Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8). St. Paul reminds us of our dignity, “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; glorify God in your bodies.”  Our Lady of Fatima in 1917 spoke about the virtue of purity in three different ways: modesty, eternal perdition, and the institution of the family.  The Mother of God, who appeared 6 times to the Shepherd children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, revealed to them messages that have an impact on the whole world!

1.     On July 13, 1917, Our Lady showed the children a graphic vision of hell.  She implored the children to pray the Rosary and to offer sacrifices because many souls are lost because there is nobody to offer sacrifices for them. Then sadly she said that most souls are lost for all eternity due to the sins against the 6th and 9th commandments—that is to say, the sins committed against the holy virtue of purity.

2.     MODESTY.   Mary also said that many immodest fashions would be introduced into the world that would gravely offend the Lord.   If Mary said this at the beginning of the last century, what about now?  How widely has immodesty spread throughout the world: from TV, to movies, to internet, to advertisements, to dress in general!

3.     MARRIAGES.  Furthermore, Our Lady said that many marriages were not good, not pleasing to God.  She did not state explicitly the reason, but we can surmise that one of the primary reasons is due to the sin of impurity, before marriage, in the marriage--- all to the detriment of the children and the safeguard of the family.

Lust is one of the Capital Sins that comes with being born with Original Sin.  A short definition of Lust!  It is a disordered desire for sexual pleasure.  Sexuality has its proper place, purpose, and blessing!  Where and when and with what intention?   Sexuality is blessed by God only in the context of the Sacrament of Marriage, between man and woman, with the purpose of mutual self-giving  (The Gift of self, Pope JPII), and with the purpose of being open to life or procreation of children. Not complicated, the definition! However, without God’s grace, impossible to live!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that purity can gained by a self-mastery.  It is not a virtue that is attained overnight, but must be attained especially through God’s grace and collaboration with His help!

What are some of the specific ascetical-mystical-practical means that should be employed to attain the virtue of purity and live out the Beatitude: “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.”  (Mt 5:8).

1.    PRAYER!   Purity, like humility and forgiveness, is a supernatural virtue—meaning, that it is a virtue that transcends our natural strength. In other words, we need God’s help through grace. Therefore, we should humbly beg constantly for the virtue of purity.  “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Mt.7:7) Augustine says that we are all beggars before God. Why not beg for purity of heart, mind, soul, body and even intention!

2.    PENANCE!  Our Lady of Fatima called us to pray-- especially the Rosary, that she insisted upon in every one of the 6 Apparitions. However, she also encouraged the three shepherd children to offer up sacrifices because these were very pleasing to God. Penance, mortification, self-denial, at times fasting, all serve to curb our sensual and animal nature. If we do not curb and conquer the flesh, then we become slaves to the flesh.

3.     WORK!  “Idleness is the workshop of the devil!”  If we do not have anything to do then the devil will offer us an abundance to do and paint it a rosy color! Looking back in retrospect in our lives, we can see a constant theme: nothing to do, temptation, and fall!    A clear Biblical illustration is the fall of King David.  Gifted beyond belief, poet, mystic, writer of Psalms, musician, successful warrior, King of Israel--- David had it all! But he had a weakness—call it his “Kryptonite”!  Due to laziness, he did not go out to battle. Much free time on his hands, a long siesta, and unguarded eyes, led King David to lusting after Bathsheba, committing adultery with her, and finally murdering her husband, Uriah!   Our motto to keep us out of trouble should be the Benedictine motto: “Ora y Labora!”—that is to say, “Work and pray!”

4.     CONFESSION!  The specific sacramental grace of the Sacrament of Confession is  healing!    Jesus is the “Divine Physician”, who can heal the whole person, body and soul.  The practice of frequent confession has infinite value. It serves as medicine for the soul; either curative medicine or preventive medicine! Try it and see the results!

5.    EYE-CONTROL!  Without a doubt, today we are bombarded by so many indecent and impure images: TV, internet, movies, billboards, newspapers and magazines, immodesty in dress, etc.  “The eyes are the mirror of the soul.” Especially now, we must keep a strict effort to control our eyes! Remember the sin of David!  The holy Job made a pact!  The pact was this: He would not look improperly upon a maiden!  Why not follow holy Job in making a pact with our eyes to contemplate only the beauty of God’s creation!  “Blessed are the pure of heart, they will see God!”  (Mt 5:8)

6.    CONVERSATION!  Our conversation should never betray anything that even refers to impurity. It is recorded in the life of St John Bosco that, when young, some older man told something impure. Many years later the saint lamented that he could not expunge that from his memory!  Remember Jesus’ warning: “Every word that is uttered we will have to render an account on the Day of Judgment.”

7.     SELF-KNOWLEDGE!  St. Ignatius of Loyola insists upon SELF-KNOWLEDGE!  One of the principle reasons for the daily examen is to see God’s presence in our lives, but also to detect our weaknesses that lead to our falls.  We all have weak moments during the course of the day. Do a quick examination and see the time, the place, and the circumstances in which--- in the past—you have fallen into impurity. Use this self-knowledge as a valuable tool to avoid future falls!  A famous historian once wrote: “He who does not know history, is condemned to repeat the same errors.” By the same token, we can say lack of self-examination in the area of purity can open wide the door to future collapses and nose-dives!  The Greek- philosopher stated that the unexamined life is a life not worth living!

8.     BALANCE!  Often due to lack of sleep, lack of exercise, poor eating habits and the tension and frustration of daily life, the sexual appetite is exacerbated and can easily lead to a fall!  Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and should be respected with respect to purity and also with respect to proper care in the realm of general hygiene and health!

9.     BODY OF CHRIST IN OUR BODY, THE TEMPLE OF CHRIST.  Of great importance in attaining the virtue of purity, is the frequent, fervent, faith-filled reception of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.  Reflect on this profound truth! Upon receiving Holy Communion, the very Precious and Pure Blood of Jesus enters your body, mind, heart, and even circulates through your very veins. What better way to attain purity than having Jesus Himself taking possession of your whole being!

10. IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY! In the Diary of Mercy in my Soul of St. Faustina Kowalska, surfaces a perfect closing anecdote to our topic of purity.  Jesus appears to her in glory and, with a golden sash, wraps it around her waist. From that moment she was given the gift of perfect chastity. No longer did she experience the lower movements of the flesh (concupiscence); even more, she never again would experience impurity of the mind in her thoughts!  Faustina added that she had been begging for the grace of perfect chastity for a long time to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  May the Immaculate Conception, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Virgin of Virgins, Mary our Mother and Queen, attain for all of us purity of mind, heart, body, soul and intention so that we will be able to live out the Beatitude, “Blessed are the pure of heart, they will see God.” (Mt 5:8)