Snip from one of Fr. Wathen's radio broadcasts I'm naming:
The Necessity Of The Virtue Of Chasity And How To Attain It
"..... In the present instance, we wish to say something which will enable you to appreciate the beauty and excellence of the virtue of chastity and how to attain it.
We judge that we can do no better than quote the great Catholic Moralist and Spiritual Master, St. Alphonsus de Ligouri who lived from 1696 to 1787".
“No price is worthy of a continent soul”, says Ecclesiasticus. “In comparison with a chaste soul, all the riches, all the titles and dignities of the earth are contemptible.” Chastity is called by St. Ephrem “the life of the spirit”, by St. Peter Damien, “the queen of virtues”, and by St. Cyprian, “the acquisition of triumphs. He who conquers the vice opposed to chastity, easily subdues all other vices, and on the other hand, the man who submits to the tyranny of impurity, easily falls into many other vices, including hatred, injustice, sacrilege, and many others.”
"Chastity", says St. Ephrem, “changes a man into an angel”. St. Bernard says “chastity makes and angel of man”. According to St. Ambrose, “he who has preserved chastity is an angel, he who as lost it, is a devil. The chaste who live at a distance from all carnal pleasure are justly assimilated to the angels”. As Our Lord said, “they shall be as the as the angels of God in heaven” Mat. 22:30.
“The angels are pure by nature but the chaste are pure by virtue. Through the merit of this virtue”, says Casium, “men are like unto angels”. St. Bernard asserts that “a chaste man differs from an angel only in felicity not in virtue, although the chastity of an angel is more blissful, that of man is stronger”.
St. Basil adds that “chastity renders man like to God who is pure spirit. Chastity is not more excellent than it is necessary for the attainment of salvation. Great is the excellence of chastity, but terrible indeed is the war that the flesh wages against men in order to rob them of that precious virtue”.
“The flesh is the most powerful weapon that the devil employs in order to make us his slaves, his strength is in his loins”, says Job 40:11. Hence, but few gain the victory in this warfare. “Among all combats” says St. Augustine, “the combat for chastity is the most violent, because it is a daily combat and because a victory is fairly rare”.
“How many miserable men” explains St. Lawrence Justinian, “with tears, after many years spent in the solitude of a desert, in meditations, fasting and penitential austerities, have, for the sake of sensual indulgence, left the desert and have lost chastity, and God”.
“We must avail ourselves of the means of preserving chastity, we must”, says St. Augustine, “be far from those whose presence may entice us to evil”.
St. Philip Neri used to say that; “in this warfare, cowards, that is, they that fly from the occasions, are victorious”. “Concupiscence”, says Pierre Dubois, “is overcome by nothing more easily, than by flight”.
The grace of God is a great treasure, this treasure we carry in vessels that are frail and easily broken. We have this treasure in earthen vessels, says St. Paul to the Corinthians. Man cannot of himself acquire the virtue of chastity, God alone can give it. I knew, said Solomon, that I could not otherwise be continent except God gave it. Wis. 8:21
“We have not strength to practice any virtue, but particularly the virtue of chastity, for we have by nature a strong propensity to the opposite vice, the Divine aid alone can enable a man to preserve chastity, but this aid God gives not to those that voluntarily expose themselves to the occasion of sin or remain in it. He that loveth danger shall perish in it”, says Ecclesiasticus.
Hence St. Augustine gives the following advice; “To repel the attacks of lust, take flight if you wish to obtain the victory”.
“Oh, how many”, says St. Jerome, “at the hour of death”, to his disciples as we read in the epistle of Eusebius to Pope Damasus, “how many have been cast into the putrid mire of impurity for presumptuous security that they should not fall. No one then”, says the saint, “should consider himself secure against this vice. Though you’re a saint, you are always in danger of falling”.
“It’s not possible”, says the wise man, “for a man to walk on red hot coals and not be burned”. On this subject, St. John Chrysostom writes: “Are you perhaps a stone, or of iron? No, you are man, subject to the common weakness of nature. Do not think that you will not be burned if you take fire to your hand. How else could this be? Put a burning light into the hay, and then say that there be no blaze, like hay is this nature of ours. Hence, it is not possible for a man to expose himself voluntarily to the occasions of sin against chastity, and not fall into oppressiveness. We should fly from sin as from the face of a serpent. We fly not only from the bite of the serpent but also from contact with it and proximity to it”.
We must also avoid the company and conversations with persons who may be to us an occasion of yielding to any sin against purity. St. Ambrose remarks that the chaste Joseph would not stop to hear the first words of a friend’s wife, but instantly fled away, considering that there was great danger in waiting to listen to her.
But someone may say, “I know my duty”. But let him attend to the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “I know what I ought to do, but I know not would I would do were I to remain in the occasion of sin”.
In order to preserve chastity, it is necessary above all things, to abstain from looking at dangerous objects. Death has come up through our windows, says the prophet Jeremias, 9:21. Through the windows, that is, through the eyes, as St. Jerome, St. Gregory and others say in their comments on this on this passage, for as to defend fortification, it is not enough to lock the gates and the enemy be allowed to enter by the windows, so to preserve chastity, all other means shall be unprofitable unless we carefully watch over the eyes.
Tertullian relates that a certain pagan philosopher, plucked out his eyes in order to preserve chastity. This is not lawful for us, but if we wish to avoid sins against purity, we must abstain from looking at women, and still more, from looking at them a second time.
“Look at dangerous objects”, says St. Francis De Sales, “is not so hurtful to us as to repeat the look”. And St. John Chrysostom adds, that “it is necessary to turn away the eyes whose dress or manner is immodest, but even from those whose demeaner is full of modesty”. Hence, holy Joe made a compact with his eyes not to look at any women, even at a chaste virgin because he knew from looks, evil thoughts arise. I made a covenant with my eyes that I would not so much as think upon a virgin.
Ecclesiasticus 9:5 advises us to imitate the example of Job, “gaze not upon a maiden, lest her beauty be a stumbling block to thee”. St. Augustine adds, “from looks spring evil thoughts, the thoughts produce a certain carnal delectation, though indeliberate. To this indeliberate delectation succeeds the consent of the will, and behold, the soul is lost”.
Cardinal Hugo remarks that “the Apostle commanded that women keep their heads veiled in the Church because of the angels, that is, because of priests, lest looking at their faces they should be tempted to lust”.
Even while he lived in a cave in Bethlehem in constant prayer and penitential austerities, St. Jerome was tormented by the remembrance of the ladies whom he had long before seen in Rome, and he cautioned his friend, to abstain not only from looking at women, but from even speaking of their figure.
“By a single look of curiosity” adds Bathsheba, “David miserably fell into the sins of adultery, homicide and scandal”.
“The devil only wishes us to begin”, says the same St. Jerome, “the devil only requires that we begin to open the door, he will act towards opening it entirely. A deliberate fixed look at the countenance of a young women may be an infernal spark that will cause the ruin of the soul”.
Speaking of priests, St. Jerome says that they ought to avoid not only every unchaste act, but every glance of the eye.
We conclude with a remark with between priests and married men, there is only one minor difference. A priest may look at no woman with desire, a married man, may look at only one."