Friday, December 14, 2007

Advent of chastity

"Scripture and Christian tradition emphasize that Jesus was born of a virgin to underscore the fact that he had no human father and also to teach an important truth, namely, that in order for something sublime to be born there must, first, be a proper chastity, a proper time of waiting, a season of advent. Why?

"The answer lies in properly understanding chastity. Chastity is not, first of all, something to do with sex. Chastity has to do with how we experience reality in general, all experience. To be chaste is to have proper reverence - towards God, towards each other, towards nature, towards ourselves, towards reality in general, and towards sex.

"Lack of chastity is irreverence, in any area of life, sex included. And reverence is a lot about proper waiting. We can see this by looking at its opposite: To lack chastity, to be irreverent, is to be impatient, selfish, callous, immature, undisciplined, or boorish in any way so that our actions deprive someone else of his or her full uniqueness, dignity, and preciousness. And we do this every time we short-circuit waiting.

Thus, it is understandable why the prime analogate for chastity is proper reverence in the area of sex. Sex, because it so deeply affects the soul, speaks most loudly about chastity or lack of it. ... We violate chastity in sex whenever there is prematurity, unfair pressure, subtle manipulation, crass force, taking without giving, posturing an intimacy we don’t mean, lack of respect for previous commitments, disregard for the wider relationships of family and community, or failure to respect long-range happiness and health. ...

"Chastity is about proper waiting and waiting is about patience in carrying the tensions and frustrations we suffer as we live the unfinished symphony that constitutes our lives."

Ron Rolheiser, from his December 9 column, "Advent — A Time to Learn How to Wait."

Thanks to James Prindiville for the tip.