January 21st – the Feast of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

Today’s Office of Readings:

  
     On Virgins by Saint Ambrose, bishop
    Too young to be punished, yet old enough for a martyr’s crown
Today is the birthday of a virgin; let us imitate her purity. It is the birthday of a martyr; let us offer ourselves in sacrifice. It is the birthday of Saint Agnes, who is said to have suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve. The cruelty that did not spare her youth shows all the more clearly the power of faith in finding one so young to bear it witness.
There was little or no room in that small body for a wound. Though she could scarcely receive the blow, she could rise superior to it. Girls of her age cannot bear even their parents’ frowns and, pricked by a needle, weep as for a serious wound. Yet she shows no fear of the blood-stained hands of her executioners. She stands undaunted by heavy, clanking chains. She offers her whole body to be put to the sword by fierce soldiers. She is too young to know of death, yet is ready to face it. Dragged against her will to the altars, she stretches out her hands to the Lord in the midst of the flames, making the triumphant sign of Christ the victor on the altars of sacrilege. She puts her neck and hands in iron chains, but no chain can hold fast her tiny limbs.
A new kind of martyrdom! Too young to be punished, yet old enough for a martyr’s crown; unfitted for the contest, yet effortless in victory, she shows herself a master in valour despite the handicap of youth. As a bride she would not be hastening to join her husband with the same joy she shows as a virgin on her way to punishment, crowned not with flowers but with holiness of life, adorned not with braided hair but with Christ himself.
In the midst of tears, she sheds no tears herself. The crowds marvel at her recklessness in throwing away her life untasted, as if she had already lived life to the full. All are amazed that one not yet of legal age can give her testimony to God. So she succeeds in convincing others of her testimony about God, though her testimony in human affairs could not yet be accepted. What is beyond the power of nature, they argue, must come from its creator. 
What menaces there were from the executioner, to frighten her; what promises made, to win her over; what influential people desired her in marriage! She answered: “To hope that any other will please me does wrong to my Spouse. I will be his who first chose me for himself. Executioner, why do you delay? If eyes that I do not want can desire this body, then let it perish.” She stood still, she prayed, she offered her neck.
You could see fear in the eyes of the executioner, as if he were the one condemned; his right hand trembled, his face grew pale as he saw the girl’s peril, while she had no fear for herself. One victim, but a twin martyrdom, to modesty and to religion; Agnes preserved her virginity, and gained a martyr’s crown.

For more details on St. Agnes, visit Fr. Z here.

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IMPORTANT: Do girls need “fantasy”?

The most common objection I face when critiquing the Twilight Saga is “it’s only fantasy!”  In other words, any of the disturbing questions raised about the series are irrelevant and need not be addressed because the genre  of “fantasy” makes them intrinsically harmless.

Is this true?  Let’s look more closely at “fantasy”. 

“fantasy” – 

  1. The creative imagination; unrestrained fancy. 
  2. An imagined event or sequence of mental images, such as a daydream, usually fulfilling a wish or psychological need.

If we look at the uses of the word “fantasy” given above, how would we apply them to The Twilight Saga?  Well, it seems #1 could be applied to Meyer herself – the experience of writing the series.  I would say that #2 is what fans often engage in when reading or thinking about the series.  (For those who enjoy the series, I would ask if you think #2 applies.)

Now, have a look at this assessment 
by Steven Earll, MA, MS. LPC, LAC in his article Signs of Trouble: Five Criteria for Addiction Assessment :

Fantasy

All addictions and compulsions involve fantasy. If an addiction or a compulsion does not divert a person’s mind from reality, it’s not worth doing. For the addicted person—or the person starting down addiction’s path—life’s stresses often feel overwhelming or unbearable. Fantasy is a method of survival that allows mental escape from pressures.
Fantasy creates excitement and anticipation, which, in turn, often triggers an addiction episode. James 1:13-15 is an excellent description of addiction. 
When tempted, no one should say “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire (fantasy), he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
People are enticed by their own desires, or fantasies, which stimulate the need to act out the addictive behavior. When fantasy is nurtured, it takes on a life of its own. The fantasy about engaging in the addictive act and the emotional rewards resulting from the addiction behavior become a preoccupation. This preoccupation is so strong that many times it triggers physiological responses in the brain and body.
In other words, what people think about, their bodies treat as real. The addict begins to physically respond to the addiction when they fantasize about the physical act involved. A sex addict will experience excitement and arousal by thinking about a sexual encounter or anticipating looking at pornography. A drug addict can begin to feel the warmth and euphoria of intoxication by anticipating the drug use. Preoccupation about food can turn off the physical hunger response of an anorexic. The hardest part of recovery from an addiction is taming the mind and controlling the fantasy process. The power of fantasy is the enduring power of addiction.”

