Jesus said: “Blessed are the pure of heart; for they will see God.” (Mt 5:8) Therefore, if we truly desire to contemplate the Face of God in this life and for all eternity, we must strive to attain that very demanding virtue of purity, the virtue of chastity. In whatever state of life we have chosen, we all must strive, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, for this daily self-mastery of our passions, this control over the demanding impulses of the flesh, this conquering of the animal nature of our fallen human nature.
This being said, let us set up a game plan, a spiritual strategy so that we can fight the good fight, run the good race, and win the merited crown that awaits the faithful soldiers of Jesus and Mary.
1. PRAYER. Saint Alphonsus stated: “There are no strong people or weak people. Rather, there are those who know how to pray and those who do not.” What this great Doctor of the Church is teaching us is that if we are truly prayer-warriors then we are strong because we have God on our side, even though we may be weak physically. As the Psalmist reminds us, “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.” (Ps 124:8) Therefore, with respect to the virtue of purity we must do as Jesus instructed us, “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened.” (Mt 7:7) As Saint Augustine reminds us, we are all BEGGARS before God, totally dependent upon God for everything!
2. DESOLATION. Saint Ignatius of Loyola warns us with utmost clarity about the state of Desolation. The message is the following: when we find ourselves in a state of desolation that is when the devil tempts us. By desolation we mean: lack of faith, hope, and love; feelings of sadness, discouragement, and depression. Life does not seem to have any meaning. Nobody really seems to care about us. Often, this is the time when the devil attacks!
3. AVOID THE NEAR OCCASION OF SIN. We all know these famous proverbs: “Do not play with fire! And, “He who walks on a slippery slope will fall!” And finally: “He who plays in danger will perish!” We must strive to avoid any person, place, thing, or circumstance that can lead us into sin! Examine your life and your conscience on this!
4. LAZINESS. One of the primary reasons why King David fell into sin was for the simple reason that he gave into the Capital Sin of sloth or laziness. It is so true, this proverb: “Idleness is the workshop of the devil.” The great educator of the young, Saint John Bosco, asserted: “Vacation time is the harvest-ground of the devil!” Why? A lot of free time and the devil has a field-day! He’ll find plenty for us to do!
5. HEALTHY AND WHOLESOME FRIENDSHIPS. Jesus called the Apostles, FRIENDS. Aristotle stated: “Man is by nature a social-animal.” That is to say, we all need to have a good friend or two, or even more. The Old Testament testifies to the fact that a true friend is to be cherished. “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: he that has found one has found a treasure.” (Sir 6:14) May God endow us with good and wholesome friends! By the way, a true friend helps us to draw closer to the best of All-Friends, Jesus the Lord!
6. THE HOLY EUCHARIST. Of the greatest importance in pursuing any virtue, but especially the virtue of purity, is frequent, fervent, and passionate reception of Holy Communion, Jesus the Bread of Life. In all truth: the reception of Holy Communion allows the most Precious and Pure Blood of Jesus to circulate through our own body and blood, and it purifies and sanctifies our whole organism. Aim at daily Mass and Holy Communion if at all possible!
7. CONFESSION. The Sacrament of Confession serves a double purpose: 1) Preventive Medicine—frequent Confession can prevent us from falling into sin; 2) Curative Medicine—if we have fallen, we should never give up hope, but get up and return to the loving embrace of the Father (Lk 15: 11-32—Parable of the Prodigal Son)! Having recourse to both the Eucharist and Confession is a dynamic powerhouse of grace that we should take advantage of!
8. PENANCE. Jesus said: “Some devils can be only be cast out by prayer and penance (fasting). (Mt 17: 21) Therefore, we should incorporate into our spiritual lives frequent acts of penance. This serves to fortify the will in the practice of virtue, but also to expel the presence of the devils of lust!
9. SPIRITUAL DIRECTION: TRANSPARENCY. Saint Ignatius of Loyola insists on the importance of Spiritual Direction and for many reasons. 1) We all have blind spots that prevent us from seeing clearly. A Director can shine light on our path. 2) Rule 13 of Saint Ignatius’ Rules for Discernment of Spirits is key in conquering the devil of impurity. Rule 13 states that the devil likes us to keep all things hidden. Once a temptation is revealed to a Director, the devil takes flight and is conquered. 3) Accountability. When we have to be accountable to another person, this helps us clean up our act and strive to avoid falling into the same errors. In sum, get a good Director!
10. DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY. Experience in the history of the Church proves this undoubtable fact: love, devotion, and confidence in the Blessed Virgin Mary is a sure path on the Highway to Holiness. This being said, if we want to attain the virtue of purity we should start our day by consecrating ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We should find time to pray the most Holy Rosary every day. We should have attractive pictures of Mary in our room, car, and other environs. When we are tempted by the enemy, we should humbly and with great confidence call upon the Holy Name of Mary, whose Name makes all the devils in hell tremble. “Never was it known that anyone who turned to Mary was left unaided.” (cf Memorare)
In conclusion, we hope and pray that this humble, short work will help all of us to pursue the narrow path that leads to holiness, that leads to eternal life! Under Our Lady’s watchful and loving gaze may we all strive to live out that Beatitude that flowed from the most pure Heart of Jesus, “Blessed are the pure of heart; for they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8) Life is short and heaven is forever! If we contemplate the beauty of God in this life by pursuing a life of purity and holiness, then we will contemplate the beauty of the Face of God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, for all eternity!