The following conference was recently preached by a traditional mission priest, to traditional priests. It can, however, be applied to laity as well. It is truly a treasure trove we proudly bring you:
“These are they who were not defiled with women: for they are virgins. These follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were purchased from among men, the first fruits to God and to the Lamb: And in their mouth there was found no lie; for they are without spot before the throne of God” (Apoc. 14:4-5).
Last evening we meditated on how vital it is to relate to the Church… to God and our fellow man. Here again we see the Cross, the vertical with the horizontal. We carry this Cross (relating to God and man) best and most effectively by approaching the Ark of the Covenant. As you may recall, the Ark is made out of incorruptible setim wood. This wood was overlaid with pure gold… on the inside and out. Furthermore, the top of the Ark is overshadowed by two gold cherubim angels. These two things, the gold and the angels, point to the utter purity of the Ark. This means those who approach the Ark and hope to use its contents effectively against the world, the flesh and the devil, must be pure themselves. And priests are called to come the closest to the Ark.
Let us begin with those angels. Our Lord connected virginity and celibacy to the angels when He said, “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” This is why we connect chastity with the angels, calling perfect chastity “Angelic purity.” The Gospels often call demons “unclean.” St. Therese said: “Chastity makes me the sister of Angels, of those pure, victorious Spirits.” (PN 48, 3 My Weapons). The pure angels were victorious over the unclean demons. Celibacy brings angelic and heavenly victory over the devil’s harlotry!
Recall how angels came and tied a cord around the waist of St. Thomas when he overcame the grave trial against his virginal purity. He is our Angelic Doctor… because he spoke lots about angels… seemed to have the piercing intellect of an angel… but also because he enjoyed angelic purity. All of these are connected. Pope Pius XI said, “If St. Thomas had not been victorious when his chastity was in peril, it is very probable that the Church would never have had her Angelic Doctor.” St. James: “the wisdom, that is from above, first indeed is chaste (pudica)” (3:17). Doctrinal purity is connected to bodily purity. St. Augustine says the pure virginal St. John the Evangelist “soars like an eagle above the clouds of human infirmity, and gazes upon the light of the unchangeable truth with those keenest and steadiest eyes of the heart.” He saw secrets of time and eternity, writing about that which no mortal has been permitted to write. He remained until he saw the coming of Christ in vision such that even the angels themselves learned from him. He was always the first to recognize Our Lord… crying out, “It is the Lord.”
The Scriptures show in a number of ways how the priests who work before the Ark and carry it must be pure. Whenever the Levites were designated to work before the Ark in the Tabernacle or later in the Temple, they had to abstain from relations with their wives. Furthermore, the High Priest was not even allowed to sleep the night before he entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement for fear that he might have some sort of nocturnal emission. God loves purity and rewards it with divine intimacy. St. John laid his head on the Sacred Breast of Our Lord at the Last Supper. He was given the Blessed Mother, the Virgin of virgins, at the foot of the Cross.
Consider for a moment what happened to those priests of old who did not maintain purity, such as the sons of Heli of whom we hear: “Now the sons of Heli were children of Belial, not knowing the Lord, nor the office of the priests to the people” (1Kings 2:12). What caused this blindness? Liturgical abuse and bodily impurity. Because of their liturgical abuse, we hear: “Wherefore the sin of the young men was exceeding great before the Lord: because they withdrew men from the sacrifice of the Lord.” A few lines later we hear of “how they lay with the women that waited at the door of the tabernacle.” If you study the Scriptures carefully, these women were those who gave up their mirrors to be made into the Bronze Laver (cf. Exodus 38:8). They gave up their vanity for the purity of the priesthood… they kept watch at the doors of the Temple like nuns keep watch at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in their choir next to the altar. These sons of Heli were types of men like Martin Luther… priests impure in body and doctrine, running away with nuns. We know what happened to those evil priest sons of Heli… when they tried to use the Ark to turn back the Philistines, they were slain, and many with them, as well as the Ark being captured for a time. Priestly sins such as liturgical abuse and unchastity go together…and they bring wrath upon the people. For such reasons, Bd. Francis Palau says the effects of impurity on the soul are: “Ignorance, insensibility, indifference, haste, inconstancy, selfishness, conceit, hatred of God, attachment to the present age and horror of the future.” Confusion, depression, and death await the impure.