Fantasy is not intrinsically harmless.   But The Twilight Saga – please – how bad can this be?  Let’s recall our attention to comments by Robert Pattinson, star of the movie version of Twilight, regarding the reaction he is receiving:
“How is the Twilight fandom is different from the Harry Potter movies? I think you’ve mentioned that the sound of the screams is even different.
It’s different because I think it’s almost solely females of a certain age group, and they have a very specific tone. It’s much more to do with the sort of sexuality aspect of it. So many girls made this guy [their ideal], so when they see you it’s like all of their energy is projected onto you. It’s a really strange experience. I’ve never been in an experience where people just want to touch you — it’s like being in a boy band.

Is it weird to have girls that are so young have this incredibly sexualized thing around you?
It’s weird that you get 8-year-old girls coming up to you saying, “Can you just bite me? I want you to bite me.” It is really strange how young the girls are, considering the book is based on the virtues of chastity, but I think it has the opposite effect on its readers though. [Laughs] “

 

Is this really something to laugh about?  
Well, we have this article by Rob Jackson, MS, LPC, LMHC, NCC which suggests not:

“Many of the men I talk to who are addicted to pornography had childhood experiences which “sexualized” them sooner than they might normally have experienced. Did you have any sexualizing events early in your life? 
Anonymous: Yes, several different types, in fact. First of all, my family did not practice much modesty or personal boundaries. I regularly was exposed to my Mom completely undressed and my Dad wearing only his underwear. I remember in third grade even drawing a picture of my Mom naked and getting in trouble at school. I was asked to bring toilet paper to my Dad as he used the bathroom quite often, and used the sink and mirror as he showered behind a translucent shower door. There were many other instances like this, which aroused a great deal of curiosity in me about the human body.
RJ: Did your parents give you any teaching about sexuality?
Anonymous: None at all. The subject was “taboo” and made them very nervous. I learned quickly that you didn’t ask questions about sex at our house. This lack of information coupled with my curiosity seemed to fuel in me a compulsive search for sexual information.
RJ: Where did you find information about sex?
Anonymous: At first I would look up the words “sex” or “reproduction” in every dictionary and encyclopedia I could get my hands on. Then, I discovered a stash of explicit romance novels at my grandmother’s house. Whenever I would spend the night over there, I’d stay up all night just overwhelmed at the feeling I got when I read those passages.
RJ: How old were you at the time you were reading the novels?
Anonymous: About nine or ten, I guess. Some of it I didn’t understand, but there was enough I did understand that I could kind of put the rest together in context. I had grown up seeing my parents and one grandmother watch soap operas religiously every day—I remember the days before I started school, our day’s schedule revolved around it—so the dramatic, romantic stories in the books already had a familiar appeal to me. I was an advanced reader, so I just took to them like a fish to water.
RJ: Did this material cause you to seek pornography in other forms or places?
Anonymous: By the time I was eleven or so, I started babysitting. Every single house I went into, I would search to see if there was any explicit material. Whether it was a medical dictionary at a doctor’s house or more romance novels, I would find them.
…RJ: Did you ever try to act out the things you were seeing?
Anonymous: When I was about eleven, I was approached by an older teenager in my youth group who was kind of a misfit and happened to be overweight and adopted like me. I realize now, as an adult, he was also addicted to pornography. He started telling me how beautiful I was and would offer to “teach” me about sex. I wanted more than anything to be adored like those women in the novels, and, even though I fought off his advances because I knew it was “wrong,” I kept wanting to be with him because I wanted to feel loved. 
After several weeks, he forced himself on me even though I was crying and telling him to stop. Even then I continued to see him because I thought being loved was worth performing sexual acts for him. Of course some of the sexual behavior created pleasurable responses in me, so I almost felt betrayed by my own body because I didn’t want him to do these things to me, but I liked them.”

…And this is where “fantasy” becomes reality.  Harmless?
For more worthwhile discussion in these issues see http://www.pureintimacy.org 

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Luke 12:34

“What a pity to be killing time when time is a treasure from God!”  – St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge #706

Feast of St. Lucy – Virgin and Martyr

Young girls today should remember that it is still possible, with the help of God’s grace, to be an innocent, virtuous and dignified young woman.  

