chastity purity

Morning Snow

6:00:00 AMUnknown

Walking into the front room of the house, I could not withhold from tightly squinting my already barely awakened eyes. The room was incredibly bright. The outside of the two large windows found themselves exposed to the thick snowflakes that brushed up against the thin glass with the ferocious force of the swirling wind. On the inside, the light heat could barely touch the glass. The biting cold air that sneaked through the crevices of the window, fought with the heat to find its reign in the house. The windows stood defenseless. The curtains being the only protection against the cold for the house, were gathered into two thick twists on each side. They rested on tiny hooks with just enough strength for the soft fabric to remain up. What would normally be natural light coming through the windows was intensified by the reflection of the pureness of the snow. As I made my way through the room, I saw my sister mesmerized with wonder. She looked through the glass as if hypnotized by its splendor.

Joining in this wonder, I came to a very clear realization-the snowy day was not only meant to be admired from inside, but also celebrated outdoors. We took every possible weather precaution. We layered ourselves with the coziest material we could find. We had thick, long socks that could barely fit into our boots. Our scarves were wrapped tightly around our necks, hidden under our jackets. Our small hands being swallowed by the huge gloves always made us smile. We were set for the unexpected. It was difficult to walk through the massive amount of snow right outside our front door, but we made our way through. We knew the snow meant timelessness, creativity, and adventure-the day was ours.

The snow in all its magnificence is like the radiance of purity. One cannot help but be drawn to and wonder about the beauty of the beloved as my sister and I were drawn to the splendor of the snow. We find that we can show reverence to beloved not only with wonder about them, but also with purity and chastity.

In Dietrich von Hildebrand’s In the the Defense of Purity, he distinguishes the difference between the virtues of purity and chastity, but stresses their significant relation to each other. Chastity exclusively refers to the sexual sphere. Hildebrand explains that chastity cannot be addressed to sexless beings such as that of angels, but on the other hand an angel is a perfect example of purity. When we speak only of chastity, we see it as a protection against any negative values towards sex. Hildebrand says “chastity means keeping the sexual secret hidden, as a domain whose disposition lies in God’s hand.” [1]

When we speak of purity, we must understand that it does not solely relate to the guarding of the sexual sphere from any misuse as chastity does. Purity is not the protection of the sexual secret, but rather when one is responsive to the great value of sexuality, purity results. In Hildebrand’s words, purity is a symbol of “unsullied whiteness, the lily, and the unclouded light,” it is the splendor of innocence and virtue that comes from the person.[2] As we place emphasis on human purity, then we can speak of purity that implies and demands a particular attitude towards sex.

Therefore, let us respond to the beloved not only in reverence towards their beauty, but also reverence with purity and chastity. Let us give what is due to the beloved like that response of being drawn to the snow with wonder.

[1] Dietrich von Hildebrand, In the Defense of Purity. 47
[2] Ibid., 47

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