+ Ten Ways to Win the Battle for Purity

Do you find yourself struggling with sexual temptation? These prayers for purity can give you graces to deal with it! St. Gregory the Great once referred to prayer as “the bulwark [protection] of chastity.”

We may never completely break free from “impure thoughts”, as they are often called in examinations of conscience before Confession. Still, we can, with the help of our Lord and His Blessed Mother in prayer, turn away from them when they disturb our peace of mind.

The first of our prayers of purity is addressed first to our Blessed Mother Mary, who was called by St. Alphonsus Liquori “the dispenser of all divine graces”.

Mary, Mother most pure, and Joseph, chaste guardian of the Virgin, to you I entrust the purity of my soul and body. I beg you to plead with God for me that I may never for the remainder of my life soil my soul by any sin of impurity. I earnestly wish to be pure in thought, word and deed in imitation of your own holy purity. Obtain for me a deep sense of modesty, which will be reflected in my external conduct. Protect my eyes, the windows of my soul, from anything that might dim the luster of a heart that must mirror only Christ-like purity. And when the “Bread of Angels” becomes my food in Holy Communion, seal my heart forever against the suggestions of sinful pleasures. Finally, may I be among the number of those of whom Jesus spoke, “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God.” Amen.

This second one, addressed to our Lord, is shorter and easier to memorize:

Lord, inflame our hearts and our inmost beings with the fire of Your Holy Spirit, that we may serve You with chaste bodies and pure minds. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

The third of our prayers for purity is a little longer:

My God, You have given me a body to keep pure and clean and healthy for Your service and my eternal happiness. Forgive me for all my unfaithfulness in this great responsibility. Forgive me for every mean use which I have made of Your gifts in thought, word or deed since my rebirth as Your own adopted child in Baptism and my registration as a soldier of Jesus on the day of my Confirmation. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and give me a steadfast will that I may be a strength to others around me. Teach me to respect my body and the bodies of my fellow creatures. Help me to see the glory of perfect manhood In Jesus Christ and of perfect womanhood in Mary Immaculate. Inspire me with such love for the ideals for which our Savior lived and died that all my passions and energies will be caught up into the enthusiasm of His service, and evil things will lose their power. May my body be the servant of my soul, and may both body and soul be Your servants. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

And, last but by no means least, we have this prayer for chastity from St. Thomas Aquinas:

Dearest Jesus! I know well that every perfect gift, and above all others that of chastity, depends upon the most powerful assistance of Your Providence, and that without You a creature can do nothing. Therefore, I pray You to defend, with Your grace, chastity and purity in my soul as well as in my body. And if I have ever received through my senses any impression that could stain my chastity and purity, may You, Who are the Supreme Lord of all my powers, take it from me, that I may with an immaculate heart advance in Your love and service, offering myself chaste all the days of my life on the most pure altar of Your Divinity. Amen.

We often hear nowadays that it is somehow unhealthy, unrealistic, or unnatural to try to “suppress” our sexual desires. We’re sexual beings, after all, aren’t we? Not quite! God meant sex to be special expression of the love that a married couple shared with each other, two becoming one flesh (Gen 2:24; Mark 10:8) for the possible creation of children. Far from seeing sex as being something “dirty,” our Creator puts it on a pedestal of its own, in this manner, as part of the intimate love shared by a husband and wife.

As much as some of us, particularly guys, might obsess about having sex as frequently or spontaneously as rabbits or animals in heat, the fact remains God has a higher calling, and thus a higher standard, for us. After all, he created us in His image (Gen 1:27). Sexuality might bring out our “animal” nature, but we’re not animals, after all. Or, at least with God’s help, we try not to act like them!

(Besides which, lust, and sex outside of marriage, takes you into mortal sin territory. Having lustful thoughts isn’t a mortal sin per se; entertaining them and acting on them is.)

“Yeah, sure” you might say. Ok, let’s go back to the unreal “real world” for a minute. Even if you are tempted to think of God as some kind of grumpy killjoy and shut Him out of your life, at least in matters pertaining to sex as many people do today, you’re still not headed towards the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

Besides the risk of unwanted pregnancy, venereal disease, and broken families, there is the fact that when we engage in sex outside of marriage, we risk taking on a great deal of heartache and loneliness in any case.

Why? Because, with all the talk of “love” in songs, most often people aren't loving each other in bed. They’re using each other as commodities for physical or emotional gratification. Sex becomes self-centered instead of self-giving. As Tina Turner once sang about this kind of sexual activity “what’s love got to do with it”? This link from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as this one, spells this all out in greater detail.

And yet, referring here to the fall of Adam and Eve (in Chapter 3 of the Book of Genesis), there are serpents all around us in the media and Hollywood today saying “Hey, take a bite of fruit from this tree. It’s good for you!”

We might not be as “repressed” as a society as in the days a few decades back when two unmarried people living together were considered to be “living in sin” and pornography and illicit sexual activity were located mainly in red-light districts (as in the picture above). But are we really that much happier being bombarded with sexually provocative material and suggestive ads everywhere? (And don’t forget all the “soft porn” on TV and in films these days!)

