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Dear Father Angelo,

First, I would like to thank you for the commitment and dedication you put into answering the questions and doubts of all of us Christians, confused and disoriented in this sinful world. I apologize now if the letter I am writing to you will be a little long, but I have so much to tell you. My name is Jacopo, I am a 20-year-old boy and I need your advice regarding a relationship with a girl I have recently started. Before starting, I would like to say that I have not always been a believer, I was born in a not deeply religious family and I have received the gift of baptism more because of tradition than because of my parents’ faith. Unfortunately, my father is one of the many who “believe but do not practice” while my mother, who was born and has grown up in a communist country, has never been religious. Because of this, I have never gone to catechism and I have not received any sacraments.

Since I was a kid, I have always liked to consider myself agnostic and often saw science and technological progress as a new religion. At school, I did not attend the hours of religion and I often judged my classmates and friends who were regularly going to the oratory and to mass as retrograde and bigoted. I remember once I said to a friend of mine: “If God exists, he has not given me the gift of faith.”

God must have listened to me on that day, because about three or four years ago, I experienced the deep desire for that spirituality that to me had always sounded like useless and unnecessary. I started reading the Gospels and religious books and articles. My words here cannot fully describe the complexity of my conversion, the only certain thing is that the Lord had mercy on me.

When I was reading His words, I was feeling filled with His love. I knew I had received faith as a gift. Unfortunately, even after my conversion, things were not at all easy for me. You must know that since my adolescence I have watched pornographic videos and photos of all kinds and perversions. This habit was for me an addiction that worsened every day and only after my conversion I began to oppose it and fight against it. I knew that every time I masturbated watching pornography, I was committing a sin, but the addiction was always stronger than me.

Even if I managed to refrain from that for long or short periods, sooner or later I was falling back in this. I have fought and still fight against this problem, and only recently I began to see great improvements and I know that soon I will be freed once and forever from this perversion. Prayer and daily reading of religious texts helps me a lot to resist temptation. I have also found a lot of comfort since I started joining a parish where I met many new friends and where I will soon receive the sacraments that I have not received yet. It was in the oratory of this parish that I met a wonderful girl.

We immediately liked each other and started dating. The “problem” is that she, unlike me, has had other boyfriends before and she is no longer a virgin. Since I became a Christian, I have understood the importance of keeping my virginity intact until marriage, but it does not seem that she understood it. Besides, last night after some kisses, we got carried away with lust and we “touched” each other where we should not have. I know I have committed a sin, I am aware of it and I regret it.

But, more than this, I am worried by the fact that I do not know how to deal with her. She is really a wonderful girl and I feel there are grounds for a serious and lasting relationship, but I do not know how to make her realize that premarital carnal relationships are wrong. When she asked me what I thought about it, I answered without too much conviction that in principle I am in favor of remaining chaste until marriage, but that in practice it is difficult to apply. Thank you for your patience in reading my outburst.

I look forward to your reply.

May the Lord bless you.

Answer of the priest

Dear Jacopo,

1. After reading the email you sent me more than seven months ago, I said to myself: I deserve a huge penance for not having helped you.

But only today I came to yours. I apologize for this.

I hope that in the meantime you have had the opportunity to read even more using the search engine placed on the front page of our site to help visitors get answers to their problems as soon as possible.

In fact, there are many answers on the topics of autoeroticism, pornography, losing virginity before marriage, premarital relationships, the beauty of living in grace and cultivating a pure and holy love.

 2. To avoid repeating the arguments I already reported several times, I would like to report for you and for the benefit of our visitors what Father Andrea Gasparino wrote, who was a true and great spiritual guide for many young people.

He was one of the few who had the courage to speak openly about purity.

He spoke about it persuasively and in a Christian way.

He was convinced that he was doing a great service to young people by speaking of purity.

He thought being silent would have been like deceiving them.

3. He wrote in a letter on sexuality:

Physical attraction is not as deep as love, it is a quite secondary coefficient of love.

When you have chosen the partner of your life, if you have chosen her in true love, you will be tied to her even when her beauty disappears.

You have chosen her person, not her youth, not her beauty, not her charm, even if all these elements have played their part in your choice.

And what is the proof, if you have chosen the person rather than her external qualities?