We also have the example of the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abiu. From Leviticus we hear: “And Nadab and Abiu, the sons of Aaron, taking their censers, put fire therein, and incense on it, offering before the Lord strange fire: which was not commanded them. And fire coming out from the Lord destroyed them: and they died before the Lord” (Lev 10:1-2). Although we are not told directly what this “strange fire” is, we know at least one thing: the fire did not come from the Altar of Sacrifice in the outer court, which is where it should have come from. Liturgical abuse. That is why they died…they tried to offer something to God apart from Christ and His Sacrifice. God killed them to show that this is a mortal sin. Surely, this strange fire can represent many things… among them the fire of the passion of lust, and we might add, most especially unnatural lust.
In speaking of our times, Our Lady of Good Success said, “There will be no virgin souls in the world.” Then She added ominously: “Without virginity it would be necessary for fire from heaven to fall upon these lands to purify them” (Our Lady of Good Success, Prophecies for Our Times, Horvat, p. 56). It is not insignificant to note that Our Lady of Good Success then catalogs all the liturgical abuse of the Sacraments that would take place in the 20th Century. Impurity and liturgical abuse go together.
At LaSalette, Our Lady said: “The priests, ministers of My Son, the priests by their wicked lives, by their irreverence and their impiety in the celebration of the holy mysteries, by their love of money, their love of honors—and pleasures, the priests have become cesspools of impurity. … Woe to the priests and to those dedicated to God who by their unfaithfulness and their wicked lives are crucifying My Son again!”
Our Lady at Akita Japan: “The work of the devil will infiltrate even the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against other bishops. The priests who venerate Me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres…churches and altars will be sacked, the Church will be full of those who accept compromise and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord. The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of My sadness.” In this same set of locutions, Our Lady said, “fire would come down from heaven.” Were not Sodom and Gomorrah purified by fire from heaven?
In a vision of God sitting on His throne (recall how the Ark is the Throne of God), the Prophet Daniel reports this throne was like “flames of fire” where a “swift stream of fire issued forth from before Him” and “thousands of thousands [of angels] ministered to Him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him: the judgment sat, and the books were opened …and the beast was slain” (cf. Dan 7:9-11). Here is the Throne of God and the footstool of God. The Ark has the power to lay waste the enemies of God… “the beast was slain.” The pure virginal souls like St. John the Beloved and St. Thomas Aquinas have often been the Church’s best theologians and doctors… those who best slay the beast out of whose mouth the river of revolution flows.
When the Philistines had possessed the Ark seven months, it effected a great slaughter, flattening their idols and causing many plagues…such as mice and diseases in their private parts. They sent the Ark back. When it was discovered near Bethlehem, many drew too near, even attempting to look into it. Thousands died (cf. 1 Kings 6:19). And the people cried out: “Who shall be able to stand before the Lord this holy God?” They needed holy priests!
Somewhat later, Kind David attempted to bring the Ark into Jerusalem, only to stop along the way because “Oza put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it: because the oxen kicked and made it lean aside. And the indignation of the Lord was enkindled against Oza, and He struck him for his rashness: and he died there before the ark of God” (2Kings 6:6). At least two things are going on here. The Mosaic law prescribed that the Ark be carried by a special group of Levites, “the sons of Caath” (Num 4:15). The Ark was not being carried but drawn by oxen on a cart. When David did take up the Ark again, we read that it was being carried this time (2Kgs 6:13). The Ark is not too keen on liturgical abuse! Second, whenever the Ark was taken out of the Holy of holies, God commanded that it be veiled by three layers (first with the veil of the Holy of holies itself, then animal skins and cloth, both dyed violet…cf. Num 4:5-6). Finally, it is also important to recall how whenever the Ark was carried in procession, the people were to keep their distance. When the Ark turned back the waters of the Jordan and when it was processed about Jericho to lay waste to its walls, the people had to keep their distance. Even the priests themselves were to avoid touching the Ark, touching only the poles instead.
Clearly, all this symbolizes and points to the holiness and purity of the Ark and its contents. These most sacred things were given to man to overcome the world, the flesh, and devil… given to us to dry up the revolutionary waters. In the Old Testament, they were only material symbols of their fulfillment in the New Testament. Think about it. If they needed to be treated with the greatest care, how much more what we possess! A pure and holy Ark demands a priesthood that is pure and holy and set apart. Again, this is symbolized by the angels and the gold.
