The sins of the world are too great! The sins which lead most souls to hell are sins of the flesh!…Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord and are not of God.” Indeed, almost no one today seem to care that this is a fact and that this is happening even though it is clearly warned about in the Bible that “IN THE LAST DAYS, shall come dangerous times. Men shall be lovers of themselves…incontinent… lovers of pleasure more than of God: Having an appearance indeed of godliness but denying the power thereof. Now these avoid.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
Consider this fact: Did Jesus say that few are saved? Yes He did (Luke 13:23-24, 28). In today’s world, what sin does most, if not all people fall into? It is sexual sins! Just look at the perverted protestants, the evil Vatican II “Catholics”, or even the deceived traditionalists, who all of them practice some form or another of sexual foreplay or unlawful inflaming of lust, as well as all kinds of other perversions too disgusting even to mention. It is thus clear why Our Lady of Fatima revealed to us that “More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason” and why this message was especially emphasized in Her revelations; for Our Lady, the Queen of Prophets, knew what the second part of the 20th century had in store for humanity after the introduction of the TV and other evil media, which in a large part is responsible for all of this impurity.
It is almost impossible to watch media or live in the modern society today and not be perverted by their evil influence that teaches us perverse sexual heresies. That is why the world has become so evil and why the apostasy is so universal. In truth, Our Lord Jesus Christ warned about the world’s delusion of our time when He said: “And as it came to pass in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat and drink, they married wives, and were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark: and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it came to pass, in the days of Lot: they did eat and drink, they bought and sold, they planted and built. And in the day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man shall be revealed.” (Luke 17:26-30)
Haydock Bible Commentary explains Luke 17: “Ver. 27. After having compared his second coming to lightning, in order to shew how sudden it will be, he next compares it to the days of Noe [Noah] and Lot, to shew that it will come when men least expect it; when, entirely forgetting his coming, they are solely occupied in the affairs of this world, in buying and selling, &c. He only mentions those faults which appear trivial, or rather none at all, (passing over the crimes of murder, theft, &c.) purposely to shew, that if God thus punishes merely the immoderate use of what is lawful, how will his vengeance fall upon what is in itself unlawful. (Ven. Bede) --- Ver. 32. As Lot only escaped destruction by leaving all things, and flying immediately to the mountain, whereas his wife, by shewing an affection for the things she had left, and looking back, perished; so those who, in the time of tribulation, forgetting the reward that awaits them in heaven, look back to the pleasures of this world, which the wicked enjoy, are sure to perish. (St. Ambrose)”
The amount of fools in this world who commit sexual sins inside and outside of marriage are innumerable. Sad to say, they could all have increased their chances of reaching Heaven by refusing to marry and indulging in their sinful sexual pleasure. But since their heart was set on earthly and perishable things, and they did not marry for an honorable and pure cause, God’s justice also demands that they shall perish with the dead and rotting bodies that they loved more than they loved Him; which was the filth and stinking treasure of their vile hearts. “Moreover, the Paedagogue [Instructor] warns us most distinctly: "Go not after thy lusts, and abstain from thine appetites [Sir. 18:30]; for wine and women will remove the wise; and he that cleaves to harlots will become more daring. Corruption and the worm shall inherit him [Sir. 19:2-3], and he shall be held up as public example to greater shame." And again—for he wearies not of doing good—"He who averts his eyes from pleasure crowns his life."” (St. Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book II, Chapter X)
Thus, Our Lord Jesus Christ’s teaching in The Gospel of Matthew shows us all that it’s impossible to love Him at the same time as a physical and temporal thing or pleasure without actually hating or despising Him in the process. (Matthew 6:21,24)
St. Alphonsus, on the damnation of the impure: “Continue, O fool, says St. Peter Damian (speaking to the unchaste), continue to gratify the flesh; for the day will come in which thy impurities will become as pitch in thy entrails, to increase and aggravate the torments of the flame which will burn thee in hell: ‘The day will come, yea rather the night, when thy lust shall be turned into pitch, to feed in thy bowels the everlasting fire.’” (Preparation for Death, p. 117)
Our Lord Jesus Christ is perfectly right when He said in Matthew 19:14 that “the kingdom of heaven is for such [children],” and one of the most distinguishing traits of children is that they are chaste and pure and free from all sexual temptations, until they reach the age of puberty. Whether married or unmarried, if one wants to enter “the Kingdom of Heaven,” one must do all in one’s power to try to imitate the virtue and chastity that is inherent in children. Not only children can reach this stage of chastity or purity (where one is not bothered by the stings and temptations of the flesh), but also those who manfully labor in fasts and prayers, taking care to avoid mortal and venial sins and to not commit any act that will tempt or incite their sexual desire, always refusing to see or look at anything that might disturb their chastity. “Brother Roger, a Franciscan of singular purity, being once asked why he was so reserved in his intercourse with women, replied, that when men avoid the occasions of sin, God preserves them; but when they expose themselves to danger, they are justly abandoned by the Lord, and easily fall into some grievous transgressions.” (St. Alphonsus, The True Spouse of Jesus Christ, Mortification of the Eyes, p. 221)
In truth, “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away.” (Matthew 11:12) The words suffereth violence means that it is not to be obtained but by main force by using violence upon oneself by mortifications and penances, and by resisting our perverse inclinations. Too few, however, care anything about mortifications and penances, and that is also why the world and most of the members of the Church have been allowed to fall into such great immorality, apostasy and heresy that was unheard of before the twentieth century.
St. Alphonsus de Liguori, in his masterpiece “The Glories Of Mary” describes how we are to achieve Purity Of Heart, and how The Blessed Virgin Mary is a powerful helper for those who are struggling with sexual sin, and also On How to Avoid Sexual Sins: “St. Ambrose says, that "whoever has preserved chastity is an angel, and that he who has lost it is a devil." Our Lord assures us that those who are chaste become angels, "They shall be as the angels of God in heaven" (Matthew 22:30). But the impure, becomes as devils, hateful in the sight of God. St. Remigius used to say that the greater part of adults are lost by this vice. Seldom, as we have already said with St. Augustine, is a victory gained over this vice. But why? It is because the means by which it may be gained are seldom made use of.