First, lets define our terms.  

Here, we speak of  “innocent” meaning “uncorrupted by evil, malice, or wrongdoing”.  Who would want to say that they or their daughter, sister, etc. WAS corrupted by evil, malice or wrongdoing?  We should strive for innocence.  

“Virtuous”?  “Conforming to moral and ethical principles; morally excellent; upright.”  Morality is a positive thing.  We speak of moral “excellence”.  No such thing can be said of immorality.  There is no “immoral excellence”.

“Dignified”?  “Having or expressing dignity” – “dignity” meaning  “the quality or state of being worthy of esteem or respect.”  Are we worthy of esteem and respect?  Yes.  Why? Because we are created in the image and likeness of God.  To be dignified is to act in a manner consistent with the dignity of our status as a child of God.

Living a true Christian femininity (or masculinity, for that matter) requires the same courage today as it did in the days of the early Christian martyrs.  Here is one example, celebrated today:

 

 

Saint Lucy (d. 304) (detail) 

by Paolo Veranesa (1528-1588)

SAINT LUCY (SANTA LUCIA)

Tradition tells us that Saint Lucy was born of noble, wealthy, Christian parents in Syracuse, Italy. Lucy had few memories of her father, for he died when Lucy was an infant. As a young girl, Lucy took a secret vow to consecrate her virginity to Christ. Thus her mother was quite dismayed when Lucy, as a teen, refused marriage to a young pagan. When Lucy’s mother developed a hemorrhage, Lucy persuaded her to visit the tomb of St. Agatha to pray for healing. When her mother was healed, Lucy revealed her vow of virginity and asked permission to bestow her fortune on the poor. Joyful at her cure, Lucy’s mother agreed, but Lucy’s pagan suitor was incensed. With the persecution of the emperor Diocletian at its height, the jilted young man accused Lucy, before a judge, of being a Christian. When Lucy refused to relinquish her faith, the judge ordered her to a brothel. However, guards who attempted to drag her to the house of sin were unable to budge her. Similarly an attempt to burn Lucy to death failed so she was dispatched by thrusting a sword into her throat. The date of Lucy’s martyrdom was December 13, 304.

(Text from The Confraternity of Penitents – http://www.penitents.org)

Interview with “Edward” – Robert Pattinson

For those of you who keep arguing that this is just “harmless” and don’t know what the big deal is – WAKE UP!  Here is some (unintentional) proof that something is rotten in the state of Denmark…

 

“How is the Twilight fandom is different from the Harry Potter movies? I think you’ve mentioned that the sound of the screams is even different.
It’s different because I think it’s almost solely females of a certain age group, and they have a very specific tone. It’s much more to do with the sort of sexuality aspect of it. So many girls made this guy [their ideal], so when they see you it’s like all of their energy is projected onto you. It’s a really strange experience. I’ve never been in an experience where people just want to touch you — it’s like being in a boy band.

Is it weird to have girls that are so young have this incredibly sexualized thing around you?
It’s weird that you get 8-year-old girls coming up to you saying, “Can you just bite me? I want you to bite me.” It is really strange how young the girls are, considering the book is based on the virtues of chastity, but I think it has the opposite effect on its readers though. [Laughs]

Do you think that’s part of it, though? One of the things that seems to make Edward so attractive to younger girls is that you can have it both ways. He’s the ultimate bad boy, and someone that you shouldn’t want, who would never harm you.

That’s exactly what it is. It’s a certain type of girl. I don’t know what it is — when you look at fan sites [you can tell] — but there’s definitely a very large fleet of people, it’s actually Americans, that want those type of guys…”

(This is from an interview with Rolling Stone -www.rollingstone.com)
FOLKS – this is not a book about chastity!  Chaste books don’t do this to little girls.  THAT is why it is having the effect that it is having. 

NEW POST 12/27: IMPORTANT: Do girls need “fantasy”?

Twilight’s Message re: Marriage and Family

As we continue to examine The Twilight Saga in the light of the Gospel, it is worth noting the negative treatment given to marriage and family life in the series. 

To begin, it is essential to know that Bella is the child of divorce, but has sought no healing for that wound.  The ongoing ramifications of her parents’ divorce permeate the story, but Bella does not seem to be aware of the impact it has had in shaping, or in this case, deforming her character.  Without healing, dysfunction breeds further dysfunction.

