All posts tagged: chastity

Humanae Vitae and the Mystical Call of Chastity

How do we understand chastity? For many, the very word implies restraint, and restraint is not exactly the most exciting thought. The Ancient Greeks thought of chastity as a subspecies of temperance,[1] and if there is one virtue more alien to today’s so-called “late capitalism,” it is probably temperance—and not just in matters sexual. For others, talk of chastity brings to mind purity rings and virginity pledges, almost as if chastity is defined primarily by sexual abstinence before marriage. Hence we often speak of being chaste before marriage, but hardly ever about being chaste in marriage. Yet it seems to me that the paradigm of Christian chastity is not, in fact, abstinence, but marital sexual union. This thought may well be what distinguishes an authentically Christian understanding of sex from mere social conservatism or prudishness. For chastity, as Elizabeth Anscombe wrote, “is simply the virtue whose topic is sex, just as courage is the virtue whose topic is danger and difficulty.”[2] But why, many would object, does sex need its own, dedicated virtue—does this not …

Toward a Monastic Notion of the Common Good

It is said that Christendom has fallen, and societies around the world have entered into a post-Christian phase. These conditions have been exacerbated by a caustic and divisive election season. How are Christians to enter into a society whose values and general framework seem hostile to those of the Christian tradition? Is it possible for Christians to find common ground with others in order to offer significant contributions to society’s development? This implies the need for Christians to develop a nuanced and intelligent response to the needs of a nation divided by political discord. Some propose that the only viable response of the Christian is either to prepare for battle against the tides of culture, or to retreat to the outskirts of mainstream society, both for the sake of preserving their heritage and convictions as Christians. Perhaps Christians and society at large would benefit more from an option that synthesizes the values that are found in both: offering a markedly Christian proposal that engages contemporary society that also maintains an ascetical dimension of detachment from …

The Gift of Self in Religious Vows

One way that people dedicate or devote themselves to another, a way by which they give themselves away, is in the Sacrament of Matrimony. Another way—the way which will provide the focus of this article—is in the vows which incorporate men and women into various sorts of religious orders, congregations, and other pious institutes. These vows and this incorporation are not a sacrament, but the person involved can live this dedication just as seriously and with just as much love and joy as a married person lives his or her commitment. For religious such as myself, these vows are fundamentally a matter of hope. This hope is not a vague or formless attitude of “whatever,” not an inattentiveness to the realities of life, but a personal, active, and complete trust in the Father’s love for us as we try to imitate the Son as the Spirit directs and strengthens us to do. This is a complete abandonment of ourselves to the Trinity in loving gratitude and gift, imitating the “kenosis” of Christ which St. Paul …