Thursday, January 1, 2015

Chistians Slaughtered in the Middle East: Where is Pope Francis?

      Devout Catholics do not like to be critical of the Pope.  After all, the Pope is believed to be in direct communion with God.  However, the Pope is only infallible when God is speaking to him as he sits “in the chair of Peter.”  Otherwise the Pope is just as human as the rest of us and he does make mistakes. 

         Pope Francis seems a peculiar type of shepherd.  While Christians are being killed in the most gruesome fashion in the Middle East, the Pope is talking about global warming, of all things.  Global warming!  Global warming is a political issue, not one of science, regardless of the claims made by environmentalists.  After all, it was some of these same environmentalists who manipulated and in some cases even destroyed the so-called scientific evidence they said their theory of global warming proved beyond any doubt.  If their documentation actually did prove global warming, they would have been running for the cameras and every type of publication they could find with that evidence, not destroying it.

         The Pope’s job is the shepherding of his flock.  While Pope Francis has made statements condemning the violence against Christians in the Middle East, so far he has not called for military intervention, which is necessary under the current circumstances.  Instead, the Pope has called for more discussion with the terrorists – as if people who behave like animals are capable of rational discussion about the issue of slaughtering their fellow humans. 

         The type of Islam practiced by jihadists is political, not religious.  It is a religion in the same way, ironically, as global warming is.  This slaughtering of innocent children in the most unthinkable ways is an effort to control the truly devout Muslim community as well as non-Muslims. Like global warming, the type of Islam practiced by terrorists is in no way the demonstration of a religion that worships God.  So why is the Pope suggesting we continue the useless practice of dialog with these individuals?

         Pacifism is dangerous and in some ways evil.  It can be argued that most pacifists have good intentions, but if their rally to non-violence at all costs leads to the catastrophes we are seeing in places like Libya, Iraqi and other nations in the Middle East, they are contributing to the problem.  And a man like Pope Francis is very influential.  His flock is watching him and many will be tempted to follow his lead because of who he is.  And the last thing we need right now is more pacifists.  How will this help the Christians who are being slaughtered? There is a record low of Christians in the Middle East because they are fleeing.  Meanwhile the Pope is encouraging Christians to stay in that part of the world.  While it is important that we not let ourselves be bullied by dictators and thugs, most people are not looking to be slaughtered if it can be avoided.

         Military intervention as a means of self-defense is part of Church doctrine.  While it is admirable to limit military force whenever possible, at what point will the Pope call for the Western World to use it?  If not when Christians are being slaughtered because of their belief in Jesus Christ, refusing to denounce their faith and leaving the only part of the world they’ve ever known as home, what will it take?  The Pope obviously does not have access to a military, but because of his position his words are important. 

         What of the people who refused to renounce their Christian faith and were executed for it?  Are they not seen by the Church as martyrs?  Why has the Pope not spoken about the deep love for Jesus these people have shown, some of them children?  Where are the speeches pointing to the courage of these people?  Most of us watch in horror from our comfortable settings as these atrocities occur.  These slaughtered Christians did not simply talk about their love of God, they displayed it in the most dramatic way - by giving their very lives on earth because of their dedication to Jesus.  Their examples for the rest of us to fight for Christian values need to be pointed out and applauded.  If these people willingly died rather than turn away from their Christian faith, surely we can do everything in our power to persuade others to turn to God for the first time, as well as invite fallen Christian to go back to God.

         The Pope is only one man. He cannot do everything and as Christians it is our duty to help spread The Good News.  But the Pope is the leader of the Catholic Church with wide influence among non-Catholic Christians.  We are watching and he needs to lead in the fight to save Christians in the Middle East.  What does the Pope’s lack of any practical involvement in this matter tell Christians all over the world?  It tells us that if jihadists begin these horrific practices in the West, he may not be there for us.  And with a president like Barack Obama, the idea of terrorists slaughtering innocent people in the West as they are our Christian brethren in the Middle East is not beyond the pale.

