashions would enter the world that would gravely offend God. She also reminded priests to dedicate themselves to their priestly ministers and to live a life of purity and finally she said sadly that many marriages are not good. Even though she did not mention the reason for the marriage state; however, obviously, one of the principal reasons why marriages and families are in crisis is due to a failure in the virtue of purity!
Therefore, let us launch into a short PROGRAM FOR PURITY!
1. PRAYER! Purity, like humility and mercy and forgiveness, are all supernatural virtues. In concrete that means that these cannot be practiced merely on a natural plane; we need grace and a lot of it! Therefore, we must become "Beggars". St. Augustine affirmed, "We are all beggars before God! Beg God for a pure heart! Jesus told us in the Gospel: "Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened...(Mt. 7:7) Jesus wants to bestow this gift on us more than we actually want it. It is for your receiving if you beg for it and collaborate with God''s grace!
2. BEAUTY! We are attracted to beauty! Convince ourselves of this truth: sin is ugly, but virtue is beautiful! The more holy the soul; the more beauty radiates from it. For that reason Mary most holy is attractive-- due to the beauty of grace and holiness! The Italians have an expression: "Ugly as sin!"
3. CONTROL YOUR EYES! The eyes are the mirror of the soul. The senses are the gateways and pathway by which we contact external reality. However, smut, dirt, mud can enter our souls if we abuse our eyes! Remember the great King David-- poet, mystic, warrior, friend, composer of Psalms, musician and even one of the greatest of Kings! Despite all these natural and supernatural gifts, the Great King fell deep into the mud of sin and one of the principal reasons was that he did not keep vigilance over his eyes. He saw Bathsheba, lusted after her, committed adultery with her and ends up by killing an innocent man, the husband of Bathsheba! Keep strict vigilance over your eyes!
4. MORTIFICATION OF THE USE OF THE ELECTRONIC MEDIA! Advances in technology stuns the imagination! Never has there been so many sources of information, but at the same time never has there been so much confusion and at the same time access to images that can damage, poison, form addictions and eventually ruin the person for time and for all eternity! The use of television, movies, magazines, but especially the use of the Internet must be strictly controlled--- and with teens-- supervised! Computer/Internet control must be supervised and protected. Having the computer in an open space, utilizing a filter like "Safeyes.com", set times of use for the computer, a screen saver with an image of Jesus and Mary, passwords.... All of these are precautionary measures that should be utilized! More than 200 years ago St. Elizabeth Seton made the prophecy that a "Black-box" would enter the American homes and do irreparable damage! Was this prophecy the entrance of the t.v. into the home?
5. MODESTY IN DRESS! We must come to a keen awareness of our innate dignity that we are created in the image and likeness of God. Through the Sacrament of Baptism we have become temples of the Holy Spirit. In receiving Holy Communion, we are living Tabernacles of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Finally, St Paul calls us ambassadors of Christ-- he who represents the King! This being said, we must dress at all times according to this sublime dignity that we all possess! On one occasion a young man, while in church and on the Communion line, tapped a young woman (very immodestly dressed in church) on the shoulder and told her: "You cannot go to receive Holy Communion; the reason is that because of you(your flagrant immodesty) I cannot go to Communion. Her immodest attire led the young man into serious sin, while in the Church! Followers of Christ, should be dressed modestly 24/7-- always! We always are ambassadors of Christ-- the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Any immodest dress in your wardrobe? Get the sharp scissors and cut to shreds! Better this now than the fiery judgment of the Lord!
6. SPEECH! Control your speech! Nothing indecent, immodest. impure should issue for your mouth! Remember the penetrating words of Jesus: "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." On one occasion already as an elderly priest, St John Bosco sadly complained that when he was a boy an elderly man had told a dirty story and after close to 50 years he(St. John Bosco) could not expunge the words from his mind! Our words can have huge impact and impressions, either for good or for bad! St. Bonaventure says that we should open our mouths to speak on three occasions: "To accuse ourselves, to praise God and to edify our neighbor." May this be our rule for speech!
