The Wisdom of Chastity ~ A Guest Post by Morgan

When Morgan first conveyed this story to me, I knew that many of you would benefit from it.  Each of you will be challenged in your commitment to chastity by many people in various situations. Morgan offers many reasons for choosing this virtue.  This quote, to me, is the best reason:

“…But do I know that living chastely is what makes me the best version of myself? A thousand times yes…”

 Thank you, Morgan for sharing your story!  Check out her blog here and find her on Twitter here!

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Imagine this scene:

There I am, sitting on an exam table, waiting for my very first OBGyn appointment to begin.

I’m feeling a mixture of emotions…nervousness especially, but also a twinge of annoyance.

I was 20 years old and a virgin with no plans of sexual activity until marriage.

So then WHY, I asked myself, was I there. Ugh.

My doctor walked in, she seemed nice enough and began to ask the routine questions.

It was when I revealed to her that I was indeed sexually inactive and surprise! never had been, that the appointment took a turn I hadn’t anticipated.

Let me pause for a moment and explain something.

Now, I had prepared myself for this moment in the appointment. The moment when I tell my doctor that yes, I am a virgin, and yes, I am saving sex for marriage.

I had expected that perhaps she would accept my answer but blow past it with the assumption that I should go on the pill, “just in case I changed my mind” (after all, I was in college, and who really expects college kids to not give in to the hook-up culture?).

I had expected that perhaps she wouldn’t believe me and would push and prod in hopes of me giving her the real truth.

What I didn’t expect was that a normally hour-long appointment turned into a 2+ hour discussion on how I had managed to retain my virginity in the society we live in today.

I’ll be honest, that was the first time I’d ever had to explain myself. Most of my friends in high school were Mormon, so living out chastity was pretty easy with that support system around me. I never received any negative backlash while in high school, though I found out years later that people said that I was “really religious” (a comment I took pride in upon hearing it, though, had I heard that at the time it was said, I may not have taken it as a compliment).

And in college, I was extremely involved at the Catholic Newman Center, which provided me with numerous friends also living chastely…as well as many examples of couples who made chastity a priority in their relationship.

But this conversation with someone who turned out to be genuinely interested in how I, in her words, had become “such a confident young woman who is so assured in [her] decision to save sex for marriage”, allowed me to explore how I DID choose chastity and in turn, also strengthened my commitment to this way of life.

(I think I remember her saying something about how “normal” I was…umm yeah, common misconception about those who are living out chastity…)

The following are just a few of the seemingly endless questions she asked me, which I think help to encompass the “how” behind my commitment to chastity.

Were you raised like this?

hermmm….well, yes, I suppose you could say that. I mean, I am the eldest of four children and we were all taught to love, respect, and honor others AND ourselves. But I don’t ever remember my mom sitting me down and saying

“now, Morgan, remember that you must always protect the precious gift of your virginity until marriage”

….because, to be honest, that never really came up. I don’t look back and see my childhood as being “sheltered”, but my parents definitely guarded their children’s young minds and hearts from worldly influences that might encourage certain negative behaviors.

(Read: no PG-13 movies until we were AT LEAST 13, etc.)

I learned about sex when my mom gave me “the talk”, not from cable television. And because I had a good relationship with her, when I had a question, I went to her for answers, and I’m sure that formed my mind in how I viewed my body and sexuality as a whole.

Are you a virgin because of religion?

Oiy vey. My answer to my OBGyn went something like this:

“Well, I am Catholic, and the Church does teach that chastity is what ought to be practiced. However, the teachings of the Church aren’t the fundamental reasons why I’ve remained a virgin…but they support the values that are already ingrained in me.”

I love that our Holy Mother Church teaches about chastity. Despite the misconceptions of others that her loving teachings are “restricting” or “old-fashioned”, I love them. Plain and simple.

But as I stated those 3-some years ago in that doctor’s office, I feel like my desire to practice chastity has been inherently written on my soul. I love that Church teaches what I practice, but it’s kind of like my pro-life beliefs.

I am pro-life not because my Church tells me to be, but because it is what is right and true.

I live out chastity not simply because I’m Catholic and therefore must, but because it is what is right and true for my body and soul.

Having the Church’s teachings there as a safety net when I’m feeling weak and want to give in to temptation really do help me to remain strong. It’s great to have back-up!

But in this society! You must be REALLY convicted.

Yes. Yes I am.

Living chastely is a choice I have to make every. single. day.

Is it easy, especially in today’s world? Heck to the no.

But do I know that living chastely is what makes me the best version of myself? A thousand times yes.

I’ve been in impure relationships before and they were harmful to my soul. Being conscious of my mind, heart, and body at all times can be exhausting, but it’s something that I’ve committed to myself, and to my future husband, and I intend to see it through.

People, while they say that men are visual creatures, that doesn’t mean that a herd of shirtless runners doesn’t also affect us women. Seriously.

But the phrase “practicing chastity” means, for me, just that. I’ve grown and become much better at controlling my thoughts and desires than when I first consciously began choosing chastity.

The bottom line: at 23 years old, I am a virgin and saving sex for marriage. There have been many influences in my life to get me to the place that I’m at today, but when it comes down to it, the choice, the commitment, the promise to live chastely has to be my decision. I am grateful to everyone and everything that has brought me to this point, but what keeps me on this track is remaining faithful to our Lord and when I’m feeling weak, running to Him for the strength I need to carry on.

Thank you so much to Cindy for allowing me this opportunity to share part of my story!

Please know of my prayers for all of you!

Morgan  Photo of Morgan (Beautiful hair and smile!)