         So what can we do?  We can start by contacting our representatives and leaning on them for military intervention for our Christian brethren.  We can contact the Vatican and express our concern and sadness that this is taking place, encouraging the call for military action in an effort to stop it.  But most of all, we can lead the most holy life we can, in accordance to the Word of God and the example of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  It is important that all devout Christians do these things for our love for God.  We need to pray daily for those being persecuted and for those working to help them.  We are watching the Pope, and God is watching us.   The depth of our dedication is reflected in our actions and inactions.  How deep is your devotion?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Five Ways to Grow your Parish

         Adding members to your parish is always desirable because increased church membership means more community and more people bringing time, talent and treasure to your church.  You will also be able to spread the good news to more people.  It is not difficult to expand the number of people who enthusiastically attend your services.  Making some small changes will make for standing room only.

         1.  Increase Expectations:  This is something parish leaders tend to be hesitant to do because they believe that if they are too hard on people they will not attend church.  It turns out the opposite is true!  Parishes that set their expectations high see a greater better attendance rate than those with lower responsibility on the parts of parishioners. 

People want to be a part of something that is significant.  While some people attend church because they feel guilty if they don’t, this can wear off over time, especially since most Americans today attend church less than once a week.  In an environment like that, people begin to justify not going to church because others they know do not attend and they seem like good people.  Even for those who do go to church every Sunday, it can become something that is seen as a chore and is done and forgotten once they leave the church grounds.  Obviously, this is not idea.  Church leaders want parishioners to carry God’s message with them constantly.  The reason for attending services is to know God better and to get closer to him.  Otherwise it is almost like entering, saying a short “hi” to God, and then leaving without further discourse or contemplation.  Increasing the expectations of church goers will bring together what priests and ministers aim to do:  it will help parishioners know God better, it will increase the spirituality of parishioners, and it will increase the number of parishioners in your church.

         You want to start out relatively small and gradually work your way up to higher expectations.  For instance, start out explaining why it is important to be on time for church and why people should stay until the end.  When folks do come in late, the priest or minister might look at them in a fatherly, “I’m disappointed” way.  This works well if you are an involved priest or minister because your parish members are your children and when you act as such, parishioners respond accordingly.

         2.  Always show you are happy to be there.  Sure there are times when you are tired or just not in the mood to deal with every perceived or real crises people come to you with.  But while God is the ultimate leader of the church, people look to you as an example.  Always want to be there for God and his people.  This will have an amazing effect on parishioners.  Your happiness to be there worshipping with parish members will be contagious and pretty soon they will look forward to attending services.

         3.  Provide a parish newsletter.  Most churches provide bulletins containing information about upcoming events, letters from the pastor and sections where volunteers are thanked for their hard work.  The newsletter serves a different purpose.  If it is written and illustrated well, it helps parishioners understand God’s word more deeply.  Most services last only an hour and that just isn’t enough time to explain the week’s readings in depth.  Most priests and ministers do a wonderful job explaining the meat and potatoes of the readings, and some even include a short statement about how to implement God’s word into the parishioners’ daily lives.  Implementation of God’s word on an everyday basis is of such importance it needs a section all its own.  This is where the newsletter comes in.  It allows people to read more about the lessons of the week when they are not distracted by children running up the church isle, people coughing, texting and talking.  In addition, a newsletter is fabulous for explaining other things that is crucial to Christianity that the church rarely has the time to explain.  You can have volunteers run the newsletter.  There are many people sitting in the pews looking for opportunities to help the church, but have schedules that will not accommodate a strict schedule.  The newsletter editor and his volunteers can do most of the work from home.  In addition, many people are passionate about their faith and are eager to share it with others.  The newsletter gives these people the opportunity to do just that.

         4.  Now and then take time to explain exactly what is being done and why.  When parishioners truly understand what is happening and its significance, they are more likely to embrace it with enthusiasm rather than just going through the motions.  For instance, a priest recently took the time to explain why Catholics make the sign of the cross and what it means.  Another priest once explained why it is important to dress respectfully for church.  These explanations coming from a trusted and respected priest or minister tend to be met with more faithful execution from those in the pews.

         5.  Make a showing at events.  Whenever possible, the pastor or minister might consider making at least a short appearance at church events. This boosts enthusiasm.  And when those attending the event tell others the priest or pastor showed up, more people are likely to attend the next church event.

         Go at the pace you think your parishioners will respond best to.  Remember, the above suggestions do not all have to be implemented at once.  Put them in place over time and watch your parish soar to new heights.



