Chastity and the Face of God
"Blessed are the
Pure in Heart, for they shall see God"
(St. Matthew 5.8)
among us is not well acquainted since our childhood
with this beautiful beatitude. No doubt we have
heard it quoted many, many times. For the pure of
heart, it contains the most beautiful promise, that
of seeing God face to face. Very tellingly,
to a child these words would make very little impression
— but for us, for the adults, familiar with sin,
we all well know the struggle, and pain, the suffering
and purification that we must pass through to attain
to purity of heart. Not without reason is it called
in the Catechism, "A Battle for Purity". What does
Holy Mother Church tell us of this beautiful promise?
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church
"The pure in heart are promised that
they will see God face to face and be
like Him. Purity of heart is the precondition
of the vision of God. Even now it enables
us to see according to God, to accept
others as our neighbors, it lets us
perceive the human body -- our and our
neighbors — as the temple of the Holy
Spirit, a manifestation of Divine Beauty"
Attaining purity of heart, of mind and body, is
a life long struggle, a constant dying
to ourselves, a constant choosing to say no
to that which would entice us into sin. We will
all fall many, many times in the battle. Obtaining
a pure heart is really the whole process of passing
through Gods cleansing love, responding to His words
in obedience, avoiding occasions of sin, the practice
of modesty, and of arming ourselves with the graces
of the Sacraments, in particular the Sacrament of
Penance, of Confession, and the Holy Eucharist;
ultimately, of returning to that state of spiritual
childhood, of being dependent upon God for all love,
fulfillment and satisfaction.
So often impurity is really a compensation for something
we feel we lack, or that which in our greed we would
snatch for our own ends. It takes heroic effort,
self discipline, prayer and perseverance, because
in our present day society the attaining of
purity of heart and intention is probably one of
the hardest things to do.
We are surrounded through the media, in cyberspace,
on our very streets, with all that would corrupt
and pervert us from the path of goodness and uprightness.
We are all weak in our human sexuality, and we must
ever remind ourselves that we carry our treasure
in earthen vessels. Who among us has not been adversely
affected, not only through our own experiences and
temptations but also by films we may have seen,
cheap magazines, Spam, 'sick jokes' ... the list
is endless. These pictures, images and words invade
our memories and can follow us, dog us, for
years; and no sooner do we think ourselves free
of them than they return to plague and disturb us.
It is a toxic pollution of the mind, the heart,
the soul – but we have a choice, we
can break free of these obsessions, and the
almost magnetic attractions of sexual display.
If we are fortunate enough to have kept our lives
and hearts away from such things — and few of us
have – we should praise God; but never, ever despise
those who have been seduced by the aura of 'the
world, the flesh and the devil'. Rather, let us
support and assist them on the way back to health
and wholeness and — yes — even sanctity. Let us
offer them love that is genuine and real, freed
from all that is manipulative, meretricious, and
salacious ... that is the love of the world. It
is only genuine, selfless love that can truly cleanse
us from sin: God's love above all, and our own gift
of love to another.
We should show reverence and respect towards others
in any situation that calls us to render services
that assist the well being of the body: nursing,
care, etc. Curiosity, we must come to understand,
is all too often a form of unchastity; we should
not try to invade the thoughts and memories of others,
but love them, so that in time they are
able to let go, to share that which has become a
barrier and a cause of shame for them. Good company,
genuine friendship, authentic caring, all contribute
to the person being purified of that which has dragged
them into the morass of sin and darkness.
Purity of heart, without a doubt, can be regained
by corresponding to the love of God, by responding
to His grace. We can become cleansed of all that
has stained and marred our beauty, no matter how
many times we may fall. Never concede defeat,
never, Jesus your Lord is so much greater
than all your weakness, and He desires
your heart, He desires to give you a new heart and
a new spirit, a pure heart, a heart free of the
spirit of this world, a heart immersed in His Spirit.
Do not be tempted to think that this is impossible
for you. God works with what is most damaged and
broken and transforms it – our very hearts – into
diamonds for His glory. We are, after all, made
in His image ... Who is the source of all beauty
And after all our effort ... He has promised,
we shall see God!
Give witness to purity, within and without,
that others may feel attracted to it, and come to
know its blessings, to live with an undivided heart,
to live in the light of God.
How beautiful our humanity really is! Let us become
ever more deeply, more totally, God's.
A Poor Clare Colettine Nun
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