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The Eternal Purity Of Heaven

December 1, 2022 Frontpage No Comments

The Eternal Purity Of Heaven


God created man to be pure of heart; Adam and Eve came forth from the hand of God with pure hearts. And as they first gazed into each other’s eyes with love as the first husband and wife in human history, they did so with pure and chaste souls. It was their subsequent fall that changed everything; for no sooner had they disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit than the sight of each other no longer brought peace, for “they knew that they were naked” (Gen. 3:7).
This did not go unnoticed by Satan; he knew that he now had a mighty weapon for leading souls to Hell, the temptation to lust. Over the ages that followed, lust was to lead countless souls astray, and even entire cities like Sodom and Gomorrah. Even a man as deeply devoted to God as King David succumbed to this sin for a time before being led to a profound and lasting repentance by the prophet Nathan.
The perfect purity of soul and body that Adam and Eve originally possessed before the Fall was a reflection of the perfect and infinite and eternal purity of God Himself. So when in the course of time God the Father sent His Son down from Heaven to redeem the world, God the Son was to bring with Him the remedy for man’s concupiscence by His Incarnation and death on the cross. One could say that when our Lord descended to Earth in the Incarnation He carried down to Earth the eternal purity of Heaven.
All the immediate circumstances surrounding the Incarnation proclaim the value that God places upon purity of heart. He chose to come in a totally unique manner as the Son of a perpetual Virgin, as a Son not only conceived virginally but also born virginally, coming forth from His Mother without the opening of her perpetually virginal womb, that enclosed garden forever sealed as having been the inviolate sanctuary of God Incarnate.
Our Lord was to grow to manhood within a home under the headship of the chaste guardian He had foreordained to be the celibate husband of Mary, St. Joseph, a man who had to have already consented to a life of perpetual continence in betrothing Mary even before the Incarnation; for how else could one explain why our Lady asked the Angel Gabriel, “How can this be. . . ?” (Luke 1:34), when he told her that she would conceive and bear a son?
And even though St. Joseph did not share in our Lady’s unique privilege of being conceived without original sin, we can be sure that by virtue of Mary’s incomparable and overwhelming purity and Joseph’s unique holiness and grace as the chosen spouse of such a woman, the two of them could look into each other’s eyes as husband and wife with that pure and chaste peace that Adam and Eve knew before their fall from grace.
A major dimension of our Lord’s Gospel message delivered during His public ministry was a Gospel message of chastity both within and outside marriage. Our Lord put to an end once and for all any talk among His followers of breaking one’s marriage vows to marry a different spouse when He proclaimed definitively the total indissolubility of marriage and condemned remarriage after divorce as adultery. He definitively condemned even looking upon a woman with lustful thoughts as morally tantamount to committing adultery. Our Lord gave so much preeminence to purity of heart that He enshrined it as one of the Beatitudes, promising the pure of heart that they would “see God” (Matt. 5:8). And He announced as an especially exalted calling the evangelical counsel of choosing a life of total celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
The first martyr of the New Covenant following the deaths of the Holy Innocents was a man put to death for calling a powerful king to account for his sin of incest. St. John the Baptist was willing to tell King Herod to his face that his life of lust was an abomination in the sight of God.
The Apostle St. Paul reiterated our Lord’s Gospel message of purity, describing marriage as nothing short of the living image of the union between Christ and His Church. He does not hesitate to call a spade a spade in condemning by name time and again the sins of the flesh and in warning of the consequences for those who refuse to repent of these perverse “lifestyles.”
Across the centuries, the annals of the saints are filled with those who have testified to the virtue of purity by their lives, even to the point of suffering martyrdom for it.
So from the beginning of time and up to the present, the battle between good and evil has been in large measure a battle also between purity and impurity. On this battlefield one can see particularly a face to face combat between Satan and the adversary that in a sense he hates and fears the most, the Blessed Virgin Mary. As we have mentioned in the past, the Devil finds it even more humiliating and galling to his Hell-swollen ego that God would send against him, the mighty angel whose tail can sweep a third of the stars from the sky (cf. Rev. 12:4), this humble girl from Nazareth who has the power to crush his head with her little foot. One can almost hear Satan snarling like the mighty giant Goliath who, when King David confronted him with nothing more than a slingshot, muttered, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” (1 Samuel 17:43). I recently came across a wonderful illustration of this mystery of Satan being routed by Mary, a woodcut depicting our Lady placidly standing in her immaculate beauty as Satan is plunging headlong down into Hell, looking like a total imbecile. For although Satan by virtue of his angelic nature possesses angelic intelligence, he has proven himself to be an absolute fool in thinking he can fight God.
This brings us to current events unfolding within the Church right now. We are hearing certain high-ranking prelates calling upon the Church to engage in a collective act of “discernment” regarding a number of heretical and virtually heretical propositions in the run-up to the coming Synod on Synodality set for 2023-2024. That the “discernment” of these propositions is set within the foreordained and fore-announced context that the goal of this synod is to give the Church a radical makeover in the formulation of her teachings and in her very structure and governance tells us volumes.
His Eminence Gerhard Cardinal Mueller has prophetically warned us in a recent interview (The World Over with Raymond Arroyo, October 6, 2022, EWTN) that there is great danger of an attempted “hostile takeover” of the Church by those who want to abolish what the Church has always taught and what she has always condemned as intrinsically evil.
The reality is that there is no one on Earth who has the authority to abolish what the Ten Commandments teach and what Christ has definitely taught in the Gospels, what the apostles have definitely taught in their epistles, and what past councils and Roman Pontiffs have definitely taught. Nor will faithful Catholics be fooled into accepting any abolition of the Church’s definitive teachings masquerading under the false pretense of being just a new “development” of doctrine. True developments of doctrine have never declared what is evil to be good or what is good to be evil.
A number of these pre-Synod propositions constitute an attack upon holy purity, an attempt to declare various sins of the flesh to be compatible with living a faithful Catholic life. These propositions and other recent theological “trial balloons” that are being floated, ranging from validating the wicked “LGBTQ” agenda and approval of artificial contraception to legitimatizing remarriage after divorce and condoning “living together” outside marriage, are all nothing short of blatant and ugly repudiations of the virtue of purity. And this attack upon chastity extends to assailing the Church’s sacred tradition of priestly celibacy.

