Purity Is Our Birthright
by Fr. Theodore Smith, O.Praem.
The names of the twelve apostles are listed in the gospel. We hear how these chosen men were given miraculous power. They could cast out demons and cure every kind of illness. All this amounted to a divine seal of approval on the gospel they proclaimed. But they ultimately produced even stronger evidence. All of them—with the exception of St. John—died for what they believed in. And he too was willing to die for Jesus since he was the only apostle to be present at the crucifixion. The others hid themselves out of fear. Later, John alone escaped blood martyrdom because in God’s eyes his virtual martyrdom sufficed. Few there are who will die for the truth, but nobody is willing to die for a lie. If the apostles did so anyway, then that would amount to the greatest miracle of all. Therefore, skeptics who believe the apostles were frauds believe in bigger miracles than we Catholics believe in! We may not be able to give absolute proof for our holy faith—otherwise, it wouldn’t be faith—but all those who would refute it unwittingly paint themselves into the corner of self-contradiction.
Our Lord told His disciples not to preach the gospel among the pagans. Why? Because it was the Jews’ unique privilege to hear it first. Long before, God had promised as much to Abraham. It was exclusively among his descendants that the Son of God labored and taught. We Catholics also enjoy a unique privilege which we seem equally intent on squandering. It’s a priceless virtue called purity. Purity is our birthright due to the grace of baptism. Purity is our birthright due to the intercession of Mother Mary. Purity is our birthright due to the true teaching of magisterial documents like Humanae Vitae.
Purity is our birthright due to the example of child-saints like Maria Goretti. She was the same age as our summer campers, yet she was already a great saint. When attacked by a young man, she preferred death to committing one mortal sin! For all these reasons, purity is the patrimony of Roman Catholics. Who would esteem purity, let alone practice it, without the faith of our fathers? There are, no doubt, others who do practice purity—fortified by God’s mysterious grace—but they are the exception that proves the rule. In Italy of 1902, purity proved a martyrdom for a victim like Maria Goretti, but in today’s world—where immorality is taught in school and glamorized on TV—purity has become a martyrdom for the multitude. Alas, many are called but few are chosen! The death I’m talking about here is real enough even if it doesn’t involve any blood or guts. It does, nevertheless, involve saying ‘no’ to sin as did St. Maria Goretti.
Who among us will be willing or able to embrace this virtual martyrdom? All twelve apostles in the gospel received miraculous power, but only one was willing to die under Jesus’ cross: the one who was especially devoted to Mother Mary! He was only identified in the gospel as the beloved disciple—beloved precisely because our Lord eventually bequeathed to him, from the cross, the treasure of His life: His Immaculate Mother. We too can be especially devoted to Mother Mary by praying her rosary every day! Let’s do so until our purity is transformed from drudgery into delight! The holy rosary is the secret to holiness and happiness. Whoever has ears, let him hear! Amen.
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