“These means are three, according to Bellarmine and the masters of a spiritual life: fasting, the avoidance of dangerous occasions, and prayer.
“1. By fasting, is to be understood especially mortification of the eyes and of the appetite. Although our Blessed Lady was full of divine grace, yet she was so mortified in her eyes, that, according to St. Epiphanius and St. John Damascene, she always kept them cast down, and never fixed them on any one; and they say that from her very childhood her modesty was such, that it filled every one who saw her with astonishment. Hence St. Luke remarks, that, in going to visit St. Elizabeth, "she went with haste," (Luke 1:39) that she might be less seen in public. Philibert relates, that, as to her food, it was revealed to a hermit named Felix, that when a baby she only took milk once a day. St. Gregory of Tours affirms that throughout her life she fasted; and St. Bonaventure adds, "that Mary would never have found so much grace, had she not been most moderate in her food; for grace and gluttony cannot subsist together." In fine, Mary was mortified in all, so that of her it was said "my hands dropped with myrrh" (Canticle 5:5).
“2. The second means is to fly the occasions of sin: "He that is aware of the snares shall be secure" (Proverbs 11:15). Hence St. Philip Neri says, that, "in the war of the senses, cowards conquer:" that is to say those who fly from dangerous occasions. Mary fled as much as possible from the sight of men and therefore St. Luke remarks, that in going to visit St. Elizabeth, she went with haste into the hill country. An author observes that the Blessed Virgin left St. Elizabeth before St. John was born, as we learn from the same Gospel where it is said, "that Mary abode with her about three months, and she returned to her own house. Now Elizabeth’s full time of being delivered was come, and she brought forth a son" (Luke 1:56). And why did she not wait for this event? It was that she might avoid the conversations and visits which would accompany it.
“3. The third means is prayer. "And as I knew," said the wise man, "that I could not otherwise be continent except God gave it . . . I went to the Lord and besought Him" (Wisdom 8:21). The Blessed Virgin revealed to St. Elizabeth of Hungary, that she acquired no virtue without effort and continual prayer. St. John Damascene says, that Mary "is pure, a lover of purity." Hence she cannot endure those who are unchaste. But whoever has recourse to Her will certainly be delivered from this vice, if he only pronounces her name with confidence. The Venerable [Saint] John of Avila used to say, "that many have conquered more temptations by only having devotion to her Immaculate Conception."
“O Mary, O most pure dove, how many are now in hell on account of this vice! Sovereign Lady, obtain us the grace always to have recourse to thee in our temptations, and always to invoke thee, saying, "Mary, Mary, help us." Amen.” (From The Glories Of Mary, by St. Alphonsus de Liguori)
In the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 22, Jesus explains “that in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be married; but shall be as the angels of God in heaven”. Through these words, He is telling us that perpetual chastity is an inherent part in the Angelic and Heavenly Life, thus showing us once again that chastity is morally superior to marriage and the marital life.
And Jesus answering, said to them: “You err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be married; but shall be as the angels of God in heaven. And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken by God, saying to you: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And the multitudes hearing it, were in admiration at his doctrine.” (Matthew 22:29-33)
Marriage and those acts which specifically pertain to it only endure for a short moment in this temporal life, while the virtue of chastity begins in this life, to continue through all eternity in Heaven in indescribable bliss and happiness. Haydock Commentary, “Ver. 30. If not to marry, nor to be married, be like unto angels, the state of religious persons, and of priests, is justly styled by the Fathers an angelic life. (St. Cyprian, lib. ii. de discip. et hab. Virg. sub finem.) (Bristow)”
Marriage did not even exist until after the fall and original sin of Adam and Eve, but chastity always existed and will always exist – whether in Heaven or on Earth – as long as the latter continues to exist. Marriage was instituted by God for procreation of children, but He also allows it to be used as a relief from concupiscence and the sin of uncleanness, adultery and fornication by giving the marital act an indulgence so long as the marital act is always subordinated to the primary end or purpose of the marital act—the procreation of children (Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii #54). But this state of alleviation from temptation to sin that married people enter into when getting married is a defective state not originally intended by the Creator from the beginning—before the fall and original sin of Adam and Eve. Chastity and purity however is not a defective state, but the original and desired state that God wanted all humans to live in from the beginning. “Thus,” says St. Jerome, “it must be bad to touch a woman. If indulgences is nonetheless granted to the marital act, this is only to avoid something worse. But what value can be recognized in a good that is allowed only with a view of preventing something worse?”
Before the fall, people would have been able to procreate children without the evil of lust. “In Eden, it would have been possible to beget offspring without foul lust. The sexual organs would have been stimulated into necessary activity by will-power alone, just as the will controls other organs.” (St. Augustine, City of God, Book 14, Chapter 26.) Our Lord Jesus Christ never intended for us to be plagued by sexual desire. And because this defective desire brings with it so many sins and temptations of the flesh, it is perfectly true to say that marriage is a defective state compared to what the Creator had in mind from the beginning. If Adam and Eve had never sinned, all humans had now been chaste and pure just as God intended it to be from the beginning.
