Chastity? It's for real

Chastity is really possible and a motive for joy

As with the whole of the person's life, love is exposed to the frailty brought about by original sin, a frailty experienced today in many socio-cultural contexts marked by strong negative influences, at times deviant and traumatic.

Nevertheless, the Lord's Redemption has made the positive practice of chastity into something that is really possible and a motive for joy, both for those who have the vocation to marriage (before, in the time of preparation, and afterwards, in the course of married life) as well as for those who have the gift of a special calling to the consecrated life.

Chastity is not repressive, but the purity of a precious and rich gift

In the light of the Redemption and how adolescents and young people are formed, the virtue of chastity is found within temperance - a cardinal virtue elevated and enriched by grace in baptism. So chastity is not to be understood as a repressive attitude. On the contrary, chastity should be understood rather as the purity and temporary stewardship of a precious and rich gift of love, in view of the self-giving realized in each person's specific vocation. Chastity is thus that "spiritual energy capable of defending love from the perils of selfishness and aggressiveness, and able to advance it towards its full realization".2

A definition of chastity

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes and in a sense defines chastity in this way: "Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being".3

What chastity requires

... Chastity cannot exist as a virtue without the capacity to renounce self, to make sacrifices and to wait.


From THE TRUTH AND MEANING OF HUMAN SEXUALITY: Guidelines for Education within the Family (THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE FAMILY, Rome 1995), #8-15

Excerpted and presented by the Catholic Perspectives project at the Caltech Newman Center

See also True love and chastity