Holy Purity

4th Sunday of Lent
‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.’
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Beloved in Christ, Our Lord Jesus, has come into the world for one reason: to save us from our sins. This great event we will soon re-live during Holy Week.
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But we are pained in our soul, because even though we see the love of Christ, on that cross – we nevertheless frequently prefer sin. ‘The light came into the world, but men preferred the darkness.’
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The Devil tries to bring us into the darkness in many ways, but one of the ways he deceives many, is by taking away our Holy Purity, and that is our subject for today.
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Many people these days find it difficult to keep a pure mind and heart.
Holy Purity is the greatest gift that a man and woman can give to each other in marriage; without pure, wholesome love, marriage becomes corrupt.
Holy Purity is also the great gift of joy and peace for single people living in the world. Keeping a courtship pure and good, is the difference between a restless, manipulative relationship, and a rewarding friendship.
Living as a single person, or married, or widowed in the freedom of Holy Purity, leads to an inner harmony and contentment of soul – all of this, because of God’s life in us, his holy grace.
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Everyone has weaknesses, temptations to turn from the Light and be drawn into the darkness. For those whose struggles are temptations of the flesh, Holy Purity is the Pearl of Great Price that Jesus describes in the Gospels; it is that prize for which we would sell all that we have to get.
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The Catholic psychologist Dr. Allers was speaking to an 18 year old young woman who was plagued by a habit of sexual sins. Dr. Allers[i] mentioned the saints as a model to help her; the girl said, ‘Doctor, if I were to be a saint, I would want to be a great saint!.’
So he asked her: ‘If you could give up your sexual sins, would you be able to become a great saint?’ She immediately answered, ‘yes!’
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Holy Purity is the Pearl of Great Price – it is worth striving for, and it IS achievable, even in this world, because God never allows us to be tempted beyond our strength.
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The devil tries to take away our purity in 3 cases.
He tries to pollute married love by bringing lust between man and woman.
He tries to corrupt friendship between boys and girls, because he wants to ruin their hearts.
And he also wants to infect the daydreams and thoughts of single people, in order to lead them by the hand into the sewer.
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Dr. Kevin Majeres,[ii] who studies the psychology of addiction says, ‘Purity is always a victory – but if it is a victory, that means it usually follows a battle.’
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But the saints teach us how to win this battle: For St. Benedict, the devil once put into his imagination a woman whom he had seen before; he felt so tempted to sin, that he threw himself into a thorn bush. His bodily wounds cured the wounds of his soul immediately.
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St. Bernard once looking into a girl’s beautiful face, felt such a strong temptation that he ran and plunged into the icy water of a nearby pond – no more temptation! 
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Well if we ourselves wish to be victorious when the devil tempts us, we can’t be lazy – we must use some weapons.
3 things we must do. The first, is that we must avoid dangerous situations. A boy and a girl should enjoy each other’s company in public places, with groups of friends, and avoid being alone, until they are married or at least engaged. It is good for the boy or girl to speak to the other and say, ‘I want us to be pure and good, so that our friendship is happy. So let’s be careful.’
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We should block out bad websites with software on our computer or iphone. Avoid bad magazines or songs or bad friends.
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The 2nd thing we must do, is immediately ask God’s help when we feel we are in danger.[iii] This takes practice, we must train ourselves to immediately say: ‘Jesus help me, Mary rescue me.’
Now we don’t pray that the temptation goes away; we pray that we will accept the suffering and endure it for God’s glory.
If we fall, we ask God’s pardon with the plan to go to Confession soon. After all, that’s why Jesus died on the cross, to save us from our sins.
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And the 3rd thing we must do, is to avoid idle time; avoid daydreams, focus our attention on our work and duties. Those who treat addictions tell us that we must keep our mind on the real world, and not slip into the false world of daydreams. This is a strong help for people struggling with impurity or depression.
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We should remember that the Devil is like a coward, a bully. If we stand up to him, he will back down. Even terrible thoughts, are not sins if we resist – they are only temptations, which all the saints had.
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If a person has habitually given into impure sins, he has become an addict. Experts say that in this case, the chemical, Dopamine, in the brain has been stimulated too much, causing the addiction. In this case, the person must pass through a time of enduring more intense cravings, but these eventually fatigue and fall away.[iv] They will weaken, provided we don’t act on them.
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In the first weeks there are symptoms of withdrawal such as sadness, anxiety, or impatience, but this is a sign of progress. Surges in desire can’t last if we don’t act on them. If we weather the storm it will dissipate, and our passions will be reshaped in a healthy way.
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The key to victory is to outlast the temptation: 5 minutes, 10 minutes, an hour – soon it is weakened. The more desperate a desire seems, the closer it is to collapsing.
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We all have temptations. For those who are tempted by sins of the Flesh, Holy Purity is a state of peace; it is the Pearl of Great price, and it is possible for everyone.
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So let us give the Lord many victories over our temptations in these days leading to Easter. And let us never fail to call on the Blessed Virgin in our needs, because Mary will always help us be victorious, and to be beautiful and pure disciples, of Jesus Christ.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. John of God.]

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[i] The Psychology of Character, p. 315.

[ii] Some information used in this homily is from his website: Purityispossible.com

[iii] When a strong passion is formed, it is easy for an ‘automated script’ to begin to play, taking a person down the path of impurity, forgetting all of the consequences and even forgetting God. Experts call this ‘tunnel vision,’ and it must be broken off at once by directing our mind to prayer and other concrete activities.

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