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Father Anthony Ho

Saints taught prayer, mortification safeguard purity

Voices May 13, 2019

St. Aloysius Gonzaga (1568-1591) is a model of chastity. His confessor was of the opinion that this young saint never committed a mortal sin in his life, writes Father Ho. (Guercino/Wikipedia)

Christ said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). Father Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, wrote “That the heart may be pure, a generous mortification is prescribed: ‘If your right eye scandalizes you, pluck it out … If your right hand scandalizes you, cut it off.’ We must particularly watch over purity of intention: for example, not giving alms through ostentation, not praying to draw upon ourselves the esteem of men, but seeking only the approbation of ‘the Father who sees in secret.’ Then will be realized the words of the Master: ‘If your eye be single, your whole body shall be lightsome.’”

Father Adolphe Tanquerey, the author of The Spiritual Life, observed: “Chastity is rightly called the angelic virtue, because it likens us to the angels, who are pure by nature. It is an austere virtue, because we do not succeed in practising it unless we subdue the body and the senses by mortification. It is a frail virtue, tarnished by the least willful failing. On this account it is a difficult virtue, since it cannot be observed except by a generous and constant struggle against the most tyrannical of passions.”

Father Tanquerey listed four “ramparts” or “guardians” of chastity:

1.      Humility, which produces self-distrust and prompts to flight from dangerous occasions.

2.     Mortification, which by waging war against the love of pleasure, reaches the evil at its roots.

3.     Devotion to the duties of state, which protects one from the perils created by idleness.

4.    Love for God, which, by filling the heart, prevents it from giving itself over to dangerous affections.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga (1568-1591) is a model of chastity. St. Robert Bellarmine, his confessor, was of the opinion that this young saint never committed a mortal sin in his life.

St. Aloysius combined prayer with mortification. He would meditate for an hour each day and would get up at midnight to pray on the stone floor. He fasted three days a week on bread and water.

He exercised custody of eyes: it was said that he never looked any woman in the face. After he had served the empress as a page for two years, a report was spread that she was coming into Italy, where he happened to be, and some congratulated him on the prospect of seeing the empress again. But he replied: “I shall not recognize her except by her voice, for I do not know her face.”

Some practices of the saints are more for our admiration than imitation, but we are all called to imitate their virtues.

St. John Bosco (1815-1888) urged young people to achieve chastity through frequent Communion, frequent confession, and devotion to Our Lady.

A moral theologian pointed out that the most effective assistance for a young person to be chaste is daily Mass and Communion, for this practice requires both discipline and freedom from mortal sin. This practice also requires anyone who is struggling with mortal sin to have frequent recourse to the sacrament of penance.

Devotion to Our Lady is extremely helpful for the virtue of chastity. Praying the Rosary, wearing the brown scapular, and entrusting oneself to the Immaculate Heart are powerful devotional practices. Father Tanquerey writes, “Her name breathes forth purity, and, it seems, no sooner do we confidently invoke her than temptation is put to flight.”

St. John Bosco said, “Avoid idleness and idle people; carry out your duties. Whenever you are idle you are in serious danger of falling into sin, because idleness teaches us all kinds of vice.”

Many spiritual writers agree that love for study and work fills our mind with wholesome thoughts, whereas daydreaming, idle chatting, and curious use of the media fill our mind with vain fancies, illusions, and dangerous thoughts.

                                      祈禱和克己維護貞潔

主基督說:「心裡潔淨的人是有福的,因為他們要看見天主。」(瑪5:8) 加里.拉格朗日神父指出:為達到心淨,慷慨的克己是必需的。我們要當心要懷著純正的意向去做事;行祈禱和施捨是為中悅天主,而不是為取悅於人。

安道.鄧奎利神父在「神修生活」一書中寫道:「潔德是天神之德,使我們肖似天神純潔的神性。潔德是樸實之德,是需要身心的克己節制始能修成。潔德是柔弱之德,只要意志稍微薄弱便能摧毁;也因此,潔德是難守的德行,要長期抵制情慾才能保守。」

鄧奎利神父維護貞潔的四度城牆是:一、謙遜——自知軟弱,速離犯罪的機會。二、克己——約束對快感的追求,它是很多罪惡的根源。三‧善盡本份——避免空閒引起犯罪的危機。四、全心愛天主——愛主的專注,省去不正當的愛念。

年輕的聖類斯.公撒格(1568-1591),是保守潔德的好榜樣,他一生從未犯過大罪,常以祈禱和克己渡日:每天用不少於一小時去默想,午夜跪在冰凍的石板上祈禱,每星期守三日嚴齋,只以開水和麵包充飢,克制自己的眼目,從不注目異性。聖人當了皇后的侍從兩年,竟然承認「不知道皇后長相是怎樣的,只能以她的聲音辨認」!有些聖人的行為令我們驚訝,而聖人的德行是我們應該效法的。

聖若望鮑思高神父(1815-1888) 建議年青人護衛潔德的方法:多領聖體、勤辦告解、孝愛聖母。

一位倫理神學家指出:年青人守潔德的最有效的方法,是每天參與彌撒和領聖體,因為實踐這神業要求克己和沒有大罪;同時也要求不幸犯了大罪的人去盡快辦妥當告解,好能善領聖體。

孝愛聖母能幫助保守潔德。誦唸玫瑰經、配帶聖母聖衣、奉獻給聖母無玷聖心等敬禮,十分有幫助。鄧奎利神父認為:「聖母聖名呼出聖潔。我們一向她呼求,誘惑頓逃之夭夭。」

聖若望.鮑思高說:「避免空閒和游手好閒的人;要善盡本份。空閒令我們犯罪,因為它教我們所有邪惡。」

喜愛研讀和工作,能使我們充滿有益的思想;相反,白日夢、閒談及浸淫媒體,都會使我們的腦海,充斥著空幻的景象與危險的思想。