June is almost over and the virtue of the month is Chastity. Our blessed Lord says: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God (Matt 5:8). St. Alphonsus says, he who conquers the vice opposed to this virtue will easily triumph over the rest. On the contrary, he who permits himself to be ruled by incontinency falls an easy prey to the other vices such as hatred, injustice, etc.
Our body is the most powerful weapon the devil possesses to make us his slaves. On this account it is seldom that a man comes forth victorious from this conflict. "The struggle for chastity is the most violent of all; the battle is renewed every day, and victory is rare," says St. Augustine.
St. Alphonsus reminds us that every wicked thought that enters the mind is not a sin, but the yielding or consenting to them is. When assailed by temptations, we must have instant recourse to the means necessary to overcome them. As always, he gives practical suggestions in humbling ourselves before God and having immediate recourse to God without stopping to reconsider the temptation.
1. Pronounce the holy names of Jesus and Mary and continue to pronounce them until the temptation is overcome. It if is a violent temptation it may be well to repeat the following resolution: "Oh my God, I will rather die than offend Thee! Oh my Jesus, help me! Mary, my Mother, assist me!"
2. Receive the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist. A temptation or sin revealed is half overcome. And this Heavenly Food affords us great strength to resist temptations.
3. Devote oneself to the Immaculate Mother of God, the Virgin of virgins. Oh, how many have kept themselves pure as angels by devotion to this Blessed Queen of angels!
4. Other means will suggest themselves to each individual, such as avoidance of idleness, modesty of the eyes, and diligence in avoiding dangerous or proximate occasions.
Nearly all the passions that assail us have their origin in the unrestrained liberty of the eyes, for as a rule it is our unguarded looks that awaken in us inordinate inclinations and passions.
St. Augustine says, "from the look proceeds the thought and from the thought the desire." St. Alphonsus expounds, had Eve not looked at the forbidden fruit, she would not have fallen into sin. But she took pleasure in looking at it, and the fruit seemed beautiful and good. She took it and ate and was guilty of disobedience. We see here how the devil tempts man first to look, then to desire, and at last to consent.
I am living proof that a person can be living a sinful life for years and can still climb out of the pit by the grace of God. Do not let the devil suggest that the sins of your youth are unforgiveable. See when we are young, we are so often ruled by our passions, and it is the easiest way for the devil to win our souls. When we're older, the devil has other means, like materialism and despair ... but I digress.
I agree with the great Saint Alphonsus, for I've been able to become chaste over the years by these very practices he recommends. I think marriage is a very good institution, not just for the raising of children, but also because it protects us from our tendency to sexual sin. Of course, that doesn't mean we do not use our spouses for sexual gratification, but eventually we learn to love and love deeply. One of the best advice I got during confession was to think of the terrible scourging Jesus suffered whenever I am tempted to consent to the sins of the flesh. More recently, help has arrived in the form of Angelic Warfare. I recommend it very much for our youth. It is our greatest weapon.
I hope you will forgive me for this photograph. I was sweeping the porch and came across these two locked in a loving embrace. Since they didn't skitter away, I had to take a picture. It isn't very often that you come across such a beautiful sight. I wonder where they will lay their eggs ...