(continued from the last edition)
We continue in this edition with the meaning of Chastity and its importance in the lives of our teens.
3.2 Chastity is Self-Mastery
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches that “chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.” Chastity is refraining from all acts or thoughts that are not in accordance with the Church's teaching about the use of one's reproductive powers. It particularly stresses restraint and an avoidance of anything that might defile or make unclean the soul because the body has not been controlled in the exercise of its most domineering passion. In other words, every person knows, by experience, that chastity requires rejecting certain thoughts, words, and sinful actions. To achieve this requires ability and an attitude of self-mastery which are signs of inner freedom, of responsibility toward oneself and others. Such self-mastery involves both avoiding occasions which might provoke or encourage sin as well as knowing how to overcome one's own natural instinctive urges. TEENS MUST BE HELPED TO ACHIEVE SELF-MASTERY!
3.3 Young People Yearn for True Love
The truth is that young people thirst for love (as we have already seen in my previous Article). They want to know what it is, how to recognise the counterfeits, and how to find the real thing. Because the human mind has been made for truth, teens hunger for it. Because their hearts have been created for love, they will not be satisfied with anything less. When someone tells them that they are capable of heroic sacrifice they often appreciate the challenge. St. John Paul II, a Pope for the young aptly captures this point:
Young people are always searching for the beauty in love. They want their love to be beautiful. If they give in to weakness, following (worldly) models of behaviour … in the depths of their hearts they still desire a beautiful and pure love. This is as true of boys and as it is of girls. Ultimately, they know that only God can give them this love. As a result, they are willing to follow Christ without caring about the sacrifices this may entail.
Yes. Chastity it is. Instead of taking something away from these teens, chastity has something to offer them. It teaches them to overcome selfishness so that they can be free to love. Because so many teens have suffered through heartache, broken families, and untold amounts of confusion in their relationships, they are pining for something that can offer them hope, meaning, and clarity. Chaste living can do all this!. So, mothers, be courageous, “do not be afraid” to challenge your boys and girls to chastity.
4. EDUCATION FOR CHASTITY
The Church gives specific objectives of educating our children for chaste living.
Accordingly, educating children for chastity strives to: 1) to maintain in the family a positive atmosphere of love, virtue, and respect for the gifts of God, in particular the gift of life; 2)to help children to understand the value of sexuality and chastity in stages, sustaining their growth through enlightening word, example, and prayer; 3) to help them understand and discover their own vocation to marriage or to concerted virginity for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven in harmony with and respecting their attitudes and inclinations and the gifts of the Spirit. The Church also has expressed itself clearly in relation to the whole educative process of children:
The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to find an adequate substitute. It is therefore, the duty of parents to create a family atmosphere inspired by love and devotion to God and their fellowmen which will promote an integrated, personal, and social education of their children. The family, therefore, is the principal school of the social virtues which are necessary to every society.”
Other people can assist in this task only when parents, owing to “physical or moral incapacity”, may not fulfil this role. We shall later in this article, understand why women (married or not) are in the best position to do this.
5. TEEN PROMISCUITY: WHAT IS AT STAKE?
Teen promiscuity carries enormous consequences, despite the clamour for “safe sex”. A look at the following is crucial for a better comprehension of the necessity of this education for teens.
The Body: In general, women are especially more at risk for disease. A woman is more likely to become infected with STDs than a man, because her reproductive system is more susceptible to infection. Also, a young woman is more likely to be infected than an older one because the cervix of a teenage girl is immature and biologically more vulnerable to certain STDs. As a result of the STD epidemic, diseases of the female reproductive tract have contributed to countless cases of infertility. Boys, too, are contracting STDS at alarming rates and can also suffer life-long consequences as a result, including infertility.
The Heart: Girls who are sexually active are more than three times as likely to be depressed as girls who are abstinents. Even if a girl experiments with sex once, research shows that she is more likely to feel depressed. Sexually active teenage boys also suffer from the emotional consequences of premarital sexual activity.
The Future: Those who are sexually active prior to marriage have a significantly increased risk of divorce. When a man gets married as a virgin, his divorce rate is 62% lower than a non-virgin. For girls, it is 76% lower, as research indicates. One reason why virgins have lower divorce rates, according to the journal, Adolescent and Family Health, is that “those who have premarital sex are more likely to have extramarital sex affair(s) – and extramarital sex contributes to many divorces.” In addition to marital problems, the younger a girl is when she becomes sexually active, the more likely she is to experience more breakups, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and abortions. The consequences of teen promiscuity is not limited to marriage. It also concerns vocation to priesthood or consecrated life. This vocation does not allow sexual promiscuity as it demands total sexual sacrifice for eternity. If teens are not prepared to embrace this vocation, those who choose to live it may end up living in frustration or scandals, at worst.
6. WHY WOMEN, ESPECIALLY, MOTHERS ARE INDISPENSABLE IN RAISING CHASTE TEENS
Without downplaying the role of men or fathers in the lives of teens, it must be said that mothers are uniquely indispensable in the lives of their children.
6.1 The Bond between Mothers and Their Children from Conception
The maternal bond formed even prior to birth, allows a mother to experience a profound closeness with her children. This maternal bond is reflected on a biological level as scientists have now affirmed. Scientists have developed a medical procedure known as “foetal cell sorting” in order to assess the health of an unborn child. When a woman is pregnant, blood cells from the child pass through the placenta and mingle with the blood of the mother. Scientists discovered that by taking blood from an expectant mother and sorting through the cells, they were able to find cells of her unborn child living in her bloodstream. Even more surprising is that they also found cells of other children whom the woman had given birth to years before, still flowing in the mother's veins! They discovered the cells of children living in their mothers 38 years after the children were born. Is not this amazing? This miracle shared between mothers and their children illuminates the special bond they share throughout life. Mothers have a unique capacity to be united with their children. Consequently, when children hurt themselves through poor decisions, a mother internalises the suffering in a uniquely feminine way. This perhaps informed St. Monica's tears for her son’s, Augustine's waywardness before conversion. Think of other mothers, including you: how many times you have shed tears or were in intense pain on account of your misbehaving children.
(to be continued)