Striving for chastity today is more difficult than it has ever been before in the past.
Granted, temptations to sins of the flesh have always made chastity difficult for us, ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve.
But these days, technology has increased those temptations quite a bit.
With pornography addictions running rampant even among young children, it can seem impossible at times to imagine that anyone can really live out the virtue of chastity.
But chastity is a key virtue for our spiritual health and our vocations.
If you want to increase your chances of having a holy and happy marriage, you need to start working on the virtue of chastity now.
The battle for chastity doesn’t end after you say “I do,” either.
Even though you can (and should!) have sex with your spouse in marriage, this sexual relationship is not a fix-all for problems of temptations against chastity.
If you struggle with chastity now, those struggles will often become more problematic when you’re joined together with someone for life in the sacrament of matrimony.
But how can you go about working on chastity?
Just decide to be chaste and hope for the best?
It’s not usually that simple.
Here are three concrete steps you can take to improve your chances of succeeding in the battle for chastity.
1. Start with prayer
It seems simple and obvious, but oftentimes we are prone to forget that we can only succeed in overcoming temptations through God’s grace.
Don’t just ask God for the virtue of chastity once or twice. Instead, make requests for the grace of chastity a regular part of your prayer life.
Have faith that he will help you as you grow in the virtue of chastity.
Consider enrollment in the Confraternity of Angelic Warfare, which is an apostolate of the Dominican religious order that focuses on chastity.
This confraternity takes Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Blessed Virgin Mary as patrons. Membership includes saying a set of prayers each day for chastity and wearing either a knotted cord or a medal.
By joining a confraternity like this one, you benefit from the graces of the prayers of all the other members.
2. Find someone to keep you accountable
Sometimes, the battle for chastity cannot be fought alone.
Praying for help and trying your best is a good step, but sometimes that isn’t all it takes.
God often sends help through other people. Even though working for chastity isn’t something we always necessarily want to talk about with our friends or family, doing so can be extremely helpful.
The struggle against pornography is a particular area that people often feel unable to mention to anyone.
But it’s also an area where having an accountability partner can be of great help.
It’s true that talking about something like this with someone else can be awkward. But sometimes the knowledge that a person you respect will be asking you about chastity can be just what you need to help you overcome the cycle of sin.
Recently, Father Cassidy Stinson realized how prevalent the scourge of pornography addiction is these days, so he did something about it.
He began a prayer campaign on Twitter called #BreakTheChains.
As the movement gained momentum, he saw that people were finding great help in having a community to pray with and connect with about their struggles.
3. Rely on the sacraments
It’s important to remember that we are all fallen and prone to temptations. We all sin, sometimes grievously, and God is always ready to forgive us.
All we have do to be forgiven is contritely come to God in the sacrament of Confession. Even though we might still feel shame for what we have done after confessing our sins, God has forgiven us through the sacrament.
But we often think of Confession as only for gaining God’s forgiveness.
That’s not all the sacrament does for us.
It also gives us grace to avoid sinning again.
If you’re finding yourself in a cycle of sin that’s hard to break, go to Confession.
Or if you’re frequently tempted to repeat sins from your past, go to Confession.
When we say the Act of Contrition, we express our intention to avoid committing the sins we’ve just confessed, from now on.
The best place to get the grace we need to be able to carry this out is in the sacrament of Confession itself.
In addition to Confession, don’t forget about the Eucharist.
Frequent reception of the Eucharist can make a world of different when it comes to overcoming sin in our lives.
Especially in the case of sins against chastity, which are often so very hard to overcome, worthy reception of the Body of Christ can give us an immense amount of grace to help us on our way.
If you’re striving for a grace-filled life and a close relationship with Christ, try to attend a daily Mass sometimes when you’re able.
Living out chastity as a Catholic single is not always easy.
In fact, it’s rarely easy.
But when we rely on God’s grace and make use of the helps he sends to us, it is always possible.