“Harsh Rules”

One of the principal strategies of those who want to give our Church and our faith this radical makeover is to undercut the meaning and validity of the scriptural passages regarding the sins of the flesh by claiming that the “historical Jesus” did not teach such “harsh rules,” that the Gospel passages in question were far more the work of human time-bound minds rather than the inspired word of God, and that therefore their interpretation can be refashioned to suit the tastes and preoccupations of our own times.
A maverick Protestant theologian by the name of Johann Salomon Semler (1725-1791) proposed precisely this “solution” to the hard sayings of the Gospel three centuries ago. Just a few decades after his death, a fellow Protestant of his astutely critiqued what Semler and his intellectual colleagues had been threatening to do to Christianity:
“The facts of Christianity are stripped of all that would raise them above the dead level of common and daily experience, while its doctrines are lowered down to the freezing temperature of heathen ethics. Its celestial sanctions are neutralized; its supernatural evidences are explained away; its heavenly influences and divine communions are treated as the mere excitements of credulity….All this is set forth with a great parade of criticism. . . .
“These partial inquirers . . . fail at the outset, insomuch as they take no account of the moral exigencies of human nature. The manifestations of the Divine glory, and the illustrations of the Divine character, as exhibited in the Gospel, do not adapt themselves to their critical canons; and instead of questioning the soundness of their own views, or the justness of their reasoning, they quietly take to pieces the whole evangelical system, that they may reconstruct it by their own hypothesis. . . . This, these self-complacent men willingly are ignorant of, that human nature is laboring under the oppression of moral disorder, and that the Bible, the word of God, contains the only authentic definition of the malady and its cure” (Review of The Ecclesiastical History of the Second and Third Centuries, by John, Bishop of Bristol, in The Eclectic Review, volume 26, n.s., November 1826, pp. 433-434).
In coming to us as an Infant, as a real Baby, and in teaching us that we can only enter the Kingdom of God by becoming like children, our Lord is in this way also proclaiming the Gospel of purity, summoning us to live chastely in heart, mind and body. Purity is a foretaste of the fragrance and beauty of Heaven. In this Advent season, may holy purity bring true peace to all our Catholic homes!

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