“The state of grace is nothing other than purity, and it gives heaven to those who clothe themselves in it. Holiness, therefore, is simply the state of grace purified, illuminated, beautified by the most perfect purity, exempt not only from mortal sin but also from the smallest faults; purity will make saints of you! Everything lies in this!”
--St. Peter Eymard
Dearest soul, As soon as you were created, God planted in you a deep yearning, a constant searching beacon of rational curiosity, looking for ways to better know your Creator. Some men do not believe in God. Is it not a fact, however, many of these poor souls become rapt in the sciences, spending their whole lives trying to find a source for their existence? They are searching for their Creator. Why did pagans of old set up gods, even if they were only made of wood and stone? They too were searching for their Creator. Through Divine Tradition, dearest soul, you have been given the great gift of knowledge of God, our Creator, and why He made you and loves you. Why did God make you? God made you to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven[i]. So this is the goal of every man: to attain heaven.
The paragraph above, dearest soul, highlights the groundbreaking principle of this small work, and why it needs to exist. The purpose of this small work is to re-direct you towards Heaven, by helping you to fight temptations and actions of impurity, by which so many souls are lost. Christ demands absolute sexual continence in all individuals outside of the married state; an ideal which has all but ceased to exist in American culture and throughout the world. This little work uses the remedies for overcoming sins of impurity from the spiritual masters Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Saint John-Marie Vianney, Saint Augustine, Saint Louis de Montfort, Saint Catherine of Bologna, and also the Catechism of the Council of Trent.
Finally, Saint Alphonsus tells us, “When speaking of the sixth commandment, we should avoid scandalizing the innocent by awakening their curiosity in regard to the evil of which they are ignorant; it is sufficient, on this point, to condemn in general what offends chastity, without explaining the species or the circumstances; so that those that are guilty may understand how they should confess them, and those that are innocent may remain in their ignorance.[ii]” The author has taken deliberate steps in not using descriptions that would inflame the lustful heart or corrupt the innocent soul. Therefore, nothing obscene is discussed in this work, and sins against the sixth and ninth commandments will be referred to as sins of impurity.
What Impurity Dishonors
The battle for purity, dearest soul, is like going to war. It is a war that will be exhausting, and if you have fallen into sins of impurity before, it will be a hard and painful struggle, with many crosses and obstacles to overcome. The more you have indulged in your sins, dearest soul, the harder it will be to loosen their chains. However, Christ will be with you, leading you on in the battle. He is beckoning to you and crying the words, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light[iii].” In this first part, we shall examine these five things: the goodness of the marital act, why impurity is such a grave evil, how terrible impurity is in the sight of God, what impurity does to the soul, and how even devils themselves cower from its evil.
It is important to note, dearest soul, that the marital act is a very beautiful and holy thing that is blessed by God, and is critical for the continuation of the human race, and for the sanctification of souls. God has given the wonderful and mysterious power to the man and woman to aide Him in creating a new unique human soul, made in His image and likeness. When used chastely within the sacrament of matrimony, the marital act can increase grace in the soul and gain merit. However, God is very clear that the marital act is reserved for marriage alone, and any movement of the marital act outside of the proper context of matrimony has been condemned by Biblical tradition, Christ, and the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. The teaching that the marital act is reserved for marriage has been thrown out by the modern world, and tragically, is hardly adhered to within the Catholic Church. Why has the teachings of the Church on this important issue been left by the wayside by society? The answer is simple. Society has become extremely self-centered and hedonistic; it cares not to serve, but to be served. The vast majority of mankind today wishes only to inflame their passions of lust, sloth and gluttony. But why is impurity especially malicious to the spiritual life?
The most grave reason impurity is malicious, dearest soul, is that any willful actions against the virtue of chastity is a mortal sin[iv]. We will discuss in detail when thoughts and words are mortally and venially sinful in the next section, but again, all willful actions against the virtue of purity are mortal sins, which rob the soul of sanctifying grace, making you an enemy of God and close for you the gates of heaven. According to the teachings of the Church, any soul who dies in mortal sin descends immediately into hell, where he will stay in punishment for the rest of eternity.