7. PENANCE/MORTIFICATION. Due to Original Sin and concupiscence--- a disordered desire for sensual pleasure--- the body is like a petulant, capricious, and spoiled child, that always wants more and more--- in other words, it likes pampering! To conquer the flesh, the spiritual solder must form the habit of the practice of frequent penance and even fasting! Jesus said that some devils can be expelled only by prayer and fasting. Jesus taught us by His own example by fasting and praying for 40 days and nights and as such conquering the devil. (Mt 4: Gospel for first Sunday of Lent). Either the flesh is conquered by the spirit and their is true liberty of the flesh conquers and their is slavery. Every Sunday the church celebrates a "Mini-Easter!" Every Friday we renew our sentiments of sorrow for Jesus' suffering on Calvary and we renew sorrow for our sins-- that which nailed Jesus to the cross. Friday is a day of penance, in which we should sacrifice ourselves for Jesus who loved me and gave Himself up for me! Penance fortifies the will against the imperious demands of the flesh and paves the way for a life of purity!
8. FALL? GET UP IMMEDIATELY! A classic film of the 80's--- CHARIOTS OF FIRE--- portrays the hero, Eric Liddle, in the 400 meter race. Almost from the start another one of the runners nudges him and he collapses! The loss of a few seconds in such a short race is enormous! He had to choose? Remain in the dust and bemoan his fate or rise and pursue the others and win the prize. That is what he decided. With all the energy in his body, and all the strength in his will, he passed on runner, then the second, and finally the third, broke the tape on won the race by a split-second! We can all easily fall! However, we must be resilient to rebound, bounce back and ascend higher. Peter fell, but he returned loving the Lord all the more. Love covers a multitude of sins. A well-prepared, well-expressed confession with true sorrow and a firm purpose of amendment for sin can lift us higher than before our fall. Our God is merciful, a God of second chances. He forgives us even more than the 70 times 7 if we are truly sorry!
9. HOLY MASS/HOLY EUCHARIST/HOLY COMMUNION. Above and beyond any remedy, caution, suggestion to live out the holy virtue of purity is the frequent, fervent, and faith-filled reception of Holy Communion. The fires of passion can be best extinguished by the reception of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus. The Precious Blood of Jesus mixes with ours, purifying, ennobling, sanctifying, strengthening. Every Holy Communion results in the transformation of a "Heart-Transplant". The Sacred Heart of Jesus beats in ours and turning the lowly and impure into the most pure and sublime!
10. MARIAN DEVOTION AND CONSECRATION. Unanimous are the saints in their love for Mary! Also in their struggles and temptations they have frequent recourse to the most pure and Immaculate Heart of Mary. An example from ST. FAUSTINA KOWALSKA! She had been storming heaven for a very special grace: PERFECT CHASTITY. The day arrived! Jesus appeared to her in glory! he approached her and wound around her waist a golden sash. The sash symbolized perfect chastity. No longer would Saint Faustina experiences temptations in the mind against chastity nor even the movements in the flesh! God had granted her the gift of perfect chastity! Upon receiving the gift, the saint rejoiced immensely. However, she added that this gift she had been begging for a long time and she was begging this gift through the intercession of Mary. So, it was through the powerful intercession of Mary, Queen of Virgins, Virgin of Virgins, Virgin most holy that this extraordinary gift was granted to the saint! In our struggle to conquer lust, impurity, and sensuality in all forms, let us lift up our minds, souls, and hearts to Mary, trusting that she can attain for us extraordinary graces, especially that of purity of mind, eyes, heart, body, intention and life!
Conclusion. By acquiring purity of life, we will be able to contemplate the Face of Jesus for all eternity. Jesus promised us in the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the pure of heart, they will see God." (Mt. 5:8) St. John Berchmans S.J. asserted: "I want to keep my eyes all the more pure in this life so as to contemplate with every greater clarity the beauty of Mary in heaven."