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The Necessity of Chastity

4 min • Digitized on June 2, 2021

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 131
By St. Francis de Sales

Chapter XII.

The Necessity of Chastity.

For the first degree of that virtue never voluntarily permit anything which is forbidden with regard to chastity.

For the second degree, limit as far as you can all superfluous and useless pleasures, although they may be harmless and permitted to you.

For the third degree, do not attach your affections to those which may be necessary and even imposed on you.

St. Augustin admired in his dear Alipius the admirable purity which had entirely freed him from the sentiments, and even from the remembrance of former disorders. Indeed everyone knows that it is easy to preserve for a long time fruits which are still whole; but however little they may be tainted or broken they can only be preserved in sirups, I say that we have several means for preserving safely our chastity whilst it remains in its full integrity; but when it has once lost it, nothing can preserve it but a solid devotion, the sweetness of which I have often compared with that of honey.

The editors of would like to mention here that having lost chastity is no cause to despair, for St. Augustine lost his chastity completely, and for many years did not have this virtue, yet regained it and lived many more years in an eminent degree of chastity and purity, becoming dearly pleasing to Our Lord. So if you, dear reader, have lost the precious virtue of chastity, do not be afraid, there is still hope to recover it and increase it more than ever before!

In the state of virginity, chastity demands great simplicity of soul, and great delicacy of conscience, in order to keep at a distance all kinds of curious thoughts, and to raise itself above all sensual pleasures by means of an absolute and entire contempt of everything which man has in common with the beasts, and which they have even more than he. Let these pure souls never doubt in any way that chastity is not incomparably better than anything which is incompatible with perfection. “For,” as St. Jerome says, “the demon not being able to endure that salutary ignorance of pleasure, desires at least to excite the desire of it in those souls, and gives them, therefore, ideas of it, so seductive, although false, that they remain very much troubled, because,” adds that holy Father, “by degrees they go on to esteem more and more that which they have been ignorant of.” It is thus that so many young persons, surprised by a false and foolish esteem for the pleasures of the senses, and by a sensual and restless curiosity, give themselves up to them, and compromise their temporal and eternal interests, like unto butterflies, which believing the flame to be as pleasant as it appears beautiful, foolishly burn themselves in it.

You know how necessary chastity is: “Seek peace with all and holiness,” says the Apostle, “without which no one shall see God” (Hebrews 12:14). Now remark that by holiness he means chastity, according to the interpretation of Ss. Jerome and Chrysostom. No; no person shall see God without chastity: no person shall inhabit his holy tabernacles if he has not a pure heart; as our Saviour says, “Dogs and the impure shall be banished from it.” Also, “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

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