Besides losing grace, what does impurity do to the soul? St. Alphonsus says it does three things: it blinds the sinner, hardens the heart, and it leads to a multitude of other sins, such as anger, hatred, blasphemy, false oaths and perjury. Demons delight in sins of impurity, because “it is difficult for a person who indulges in impurity to be delivered from it.[v]” St. John Marie Vianney says of sins of impurity, “Those who have lost their purity are like a piece of cloth stained with oil; you may wash it and dry it, and the stain always appears again: so it requires a miracle to cleanse the impure soul.[vi]” With grace anything is possible, and souls have overcome this vice and become great saints of the Church. However, it is important to realize, dearest soul, that impurity is an offense which brings many souls to hell, and it is very difficult to cleanse yourself from it. This leads to the next question; why is impurity such an injurious offense against God?
Some heretics and servants of the devil teach, “Sins of impurity do not dishonor anyone.” Obstinate sinners often try to excuse themselves by saying, “sins of impurity are just little sins.” Or “because they are sins of habit, their gravity is diminished.” Ah what fools they are! They are so blinded, dearest soul, by their sins, that they do not see what terrible damage it does to themselves and to the body of Christ. You are a soul created in the image and likeness of God, a child of God, and an heir of heaven. Your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost, and you have been redeemed by the blood of Christ![vii] This is what impurity dishonors! The marital act is a sacramental privilege, reserved only for those united within the sacrament. Sins of impurity dishonor your soul because you lose God’s life of grace, they dishonor your body because you are a temple of the Holy Ghost, and they dishonor God because you are using the marital act, which the Almighty created as good, to commit evil.
St. Alphonsus tells this sobering story.
A magician who had frequent communication with the devil, on one occasion invoked him after having once committed a sin of impurity. The devil appeared, but would not come near him, and kept his back turned to him. The magician asked him why he treated him in that manner. The devil answered that it was on account of his impurity: "Your lust does not permit me to approach you." [viii]
If the devil himself cannot look upon the impure man, do you believe that God can stand it, He who is All Good, All Holy, All Powerful, and All Just? No! An impure man becomes a beast, “like the unclean animal that is accustomed to live in filth; these persons are an object of horror in the eyes of God and His angels.”[ix] Do you see now, dearest soul, how great the evil of impurity is in the eyes of God? Beg God for true sorrow and repentance for your sins! The struggle for purity cannot be achieved alone. Therefore, in order to begin your battle, you must be in a state of grace. If you are in a state of mortal sin, dearest soul, go to confession! Do not put it off, for who knows if tomorrow will come for you? Review your conscience, beg God for the graces of sorrow for your sins[x], and make a firm purpose of amendment. Then make a good confession, and return to God. With the help of grace, dearest soul, you will be ready to learn how to use the weapons the Saints have given us to defeat the enemy, and gain an eternal crown of unfading glory. For the praise and glory of Christ, Amen.
Sins Against Thought
A section must exist regarding sins of thought against purity, dearest soul, because this is a point of confusion for many people. Some scrupulous souls are deceived into believing that temptations are seriously sinful, while others do not know that indulging in impure thoughts is sinful. We will rely on the teachings of St. Alphonsus Liguori in defining sins of thought against the virtue of purity.
There are three incremental steps which happen when sinning against thought, dearest soul, which you must know in order to judge whether or not you committed a sin of thought against purity, and to what degree you have sinned. The first step is the temptation or suggestion, the second step is pleasure, and the third step is consent. The temptation or suggestion always arises first. If you drive the temptation away immediately, no sin is committed, and merit is gained. “As often," says St. Alphonsus, "as you resist [temptation], so often you are crowned.[xi]" Even the saints were tempted by sins of thought. St. Alphonsus teaches that if you are tempted, dearest soul, it is a sure sign that you are in a state of grace. “Francis de Sales says that when a thief knocks at the door outside, it is sure sign he has not yet got in; thus, when the devil tempts us, we have a strong proof that the soul is in the state of grace.[xii]”
If we do not immediately refute the impure thought or desire however, St. Alphonsus warns us, “when a person is not careful to banish the temptation immediately, and he reasons with it, the thought instantly begins to delight him, and give him pleasure, and thus draws the person on to give his consent to it.[xiii]” As long as there is no consent of the will given to the impure thought, only a venial sin is committed. It is of even greater importance to repel the thought at this point, because the time between pleasure and consent is usually only a very brief period of time. The third and final step is when full consent of the will is given to the thought, or the soul delights in thinking of the immodest action as if he were then committing it. If the third step occurs, this person has committed a mortal sin.