This is clear in Bella’s attitude toward both of her parents.  She refers to her parents by their first names. They do not hold a position of authority over her.  She treats them as somehow less than peers – almost as if they are her children.  This is what she says about her mother:

“I’d spent most of my life taking care of Renee, patiently guiding her away from her craziest plans, good-naturedly enduring the ones I couldn’t talk her out of.  I’d always been indulgent with my mom, amused by her, even a little condescending to her.  I saw her cornucopia of mistakes and laughed privately to myself.  Scatterbrained Renee.  I was a different person from my mother.  Someone thoughtful and cautious.  The responsible one, the grown up.  That’s how I saw myself.  That was the person I knew.”  (Eclipse, p.45)

Her mother, Renee, abandoned her father, Charlie, when Bella was only a few months old.  Renee took Bella with her, but allowed her to spend a month with her father every summer.  But her mother’s irresponsibility is one key to Bella’s problems: “I didn’t relate well to people my age.  Maybe the truth was that I didn’t relate well to people, period.”  (Twilight, p.10)  When a child is forced to parent their own parent, the world is turned upside down and the ability to relate to others is damaged.

This lack of a father is equally problematic for Bella.  She arrives at her dad’s house, greeted with “an awkward, one-armed hug” (Twilight, p. 5).  She walks in to see “a wedding picture of Charlie and my mom in Las Vegas, then one of the three of us in the hospital after I was born, taken by a helpful nurse, followed by the procession of my school pictures up to last year’s.  Those were embarrassing to look at… It was impossible, being in this house, not to realize that Charlie had never gotten over my mom.  It made me uncomfortable.  I didn’t want to be too early to school, but I couldn’t stay in the house anymore.”  (Twilight, p. 12)  When Bella’s father brings up a friend they would go fishing with during their summers together, she can’t remember the man, saying “I do a good job of blocking painful, unnecessary things from my memory.”  (Twilight, p. 6)  The memory of her parents’ marriage, the thought of her father’s vulnerability or pain, the lack of his presence growing up – this is all too much for Bella.  So, she has become adept at blocking things out – a skill that contributes enormously to her willingness to enter into an unhealthy (deadly) relationship.  In addition, we have this sentiment expressed by Bella when her father gets up early one morning to put snow chains on the tires of her truck: “My throat suddenly felt tight.  I wasn’t used to being taken care of, and Charlie’s unspoken concern caught me by surprise.”  (Twilight, p.55)  A show of concern makes her throat feel tight.  She has been so deprived of appropriate parental care that the experience of some causes a physical reaction.  That is serious.  However, the author never makes reference to Bella being abnormal or dysfunctional – but she is clearly both.

Is it any surprise, then, to witness Bella’s reaction to Edward’s desire to marry her:  “So you can ask for any stupid, ridiculous thing you want – like getting married – but I’m not allowed to even discuss what I…” (Eclipse, p.443) She never quite overcomes this sentiment that marriage is stupid and ridiculous, but she does consent to it in order to get Edward to agree to engage in sexual relations with her and allow her to become a vampire.  Shortly before the big day, we get some insight into her mind:  “I briefly contemplated my issues with words like fiance, wedding, husband, etc.   I just couldn’t put it together in my head.  On the one hand, I had been raised to cringe at the very thought of poofy white dresses and bouquets.  But more than that, I just couldn’t reconcile a staid, respectable, dull concept like husband with my concept ofEdward.  It was like casting an archangel as an accountant; I couldn’t visualize him in any commonplace role.” (Breaking Dawn, p.6)

And Bella’s attitude to becoming a mother?

“I’d never imagined myself as a mother, never wanted that.  It had been a piece of cake to promise Edward that I didn’t care about giving up children for him, because I truly didn’t.  Children, in the abstract, had never appealed to me.  They seemed to be loud creatures, often dripping some form of goo.  I’d never had much to do with them.  When I’d dreamed of Renee providing me with a brother, I’d always imagined anolder brother.  Someone to take care of me, rather than the other way around.”  (Breaking Dawn, p.132)

This is so, so very unnatural!  But it is consistent with her upbringing.  The girl spent her childhood parenting a parent.  Why would she want to be a parent again?  Nevertheless, she does seem to make an exception for Edward’s child, “This child, Edward’s child, was a whole different story.   I wanted him like I wanted the air to breathe.” (Breaking Dawn, p.132)  She uses the frightening term “wanted” – a common term used by pro-abortion forces –  “Every child a WANTED child” – as if the value of a child can be determined by the fact that it is wanted by the mother.