No wonder St. John Eudes speaks so boldly about priestly purity: “Abhor impurity. Avoid with the most scrupulous exactitude the places, persons or things which might constitute the slightest peril or suggest even the smallest shadow of that abominable vice. What could be more necessary and becoming to the life of the priest consecrated to God, the priest whose life is spent in the church near the altar, whose time is spent performing angelic functions amidst divine mysteries, what is more necessary and becoming than purity of mind and body? What can be more terrible than an impure priest? He is a monster, a Judas, an antichrist.” St. Vincent Ferrer reflecting on how Satan entered into Judas at the Last Supper, said “he who communicates unworthily receives the devil” (homily on Good Friday).
At his entry into the occult, Bd. Bartolo Longo (1841-1926) consulted a medium about certain questions he had… Bartolo asked “the spirit”… “Is Jesus Christ God?”—“Yes,” the medium answered. “Are the precepts of the Ten Commandments true?”—“Yes, except the sixth” (Thou shalt not commit adultery). This is where the devil likes to start. The devil attacked Job in every way possible short of taking his life. Purity and chastity was most certainly a key element in Job’s victory: “I made a covenant with my eyes, that I would not so much as think upon a virgin” (Job 31:1). Let us rather make a contract with our eyes to look always at the Virginal Church and we will sacrifice the whole for the part…the infinite for the finite. The more pure is the wax our body, the deeper and more clearly the stamp of the Church is set therein! The more pure our minds, hearts and bodies, the more reflectivity we have in our souls to see, to understand and deeply love the Church, our Bride.
St. Vincent de Paul has some beautiful reflections in his Constitutions regarding chastity: “Our Savior showed clearly how highly He rated chastity, and how anxious He was to get people to accept it, by the fact that He wanted to be born of an Immaculate Virgin through the intervention of the Holy Ghost, outside the normal course of nature. Christ allowed Himself to be falsely accused of the most appalling charges, following His wish to be overwhelmed with disgrace. Yet, He loathed unchastity so much that we never read of His having been in even the slightest way suspected of it, much less accused of it, even by His most determined opponents.” For this reason he points out that we must “be strongly determined to possess this virtue. And we must always and everywhere uphold it in a clear and decisive way” (ch. iv, no. 1).
St. Vincent took this matter very seriously… “The mere suspicion of this, even though completely unfounded, would do more damage to the Congregation and its good work than the false accusation of any other wrongdoing” (Constitutions, ch. iv, no. 4).
Bd. Francis possessed a beautiful understanding of how his own priesthood and vow of chastity connected him intimately to the Church as both father and spouse. He reports the Lord as saying: “The Father and I have ordained that the Church on earth shall have a father who loves her as Daughter, and a lover who will be united with her as Spouse. And [to] the priest … I give her again as Spouse, as my Father gave her as daughter. Celebrate, then, in my court this betrothal.” This is important because so many today see priestly celibacy as merely a practical means of being freed up to do the various apostolic labors required of priests. This argument, although valid and good, is only an argument from reason. There are more profound arguments!
In one place he acknowledges the struggle we all have as men… struggles with the temptation to give our hearts to a mortal woman. Palau: “I saw a young woman as beautiful as it is possible to be, the daughter of a distinguished [family], dainty, richly dressed, humble, God-fearing, gifted with sublime intelligence. My heart was drawn towards that beauty, and I said: ‘Foolish! Illusion, illusion! You deceive yourself. It is not a beauty worthy of love. It is an ugly shadow, dark as night.’ But my heart, deceived by the appearances presented by the material light, did not want to believe me: ‘Fool!’ – I said – ‘don’t be so stupid.’ I went back the following day and that beautiful flower had faded, the sun’s rays had wilted it. I looked at it carefully, and it was encased in a trunk; its face was yellow and ugly. ‘My heart,’ I said then – ‘where is that beauty which attracted you? It has gone like a shadow; it is no longer there.’ Four days later I went to visit her sepulcher. I opened a door which enclosed it; I was alone, what solitude, what silence! I called the daughter of the distinguished by name, and she did not answer. What a change! She was inside a marble sepulcher, alone: mysterious solitude! The cold block of marble enclosed and hid a frightful figure. I raised the slab and saw an ugly sight: the mouth and eye sockets were full of worms, the skin black. Beauty, where are you? Ah, illusion, illusion! Yes, – said then my heart – illusion!”