Dearest soul, it is best to begin immediately in earnest to practice banishing impure thoughts, because at the hour of death the devil becomes a raving animal, throwing temptations at you like he has never before, that he may snatch you away from God at the last second. Saint Alphonsus Liguori tells this story.
A man during his life had often consented to bad thoughts. At the hour of death he confessed his sins with great compunction, so that everyone regarded him as a saint; but after death he appeared and said that he was damned; he stated that he made a good confession, and that God had pardoned all his sins; but before death the devil represented to him that, should he recover, it would be ingratitude to forsake the woman who loved him so much. He banished the first temptation: a second came; he then delayed for a little, but in the end he rejected it: he was assailed by a third temptation, and consented to it. Thus, he said, he had died in sin, and was damned.
You must practice banishing sinful thoughts now, dearest soul, for many saints tell us that at the hour of death the temptations of the devil are much more powerful than any temptations which we have previously experienced upon this earth. What are the remedies against temptations to impure thoughts, dearest soul? They are discussed in detail in the section titled “Remedies in the Moment of Temptation”, but in short, the remedies against impure thoughts are these: Invocation of the names of Jesus and Mary, turning our thoughts away from the impure thought at hand, and meditating upon the passion of Christ.
Another common question that arises is whether a person can commit sin while sleeping or dreaming. The answer is no. However, recalling impure dreams to mind after waking up and reflecting upon them is dangerous to the soul. It can be a subtle temptation of the devil to give you impure dreams that you may reflect upon them afterwards and commit sins of thought against purity. That is why you should always say three Hail Mary’s before going to bed and ask your guardian angel to protect you from dreams that are not of God. For the praise and glory of Christ, Amen.
Before you fight the enemy, dearest soul, you must learn the weapons of combat. There are seven principle weapons of the spiritual combat for purity, and there are three kinds of remedies: The sacramental remedy, the remedies used to strengthen a soul against temptation, and finally the remedies to be used in the moment of temptation. If the remedies described below are practiced at all times, you are guaranteed to cast off the chains of impurity forever and live a chaste life. I exhort you again, dearest soul, that if you are in a state of mortal sin to go to confession. You will not be able to make much progress against this vice without first being in a state of grace.
A Sacramental Remedy: Marriage
The first remedy, dearest soul, is proposed to us by Saint Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians. “But if they do not contain themselves, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to be burnt[xiv].” Some might say, “This is the wrong way to approach marriage!” It is only within the context of marriage that the marital act can be used without committing a mortal sin. God instilled in every human person the desire to procreate, that the human race may continue until God calls mankind to Himself. Christ, in His Infinite Wisdom, instituted the sacrament of matrimony in order that man could protect himself from sins of the flesh, and at the same time use marriage as a means of sanctification. Remember, the marital act is not evil, as some heretics have claimed in the past, but it must be used in its proper context, which is the sacrament of matrimony. The souls who receive this sacrament receive special graces to bridle their passions and to love their spouse unconditionally, as Christ loves the Church. Marriage becomes difficult sometimes because it consists of denial of self and service to the spouse and children, but this should not be a deterrent to matrimony. Is it not better to go through the struggles of marriage in this life in order to escape the fires of hell in the next? This is the sacramental remedy given to you by the Church to combat impurity, dearest soul, and it has sanctified and saved many souls from this vice. For the praise and glory of Christ, Amen.
Remedies for Combating Temptations
However, if you are not called or are not ready to enter into the sacramental remedy, do not fear. There are a number of remedies, dearest soul, for fighting impurity that the saints have presented us. The second kind of remedy is to combat temptation before it even presents itself, by strengthening the will to do good and to avoid evil. There are six remedies which will be discussed in detail, and they include: flight from the near occasions of sin, frequenting the sacraments, living a good prayer life, seeking recourse to the Blessed Mother Mary, a strong distrust of self, and denial of self.