The reference from our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount to the “pure of heart” (Matt 5:8-9) in the first of our prayers for purity brings to mind another important scripture verse from that sermon in which Christ admonished His listeners not to even look at a woman with lustful intentions (Matt 5:28).

What Jesus then warned them about coveting riches fits in just as well with the danger of coveting the flesh. He said “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light” (Matt 6:22). Hopefully these prayers for purity above can help you keep impurities of thought from clouding your vision of the light that shines in the darkness (John 1:5), our Lord Jesus Christ Himself!

Ten Ways to Win the Battle for Purity

Flashy billboards, provocative dress and apparel, Hollywood fashions spread far and wide, suggestive innuendos, off-colored jokes, indecent movies, and the ever-present danger of the internet to visit the numerous and poisonous websites — all of these and a plethora of other temptations can trap even the best of us into falling into the sin against the virtue of purity.

In a certain sense, the world can be depicted as a moral land-mine, where at every turn and corner in the road there is an immoral spiritual bomb that can be stepped on and explode! Let us be honest and to the point — we live in a society of dangerous and often pernicious images. We live in a pornographic society!

Almost 100 years ago Our Lady appeared in Fatima to three innocent Shepherd children —Blessed Jacinta, Blessed Francisco, and their cousin Lucia de los Santos. Our Lady appeared to the children six times — from May 13th up to October 13th on which the great miracle of the sun occurred witnessed by close to 80,000 people.

One of the subsequent messages of Our Lady to the world at large referred to the salvation as well as perdition of humanity. Our Lady stated in the year 1917 that most souls were lost to the fires of hell principally due to the sins against the sixth and ninth commandments — that is to say the sins of impurity. 

This being the present danger we would like to offer a spiritual strategy that we can use; a plan applicable for parents, teens, and even children so that we can avoid the ever-present danger of the attacks against purity, and if we have fallen, to gently and confidently return to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, with all our hearts. 

Spiritual Arms to Win the Battle for Purity 

1. Weapons of Prayer

We are weak, very weak! Jesus reminded the Apostles as well as the whole world in the Garden of Gethsemane with these precise words: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Pray that you will not enter in the test.”(Mt 26:40-41) Instead of praying, the Apostles fell asleep and thereby failed the Lord.

The principal reason for falling into any sin, but especially that of impurity, is either lack of prayer or a very weak and anemic prayer. The Israelites were able to defeat their enemies only after Moses perched on the top of the hill, overlooking the battle field, lifted his arms to heaven. (Exodus 17:8-13) To conquer the imperious demands of the flesh and the constant insinuations of the world and the temptations of the devil, we must (like Moses) lift up our arms constantly in prayer.

Jesus invites us with these words: “Ask and you will receive… “(Mt. 7:7). Let us beg the Lord for the gift and virtue of purity. 

2. Don’t play with fire

A key reason why many fall into sins of impurity is a failure to avoid the near occasion of sin. Proverbs are not lacking: “He who plays with fire will get burnt”… and “He who walks on thin ice will fall in” … once again… “He who walks on a slippery slope will fall.”

We have to use common sense and prudence. A simple example: a boyfriend and girlfriend, after having a nice meal together, the boy-friend invites his girlfriend to his condo to pray the Rosary together. Mind you, they will both forget their Rosaries and fall prey to the temptations of the devil and demands of the flesh!

3. Modesty

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that modesty is the guardian of the virtue purity. (CCC # 2521-2524) All must practice modesty. Through Baptism our bodies become temples of the Holy Spirit, still more, temples of the Blessed Trinity and after Holy Communion living Tabernacles of the Blessed Sacrament. Women should never be a provocation or occasion of sin to men. And men are not to be excused by a wandering eye.

Contemplate any noble statue or painting of Our Lady—Our Lady of Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima—and you will be struck by heavenly beauty, but also the virtue of modesty. May Our Lady be our model and guide especially in the practice of purity. 

4. Penance

Jesus stated: “Some devils can be expelled only through prayer and fasting.” On one occasion I was taking a walk and in my path was a big black bird—a Crow. As I drew closer the bird did not take flight. Always having a strong devotion to St. Francis, I thought that maybe I had a latent special gifts with animals. This was not the case at all. The reason for the lack of flight was the simple reason that the poor bird had a broken wing! The scene brought me to a spiritual reflection.

We are like the bird in our spiritual lives. We are called to be like eagles to fly high into the lofty heights, but we need two spiritual wings to fly on high—Prayer and Pennance! To conquer the imperious demands of the flesh we must pray, pray and pray, but also learn the art of fasting and live a life of penance. All the saints have taught us this clear lesson!

5. Avoid Laziness

Another huge opening for the devil of impurity is the capital sin of sloth or call it laziness. Once again maxims are at our beck and call: “Idleness (laziness) is the workshop of the devil.”

The great saint and educator and patron of youth, Saint John Bosco experienced a mortal fear when vacations arrived for his young people. He called vacations the harvest ground of the devil. Why? The reason was clear—summer months free and nothing to do! In this state of affairs the devil enters in quickly to tempt in many ways and especially against the virtue of chastity.