So for Bella, marriage is stupid and ridiculous, a husband is dull, and babies are loud creatures dripping goo (unless, of course, the child is WANTED).  Her painful, unhealed wounds left from her parents divorce shatter her concept of what is true, good and beautiful – and she is then held up as the heroine in the story in spite of life choices which amount to abject failure.  So tell me again – WHY should we let our daughters read this?

Perspective: Why take on Twilight? To fight for true femininity!

Time to provide some perspective.  I am posting extensively on The Twilight Saga.  Why?  

The Twilight Saga is an international sensation, but unlike other recent blockbusters (for example, the Harry Potter series), this fan base tilts very, very heavily towards females.  (One fan site listed a ratio of 31 registered females for every male, and I would venture to say it may be optimistic about the number of males.)  

Clearly, this is tapping into a perceived need in young ladies and some not-so-young.  For example, this is from the Twilight Moms website: “DO YOU THINK YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE whose life turned upside down when you read Twilight? Is your house a disaster with piles of piles of laundry in every corner and stacks of dirty dishes at record breaking heights? Have you imagined your husband is a vampire (or werewolf) and suddenly have the libido of newlywed again? Do you convince yourself that “cold cereal” makes a perfectly wholesome dinner? Is the pizza delivery boy now on your Christmas card list? Are your children free to run a muck as long as no one comes too you bleeding . . .(too badly)? Oh, you feel guilty, but that’s not enough! You still can’t tear yourself away from the book and damned be the consequences! The good new is- YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Fans of the Twilight Series in OUR STAGE of life (whether you’re a mom or not) now have a place where we can gather unashamed of our irrational obsession with vampires and werewolves.” see http://www.twilightmoms.com/About.php).  The tagline for their website is “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”.  Here are a group of grown women who wish to gather unashamed to indulge an obsession that prevents them from fulfilling their daily duties.  How must their husbands and children feel?  And what kind of example is this setting for young girls?  There is something deeper here that needs to be examined.

I maintain that Twilight, in essence, taps into a particular vulnerability in women and then provokes a certain obsessive response.  Bella, the protagonist in The Twilight Saga, expresses it very well here:  
“Here in his arms, it was so easy to fantasize that he wanted me.  I didn’t want to think about his motivations now – about whether he acted this way to keep me calm while we were still in danger, or if he just felt guilty for where we were and relieved that he wasn’t responsible for my death.  Maybe the time apart had been enough that I didn’t bore him for the moment.  But it didn’t matter.  I was so much happier pretending.  I lay quiet in his arms, re-memorizing his face, pretending…”  Bella in New Moon (p. 490)

Vulnerable young girls especially, but also some older women, are putting aside their lives because they, too, are “so much happier pretending”.  In a world where reality is making girls feel unloved or unloveable, fantasy has become for some a substitute for real love.  This kind of thing has been around for years.  Soap operas and romance novels have exploited this pain in the female psyche for generations by applying a topical analgesic that wears off quickly and keeps them applying more and more.  But a topical analgesic can never heal deep wounds in the heart.  What is most concerning this time around is that The Twilight Saga is being marketed successfully to a very wide, and young, audience.        

Unfortunately, girls grow up in an environment today where there is an increasing obfuscation of their beauty and worth.  Purity, graciousness and loveliness are not words commonly associated with young ladies today.  No doubt the years of effort on the part of organizations like Planned Parenthood are paying off – young women are being sexualized at such an early age that they have no time to be formed in virtue.  In her recent book Chosen and Cherished, author Kimberly Hahn writes, “Behavior fit for a prostitute a century ago now parades across the TV screen: sex with anyone, seductive dress, undignified conversation.  In contrast, consider older women you would describe as having godly womanliness.  I see in my mother and other older women the following qualities: 

a beauty that is attractive and radiant, not seductive and gaudy

a demeanor that is well-mannered and dignified

a disposition that is gentle and mild yet firm and respectful

a posture that is self-possessed and peaceful rather than frantic

a manner that is kind, warm and winsome rather than demanding

a spirit that is sacrificial rather than attention getting

an attitude that is lighthearted about things in general while holding convictions deeply

a heart that is responsive to her spouse and husband without being slavish
The list could go on.” (p.37/38)  