As we shall see, each individual remedy is dependent upon the faithful practice of the other remedies in order to be properly fulfilled. For example, you most likely will not fly from the near occasions of sin if you do not have a strong distrust of self, and you cannot have a strong distrust of self without having a good prayer life, and a good prayer life is hinged upon frequenting the sacraments, and so on. If you wish to free yourself from impurity or prevent yourself from ever falling into them again, it is only through these methods that you can do so. This is why they are called remedies against impurity. In my experience, souls that practice these remedies faithfully have become entirely free of sins against purity in a relatively short amount of time. Do not give up, however, if you find that you have great difficulty in overcoming these sins. Christ gave you the example on Calvary to persevere in our struggles. Christ sometimes allows you to fall so you can see how lowly you are, that you might have a great distrust of yourself, and rely solely upon Him as your Savior and Redeemer. For the praise and glory of Christ, Amen.
The First Remedy: Ridding yourself of the Occasion of Sin
St. Alphonsus Liguori tells us, "The most necessary remedy for avoiding sins against chastity is to fly from dangerous occasions[xv].” Avoiding the occasions of sin is the first remedy; the defenses that will, if practiced, defeat and drive back the enemies’ offensive upon you. What are the near occasions of sin against purity for you, dearest soul? I want you to think deeply and ponder within yourself, what causes you to fall into sins of impurity. Is it the company of certain persons? Is it certain places on the internet? Unchaste books? Do you watch indecent films, or go places where there is immodesty in dress, such as the pool or beach? After you have sought out and found your occasions of sin, dearest soul, you must eliminate them from your life. How can you quench the flames of impurity, if you do not eliminate the fuel? St. Alphonsus Liguori writes, “Our strength is like the strength of straw thrown into the fire: it is instantly burned and consumed. Would it not be a miracle if dry straw cast into a fire did not burn? It would also be a miracle if we exposed ourselves to the occasion [of sin], and did not fall.” Second to being in a state of grace, it is absolutely necessary to eliminate all occasions of sin from your life, if you wish to advance in the virtue of purity. It is also essential for receiving absolution in confession, but we will discuss this later.
The Second Remedy: Frequenting the Sacraments
The second remedy may seem obvious, but it is of critical importance to the soul who is trying to escape the chains of impurity. You must be in a state of grace to properly do combat in the spiritual battle. Can a soldier who is mortally wounded, outnumbered and starving, fight against a more powerful and deceitful enemy? It is only through the help of God that you can overcome any vice, but particularly the vice of impurity. The sacraments that should be frequented by souls striving for grace are the sacraments of Penance (confession) and Holy Communion. Let us discuss each separately, as it pertains to freeing ourselves from habitual sins.
The Angelic Doctor tells us, “In the life of the body a man is sometimes sick, and unless he takes medicine, he will die. Even so in the spiritual life a man is sick on account of sin. For that reason he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health; and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance[xvi].” Christ is the doctor, wishing you to become better and more alive, begging you to come to Him. Oh the miracle of this sacrament, in which the mercy of God is ever ready “to wash and consume the soul in an ocean of mercy”[xvii]! No matter how grave your offenses, no matter how terrible your sins, even if you have lost all human respect and your name is lower than that of beasts in the eyes of man, Christ will forgive you because you are His child whom He won through His own blood. If you make a good confession Christ will forgive you of everything that you have done. Do not refrain and wait to go to confession, because who knows when God will call you from this life? However, just as confessing all of your sins with sorrow and a true purpose of amendment does tremendous good for your soul, holding mortal sins back in confession is detrimental to your soul.