Dear God: What do you want from me?

Maura Byrne from Made In His Image spoke to about 100 middle school girls this past weekend during our County Youth Day.  She was fantastic!  If you can convince your school or parish to have Maura come and talk with your girls about Modesty and Chastity, do it! 

I was reminded during Maura’s talk that it is a blessing to be broken and sifted.  It forces us to ask the question “God, what do you want from me?”  Some of us ask this question at an earlier age than others, some never ask the question at all and sometimes the question looks more like this:

God!!  What in the world do you want from me?!?!”

Silence

When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, remember the teacher is always quiet during the test.”

Author Unknown

When I was single, I asked that question of God and was met with silence every time.  He let me wrestle with Him all the while not saying a word.  Silence.  It would have been a lot easier if He had given me a list of answers consisting of ‘do this and don’t do that.’  But, all I received was silence.

His silence exasperated me and made my face and eyes burn with tears of frustration.  He held His ground.  I accused Him of being unfair and of not really caring about me.  He was immovable. 

Gradually, I received the gift of brokeness.  I had no one else and nothing else to turn to.  He was my only hope.

Deep down, I already knew what I needed to do and what I needed to stop doing.  But there is a difference between knowing and understanding.  I wanted to understand why.  I wanted to understand what difference it would make in my life if I followed His precepts and commands. 

Joy, Pure, Light

“The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” 

Psalm 19:8

So, I went to His word.  I studied the scriptures.  I studied the writings of the Saints. I prayed.  I started living a Sacramental life.  I started giving my time, talent and treasure to the Church.  I sat in His presence in silence during Eucharistic Adoration.  I studied all I could about the wisdom of Chastity and committed to it sincerely.  Then, I closed my eyes and persevered through the next 10 yearsOnce I was following His precepts, I was able to see and understand what He wanted from me: Relationship

Sifted

“…it was in these matters of the heart that my own heart was sifted and scoured and exposed, the process of purifying begun.”

Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity

Through the process of not receiving what I wanted, I was sifted.  The things I wanted God to deliver to me (marriage, children) had to be put on the altar.  I had to trust that no matter what the future holds for me, our relationship is the one thing I could not live without.  Our relationship kept that little itty bitty flicker of hope alive in me and kept me going.

Trust

“…the bringing of our unruly wills and affections into order will cost us something.”

Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity

I am not sure that God “withholds” marriage from us in order to break and sift us. Delayed and missed marriages are happening for a variety of reasons but are mostly tied to the culture (contraception, fornication,abortion) in which we are living.  Either way, I think He can use just about anything to get our attention.  For me, withholding marriage was the best method. 

Are you being sifted?  Keep following His precepts.  Are you wondering what God wants from you?  He wants relationship.  A relationship of dependency, trust, proper worship and love.  Are you running low on hope?  Trust Him, worship Him, love Him, wait on Him. 

I know it is hard.  You remain in my prayers.  God love and bless you.

p.s.  Recommended reading:  Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity

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Dear Teenage Girl

Dear Teenage Girl,

I have been asked several times recently how to ‘reach you’ with the wisdom and power of Chastity.  Each time, my response has been “I am not quite sure.”  You already know that you can get pregnant and/or an STD from sex.  But, these facts are not very convincing when you are in the heat of the moment.

Deep within yourself listen to your conscience which
calls you to be pure. … Passing encounters are
only a caricature of love, they injure hearts and mock Gods plan.”

Blessed Pope John Paul II

I also will never tell a girl that she will be damaged in some way if she does have sex outside of marriage.  Although unchaste behavior does injure our relationship with ourselves and with God, that message is just not very loving.  So, how do we reach you with the Truth?

I am going to try to draw a picture for you.  No, actually several pictures.  The first is a picture of your future which I will draw from the deepest desires of your heart.  The second is a picture of how you are designed (biologically, emotionally, spiritually and physically).  And the third picture will help you connect the first and second picture.

The First Picture

I don’t think your exact age right now really matters.  You could be 12, 14 or 18 years old and I think this first picture will look familiar to you.  It is a picture of the future you are hoping to have.  It includes love, trust, family, life and faith.  Do you know why I believe this?  Because logically I don’t think anyone hopes for hate, betrayal, being alone, death and doubt.

So, close your eyes and picture your future painted from the desires of your heart.  It includes a husband, right?  And children, right?  This is normal.  This is healthy.  God put those desires there for a reason.  The picture you painted of your future is beautiful

“Be sober, be watchful! For your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, goes about seeking someone to devour.” 

1st Peter 5:8

Keep that picture in the front of your mind as you navigate through the next 10 or so years because you will be challenged.  Hatred, betrayal, loneliness, death and doubt stand ready to enter your life.

The Second Picture

Wow, that last sentence was quite a Debbie Downer statement wasn’t it?  I included it because I think you are old enough to hear the Truth.    

There are tripping hazards in your future and you need to know about them.  In order to see and avoid these tripping hazards, you need to first understand how you are designed; how we are all designed.  So let me paint the second picture for you.

You have a body and a soul.  This is true whether you are a Catholic or an atheist, male or female.  If you are a human person, you have a body and a soul.  In order to accept the gifts of love, trust, family, life and faith, your body and your soul must be in harmony with each other.  Your body and soul cannot be significantly disconnected.

