Our life on earth is a constant battle. Spiritual writers assert that we have to defend ourselves against three constant enemies: the devil, the flesh, and the world. The battle is relentless and ends only when our life comes to an end.
Now more than ever temptations wage against the virtue of chastity, or if you like, the virtue of purity. In clear, certain, and unequivocal language Jesus wants us to live out this most challenging virtue taken from the Sermon on the Mount, one of the eight Beatitudes: “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8) In other words, for us to see God through faith in this life we must have pure interior vision. The final reward will be to contemplate God forever in heaven through the Beatific vision. However, purity is one of the primary and principle conditions.
COUNTLESS TEMPTATIONS AGAINST PURITY: NOW MORE THAN EVER. Television, movies, posters and bill-boards, immodest dress and language, the use and abuse of the Internet (phone, computer, tablet, etc.), as well as certain political platforms and agenda—all of these and many more militate fiercely against the virtue of purity.
WORDS OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA IN 1917. Our Lady of Fatima revealed a powerful and graphic vision of Hell on July 13, 1917 to three shepherd children to whom she appeared. With deep sadness, Our Lady stated that most of the souls who go to hell and lose God for all eternity do so because of sins against the virtue of purity. More than 100 years have passed and the world today offers countless temptations against this most important virtue. We should reflect upon the words of Mary and constantly beg for the grace to live out that very special Beatitude already mentioned: “Blessed are the pure of heart; for they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8)
A STORY FROM THE LIFE OF A SAINT. Anthony Mary Claret was a young man destined for great things in the Vineyard of the Lord. Even in his early years, Anthony had a fervent prayer life, a deep knowledge of God, and clarity of conviction on the importance of striving for holiness and eternal life. However, God allowed young Anthony to be put to the test. On one occasion, struck with sickness and confined to bed, Anthony was fiercely and insistently attacked by impure thoughts. Being a real soldier of Jesus and Mary, he prayed. Despite his prayers, the temptations did not disappear; rather, they seemed to invade and attack him with even greater violence.
THE BATTLE CRY AND VICTORY. It seemed as if all hell were let loose against this young man. When the battle was at its fiercest, Anthony prayed all the more fervently to the Blessed Virgin Mary for help in this imperious assault! The most pure Virgin and Queen of Heaven and earth came to his rescue, but not without a final avalanche of attacks. As Anthony lay in bed, he opened his eyes only to stare at an army of enemies, evil spirits, and devils surrounding him. They wanted to win the victory and tempted Anthony ferociously to give into sin. Anthony Claret wielded and brandished his spiritual weapon and fought to the end. What was the spiritual weapon that he wielded for the victory? It was calling fervently to the Blessed Virgin Mary for help.
OUR LADY COMES TO THE RESCUE. When it seemed almost as if the battle were lost, the most pure and powerful Virgin Mary appeared to Anthony. The many evil spirits of impurity fled, terrified at the presence of the Virgin Mary. The devils were conquered through the intercession of the most powerful Virgin Mary.
GIFT OF CHASTITY. Upon conquering the enemy—the devil and his minions—Anthony was given the very special grace of perfect chastity. He would go on to be ordained a priest and then a Bishop. He was the Founder of the Claretians devoted to spreading devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a prolific writer, an eloquent and powerful preacher, a tireless missionary in Spain and even in Cuba, and finally a great saint, now praising God forever in heaven through the presence of the most pure and holy Virgin Mary.
PROTOEVANGELIUM. After the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve, God made a promise, a promise of Good News—the PROTOEVANGELIUM. “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” (Gen. 3:15) This is the constant and mortal battle between good and evil, light and darkness, the devil with his fallen angels and God with His mighty army. In this army of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary has been chosen as one of the Lord’s chief allies, friends, and spiritual soldiers. In Guadalajara Mexico, Our Lady is titled La Generala del Ejercito—meaning, the General and Chief of the army. We are soldiers in this battle, and we have on our side Mary, the General and Chief of the army, and of course, Jesus the King of the Universe.
WHAT ABOUT US? HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO US NOW? The response to this question is very simple. With great peace, trust, and serenity we must come to terms with the fact that we are in mortal battle against the devil, the flesh, and the world. Life is a constant battle. We will have frequent and sometimes powerful temptations. The devil never goes on vacation! Saint Peter compares the devil to a fierce and roaring lion seeking to devour whomever he can. Therefore, being soldiers of Jesus and Mary we should know what to do when the attack descends upon us. We should entrust ourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary and place all that we have and all that we are in her hands as well as her Immaculate Heart. This also means we give to Mary our temptations of all types.
TEMPTED? TURN TO MARY. When temptations, especially against the holy virtue of purity, assault you, lift up your mind, heart, and soul to the Blessed Virgin Mary; entrust yourself and your temptations to Mary.
THE HAIL MARY. Pray fervently the prayer that Mary loves most—the Hail Mary, the Angelic Salutation. Mary, most pure and most holy, will rush to your aid and conquer the enemy, as in the case of Saint Anthony Mary Claret, and countless other saints who were put to the test. We are all very weak, but Jesus and Mary are All-Powerful. Let us not rely upon our own resources and strength but in the most powerful intercession of Mary, who is truly the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, and our loving, pure, and tender Mother.
Father Ed Broom, OMV, is Associate Pastor of St. Peter Chanel Church in Hawaiian Gardens, California. He is a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and was ordained by Saint John Paul II on May 25, 1986. Fr. Ed teaches Catholic Ignatian Marian Spirituality through articles, podcasts, a radio show, retreats and spiritual direction.