Five Ways to Find Your Calling

         As devoted Christians we realize that answering the call of God is of utmost importance.  How can we rightly serve God if we do not know what he is asking of us?  We are aware that God expects us to forgive, to act kindly, to avoid bad behavior, to be patient and to do our best to avoid falling into sin.  But what, specifically, is it in terms of our careers, family and volunteer work that God is asking of us?  For some people, the answer to this question seems to be dropped in their laps from God himself.  Others must work quite hard to figure out what they are here to do.  For those who are unsure of God’s calling for them, the answer might seem to change constantly.  Others never seem to find their calling and they remain as confused in mid-life as they were as teenagers.

         While only God knows what he has in mind for you, and only he will let you know what that calling is in his time, there are some hints you might be missing.  Why waste another day wondering?  These five ways to find your calling will help you assess whether or not you are on the right path.  They will also help those of you who are so lost you don’t know where to begin.

      What talents do you have?

      There is a strong temptation to enter into a field that pays well.  And there is nothing wrong with earning a good living, so long as you are responsible and generous!  The problem comes in when we try to do something we are not very good at because we want the rewards of having a certain position.  The truth is, God gave you – yes YOU - specific gifts he expects you to use.  If you are highly creative and are going for a degree in accounting you might be off track.  God never gives us a good set of skills he does not intend for us to use in some positive way.  It can take some research and soul-searching, but somewhere there is a need for your unique skill set.

      What’s your passion?

      This one is a little trickier because our passions sometimes get in the way of what we are called to do, especially if we are making something important to us that is not important to God.  For instance, many people have a passion for the outdoors, the arts, politics and religion.  But there is only so much need for certain things that many people are passionate about.  This does not mean you should not take your passion into consideration – not by a long shot.  What you are passionate about may be your calling.  Read on.

      What makes you want to pursue your passion?

      Try to think like Jesus.  When did Jesus put his own desires and needs before that of his people?  He didn’t.  Likewise, if your passion is say, politics, what do you want to do regarding politics?  Run for office?  If so, why?  If you long for a political career mainly for the opportunity to control the lives of others or for the privileges that come with being a politician, you can safely say you are pursuing the wrong dream.  As a Christian, you are to put God first and others before yourself.  That’s quite a concept in today’s world.  And for the Christian politician, this means you absolutely must do what is right according to the Constitution because you swear to uphold it.  If you want to become a politician because you want to change people’s lives without their say-so, move on, soldier.  The same concept can be applied to any passion.

      How will I contribute to the lives of others?

      You can help others directly (nurse) or indirectly (engineer), but what you do must be for the good of others, not only yourself.  While almost any job will cater to some need people have, you must be able to carry out your duties with a spirit similar to that of Jesus.  If you show up for work only for the paycheck, you are probably in the wrong field.  Moreover, some people find themselves bored during the work day and wind up wasting a lot of time on social networks.  But you are being paid to work, not to network.  How do you think God feels about your goofing off half the day and getting paid for a full day’s work? 

      Try It!

      After thoroughly praying about, thinking about and assessing what your calling might be, as long as you are painfully honest with yourself – try it!  Of course, if you are not good at math but have always loved the idea of designing fighter planes, your passion might be ahead of your abilities.

            Many people stress over the fact that they have such a desire to do something, but not the ability.  Don’t worry about it.  Remember, our motives are often self-serving and not of God, even if we do not always recognize it.  If you have an idea to do something that utilizes your unique talents and passions, and the reason you are passionate about it is more than self-serving rewards, give it a go.  Even if you are initially wrong about the direction you are taking, God will help you find the right path.

            The main idea is to give of yourself using the talents and skills God has blessed you with.  Remember that you are working for God above all and others before yourself and you almost can’t go wrong.  If you keep your mind and heart focused in this way, you will be in constant prayer with God.  So evaluate your talents, skills and passions, then get to work.  By actively seeking the Will of God, he will guide you to where he intends for you to be in every aspect of your life.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Take God with You

July and August are the most popular vacation months.  Perhaps you are planning to go to a favorite resort, or maybe you’re just staying in the area, enjoying the week off from work.

