Monday, May 8, 2017

Path to sexual purity and perfection

An honest person should now be able to see clearly that “the devil has power” over all those who only come together in the marital act for the sake of fleshly lust. St. Raphael the Archangel, one of the seven archangels that stand before God’s throne, reveals what God’s will is for spouses in the use of the marital act:

“Then the angel Raphael said to him [Tobias]: Hear me, and I will show thee who they are, over whom the devil can prevail. For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power. … And when the third night is past, thou shalt take the virgin with the fear of the Lord, moved rather for love of children than for lust, that in the seed of Abraham thou mayest obtain a blessing in children… [Tobias said] And now, Lord, thou knowest, that not for fleshly lust do I take my sister to wife, but only for the love of posterity, in which thy name may be blessed for ever and ever.” (Tobias 6:16-17, 22; 8:9)

According to God’s holy will, spouses are to engage in the marital act for the “love of posterity” (children), not for lust. No, contrary to what most people today say, the Holy Bible is clear that spouses are to come together “only for the love of posterity” if they want to please Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Word of God in the Bible is indeed true when it says that “the devil has power” over all spouses who selfishly only come together for the purpose of gratifying their fleshly pleasures, giving “themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding” instead of being “moved rather for love of children than for lust” when they perform the marital act that Our Lord commands.

Many Christian writers have written about the depth of love existing between those blessed and holy spouses who renounce marital intercourse, in order to try to help and inspire married people to seek the higher spiritual things. Stories about loving spouses in sexless or spiritual marriages appears from the beginning of the Church. In one story the bones of a spouse who had lived in a spiritual marriage moved over to make room for her husband’s recently deceased body and in another story a wife’s corpse was embraced by her departed husband’s arm when she was placed in the tomb. In truth, such couples perceived their lives of sexual abstinence as an anticipation of Heaven. Denying their sensual and fallen nature, they embraced a state of spiritual holiness and loved each other in a perfect and true love, rather than in an impure and selfish love that, sad to say, almost all of humanity now does. Ida of Boulogne (1040–1113) endured rather than enjoyed marital relations and Waletrude “abhorred sexual relations, though she loved her husband in a spiritual way”.

In answering the question, “Whether carnal intercourse is an integral part of this sacrament [of Matrimony]?” St. Thomas Aquinas replied: “A sacrament by its very name denotes a sanctification. But matrimony is holier without carnal intercourse… Therefore carnal intercourse is not necessary for the sacrament.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Supplement, Q. 42, Art. 4)

Gratian, Medivial Marrriage Law 32.1.11: “Hence Augustine writes, in Against Julian, I: ‘True marriage does not consist in mere intercourse between a male and a female. Contrary to your raving, true marriage does not consist merely of intercourse between a male and a female, although, without that, marriages could not procreate children. Other elements are essential to marriage, and these distinguish marriage from adultery. For example, fidelity to the conjugal yoke, actions directed to the procreation of children, and (here is the greatest difference) the good use of something evil, that is, the good use of carnal desire, something which the adulterer misuses.’ Gratian: ‘The goods he commends here must be distinguished from their misuse.’”

The goal of every true Catholic is to be a Saint. That means they must strive to be perfect and holy as God is perfect and holy. “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) “It is written: You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)

In this path to perfection, the lustful aspect, the love of the momentary pleasure of the flesh is fought against, conquered, and thus utterly despised. “Flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world. (2 Peter 1:4) To say that this cannot be achieved is to deny the power of God and His grace. “Being confident of this very thing: that he who hath begun a good work in you will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) The weapons of the Catholic faith: grace, persevering prayer, sacrifice, mortification, and penance are more than sufficient to conquer any sin, sinful inclination, or fault and reach perfection in a short time.

Not many people, however, seek after perfection or even the beginning stages of perfection, and this is the tragic reason for that the greater number of Catholics will be eternally condemned. Sad to say, but most people give to their flesh whatever it wants, whenever it desires it, all day long. Food, media, music, sensual pleasure or what have you, and these are just some of the many reasons why they cannot control their lust. If they would start praying the Holy Rosary and doing penances like fasting and other works of abstinence and piety and cease with all deeds of sin and vanity, their fleshly lust would in many cases be smothered or decreased. But penances and mortifications are utterly despised by the natural man, and so, only a few elect souls ever reach the point where they can experience that their fleshly lusts and desires are decreased or smothered.

