For Chastity 

The Church recognizes three life vocations: married, celibate and religious. Receiving education toward sure marriage formation is, perennially, a good idea for all preparing for the right vocation in life in general.But, if one has been married for some time, is there any purpose in re-examining instructional texts concerning marriage, at later points in life? The answer is always yes, because marriage is a school of charity, innumerable new days and unrehearsed situations, offering abundant opportunities for merit and virtue: love.

Continuing education about marriage is very useful and vital for recovering addicts, because in the age of so-called sexual revolution, some entered the marriage covenant without being aware of the emotional, spiritual and sexual baselines of health that marriage assumes. The unconscious cultivation of lust has been a central factor preventing or delaying ordinary literacy in marriage, as well as destroying marriages. Lust is not love.

Divorce rates in the US began to rise conspicuously in the mid 1960s, proximal to a twenty-year saturation of households with secular media through television. As lust-inflected media multiplied within households, slowly crowding out time and space for the substance of religious reading and formation, some American citizens seem to have been programmed gradually into a casual sense of self-reliance. Non-procreative sexuality was progressively seen as 'personal freedom', with the inevitable, even existential imperative of a civil right attached to it.

Eventually the concept of lust seemed to disappear from modern cultural vocabulary, because secular society progressively encouraged the possibility of accepting it as a defining right of personal experience. Freedom from lust, or reliance upon the hope that sex-drive is conquerable and optional, has become today in places unthinkable and silently, widely assumed impossible. Only among the support-group recovered and in churches are heard voices proclaiming the opposite.

So lost are some that lust and chastity are words rarely ever heard on the lips of co-workers, party guests and circles of family and friends anymore, or in media. On this, every one seems only to mind their own business; every one isolated, living in the personal license cube of "sexual civil rights". In too many places, "lust" seems to be associated only with the damnable sting of judgment. Can anyone miss the recriminating denial in these common categorical aversions?

All of this introduces us to the meditation theme marital chastity.

In support groups, recovery fellowships, among therapists and counselors, clergy and confessors, lust is sometimes seen as struggle, a miserable, seemingly endless negative campaign of "stop", "don't" or "withhold". But with the reintroduction of the notion of chastity, to those who have known only the concept of lust; recovery and sobriety become a less negative process, and one ennobled as the seeking and attaining of virtue. Conquering lust with God's help is deeply meaningful.

In renouncing and rejecting lust, it is merciful to see the recovery process less about painful warfare and more about the expansion of good things in life. Here is how Mary Beth Bonacci describes it in the introduction of her book Real Love:

"I [had] discovered the difference between chastity and mere abstinence.Abstinence is negative. It is about what you don't do. Chastity is positive. It is a virtue. The word "chastity" brought my understanding of the gift of sexuality to a whole new level. This was not just about avoiding unpleasant consequences. This was about a complete owner's manual for our bodies. This was about understanding, finding and living [real]love!"

Recovery can seem exhausting at times, the escape from failure precariously premised solely on white knuckle evasion. To those seeking sobriety, health in mind, body and soul, the view from the other direction is the advancing attraction of good, the merit of intent and striving, and of arriving treasures: vitality and mastery.

Those who are free from the incarcerating scourge of lust, which wounds many to believing only a bleak life of limping along is possible, seem few, but courageously testify to others, to the wondrous realm of freedom, the miraculous gift of real sobriety.

Great things are happening for us when the old pages of incapability, finally rise and fall gently to the past-side, revealing the fresh, new coming pages of freedom.

In sobriety and freedom, we cling to our Jesus, our shepherd, our deliverer, our victor. His perfection has paid for our jail debt.Under the cover of his precious blood and hidden within his sacred wounds,we are protected from the demon, from our own minds still in need of healing,from the temptations of the 'harlot world' seen so relentlessly today.

Among the suffering minions of 'addicts anonymous' today, beyond medications, mere human strategies to will and control, life in and through our Savior Jesus Higher Power is found, the only Door to the Kingdom of purity. Through Holy Church, Jesus comes to us potently powerfully through sacramental grace.The sacraments are the most concentrated form of the Higher Power's remedy. If we are sinners and addicts struggling every day, we need the daily bread of the remedy, the purity that will replace our impurity, the rightness that will replace the evil.

Spiritual health and human marriage literacy accrues patiently through His sacramental care of us. The recovering lust addict comes to know that sexual fixation is not impossible to overcome, despite the vast pessimistic dirge that drones on.

Marriage rests in success under the auspice and care of its essential third member, the author and giver of virtue and marriage itself:God.

Gently, we, the sobriety-hungry, the freedom-seeking, stand and assert, freedom from lust is possible, freedom from sexual compulsion is possible. This is faith.Whose faith is great will be saved.Meet the Christ, the One who has conquered the jailor Satan, the author of lust. The Holy One is called Savior. See this truth, and say always: Yes!