Tag Archives: chastity




Aloysius, the son of Ferdinand Gonzaga, Marquis of Castiglione della Stivere, was baptised so quickly, since he was in danger of death, that he seemed to be born to heaven almost before he was born on earth.


He kept this first state of grace so faithfully that it was believed that he was confirmed in it. At Florence, when he was nine years old, he made a vow of perpetual virginity before the altar of the Blessed Virgin, upon whom he always looked as a parent.


By a special grace of God, he kept this vow untried by any conflict either of mind or body, so he might be truly called a man without flesh or an angel in the flesh. Having transferred to his brother the right to his ancestral rank, he joined the Society of Jesus at Rome.


Even in the novitiate he began to be considered a master of all virtues. His love for God was so ardent that it gradually weakened his body. Including his neighbours also in his marvellous love, while he was eagerly serving them in the public hospitals, he caught a contagious disease. So, slowly consumed by it, on the eleventh day before the Calends of July [1591], having already begun his twenty-fourth year of age, he departed to heaven. Benedict XIII entered him among the saints and commended him as a model of innocence and chastity, and at the same time as the special patron of students.


O God, bestower of heavenly gifts, who in the angelic youth Aloysius joined wondrous innocence of life to an equally wondrous love of penance; grant, by his merits and prayers, that we who have not followed him in his innocence may imitate him in his penance. Through our Lord…

– From: And Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964 [bold headings added]


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There is a famous instance of a holy man of old times, who, before his conversion, felt indeed the excellence of purity, but could not get himself to say more in prayer than ‘Give me chastity, but not yet.’

I will not be inconsiderate enough to make light of the power of temptation of any kind, nor will I presume to say that Almighty God will certainly shield a man from temptation for his wishing it; but whenever men complain, as they often do, of the arduousness of a high virtue, at least it were well that they should first ask themselves the question, whether they desire to have it. We hear much in this day of the impossibility of heavenly purity… are you sure that the impossibility which you insist upon does not lie, not in nature, but in the will? Let us but will, and our nature is changed ‘according to the power that worketh in us’… We dare not trust ourselves on the waters, though Christ bids us.

– Bl. John Henry Newman; What you are from not desiring a gift, this you make an excuse for not possessing it; P. S. V, 349-50


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1. Secures one the special protection of the Blessed Virgin in all the necessities of life, at the hour of death, and in Purgatory.

2. It should be worn day and night over the shoulders. It must be received from a person duly authorised to confer it, and the recipient’s name must be entered on the register of the Confraternity.

3. No special prayers are ordained, but in order to secure the favour of being released from Purgatory on the first Saturday after death, chastity according to one’s state must be observed, and the Little Office of Our Lady daily recited. The blessing of the first scapular extends to those which are afterwards substituted. 

– From: St Anthony’s Treasury, 1916


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Question: Sometimes when I pray, I get really bad, even disgusting thoughts… I am not sure whether I should mention this in Confession.

Answer: “You are not alone in this problem: even some of the saints have spoken of it. Such thoughts are a particular kind of involuntary and distressing distraction in prayer. Obviously you don’t intend to have such thoughts and so you are not committing a sin, but if you want to, you can talk about the matter in Confession, though without going into details about what exactly the thoughts are. Your confessor will probably have heard of this phenomenon before and will help to reassure you.

More than normally open to distracting thoughts

When we pray we are more than normally open to distracting thoughts of all kinds. These sometimes arise from, or are consequences of, our experiences. If you have committed sins of unchastity in the past, you can renew your sorrow for those sins but without dwelling on them. We also believe in the Devil: his petty and nasty character may be responsible for the attempt to soil your prayer and to dishearten you. Therefore it is also a good idea to pray to St Michael and your holy Guardian Angel for protection.

More positively, turn away gently and peacefully from your thoughts that have disturbed you, and take the opportunity to dwell with a renewed determination on what is holy. One way to do this is to take some concrete scene, perhaps one of the mysteries of the rosary or one of the Stations of the Cross , and imagine yourself there, speak to our Lord from your heart, and ask Him for the particular graces that you need today.