Saint Alphonsus Liguori said, “the devil does not bring souls into hell with their eyes open: he first blinds them with the malice of their own sins.[xviii]” The devil leads many souls into perdition by convincing them that their sins are either too shameful to confess to a priest, or they are not worth mentioning. Oh how wretched the soul becomes when it succumbs to either of these temptations! Not only does the soul not feel the consolation that a true confession warrants, it heaps upon itself grave sins of sacrilege. The sinner who makes a sacrilegious confession “divides his heart; one half he gives to God while the other half he gives to the devil. The devil is satisfied with his portion but God is not satisfied with just a part.[xix]” All confessions made after the sacrilegious confession are invalid until you go back and make a good confession. To make a good confession after making a sacrilegious one, you must re-confess all of the mortal sins you committed since your last valid confession[xx], mentioning how many times you have gone to confession sacrilegiously[xxi]. Dearest soul, no set of sins is more prone towards bad or sacrilegious confessions than sins of impurity. Often sins of impurity become sins of habit, and even if we receive absolution it is invalid. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, we are deeply ashamed of our sins, and often make excuses as to why we do not have to confess them. Do not fall for this terrible deception of the devil! It is a good practice to start your confession with the sins that you are most ashamed of first, so that the temptation to hold back your sins is refuted. Remember also that the priest has a sacramental obligation to conceal everything he hears in the confessional, no matter how heinous, shameful or criminal they are. It is called the seal of confession. The priest stands in the place of Christ, and what goes on in the confessional is the business of Christ, not the business of man.
A point must be made here for scrupulous souls regarding holding back sins in confession: if you have a lapse of memory and forget a mortal sin at the time of confession, or purposefully hold back a venial sin, you are not guilty of a sacrilegious confession. It is only when you deliberately and willfully hold back a mortal sin that you are guilty of a sacrilegious confession. If you remember that you have forgotten a mortal sin, dearest soul, you are obligated to confess it during your next confession[xxii].
The Holy Eucharist
After you receive again sanctifying grace from the sacrament of confession, how do you keep from sinning again? By frequently receiving our Lord in Holy Communion. This is one of the most effective remedy for warding off temptation. Saint Maximilian Kolbe said, "If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion[xxiii]." Just as the sacrament of penance is medicine for your soul, so the Holy Eucharist is food for the soul. Can a starving man do battle against a more cunning and powerful enemy? So it is with the spiritual battle, that a soul unnourished by the graces of the Holy Eucharist will rarely triumph over evil. For the praise and glory of Christ, Amen.
The Third Remedy: Distrust of Self and Humility
You must come to the conclusion, dearest soul, that you cannot fight this battle alone, and just as God is infinitely strong, you are infinitely weak. You are fighting an enemy that is stronger, more watchful, more cunning, and more strategically advanced than you. The devil has an angelic intellect, and he wants you to trust in your own strength. Saint Catherine of Bologna tells us, “if someone does confide in her own wisdom and will not [distrust herself], let her know for certain that by just judgment she will fall into great ruin.[xxiv]” Remind yourself throughout the day how weak and destitute you are and rely on God, “For without Me you can do nothing.[xxv]” St. Philip Neri tells us, “Humility is the safeguard of chastity. In the matter of purity, there is no greater danger than not fearing the danger.[xxvi]” You are weak, and you cannot fight this battle by yourself! Do not trust your own strength, for this will only result in ruin. ”Your good resolutions must not make you proud, but humble and diffident; if you carry a large sum of gold about you, take care not to meet any highwaymen. In this life there is nothing certain: we are in a continual warfare, and, therefore, ought to be on our guard day and night.[xxvii]" Making acts of humility throughout the day, dearest soul, will greatly strengthen you against sins of impurity. How do you make acts of humility? An example would be praying this simple phrase, “Dearest Jesus, have mercy upon me, a sinner who is nothing without you!”
Finally, let us call to mind the story of Saint Philosophus, a Christian man who was captured under the emperor Decius and refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods. Because he boldly defended the virtue of purity, Philosophus was bound so he could not resist and a woman was sent to make him sin through impurity. In holy passion Saint Philosophus bit out his own tongue and spat it in the harlot's face, refuting her advances and gaining for himself a glorious crown of martyrdom[xxviii]. What strength and courage he showed in the face of this diabolical attack! Could he have refuted the temptation if he did not have distrust of self? Nay, he surely would have been lost. Saint Philosophus is a patron saint of the virtue of purity, and his intercession is powerful before the throne of God. Ask him to beg God for you the graces needed to live a pure life, that you may practice the remedies against impurity with integrity and diligence, and that you may one day also join him in eternal glory. For the praise and glory of Christ, amen.
