Posts filed under: pure

Chastity: What are you saying YES to?

Seen Crystalina Evert's new site yet?

I recently watched Downton Abbey S1 and there are a few inappropriate scenes. I tried to not watch them but some of the dialogue was necessary. Most people wouldn't even think these scenes were that bad (it wasn't nudity or anything like that) but they bothered me as I want to keep my mind pure and holy. Was it wrong for me to watch this show? Is it worth not watching anymore even if it was only 5 minutes of 6 hours that was bad? How can I discern what media is OK? I'm really conflicted on this. - Anonymous

It’s a very complex issue, and I’m not sure if I’ll get this right, but let’s try.

There are certain types of images which aren’t appropriate for anyone to watch (Christian or not). Little by little, pornographic images and content have filtered into mainstream media consumption. But what to do about things that are simply borderline?

In part it depends on yourself. You’ll know what topics and images create reactions in you that only your spouse should. Your sensibilities and sensitivities may differ significantly from other people’s. Holding your attention on something inappropriate, knowing that it’s not good for you and that you’re in danger of offending the Lord, is never going to do you any good and can become something important to bring up in Confession.

Many times, the sheer gratuitousness of an inappropriate scene means that it can be easily skipped (with your DVR, TiVo, etc.) without doing any harm to the story line or your enjoyment of the show. Too bad it wasn’t the case here. Then, too, making the sacrifice of not watching something even though you know it’s part of the plot can be a way to tell God that you love Him more than your entertainment.

The key is to know that “you are what you eat,” in a certain way. Or, more prosaically and modernly, “garbage in, garbage out.” Don’t feed yourself poison. That means that even shows that don’t show nudity can be full of corrosive attitudes and nonchalant approaches to sexuality that can wear down your resistance and change your mindset imperceptibly. 

So those are all factors to keep in mind; as you can see, there aren’t any blanket condemnations in there. It’s up to you to discover what does you good and what doesn’t. Discussing these things in Confession can also give you more peace of mind. The media — Tumblr included — aren’t going to help you out much; in fact, it’s tougher to watch TV now more than ever. But keep God first and remember that “blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).

To see what the Catechism says about porn, check out #2354. For its very positive take on trying to live the Ninth Commandment well, click here.

I hope it helps! God bless you.

- Father Shane

Leah Darrow… for the girl who asks “Is there still hope for me?”

Two Great YouTube Playlists

hello fr. shane. i have a question. i am in love with a priest who i have been friends with since he was a before he was even considering priesthood. now he has told me that he is not sure he even wants to be a priest. he says that he feels he made the wrong choice. i have not told him my feelings, and i am trying to help him find his way, although i feel a little bias because i do, in fact, wish he wasn't a priest because i would love to marry him some day. what do you suggest i do? God bless!! - Anonymous

That’s a predicament!

For starters, once he’s a priest, he’s a priest forever. You probably already know this. It’s like baptism: Its effects are irreversible. Even marriage ends with the death of the first spouse. At most, he can stop living like a priest.

But he had years and years to think about it and pray about it, and he went through with his ordination because he and his spiritual director were convinced that God was calling him.

But let’s imagine a different scenario: A man you’ve always loved marries another woman, but then down the road has second thoughts. Would you try to lead him into divorce and remarriage? That would of course be unfair to her, but what about to him? After all, he made a solemn lifelong commitment there at the altar. “Who he is” is now bound up with that commitment. What he needs is support in living it out, not help in running away from it. Similarly, if he wasn’t faithful to that first “I do,” how do you know that your fictional friend will be faithful when he says it to you?

The same applies, more or less, to the situation in which you find yourself. Your friend has “become” a priest in the deepest possible way. It’s impossible for him to run away from that, but why would he anyway? He’s received a beautiful wonderful gift, and he needs support to rediscover the beauty of what he committed himself to.

In other words, God beat you to him! So at least it sounds like you have a good eye! ;-)

Let’s put it another way. If he becomes an “ex”-priest and becomes your husband, is that good for you? Maybe. If he becomes an “ex”-priest and becomes your husband, is that good for the thousands of people that he would have served in ways only a priest can? Certainly not.

Here are a few other things I’ve written that might help put all that in context: this and this and this.

I’ll pray for both of you!!!

- Father Shane

How can a woman build an appropriate relationship with a priest?

We have all got to be realistic. People are people; men are men; women are women.  This doesn’t change when a woman begins to seek holiness. This doesn’t change when a man becomes a priest. Neither chastity nor celibacy is maintained and matured by pretending that certain circumstances will remove all temptation. And temptation can be especially subtle precisely in the midst of a relationship that begins on a deep spiritual level – the level where a priest and a female directee are interacting.

But there’s more

My family have always told me that if I commit adultery before marriage, God will not give me his full blessing for my future. Meaning, I won't find a good husband. Even if I did, when he finds out about my past he will have little respect for me and our marriage will not be prefect. Is there such consequences? & To be honest, I've committed and felt ashamed at first but after I've decided to do it again, it's hard to turn back. But I am trying to come back to God and ask for help. - Anonymous

The danger is getting superstitious or thinking God will curse us… it’s impossible to read Luke 15 and come away with that sort of idea about God!

However, our sins do affect us. Repeated sins create habits and even addictions, and they scrape away at virtue. If someone chooses a very promiscuous lifestyle, for example, it’s going to be very hard — though of course it can happen, with a lot of self-denial and a lot of prayer — to leave it all behind and choose a new life of fidelity to a single person, or a life of celibacy. The temptations will be far greater than for someone who managed to maintain their virginity until marriage.

And the gift in marriage will be greater too. A husband who respects you for who you are will also be able to forgive you for your past failings that you yourself regret.

So keep coming back to God! The door of the confessional is always open, and forgiveness is just minutes away, always! Keep turning back to him, no matter how many times you have to return to him on your knees weeping.

Even Magdalene was forgiven, and look at the love with which she followed Christ in purity afterwards! Pray a lot to her for her intercession…

God bless you!

- Father Shane

Bishop Coyne starts a blog series about celibacy

Prayers for Purity

The incomparable Father Barron on sexuality, sacrifice, and love.

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