Chastity, Modesty, Purity

“A clean heart is a free heart. A free heart can love Christ with an undivided love in chastity, convinced that nothing and nobody will separate it from His love. Purity, chastity, and virginity created a special beauty in Mary that attracted God’s attention. He showed His great love for the world by giving Jesus to her.” – Mother Teresa (St. Teresa of Calcutta)


Our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  God lives in us and wants to live in our heart.  That's why we should try to keep it clean so that the Lord wants to live in it.  From the day we were baptized, our body has become a like a Tabernacle because God dwells in it and we can't profane it. 
Purity is the virtue that allows us to respect the order established by God in the pleasure that accompanies the bringing forth of life. 

It's an extremely positive virtue and is not the sum of a bunch of things you "can't do" (ex: don't look at, don't think, don't do that...).  Rather, it's an affirmation of love. 

Christian chastity requires overcoming self-centeredness.  It's the ability to sacrifice for the good of others.  It is nobility and loyalty at the service of love. 

It's the great victory of young people before marriage.  The one who does not live in this way is in reality a failure because he/she has been unable to control him/herself.  It is not the rejection of sexuality; rather, the best preparation for married life, because you train yourself to be generous, to fulfill your duties, and to master yourself.  The one who cannot master him/herself when dating, will find it just as difficult in marriage. 

This virtue builds character and strengthens it.  It produces peace, balance, and interior harmony.  It purifies love and elevates it.  It's the cause of joy, physical and moral energy, greater success in sports and studies, and preparation for authentic love. 

Every person is called to live in purity, no matter what their state in life is (married, consecrated, or single). 

To triumph in this virtue and not let yourself be overcome by impurity in your thoughts and deeds, you have to love God a lot and be brave.  The sin of impurity destroys the treasures that God has given to man.  The love of God is the greatest reason a Christian has for living in chastity. 

The causes that lead to sinning in this matter are many.  The most obvious ones are the following:

- Idleness: the source and origin of many vices.
- Pornography: looking at obscene magazines, movies, shows, etc. or things that awaken concupiscence.
- Bad friends
- Inappropriate dances
- Going to certain pools or beaches
- Fashion
- Inappropriate familiarity with those of the opposite sex

These are near occasions of sin that normally lead one to commit sins that are usually grave in matter. You have the grave obligation to avoid anything that may be directly considered as provocative: certain TV shows, movies, etc. with inappropriate scenes.


Supernatural Ways:
1. Frequent Confession and Reception of Communion: it purifies the soul and strengthens it against temptation.  (It's good to confess with the same Confessor if possible).  Without the aid of these things, it's practically impossible to live in purity.
2.  Frequent Recourse to Prayer: Man, on his own, can do nothing.  That's why he needs God's help.  He needs to pray and ask God for the strength to overcome temptation.
3.  Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary: She is the model of this virtue.  She is Immaculate.  (It's good to pray three Hail Mary's before going to bed, pray the "Blessed be your purity" prayer...)
4.  Mortification: It helps to offer little sacrifices to strengthen the will and grow in grace.  The person that gives in to his/her every whim, caprice, or likes - especially with regards to his/her body, will not have the strength needed when temptation comes. 

Practical Ways:
1.  Be vigilant in your gazes: we are morally obliged to turn our gaze away from things that can awaken sensuality (movies, magazines, certain gazes...).  It's important to flee from occasions that can easily lead me to sin gravely. 
2.  Temperance in eating and drinking.
3.  Modesty: this means applying the virtue of prudence in chastity.  Modesty can be practiced in your conversations and jokes, in the way you dress, in your gazes…respecting your own body and the bodies of others.  In the midst of a world that can barely distinguish between what is good and what is bad, young people need to return to a sense of their own personal dignity. 
4.  Avoid idleness: it's the "mother" of all vices.
5.  Flee near occasions of sin: you have to be braver to flee the near occasions of sin than to remain in them.
6.  Play sports: physical activity is a great, practical way to burn off extra energy that you might otherwise put to bad use.

Important Definitions:

Chastity - means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being (CCC #2337).  It lets us love with upright and undivided heart (CCC #2520).
Purity - requires modesty, an integral part of temperance.  The Church speaks of purity of heart - purity of intention, and purity of vision, external and internal (ref. CCC #2520).
Modesty (Decency, healthy sense of shame) - protects the intimate center of the person.  It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden.  It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness.  It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity (CCC #2521).