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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Campaign for Holy Purity

Campaign for holy purity

November 18, 2010, 5:05pm

MANILA, Philippines – Whether or not the RH bill is passed, we can be sure that there will be an aggressive campaign to distribute contraceptives by family planning NGOs from the Western world in cooperation with some of the executive departments of the government that have reasons to believe wrongly that contraceptives can solve the problem of mass poverty, reduce maternal mortality, eliminate illegal abortions, or diminish unwanted pregnancies. This tandem will obviously get the strong support of pharmaceutical companies marketing artificial contraceptives. All these groups are deaf to the arguments of non-Catholic experts like Nobel laureate in Economics George Akerlof that there is strong empirical evidence correlating a contraceptive mentality with such social malaise as abortions, marital infidelity, divorce, unwed mothers, abandoned and mentally troubled children, etc. From what we can gather from the contents of the various RH bills, the campaign will target not only married couples but also unmarried persons, including children and adolescents. The message, therefore, will be instant sexual gratification.

How do we counteract the nefarious influences of such an aggressive campaign? I know of no other way but for practicing Catholics and other people of good will to show by the example of their lives that the virtue of holy purity can be lived even in today's sexually permissive environment by married couples, single people, priests and nuns, and others who have embraced the state of apostolic celibacy. No amount of argumentation can convince people that chastity is possible except through their witnessing personal examples of this virtue.

One of the most important preachers about the virtue of holy purity in modern times was St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei. He was a precursor of the Venerable John Paul II in proclaiming to the whole world that chastity in the middle of the world is possible through human effort and the grace of God. He had his own "theology of the body" before Pope John Paul II treated of this very important topic in numerous lectures in his Wednesday audiences in Rome. I remember reading a homily St. Josemaria preached on December 2, 1951, the first Sunday of Advent, in which he spoke forcefully about the virtue of holy purity. Since we are soon entering the Season of Advent, it would be timely for us to use this period of penance to intensify the way we live the 6th and 9th commandments of God. Our giving more importance to holy purity in our lives can just be the antidote needed to combat the feverish campaign of the contraceptive pushers to have the RH bill passed before Christmas. After all, sacrifice after prayer is the most potent force to obtain favors from God.

Let me quote from the homily of St. Josemaria: "Lust of the flesh is not limited to the disordered tendencies of our senses in general, nor to the sexual drive, which ought to be directed and is not bad in itself, since it is a noble human reality that can be sanctified. Note, therefore, that I never speak of impurity, but of purity, because Christ is speaking to all of us when he says: 'Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.' By divine vocation, some are called to live this purity in marriage. Others, foregoing all human love, are called to respond solely and passionately to God's love. Far from being slaves to sensuality, both the married and the unmarried are to be masters of their bodies and hearts in order to give themselves unstintingly to others."

St. Josemaria always made it clear that there are other human and supernatural virtues which are more important than holy purity. Charity, faith, hope, prudence, justice, and many others. Contrary to some criticisms, christianity is not obsessed with chastity: "Those who write or preach almost exclusively on this topic are deforming Christianity, in my view, for they forget other virtues so important to the Christian and also to our life in society." But St. Josemaria continues: "Holy purity is not the only nor the principal Christian virtue. It is, however, essential if we are to persevere in the daily effort of our sanctification. If it is not lived, there can no apostolic dedication. Purity is a consequence of the love that prompts us to commit to Christ our soul and body, our faculties and senses. It is not something negative; it is a joyful affirmation."

St. Josemaria correlates impurity with other defects of character that can harm both individuals and society itself: "Earlier I said that lust of the flesh is not limited to disordered sensuality. It also means softness, laziness bent on the easiest, most pleasurable way, any apparent shortcut, even at the expense of infidelity to God." How many times have we heard managers complaining about the tendency of many Filipinos to take short cuts, to be satisfied with mediocre work, manifesting the "tama na" syndrome? These are the same people who can easily fall into sins of lust because of their penchant for instant gratification. These are the easy targets of the peddlers of artificial contraceptives.

All of us can be overcome by this weakness. At this time of Advent, let us take to heart the following advice of St. Josemaria: "To abdicate in this way is equivalent to letting oneself fall completely under the imperious sway of the law of sin, about which St. Paul warned us: 'When I wish to do good I discover this law, namely, that evil is at hand for me. For I am delighted with the law of God according to the inner man, but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and making me prisoner to the law of sin...Unhappy man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?' But listen to the answer of the Apostle: 'The grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. We can and ought to fight always to overcome the lust of the flesh, because, if we are humble, we will always be granted the grace of the Lord." 

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