“In the absence of chastity, a person is easily seduced into doing things that are beneath his dignity, things that are shameful, things that do not accord with who he truly is”

Angelic Warfare Confraternity

Here are the things that disconnect your body and your soul:

1. sex outside marriage  2. allowing anyone to use your body   3. doing things that are beneath your dignity  4. contraception  5. immodest dress 6. immodest language and 7.  entertainment and media which glorifies the 6 prior things listed

Chastity is a powerful virtue and is required in order to keep your body and your soul in harmony.  Chastity, simply put, includes saving sex for marriage and remaining open to life within marriage (not contracepting).  When contraception is used, it is a violation of our design and dignity and it is a violation of the virtue of Chastity.

Contraception.  Oh, yes, I went there.  As a teen, you will most likely be tempted and maybe even pressured to go on the pill.  It would be better for you, precious teenage girl, to create a child in the heat of the moment than it would to be on birth control and get used by boys/men for the next 10 or 20 years. 

It is very hard to admit to ourselves when we are being used.  We want to believe that the boy we are intimate with is not using us, that he loves us and that we have a future with him.  But, as Blessed Pope John Paul II stated, these are “passing encounters” and are “only caricatures of love.”  “Deep within yourself”, you know this.  And, I am so sorry to inform you, so does everyone else.

Even if you do not believe you are being used, you need to know that sex is designed to create babies within the Sacrament of Matrimony.  When you disconnect sex and babies and sex and matrimony, you disconnect your body and our soul.  So please avoid this tripping hazard so you can accept the good gifts that God has for you!

God Triangle Healthy RelationshipThe Third Picture

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” 

Psalm 37:4

I have wonderful news for you! God knows who your husband is!  So, doesn’t it make sense for you to stay close to the One that has the inside scoop on your future?  Stay close to Him in the Sacraments (Confession and the Holy Eucharist received at Mass), in prayer, Eucharistic Adoration and in Sacred Scripture.  The grace from the Sacraments and this closeness with God will strengthen you in your commitment to Chastity.

Either God or Satan is in the bridal chamber.”

Alice von Hildebrand, Man and Woman: A Divine Invention

Chastity is a life-long virtue (not just a teen virtue).  It means to honor our bodies by protecting the holiness of the marital embrace (the Holy of Holies).  Sex is only for marriage and we must remain open to life if we want to enjoy this closeness with God.

The Veil

I sincerely remember being a teenager.  We want love and affirmation.  We believe every other girl our age has a perfect life.  We experience rejection.  This desire for love and affection as well as the hurt of envy and rejection are not limited to your teenage years so you might as well strengthen yourself as soon as you can!  How?

“…Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies…  Hebrews 9:4

“…the veil shall serve for you as a partition between the holy place and the Holy of Holies  Exodus 20:33

If I could transport myself back to my teen years, it would help to know that I was covered by a veil.  Please go here to read about The Veil and Superabundance.  Although the veil is just a metaphor, I think you can follow the concept.  God knows who your husband is and He will arrange your marriage if you stay close to Him and commit to chastity.  Because you are covered by a veil, only your husband will be able to ‘see’ you.  All other guys will, thankfully, reject you.  This will be frustrating and painful but oh so rewarding when you realize that, in your husband’s eyes, you are the girl of his dreams.

As it instructs us in sacred scripture, be ‘asleep’ in the will of God and do not ‘stir things up’ until the Lord says it is time.

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up, nor
awaken my love, until it pleases.”
Song of Songs 8:4

Hold on to these pictures, dear Teenage Girl!  Remain chaste. Remain asleep and refrain from stirringHope in the Lord.  Wait on Him.

God love and bless you!

Other posts you may enjoy:

Dear God:  What Do You Want From Me?

Is He The One?

A Man’s Perspective On Attraction

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Merge Your Body And Soul

The more our bodies and our souls sing the same song, whose notes were written by the Creator, the better the chance that the two complementary sexes will create beautiful music.”

Dr. Alice von Hildebrand

Man and Woman ~ A Divine Invention

 

I know the idea that attraction is purely physical is cemented into most of our minds because of our culture’s obsession with obtaining physical perfection.  But, it is a lie.  In the first part of this myth buster, I discussed the problem of having our body and our souls disconnected.  I touched on how important it is to have harmony between our body and our souls and how this harmony enables us to properly relate to the opposite sex. 

A critical goal for all of us to achieve is to reharmonize and merge our body and our soul.  Today I will present ideas for obtaining this harmony through the healing of our spiritual soul and taking care of our physical body with a balanced approach. 

BalanceBalance

Remember disharmony will occur when you emphasize one aspect of yourselves more than the other.  This emphasis will cause you to attract and be attracted to men who also emphasize that one aspect of you.  In other words, if you emphasize and focus on your body, then the men you date will do the same.  If you emphasize your soul at the expense of your body, then the men will potentially only feel a sisterly affection toward you rather than spousal love.  It is important to be in balance so that you, the whole person, can love and be loved. 

Only In Heaven

“The body, formed in the image of God, and the soul, which has adopted the Spirit of the Father, in harmony, make up the perfect human being.” 

Saint Irenaeus (2nd Century)

I don’t want to mislead you into thinking that you will not be able to attract your husband until you have your body and soul perfectly merged. None of us will be perfectly harmonized until we are in heaven!  But this should not discourage us from making a serious effort toward this goal right now.  You definitely want to be ready when you do meet your husband.  So, what can you do in the meantime?

Think Long-Term

When approaching dating and marriage, you must think long-term. Remember the one that God has for you is looking for a person, not just a body. So, don’t allow yourself to focus on your body. And don’t allow a man to marry you for your physical attractiveness. This is a huge risk. I cannot tell you how many times I have witnessed this pattern: Guy falls for the attractive, sexually available girl, they have sex, they get married (or they break up), they contracept, they divorce. This is the future vacuum discussed the first part of this myth buster. 

