"I've learned that if you give a pig and a boy everything they want, you'll get a good pig and a bad boy." Jackson Brown Jr, age 77, was obviously right when he said this in his book, Live and Learn and Pass it On.

Saint Augustine was less right -even though we all understand him perfectly - when in his young adulthood, he uttered his famous prayer, "Lord give me chastity and continence, but not yet." At age 17 he began a 13-year relationship with a concubine of lower social status. In the Confessions, he speaks how he felt trapped: "I was bound down by this disease of the flesh. Its deadly pleasures were a chain that I dragged along with me, yet I was afraid to be freed from it"

Purity is always a struggle. The popular culture ridicules purity, 'Chastity! What a joke!' It is considered old fashioned and outdated, a relic of the past. The media make sure we learn to abhor it. This is sad because lack of purity is one of the deep causes of sadness in our lives.

After a violent storm one night, a large tree, which over the years had become a stately giant, was found lying across the pathway in a park. Nothing but a splintered stump was left. Closer examination showed that is was rotten at the core because thousands of tiny insects had eaten away at its heart. The weakness of that tree was not brought on by the sudden storm; it began the very moment the first insect nested within its bark.

This is the problem with impurity. It destroys us interiorly. Look at Samson. He was a giant of strength. He was even consecrated to the Lord. Yet his dabbling with women led him to his own destruction. Today so many, in their loneliness seek for gratification in easy unhealthy pleasure … shoddy magazines, X Rated cable TV, pornographic sites on the internet. And they ruin themselves.

The entire chapter of Proverbs 7 is all about the story of a young men being seduced by an adulteress. " For at the window of my house, I looked out through my lattice, And I saw among the naïve ….a young man lacking sense. Passing through the street near her corner, he takes the way to her house."

This is how it all starts. Curiosity, hoping for a glimpse of the adulteress plying her wares to someone else on the street. He just wants to see what the real world is like. And he finishes off badly, real bad : "With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its entrails; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life."

It is always the same story. And it always leads to the same result… sadness, cynicism, a split inside of oneself, a lack of self worth. Impurity never lets us feel good about ourselves.

This is why we have to learn how to defend ourselves. Anyone trying to be chaste by self effort is doomed to failure! We need help. We need to acquire a healthy attitude. Four sentinels are needed to guard us from the enemy.

Sentinel One : Fear God and Be Humble. We have this treasure in earthly vessels. We can never trust ourselves. We are all weak. We need Him. Constantly.

Sentinel Two : Resist Evil Thoughts. The first step that we make is the win or lose fix. As soon as you become conscious of sinful thoughts, direct your attention to something else, to the tasks you have to perform, or to anything which is free from danger, and likely to engross your mind. This is common sense.

Sentinel Three : Avoid Idleness. This is the parent of all vice, they say. And they are right. A spring is clear and lucid because the water is in motion, a stagnant pool is foul and turbid.

Sentinel Four : Avoid Occasions of Sin. "Watch and pray!" said Jesus. It looks so obvious, but we tend to lower our defenses so easily…

Yes, it may seem like a 'thou shalt not' litany. But really it is not a burden. Chastity is light. It is above all a question of maintaining a contact with the Beloved. The more you feel loved by God, the less you feel the need to gratify yourself with stupidities.

And not only purity is the route to go if we want to see God, but it is also the secret for tasting happiness in this life because it takes away manipulation out of a relationship and sadness out of our lives.

So don't be fooled by all the talk of the fools around us! Sexual purity matters -- to ourselves and to God!

A sign on a suit of clothes hanging on a rack by the window read: SLIGHTLY SOILED - GREATLY REDUCED IN PRICE. We can soil ourselves. Thanks be to God, however, He can restore us to our original state! This is the Rescue operation that Jesus Christ is so famous about…

(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.