One of the primary reasons why so many young people have serious problems with Internet porn and self-abuse is because of excessive free time, boredom and easy access to impure websites. Saint Bonaventure put it succinctly: “When one is working a devil might be there to tempt, but when you have nothing to do a multitude of devils are there to tempt.” 

6.. Improper Language

In all times and places and circumstances we should control our tongue. Saint James admonishes us: “We should be slow to speak and quick to listen,” (Read St. James 3—the sins of the tongue). But this is especially pertinent with respect to purity.

Never should it happen that issues from our lips dirty words, suggestive language and worse yet coarse, crude and impure jokes. Later on in his life as an mature priest, Saint John Bosco lamented that he could not expunge or erase from his mind an impure thing that a man had uttered in front of him when he was a mere boy. It was engraved in the memory back of the young Bosco and still there as an elderly priest.

Jesus warns us that we will be judged on all of the words that issue from our mouths. Never forget that we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus on our tongues; our tongues become the throne of Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Let us speak with such nobility!

7. Constant Vigilance—especially of the eyes 

Pope Francis in his messages is constantly reminding us that we must keep vigilance over our persons. The Ignatian daily examen is key. This superb practice invites us to rewind the film of our day and see where God has been present and give thanks, but also to see where our hearts have wandered from our loving God. This we can easily apply to the virtue of purity.

In prayer and reflection observe and humbly admit when our eyes, mind affections and heart start to wander from God and start to toy with what is not of God—that of impurity. A noteworthy Biblical passage that can be of enormous advantage to us is the temptation, allurement and fall of the Holy King David. A holy man, a prayerful man, a gifted man, a man after the very heart of God—this was King David. However, he did not keep strict vigilance over his eyes, mind and heart and this resulted in a cataclysmic fall, a fall that cast him into the depths of lust and dishonesty. Giving in to lust terminated in adultery; then adultery led to murder and murder to the suppression of the conscience.

May the story of David be a warning to us! Jesus warns us: “Stay awake and pray; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

8. Confession & Renewed Hope

Human weakness does prevail over us and we can all fall. Worst of all, above and beyond the fall into any sin, is that of despair. The gravest fault of Judas was not his betrayal of Jesus, but his despair and failing to trust in the infinite mercy of Jesus. This being the case, we should never despair due to our human inclinations prone to sin and our sin itself. On the contrary. Saint Paul offers us these encouraging words: “Where weakness abounds the grace of God abounds all the more.”

The great Saint Augustine, who lived a life of slavery to lust and impurity into his early thirties, preaches the doctrine of “O happy fault”. God can allow an evil to bring even greater good out of it. Therefore, if we have the misfortune of falling into a sin against purity then we should have a boundless trust in God and have immediate recourse to the Sacrament of His mercy, the Sacrament of Confession. And let us relish words of the prophet Isaiah: “Though your sins be like scarlet they will become as white as snow.”(Is. 1:18)

A good confession can transform our souls into the beauty of freshly fallen white snow on the virgin ground!

9. Frequent Holy Communion

Of the greatest importance in safeguarding the virtue of chastity is our relation to Jesus in the most Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist is really, truly and substantially the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, the Son of the living God.

When we receive Jesus in Holy Communion we receive all of the following—His totality! We receive the mind of Jesus, with His memory that purifies our possibly dirty thoughts. We receive Jesus’ Blood that circulates through our entire body, rushing through our veins and arteries. We receive the most Sacred Heart of Jesus with His most noble of sentiments; even more, we receive the absolute purity of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

If you like, every Holy Communion well-received results in receiving a spiritual heart-transplant. As Saint Paul says, “Put on the mind of Christ; then, you have the mind of Christ.” Then Paul abounds all the more in this most lofty expression: “It is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me.” Frequent and fervent and a passionate reception of Holy Communion is by far the most efficacious means to live a life of purity—It is Jesus Himself that takes possession of our entire lives and being!

10. Our Lady: Our model and intercessor for all virtues

Of course it would be far from complete our treatise on the virtue of purity if we did not invite Our Lady, the Mother of holy and pure love to be with us, pray for us, and intercede on our behalf. Experience shows in the lives of countless saints that it is through their great love of God and filial trust and love for Mary that they can live holy lives and lives of great purity.

Saint Faustina Kowalska had an encounter with the Lord Jesus. He drew close to the saint and wrapped a golden sash around her waist. This symbolized a gift that He generously bestowed upon the saint—the gift of perfect chastity. Her flesh would be totally submissive to her mind and spirit and no longer would she experience indecent thoughts. Jesus would be the center of her life, her all and all. However, there is an additional very important note.

Saint Faustina said that she had been begging Our Lady for this gift for a long time! Therefore, it was through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary that Saint Faustina acquired this marvelous gift of perfect chastity. Let us all turn to the most pure and Immaculate Heart of Mary and beg for purity of mind, heart, body, soul and even intention.

Let us beg Mary most Holy for the grace to live out this sublime Beatitude that Jesus taught us: “Blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8) Let us live out purity in this life so as to contemplate the beauty of the Blessed Trinity—with Our Lady, the angels and saints—for all eternity! Amen

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