Today’s culture is notorious for using and objectifying people, especially through the twisting of God’s gift of human sexuality. The trend of hooking up (engaging in sexual behavior with someone with little or no emotional attachment) has reared its head, especially plaguing college campuses and the lives of young adults striving to live a holy, chaste life.
You’re not alone if you’re striving against the culture’s perverted view of human sexuality. Check out these saints who recognized the harms of hooking up and had something to say about it.
1. Saint Josemaria Escriva
Saint Josemaria Escriva is a Spanish priest who lived in the 20th century. During his lifetime, he founded the religious order of Opus Dei, an organization open to both religious and laymen. This modern saint wrote extensively on the subject of physical purity in the life of Christians.
“‘Purity?’ they ask. And they smile. They are the ones who go on to marriage with worn-out bodies and disillusioned souls.”
“There is need for a crusade of manliness and purity to counteract and nullify the savage work of those who think man is a beast. And that crusade is your work.”
2. Pope Saint John Paul II
Pope Saint John Paul II had quite a bit to say about human sexuality and the beauty of the body as God created it. The Pope dedicated 129 of his papal audiences to teaching the faithful about what he called the ‘Theology of the Body.’ Pope Saint John Paul II appealed to young people of the world during his papacy, and he urged them to sainthood and holiness.
“Only the chaste man and the chaste woman are capable of true love.”
“Chastity is a difficult, long term matter; one must wait patiently for it to bear fruit, for the happiness of loving kindness which it must bring. But at the same time, chastity is the sure way to happiness.”
3. Saint Edith Stein
Saint Edith Stein (also known as Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) was a convert to Catholicism from a background of both Judaism and Atheism. She was a college professor who gave up all the prestige offered by the world to dedicate her life to pursuing God’s will for her life. She joined the Carmelite order and wrote about the beauty of femininity and the human’s desire to know God. She had some things to say about the pursuit of purity as well as what women deserve as children of God.
“Do not accept anything as love which lacks truth.”
“The world doesn’t need what women have, it needs what women are.”
4. Saint Augustine
Not all saints live a life of purity their entire time on earth. Saint Augustine famously left the Catholic Church and lived a life of worldly pleasure, living with a woman he was not married to and fathering a son. After the unceasing prayer and intercession of his mother, Saint Monica, Augustine returned to the Church and wrote some of the most well known pieces of Catholic conversion story literature. He advises against his path of impurity, and acknowledges that impurity of the body and lust can destroy souls.
“I tremble when I think of so many great men, who after their virtues had placed them among the stars, and almost fixed their habitation in Heaven, have miserably fallen into most grievous sins and died impenitent. We have seen, Lord, the great lights of Thy Church fall from Heaven, being pulled from thence by the infernal dragon; and, on the contrary, some that lay, as it were groveling on the ground, have been wonderfully elevated all at once by Thy almighty hand.”
5. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
If there is any (soon-to-be-canonized) saint to stand against the culture of use and objectification, it’s Blessed Mother Teresa. Mother dedicated her life to serving the poorest, most forgotten children of God in the slums and streets of India. She saw the throw-away mentality of the modern culture, rejecting people and forgetting their dignity. She also had something to say about the call to purity during our life here on earth.
“To be pure, to remain pure, can only come at a price, the price of knowing God and loving him enough to do his will. He will always give us the strength we need to keep purity as something as beautiful for him.”
6. Saint Francis de Sales
Most famous for his book Introduction to the Devout Life, Saint Francis de Sales was an amazing saint during the 1500’s. He rejected a life of luxury as a magistrate and then as a lawyer, and answered the vocational call to the priesthood. He approached the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation with a gentle, guiding spirit. He took a firm stance on the virtue of chastity, calling it the ‘lily of virtues’ and encouraging all to strive for the virtue.
“Chastity is the lily of virtues, and makes men almost equal to Angels. Everything is beautiful in accordance with its purity. Now the purity of man is chastity, which is called honesty, and the observance of it, honor and also integrity; and its contrary is called corruption; in short, it has this peculiar excellence above the other virtues, that it preserves both soul and body fair and unspotted.”
6. Saint Theophilus of Antioch
Born a pagan, Saint Theophilus was set on exposing the newly practiced religion of Christianity as a lie. However, during his reading of scripture to prepare for debates against Christians, Theophilus was led to the beauty of the Catholic Church. He wrote on the Trinity and the definition of Christian love as a call to live counter-culturally in a pagan culture. In our modern neo-pagan society we can learn from Saint Theophilus’s call to chastity.
“Far be it from Christians that to do such deeds [as our done by pagan sinners] should enter their mind; for temperance dwells with them, self-restraint is practiced, monogamy is observed, chastity is guarded, injustice is exterminated, sin is rooted out, righteousness is exercised, law is ministered, reverence is preserved, God is acknowledged: truth controls, grace guards, peace protects, the holy word guides, wisdom teaches, life directs, God reigns.”