All sins, including sexual sins that men and women commit are controllable as long as one choose to cut of all deliberate sin and occasions of sin, like the media, food or friends etc. But since most people do not avoid all their sinful and worldly activities totally, and especially the direct occasions of their sin—that is, the things which are the cause for their falls into sin—they do not experience an alleviation in their temptations. Many people who are living in sexual sins or fleshly desires indeed tries in some ways to end their sins, but since they do not cut off the occasions of their sins completely, they fail sooner or later. The consequence of their failure in attempting to stop sinning (and that they do not experience a decrease of their fleshly lusts and desires) is that many people fall into the abominable sin of accusing God for their sins, perversely claiming that they cannot stop sinning and extricate themselves from a life of sin. Others inspired by their father the devil tries to excuse the severity of their crimes, claiming that God is merciful to this passion. Indeed, “Our relentless enemy [the devil], the teacher of fornication, whispers that God is lenient and particularly merciful to this passion, since it is so very natural. Yet if we watch the wiles of the demons we will observe that after we have actually sinned they will affirm that God is a just and inexorable judge. They say one thing to lead us into sin, another thing to overwhelm us in despair.” (St. John Climacus, Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step Fifteen, On Chastity)

Contrary to those wretches who try to excuse or blame God for their sins and failures, the Holy Bible and the Teaching of the Church, however, teaches us that all sin is a direct product of man’s perverted will, and at the moment of death such blasphemers who question God’s goodness, or who tries to excuse their vile and unnatural sexual crimes, shall be forever damned and banished by God’s justice to the boiling kettle that is Hell.

James 1:13-15 “Let no man, when he is tempted, say that he is tempted by God. For God is not a tempter of evils, and he tempteth no man. But every man is tempted by his own concupiscence, being drawn away and allured. Then when concupiscence hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin. But sin, when it is completed, begetteth death.”

Our Lord is perfectly able to help us to conquer our temptations as long as we are doing our part and perform acts of virtue. The only thing that stands in the way of our salvation is not a lack of grace from God, but rather our own sloth in prayer, spiritual reading and cutting of all the occasions of sin. For “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly from temptation, but to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be tormented. And especially them who walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government, audacious, self willed, they fear not to bring in sects, blaspheming.” (2 Peter 2:9)

The reasons of why spouses as well as all others fall into sin of various kinds are almost innumerable today, and the reason for this is since debauchery and sensuality almost rule the whole earth as though it was built in the very law and fabric of society. In general, however, one can say that a human deed becomes more dangerous and potent to damn a person the more pleasure one seeks to derive from it. St. Gregory Nazianzen, Doctor of the Church, in his admirably written “Orations of St. Gregory Nazianzen,” gives us a thorough and almost perfect description of the causes that strengthen the power of sin in our members and mind and that weaken our resolve against our enemy, the Devil.

“Let us not adorn our porches, nor arrange dances, nor decorate the streets; let us not feast the eye, nor enchant the ear with music, nor enervate the nostrils with perfume, nor prostitute the taste, nor indulge the touch, those roads that are so prone to evil and entrances for sin; let us not be effeminate in clothing soft and flowing, whose beauty consists in its uselessness, nor with the glittering of gems or the sheen of gold [Rom. 13:13] or the tricks of color, belying the beauty of nature, and invented to do despite unto the image of God. Not in rioting and drunkenness, with which are mingled, I know well, chambering and sexual excess, since the lessons which evil teachers give are evil; or rather the harvests of worthless seeds are worthless. Let us not set up high beds of leaves, making tabernacles for the belly of what belongs to debauchery. Let us not appraise the bouquet of wines, the kickshaws of cooks, the great expense of unguents. Let not sea and land bring us as a gift their precious dung, for it is thus that I have learned to estimate luxury; and let us not strive to outdo each other in intemperance (for to my mind every superfluity is intemperance, and all which is beyond absolute need), and this while others are hungry and in want, who are made of the same clay and in the same manner.” (Orations of St. Gregory Nazianzen, Oration XXXVIII, Section 5)

St. Caesarius of Arles in his sermons also admonishes and warns us not to get controlled by our desires, and teaches us of the strong effects they have in influencing our lives for the worse, but that we are able to control and become master over it, and that it is how we live our life that determines whether we are able to gain the victory and control over them.

“Now, someone says: I am young; I can in no way control myself. Perhaps you do not control yourself because you eat more than is necessary, and drink more wine than you should. Perhaps you even occupy your mind with shameful thoughts, neither fearing nor blushing to willingly and frequently utter dissolute words or to hear them from others. With God’s help begin to restrain your gluttonous desires, and to occupy your mind and your tongue with chaste thoughts and upright words. You will see that, if God assists you, you will be able to observe chastity. If no bodily infirmity hinders you, do not mind fasting rather often or rising a little earlier for church, so that you may guard your soul against the stains of lust. If in spite of your faithful obedience you see yourself exhausted by assaults of the flesh, and if several times you are persuaded [by the devil] to know your wife without any desire for children [that is, if you perform the normal, natural and procreative marital act but without performing it for the motive of procreation which is required in order for the act to be lawful and excused from being a sin], give alms every day according to your means, for we read: ‘As water quencheth a fire, so alms destroyeth sins.’ [Eccli. 3:33] Moreover, grant full pardon to all who may have offended you, for this is a great and salutary remedy against all sins. Thus, what was defiled by incontinence may be cleansed by fasting and almsgiving, but most of all by the forgiveness of enemies.” (Sermons of St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 44, Section 4)

For those who want to read and learn a lot more on sexual ethics, I can recommend the following interesting and informative article that is absolutely packed with quotes from the popes, saints and fathers of the Church:

Sexual Pleasure, the Various Sexual Acts, and Procreation

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