Whatever you do, remember to keep God with you!  For all Christians this is a must, and Catholics are required to attend Mass on Sundays.  Going to church while on vacation can be a very inspiring experience.  Many cities are home to old, in some cases ancient, Cathedrals.  These churches were built to hold hundreds of people and they took years to build, some over a century.  The statues in these magnificent works of art were meticulously and lovingly carved and the churches tower high and above surrounding buildings.

Unlike today's smaller, more modern churches these large, beautiful Cathedrals demonstrate the importance of God in the lives of the people at the time the old churches were built.  Houses of worship back in the era in which they were crafted were seen as a source of knowledge and wisdom and the architecture reflects that.  The old churches were obviously the center and pride of the city and their crafters worshipped God through the long, hard hours and much patience it took to build them.  Many of those workers began building these awesome churches knowing they would not live to see them to completion, yet they tallied on all for the glory of God.

The devout Christian will especially appreciate what all the details of these churches imply.  They are breathtaking and well worth visiting.  As you observe these old churches you will be struck by how much love and attention went into building them.  There is a sharp contrast indeed between the churches of old and our small, modern, well-lit churches of today. 

As you worship in these beautiful works of art, don't be surprised if your experience is different than it is on other Sundays.  These buildings were made specifically to help people worship more fervently.  The Catholic Church is sometimes criticized for using expensive resources for their churches.  But the atmosphere of a church can make a big difference in the way in which people worship.  Churches are houses of God and Catholics believe that by making God’s house beautiful and by providing a prayerful atmosphere people will be more open to feeling God’s presence while honoring him.  Our relationship with God is all important, so it only makes sense to do all we can to encourage, inspire and guide people to God.  More than anything, God wants us to love him and to show our love by obedience, by putting him above all, and by helping others to know him.  Making God’s house a place where his people go to better feel his presence and worship him more fully is a great place to start.

Our Dear Lord never forgets us, nor does he leave us.  No matter how far we travel, he is near.  It is worth the small bit of extra preparation to attend church while you are away.  Remember, no matter what your accomplishments you would never have achieved them without the help and love of Almighty God.  He watches over you and guards your health and safety.  Give him the proper thanks and praise while you are away.

Old churches built all those years ago have a story to tell.  Once upon a time God was the center of the lives of most people and it showed.  So while you are on vacation, you might want to resist the temptation to go to the most convenient church if there is an old church full of history in the area.  But no matter what church in which you choose to worship, be sure to keep the Sabbath holy.  The Lord will smile upon you and your soul will bask in the glory of his love.

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

Hebrews 13:5


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Prayer for Religious Liberty

Mary Immaculate
Patroness of Our Country
Pray for Us    
A Prayer for Religious Liberty
from your provident hand we have received our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  You have called us as your people and given us the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God, and your Son, Jesus Christ.  Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.  Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome - for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us - this great land will always be " one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
*Copyright 2012, United States of Catholic Bishops, D.C.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Honor Thy Father

