Seeking Franciscan Perfection
A Reflection on the Franciscan Life by Fred Schaeffer, SFO
Part 6 - Some practical aspects of chastity for adults and the young.
Chastity is one of the "evangelical virtues" for those who take vows, and it is equally important for Secular Franciscans. All human persons, male and female, are sexual. There's no escaping this because it is a part of the biology of the human species. Without sex, it simply is not possible to generate new life, with the miraculous exception of the Virgin Mary who conceived without an intimate relationship with a man. She was also conceived without original sin.
Chastity is a virtue based on Catholic morality and the Church's teaching which seeks to bring order to sexuality according to God's Will. "In marriage, it integrates the full use and enjoyment of sexual powers with the unselfish and reverential relationship of love between husband and wife. In the single life, it moderates and guides a man or woman's life as sexual while abstaining from genital sexuality. In either case, it is respect, born of faith, for all persons as body-spirit temples of the Holy Spirit.¹"
In the climate of this century, where sex seems to have lost its true meaning (prurient media, TV, movies, etc.) to a Hollywood version of it that has absolutely no respect for the human body or for God, we live in an extremely dangerous moral quagmire. I need not tell you what this does to the impressionable young, teen-agers, young adults - it sets a very poor example.
Having been single all my life, I can speak to that subject from first-hand knowledge. I remained single because up until 1996, I kept realizing a vocation to religious life and I was a religious from that year until 2002. During that time, and at my own wish, I made a Vow of Obedience and Chastity, and so it is not likely that I would marry anytime soon. Sometimes, it is a burden, but most of the time, keeping this special promise to Our Lord, brings much joy. There are, however, many single people who, for reasons of their own, remain single. Unfortunately, there are some people who then suspect that a single male (in particular) is gay. Usually nothing could be further from the truth, and such characterizations are un-Christian to say the least. All people have a right to determine whether to marry, or remain single, and no inference of any kind should be drawn from that.
As for sexuality in general, people are seriously tempted to do things that are sinful or nearly so. Again, custody of the senses helps us discern which way to go. Sexual gratification for the sake of sex is wrong, for we cannot view others as a "thing." We were created in the image and likeness of God. Act accordingly! How you conduct your love-life is none of anyone's business, except God! If you love God, you'll do what is right!
Secular Franciscans who are committed to the service of the Church, living from Gospel to life, and life to Gospel, will think twice before setting one foot into the abyss. It is strange and wonderful at the same time, but when I am poised to do something sinful, (with full knowledge) I get all flushed and a great fear comes over me. It is wonderful, because when I get that reaction, it is easy to discern that the contemplated action is not healthy for me, so I don't do it! Not withstanding, I am no angel, and I know I am just as prone to falling as everyone else is.
Be strong. Have sound and healthy relationships within Marriage of one MAN to one WOMAN. Our Lord will reward you in Heaven!
What about all these people who sputter and snort about "The Church can't tell me what to do", etc. When people already say that, it is a sign that they are walking on quicksand, and that they need help. Try talking to them, and perhaps something can be salvaged.
The greatest group of Catholics are not the Catholic Faith, but the people who are "Fallen away Catholics - it is from them, often, that the above reaction could come from, or will more likely come from. Many go to Mass only at Easter and Christmas, often receiving Communion, calling themselves Catholic - it's a shame, that they cannot see reality.
I pray for people who are beset with unrest, caused by an out of order view toward sexuality, that they may be healed and find peace in their lives, again.
In the next reflection on "Seeking Franciscan Perfection," we will discuss Obedience.
Fred Schaeffer, SFO
Article #6, 11/01/2008, 2014
1. "The Third Order Vocation" Leonard Foley, OFM and Jovian Weigel, OFM.1976 Published by St. John the Baptist Province of the OFM (my writing follows the subjects in this books, to guide me along a certain path in this writing).
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Officers as of 1/10/2016
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
Jack Reddy, OFS
Donna Haro, OFS
Joanne Giordano, OFS
Fred Schaeffer, OFS