You may feel very flattered to have a guy fall all over you because of your physical appearance but you must not allow yourself to be sucked in to this type of relationship.  One strategy for protecting yourself from this type of relationship is……Chastity!

Chastity

Chastity is the force that pulls the body and the soul into union and creates the fullness of the intimacy of persons so they can love and be loved.

“Seeing each other, as if through the mystery of creation, man and woman see each other even more fully and distinctly than through the sense of sight itself, that is, through the eyes of the body. They see and know each other with all the peace of the interior gaze, which creates precisely the fullness of the intimacy of persons.”

Blessed Pope John Paul II, Theology of the Body 13:1

Chastity allows you to keep your head on straight in the relationship so that you can accurately judge the quality and direction of the relationship. It allows your body and your soul to sing the same song and make beautiful music with your husband!

Take Care of Your Body

We all need to strike a balance when it comes to taking care of our bodies.  Your body, no matter how flawed you think it may be, is a miraculous gift from God. We must take care of all our gifts, including our bodies. We should never feel hatred toward our body. But, we must also not go overboard and make our bodies an idol.  

Exercise and eating right are important. If you happen to struggle with gluttony (most humans do), then add to your daily prayer list a fervent request to be released from that bondage. I have certainly had to add it to my prayer list!  And I can say it definitely helps so use this powerful tool!

Your physical attributes can be easily enhanced by good hygiene habits. I have very simple advice for you when it comes to taking care of yourself physically:  Don’t smoke (smoking wreaks havoc on your skin and your teeth!), drink lots of water and for heaven sakes use SPF, moisturize and exfoliate your skin!  Seriously, that is it!

If you are already doing all these things to enhance your natural physical attributes, then start to evaluate your soul.

I finally realized that taking care of my soul was key to having a healthy relationship with my body. Once I returned to the Catholic Church and started living a prayerful and Sacramental Life, my body and my soul started to merge. The merger is still taking place today and requires constant prayer.

Take Care Of Your Soul

Your soul needs grace because grace is the only medicine that heals us and brings us into harmony. Here are our resources to the fount of grace:

  • Confession
  • Mass
  • Receive the Precious body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus in the Eucharist
  • Eucharistic Adoration
  • Read Holy Scripture
  • Read Holy Blogs and books
  • Only participate in holy Conversations
  • Protect your mind from media that further severs your body from your soul
  • Commit to Chastity
  • Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet
  • Pray daily and lay your needs before the Lord
  • Thank the Lord for your body, your health and your fertility
  • Attend a Healing Mass
  • Consecration yourself to Jesus through Mary (Louis de Montfort’s Total Consecration to Mary)

RXPrescription

Take care of your body and your soul. Have a balanced approach.  Seek healing from the Lord. Participate in His merging plan for you. Keep your body and soul harmonized with prayer, Chastity and a sacramental life of grace. Then, wait on the Lord. 

God love and bless you!

Next Week

One surprise I hope you all will look forward to is Gregg’s input on this topic.  Next week, he will provide his experience concerning this myth from a guy’s point of view.  I will be doing the typing but the post will be from him.  So stay tuned!

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7 Myths Singles Must Resist: Myth #1 Others Are Getting Away With Sin

Last week I set the stage in this post for the remaining 7 posts in this series.  Each of the 7 posts will address a myth that singles must resist.  As you read each myth, keep in mind that Satan is real, the Fall of Man is real, you are in a Spiritual battle for your mind, your body and your perspective, and you must use your weapons!  The take away from today’s post:  God is Perfect Justice.  Okay, here we go!

Myth #1:  Other people are getting away with sin/sex is Consequence-free.

In my book, the chapter that addresses this myth is called “No One Is Getting Away With Anything.”  In this chapter, I share the statistics of sexual sin, cohabitation and contraception as well as the fallout of those sins on society. I share overall trends that I have noticed over time.  And, I share specific stories but change the details enough to protect the good reputation of others. 

What I have noticed is that the suffering from cohabitation, fornication and contraception does not always happen right away.  Sin is tricky that way.  It looks all fine and dandy at first in order to lure us in.  The goal is to make us think we are not doing anything wrong and that there will be no consequences.  But, sins’ purpose is to destroy us and make us suffer.  It takes its sweet time but you can depend upon it.

But, what about those of you who are waiting patiently and chastely?  Why does it seem that others are going about their business, fornicating, living together, getting big diamond rings, getting married, contracepting and then having babies on demand without any consequences?  Well, I want to reassure you that no one is getting away with anything. Give it time. It is a natural spiritual law.  We go against our design, we suffer.  In order to be redeemed, we suffer.

Not So Fine And Dandy

What you, young reader, are observing is the “fine and dandy” part and it may be leading you to believe that other people are getting away with these sins.  But, rest assured, the destruction and suffering will come.  I don’t say that in a way that takes delight in their future suffering.  I say it as a truth that I would encourage you to meditate on as you make your decisions in the future regarding chastity.

If you are tempted to move in with your boyfriend, fornicate or contracept before or after marriage and if you falsely believe there will be no consequences, this myth-buster is for you. 

The Benefit Of Age

In my book I share stories of situations where people seem to be getting away with sin.  I also share the ‘here is what happened later’ details. I have this insight and perspective because I have 10, 15, maybe even 20 years on most of you reading this blog. 

But, instead of giving you those ‘here is what happened to those sinners’ details, let’s instead go through this truth logically by acknowledging God’s character:  God is perfectly just, patient, merciful and determined to have us with Him in heaven. 

