I posted this on Cathinfo 9 years ago (wow has it been that long?): Christ Wants More: Ignatian Principles and Ideals on Prayer and Action
Fr. Frank Holland, S.J.
Originally published in 1961“The Difficult Commandment”
Every normal individual that has reached young manhood or womanhood is bound to have some temptations against purity – impure thoughts that run quickly through the mind, temptation to sins of curiosity, of touch, of desire, and so on. There are times when we wish we could toss our bodies away just to get rid of such temptations. Since that is not God’s plan for us, it’s better to face the fact calmly that this is part of living, part of growing up and staying grown up. And the whole truth about the matter is that it’s a fight to the end! At least, that’s St. Paul’s version of it, and he was human.
A saint who experienced very trying temptations against purity was St. Catherine of Siena. One day she was “tormented” by the most vile imaginations against purity; and when the ordeal was finally over, she asked Our Lord: “Where were you when I needed You so much?”
Christ’s answer to Catherine should assure us when we have to endure the same or a similar trial: “I was with you, Catherine, strengthening you by My grace and loving you for your resistance to sin. I wanted to KNOW and to see how much you loved Me!”
Just how do we fight this particular kind of battle? Most often by the “indirect method,” by building up defenses before the enemy engages us. When it’s a matter of purity, we’re all “in the army.” So, here’s an important list of “army regulations” from our King and Commander
1) Be careful of the way you use your EYES. Learn to turn away quickly from impure pictures, stories, ads, movies, immodest persons and anything that could cause trouble now or later. Mortify your eyes even in legitimate things from time to time. It’s easier then when something sinful shows up.
2) Store up your mind with good reading. Satan’s human helpers are turning out thousands of indecent books and magazines a year. Don’t get stupidly caught in this snare. Recoveries are rare! One bad book or one obscene magazine may cause you endless trouble for the rest of your life. Cut the curiosity! You’re not missing anything worthwhile!
3) Develop a LOVE FOR WORK! Idleness is still the Devil’s Workshop. Don’t sit around and wait for trouble. Work keeps you mentally and physically occupied. It keeps your mind off yourself and off any number of dangerous things. Work gives you a sense of dignity and achievement, a healthy self-respect and a sense of decency.
4) Avoid day-dreaming, especially when you see temptation coming. Get right down to the next thing to be done. If it’s time for sleep, go to sleep (in God). If it’s time for work or study, put your mind on that – that’s God’s Will for you right now.
5) Have a fixed “code” for dating; otherwise, you’re just begging for a WAR. Have something to remind yourself about your code; for example, always kneel down and put yourself and the date in Our Lady’s hands before you leave the house; ask for grace. Take a good look at the St. Christopher medal in your car and say a meaningful aspiration to be likewise a “Christ-bearer.” Don’t let HIM down for anything. Remember a mere creature (even a pretty girl or a handsome fellow) is nothing compared to God. Necking may not always be a sin, but rule it out unless you really want TROUBLE. Sex is a “passion” and once you let it go, the chances are that ten to one, the fight to control it is going to be bigger than you are. And if you fall, think of the REMORSE. You’ve let God down, let yourself down, and harmed someone else who belonged to God.
6) Dress APPROPRIATELY. This is especially important for girls. You are someone who lives in God’s presence. When you’re all dressed up and ready to go places, ask HIM how you look. Then you won’t need to worry about being the occasion of sin to others on that score.
7) Use your HEAD, not your BODY, on dates. Keep up an interesting, intelligent conversation. Father Lord used to say that petting and necking were signs of a social “breakdown”; the couple had run out of other and better things to talk about and do. It’s time to go home at that point.
Remember: Men and women react differently both physically and mentally in the face of sex occasions. Men are much more easily aroused to passion than women are, and a woman ought to know this so as to help a man keep his integrity. If a girl is somewhat aroused by physical affection, then she can be almost sure the boy is more so, and may be on the danger-line of mortal sin. This is why prolonged kissing and embracing are simply “out” for the un-married. They lead directly and surely to impure thoughts and impure desires, and then to sins of touch and all the rest that goes with it. That ought to be plain enough for anyone to understand. Don’t ask for trouble.
9) Demand respect from others firmly but kindly.
10) In time of temptation, don’t dally around. Delay may be fatal. Be calm. Put your purity in the hands of Christ Crucified. If you know that you prayed in the time of temptation and did not will to sin, you can be sure there is nothing to worry about. Put your mind to work – on a god detective story, a cross-word puzzle, a hard problem in math, or a Latin translation for the next day’s class.
11) Go to confession frequently and to Holy Communion daily if possible, or at least once a week. Here is our real SOURCE OF STRENGTH.
12) Have a devotion to Mary that is REAL. Another word for devotion is IMITATION, and imitation is always the highest manifestation of love. Real devotion to Mary will influence your every act, your whole approach to life. If it’s an imitation, it will show itself in a dedicated practice of Mary’s virtues – love for God’s Will, obedience to authority, humility before God’s Law, and above all the perfection of chastity.