How to preserve Chastity

June 3, 2021 • 5 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 133
By St. Francis de Sales

Chapter XII.

How to preserve Chastity.

Keep always a great guard over yourself in order to drive away promptly everything which might tempt to impurity; for it is an evil which develops itself by insensible degrees, weak in the beginning, but their progress very rapid. In a word, it is more easy to fly from it than to cure it.

Chastity is a treasure which, according to St. Paul, “we keep in fragile vessels; and in truth it has much of the fragility of those vases which break by knocking against each other.” The freshest water, when we try to preserve it in a vessel, quickly loses its freshness if any animal touches it. Never permit yourself, Philothea, to practise, and preserve yourself from, those external liberties, equally contrary to Christian modesty and to the respect you owe yourself; for, although one may preserve an absolutely chaste heart in spite of actions which arise rather from want of thought than from malice, and which are not usually practised, nevertheless, chastity always receives from them some lamentable injury. You sufficiently understand that I do not speak here of what virtually ruins chastity.

Chastity takes its origin in the heart, and its exterior practice consists in regulating and purifying the senses; this is why it is lost by means of all the external senses, as well as by the thoughts of the mind, and the desires of the heart. Thus, every sensation which we allow ourselves regarding an immodest object, or with a spirit of immodesty, is really an unchaste act, and the Apostle recommended the first Christians not even to mention the vice amongst them. Bees not only do not touch a body in a state of putrefaction, but they fly from the bad smell which it exhales. Remark, I beseech you, what holy Scripture tells us of the Spouse of the Canticles. Everything is mysterious in them. Myrrh distils from her hands, and you know that this liquor preserves from corruption; her lips are bordered by a red riband, and that teaches us that modesty blushes at words, even when they are ever so little indecent; her eyes are compared to the eyes of the dove, on account of their purity; she wears earrings of gold, and that metal is also a symbol of purity; her nose is compared to a cedar of Lebanon, the odour of which is exquisite, and its wood incorruptible. What does all that mean? That the soul should be, in all its senses, devout, chaste, open, pure, and honourable.

Chastity can be lost in so many ways that there are kinds of indecencies, which, according as they are great or small, weaken it or dangerously wound it, or even destroy it entirely. There are certain indiscreet and vulgar liberties which, properly speaking, do not violate chastity; but which weaken and dim its brightness. There are other liberties not only indiscreet, hut vicious; not only vulgar, but immodest and sensual, which wound it mortally. There are others again which destroy it entirely.

Never be intimate with persons whose manners you know to be corrupt, especially when impudence is joined with impurity, which is almost always the case.

It is said that he-goats, touching the sweet almond tree with their tongues, make them become bitter, so these corrupted souls and infected hearts, scarcely speak to any person, either of the same or a different sex, but they cause them, to, fall in some degree from purity: they have poison in their eyes and in their breath like basilisks. On the contrary, keep company with the chaste and virtuous; often meditate upon and read about holy things; for the Word of God is chaste, and makes those also chaste that delight in it; this made David compare it to the topaz, a precious stone, which is said to have the property of cooling the heat of concupiscence.

A word here from the editor of it is strongly recommended, if you have strong need of repairing or preserving chastity, to take the above mentioned advice of St. Francis de Sales to the next level, and put on the dramatized audio New Testament in the background of your daily tasks, if possible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It will do astounding things to the life of your soul in every way, but especially to your purity and chastity.

Keep yourself always near to Jesus Christ crucified, both spiritually by meditation and really by the Holy Communion. For as they who lie on the herb called agnus castus become chaste and modest, so you, laying down your heart to rest upon our Lord, who is the true, chaste, and immaculate Lamb, shall find that your soul and your heart shall soon be cleansed from all the defilements of impurity.

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