Chastity, especially when lived in celibacy, can be difficult. Some people have regarded it as an impossible virtue, especially these days when the world is so soaked with all sorts of impure elements. Wherever you turn, they say, even in a crowd and especially when alone, temptations against this virtue attack with savagery.
It’s an understandable view to take. After all, to live this virtue well, we have to contend with hideous nemeses. First of all would be our own weakened flesh, then the many temptations in the world that have penetrated even cyberspace, then the devil himself.
But then again, we need to pause and realize that there is God who loves us, gives us the grace that we need and will always forgive us no matter how many times we fall. We should just move on and do whatever we can to be faithful to this commitment to chastity through apostolic celibacy that is usually assumed by priests and religious men and women.
We cannot deny that each one lives this virtue in a very unique way. Chastity, of course, is for all, whether married or single. It is the virtue that properly integrates the body to our spiritual soul, putting our human sexuality into the very dynamic of true love that can only come from God.
But celibacy is for some who can take. Remember Christ saying, “There are eunuchs who were born that way; others were madethat way by men; and still others live like eunuchs for the sake ofthe kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” (Mt 19,11)
These words of Christ should tell us that celibacy is, of course, first of all a gift from God that is received by us in different ways.
One can have it like it’s something of an innate taste to him. Another can have it by developing an acquired taste for it. Whatever, the virtue will always be an interplay between God’s grace and our effort to correspond to that grace.
It is in this regard that we have to realize more deeply that chastity, especially when lived celibacy, will always requireeffort from us. We need to keep our mind and heart focused on God.
Obviously, this will require a constant spirit of recollection, especially when we are in the middle of the world, exposed to all kinds of things and temptations. We just have to learn the art of recollecting our mind, heart, senses, feelings, memories, imagination, etc., so that God would always be the permanent focus.
For this, we need to develop the virtues of prudence and fortitude, which can include a lot of self-denials and sacrifice. Whenever we encounter difficulties, let us make them a good occasion to get closer to God. We should not be afraid to face and tackle them, but always with God.
We should always be aware that we have a great treasure in a vessel of clay and that we can fall anytime. And so, we need to be ever vigilant without falling into paranoia God.
Most of all, let us employ all our energies to the cause of love, adoring, praising and thanking God, and always reaching outto others.
This is how the virtue and the vow or commitment to chastity in apostolic celibacy can be lived with fidelity!*