The Character of God

God’s perfect justice is the good news and the bad news.  It is good because we can count on Him to sort it all out and ensure the no one gets away with anything.  It is bad because we are also subject to His perfect justice.  God set up laws that we must follow.  But, like any loving Father, He ensures that with disobedience comes consequences and with obedience comes reward.

God is the very definition of Perfect Justice.  He set up laws and each one has a purpose.  He then lovingly enforces the laws and allows for the consequences to manifest themselves.  But, we do not know ahead of time how He will enforce the law or the timing of the consequences of our sins. So, our limited perspective leads us to believe that others are getting away with sin.  But, we must remember, His ways are not our ways. 

God’s patience is what keeps Him from enacting harsh consequences on us immediately upon our sin.  His mercy gives us a chance to repent.  But, His determination prevents Him from letting us get away with our sin.  So, God set up a system that kicks in when we go against our design.  This system, or natural law, when violated, is often revealed in suffering and destruction.

We are not designed to cohabitate, fornicate or contracept.  When we do, His system of loving consequences kicks in.

Loving Consequences

There are other laws you might recognize such as the scientific laws of gravity, physics and thermodynamics. For example, if you jump off of a bridge, the law of gravity automatically kicks in.  It doesn’t matter if you are a good person or a bad person.  You will fall toward the earth. It is a negative consequence that results from going against the physical law of gravity. 

The natural spiritual laws and the consequences of what we do with our bodies are also automatic.  There is no need for God to “manage” the affairs in this area and dole out punishment.  He already set up the system to protect us from going against our design and this same system results in negative consequences when we do go against our design. 

Again, these natural spiritual laws were put in place to protect us when we start to creep toward danger.  The same laws teach us through negative consequences when we violate them. 

But, most importantly, these laws allow us to be holy and therefore happy, when we obey them.  Because we are working within our design rather than constantly suffering from consequences, we are happy and content.  We are ‘at one’ with our bodies and ‘at one’ with our Maker Who loves us and allows us to suffer the consequences when we separate ourselves from Him through sin.

Unlike the laws of gravity, the consequences of violating these natural laws don’t always kick in immediately.  So, for a time, people may appear to be getting away with sin. 

Where Is My Reward?

I wish I could guarantee you that your obedience is going to result in a reward designed by you.  But, I can’t.  God is not a vending machine.  We cannot drop in our coins of obedience and then select the reward buttons we desire expecting them to drop to the bottom for us to grab.

I also cannot guarantee that you will witness God’s perfect justice played out in consequences for those that cohabitate, fornicate and contracept.  Their life here on earth may appear to be completely consequence-free.  But, remind yourself that you do not have the inside scoop nor do you know the end of the story. Don’t let pride and conceit enter your heart.  Humbly take your eyes off of them.  It is not your business.  Close your eyes and remind yourself of God’s perfect justice and that thankfully, He chases all of us.

 The Blessing Or The Curse

“Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse.  The blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you this day; And the curse if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you this day to go after other gods, which you have not known.”   Deuteronomy 11:26-28

 I know a holy Jewish man who always says with a smile, “Your reward will be your lack of punishment.”   I have the type of personality which thinks that is a pretty good deal.  I don’t want punishment.  I want to know what is expected of me by my Loving Father.  And, I can accept that the blessing that comes from doing what is expected of me will be my reward. The reward will be that I will be in a loving relationship, rather than a rebellious relationship with my Maker and my body.  I can choose this blessing.

I don’t want to mislead you.  Chastity and my Veil theory are not a formula for getting what you want. Instead, the concept is offered as a way of encouraging you to stay in His will.  He wants you there. It matters to Him.  You matter to Him.  He has a plan for you that can only be manifested by your obedience.  Are you not curious to see what He has for you?  Apply your God-given gift of free will and choose obedience.  Choose the blessing and not the curse. 

Yes, others are going to cohabitate, fornicate and contracept.  I had to learn to take my eyes off them.  I had to trust that God loves them too and that His perfect justice will prevail. I had to learn that, sometimes, their story of repentance and redemption is just as beautiful as a life of obedience.

None of us are designed to cohabitate, fornicate or contracept and none of us will get away with unrepented sin.  Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.  Do not look around and wonder why others seem to be getting away with sin.  Keep your mind bathed in the truth of Sacred Scripture.  And, keep your body holy through Chastity and the grace of a Sacramental life.

God bless!

**  In two weeks I will present the Myth#2God has forgotten about me

**  Next Week:  Guest blogger Amanda from worthyofAgape.com will share her gorgeous ‘God chases all of us’ story.  Have your tissues ready!

If you have enjoyed my blog, please “like” my Facebook Page, The Veil and sign up to receive my blog posts automatically by clicking the rectangular “Follow” button. Thank you!

My First Movie Review

Today I offer my first movie review!  In the future, I also plan to write book reviews and blog reviews as a way of providing a variety of resources that impart wisdom and hope to single girls. 

The movie “Paul VI: The Pope in The Tempest” is about the life of Pope Paul VI.  First let me warn you that the movie is only available in Italian.  This language hurdle would have normally been a show-stopper for me.  But, since there are English sub-titles, I found it very easy to understand.  To give you an idea of how easy it is to grasp this movie, even in Italian, our 7 year-old was able to follow (read) along and he loved the movie (he is a history buff).  So, I am confident that you will also be able to easily follow along.