The Fourth Remedy: Prayer
Saint Faustina tells us of the importance of prayer, “A soul arms itself by prayer for all kinds of combat. In whatever state the soul may be, it ought to pray. A soul which is pure and beautiful must pray, or else it will lose its beauty; a soul which is striving after this purity must pray, or else it will never attain it; a soul which is newly converted must pray, or else it will fall again; a sinful soul, plunged in sins, must pray so that it might rise again. There is no soul which is not bound to pray, for every single grace comes to the soul through prayer[xxix].” The fourth remedy, dearest soul, functions as two weapons in the spiritual battle: it is a shield in which you protect yourself from the sword of the enemy, but it is also a glorious weapon that must be used to refute him. Saint John Chrysostom tells us, “It is simply impossible to lead, without the aid of prayer, a virtuous life[xxx].” How is this so? Prayer is communication with God, and it is how you earn grace. When you pray, dearest soul, you are uniting yourself with God, who loves you infinitely. God wants to bring you to Himself, and there is nothing that He will not do to aide you in coming to Him. He wants you to become like Him. When you pray, you become more like God. When you become more like God, you unite your will His will, and God’s will in its most predicate sense is for you to do good and to avoid evil. “You that love the Lord, hate evil: the Lord preserveth the souls of his saints; he will deliver them out of the hand of the sinner.[xxxi]” St. John Vianney taught, “We are all like little mirrors in which God contemplates Himself.[xxxii]” If you always kept the presence of God, how could you possibly offend Him, who is all good and righteous? For the praise and glory of Christ, Amen.
The Fifth Remedy: Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary
One of the principle ways that you can overcome impurity, dearest soul, is to have devotion to the Mother of God. Is she not called the “virgins of virgins”, who was pure enough to bear and nurture Christ while He was on earth? There are two principle devotions to the Blessed Virgin that seem to work especially well in aiding souls in overcoming the vice of impurity.
The first devotion is the recitation of 3 Hail Marys every morning in honor of the purity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Saint Alphonsus Liguori tells this wonderful story.
A man so polluted with sins against purity went one day to confession to a Father of the Society of Jesus. The Father dismissed him, and told him to say every morning three "Hail Marys" in honor of the purity of the Blessed Virgin, in order to obtain through her intercession the grace to be delivered from the bad habit. After several years the young man returned to the same Father, but had scarcely a venial sin to confess; when he had finished his confession he said to the confessor: "Father, do you know me ? I am the person whom you could not absolve some years ago, on account of my sins against purity; but by saying the three "Hail Marys" every morning I have, by the grace of God, got rid of the bad habit. [xxxiii]
Is this not the goal that you are seeking after, dearest soul, to be like this young man, to cast away your bad habits and begin living a sanctified life? In my experience, this simple devotion of daily reciting three Hail Marys in honor of the purity of Mary has cleansed more souls from the vice of impurity than any other devotion, and I exhort you to begin this practice immediately. God found so much favor with the purity of Mary that she alone was worthy of being the mother of God. By honoring her purity with this devotion, you can gain the graces necessary to become pure in imitation of the Mother of God.
The second devotion that aides souls in overcoming impurity is the recitation of the Holy Rosary. Saint Louis Marie de Montfort says of the Rosary, “The [laity] should arm themselves with the frequent meditation on the life, virtues and sufferings of the Blessed Lord—which are so beautifully contained in the Holy Rosary. [xxxiv]” He goes even further to say, “Our Lady revealed to Blessed Alan de Roche one day that, after the holy sacrifice of the Mass, which is the most important, as well as the living, memorial of Our Blessed Lord’s passion, there could not possibly be a finer devotion, or one of greater merit than that of the Holy Rosary, which is like a second memorial and representation of the life and passion of Christ.[xxxv]” These are powerful words, dearest soul. the word Rosary means, “crown of Roses”, and each time we say the Rosary we crown the Blessed Mother with a crown of roses, and honor her as the co-redemptrix of humanity and also her glorious purity. Pope Pius IX was once heard to say, “"Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world." When you honor Mary, dearest soul, how can you not honor Christ? Mary was the closest human person to Christ, the perfection of God’s creation, the one chosen to bear Christ in her most blessed womb. Mary is infinitely lower than God, but she was raised up to the height of grace and perfection, and therefore it is worthy for us to turn to her with our prayers and requests. Saint Maximilian Kolbe tells us, “Prayer is powerful beyond limits when we turn to Mary, who is queen even of God's heart.” Do not be afraid to turn your heart to Mary, dearest soul. If you faithfully practice devotion to the mother of God, she will adopt you as her own, take you by the hand and lead you into the kingdom of her Son. For the praise and glory of Christ, Amen.
