St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, pray for us.

As Catholics, we know what love truly is, and romantic love, a subset of this all-encompassing “agape”, must be expressed correctly in order to receive true joy. When we reject correct expression – whether through harboring hatred, deceiving, dishonoring elders, impeding the growth of children, and misusing human sexuality through unorthodox practices, etc – we fall short of how we are designed to live, and society breaks down. Almost everyday you will hear all of those rejections happening in the news. Almost everyday you hear that society is getting worse.

My local parish priest is an interesting case. I believe he use to be part of the military, so you could imagine he is very precise and unwavering. Perhaps you would think he is intimidating, as many in the parish have. When I confessed a lot of things to this priest one day, however, he did something none of my super-liberal, self-professed tolerant ‘friends’ never really did: he listened to me, and he listened to me with the most utmost compassion. I hardly ever went to that parish at that point, mind you. But he listened to me as if he knew me since I was a child.

That is not why I remain devoutly Catholic, because my feelings were not hurt by a good guy. I’m never one to be convinced by emotional pandering. Rather, good knowledge and honest wisdom no matter how you break it will always receive my attention. What he explained to me next was so simple, yet so appealing to my intelligence: live your life correctly, and everything will follow suit.

Many people in today’s world would be at a loss to understand what ‘living life correctly’ entails. Our forefathers of modern society did us a great disservice in leading us to ideologies which are dangerous to our souls. Men such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Immanuel Kant, John Locke, David Hume, and Michel Foucault among many others have poisoned the mind of Western society beyond repair. Many people repeat these mens’ worldviews without even knowing who they were by name or deed. These men have destroyed our society so much that even discerning the good life is considered a futile task, hence “live and let live”. Those uncultured then, live like rabid dogs. Those esteemed, write their own realities hopelessly. All remain stupefied as to why the world cannot find true peace.

Anyway, using the Aristotelean and Thomistic notions of ethical living is simple, if yet very insightful, and a lot of it remains grounded in natural law; that being the derivation of morality and ethical behaviour from understanding how the universe works. To keep on topic, I won’t make an example of Aristotelean or Medieval ethics, but suffice to say, my priest desired me to live chastely. Living chastely does not mean simply abstaining from sexual desire, which is what many caught up in a sex-obsessed world would automatically think. No, to live chastely (or continently) means to control your entire being. It is to practice the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. It is, in essence, calming your soul, and steering it in the right direction.

And never to downplay Catholic spirituality, my priest told me to go to Confession and receive Holy Communion as often as possible. Again, this is not exclusively because of sexual lusts, but all the sins one can accumulate over a period. Christ instituted these Sacraments for this very reason, for reconciliation with God. It is a shame not many people today receive Holy Communion. It is a shame that those who do receive Holy Communion, do so without going to Confession.

Unlike Protestants and evangelicals who believe their healings happen in one of their emotionalist clown services, it has been an interesting, rocky, but deeply fulfilling path I have taken over the last several years. Not all of it is easy sailing, and I have fallen into old sins more often than not, but I have a greater discernment and zeal for what is right and just, and what the priest has promised me is happening: my soul is definitely stilling. The flip side, of course, is that now that the storm inside of me is withering away, the storm outside of me is increasing tenfold. I would assume many of my peers are starting to find me very irritable, perhaps thinking me overzealous, and even a little crazy. A bit like how the crowds viewed Our Blessed Lord and the Apostles, then.

How living chastely specifically affects my sexuality though, is probably still in the minds of some readers. If it wasn’t clear before, the fact is I’m attracted to both sexes to different degrees. Relationships with both men and women are very difficult for me, which is partly the reason why I don’t get along with virtually anyone (to the few I meet up with on an occasional basis, I can’t thank you enough). I suppose, if I chose to, I could sustain a marriage with a woman ’til death do us part. The tricky bit is that I don’t want to. In fact, over the last year, I’ve been seriously contemplating celibacy. The continence I have developed over the years is becoming sturdier than I imagined, and I hope soon enough that the joy in living the lifestyle St. Paul recommended outpaces all other desires.

I want to call on the intercession of St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church for this one. Augustine too was once a young man plagued with incessant sexual longing, and it was not until he gave up his desire for material glory (good wife, children, wealth, esteem, and so on) did he find true peace and joy. Ironically, he would become one of the most famous men in history.

St. Augustine, pray for us.