Theology of the Body in One Paragraph (Unabridged version)
I see so much effort today placed on training to be chaste, how to maintain chastity, and all of it seems focused on the anatomy of the body, but ignores so much more that is vital. I found this short passage in my trusty old catechism from 1920. How far away from tradition have we come today! Busy-bodies and guarding the tongue are essential to preserving chastity? Who says that these days?
St. Augustine declares that the preservation of chastity is the greatest victory achieved by the Christian, and requires the hardest struggle. The Fathers of the Church call it a martyrdom; a blood less martyrdom, it is true, but not on that account the less sublime. For the martyr’s agony is short, and admits him immediately to celestial glory; whereas the safe-guarding of chastity demands a prolonged, a lifelong conflict.
As a single person, I’d like to punctuate that point in the paragraph — and I certainly hope in the promise! But I’d like to emphasize that I don’t hear chastity talk of our times presented in these terms. Chastity talk today seems to take the opposite premise — that it is the norm to be able to preserve chastity. I prefer this source, because it is well stated and mirrors my experience in a way I can verify what it says to be true.
What comes next is the part nobody talks about, but is so important. What comes next is the secret to all of it. What comes next is worth clicking on the donate button and donating to Bellarmine Forum for saving you lots of money on endless books that don’t mention these things:
Self-control has been enlarged upon under the head of the means of attaining perfection in general. We may particularize the necessity of bridling the tongue and observing custody of the eyes. St. Augustine says that tattlers and busy-bodies are in great danger of losing their purity. Death comes up into the soul through the window of the eyes (Jer. ix. 21). The lion is said to be tamed by blindfolding him ; so we can subdue our evil proclivities by strict custody of the eyes. Fasting is another aid to the preservation of purity; the flesh is tamed, just as animals are, by depriving them of food. ” Be not drunk with wine,” says the Apostle, “wherein is luxury” (Eph. v. 18). “Feasting fosters fleshly lusts,” says St. Ambrose, ” and wine heats the blood and in flames the passions of young men.” Prayer and the sacraments are means of grace without which it is impossible to conquer one’s self.
I had to take a break in the paragraph to warn you to pay attention to this next quote — holy moly! Note that these are doctors of the Church saying this (not some random guy off the street with a correspondence degree!).
“It is a mistake,” says St. John Chrysostom, “to imagine that one can in one’s own strength vanquish concupiscence and preserve purity; by God’s mercy alone can the passions of nature be controlled.” No man can otherwise be continent, unless God give it him (Wisd. viii. 21). Through confession and communion the will is strengthened and man is enabled to avoid sin. The Adorable Sacrament of the Altar is the corn of the elect, and a wine springing forth virgins (Zach. ix. 17).
Fasting? Who talks about fasting anymore? You can’t even see people abstain from meat, let alone fast. How else would people today be chaste? Has the human body changed in the past 100 years?
And there you have it: everything you need to know about Theology of the Body today!
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