QUESTION: The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that all Christians have the vocation to chastity. What does this mean?

ANSWER: The vocation to Chastity as defined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2337-47) is the wholesome integration of one’s sexuality within one’s person, creating in us an inner harmony and unity of body and spirit that grounds our integrity as persons and in our self-giving in love. Chastity is rooted in internal purity of heart expressed in our external behavior. To be pure in heart we direct our hearts, bodies and minds toward God. Chastity is a moral virtue, a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of continuing effort to be pure before God.

Thus, chastity can be a major, decisive factor in Christian “growing up”. We learn when to say “yes” to an opportunity for positive growth and fuller relationships, even as we learn to say “no” to the dark urges that spring from our weakness.

Chastity for married and single alike fosters integral sexual growth of the person. Both masturbation and overt homosexuality hinder achieving such sexual maturity by turning away from the self-giving love and service to life that is the nature of human sexuality from the Christian viewpoint. Likewise, pornography and prostitution dehumanize and exploit human persons, robbing them of their true dignity by reducing them to “sex-objects”. They do not offer any authentic commitment, love, or service of life.

Human sexuality is God’s gift to us. From the very beginning God created us male or female. And He saw that it was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Despite all misuses, misunderstandings and misrepresentations of human sexuality, this fact remains – our human sexuality is something good! God said so.

It is this sexuality that enables us to relate with one another in our family, in community, in society. God has gifted us with this power to love and be loved that is the vocation of every Christian. This gift and power of human sexuality and love, when integrated more fully into our total selves, embraces our whole person and personality. In effect, each one of us, each human being, becomes a proclamation of God’s love to self and others. This is why the virtue of chastity is important; we need to be rooted in internal purity of heart expressed in our external behavior in order to share the beauty, power, and purity of God’s love to others.

Source: Evangelizing Presence: Caring for Life by Nancy Russell Catan, Pasquale T. Giordano, SJ, and Mitos Rivera. A BCBP Publication, pp 48-52.

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