The church historian, Venerable Bede (673-735 A.D.), stated that in the first age of the world humankind was propagated by the union of men and women. However, in “the last age of history” God has “taken manhood from the flesh of the Virgin.… to prove that He loves the glory of virginity more than marriage.” (Venerable Bede, Hexaemeron, Book I, PL 91:31) Just like all the other Fathers and Saints of the Church, Venerable Bede saw First Corinthians, Chapter 7, as a reminder “that prayer is hindered by the marital duty, because as often as one renders the debt to his wife he is unable to pray” which in turn teaches us that marriage became “wounded and sick” after the fall and original sin of Adam and Eve. (Venerable Bede, Super Epistolas Catholicas Exposito: In Primam Epistolam Petri)
St. John Chrysostom, On Virginity, Chapter 14: “Someone would object perhaps: if it is better to have no relations with a woman, why has marriage been introduced into life? What use, then, will woman be to us, if she is of help neither in marriage nor in the procreation of children? What will prevent the complete disappearance of the human race since each day death encroaches upon it and strikes man down, and if one follows this programme, there is no reproduction of others to replace the stricken? If all of us should strive after this virtue and have no relations with a woman, everything -- cities, households, cultivated fields, crafts, animals, plants -- everything would vanish. For just as when a general dies, the discipline of the army inevitably is thrown entirely into confusion, so if the ruler of all the earth, if mankind disappears because of not marrying (carnal coupling), nothing left behind will preserve the security and good order of the world, and this fine precept will fill the world with a thousand woes.
“If these words had been merely those of our enemies and of the unbelievers, I would have hardly considered them. However, many of those who appear to belong to the Church say this. They fail to make an effort on behalf of virginity because of their weakness of purpose. By denigrating it and representing it as superfluous, they want to conceal their own apathy, so that they seem to fail in these contests not through their own neglect of duty but rather through their correct estimation of the matter [he means that they delude themselves by their false view of thinking that they are correct]. Come then, having dismissed our enemies -- for "The natural man does not accept what is taught by the spirit of God. For him that is absurdity." [1 Cor 2:14] -- let us teach two lessons to those who claim to be with us: that virginity is not superfluous but extremely useful and necessary; and that such a charge is not made with impunity but will endanger the detractors in the same way that right actions will earn wages and praise for the virtuous.
“When the whole world had been completed and all had been readied for our repose and use, God fashioned man for whom he made the world. After being fashioned, man remained in paradise and there was no reason for marriage. Man did need a helper, and she came into being; not even then did marriage seem necessary. It did not yet appear anywhere but they remained as they were without it. They lived in paradise as in heaven and they enjoyed God’s company. Desire for carnal intercourse, conception, labor, childbirth and every form of corruption had been banished from their souls. As a clear river shooting forth from a pure source, so were they in that place adorned by virginity.
“And all the earth was without humanity. This is what is now feared by those who are anxious about the world. They are very anxious about the affairs of others but they cannot tolerate considering their own. They fear the eclipse of mankind but individually neglect their own souls as though they were another’s. They do this when they will have demanded of them an exact accounting for this and the smallest of sins, yet for the scarcity of mankind they will not have to furnish even the slightest excuse.
“At that time there were no cities, crafts, or houses -- since you care so very much for these things -- they did not exist. Nevertheless, nothing either thwarted or hindered that happy life, which was far better than this. But when they did not obey God and became earth and dust, they destroyed along with that blessed way of life the beauty of virginity, which together with God abandoned them and withdrew. As long as they were uncorrupted by the devil and stood in awe of their master, virginity abided with them. It adorned them more than the diadem and golden raiments do kings. However, when they shed the princely raiment of virginity and laid aside their heavenly attire, they accepted the decay of death, ruin, pain and a toilsome life. In their wake came marriage: marriage, a garment befitting mortals and slaves.
“But the married man is busy with the world’s demands” [1 Cor 7:33]. Do you perceive the origin of marriage? It springs from disobedience, from a curse, from death. For where death is, there is marriage. When one does not exist, the other is not about. But virginity does not have this companion. It is always useful, always beautiful and blessed, both before and after death, before and after marriage. Tell me, what sort of marriage produced Adam? What kind of birth pains produced Eve? You could not say. Therefore why have groundless fears? Why tremble at the thought of the end of marriage, and thus the end of the human race? An infinite number of angels are at the service of God, thousands upon thousands of archangels are beside him, and none of them have come into being from the succession of generations, none from childbirth, labor pains and conception. Could he not, then, have created many more men without marriage? Just as he created the first two from whom all men descended.”
In this context, St. Jerome adds, “Marriage replenishes the earth, virginity fills Paradise.” (Ag. Jovinianus 1:16) After all, humans can be married only during this life. They will be virgins, however, for eternity. He summarized, “For marriage ends at death; virginity thereafter begins to wear the crown.” (Ibid., 1:22) Thus, after the fall, marriage and especially the marital act became wounded and highly potent to damn and bring a person under its control, similarly how a drug acts against a drug addict: “‘Now, [after the fall] Adam had intercourse with his wife Eve.’ Consider when this happened. After their disobedience, after their loss of the Garden, then it was that the practice of intercourse had its beginning. You see, before their disobedience they followed a life like that of the angels, and there was no mention of intercourse. … How could there be, when they were not subject to the needs of the body?” (Homilies on Genesis, Homily XVIII; PG 53.153)
According to St. Chrysostom, marriage was allowed in case one should exceed proper limits in admiring the bloom of youth and thus exciting passion (Exp. in Ps. XLIII; PG 55.181). Thus marriage was established following the Fall of man. It possessed a certain honor for what it was, but it in no way actually produced sanctity. This it was not able to do. Marriage was a solemn thing, that through which God “recruits our race” and which is the source of numberless blessings, not the least of which is its serving as a “barrier against uncleanness.” St. John Chrysostom states, “Marriage is not holiness, but marriage preserves the holiness which proceeds from Faith… marriage is honorable, not holy. Marriage is pure: it does not however give holiness, except by forbidding the defilement of that, holiness which has been given by our Faith.” (Hom. XXX in Heb.; PG 63.210; NPNF, p. 504). This is an important text in discerning Chrysostom’s teaching about marriage since it was preached at the end of his life and only published posthumously. It is popular in modern Chrysostom scholarship to suggest that Chrysostom experienced a radical change in his thinking on marriage, and came to embrace a more modern notion of marriage as holiness and sex as love. This text, among others, refutes this position. Note also here that Chrysostom roots the holiness of the individual believer in the faith itself. In Homily 10 he is more explicit saying, “Every believer is a saint in that he is a believer. Though he live in the world he is a saint... the faith makes the holiness” (Ibid., Hom. X; PG 63.87).