The proof is that you are ready to make any sacrifices for her.

Love is giving yourself in joy, but also in sacrifice.

Until you are not ready to sacrifice your tastes, your love is not genuine.

When I see that some young men go to the wedding with complete lightheartedness, as if they were going to a rock show, my blood freezes, because I wonder: how long will that marriage last? What will happen to their children if they have any?

Yes, because too many young people decide to get married without being able to love, without having understood that loving is to give yourself till sacrifice.

No one told them that loving is:

Sacrificing yourself, denying yourself, respecting the tastes of the other,

staying silent when you have a mad desire to talk,

giving up all your whims,

knowing how to respond to all needs,

knowing how to guess desires,

seeking the real good for the other in any moment, renouncing to your self-interest and choices,

knowing how to give, changing your existence to a gift! And this not for a day, but for a lifetime.

Here it is, all this is love”.

4. He then insisted on the formation of the character.

“Thus, love requires a serious revision before marriage, an adequate formation of the character.

Whoever goes to marriage without having formed the character is a poor man, as  if he gets married and does not even have a home.

If your character lights up like a match at the first contradiction, how will you manage when a profound fight between you and her arises?

The formation of the character is also love: you have to smooth that in order to know how to live together and respect others’ shortcomings.

If your character is always under strain, it won’t take long for your marriage to vanish.

It is the training for love, do not think about doing it six months before your wedding: you must start it as soon as possible, immediately.

Begin to love in your house, but seriously. Start sacrificing yourself at home, seriously, and without believing you are a hero.

Your home is an excellent gym to train yourself to love, and to polish your character. The sooner you start, the better your marriage will be”.

5. Speaking of sexuality, he referred to the need to educate yourself to the sacred.

“This is the top grade of sex education, until you get here, the most in sex education is missing.

A sublime truth must enter your heart: sex is a reality marked by the sacred.

The proof is this: God has linked sexuality to the mystery of life.

They say that in Hindu spirituality the sexual act is performed by the spouses as a sacred act. I know many Christian spouses who live the marriage relationship as a sacred act, prepared in prayer and in the purification of all selfishness. Their giving of themselves for love becomes a moment of grace that enriches them.

Formation in the sacred has to begin on time, from childhood: by learning respect for everything pertaining to the mystery of life and sex. It is a mentality that we must strengthen in adolescence.

For example, when a teenager passes close to a pregnant woman, he must learn to say a prayer for the little creature that that mother carries within her, and another for that mother, so that she is able to educate that child in a wise way and is able to bear all the sacrifices that God will ask of her for the life of that child.

The meeting with a mother expecting a child is a moment of great emotion for a teenager. When this sense of the sacred is alive, it becomes clear that his sexual maturation is reaching a very high level”.

6. Finally, coming to premarital relations, he wrote:

“Let’s talk for a moment, it’s the right place, about the tricky problem of premarital relations.

It is an important point in the formation of young people, it is their fire test. From this problem comes the seriousness of the future marriage, or its breakdown. I have always been struck by an impressive fact: the failed marriages I have encountered in my life all started with wrong premarital relationships.

I have not yet come across a single successful marriage which had its basis in a wrong engagement.

Engagement and marriage are two related realities, but they are different: engagement is preparation and waiting. Marriage is fulfillment.

7. Responding quickly to the question why the Church should say no to premarital intercourse, he said:

“For several serious reasons. Here are some.

1. The premarital relationship is an injustice and is not loyal, because the Church considers the marriage as an act with which one undertakes irrevocably.

Is it now permissible to take this act lightly? And play with this act?

“They put the sign of marriage without marriage,” reads a document of the German Episcopate: here is its gravity.

A young man asked me: “Why is the Church, despite the current mentality, always in its positions of maximum severity in this matter?”.

I replied: but the Church has nothing to do with it, it is Christ’s severity that obliges the Church to open its eyes and people open theirs.

It would be more convenient for the Church to be moderate, to be tolerant as everyone is, as is now fashionable.

But the Church cannot, because Jesus Christ spoke clearly about the sanctity of marriage, that is, about its seriousness to the point of saying: «You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery”. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. » (Mt 5:27-28).

The marriage bond is so sacred that an impure look, an impure desire, is enough to make it dirty and break it. Now, judge by yourself how serious it is to have fun with the marriage.

