Canadian Bishops Challenge Youth to Live Chastity

Encourage Counter-Cultural Following of Christ

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OTTAWA, Ontario, MARCH 3, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Canadian bishops are challenging young people to live their sexuality joyfully by living it truthfully, as God intended, by the exercise of chastity.

The Episcopal Commission for Doctrine of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops published a pastoral letter to young people on chastity.

The prelates acknowledged that "with so many voices and opinions about sex, it is often confusing to know how we are to use this precious gift."

They explained: "From the dawn of creation God gave us more than one language to speak. Besides the gift of speech, he gave us our body.

"This body expresses itself through gestures that are themselves a language. Just as our words reveal who we are, so also does our body language."

"The Lord intends that we speak this 'sexual language' truthfully because it is the way to live our sexuality joyfully," the bishops affirmed.

"This truthful living out of the sexual language of our bodies is what the Church calls 'chastity,'" they added.

Truly loving

"Chastity expresses respect for persons and their capacity for self-giving," the letter affirmed. "It assures us that we are being loved for ourselves and that we are loving others for themselves and not only for the pleasure they can give us."

It continued, "In a culture that wants things immediately, chastity also teaches us to wait."

"To live chastely means not to give in to pressure which can come from friends who think that engaging in sexual activity defines masculinity or femininity," the bishops stated.

They observed, "Today's prejudice against chastity is especially disturbing because of the view of sexuality it implies: that we 'hook-up' with each other for pleasure."

"Not only is this an offense against the dignity of the person being used but it also holds the user in bondage to practices that cause physical, emotional and psychological harm," the prelates said.

"Moreover, despite its prevalence, the enslaving and addictive effects of pornography, especially on the Internet, cannot be minimized or made light of," they warned.

"Chastity requires constant discipline," the prelates stated. "It means the right ordering of our hearts: Put God first, and everything else will follow."

Sexual maturity

They acknowledged that "the efforts to control one's sexual drives can be difficult, even painful."

"Yet control over them gradually leads men and women to sexual maturity and brings inner peace," the bishops affirmed.

They continued: "To live chastely today means to go against the grain!

"We are called to follow Jesus, to be counter-cultural."

"If we want to find serenity and joy, then we must live in accord with God's will," the prelates urged. "He has created us in his image, and if we live according to his commandments we will be happy."

"Chastity is a challenge -- but it is not impossible," they stated.

Real friends

The letter noted: "We can surround ourselves with friends who also want to live in a chaste manner: people who will support us on our journey.

"We can dress modestly, recognizing that we are all created in the image and likeness of God, and that our bodies are sacred.

"We can choose our entertainment wisely, seeking what uplifts the human spirit and expresses truth, beauty and goodness."

"Most importantly," the bishops stated, "we can live our union with Christ by receiving the sacraments regularly, particularly the sacrament of reconciliation."

They noted that "the practice of confessing not only sins of impurity but also of discussing our temptations with a spiritual guide can help purify our minds and hearts."

"This can teach us the humility we need to accept our weaknesses," the prelates stated, "while at the same time providing us the Lord's strength to grow in chastity."

They affirmed that "the more we accept chastity and make it our way of life, the more people around us will sense that the Holy Spirit dwells within us."

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On the Net:

Pastoral letter: www.cccb.ca/site/images/stories/pdf/chastity_en.pdf