Sexual intercourse is not necessarily or directly sinful. However, Chrysostom nowhere suggests that intercourse is “holy”, “sacred”, or even primarily “an expression of love”. These romantic notions are really quite modern, and lack any substantive Patristic source. At the same time Chrysostom is prepared to emphasize the mysterious nature of human sexuality and to associate it very closely with love in his Homilies on Colossians. For Chrysostom, however, the mystery of love is that between the spouses and the child which results from their union, not primarily between the spouses themselves.
St. John Damascene, speaking on virginity, says: “Virginity is the rule of life among the angels, the property of all incorporeal nature. … Virginity is better than marriage, however good. … But celibacy is, as we said, an imitation of the angels. Wherefore, virginity is as much more honorable than marriage, as the angel is higher than man. But why do I say angel? Christ, Himself, is the glory of virginity.” (An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book IV, Chapter XXIV) And so, “flee thou youthful desires, and pursue justice, faith, charity, and peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
Now, “Tell me, will someone still dare to compare marriage with virginity? Or look marriage in the face at all? Saint Paul does not permit it. He puts much distance between each of these states. “The virgin is concerned with things of the Lord,” he says, but “the married woman has the cares of this world to absorb her.” [1 Cor 7:34] Moreover, after gathering married people together and having done this favor for them, hear how he reproaches them again for he says: “Return to one another, that Satan may not tempt you.” [1 Cor 7:5] And since he wishes to indicate that not all sins stem from the devil’s temptations but from our own idleness, he has added the more valid reason: because of “your lack of self-control.” [1 Cor 7:5]
“Who would not blush hearing this? Who would not earnestly try to escape blame for incontinence? For this exhortation is not for everyone but for those extremely prone to vice. If you are enslaved by pleasures, he says, if you are so weak as to have always given way to coitus and to gape in eager expectation at it, he joined to a woman. The consent therefore comes not from one approving or praising this action but from one scoffing at it with derision. If it had not been his desire to assail the souls of pleasure-seekers, he would not have set down this term, “incontinence,” which quite emphatically conveys the idea of censure. Why did he not say “because of your weakness”? Because that phrase is one of indulgence but to say incontinence denotes excessive moral laxity. Thus, the inability to refrain from fornication unless you always have a wife and enjoy sexual relations is an indication of incontinence.
What would those people who consider virginity superfluous say at this point? For the more virginity is practiced the more praise it receives, whereas marriage is deprived of all praise especially when someone has used it immoderately. “I say this,” Paul declares, “by way of concession, not as a command.” [1 Cor 7:6] But where there is a concession there is no place for praise.” (St. John Chrysostom, On Virginity, Chapter XXXIV)
In this dogmatic light, it is evident that none of the holy Fathers speaks of marriage (much less of “sexual relations” themselves) as the way to spiritual enlightenment and knowledge of God, as do some “theologians” of more recent times. St. Gregory the Theologian lists in great detail the achievements of marriage, all mostly relating to culture and civilization, that is, the earthly goods. (St. Gregory the Theologian, “Parthenias epenos” (“In Praise of Virginity”), PG. 37, 563A). Such praises of marriage are woven by “those who are of one mind with their ribs,” that is, happily married. But nowhere among these “achievements” do they mention the matters of spiritual ascent, that is, knowledge of God and theosis. On the contrary, the Fathers say that, on the one hand, marriage and the things belonging to it constitute an obstacle to ascent; while on the other hand, the road upward is the road of purity, of self-control or, in a word, virginity.
And even this simple drawing near to God within marriage is possible only through exercising self-restraint. Whereas, “to be sure, marriage is deprived of all praise whatsoever, when one indulges in it to the point of satiety.” (St. John Chrysostom, “Peri Parthenias” (“On Virginity”), 48, PG 48, 557.) Then the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa hold true: “. . . lest through such passionate attachments (as in I Cor. 7:5) he become wholly flesh and blood, in whom the Spirit of God does not remain.” (St. Gregory of Nyssa, “Peri Parthenias” (“On Virginity”), 8, PG 46, 356D). Elsewhere the same Father says: “So, it seems that these examples are instructing us, through the remembrance of those great Prophets [that is, Elias and John], to become entangled in none of those things that are pursued in the world. Marriage is one of these things pursued; rather it is the beginning and root of the pursuit of things vain.” (St. Gregory of Nyssa, “Peri Parthenias” (“On Virginity”), 7, PG 46, 352D).
Whereas the Holy Father views marriage (and honorable marriage at that) in this way, he praises virginity, writing: “If one wishes carefully to examine the difference between this way of life (that is, marriage) and virginity, he will find it almost as great as the difference between earth and heaven.” (St. Gregory of Nyssa, “Peri Parthenias” (“On Virginity”), 3, PG 46, 355).