The veiled and shadow-like figure of the Church came to him, asking: “‘What are you searching for here among the sepulchers?’ –‘My Beloved, my heart had suffered an illusion and to undeceive it I place before it the sight of the decay enclosed in this cold marble. Shadow, shadow! Are you also deceiving me? The great beauty which you mention is also mortal and will perish like this faded flower in this sepulcher?’ The shadow became as bright as the light of the sun. And in the shadow I looked carefully at the incomparable beauty of the Daughter of God. I looked to see if death could attack her on any side, and I saw death overcome and conquered groaning at her feet, his scythe broken, his arrows blunted, his bows in pieces” (pp. 806-7).
Here we see the Church is an immortal bride… She cannot die. This touches directly on why a priesthood is an impediment to marriage. In the Eastern Rites, the priests must either marry before ordination or not at all. If his wife dies after ordination, he cannot marry again. For the whole Church, the priesthood is an impediment to marriage. Why is this? A priest cannot validly consummate a marriage. It seems to me this must follow from the fact that he already has consummated a marriage with an immortal Spouse, the Holy Church. According to Palau the priest is married to the Church on his ordination day: “All priests on the day of their ordination are handed over to me by my heavenly Father. The priest whatever be his rank or dignity, from the day of his Ordination, is my spouse and the ceremony is celebrated in due manner before the public” (p. 980). In another place the Church indicates that a consummation has taken place at the Holy Mass: “on the altar is the holy bride-bed where I am united with those who want me and love me” (p. 860).
Sometimes we know things by their opposites (via negativa). As it turns out, both of the Satanists, Aleister Crowley and Anton LeVey, formulated black masses that called for women to be physically on an altars that faced West. Apparently, these upside down, evil liturgies were most effective if the women were virgins and naked. Here is a mockery, a diabolical disorientation of what God has given most especially to His priests spiritually and mystically in the Holy Mass.
Palau: “The Church, that infinitely loveable Virgin, loving you in return for your love, … gives herself entirely to you, she is all yours, she is your Beloved, and your Lover, she is your inheritance, flesh of your flesh, bone of your bones; you two are one. In the great Sacrament of the altar, there every day she will unite herself with you anew, re-presenting Jesus my Son in his invisible Head. By giving himself sacramentally your Head gives her to you morally and by mystic love; and by uniting yourself here sacramentally with the Head, you will be morally united with the whole body. There, eating the flesh of Christ, the Head, you will become with her flesh of her flesh, bone of her bones; there you will be united with her and she with you in spiritual marriage, and you will enjoy her and she with you that spiritual joy which the world and the flesh do not know” (p. 774).
In another place, Palau asks:“–If you are a virgin, my daughter, and have to be always a virgin, how can you have a husband, and marry?” (p. 833). “–I can marry and unite myself only to pure, chaste, virgin lovers…” (p. 834).
Since this Spouse is immortal, once the priest is married to her, that is it. It is not until death do us part as it is in other marriages...but until death brings us together forever in the Kingdom of Heaven! “You are a priest forever!” Ah, what a mystery! No wonder St. Jean Vianney cried out “O, how great is the priest! ... If he realized what he is, he would die. … After God, the priest is everything! ... Only in heaven will he fully realize what he is… Were we to fully realize what a priest is on earth, we would die: not of fright, but of love.” O how important is priestly celibacy and purity for such a heavenly calling! What woman in her right mind would want to be married to a priest, who is wed to an immortal Spouse. Is this not a sort of bigamy?
Furthermore, this inability of the priest to consummate a marriage also flows from the union of Christ and His Church… which is indissoluble and eternal. What is more, there can only be one Bridegroom and one Bride…one Christ and one Church. Given that the priest is an alter Christus, then if the priest tried to consummate another marriage, it would look as if the Church were mortal and that there might be more than one Church. Thus, he cannot consummate and the priesthood remains an impediment to marriage.
Realizing the nature of the priesthood, Palau cries out: “Pure virgin, chaste virgin, beautiful virgin! I am unworthy of you, how can you call me father?” (p. 834). “–Look at me; yes, look at me freely and slowly. The more you look at me the more you will love me, and the more you love me, the more pure and chaste you will be” (p. 965).
