Education for Purity

Caring for one’s own body with wise severity.
by Father Nicolás Schwizer | Source: Schoenstatt Press Office

The purity which was in Mary was a gift, for us it is an arduous task. Why?

a) Because of original sin. Before original sin, man possessed the gift of integrity: Harmony between intellect, will and heart: “harmony between the animal, the angel and the child of God in us.”

b) Because of the environment in which we live. Our era is characterized by estrangement from God. Material values are given first priority. We have come to a hypersexualization, which is noticed especially on the exploitation of the woman’s body. There is also a growing loss of modesty, of chastity, and of general efforts to protect the values of purity in our society. Influencing this situation is the lack of authentic love in the homes, which leads youths to seek love elsewhere. Often sex is presented to them as the only way in which one can be loved. The secular culture goes as far as to use sex and love as synonymous. Very misleading! But young people more often than not believe the cultural lies and in spite of the fact that they are not prepared emotionally and psychologically – many times not even physically mature enough for it – they engage on a sexually active lifestyle.

What Is the Body?

Father Kentenich, the founder of the Apostolic Schoenstatt Movement, makes it clear that “the body is the mirror, companion and instrument of the soul.” Further, Scriptures teach us that the human body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (
1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

a) Mirror or expression of the soul: The soul manifests itself through the body. It expresses itself in the exterior (in the way of thinking, feeling, acting or dressing). Exterior expressions without spiritual meaning are senseless expressions (caresses without true love). What I do should express what I am (authenticity is key).

b) Companion of the soul: We cannot have an attitude of rejection, of mere peaceful cohabitation with the body or disregard the body, but neither can we divinize it into a cult which does not correspond to it. According to Father Kentenich, the adequate attitude is the cultivation of the body. There has to be an intimate relationship: Valuing, caring and being responsible for the body.

c) Instrument of the soul: When the soul wants to act, it needs the body as an instrument, but the body should be directed by the soul, that is, by the intellect and the will. The roles should not be reversed.

Caring for the Body

All of this enlightens the care we should give to the body. Father Kentenich says we should treat it with “respectful love and with wise severity.”

We must care for our bodies with respectful love because it is God’s temple, God’s dwelling, a Shrine. God dwells in us. Our body is a consecrated reality. We should use the body as it pleases the Lord. We should especially treat it with respect, for example, do not play with it nor play with the instincts; act respectfully, in the manner of dressing, in how we speak.

Healthy and adequate food for must be provided to our body.  We must have enough resting, sufficient sleep, and vacations. We also need consistent exercising, be it a light daily walk or competing in sports. Scriptures teaches us that before we fall ill, we must take care of our health (Sirach 18:18), and it goes as far as to instruct us to realize that our health is more important than wealth: “Health and soundness are better than all gold, and a robust body than countless riches. There is no wealth better than health of body, and there is no gladness above joy of heart.” (Sirach 30:14-16). Therefore, we have to decrease the work load, rearrange the schedule, and if necessary sacrifice a few dollars to make sure we give our body the proper care it needs from nutrition, exercise, and medical care.

In addition, we must treat the body with wise severity. Because of original sin, the harmony between body and soul has been shattered. The body tries to impose on the soul and tries to subject it to its whims and likes. This requires that we treat it with severity, but not in a tyrannical way, rather wisely and with diplomacy.

We must apply the law of the “agere contra” (acting or going against): to do the opposite of what the instincts and impulses dictate to me. Make sacrifices which help your body to be nobler and to overcome its whims: laziness, gluttony, the tendency to enjoy things excessively, indulging comfort, least effort, a fancy for sedatives, slavery to smoking, sentiment of entitlement, etc. We must seek our weak point in this sense and never lose sight of it.

Questions for Reflection
1. Do I take care of my body? How do I take care of it?
2. Which are my weaknesses?
3. What can I give up in order to strengthen my will?

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Translation: Carlos Cantú
Edited by:

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