by Maurice BlumbergThen Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?(Matthew 16:24-26).Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, “Be holy because I [am] holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16).God did not call us to impurity but to holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:7).I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:1-2).It is important for us as Catholic men to not lose sight of the fact that the Gospel message of salvation carries with it practical implications for everyday life, including such matters as sexual conduct and purity. When we are being tempted by a sexual sin, it can be difficult to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24). We need to be continually reminded of God’s design for human sexuality and be continually challenged to avoid immoral behavior. God is holy, and he wants his people to be holy too (1 Peter 1:16). This is our call as Catholic men, whether we are single or married, for “God did not call us to impurity but to holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:7).This call isn’t always easy. Every day we face temptations against the purity and holiness God has called us to. Sex outside of marriage is widely accepted. Pornography has become commonplace and an addiction for many men. Contraceptive “medicine” that causes abortions is gaining acceptance. The media continually bombards us with sexual images –even when watching a sporting event on television. In such an environment, we can find it very challenging to remain pure and chaste.All is not lost. God has given us his Spirit to empower us against sin and safeguard our purity. And even if we should fall, we can receive mercy and healing, as well as the grace we need to overcome our weaknesses, through repentance and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.It can be so tempting to give in to the culture and dismiss sexual sin as “not so bad.” But God knows that such sins can strike at the heart of who we are as Catholic men, whittling away at our self-worth and self-esteem. So never stop fighting the good fight. Continually “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1). Brothers, if we do this, it really is possible to live in the freedom and dignity of a pure and chaste life.“Holy Spirit, purify my heart so that I can live a life pleasing to God. Help me to turn aside from sexual sin, and strengthen all that is good in me. Lord Jesus, I ask for the grace to live a life of purity. Heavenly Father, I want to be holy as you are holy.”Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to adapt meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
- The article states that the call to holiness and purity is not always easy, especially in light of “temptations against the purity and holiness” we face every day. How would you describe these temptations in your life? How do you handle them?
- How often do you allow the graces of the Sacrament of Reconciliation to strengthen you in your battle against sexual sin and impurity? Do you think more frequent reception would have an impact on this battle? Why or why not?
- The last paragraph states that giving into sexual sin “can strike at the heart of who we are as Catholic men, whittling away at our self-worth and self-esteem.” Why is this so?
- The last paragraph also tells us to continually “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1)? What does this mean to you? Why do you think it is an important element of our battle against sexual sin?
- Take some time now to pray and ask God for the graces you need to overcome sexual temptations and live a life pleasing to the Lord. Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.