Rather than attempting to summarize the whole movie, I’ve decided to provide this Editorial Review directly from Amazon.com:

“Pope Paul VI was a leader in the Catholic Church as a priest, bishop, cardinal and pope through one of the most difficult periods in its history from the Fascist regime and World War II to the constitution of the Italian Republic, from the Second Vatican Council to the protests and the terrorist attacks of the 1960s and 1970s.

His papacy ran from 1963 to 1978, during which he wrote the prophetic, controversial document Humane Vitae that strongly proclaimed the Church’s teaching on the sacredness of married love and human life, and the evil of contraception which the Pontiff said would open the door to abortion if allowed. He was the first travelling Pope who began to visit the dioceses of the 5 continents like no pope had ever done before.

This exciting and insightful film covers fifty years of history that changed the Catholic Church and the world. Paul VI: The Pope in the Tempestis a story that draws emotion and lessons from history itself, dramatically mixing stunning reconstructions and real film footage.”

You may be wondering why we should care about this man who died over 30 years ago?  I think there are many reasons but I will offer two.  First, he was a modern-day prophet and second, he understands women and reveals us to ourselves.  Hey, anyone that can explain me to me is definitely worth a study! 

Pope Paul VI visits the Holy Land, 1964.

A Difficult Period In History

My review will focus on the topics in the bolded text above.  Specifically, Pope Paul VI’s prophetic encyclical, Humanae Vitae and the impact our Holy Father’s wisdom had on the Church and on the world.

The Editorial Review above states that he was Pope of the Catholic Church during “one of the most difficult periods in its history.”  I agree with this evaluation.  Before watching this movie, I had very little insight into the historical relevance and timing of Humanae Vitae and the difficulty that the Pope endured as a result of releasing the encyclical. 

Hidden Treasures of God’s Wisdom

“He (Christ) is the key that opens all the hidden treasures of God’s wisdom and knowledge. I tell you, then, do not let anyone deceive you with false arguments, no matter how good they seem to be.”                                                                               Col 2: 3-4

Up until The Lambeth Conference in 1930, all Christian faiths were against contraception and believed it to be morally wrong.  Protestants like Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Wesley, Melancthon Jacobus, Matthew Henry, Christian Gottlob Barth, the Synod of Dort, Jerhard Gerhard, William Dodd, Alfred Edersheim, and a bunch of other Protestant theologians all saw Genesis 38 (the spilling of the seed to impede conception) as a condemnation of birth control. But, the Lambeth Conference surprisingly allowed for contraception in limited circumstances for Anglican Protestants. By 1960, a mere 30 years later, most Mainline Protestant denominations had removed prohibitions against artificial contraception. 

By the 1960’s many of the Catholic laity, theologians, priests, Cardinals and Bishops were unable to see a problem with artificial birth control. I say “unable to see” because most, at that time, saw artificial birth control as a good thing and their arguments in support of it seemed to be good.  But, Pope Paul VI found the hidden treasure of God’s wisdom and was not deceived with false arguments.

Humanae Vitae

Humanae Vitae, released by Pope Paul VI in 1968, reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s traditional view of marriage and marital relations and condemned the use of artificial birth control. The encyclical states that “of its very nature (artificial birth control)  contradicts the moral orderand that “it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.”

As you can imagine, the encyclical did not go over well and was very controversial! 

Even the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control, formed by the Pope for the purpose of studying the topic, disagreed with the Pope’s conclusion.  The Commission recommended the Pope go against the consistent historical teaching of the Church and allow artificial birth control. But, Pope Paul VI courageously went against the recommendation of the Pontifical Commission and went forward with the encyclical.

Prophetic Pope

This is one of many examples in history where Jesus’ words ring true:

    “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own but will tell you what He has heard. He will tell you about the future.”              John 16:13

Indeed, the Holy Spirit did tell Pope Paul VI about the future and guided him in truth; a truth which others found impossible to see.  The Pope predicts, with amazing accuracy, that wide-spread acceptance of artificial methods of birth control will result in several negative societal, marital and spiritual consequences, including an increase “need” for abortion.  The specific consequences he predicted, all of which have come true, were:

  1. a “general lowering of moral standards” resulting from sex without consequences, and
  2. the danger that men may reduce women “to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of [their] own desires” and
  3. abuse of power by public authorities and
  4. a false sense of autonomy

 His Wise Words

In the movie, you can feel the pressure Pope Paul VI was under and the inner conflict he experienced.  But, it is his words that I will forever remember.

During one of the meetings with the Pontifical Commission, Pope Paul VI said, “Sterilizing the poor makes the rich feel less guilty.”   This was in response to the Commission trying to make the point that artificial birth control would allow poor families control over their fertility.

Pope Paul VI also said to them, “We are trying to understand the meaning of Love.  What is more important than that?  Be strong!”

In a different conversation, a priest said to the Pope,

The world has long awaited an encyclical that discusses sex.  You cannot publish one that says the same things that a Pope would have said a century ago.  What will our followers and women in particular, think when they read: ‘Any action that impedes procreation must be avoided.’? How much longer can we ignore the needs of the modern world?”

In response, Pope Paul VI said,

I didn’t write this encyclical to discuss sex but to talk about Love…about Life…about men and women. I’ve asked myself, “What’s the value of love and life and of men and women?  What will become of this civilization of love, of men and women?  What will a population in search of personal pleasure be like?  Won’t these contraceptive methods make us lose respect for women?  Won’t they transform women into an object of pleasure?  Won’t they give us the illusion of freedom in exchange for losing faith in the parental roles?  How can love deny the transmission of life?  Isn’t life the greatest gift God has given us? The Pope cannot say something is right if it is not.”