Sixth Remedy: Fasting
Lust is a vice which is embedded in what is called our Concupiscible passions, according to Thomistic theology. There are two types of passions, irascible passions and concupiscible passions. The concupiscible passions are called passions of desire, and from it the word “concupiscence” is derived. According to the New Advent encyclopedia, concupiscence is “the object of the sensuous appetite” which is “the gratification of the senses” [xxxvi]. It is very important to note here that lust, gluttony and sloth stem from the sensuous appetite of the concupiscible passions. How do you fight these vices? By practicing the opposite virtues! However, most people do not know that since lust, gluttony and sloth are grouped together in the same group of passions (i.e. concupiscible), you can fight all of the concupiscible passions at once by practicing the opposite virtue of just one vice. For example, if you fast, you are strengthening the will not only against gluttony, but lust and sloth as well. This is why fasting aids the soul very much when it is striving for the grace of purity, and why it is a remedy against impurity.
Remedies in the Moment of Temptation
Now that the remedies to strengthen the soul against temptation have been discussed, it is vitally important to know what to do in the moment of temptation. There are three principle remedies in the moment of temptation: flight, calling upon the names of Jesus and Mary, and finally meditating on the passion and death of Christ.
First Remedy: Flight
There is no method better proven to prevent sins of impurity than immediate flight from the thought or occasion that is tempting you to sin. St. Alphonsus Liguori explains, "In temptations against chastity, the spiritual masters advise us, not so much to contend with the bad thought, as to turn the mind to some spiritual, or, at least, indifferent object. It is useful to combat other bad thoughts face to face, but not thoughts of impurity[xxxvii]." Remember the section on distrust of self! “In the matter of purity, there is no greater danger than not fearing the danger.” Numerous accounts of the saints show that they wasted no time in fleeing and distracting themselves from temptations of impurity. Saint Jose Maria Escriva used to say to his parishioners, "To defend his purity, Saint Francis of Assisi rolled in the snow, Saint Benedict threw himself into a thornbush, Saint Bernard plunged into an icy pond…but you, what have you done?[xxxviii]” If you fly immediately from the temptations of impurity, you shall earn merit and have peace within your soul. However, "As soon as you willfully allow a dialogue with temptation to begin, the soul is robbed of peace, just as consent to impurity destroys grace.[xxxix]” For the praise and glory of Christ, Amen.
Second Remedy: Calling upon the Names of Jesus and Mary
This second Remedy, dearest soul, is to be used if the temptation persists and you cannot banish it immediately from your mind. It is an extremely effective remedy that does not fail if their names are invoked with confidence. Think of a small bear cub. The cub is small and weak, and there are many predators in the wild that are stronger and more cunning than it is. However, all predators flee from the cub the instant it begins to cry out. Why? The she-bear is ever near, and all predators know that nothing makes her more ferocious than hearing her cub crying for help. In the same way, dearest soul, Jesus and Mary will come to your aide the instant you cry for assistance, for you are their precious child. If you value grace within your soul, do not hesitate to vocally call upon the names of Jesus and Mary in the moment of temptation, for they are always ready to assist you, and will comfort you. Towards the praise and glory of Christ, Amen.
Third Remedy: Meditation upon the Passion of Christ
This third remedy is not discussed by Saint Alphonsus in his treatise on the remedies against impurity, but it is mentioned by Saint Augustine and other spiritual writers of the Church. Therefore, I will include it in the immediate remedies for combating temptation. Saint Augustine writes, “There is no remedy as powerful against the heat of concupiscence as the remembrance of our Savior’s Passion. In all my difficulties I never found anything so efficacious as the wounds of Christ: In them I sleep secure; from them I derive new life.[xl]” If you always remembered the bitter pains and agony of Christ before you, dearest soul, how could you offend Him who died for you, and redeemed you through His most precious blood? It has already been discussed how much impurity dishonors Christ. “Our Lord was crowned with thorns to expiate our sins of pride; but for this accursed sin, He was scourged and torn to pieces, since He said Himself that after his flagellation all His bones might be counted…[xli]” Towards the praise and glory of Christ, Amen.
