Marital chastity and virginity

Chastity does not consist only in the renunciation of sin. It is not something negative: "do not look", "do not do", "do not desire"? It is surrender of the heart to God, gentleness and tenderness with the Lord, "joyful affirmation ".  It is a virtue for everyone, to be lived according to one's state. In marriage, chastity teaches married couples to respect one another and to love one another with a firmer, more delicate and more lasting love. "Love ensures that conjugal relations, without ceasing to be carnal, are clothed, as it were, with the nobility of the spirit and are equal to the dignity of man. The thought that sexual union is destined to give rise to new lives has an astonishing power of transfiguration, but physical union is only truly ennobled if it proceeds from love and is an expression of love (...).

"And when sex is completely detached from love and sought for its own sake, then man abandons his dignity and profanes the dignity of the other as well.

"A love that is strong and full of tenderness is therefore one of the best guarantees and above all one of the deepest causes of conjugal purity.

"But there is still a higher cause. Chastity, St. Paul tells us, is a "fruit of the Spirit" (cf. Gal 5:23), that is, a consequence of divine love. To maintain purity in marriage requires not only a delicate and respectful love for the other person, but above all a great love for God. The Christian who tries to know and love Jesus Christ finds in this love a powerful stimulus for his chastity. He knows that purity brings him closer to Jesus Christ in a special way and that the nearness of God, promised to those who keep their hearts clean (cf. Mt 5:8), is the principal guarantee of that same cleanliness".

Chastity is neither the first nor the most important virtue, nor can the Christian life be reduced to purity, but without it there is no charity, and this is the first of the virtues and the one that gives its fullness to all the others. Without chastity, human love itself is corrupted. Those who have received the call to serve God in marriage are sanctified precisely in the self-sacrificing and faithful fulfillment of conjugal duties, which for them becomes a sure path of union with God. Those who have received the vocation to apostolic celibacy find in total dedication to the Lord and to others for God, undividedly and without the mediation of conjugal love, the grace to live happily and to attain an intimate and profound friendship with God.

If we look at Our Lady today -and on this day of the week, Saturday, many Christians have her especially present-, we see that in her are given in a sublime way those two possibilities that are excluded in the rest of women: maternity and virginity. In our lands we often call her simply "the Virgin", the Virgin Mary. And we treat her as Mother. It was God's will that his Mother be at the same time Virgin. Virginity must be, therefore, a very high value in the eyes of God, and it contains an important message for men of all times: the satisfaction of sex does not belong to the perfection of the person. The words of Jesus when they rise from the dead, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage indicate that "there is a condition of life, without marriage, in which man, male and female, finds at the same time the fullness of self-giving and communion between persons, thanks to the glorification of his whole being in the perennial union with God. When the call to continence for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven finds an echo in the human soul (...) it is not difficult to perceive there a special sensitivity of the human spirit, which already in earthly conditions seems to anticipate what man will share in the future resurrection". Virginity and apostolic celibacy are here on earth a foretaste of Heaven.

At the same time, Christian doctrine has always affirmed that "sex is not a shameful reality, but a divine gift that is ordered cleanly to life, to love, to fecundity.

"This is the context, the background, in which the Christian doctrine on sexuality is situated. Our faith knows nothing of the beautiful, of the generous, of the genuinely human, that is here below". Those who give their whole being to God out of love, without mediating human love in marriage, do not do so "because of a supposed negative value of marriage, but in view of the particular value that is linked to this option and that must be discovered and accepted personally as one's own vocation. For this reason, Christ says: he who can understand, let him understand (Mt 19:12)". The Lord has given each of us a mission here in life; our happiness lies in fulfilling it completely, with sacrifice and joy.