Chastity and Superabundance

What is the connection to Chastity? The most basic definition of Chastity is the virtue of saving sex for marriage and remaining open to life within marriage.  Artificial birth control has made it very easy for sex to take place outside of marriage with the false notion that it is ‘consequence free.’  Here we are, almost 50 after the introduction of the pill, and premarital sex is pretty much a given in relationships.

Abortion is a tragic but normal part of our reality and it is a natural consequence of failed contraception. Contraception has led today’s society to believe that sex should not result in babies and when it does, they are perplexed. How did this happen?  Now, they must get rid of this baby.  In the United States, about 3,000 babies are aborted each day.  That equates to 1,350,500 a year.  That is one every 24 seconds.  For every 100 births in the United States, there are 31 abortions.   

Within marriage, artificial birth control breaks the unitive and procreative meaning of the marital embrace.  Artificial birth control blocks the channel of grace that is supposed to be available to us when we are open to life.  This channel of grace is what produces the fruit of Superabundance.  Artificial birth control cuts off access to grace and Superabundance.  Superabundance is what gives the marriage life.  Without it, marital love dies.

There are so many other severe consequences to the contraceptive mentality, some of which are not felt until it is too late. The Pope predicted this.

Love

The controversy concerning contraception and abortion is still going on today.  But, as the Pope said, it is not about sex.  It is about love.  It is about life and the greatest gift God has given us:  The ability to be co-creators with Him and to participate in the transmission of life. 

“How can love deny the transmission of life?”  Pope Paul VI

It is about Love. 

Thank you, Pope Paul VI.  Thank you, Holy Spirit of Truth. 

God Bless!

Upcoming Reviews:

  1.  Women In Love ~ a book by Katie Hartfield
  2.  Would You Date You? ~ a book by Anthony Buono (founder of AvaMariasingles.com)
  3.  Made In His Image ~ a blog by Maura
  4. Held by His Pierced Hands ~ a blog by Meg Hunter-Kilmer

Hard But Not Impossible

“Though I tried to understand all this, it was too difficult for me,

Till I entered the sanctuary of God and came to understand their end”

Psalm 73:16-17 


Earlier this week I participated in a Facebook exchange.  The exchange followed an article on the CatholicVote.org website. One person objected to her very clear explanation of the Church’s teaching on marriage, love and life.  Let us call this person Sue.  Sue shared that she just had a molar pregnancy and her doctor had recommended she not get pregnant for one year.  So, Sue and her husband started using some form of contraception although it was not the birth control pill.

Sue feels the topic of contraception is ‘complex’ and she doesn’t like being judged for using contraception in her very special circumstance.  She was indignant that others would want her and her husband to go one year without the marital embrace.  And she really did not like being thought of as a ‘bad’ Catholic for using contraception in her very special circumstance.  She had even checked with her priest who gave her the green light to contracept.

Singles Must But Marrieds Are Not Required?

I chimed in with the perspective that single people who follow the Church’s teaching on Chastity go year after year after year after year without any embrace in sight.  I questioned why we expect them to be able to do this yet a married couple, for the sake of health, obedience and life, are not expected to be able to do this?

The poor logic behind this thinking is rooted in the contraceptive mentality.  But, it is also a result of the abstinence mentality.  The abstinence philosophy goes something like, ‘Hey all you single people, don’t have sexWe married people, on the other hand, will do whatever we want because we have been granted the right to have sex even when we don’t want kids.  Oh, you single people want to have sex but you don’t want kids too?  Nope.  Sorry. That is a sin.”

That is why I am a big proponent of teaching Chastity to everyone rather than abstinence.  Chastity is a life-long virtue.  It is to be practiced before marriage and it is expected in marriage.  And, because the virtue is required of all of us, it helps make single people feel like they are not alone in their struggle.

Don’t confuse marital Chastity with abstinence.  I am not saying that the marital embrace is not good or encouraged by the Catholic Church.  I mean, my goodness, it is highly encouraged by the Church!

But, marital Chastity includes remaining open to life with the knowledge that the marital embrace has a purpose.  Besides being a renewal of our wedding vows, the purpose of the marital embrace, simply put, is bonding and babies.  To separate the marital act from its purpose is a sin.  That is the teaching of the Church and it is brilliantly explained by Dr. Janet Smith here.  In addition, marital Chastity results in Superabundance!

But some marrieds want to believe that their contraceptive sex is somehow okay yet sex outside of marriage is a sin.  But both are sins because both misuse and deny the beautiful purpose; bonding and babies.

It Is Possible

When I was pregnant with our miracle child, we were not able to participate in the marital embrace (Dr.’s orders) due to fear of another miscarriage.  We did this for nine months followed by a C-section recovery period. Was it hard? Yes. Is it possible for love’s sake? Yes. Were we stronger afterwards? Yes.

You see, we had experienced the loss of two babies.  So, the requirement put upon us was a light burden because obeying it meant the possibility of embracing our healthy baby in the future.

Also, my husband and I, like today’s chaste singles, had many years of being single without an embrace in sight.  So, the thought of waiting nine plus months was possible for us because we had already strengthened our ‘delayed gratification’ muscle.

The Marshmallow Experiment

The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a study on delayed gratification conducted in 1972 by a psychologist:

“A marshmallow was offered to each child. If the child could resist eating the marshmallow, he was promised two instead of one. The scientists analyzed how long each child resisted the temptation of eating the marshmallow, and whether or not doing so was correlated with future success.  Although the experiment has been repeated many times since, the original study at Stanford has been considered “one of the most successful behavioral experiments”.