St. Gregory the Theologian is more specific in comparing the two life-styles. On virginity since the time of Christ, he writes: “Precisely then [that is, with Christ’s birth from the Virgin] did virginity shine brightly to mortals; free of the world, and freeing the feeble world. It so surpasses marriage and the fetters of the world even as the soul is apt to be more excellent than the flesh and the wide heaven than the earth; as the stable life of the blessed is more excellent than transitory life; as God is superior to man.” (St. Gregory the Theologian, “In Praise of Virginity”, PG 37, 538A)
This is precisely why virginity, and not marriage, has such power: “through itself it brought God down for participation in human life, while in itself it enables man to soar to the longing for the things of heaven.” (St. Gregory of Nyssa, “Peri Parthenias” (“On Virginity”), 2, PG 46, 324B)
Marriage does not attain such heights, for “even though marriage be honorable (Heb. 13:4), yet it can only go so far as not to defile those who engage in it. But to produce Saints is not within the power of marriage but of virginity.” (St. John Chrysostom, “Peri Parthenias” (“On Virginity”), 30, PG 48, 554). In response to those who ask how Abraham, being married, attained perfection, while so many virgins lost the kingdom of God (cf. Matt. 25:1-13), Saint John Chrysostom answers: “It was not marriage that made Abraham a Saint, nor virginity that destroyed those miserable maidens. But rather, what made the Patriarch illustrious was his soul’s other virtues, and likewise what handed the maidens over to the fire was their life’s other vices.” (St. John Chrysostom, “Peri Parthenias” (“On Virginity”), 382, PG 48, 593)
The correctness of this Patristic view on marriage and virginity, and the unfoundedness of the views of the new so called theologians, is confirmed by the Church’s life itself. The greatest Saints and servants of the divine mysteries were not the greatest lovers (and I am referring to human sexual love, about which the new “theologians” speak about), but the greatest practitioners of self-control.
The Church Fathers, well aware of the physical sexuality present in the Song of Songs, generally cautioned against reading it until a ‘mature spirituality’ had been obtained, lest the Song be misunderstood and lead the reader into temptation. Origen says, “I advise and counsel everyone who is not yet rid of the vexations of flesh and blood and has not ceased to feel the passion of his bodily nature, to refrain completely from reading this little book.” (Origen, Commentary on the Song of Songs, cited in Anchor Bible Commentary Song of Songs 117)
When asked for advice about what scriptural books a young girl should read, Jerome recommended the Psalms, Proverbs, Gospels, Acts and the Epistles, followed by the rest of the Old Testament. Of the Song however, Jerome counsels caution, saying “… she would fail to perceive that, though it is written in fleshly words, it is a marriage song of a spiritual bridal. And not understanding this, she would suffer from it.” (St. Jerome, Letter cvii, To Laeta, cited in Anchor Bible Commentary Song of Songs 119)
Indeed, “Do not think… that the body is made for intercourse. If you wish to understand… for what reason the body was made, then listen: it was made that it should be a temple to the Lord; that the soul, being holy and blessed, should act in it as if it were a priest serving before the Holy Spirit that dwells in you.” (Origen, Exegesis on 1 Corinthians 7:29)
It is not coincidental that in this day and age when almost all are heretics, many people are falsely interpreting King Solomon’s Song of Songs in a literal way instead of a figurative way that signify the spiritual relationship between God and the soul, and Christ and Our Lady, that the Holy Fathers did. The Fathers never interpreted the Song of Songs as a glorification of sex, and they unanimously rejected those impious and lustful people who tried to excuse their sensuality by perverting the Bible for the sake of their own lustful selfishness.
Bad parents will be tormented in a far greater fire for their bad example than those who remained chaste
Most people who beget children in this world do not carefully consider the ramifications of raising children. Their only concern is to please their selfish interests and unlawful sensual desires. But the moment after they have died and entered into the eternal spiritual reality, they shall all see the evil fruit of their ways. “For behold, the days shall come, wherein they will say: Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that have not borne, and the paps that have not given suck.”
Luke 23:27-31 “And there followed him a great multitude of people, and of women, who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them, said: Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over me; but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For behold, the days shall come, wherein they will say: ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that have not borne, and the paps that have not given suck.’ Then shall they begin to say to the mountains: ‘Fall upon us’; and to the hills: ‘Cover us.’ For if in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?”
Haydock Bible Commentary adds, “Verse 31.In the green wood: by which are signified persons of virtue and sanctity; as by the dry wood, the wicked, who bring forth no fruit, and who, like dry wood, are fit to be cast into the fire. (Witham) --- If they be thus cruel with me [Jesus], how will they treat you!”
Simply said, those parents who beget and raise worldly and ungodly children for the sake of worldly and ungodly purposes will be tormented for an eternity in a far greater and more excruciating fire than a person who did not have children and remained chaste. Since they took upon themselves the great and heavy burden of raising children, they shall also have to answer to Our Lord for every moment of their life that they raised their children. By living a worldly, selfish and sensual lifestyle, most parents give the most abominable and sad example to their children, and this results in the child taking after the sins of the parents in almost every way. That is why an evil parent and child who will both be damned will torment each other for an eternity in Hell, since they were one of the greatest causes of their own damnation.
The Son of God spoke, saying: “Sometimes I let evil parents give birth to good children, but more often, evil children are born of evil parents, since these children imitate the evil and unrighteous deeds of their parents as much as they are able and would imitate it even more if my patience allowed them. Such a married couple will never see my face unless they repent. For there is no sin so heavy or grave that penitence and repentance does not wash it away.” (St. Bridget’s Revelations, Book 1, Chapter 26)
It is hard to imagine the rage and hatred that children will have against their parents, but if we consider that their hatred will be eternal and with a perfect knowledge of the fact that their parents greatly influenced them to be eternally damned, one can understand how great this hate will be. That is why every person should carefully consider the cost and labor of marrying and becoming a parent. Unless a person is ready to take responsibility for their children, they must remain chaste and pure, and as we have seen, this chastity will also greatly increase their chances of reaching Heaven.