And your conscience confirms it to you, if you are profoundly sincere, that Christ is right: you cannot give the body without giving yourself.

2. A serious reason that makes the severity of the Church understandable is this: premarital freedom makes true knowledge poorer and does not prove love at all.

The proof of the love between the parties is stained and disturbed by their sensuality; those who have premarital relationships arrive at marriage without having tested their love.

What counts is love without gratification: two young people who let themselves go, get into the marriage blindfolded, without knowing if they will be able to be mutually faithful.

3. Another consideration that impresses me is this: true love is never a surrender or a conquer, true love makes you better and peaceful.

I would like to see what the conscience and inner peace of those who run after their instincts and passions look like.

A girl confided to me: «I replied to my boyfriend who was looking for sensual satisfaction: “I said no because: I don’t consider you a little boy to please, but I consider you a friend to help grow, and who helps me to grow.

If you really love me, you must consider me a person, you must not consider me an object. Playing with love is too childish. I don’t want to waste love “.

They are answers that come from the Holy Spirit.

4. There is a danger that seems covered with light, but it is full of lies. Here it is: we must see if we are made for each other, if there is sexual harmony between us.

False! Marriage is not a sexual game.

Having fun certainly does not clarify sexual harmony.

Respect creates harmony, not having fun.

Having fun using a sacred act creates and increases selfishness; it does not create harmony, it threatens that.

I heard a priest present this comparison: “I am called to the priesthood, but before the day I am consecrated I can neither celebrate Mass nor give absolution. If I did, I would be committing a crime. Yet three months after the first Mass I already know the missal and I have finished my studies ».

Only with the sacrament of Holy Orders the new priest receives from Christ the “yes” that assigns to him the mission of the priest for his whole life.

Thus, two young people receive in their marriage the “yes” of Christ which makes them capable of a mutual “yes”, faithful for their whole life, and together they are assigned the sublime mission of transmitting life.

5. I know how the trend is going and that too many people fall into that. People say: “We will get together and we will see”, and this implies: if it does not go well, everyone gets back on his own.

This is not reasoning like a person, it is reasoning like animals, it is the ruin of the family, which often makes the children pay for it. It creates the conditions for emotional imbalances, it is trampling the marriage mission, it is the collapse of the family in the present and in the future.

A new family built on  the collapse of a marriage that went wrong is a desolation! What solidity can building another family born on a divorce, stubbornly trampling God’s law? “

8. . To another question in which it was reported that psychologists would recommend premarital intercourse, Father Gasparino replied:

“Dishonest psychologists would! The honest ones would not, and the Christian psychologist will always tell you that by doing so you are fixing yourself in immaturity.

A great psychologist known by everyone, Eric Fromm, wrote: “The first condition of love is freedom. Freedom in the sense of being free of chains, of not being bound and jammed by things, and by one’s own ego ».

I wonder: are two parties who get stuck in premarital intercourse still free? Aren’t they “stuck in things and in their own ego”?

You know how the slavery of sex plays on the individual: it is a pincer that imprisons you and no longer leaves you free for anything.

Why is the Church in the name of Christ rigid against premarital experiences?

Because they trap you, they choke your freedom. You come to a point where you no longer have the power to decide on your life: your freedom is covered up and you are no longer able to break the closed circle of your sensual horizons.

The Church expects your love to be brought to the altar as a tribute to God, so it wants it to be responsible love.

What will those boys and girls do while struggling for fidelity if they now cannot resist and collapse at the first passionate fire? Do they really know if they love each other? Do they have evidence?

They evaded the greatest test.

Marriages that fail after a few months are largely marriages that began with premarital intercourse; they are individuals who got married but haven’t proved that they really love each other.

They swore an eternal love, but they did it unconsciously, because their love was only passionate, their selfishness was intact, the engagement had not even scratched it “.

9. Here, I took the opportunity of your email to report the thoughts of Father Gasparino.

It deserved to be read.

I think it is hard to blame him.

I wish you success with your girlfriend.

So that you can make a beautiful Christian journey with her, indeed a beautiful journey of holiness.

I promise you will be in my prayers and I bless you.

Father Angelo

Translated by Jolanda Beraldi

Revised by  Michele Bracalente