Bd. Palau then begs of “Holy Church” to receive his vows and promises, and grant him the grace to fulfill them: “… in virtue of the vow of chastity, I surrender to you my flesh, my blood and my whole body, and will be flesh of your flesh and a true member of your body… Take care of me, for I am yours” (My Relations with the Church, Montserrat, August 3, 1864).
The Church responds by giving him the means to maintain their chaste union: “‘Come, draw near to my throne.’ And I went near. Our Lady had a necklace of gold in her hands, made of pearls and diamonds, similar to my rosaries, and she said to me: ‘Your beloved spouse, your Daughter, is and will be in God’s temple day and night, her Head – Christ in the Blessed Sacrament – resting upon the altar. Take care of her – the militant – wipe away her tears, console her in her afflictions, lighten her sorrows; all that you do for her on earth, she will return and do for you in heaven.’ After this, heavenly music was heard, and the choirs answered: “Amen, Alleluia!” I was left alone on the mountain. And when I looked at my rosaries, I found them the same as before, but destined to be in future the pledge or sign of my love for the Spouse, and of her love for me.”
Bd. Francis describes the means needed to maintain chastity: “The retreat, silence, prayer, humility, poverty, mortification or penance, abnegation of ones’ own will, submission to the prescribed rules are the most suitable means of keeping the spirit of the body and heart pure.” The priest is a heavenly man. He has a heavenly Spouse who cannot die. So, it seems to me, the easiest way to grasp these means of maintaining chastity is under the aspect of heaven.
(i) In heaven, all share the same reward: possessing God. Furthermore, in heaven all are enriched by each other. Love shares all. Love empties itself of all such that all are enriched. As a heavenly man, the celibate priest is called to live for the Church and all her members. So, spoiling ourselves with material goods and gadgets will not help us maintain our chastity. St. Jean Vianney used all his money for the building up of the Church, buying vestments and statues, as well as funding missions.
(ii) Those in heaven do not sleep… but are always praising, loving and serving God. As a heavenly man, the primary work of the priest is that of prayer. Thus, to remain chaste, he keeps vigil at night and rises early in the morning …and prays throughout the day…the Divine Office, the Holy Rosary and mental prayer.
(iii) Heaven dwellers do not eat, even if they have bodies. Thus, fasting is a way to practice for heaven. By fighting a battle of the belly, the Resurrection takes a deeper hold upon the heart of the priest. This makes him more receptive to the heavenly food of light and grace while maintaining control over the concupiscible appetite.
St. John Eudes: “Learn to hate intemperance in eating and drinking. Avoid every occasion in which sinful excesses may be committed. This vice is low and bestial and most definitely contrary to the sanctity and dignity of the priest, who should be an angel among men.” St. Vincent de Paul: : “since intemperance is, so to speak, the nursing mother of unchastity, each one should be moderate with regard to eating. We should, as far as possible, use ordinary food” (Constitutions, nos. 2 and 3). St. Bernadette: “A religious should never be heard speaking of food, this shows the lack of interior spirit. When we have a meal, we should humiliate ourselves at having to fulfill an action which, is common to animals, we must then remember what the saints did. A religious who will give herself everything she desires in matter of food and drink, will never become interior” (Personal Notes, p. 47).
(iv) Those in heaven are never idle…but always actively loving God. St. Vincent de Paul: “In order to succeed in this [maintaining chastity], with the help of God, we should be very careful to control our internal and external senses” (Constitutions, nos. 2 and 3). Furthermore, “since a lazy life is the enemy of virtues, especially of chastity, each of us is to avoid being idle and should always make good use of his time.”
We could easily place many things under idleness… browsing the web, playing some video game, watching some non-sensical or even provocative program or movie, … in a word all the things that entertain us… iphones, ipads, ipods…I, I, I …me, me, me. As priests we must avoid those things that dispose us more and more to a pleasurable life. St. Paul says to Timothy that revolutionary men will be “lovers of pleasure more than of God.” The more we are inclined to these pleasurable things the more effeminate and soft we tend to become. St. Thomas Aquinas describes effeminacy as “a sorrow and an unwillingness to be separated from pleasure in order to pursue what is arduous and difficult.” The more a priest gives in to the simple pleasures these entertainments afford him, the more his passions are inclined to the easy life. Result? He becomes weak-willed and reluctant to separate himself from them to pursue the arduous and difficult good, namely the virtues and ultimately, eternal life. Such men become effeminate almost despite themselves… even if they are pumping weights and are in great shape. Such men fall easily into sins of impurity.