And concerning the education and upbringing of one’s children, The Blessed Virgin Mary revealed the following words to Sister Mary of Agreda: “It is an act of justice due to the eternal God that the creature coming to the use of reason, direct its very first movement toward God. By knowing, it should begin to love Him, reverence Him and adore Him as its Creator and only true Lord. The parents are naturally bound to instruct their children from their infancy in this knowledge of God and to direct them with solicitous care, so that they may at once see their ultimate end and seek it in their first acts of the intellect and will. They should with great watchfulness withdraw them from the childishness and puerile trickishness to which depraved nature will incline them if left without direction. If the fathers and mothers would be solicitous to prevent these vanities and perverted habits of their children and would instruct them from their infancy in the knowledge of their God and Creator, then they would afterwards easily accustom them to know and adore Him. My holy mother [St. Anne], who knew not of my wisdom and real condition, was most solicitously beforehand in this matter, for when she bore me in her womb, she adored in my name the Creator and offered worship and thanks for his having created me, beseeching Him to defend me and bring me forth to the light of day from the condition in which I then was. So also parents should pray with fervor to God, that the souls of their children, through his Providence, may obtain Baptism and be freed from the servitude of original sin. And if the rational creature has not known and adored the Creator from the first dawn of reason, it should do this as soon as it obtains knowledge of the essential God by the light of faith. From that very moment the soul must exert itself never to lose Him from her sight, always fearing Him, loving Him, and reverencing Him.” (From The Mystical City of God, The Divine History and Life of The Virgin Mother of God, Book 1, Chapter 6)
Pope Pius XI, in Casti Connubii, adds that: “If a true Christian mother weigh well these things, she will indeed understand with a sense of deep consolation that of her the words of Our Savior were spoken: "A woman . . . when she hath brought forth the child remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world"; [John 16:21] and proving herself superior to all the pains and cares and solicitudes of her maternal office with a more just and holy joy than that of the Roman matron, the mother of the Gracchi, she will rejoice in the Lord crowned as it were with the glory of her offspring. Both husband and wife, however, receiving these children with joy and gratitude from the hand of God, will regard them as a talent committed to their charge by God, not only to be employed for their own advantage or for that of an earthly commonwealth, but to be restored to God with interest on the day of reckoning.
“The blessing of offspring, however, is not completed by the mere begetting of them, but something else must be added, namely the proper education of the offspring. For the most wise God would have failed to make sufficient provision for children that had been born, and so for the whole human race, if He had not given to those to whom He had entrusted the power and right to beget them, the power also and the right to educate them. For no one can fail to see that children are incapable of providing wholly for themselves, even in matters pertaining to their natural life, and much less in those pertaining to the supernatural, but require for many years to be helped, instructed, and educated by others. Now it is certain that both by the law of nature and of God this right and duty of educating their offspring belongs in the first place to those who began the work of nature by giving them birth, and they are indeed forbidden to leave unfinished this work and so expose it to certain ruin. But in matrimony provision has been made in the best possible way for this education of children that is so necessary, for, since the parents are bound together by an indissoluble bond, the care and mutual help of each is always at hand.
“Since, however, We have spoken fully elsewhere on the Christian education of youth, [in the encyclical Divini illius Magistri, 31 Dec. 1929] let Us sum it all up by quoting once more the words of St. Augustine: "As regards the offspring it is provided that they should be begotten lovingly and educated religiously," [St. Augustine, De Gen. ad litt., lib. IX] -- and this is also expressed succinctly in the  Code of Canon Law: "The primary end of marriage is the procreation and the education of children." [Cod. iur. can., c. 1013 & 7]” (Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii (#’s 15-17), Dec. 31, 1930)
Our Lord Jesus Christ must come before our family and friends according the Gospel of Mark
Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in The Gospel of Mark that we must be able to leave behind even our own family members for the sake of God and the Kingdom of Heaven when necessity requires it.
“And Peter began to say unto him [Jesus]: ‘Behold, we have left all things, and have followed thee.’ Jesus answering, said: ‘Amen I say to you, there is no man who hath left house or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, Who shall not receive an hundred times as much, now in this time; houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions: and in the world to come life everlasting. But many that are first, shall be last: and the last, first.’” (Mark 10:28-31)
Most people do not realize that in most cases, the very ones we hold the most dear and near are in fact also those who are the most dangerous to our eternal salvation. St. Alphonsus, speaking on detachment from relatives, says: “If attachment to relatives were not productive of great mischief Jesus Christ would not have so strenuously exhorted us to estrangement from them… a man’s enemies shall be they of his own household (Mt. 10:36)… Relatives are the worst enemies of the sanctification of Christians...” (The True Spouse of Jesus Christ, p. 96) That is why a person who intends to marry must be extremely careful to choose a pious and virtuous husband or wife. Only choosing a spouse based on physical beauty or money or any other worldly motive is completely insane since this person (for better or for worse) will greatly influence not only the souls of the children, but also that of the spouse.
Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii (# 115), December 31, 1930: “To the proximate preparation of a good married life belongs very specially the care in choosing a partner; on that depends a great deal whether the forthcoming marriage will be happy or not, since one may be to the other either a great help in leading a Christian life, or, a great danger and hindrance. And so that they may not deplore for the rest of their lives the sorrows arising from an indiscreet marriage, those about to enter into wedlock should carefully deliberate in choosing the person with whom henceforward they must live continually: they should, in so deliberating, keep before their minds the thought first of God and of the true religion of Christ, then of themselves, of their partner, of the children to come, as also of human and civil society, for which wedlock is a fountain head. Let them diligently pray for divine help, so that they make their choice in accordance with Christian prudence, not indeed led by the blind and unrestrained impulse of lust, nor by any desire of riches or other base influence, but by a true and noble love and by a sincere affection for the future partner; and then let them strive in their married life for those ends for which the State [of Matrimony] was constituted by God. Lastly, let them not omit to ask the prudent advice of their parents with regard to the partner, and let them regard this advice in no light manner, in order that by their mature knowledge and experience of human affairs, they may guard against a disastrous choice, and, on the threshold of matrimony, may receive more abundantly the divine blessing of the fourth commandment: ‘Honor thy father and thy mother (which is the first commandment with a promise) that it may be well with thee and thou mayest be long-lived upon the earth.’ (Eph., VI, 2-3; Exod., XX, 12).”