Focusing on the words of the Mass or on a traditional prayer can also help. Most of all, do not be unduly disturbed and do not be tempted to give up on your prayer. It may well be that when you have found prayer difficult and a struggle; it is precisely then that Our Lord brings good out of evil, rewarding you with a deeper union with Him.”

– This article by Fr Tim Finigan was published in the Catholic Herald newspaper, issue 11 2014. [The inserted links to well-known traditional catholic devotions and prayers referred to in the above text have been added afterwards]. For subscriptions please visit [external link]


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Posted by on August 17, 2015 in Words of Wisdom


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The best method

“It consists in praying constantly; that is in recommending ourselves on all occasions to Jesus Christ, and in invoking the intercession of our Angel guardian, of our holy patrons, and above all of the Blessed Virgin; for all God’s graces pass through her hands.

Our whole welfare depends on prayer

Our whole welfare depends on prayer. Every day we should specially ask God for perseverance in grace. He who prays for perseverance obtains it; he who does not pray for it does not obtain it, and is lost for all eternity. We should also ask from Jesus Christ the grace of His divine love, as well as perfect conformity to His holy will. And to obtain these graces, we must rely above all on the merits of Jesus and the intercession of Mary.

These prayers should be said on rising in the morning

These prayers should be said on rising in the morning. We should return to them during the day, in our devotions, at Holy Communion, in visiting the Blessed Sacrament, and, finally, at our evening examination of conscience.

We should particularly ask God’s help in resisting temptations, above all temptations against chastity. We shall be unable to resist, unless we constantly invoke the holy names of Jesus and Mary. He who prays, triumphs; he who does not pray is overcome.

He who prays triumphs

Yes, O my Jesus, how many times I have fallen, because I neglected to call upon You! Doce nos orare. O teach me Yourself to pray, and to recommend myself to the maternal care of our Blessed Mother!”

– St Alphonsus


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The clean of heart

“It is only my own opinion, but I feel that we pedagogues make a mistake when, in our preaching and teaching, we equate chastity with purity or cleanliness. The usage seems an unsound one from a psychological standpoint. The constant emphasis upon ‘impurity’ in connection with sex, especially in the instruction of children, can lead to a distorted and unwholesome attitude toward the beautiful and sacred act of procreation.

It is true that St. Paul in some of his epistles excoriates sins of uncleanness, but he is condemning the sexual perversions of the pagans, a source of danger to his converts [rather than the sacred act of procreating]. Our own adoption of purity as as a synonym for chastity may stem from heresy rather than from the Bible.

For ten centuries or so the Christian Church was troubled by heretical sects collectively known as Cathari, from the Greek word which means ‘puritan’. The Cathari maintained that all things material, including human bodies, are the creation of the devil. Only spiritual substances, such as the human soul, are the work of God. The devil enslaves souls by imprisoning them in physical bodies.

Logically the Cathari condemned marriage, since to conceive new bodies was to do the devil’s work for him. The Cathari initiate was ‘pure’ only if he abjured sexual intercourse. It may be that the linking of cleanliness with chastity is a practice which ‘leaked in’ from the Cathari vocabulary to our own.

Blessed are the clean of heart

These thoughts are by way of introduction to the sixth beatitude in which Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.’ To Him, a clean heart is a heart in which there is no guile, a heart simple and sincere, a heart free from pretence and self-deception.

Jesus clarified the sixth beatitude for us on the occasion of blessing a group of small children. ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,’ Jesus said, ‘for such is the kingdom of heaven. Amen I say to you, who ever does not accept the kingdom of God as a little child will not enter into it’ (Luke 18:16-17).

We all are familiar with the purity of heart which is mirrored in the eyes of a small child. It is the purity of an utterly candid nature, loving, trustful and undevious.

We adults who have experienced and perhaps have contributed to the evils in which the world abounds, may find it hard to preserve or to recapture the simplicity of childhood. Yet, we must somehow do so if we are to qualify for heaven.

An undivided love for God

An undivided love for God is the basis, the only basis, for the cleanness of heart to which Jesus refers. If God’s will is for us the ultimate measure of all things, then we necessarily shall possess the singleness of purpose which makes for sincerity.

Danger signals

What are some of the danger signals which indicate that we may be lacking cleanness of heart?

