In a homily at St. Patrick’s cathedral on Sunday, January 15, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York exhorted his congregation to “recapture the true meaning of sexual love” and recognize the great gift of the virtues of chastity and purity. He also spoke beautifully about marriage, calling it “the best image we have here on earth of the very way God loves us.”
“Chastity – purity,” defined the Archbishop, “is the virtue by which we integrate God’s wisdom about the joy and the beauty, the responsibility and the nobility of sexual love.” He added that chastity “frees us to enjoy this awesome gift of God, sexual love, in the healthiest, happiest relationship known to humanity, namely the tender, loving, faithful, fruitful, forever relationship we call marriage.”
Archbishop Dolan pointed out a few reasons why talking about chastity can make us uncomfortable and “antsy”: the virtue of chastity is a counter-cultural teaching that is difficult to live and often ignored, and chastity is often viewed as oppressive or misrepresented as being “anti-sex.” In light of the confusion about chastity or animosity toward it, the Archbishop remarked, “One of our most poignant challenges is to regain the upper ground on the ancient wisdom of chastity and purity, to recapture the true meaning of sexual love and credibly re-present it to ourselves…to our own Catholic and Christian people…and to a world that I’m afraid at times has reduced it to…nothing more than culture’s most popular contact sport.”
And, of course, chastity is intimately linked with marriage. The Archbishop drew the connections between the two, saying:
“It is chastity and purity that are predicated on the poetry that the intimacy between a man and woman united in the lifelong, life-giving, loving, faithful bond of marriage is about the best image we have here on earth of the very way God loves us, and the best hint we have of the joy that awaits us in eternity.”
Listen to the entire homily here.
Explore USCCB resources on chastity.
Read what the Catechism says about chastity and marriage.