Thursday, September 10, 2009

Prayer for Chastity


O most loving Father, I beg you for the grace and the great joy of chastity, for without you I can do nothing.

Teach me to reverence my body and the bodies of my sisters and brothers in Christ. Help me to recognize the truth of each body: a sacred incarnate spirit, a sublime image of God, a temple of the Holy Spirit, a person who is worth all the blood of Christ, a child of God to be served with your benevolent saving love.

Deliver me, Father, from the evil of seeing the bodies of your beloved daughters and sons as mere things and objects, and the evil of using them for my own selfish ends.

Teach me to reverence the sacredness of human sexuality, our collaboration with you to generate immortal souls and an icon of your divine self-giving.

Forgive my sins of unchastity and selfishness which destroy our friendship, the source of all my happiness.

O most beloved Mother, through your all-powerful prayer, help me to live with the dignity of a child of God, a master of my feelings, urges and desires. Help me to be decisive and immediately flee all the occasions of sin and all temptations to my sight and imagination. And may Jesus, God who is Truth and Love, be my one master and Lord.
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John Paul II’s theology of the body has been called “a kind of theological time bomb set to go off with dramatic consequences ...perhaps in the twenty-first century.” This prayer is a way of helping set off that time bomb.

This prayer is based on insights found in a little book, Achieving Chastity in a Pornographic World, written by Fr. T.G. Morrow who based his insights on John Paul II’s theology of the body. The prayer is intended to facilitate the practice of a method that Fr. Morrow suggested to uproot sexual addiction and to build a sturdy habit of chastity.

In a nutshell, the method means repeating the values and reasons of chastity (several times a day) so as to convince the sexual appetite, permeating it with reason, until it is converted and is at peace.

I thought of integrating the reasons into a prayer which can be said three times a day (morning, noon, nighttime) because, as Mother Teresa said, "purity is a fruit of prayer." The Catechism also stated: "chastity is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort."

Benedict XVI quoted St. Benedict of Nursia's Mens nostra concordet voci nostras, our mind must be in accord with our voice. "The word, the voice, goes ahead of us," explained Pope Benedict, "and our mind must adapt to it. For on our own we human beings do not know how to pray as we ought." This prayer has that intention: to help the mind, our reason, to be shaped by truth, in its role of regulating the sexual appetite, while at the same time acknowledging our powerlessness in achieving the virtue of chastity.

On this St. Augustine has personal experience and clear doctrine: "I thought that continence arose from one's own powers, which I did not recognize in myself. I was foolish enough not to know . . . that no one can be continent unless you grant it. For you would surely have granted it if my inner groaning had reached your ears and I with firm faith had cast my cares on you."

St. Josemaria said it succintly: "It is not possible to lead a clean life without God's assistance. He wants us to be humble and to ask for his aid."

This prayer is a sample of what people can personally compose, as a way of doing what Fr. Morrow suggested, i.e. to make a list of reasons which one reads and reflects on several times a day. You can also give me feedback so this particular prayer can be of more help in bringing back purity to this pornographic world.

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Fr. Morrow's book has been praised by eminent theologians and spiritual writers:

Dr. William May calls this book “eminently practical,” one that gives “great hope” to people struggling with sexual temptations and addictions.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR said, the book “effectively brings spirituality and morality together with the best contemporary psychological thinking.”

Father John F. Harvey, OSFS, the Founder of Courage said: “Father Morrow concentrates on presenting a spiritual strategy which will help the person on the long road back to inner freedom. That strategy includes not only deep honesty with one’s self but also a life of reflective prayer, known as prayer of the heart.”

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According to Fr. Morrow, these are the basic values or the goodness of chastity, which are we can remind ourselves of frequently "so as to alleviate any interior resentment and find peace in the chaste decision":

1. Sex is holy, not a plaything. It should never be trivialized.

2. Created in the image of God, I can live by reason, not just by
urges (as the animals do).

3. Persons are to be loved, not merely used as objects of enjoyment.

4. I must not treat persons as objects, even in the mind, lest I
become a user of persons in practice.

5. Unchaste activity destroys my most precious friendship, that with
God, the source of all happiness.

6. Unchaste activity brings pleasure but not happiness.

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Further reading:

http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0109.html

http://www.cfalive.org/ChastPornW506.pdf

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