We have experienced a drastic decline in the formation of godly women, but of course, nothing that happens to women happens in a vacuum.  The entire culture is suffering from an acceptance of the crass as the norm.  The explosion of internet pornography use among men and boys is but one indicator.  Women and girls can feel like they are in a constantly competitive environment – and the competition is digitally altered images with no needs.  Real women are growing increasingly insecure for simply being real.   A growing number of girls long to be loved and yet consider themselves so unworthy of love that they truly will do anything and settle for anything to avoid abandonment.  The Twilight Saga does absolutely nothing to combat this disturbing trend.  In fact, it capitalizes on it very effectively.

Hahn goes straight to the root of the problem facing young women today and makes a very simple statement of fact:  “Whether or not you feel precious, God says that you are precious because he made you and he is redeeming you.”  She tells a story called “You Are Mine Twice”, in which a little boy whittles a toy boat, loses it one day and then rejoices to find it once again, for sale in a shop window.  Even though the shopkeeper insists that the boy pay for the boat, it is no obstacle to him in his quest to possess the boat once more.  He reclaims the boat, saying “Now you’re mine twice: First I made you; then I bought you back!” (p.11)  Hahn compares this to the love of God for each one of us.  The cure for our broken hearted daughters is not to surrender them to a culture that can do no more than apply a topical pain killer to their woundedness.  The surface appeal of the eroticism found in The Twilight Saga does just that, and by doing so wounds more completely.  The wounds already inflicted by the culture are exacerbated when young women are accompanied on a deeper descent into a spiral of use. These books merely extend the pornographic mentality of which they are both victims and willing participants.  This is not the conduct of a young woman who sees herself and others as precious children of God.  The only cure for young women today is to lead them into a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ, the Love they are yearning for, Who desires them in spite of their imperfections, Who longs to be one with them, Who will make them whole and from Whom they can never be separated.  Ave Crux, spes unica!

Beauty and Modesty

Something to remember in the midst of the Twilight hype….

 “How beautiful then is modesty and what a gem among virtues it is.”
          St. Bernard, Doctor of the Church 

Here we are in the middle of Fall!  Football season is surging ahead, leaves are piling up and our mornings have that special crispness in the air.  Orange, brown, red and yellow begin to replace the bright blues and greens of summer.  Fall is a beautiful time of year, and provides a meaningful backdrop for turning our thoughts to the question of beauty.   What, you might ask, does beauty have to do with our faith? 

It may surprise you to discover that the Catechism of the Catholic Church discusses beauty in several places.  Among them, Section 2129 of the Catechism quotes from the Book of Wisdom that God Himself is “the author of beauty”.  In section 341 of the Catechism, we read that “The beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator and ought to inspire the respect and submission of man’s intellect and will.”  These pave the way to help us understand our Christian life, which the Catechism speaks of in section 2784, quoting St. Gregory of Nyssa: “We must contemplate the beauty of the Father without ceasing to adorn our own souls accordingly”.

Because being human means having both a body AND a soul, the responsibility a Christian bears in adorning his or her soul relates directly the the adornment of his or her body.  In fact, in section 2519 of the Catechism, we are instructed that the meaning of the phrase “pure in heart”, used by Jesus Himself in the Beatitudes (Gospel of Matthew 5:8) describes a disposition in our hearts which “lets us perceive the human body – ours and our neighbor’s – as a temple of the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of divine beauty.”  Purity of heart is a precondition for seeing God. 
In other words, we cannot go to Heaven without a pure heart.

This is why modesty is essential in the life of a Christian.  The Catechism states in section 2521 that “purity requires modesty”.  “Modesty protects the intimate center of the person.  It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden.  It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness.  It guides how one looks at others and behaves towards them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.”  Modesty also “inspires one’s choice in clothing”.  Our daughters in particular need help to be beautiful and modest!  

Baptism is the Sacrament which purifies us from all sin, but most of us were baptized a long time ago.  We continue to struggle with sin and temptation.  How, then, do we adorn our souls accordingly?  How do we restore the purity of our hearts?  Jesus has given us another Sacrament – it is known by different names – it is called Confession, Reconciliation or Penance.  In this Sacrament, Jesus washes away our sins with His Precious Blood.  He brings us help, hope and healing.  Failings in purity and modesty need to be confessed if we want to go to Heaven.  The call to Confession is an invitation to be beautiful!

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