A person who intends to marry must first ask themselves the question whether they would stay with the person they intend to marry if that person became poor or invalid or suffered some serious illness or accident that made him or her grotesque and ugly. Unless a person stays with their spouse in such a situation, they have committed a mortal sin and have broken the sacramental bond of Holy Matrimony which they promised to each other until death. “The happiness of marriage ought never to be estimated either by wealth or beauty, but by virtue. "Beauty," says the tragedy, "helps no wife with her husband; But virtue has helped many; for every good wife who is attached to her husband knows how to practice sobriety." Then, as giving admonitions, he says: "First, then, this is incumbent on her who is endowed with mind, That even if her husband be ugly, he must appear good looking; For it is for the mind, not the eye, to judge." And so forth.” (St. Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata or Miscellanies, Book IV, Chapter XX.--Of A Good Wife.)
St. John Chrysostom, in addressing the daily family problems of his age, argues that they are due to the absence of correct criteria in the choice of one’s spouse. He addresses himself to the parents who in that period played an important role in the choice, and he says to the father: “When you consider and look for a possible groom, pray and tell God, please send whomever you’d like, leave the situation up to Him, and since you have honored Him in this way, He will reward you. Always ask God to be a mediator in all of your works. For, if we dealt with all of our affairs in this way, there would never be a divorce, nor suspicion of adultery, nor cause for envy, nor battles and disputes, but we would enjoy great peace and harmony, and when there is harmony, other virtues will follow.” (To Maximos, ΕΠΕ, vol. 27, p. 208) This humble prayer and supplication to God for help in finding a suitable and pure spouse that will benefit ourselves and our children can of course be made by every person who desires to marry.
A successful marriage is one that regards success in terms of virtue rather than wealth. The husband must have a virtuous soul, goodness, prudence, and fear of God. Chrysostom says, “A young woman who is prudent, independent, and cultivates piety, is as valuable as the whole world.” (On the Letter to the Hebrews, Homily 20, ΕΠΕ, vol. 21, p. 236) “Many people who had amassed a great fortune lost it all, for they didn’t have a sensible wife capable of preserving it.” (On the Second Letter to the Thessalonians, Homily 5, ΕΠΕ, vol. 23, p. 112)
God wants us to enter marriage for pious and pure motives and not for selfish and impure motives. Concerning this, St. John Chrysostom explains that one should marry a woman for the sake of having a helpmate and a partner in our life, instead of for money or other evil and selfish reasons. “The very benefit God has given thee by nature, do not thou mar the help it was meant to be. So that it is not for her wealth that we ought to seek a wife: it is that we may receive a partner of our life, for the appointed order of the procreation of children. It was not that she should bring money, that God gave the woman; it was that she might be an helpmate.” (Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, Homily XLIX, Acts XXIII. 6-30, Ver. 17)
Many men seek after a beautiful wife. Is this enough for a marriage to succeed? St. Chrysostom emphasizes that “the beauty of the body, when it is not accompanied by virtue of the soul, can imprison the husband for twenty or thirty days, it won’t last longer though, for when she shows her bad side, the love will be destroyed. When, however, women shine from the beauty of their souls, as time passes and increasingly reveals the nobility of their souls, their husbands are drawn ever closer to them.” (Sermon in Kalendais, ΕΠΕ, vol. 31, p. 490)
The Catholic Church from the very beginning of its foundation by Our Lord Jesus Christ has always taught and admonished future spouses that they should not enter marriages for lustful or worldly motives, and that is also why, in about the year 110, the Holy Bishop Saint Ignatius of Antioch (who were taught by the Apostles) taught that “those who are married should be united with the consent of their bishop, to be sure that they are marrying according to the Lord and not to satisfy their lust.” (Ignatius To Polycarp 5)
The love of good spouses are thus concentrated on the things that are eternal and heavenly, rather than the things that are perishable, fleshly and of a sensual nature. Indeed, this truth of loving one’s spouse with a heavenly love was so perfectly mirrored in the life of St. Peter that “They say that the blessed Peter, on seeing his wife led to death, rejoiced on account of her call and conveyance home [to Heaven], and called very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, "Remember thou the Lord." Such was the marriage of the blessed, and their perfect disposition towards those dearest to them. Thus also the apostle says, "that he who marries should be as though he married not," and deem his marriage free of inordinate affection, and inseparable from love to the Lord; to which the true husband exhorted his wife to cling on her departure out of this life to the Lord.” (St. Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata or Miscellanies, Book VII, Chapter XI)
St. Gregory Nazianzen says that marriage indeed is good, as long as those who enter it have motives that are honorable and pure: “It is good to marry; I too admit it, for marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled. [Heb. 13:4] It is good for the temperate, not for those who are insatiable, and who desire to give more than due honor to the flesh. When marriage is only marriage and conjunction and the desire for a succession of children, marriage is honorable, for it brings into the world more to please God. But when it kindles matter, and surrounds us with thorns, and as it were discovers the way of vice, then I too say, It is not good to marry.” (Orations of St. Gregory Nazianzen, Oration XXXVII, Section IX)
Thus, it is evident that one should not concentrate on physical characteristics or riches and similar things if one intends to enter marriage. Rather, if one wants to please Our Lord and really desires what’s best for oneself and one’s children, bodily and spiritually, one must concentrate first-and-foremost on how the other spouse one intends to marry is spiritually disposed. For troubles, contradictions, accidents and illnesses will always be a normal part in marriage and every day life for all people, and there is no real way to protect oneself from such things.
The chaste and mortified servants of Christ saves more souls
Today, the fact that the two virtues of chastity and mortification of the senses are special in helping to save one’s own and other peoples souls, has been almost completely forgotten. Our Lady of Fatima testified to this truth, when, after appearing to the Children of Fatima, She said, “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners and say often, especially when you make some sacrifice, ‘O my Jesus, this is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’” Our Lady further said, “Pray, pray a great deal and make many sacrifices, for many souls go to Hell because they have no one to make sacrifices and to pray for them.”
