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Question

Dear Father, good morning,

I have a very straightforward question and a perplexity.

The straightforward question is: how should one behave if his/ her family “refuses” their boy/girlfriend?

I am not in a similar situation, but I have always wondered on how one should behave also in relation to the commandment “Honour thy father and thy mother”.

Because I have heard that, for the family’s serenity, it would be right to end the relationship.

Instead, I ask myself: would it be right to indulge the whimsical standpoint of a parent? I hear of families that “ignore” their children’s partner due to nationality or bank account, sometimes even for party affiliations, or for other questionable reasons. I can understand the perplexity of a parent if the child becomes engaged to a person who has too different values or who leads a harmful lifestyle, and I think it is right to listen to the “wisdom” of those who raised us up even if it might be a “shock”, but always  with proper discernment.

I apologize if a similar question had already been asked but despite my searching, I have been unable to find one.

Then, in my life, I have observed a situation that seems “strange” to me.

I really like the Catholic idea of “love” between man and woman.

However, I have noted this: many Christian teenagers – met by attending parishes and the related groups – deride chastity. I do not know if I am unlucky, but many of them literally grew up in the parish, they go to Mass every Sunday with their families and always take Communion. But I also know that they live together or have had a sexually active life since a very young age. And I wonder, why is that?

It seems strange to me, especially because they are the ones that, maybe just playfully, deride those who live in chastity. I do not want to judge or be critical. But it seems strange to me, I cannot even bring up the topic when I am with them because they galvanize it.

I am amazed also because, irony of fate(?) all the (few) boys I ended up dating were fascinated by chastity…But they were not believers. Yet they considered chastity for what it really is: the only way to deeply love someone.

Is my experience “unusual” or is there something else in the present-day Church, or have the precepts changed and I am not aware of that?

The last time I went to confession, the priest asked me if I always take Communion. I said that once I had not because I was in a state of mortal sin and I had not been able to confess. He told me that I was wrong because that must always be done, to add that there is nothing wrong with a series of practices which to me appear to be impure acts.

I repeat, I do not want to judge or argue, I am only interested in understanding, I have not always been a believer, I have approached faith alone over time, and I happen to be a little confused.

I wholeheartedly thank you and ask you to remember me in your prayers.

I will do the same.


Response from the priest

Dearest,

1. The most beautiful criterion on the relationship between couples and their respective parents was pronounced by God at the dawn of Creation: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.” (Gen 2:24).

The creators of the new family are the spouses.

Parents are among their counsellors.

It is right, indeed, it is only right to listen to their advice.

Sometimes we must not only listen but also obey parents’ advice.

But finally, those who are called to make the decisions are the spouses themselves: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife,…”.

2. I do not know if it is true that chastity is mocked only in Catholic circles.

It is certainly a fact that many young people who go to church do not live chastely.

I do not want to justify them, but they are also marked by the original sin and by the lust of the flesh (Cf. 1 Jn 2:16) which also threaten their way of loving.

But among those who do not go to church I believe that things do not get better.

Much depends on what is proposed to them.

3. Well, the fact that you have met non-believers who value chastity says a lot.

Friendship is a natural value appreciated by everyone, and similarly it can also be said of chastity, unless one is perverted enough to brag about what one should be ashamed of.

I believe that any teenager who has serious intentions about their future and wants to start a family values chastity, even if they may not practice it.

Chastity always gives the idea of a person who is in control of him/ herself, of his own impulses, who does not give in easily to the first temptation.

4. A document of the Church’s Magisterium rightly says that chastity “is spiritual energy capable of defending love from the perils of selfishness and aggressiveness” (PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE FAMILY, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, 19). This statement does not start from assumptions of faith nor it is only valid for believers. Anyone knows that chastity, meant as a virtuous and desired attitude, is this.

Gandhi, who was not a Christian and was married, said that “[chastity] is the highest goal, and it is no wonder that the highest effort should be necessary to attain it.

Life without Brahmacharya [chastity] appears to me to be insipid and animal-like. The brute by nature knows no self-restraint. Man is man because he is capable of […] self-restraint.”(GANDHI, My life is my message, pp. 193-194).

I do not know if it can be said that chastity is the highest goal. But certainly, whoever wrote those words was fascinated by it. 

5. Instead, I perfectly agree with the core statement of your email: the only way to deeply love someone is that of chastity.

Where by chastity, in any state of life, we mean pure and disinterested love for the person you love, to the point that you are willing to get lost for her/him.

This means loving someone.

Very often, however, behind the word love hides only passion and frequently also vulgarity.

6.In regard to what your confessor said, that you can always receive Communion even if in a state of mortal sin,well, it is blatantly wrong

It goes against the Sacred Scripture and against the discipline of the Church: “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying.” (1 Cor 11: 27-30).

I’m sorry for that priest because everyone speaks from the fullness of their heart, as the Lord said (Cf. Mt 12:34), that is, from their own experience.

If he loved purity he would speak differently.

I assure you of my prayers and I thank you in advance for what you have promised.

I bless you and I wish you well.

Father Angelo