How can I promote the message of chastity at my school?

I would recommend three things. First, pray and fast for your school. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus spoke about how some people could only be healed of their spiritual illness through other people’s prayer and fasting for them (9:29).

Second, one of the most effective things you can do to spread the message of chastity is to live it. This is because the virtue of purity is more easily caught than taught. As Saint Francis said, ‘‘Preach the gospel always. When necessary, use words.’’ Your silent example comes first. If you are in a dating relationship, make sure that God is the center of it so that your classmates will see what joy a godly relationship can bring. Even if you are not dating anyone, your witness of purity is just as powerful. To quote Saint Paul, ‘‘Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity’’ (1 Tim. 4:12).

The world seriously doubts that chastity can exist in the lives and relationships of modern couples. It refuses to believe that two young people madly in love with one another can resist temptation. What the world does not see is that as long as the couple have a motive—true love—it is very possible. Not only is it possible, but Mary Beth Bonacci observed that couples who live chastity ‘‘were having an easier time getting out of bad relationships. They were making better marriage decisions. They were happier.’’[1] Therefore, be a light to the world. Your school needs to see that we do not embrace chastity because we’re afraid of venereal infections or unwanted pregnancy.

Everyone is aware of the sexual messages that bombard us on every television channel and radio station. The message of ‘‘sexual liberation’’ surrounds us. Unfortunately, to curb this permissiveness, the message of purity has often been couched in terms like ‘‘Just say no,’’ ‘‘True love waits,’’ ‘‘Abstain.’’ All of these slogans are good, but they can create the impression that purity is nothing more than a system of restraints. This may not appeal to a person who only knows the immediate ‘‘love’’ and affection of purely physical relationships. Because of this, the message of chastity needs to be rehabilitated so that everyone will be able to see the clear and obvious link between true love, total freedom, and purity. It is not about avoiding STDs. It is about having a better kind of love. Most importantly, it is about wanting heaven for the person you love.

Third, to get this message out, I would recommend starting a chastity club at your high school or college. This is not an abstinence bereavement group but an apostolate to spread the message of chastity courageously. Through the club, you can connect with students who share your passion for purity and launch any number of projects and activities to transform your campus. Some of the projects involve visiting local high schools or junior highs to spread the message of chastity to younger students. Considering that there are over sixteen million high school students in America, there is much work to be done.[2] If your school is Catholic, another goal of the club can be to start up Eucharistic Adoration on your campus, with the help of the chaplain or campus minister. This has an unspeakable power to sanctify the students (and faculty) because you are bringing Christ Himself into their midst. In the words of Pope John Paul II,

“The Eucharist is the secret of my day. It gives strength and meaning to all my activities of service to the Church and to the whole world. . . . Let Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament speak to your hearts. It is He who is the true answer of life that you seek. He stays here with us: He is God with us. Seek Him without tiring, welcome Him without reserve, love Him without interruption: today, tomorrow, forever.”[3]

One girl said after hearing a talk on sexual purity, ‘‘I agree with everything you say. I know most of my friends would, too. It all makes so much sense. It’s just that no one else I know is actually doing it. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to be the first one. Maybe if a group of us all started together.’’[4] This is your job—to create a culture in which it is easy to be good, a climate favorable to purity. In the words of Saint Catherine of Siena, ‘‘If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire.’’[5]

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[1]. Mary Beth Bonacci, ‘‘Expressing Love: How to Speak the Language of Permanence,’’ Be, May–June 2000, 10.

[2]. ‘‘Digest of Education Statistics Tables and Figures, 2005,’’ The National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.

[3]. Pope John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano 41 (October 8, 1997), 7.

[4]. Shalit, A Return to Modesty, 229.

[5]. St. Catherine of Siena, letter 368.

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