In truth, because the sensual attraction and desire in human beings is so strong and hard to resist, all those people who manfully labor in interior mortifications and sacrifices, rejecting their carnal nature for the Love of God and of Souls, shall also be rewarded for their sacrifices by God in the same measure as they were able to resist their sensuality: “Amen, I [Jesus] say to you, there is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive much more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” (Luke 18:29) Not only will the chaste be rewarded with a greater reward in Heaven but they will also help to draw down abundant blessings from Heaven by their prayers which has a greater power to shower humanity with the dew of grace, helping and spurring on carnal people to admire and respect the wonderful, pure and simple lifestyle of those who actually decide to live in the angelic life of chastity and self-denial for the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
For most people it is very hard to remain chaste or deny themselves their sensual appetites since they are worldly and the fallen nature of the flesh draws them to a fleshly and sensual lifestyle. And that is precisely the reason for why a person who renounces the world and its fleeting pleasures is more effective in attracting and saving souls, and in drawing down abundant blessings from God. St. Paul, in fact, seems to allude to this in his letter to the Galatians, when he says: “But that Jerusalem, which is above, is free: which is our mother. For it is written: Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not: break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband.” (Galatians 4:26-27)
St. Paul here tells us that those who are barren and have not given birth to children beget many children and even “more than of her that hath a husband.” But how can a barren person have more children than those who are married? In truth, many times spiritual children are brought into Heaven and the arms of Our Heavenly Lord by those chosen vessels of Our Lord who have renounced the small and fleeting pleasures of the world by practicing mortifications and penances and the virtue of chastity. Simply said, a person who renounces the world and its pleasures sets a great example to others, encouraging them to not live for their own selfish fleshly pleasures. One can accurately say that a person’s reward in Heaven will correspond perfectly to the amount of virtue that he practiced during this short life. The more one practices virtue, the greater one will be rewarded in Heaven, and conversely, the less one practices virtue, the less will also one’s reward in Heaven be. Many men can indeed preach about holiness and good deeds, but there are few who actually put their words into practice. Mere words are as nothing compared to a person that actually lives a life of holiness and virtue. For instance, one single person like St. Francis of Assisi would do much more good by his mere example to others than what 100 other men would do by simply preaching about it.
Indeed, since the common knowledge of the labor and hardship of living in chastity and self-denial makes both God and men value and appreciate those who take upon themselves a pure, mortified and chaste lifestyle for the love of God, the direct effect on the sinner of the example of a virtuous and chaste man is that the sinner reflects on his own life and considers the fact that he is living a very degrading and sensual life filled with a selfish agenda. This shame for his sensual life then makes him try to amend in order to become more like a true servant of Christ. When holy and pure servants of Christ shows a good example to others, like the great St. Francis of Assisi, sinners feel ashamed over their sensual, worldly lifestyle, thinking that since this holy and pure person can reach such a level of purity and simplicity, they at least should be able to reach a level of virtue that it is in accordance to the law of Christ. But this is not all that the holy and chaste servants of Christ does, for they also inspire people who are already good to become even better, and to increase their virtue, spurring them on to adopt a life of chastity and self-sacrifice for the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In truth, chaste and holy servants of Our Lord draws down abundant blessings from God, and gives birth to many spiritual children by their holy and good example and life and, in fact, “more than of her that hath a husband.”
If all of these blessings that we have now seen that the chaste life provides was all this life could provide, it would undoubtedly be enough and more than enough, but chastity or virginity not only helps oneself and others become saved, but it also helps a person stay away from mortal or venial sins in this life, which in truth is one of the most important things we all must strive for if we want to be saved: “This doctrine of the excellence of virginity and of celibacy and of their superiority over the married state was, as we have already said, revealed by our Divine Redeemer [Our Lord Jesus Christ] and by the Apostle of the Gentiles [St. Paul]; so too, it was solemnly defined as a dogma of divine faith by the Holy Council of Trent [in Session 24, Canon 10], and explained in the same way by all the Holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church.” (Pope Pius XII, Sacra Virginitas (# 32), March 25th, 1954)
The devil and his servants on this earth as well as a person’s sensual desires hinder weak-willed souls from adopting a more virtuous and chaste life
St. Augustine, in his famous work “The Confessions of Saint Augustine,” explains to us how the Devil and our own fleshly lusts and desires many times deceives us, and tries to get us to refuse or delay a good, chaste and holy life: “Why, therefore, do we delay to abandon our hopes of this world, and give ourselves wholly to seek after God and the blessed life? But stay! Even those things are enjoyable; and they possess some and no little sweetness. We must not abandon them lightly, for it would be a shame to return to them again. Behold, now is it a great matter to obtain some post of honor! And what more could we desire? We have crowds of influential friends, though we have nothing else, and if we make haste a presidentship may be offered us; and a wife with some money, that she increase not our expenses; and this shall be the height of desire. Many men, who are great and worthy of imitation, have applied themselves to the study of wisdom in the marriage state. Whilst I talked of these things, and these winds veered about and tossed my heart hither and there, the time passed on; but I was slow to turn to the Lord, and from day to day deferred to live in You, and deferred not daily to die in myself. Being enamored of a happy life, I yet feared it in its own abode, and, fleeing from it, sought after it. I conceived that I should be too unhappy were I deprived of the embracements of a woman; and of Your merciful medicine to cure that infirmity I thought not, not having tried it. As regards continency, I imagined it to be under the control of our own strength (though in myself I found it not), being so foolish as not to know what is written, that none can be continent unless Thou give it; and that You would give it, if with heartfelt groaning I should knock at Your ears, and should with firm faith cast my care upon You.” (St. Augustine, The Confessions of Augustine, Book VI, Chapter XI, A.D. 398)