It is my prayer, dearest soul, that this small work aids you in your battle towards Christ and away from evil, away from impurity and towards favor with God. God wants you to come to Him! He is waiting to run to you, as in the story of the prodigal son[xlii], and to adopt you back into His household. Throw off the yoke of impurity, and do not give up hope. "When you decide firmly to lead a clean life, chastity will not be a burden on you: it will be a crown of triumph.[xliii]” As long as you live and breathe, you can be delivered. It will not be easy, and many souls find themselves relapsing after their initial struggles. Pope Saint John Paul II tells us, “Chastity is a difficult, long term matter; one must wait patiently for it to bear fruit, and for the happiness of loving kindness which it must bring.”You must learn to fight this spiritual battle, and with the help of Christ and the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, this battle begins today. For the praise and glory of Christ, Amen.
[i] Baltimore Catechism, Catechism No. 1 Lesson 1 Question 6
[ii] Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Moral Theology
[iii] Matthew 11:29-30
[iv] To make a sin mortal, three things are necessary: the sin must be a grievous matter, the sinner must know it is a grievous matter, and the sinner must give full consent of the will (Baltimore Catechism, Q. 282).
[v] Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Complete Aesthetical works Volume XVI, treatise on the sixth commandment
[vi] Saint John Marie Vianney, Catechism on impurity
[vii] Saint John Marie Vianney, Catechism on impurity
[viii] St. Alphonsus Liguori, Complete Aesthetical works Volume XVI, treatise on the sixth commandment
[ix] Saint John Vianney, Catechism on impurity
[x] In order to incite in yourself a great horror and sorrow for your sins, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church encourage us to meditate upon hell. Saint Benedict Joseph Labre tells us,“Meditate on the horrors of Hell which will last for eternity because of one easily-committed mortal sin. Try hard to be among the few who are chosen. Think of the eternal flames of Hell, and how few there are that are saved.”
[xi] Saint Alphonsus Liguori Complete Aesthetical works Volume XVI, treatise on the sixth commandment
[xii] St. Alphonsus Liguori, Complete Aesthetical works Volume XVI, treatise on the sixth commandment
[xiii] St. Alphonsus Liguori, Complete Aesthetical works Volume XVI, treatise on the sixth commandment
[xiv] 1 Corinthians 7:9
[xv] Saint Alphonsus Liguori
[xvi] Saint Thomas Aquinas
[xvii] Saint Faustina Divine Mercy in My Soul
[xviii] Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Sermons for all Sundays of the Year. Sermon for the 3rd Sunday in Lent
[xix] Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Complete Aesthetical works Volume XVI, treatise on the sixth commandment
[xx] Your last valid confession would be the last time you confessed all of your mortal sins without holding any sins back.
[xxi] Catechism of the Council of Trent
[xxii] Baltimore Catechism, Question 793
[xxiii] Saint Maximilian Kolbe
[xxiv] Saint Catherine of Bologna The Seven Spiritual Weapons
[xxv] John 15:5
[xxvi] Saint Phillip Neri
[xxvii] Saint Jerome, Father and Doctor of the Church, Epistle to Saint Eustochium
[xxviii] Butler’s lives of the Saints
[xxix] St. Faustina
[xxx] St. John Chrysostom
[xxxi] Psalm 97:10
[xxxii] Saint John Marie Vianney, Catechism on impurity
[xxxiii] Saint Alphonsus Liguori Complete Aesthetical works Volume XVI, treatise on the sixth commandment
[xxxiv] Saint Louis de Montfort, The Secret of the Rosary, Chapter 24; the 24th Rose
[xxxv] Saint Louis de Montfort, The Secret of the Rosary, Chapter 28; the 28th Rose
[xxxvii] St. Alphonsus Liguori, on temptation
[xxxviii] Saint Jose Maria Escriva
[xxxix] Saint Jose Maria Escriva
[xl] Saint Augustine
[xli] Saint John Marie Vianney, Catechism on impurity
[xlii] Luke 15:11-32
[xliii] Saint Jose Maria Escriva