Happy New Year, dear readers...
New year, new resolutions, so here are some goodly words from George Tyrrell to spur us on. They come from a chapter entitled "The Angelic Virtue", but could be about so much more than chastity, or indeed perhaps chastity is so much more encompassing than the narrow confines of the definition which it has.
The Church, taught by Christ, bids us acquiesce in truth that this world is not our home, but our school; that it is designed to school us in that which is best among our capacities, namely in courage, in heroic endurance of suffering for the sake of God and God's cause. For in this our very highest capability is exerted and strengthened and perfected.
Any impulse to do what is irregular is itself irregular, and cannot be approved or encouraged by reason. If murder is wrong, I may not encourage a tendency to murder. If I may not take my neighbour's property, I may not wilfully long for it. Man is under a natural obligation of tending towards the perfect control of every controllable impulse; hence even inculpable rebellions should displease him as being opposed to his final perfection, i.e, to that ideal which he should aim at. They are not matter for blame, but for regret; but to approve them or not to regret them would be blameworthy.
Notice how he says a "natural obligation" for tending towards self-control, it isn't even something from the higher eschelons of the spiritual life, undertaking this probably isn't even meritorious in any way, it is very much a baby step in being human. It is the endurance in sticking to this natural obligation under the result of so much opposition that makes the struggles of so many, so heroic.
....and here is something that seems to have been lost in the last 100 years; an appreciation of the seriousness of even the slightest direct and deliberate concession to sensuality for its own sake.
... the practical wisdom of the Church's severity in regarding the slightest direct and deliberate concession as grievous, is evident when we reflect that here, as in some other matters, a slight concession, far from mitigating irregular desire, increases it; and if the first impulse is not resisted, it is indefinitely less likely that the second will be. In fact it is like a boulder rolling down a hill, which becomes more hopelessly unmanageable at every bound. It is the failure to realise this law, or to accept it in faith from the experience and wisdom of the Church, that lies at the root of so much difficulty in this matter.
Now we just follow in the world's wake, happily trying to regularise what is irregular or avoid this topic completely as some sort of anachronism... hey ho.... it can only end in tears...... to say that we don't have the capacity, through grace, through the aid of the sacraments, to be joyfully chaste is a blasphemy of the highest order, it mocks Christ in His life, passion and resurrection.
O tempora! O mores!