Honor Thy Father
What are you doing to honor your father this Father’s Day?  Scrambling to find the appropriate gift or card?  Trying to find time in your schedule to visit your father?  Perhaps you and your father never speak to nor see each other.  Maybe you never knew your father or possibly do not even know who your father is and you’re thinking, “I’m off the hook.” 
Not so fast, my friend.
Fatherhood can be the best experience of a man’s life and fathers are extraordinarily important to the family.  Of course they must be loving and giving for this to work out the way God intended and when men accept the role as dedicated father to their biological or adopted children, they make a world of difference in the lives of their children.  Even God gave Mary her beloved spouse Joseph to look after her and to be the earthly guardian of Jesus.  That’s a pretty strong testament to the importance of fathers.
If your father has been loving and loyal try to honor him on his special day, even if it interferes with your busy schedule.  A good father should be recognized and praised for his dedication, hard work and perseverance in raising you trouble makers (you know who you are).  Stopping by, if at all possible, and spending time with him will probably mean more to most fathers than the fanciest gift.  If you cannot be with him, remember him in some way that will stay with him.  He’s always been there for you.
Unfortunately, there are many people who grew up with bad fathers.  They may have been abusive, substance abusers or just not selfless enough to be the father they were called to be.  Then there are the absent fathers, those who have abandoned the family.  There is often anger, even hatred, towards such men by their own offspring.
When people have serious issues when their children are born, they are often not ready to be parents.  It is very hard to be as self-giving as we need to be in order to be good parents when we are burdened with problems that sometimes result from our own poor choices or for no fault of our own.  Some fathers even honestly believe that the family will be better off without them and so they are absent, not because they wish to forget about their children, but because they actually believe they are more of a burden than a blessing.  But how can this be?  Don’t they understand they are needed in the family?  The idea that fathers are not important has been long in the making.
Since the Women’s Movement in the sixties, women have been praised, encouraged, hired for important positions that some were not well qualified for.  Women are granted leave from their jobs to have children and they have been given victim status for many things.  It’s gotten so outrageous that a woman only need claim she’s been hit or raped and the man she has accused is arrested with no questions asked.  Women complained that it wasn’t fair they could not be firefighters even while most do not have the physical strength to carry out the job as well as most men, so criteria was lowered in order for women to pass the physical test.  The same goes for the military, police work and most other jobs that require a lot of physical strength.  Single moms have been praised by the media for having “courage” for years.
At the same time, men have been given a bad rap.  They are constantly seen as buffoons who can’t fold a shirt to save their lives on sitcoms.  Joke after joke is told about men that would not only be seen as unfunny if a man told the same joke about a woman, but people would be outraged.  There’s an entire industry dedicated to slogans such as “girls rule,” girls can do anything boys can do, only better”, etc.  Imagine men with similar slogans.  They would be called sexist by most of the media, held up as women-haters and some would have to take “sensitivity training” at their place of employment.  These constant hits can’t help but eventually have an impact on the way men see themselves and their roles in everything, including fatherhood.
Not all men are deeply faithful to God.  Those who are realize it is what God thinks that is important, not women, the media, etc.  But even the deeply faithful are surrounded by this negative talk about men on such a regular basis that some of them even begin to doubt their own abilities and their place in society and the family.  This is not an excuse for a man to abandon his family, nor is it a get-out-of-jail-free card.  It’s simply an explanation.
If you grew up with a loving, dedicated father in the midst of all this, count yourself truly blessed.  Men who are loyal to their families are much harder to come by today than they were before the age of feminism.  Thank God for blessing you with such an amazing father.  But if you have had an absent or abusive father and you still feel anger or resentment in your heart, you must forgive him.  There may have been no excuse for his behavior and you may believe your life would have been galaxies better with a loving, supportive father, but as a Christian you are obligated to forgive him.  It doesn’t matter what your mom says about him, either.  Some women have forgiven the men who abandoned them and their children, but there are others who take their downright hatred of these men to the grave.  Your life will be much lighter, happier and pleasing to God if you forgive and forget, just as our Lord Jesus Christ forgives us when we repent.
Let us also remember that the Lord commands us to honor our father and our mother.  It does not say in the bible that we are to honor them unless they were absent, workaholics, alcoholics or abusive.  Through all their faults, fathers were chosen by God to be a part of the miracle that is you.
This Father’s Day, give our Heavenly Father a real gift.  Forgive your father for anyway in which he has hurt or harmed you, offer it up to the Lord and get on with what it is you are here to do.  We never know how much time we have left regardless of our age.  Don’t waste another second on carrying a grudge, self-pity or hatred.  Wrap your mind around the imperfections of the human race and on Father’s Day formally forgive your father, offer your past and present suffering up to the Lord and praise Him.  He will smile upon you.
So Happy Father’s Day to all the awesome dads on earth!  And especially, Happy Father’s Day to Our Heavenly Father.   
Judge not and you will not be judged;
Condemn not and you will not be condemned;
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Luke 6:37

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Oh True Love

Oh True Love

June is just around the corner and many happy couples are about to stand before God and the community to recite their vows to love and cherish one another forever.  Their promises to love, come good or bad, will be such that only death itself will be able to part them.  What a truly joyful occasion it is!  Marriage, children – the family – is one of the most sacred institutions on earth, which is why the Catholic Church calls it the domestic church.  The sanctity of this union is often expressed by the couple’s decision to be married in a church, for the bride to wear a white gown and to include Biblical Scripture during the ceremony.

