Practical training in chastity

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

THIS concern should never be taken for granted. This is actually a much bigger concern than what we have in the areas of politics, social life, business or the now in-thing of climate change, ecology and other environmental issues.

And the simple reason is that this concern is fundamental in our life. This virtue figures prominently in our capacity to love on which all the other aspects of our lives depend on. It is, first of all, a fruit of real love that comes from God and the seed that gives life to real love also.

If that capacity to love is compromised, either openly or subtly, then we can be brilliant, productive and impressive in the other aspects but we would still miss the point, we would still miss the real goal.

Moreover, we would likely create a bigger mess the more powerful we are in the other aspects that are not driven or inspired by real love. We can enter into the world of illusions, if not delusion, that can be so grave that we may not even realize it. And that’s because if we do not have real love, we can only have the alternative of self-love which is a sweet poison.

Plainly put, chastity is putting our body and everything in it in the dynamic of true love that has God as the source, the pattern, the energy, and the end. Yes, it involves the proper regulation of our thoughts, desires, emotions and passions, all the way to the level of the hormones.

Sad to say, this virtue is now so ignored, misunderstood and badly lived that some people are actually wondering if it is still possible to live it. Practically all of us have suffered the erratic ways of our flesh. But obviously, chastity is always possible and practicable.

But yes, we cannot deny that it involves a lot of effort and self-discipline. Aside from the spiritual and supernatural means that should always be given priority in our effort to develop this virtue, we have to undertake a rigorous practical training to be chaste.

We should not be naive not to acknowledge that we carry within ourselves our first formidable enemy in this struggle for chastity. It’s our body itself that is ruled by strong biological constituents like hormones, instincts, temperaments, etc. that can go wild if not properly handled.

We need to be keenly aware of them, of how they work, etc., so that we would know how to direct them to the dynamic of real love. The ideal state should be that we have a strong dominion over these biological elements.

Of course, we cannot be in complete control of these things, but at least we are doing something to dominate them. We have to be careful with the food we eat, the things we see and handle that can trigger unchaste reactions, etc. We have to be careful with our thoughts, imagination and memory.

We have to develop a strong, alert and prompt will to resist the erratic and erotic urges of the flesh. These urges can come anytime, but especially in our more vulnerable moments as when we are tired and alone, when going to bed or upon waking up. These are times when the body would simply look for sensual pleasures as its way of having relief and compensation.

It’s in these moments that we have to intensify our prayer, making many acts of faith, hope and charity. Our mind and heart should be filled with good thoughts, desires and images so that our senses, our emotions and feelings would be put at ease and in condition to love, to think of God and of the others, to think of what we can do for them.

And we cannot deny the importance of resorting to some severe corporal mortifications to discipline the body. Sad to say, this practical training in chastity is still unheard of by many these days.