Spiritual Virginity, Purity and You
The wonderful season of lent is upon us. This is a great opportunity to renew our relationship with our Lord and Saviour. Therefore we can clear out the old and bring in the new. The old junk must be discarded, it clouds the soul (darkens the intellect) and so can even weaken the conscience.
St Paul and the Body
Once again I return to a key theme of St. Paul’s, our body is not our own, it has been bought for a price by Christ. In conjunction with this St. Paul tells us that one’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, a gift from God (1 Cor 6:19). It is within the soul which is united to the body that the Triune God dwells. St. Paul reveals that a sexual sin such as sex outside the permanent covenant of marriage is not a sin outside the body, but against one’s own body (1 Cor 6:18). Therefore it is a sin against the temple of the Holy Spirit.
The Virtue of Purity
Purity is one of the seven virtues. It is not an ideal to leave to the to-do-one-day pile. Like an athlete we must work towards it. We must put our time and energy into being pure. Because we are created in the image and likeness of God, we are not truly living to our human dignity, our true potential if we don’t seek to be pure. It is a gift from God, but one that is offered to all. Pope John Paul II says that through Christ’s magnificent death and resurrection “every human being has received himself and his own body anew, as it were, from God. Christ inscribed in the human body – in the body of every man and of every woman – a new dignity.”  He says that because of this we are called to a new obligation, to live moral lives and so we have a moral duty. Therefore St. Paul encourages us not to sin against our bodies (1 Cor 6:18). Vatican Council II emphasized that our number one vocation is holiness. The previous pope explains that the redemption of the body brings a new measure of the holiness of the body. So as St. Paul says one should keep his or her own body with holiness and reverence (1 Thes 4:4).
In the 21st century we are tempted to fall into sexual sin perhaps more than any time in history since Adam and Eve. Besides the sin of the flesh, we are tempted to fall into the sin of lust, one of the seven deadly sins. Christ says that any man who looks at a woman lustfully commits adultery in his heart. This lent especially, let us ask for the intercession of the Holy Family, that is St. Joseph, Our Lady and Our Saviour (who pleads to the Father for us) to help us in this area. Also because the sacraments have a cause and effect, they impart grace and strengthen us if we are open to allow the sacrament to bear fruit. Therefore let us frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a month to allow God to work in our hearts and clean out the temple. Pope John Paul II frequented it weekly. I have experienced that the more frequent you go then you become more attuned to when you need Christ’s forgiveness. Sin is not just personal. It affects those around us. If we are closed from the grace of Christ then we cannot be true lights to those around us. We will not shine with the love of Christ to the world as we are called to.
The World is Desperate for the Gospel
So the wider world longs for the Gospel. From this Gospel one can learn that Christ offers one complete spiritual renewal! But the challenge is like the one we heard on Ash Wednesday when we were marked with the sign of the cross with ashes: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” Like the woman caught in adultery who committed a sexual sin Christ offers hope, he offers forgiveness if one turns to him with a repentant heart. Christ challenges us with a radical call after forgiving us. He says “Go and do not sin anymore.”
Can one regain their purity? The temple of the Holy Spirit is darkened by sins against the flesh, such as fornication and lust. But these sins can be forgiven and the temple can be spiritual cleansed, making them sparkling fresh, whiter than snow. We must accept the forgiveness that Christ offers us, especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation or we are in the danger of falling into pride or even disbelief because of our lack of faith or trust. In accepting Christ’s forgiveness we must also forgive ourselves, often this is the hardest to do. Through the sacraments we are indeed born again. So we can become spiritually pure, spotless. The world needs to know this hope that the glorious Catholic Church (and Orthodox Church too) can offer.
As St. Paul said let us race towards the finishing-point to win the prize of God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Let us put more effort into prayer, sacrifice (fasting) and almsgiving over this period of lent as well as practicing it throughout the year. God loves us a generous heart. Let us be Christ to the world and let our light shine with the purity of Christ.
Brendan Roberts, a writer and Catholic author of three books is from New Zealand. His next book “Crusades Rediscovered: In the Light of Human Sexuality and Our Creator” seeks to bring Theology of the Body to the mainstream. His websites are www.godfact.com and www.kiwig.com.
 John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2006, 350.