(iv) The saints in heaven are happily fixed in God. They no longer make choices. We too have made a choice… we are married forever to an immortal and infinite beauty, Holy Church. It is over. There is no room for another lover. Furthermore, we have entered into the hierarchy of the Church… and live under obedience. Our will is not our own. In our marriage to the Church we fix our wills in adhering completely to Her teachings and all her traditional disciplines. When tempted, say to yourself, I am happily married! St. Vincent de Paul advised his priests: “We are never to speak to women in a one-to-one situation in unbecoming circumstances of either time or place. When speaking or writing to them we should completely avoid using any words, even spiritual terminology, which smack of affectionate feelings toward them. When hearing confessions, or when speaking to them outside of confession, we should not go too close to them nor take our chastity for granted” (Constitutions, ch. IV, 2).
The marks whereby a person may know that an affection from spiritual direction and association has become carnal are given by St. Bonaventure, as quoted by St. Alphonsus: (i) When there are long and useless conversations (and when they are long they are always useless); (ii) When there are mutual looks and mutual praise; (iii) When one excuses the faults of others; (iv) When they exhibit certain little jealousies; (v) When the absence of the one causes a certain inquietude in the other” (Spiritual Direction, Parente, p. 50).
St. Teresa Margaret Redi: “It is best to avoid speaking to one’s spiritual director except when it is strictly necessary to do so. And even then it should be as brief as possible, lest through self-love it degenerate into mere pious chat. It so often happens that a spiritual conversation begins in seeking God and ends in finding self. … All too often spiritual direction is sought as a means of gaining sanction for one’s own self-willed ideas, and such persons will go from one director to another until they find someone who ‘understands’ them, that is, who will approve of their doing what they had already decided upon” (God is Love, p. 30).
(v) The saints in heaven all wear long robes. Returning to the Ark itself, recall how it was wrapped and hidden beneath the veil, animal skins and linen. How important it is for us to be always wearing our priestly cassocks, even when alone. It is a sacramental and keeps us from much harm. It is a constant reminder to ourselves and others that we are in fact dead to this world yet living for an immortal spouse. In my own community, when being clothed with the Cassock, the formula states “may you be clothed with Mary Immaculate.” Oh how the devil hates the cassock!
Suffering a temptation? St. John of the Cross gives us some amazing advice. First he notes the normal path of fighting such temptations is to practice the opposite virtue by means of meditations, prayers and acts of penance. But the saint goes on to give a yet more effective, more perfect method of killing the temptation.
Yet, the saint explains, “When we feel the first movement or attack of any vice, such as lust, wrath, impatience or a revengeful spirit … as soon as we are conscious of it, we should meet it with an act or movement of anagogical love …[i.e., an act of love that puts us at the end… in heaven]. [this act of love] should raise our affections to union with God… by this means the soul absents itself from its surroundings and is present with its God and becomes united with Him [as if the soul were already in heaven]… then the vice or the temptation and the enemy are defrauded of their intent, and have no where to strike; for the soul, being where it loves rather than where it lives, has met the temptation with Divine aid, and the enemy has found no where to strike and nothing whereon to lay hold, for the soul is no longer where the temptation or enemy would have struck and wounded it. And then, oh, marvelous thing! The soul, having forgotten this movement of vice, and being united and made one with its Beloved, no longer feels any movement of this vice wherewith the devil desired to tempt it, and was succeeding in doing so; … it has escaped, and is no longer present, so that, if it may be put in this way, the devil is as it were tempting a dead body and doing battle with something that is not, feels not and is for the time being incapable of feeling temptation” (5th Spiritual Saying of St. John of the Cross, Peers edition). What does King David say in the Psalms but “Who will give me wings like a dove, and I will fly and be at rest?” (54:7)… wings of the Cherubim. Or “If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear. If a battle should rise up against me, in this will I be confident. One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. That I may see the delight of the Lord, and may visit his temple. For he hath hidden me in his tabernacle; in the day of evils, he hath protected me in the secret place of his tabernacle” (26:3-5).
Oh how good is chastity and celibacy! Let us embrace them as a sure means to pleasing our heavenly, eternal, infinitely beautiful spouse, the Holy Church. Let us embrace them as a sure means of using the Ark and its contents to overcome the revolutionary river and save many souls from drowning.