It gets more difficult to be obedient and faithful to the teachings of the Church when there is no reward in sight.  And, that is my point about the heroic virtue demonstrated by our single brothers and sisters who are living out the Church’s teaching on Chastity.  Given their ongoing challenge, it is almost an insult for us marrieds to act like marital Chastity is a major burden.

For these chaste singles, the marshmallow is set before them and they resist the temptation.  They resist even with the knowledge that they may never get to enjoy that marshmallow let alone be given a second one.

But, God is faithful.  There will always be fruit and rewards for our obedience in this life and in the everlasting life with Christ Jesus.  It is very empowering to know that obedience keeps us in God’s will.  Our hope rests in Him alone.

We are all called to the virtue of Chastity.  Single folks, married couples and yes, even those with a missed vocation.  This doesn’t make sense to a world in which Chastity is not understood and sex is mostly for pleasure both outside of and within marriage.

Hopefully, my Veil theory along with the information in this blog and in my book will fortify you in your pursuit of holiness through hope, obedience, the Sacraments and delayed gratification.  Most of all, may they help prevent you from missing God’s will for your life.

God bless.

Olympic Champions Need Birth Control? Really?

I did not watch many of the Olympic events but I found this article to be disturbing.  The article attempts to make a connection between the success of our Olympic athletes and birth control. The article is quite silly really but when you understand the obvious motive of the author, it becomes sad.

The author says, “Without the IUD, implant, pill and other methods, many of our athletic heroines might have been home changing diapers or packing school lunches instead of scoring soccer goals and setting swimming records.”

The word Asceticism comes to mind.  Asceticism comes from the Greek meaning “exercise” or “training.”  It is a type of lifestyle “characterized by abstinence from various worldly pleasures.”  The object of the ascetic lifestyle for us Catholics is the “subordination of the lower appetites to the dictates of right reason and the law of God, with the continued and necessary cultivation of the virtues which the Creator intended man to possess.”

The typical Olympic athlete benefits from abstaining from things like cheeseburgers and fries, recreational drugs and all night parties.  This discipline, or self-mastery, is a type of training for the body and mind.  However, to this author, these Olympic athletes are able to master control over all aspects of their minds and bodies except for their sexual impulses.  To this author, self-mastery of our sexual impulses is just too much to expect.  So, these girls must have birth control. 

When I read about the author, I see that she is a big advocate of reducing teen pregnancy.  Very good.  But, she believes that teaching teens sexual abstinence (which is self-mastery) is unrealistic and that birth control pills, IUD, emergency contraception and abortion-on-demand are the only way to reduce teen pregnancy.

I actually agree that abstinence programs are lacking and instead believe Chastity programs to be more effective (more on this in a future blog).

But, the flaw in this author’s method is that those drugs, devices and procedures don’t always reduce teen pregnancy.  They often only reduce the birth rates.  That is why it is called birth control and not pregnancy control.  Babies are created but not birthed.  They are either killed in the womb with abortion or prevented from implanting due to the pill.  You see, pregnancy happens with the birth control pill but the baby is often aborted through the abortifacient nature of the pill.  

One of the many things I love about Chastity is that it encourages us in true self-mastery.  Chastity teaches us that saving sex until marriage allows us to live with our body, mind and soul in harmony.  The virtue of chastity brings our sexual appetite into harmony with reason, and creates purity in mind, heart and conscience.

For those that are married, there is the very effective option of Natural Family Planning (NFP). NFP allows for delaying and spacing pregnancy and it is hormone free.  It is more effective than the pill at preventing pregnancy.  Only 1 in 250 NFPers (versus up to 9 in 100 pill users) will have a surprise pregnancy.  More impressive is the success rate of  marriages for those that practice NFP (99.8%) compared to those that use contraception (50%). 

For those that are not married, I believe, and the Catholic Church believes, that self-mastery in all areas of their lives, including their sexual impulses, is possible and healthy for their minds, bodies, hearts and souls.

Olympic athletes are trained by both abstaining from what is harmful and exercising what is good.  Chastity, through the practice of asceticism, is achieved in a similar fashion.  Abstain from what is harmful (toxic relationships, near occasions of sin, pornography, self-gratifying endeavors, media that glorifies fornication) and exercise what is good (Mass, receiving the Sacraments often, prayer, scripture, like-minded friends, service activities, media that glories God).

Oh, I know people are still going to have sex outside marriage.  But, sadly they will never know the benefits of chastity.  They will only know what they have been sold by the sex-absorbed culture.  They will miss out on the benefits of superabundance and will set themselves up for failure instead of success in their marriage.

This article was written by a man who reviewed a study done by Brigham Young University that revealed that waiting until marriage to have sex resulted in greater marital stability and satisfaction.  The man went into the analysis seriously doubting that Brigham Young could produce a study that was without motive, namely promoting abstinence.

However, the author was quite surprised that “the study has also been peer reviewed by the academic community and the results are statistically shown to have been controlled for the religious background of the participant.”  In other words, it was done without bias and they may be on to something.  The author concludes:

“On first glance, the study surprised me a bit.  But once I thought about it, I realized that perhaps the authors are onto something. Those who start their relationships without the powerfully-distorting drug called “sex” are likely to make more rational relationship choices.  They may also be more likely to choose a partner who stimulates them in other ways, leading to a stronger and more lasting relationship.”

Yes, the “powerfully-distorting drug called sex” makes self-mastery difficult because it distorts the mind, the body and reality.

You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to be strong and excel in self-mastery.  Commit to chastity and all its benefits.  You won’t regret it.

God Bless!