March 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Young Catholics today—and not only young ones—are experiencing an unprecedented bombardment of sexual propaganda and carnal temptations. Sins of the flesh have always been with us since the fall of Adam, but never before have there been such a multitude and easy availability of impure images and so many provocations to indulge in sin without regard to spiritual health or even psychological and physical health.
If C.S. Lewis was right to say “chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues,” it follows that we may also say: “unchastity is the most popular of the world’s vices.” Our modern situation was described well in advance by Our Lady of Good Success, who appeared to Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres in Quito, Ecuador, from 1594 to 1634, and told her in great detail about a “spiritual catastrophe” that would occur in the Church “shortly after the middle of the twentieth century.” Among the many prophecies was this one:
The third reason for the lamp being extinguished is because of the spirit of impurity that will saturate the atmosphere in those times. Like a filthy ocean, it will inundate the streets, squares and public places with an astonishing liberty. There will be almost no virgin souls in the world.
In like manner, Our Lady appeared to St. Jacinta of Fátima several times between December 1919 and February 1920. One of the things she said should give us pause: “More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.” She also said: “Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much.”
In his book The Message of Our Lady of Fatima, Dom Augustine Marie, OSB, comments on these words:
“More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.” Sr Lucia, the last living Fatima seer, said this refers primarily to sins against chastity, also called sins of impurity. The reason for this statement is not because sins against chastity are the most grievous sins, but [because they are] the most common and (as Sr Lucia stated) “because of conscience,” since sins of impurity are less likely to be repented of than other sins. Why? 1) because the sense of injustice committed, which is the primary stimulus to repent of one’s sins, is not strongly felt when engaging in them, with the exception of adultery; 2) there is a greater sense of shame when committing certain impure acts and hence greater difficulty confessing them in the sacrament of confession, or even repenting of them in one’s heart; 3) sexual activity of all kinds is presented by our post-Christian—even anti-Christian—popular culture as natural and good, and sexual abstinence is even taught to be unhealthy.
As Dom Augustine Marie explains, although unchastity, immodesty, and related vices of intemperance are not the worst sins in and of themselves, they are undoubtedly among the most common, especially in certain age groups, and they are still deadly to the soul and corrosive of society. Whether one goes to hell for unrepented murder or unrepented fornication, for thievery or masturbation, in either case one ends up in hell, a place of everlasting torment and darkness; and even if Dante is right to portray hell as consisting of circles of greater or lesser punishment depending on degrees of malice, all of the damned experience the pain of losing God and the pain of sensible fire forever. This is absolutely something we want to avoid at all costs, through honorable self-control, repentance when we fall, humble unshakable confidence in God’s mercy, and continual recourse to Confession and Communion.
In quo corrigit adolescentior viam suam? in custodiendo sermones tuos (Ps 118:9). In this verse, which some Bibles translate “How can a young man keep his way pure?,” King David—who had some issues of his own with sins of the flesh—asks a question as old as the hills. The new answer that Christianity brings is: Christ Himself. We cannot succeed in being chaste or pure without Jesus. There is no adequate secular substitute. No educational program, however well designed, will take His place and do His work.
Christ brings us countless gifts, but two are especially precious: the knowledge of the truth by which we must live and the Holy Eucharist that unites us to the very Lord who purifies us and saves us. We need to know the way, and we need the strength to follow it. How tragic it is to see people trying to live without any sense of what is inherently right and wrong, true and false! Without such a map and compass, one will surely get lost in the wilderness, a prey to wild beasts. But no less tragic is it to see those who, aware of right and wrong, true and false, still falter and fail because they have not life within them to live righteously. “He who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” (1 Cor 6:17).
St. Cyril of Alexandria, a Father and Doctor of the Church, exclaims in one of his homilies:
If you feel the itch of intemperance, nourish yourself with the Flesh and Blood of Christ, who practiced heroic self-control during His earthly life, and you will become temperate. … If you feel scorched by the fever of impurity, go to the banquet of the angels; and the immaculate Flesh of Christ will make you pure and chaste.
Commenting on this passage in his marvelous book Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love, Fr. Stefano Manelli says:
When people wanted to know how it came about that St. Charles Borromeo managed to remain chaste and upright in the midst of other youths who were loose and frivolous, they discovered his secret was frequent Holy Communion. … St. Philip Neri, a priest thoroughly knowledgeable in the ways of young people, remarked: “Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to the Blessed Virgin are not simply the best way, but in fact are the only way to conserve purity. At the age of twenty, nothing but Communion can keep one’s heart pure. … Chastity is not possible without the Eucharist.”
The Eucharist is Jesus Himself—true God and true Man, the God who made us and sanctifies us, the Man who knows our weaknesses and heals them with His flesh. It is He who assures us: “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Lk 18:27). Let us again and again approach Him with fear and faith, to let the power of His presence work miracles in us.