It doesn’t matter how good a Catholic you are. Chastity does not come easily, especially when you’re single and it seems like pretty much every expression of sexuality is off-limits. It can be easy to see chastity in a completely negative and prohibitive light. That’s how our society tends to see it. But is that right?
Human sexuality is not all about physical urges and actions. Human sexuality is about giving yourself heart, mind, and soul to others. It is about selflessness. It is about going beyond yourself. And chastity is about having the freedom to choose purity and goodness where sexuality is concerned. It is about overcoming what you are as an animal and striving for who you are as a son or daughter of God.
Now, I know what you’re saying, because I’m saying it to myself: “Yes, yes, that’s all very well and good. We know all of that. We believe all of that. Unfortunately, that doesn’t prevent our bodies from freaking out and driving us crazy sometimes! It can utterly distract us from what we know and believe. So, what then?”
In those moments, there is only one thing to do: turn to the One who loves us, the One who crafted our bodies, the One who endowed us with sexuality, the One who cherishes our chastity even more than we do. When sexuality gets you down, offer it up. Here is a prayer I developed and have found helpful:
O LORD, my Father and Creator,
who knows my heart and all the workings of my flesh,
I offer my sexuality, with my entire self,
to You, to Your holy will, and to Your own purposes.
Lord, in my moments of weakness,
please take my sexuality in Your hands,
take it to Your heart,
and be its safeguard.
Fortify and sustain my body and spirit
with the virtue of chastity
so that they may bear good fruit
for You, with You, and through You.
It doesn’t matter so much what you say. In fact, you needn’t really say anything. Words are not required for prayer. Only turn to Him, call to Him from the depths of your heart, offer up yourself, and He will help you. When I pray, I find that all the achings and yearnings of my body lose some of their edges and become more bearable. They never disappear completely–they are part of our humanity. But we can work with God, open ourselves to receive His graces, and exercise the freedom and self-mastery with which He has endowed us.
Father V has a great post about working working with God to overcome difficulties and vices.