True love is a much more difficult concept than many people realize.  Feeling warm and fuzzy towards someone and imagining the perfect life you will have together is easy and often a distortion of reality.   True love always seeks to serve others before themselves.  This can be tough when we are in bad moods, having trouble at work, tired.  But true love perseveres regardless of how hard it can be.  Following God and pleasing him are all important in our quest for a long and happy marriage.  We simply cannot have a good married life without serving others and thereby serving God.

Most couples today have already offended God by living together and/or having pre-marital sex.  Christians know this is wrong but they rationalize that because they love each other it’s okay to engage in sexual activity as long as it is only with one another.  Besides, you’re getting married anyway, right?

The truth is that it is never okay to be sexually active outside of marriage.  There are reasons why it’s important to God that we wait until we are formally married before we engage in sexual activity.  Couples who are sexually active and are not married do not have to fret or stop reading this column because they don’t want to face what they’ve done.  The solution is to go to confession, then wait until you are married before engaging in further sexual activity.  God will forgive and forget as long as you are sincere.

Let’s face it, today even many Christians are more secular than they are Christian.  To be fair, it’s difficult not to fall into the traps of secularism.  It’s all around us and “everybody is doing it.”  It’s gotten so bad that chastity until marriage is not even looked at as important anymore.  But it is very important to God and it is important for our souls. True love always, always does what is best for the other person.   And it is never good for one’s spouse-to-be or for oneself to give into the very strong temptation to engage in sex before marriage.  While living in the here and now, we cannot afford to forget about our souls.  True love is taking care of the soul of our beloved first and foremost.  If we give into their request for sex before marriage, even though it is wrong in the eyes of God, we do not love them the way we think we do.  We love ourselves before them and we are putting both ourselves and our beloved before God who was so gracious to have made our beloved and bless us with him or her.  We may not want our spouse-to-be to get mad at us or make us feel uncomfortable for refusing to have sex before we take our vows.  It’s certainly much easier to give in.  But whenever we put others before God or ourselves before our beloved, we can be sure we are not demonstrating true love, regardless of how we feel.

Lust is a very dangerous sin.  According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, lust is described as “disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure.  Sexual pleasure is morally misordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes” (par 2351).  Our Dear Lady of Fatima told the visionaries that more souls are condemned to Hell for disobeying God’s command to purity than for any other sin.

Not long ago I heard a woman say she had been living with a man for several years and they had intended to get married.  She said they have two children with a third on the way and the man who was supposed to marry her now has changed his mind.  You see, this sort of thing can always happen – and it does happen more than you might realize – regardless of how positive you are that you will eventually get married to the person you are living with.  But even if you do get married after engaging in pre-marital sex you are not off the hook.  Taking your sacred vows before God is crucial because, believe it or not, sex is sacred.  It is holy, when carried out with the right attitude of giving (which consists of leaving open the possibility of children) and not abusive or abused.  Sex is not meant to be a recreational activity.

The best gift you can give to one another is to be as pure as possible.  Even if in the past you have failed at this you can redeem yourself and start anew.  By continuing to engage in something that is meant to be sacred you make yourself less and less pure.  It also gets more and more difficult to see the marital act the way God intends for us to see and experience it when we have disordered sex that is not giving and loving, but is done primarily for the sake of feeling good.

Like everything else, this will be more difficult for some people than for others.  Some people may not be engaged to a spouse-to-be who follows his or her Christian faith or he or she may not be Christian at all.  This is something to think about because if you are to live a good Christian life your spouse should be on board with your doing what is right in the eyes of God.  If abstinence until you are married is particularly difficult, you must pray for the grace to be pure every day, several times a day.  Stay clear from anything that may tempt you, that might give you lustful thoughts or feelings.  Finally, stay humble.  Remember that you cannot rely on yourself if you are to remain pure.  You need God’s grace.  So remind yourself that you are nothing without God and that you can do nothing without Him.  Then pray that God might help you to be pure.

Once you are married you must continue to guard your soul against lust.  While sex within marriage is a great gift the misuse of it leads to the destruction of the soul.

Blessings to all of you who are married or about to be married!  May you and your family be surrounded by God’s grace.

Let neither gluttony nor lust overcome me,

And do not surrender me to a shameless soul.
Sirach 23:6