Chastity is counter-cultural. It's probably THE most counter-cultural virtue there is.
It is no coincidence that in the month that the world glorifies “Pride,” God has elevated a man whose chastity is to be revered…St. Joseph. And today, many Catholics across the globe celebrate personal devotion to his Most Chaste Heart.
What is chastity? In short, the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes chastity as follows: “Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man's belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. The virtue of chastity, therefore, involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift.” CCC, 2337
Aside from Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph is the pre-eminent example of chastity. To guard the virginity of both his son and his wife, St. Joseph had to live out the virtue of chastity more perfectly than any other man. He was integrated, body and soul, and his life and sexuality were a lifelong gift in service to God, to Our Lord, and to Our Blessed Mother. A total gift of self.
Though not a liturgical feast day, many Catholics observe the first Wednesday after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in devotion to the Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph. This personal devotion goes back as far St. John Eudes in 1600 and has also been referenced by St. Bernardine of Siena, St. Francis de Sales, and St. John XXIII.
There has even been a recent investigation and approval by the local ordinary of an apparition of St. Joseph to a young college student in Brazil to whom St. Joseph reportedly gave many promises to those who revere his Most Chaste Heart. This apparition has not received magisterial approval but is another indication of God's desire to highlight St. Joseph, for such a time as this.
Even if we choose not to embrace this personal devotion, we can certainly honor St. Joseph as a model of chastity. In a world that seems to grow more upside down and inside out every day, we need St. Joseph's counter-cultural example of chastity now more than ever.
St. Joseph, Most Chaste, pray for us.
To learn more about St. Joseph and the virtue of chastity, please enjoy these resources.
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