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Series on Purity – Part I

First Principles on Purity

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

In the book Revolution and Counter- Revolution, it is shown how the Revolution is a massive diabolical movement that has overtaken the contemporary world and that it has two moral causes: pride and sensuality.

A statue of Godfrey de Bouillon

The great Crusader Godfrey de Bouillon attributed his strength to his chastity
We have already spoken a great deal about pride in our day-to-day lives, but we have dealt much less with sensuality, since it is a delicate subject. Since you are gathered here for a week of studies for young men, a talk on sensuality - the opposite of purity - is nonetheless essential. So, regarding the topic of purity, I will deal today with the relation between spirit and matter in the formation of young men.

When one addresses the topic of purity, two wrong positions should be avoided.

The first is the position that was adopted until some time ago, whereby parents, teachers and youth leaders never addressed the theme of purity with their sons, students or followers. In Catechism classes a brief mention was made in passing and that was all. The result was that a person never received a clear orientation regarding purity.

The second is the opposite orientation, much worst than the first, whereby progressivist Catholics discuss questions of purity all the time. They address the topic in vulgar and vile language, in terms that stimulate sensuality instead of helping to control it.

The approach counseled by Pope Pius XI in his Encyclical Casti connubii is different from both of these wrong positions. According to it, the question of purity should be dealt with clearly in an elevated language and in audiences where only persons of the same sex are present. Young men should know everything that it is necessary for them to know about it.

Sins against purity

Therefore, I will address some reasons why one should be pure. What does the Church mean when she commands us to keep our purity? What is purity? Why should one be pure? Why is this something noble, holy and godly?

If we know the answers to these questions, we will be able to admire this virtue more. Admiring it, we will have more enthusiasm for it and be able to make a stronger decision to practice it.

There are two Commandments of the Law of God that address purity. They are the Sixth, “Thou shall not sin against chastity,” and the Ninth “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”

What is to sin against chastity?

Straightforwardly it is to practice the sexual act outside of marriage. By sexual act one understands here the sexual act with a person of the other sex. It is also understood that the sexual act inside marriage is not a sin, but is part of the plan of God who said, “Go, increase and multiply.” Therefore, inside marriage it is considered an honest, common act. Outside of the marriage one who practices it commits a sin.

A painting of St. John

Because of the far-reaching understanding of St. John, the fruit of his purity, he was compared to the eagle
When this act is practiced with a person of the same sex, it is always a sin because this is against nature. Therefore, it is absolutely forbidden on any occasion or in any circumstance.

Also sinful and forbidden is what is called the solitary sin, i.e., when a person by his own action provokes a pleasure analogous to the sexual act. It is what is called masturbation and is also a sin.

These are the basic mortal sins against purity forbidden by the Sixth Commandment.

The Ninth Commandment forbids anyone to desire the wife of his neighbor. Included in this prohibition is any sexual act between a married person and anyone else except for his/her spouse. When one breaks this law he commits adultery.

Sins against these two commandments can be by thoughts, words and deeds. It is a sin by thought when a person voluntarily directs his attention to something immoral; it is a sin by words when a person speaks obscenely or talks with others about immoralities; it is a sin by action when he practices the sexual act.

Why are these things forbidden?

Now we should address the question of why these things are sins and why God forbade them when He gave us His Commandments.

Per se the sexual act is not sinful. It is a physiological act that is in accordance with a natural aptitude God gave to man and woman to fulfill the precept he gave our first parents in Genesis: “Increase and multiply.” Mankind increases and multiplies through the practice of the sexual act. Then, the practice of this act is not sinful in itself.

It is a glory not to practice it – as we will see later in this series – but it is not shameful to practice it. However, like any natural act, this one is only legitimate when it is practiced to reach the end established for it in nature. When it is practiced outside of this end, it becomes a sin.

According to the laws of nature, only through the act of procreation can mankind perpetuate itself. Thus, this act should be exercised in conditions that it will give an abundant and healthy offspring who are also well-raised. This is because the natural complement of paternity is the education of one’s children. Therefore, if the offspring is not abundant, healthy and well-raised, one arrives at the opposite of what is called for by nature. Now then, only inside of marriage can such offspring be raised. This is why marriage is the condition that legitimates this act.

When I speak about marriage, I am referring to an indissoluble matrimony, one single marriage without any other marriage and, therefore, without divorce. This is the only marriage that is in accordance with the natural function of the perpetuation of the species.

Why is this so? I will examine this topic in the next article.


Blason de Charlemagne
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This lecture for young men delivered in 1967 was translated from the
transcript of a tape and adapted for this series of articles by A. S. Guimarães

Posted September 11, 2009

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burbtn.gif - 43 Bytes   Part 2: Divorce, Free Love & Damaged Children

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