Hi friends and welcome to the Arise, Beloved blog. We have an amazing team of writers behind this blog and our desire is to speak truth into the lies that cripple us and shine light into the darkness that isolates us because we believe that now, more than ever, the Church desperately needs women to be restored so that the world can be set ablaze. Our hope is that you find comfort, solace, and peace in knowing that you are not alone, you are not too far gone and there is ALWAYS hope to be found.
// Megan Byers //
Last year, I had the privilege of making an 8 day silent retreat. The retreat was a shorter, more condensed version of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises which typically are 30 days long.
One of my meditations was Joseph’s perspective of The Nativity (Matthew 1:18-25). I didn’t know a lot about St. Joseph before the retreat, but I left with a new spiritual father and friend. His protection and pursuit were consoling during those 8 days and I learned a lot about him. This specific meditation gave me a closer look into the relationship between Mary and Joseph and the virtue of chastity.
Mary had returned from Judah and broke the news to Joseph about her pregnancy. I saw Joseph’s struggle as a righteous man, I saw his love for Mary, I saw how desperately he wanted to believe her. I saw his joy when he woke up after being visited in a dream by an angel. I saw his pursuit, his humility in asking for Mary’s forgiveness. I saw their reunion, the hopeless romantic in me wanted it to be dramatic and full of passion, but it was simple, pure, chaste.
After each meditation St. Ignatius calls the person making the retreat to enter into a colloquy, a conversation with God the Father, Jesus, Mary, and/or other saints. During my colloquy, I spoke to Mary and Joseph.
I was almost angry with them for being a married couple that loved each other with perfect chastity! It seemed so easy for them, but for me, a single woman, practicing chastity was a challenge. I looked at both of them and screamed “HOW DID YOU REMAIN CHASTE?” The answer was immediate and simple, grace.
It never occurred to me to ask God for the grace to be chaste. I can ask for help. I’m not alone.
I’ve spent many hours in prayer mourning with my younger self. I look back and see a wounded girl that was teased by her friends for not understanding crude jokes, but she wasn’t alone. I see a girl that was tired of being known by her virginity, but she wasn’t alone. I see a girl, desperate for love, that when she finally got a boyfriend she thought “as long as I don’t have sex, I’m still being chaste,” but she wasn’t alone. I see the Lord so clearly in those moments, looking at me with love, his heart breaking that I couldn’t see myself as He sees me.
Chastity. God desires to give me the grace of chastity, but I don’t have to wait until I am in a relationship to receive this grace. Everybody is called to be chaste! Every baptized Christian pledges to live chastity, according to their state in life.
As a single woman, chastity looks like practicing self-control and not spending all of my money online shopping. It looks like making my bed in the morning. It looks like fasting for my future spouse. It looks like taking care of my body by working out and eating right. It looks like praying daily, remaining open to receiving the graces God desires to give me right now.
Since I am not in a romantic relationship, loving my friends is a way I can practice chastity. “The virtue of chastity blossoms in friendship” (CCC 2347). Practicing chastity in friendship allows the disciple to imitate Christ, it draws the faithful into spiritual communion. It prepares us for the physical communion of heaven which is modeled on earth by marital love. In a way, learning how to live chastity in friendship prepares you to enter into spousal love.
The beauty of this virtue is that it allows for growth. Later in life, if I get married or enter religious life, the way I practice chastity will change. There will always be ways that I can grow in chastity. I will have more to learn, but I won’t be alone. The Lord will always be willing to give me the grace to be chaste, and St. Joseph will always be there to remind me of this truth.
St. Joseph is known by many names, he is the patron of the universal church and of workers and fathers and happy deaths. He is called “terror of demons,” but he came to my aid with a chaste heart. He came to my aid with a heart that is pure and humble and full of graces from the Father.
Chaste Heart of St. Joseph, pray for us.