Spiritual chastity before bodily chastity

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

CHRIST was quite clear about this point. In the gospel of St. Matthew which is the gospel reading for the Mass on Friday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Christ said: “You have heard that it was said to them of old—Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt 5,27-28)

To be able to live this real chastity as articulated by Christ, we really need to fully give our mind and heart to Christ, something that can only take place when aside from our earnest effort to live this virtue, we would first of all ask for God’s grace.

We need to submit our animal self, i.e., our flesh, to the law of the spirit that is properly animated by the spirit of Christ. We should not just allow our flesh to work simply by its biological and corporeal laws that are surely erratic in their ways due to our wounded condition. We need to “educate” it, giving it its proper formation, so to speak.

This means that our feelings, emotions and passions should have God as their foundation and goal. This obviously will be a big and tremendous challenge given the way we are and how the world in general is nowadays.

Let’s remember that our feelings, emotions and passions play an important role in our life and in our relation with others, especially with God. As our Catechism defines them, our emotions and passions are “movements of the sensitive appetite that incline us to act or not to act in regard to something felt or imagined to be good or evil.” (1763)

As such, we can say that our emotions and passions play an important and crucial role in our life, since they somehow determine our actions and behavior that show and develop who we really are. Are we just a natural being, like the animals and plants, or are we rational persons with spiritual faculties and meant to have a supernatural goal?

We need to see to it that our emotions and passions should reinforce our identity and dignity as persons, made in the image and likeness of God, made children of his through his grace, and meant to participate in the very life of God.

Our emotions and passions which are an integral part of our humanity are not excluded from our over-all goal to be God-like. We are meant to be God-like in our definitive state of life in heaven with our emotions and passions still intact and used to the hilt. They are never suppressed or repressed.

Our emotions and passions serve as a link between our body and soul that are the constituent components of our humanity. We are not spiritual souls only. Our spiritual soul always goes with its corresponding body with its emotions and passions. In heaven and in eternity as it is here on earth and in time, we would still be having emotions and passions.

Thus, we need to educate our emotions and passions in such a way that they work for what is clearly our ultimate end. They should not be allowed to just develop at the instance of our hormones and instincts, nor by the many other blind or short-sighted impulses and trends in our social, cultural, economic, or political environment. They need to be reined in, to be guided and given proper direction.

Email: roycimagala@gmail.com