• .One such indicator is an excessive preoccupation with the opinions of others and an over anxiety to make a good impression. God’s opinion of us is the only one which really matters. If we love God and are doing our honest best for Him, we have no reason to be ashamed of our true self. It is this self, and not a deceptive mask, which we should display to one and all.

• Another symptom of a tainted heart is an attitude of selfish calculation, best expressed d in the question, ‘What’s in it for me?’ We expend effort only for personal reward and cultivate as friends principally those who can contribute to our social or financial advancement.

• Most of all, uncleanness of heart manifests itself in a tendency to ‘play down’ the evil of sin in a facility for excusing ourselves from culpability for sin.

These are a few of the basic insincerities which exclude us from our Lord’s commendation, ‘Blessed are the clean of heart.’ Probably there is none of us completely without blemish. With God’s grace and our own determined striving, we can and we must repair the ruptures in our hearts.”

– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966 – “One Step Enough”

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Posted by on July 23, 2015 in Words of Wisdom


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“Do you ever suffer for your faith? You may answer, facetiously, ‘Yes, every time I smell a steak being grilled on a Friday.’ There would be truth in your answer. Penance IS painful.

Virtue can be painful, too. Each time that we overcome a temptation to sin we suffer at least a little. Sometimes the suffering can be quite severe, as when a girl breaks off with the man she loves because she discovers that he has a divorced wife still living.


This hardly would be the type of suffering which Jesus had in mind, however, when He said, ‘Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Parents view the ordinary sacrifices which they make for their children as a natural expression of love. Similarly we should esteem the ordinary sacrifices entailed by God’s commandments as the minimum measure of our love for Him.


Persecution for justice’ sake – that is, for virtue’s sake – calls for more than a minimum of love. The perfect exemplars of the eighth beatitude are, of course, the martyrs. A martyr proves his love for God by the ultimate test: death rather than sin.

Probably no one who reads these lines will ever be called upon to face such a heroic test of his love. However, there are more modest degrees of martyrdom. Anyone who speaks up in defence of God’s rights (in defence of racial justice, for example, or in defence of decency in dress, films and literature, or in condemnation of steady dating by highschoolers) at a time and place where those rights are not popular, is bound to incur some persecution. The persecution may be no more than raised eyebrows and chilly looks, but even that can hurt.


Social pressure, the pressure to make us conform to the mores of the group, can be almost as powerful as an absolute dictator. We have a deep-rooted need to be liked and accepted by others. It hurts when, to defend the right and the good, we must alienate those whose good opinion we covet.

This is a type of martyrdom for which young people have more opportunities than do we oldsters. Social pressure is seldom so tyrannical and the urge to conform so powerful as during the adolescent years. Youth has such a hunger for peer acceptance, such an anxiety to be one of the crowd. In a harmless form, this urge to conform sends thousands of teenagers screaming after [a boy band]. In a less harmless form it sends thousands of college students migrating to the Florida beaches during the spring holidays, like mating seals flocking to the Pribilof Islands.

We do have ever so many fine young men and women, but we also have a progressive lessening of sexual restraint among the general population of teenagers and young adults. For many of our youth sexual experience has become the mark of sophistication, and ‘Everybody does it’ the supreme code of morality.


This poses a great challenge to us parents, priests and teachers. Our boys and girls have high ideals and a sincere desire to be virtuous. Outside the shelter of Catholic home and school, however, they are exposed to an almost irresistible pressure to identify with the herd, to conform to the rules which the herd imposes. If they do not conform, the penalty sometimes can be a painfully lonely life in high school or college.


We who love them must help our youth to prepare for the test which, sooner or later, almost certainly they will face. We must lead them to such a strong and personal love for Christ that they may be able to withstand disapproval, ridicule, even ostracism for the sake of Him Whom they love.


In the Bible, the seventh chapter of the second Book of Maccabees gives us one of history’s greatest accounts of youthful heroism and parental nobility. A mother exhorts her seven sons to perseverance as, one by one, they are butchered in her presence for refusing to renounce God.


The mother of the Maccabees might well be our patron saint as we try to teach our sons and daughters the meaning of the eighth beatitude: ‘Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for of such is the kingdom of heaven’ [Matthew 5:10].”
– Fr Leo Trese (capital headings added afterwards)


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