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Saturday, June 25, 2016

On the Incurableness of the Vice of Impurity

On the Incurableness of the Vice of Impurity
by Fr. Franz Hunolt, 1691-1746
And when Solomon was now old, his heart was turned away by women to follow strange gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. But Solomon worshipped Astarthe the goddess of the Sidonians, and Moloch the idol of the ammonites. --3 Kings 11: 4-5 

Subject:1. There is no vice which so blinds the human understanding. 2. None which so hardens the human will in wickedness, as the vice of impurity

"For he was at the point of death."--John iv. 47.

Introduction: That is a time when one requires help, when one is at the point of death. But it is also a time when great skill is required to help; and it is a certain sign that a disease is incurable, when nothing but a miracle on the part of God can cure it. With reason then did the ruler, in today's Gospel, beg of our Lord to come: "Lord, come down, before that my son die; (John iv. 49) " there is no time for delay, because he has already begun to breathe his last. A malady of that kind, my dear brethren, is impurity, of which I have already spoken; and it is an incurable and desperate malady, so that he who is infected with it has already begun to die an eternal death. For when it has once become deep-rooted, it can hardly be cured, unless by a miracle of divine grace. The reason of that is--

Plan of Discourse.

There is no vice which so blinds the understanding. Such is the subject of the first and longer part of my sermon. No vice which so hardens the human will in wickedness, as the vice of impurity. Such is the subject of the second part. I have no hopes that what I am about to say will do any good to those who are addicted to impurity because there in hardly any chance of their conversion; so that I address myself chiefly to the innocent, in order to warn them against this frightful vice.

Help me to do so, Immaculate Virgin, and you too, holy guardian angels.

Zeuxis once painted a picture of a young man carrying grapes, so naturally, that the birds came and pecked at the canvas, thinking that the grapes were real. All who saw the picture praised it, and wondered at the skill of the artist. Zeuxis alone was dissatisfied at it, on account of a great fault he observed in it. And what fault was that? If, he said, the grapes are painted so well that the birds come and peck at them, the boy who is carrying them, must be very badly painted, or else the birds would be afraid to come so near him. Now, what do I mean by this, my dear brethren? A similar picture is drawn before the human understanding by sensual desires; but they paint in vivid colors only what is pleasing and flattering to the senses; so that the ardent desire of enjoying those pleasures may not be interfered with by shame or fear.

Meanwhile, all the bitterness and torment that such pleasures cause, and everything that could frighten men away from them, is carefully kept in the background, so that the understanding is blinded, and neither sees nor desires to see any of those deterrent causes; nay, once it has become enslaved by impurity, it is incapable of seeing or recognizing them. Thus, the impure man is not frightened by the omnipresence and Almighty power of God, from whom nothing is concealed, and who can annihilate him in an instant, during the actual commission of his shameful crime, (O great God. who can dare to despise and insult Thee before Thy very eyes!) nor by the uncertainty of death, which may surprise him in the midst of his wickedness, and hand him over to the devil as it has done with many already, (what a terrible thing to die in the very act of sin, or at least in the state of sin, and thus to enter into eternity!); nor by the strictness of divine justice, before which even the Saints have trembled, and which he may have to face with his sin still fresh upon him; nor by the thought of the beauty and endless joys of heaven, which he barters so miserably for a momentary gratification, (what folly, to give away eternal and unspeakable joys for the sake of indulging a brutish passion!); nor by the terrors of hell, which follow on the loss of Heaven; it is enough to make one's hair stand on end to think of burning in a fire forever, without any hope of being released! Yes, these are truths which he often thought of formerly, and they inspired him with a fear of sin; they caused him to feel a bitter remorse the first time he gratified his impure desires, and they kept him for a time in constant uneasiness; they are truths that can terrify any other sinner, no matter how wicked he is, and bring him to repentance and amendment of life.

But the unchaste man, who has become addicted to sensual pleasures, or who has been immeshed in the toils of an impure attachment for any creature, is no more impressed by those truths, than he would be by the fables of the old pagan poets. He does not even think of them; if his blinded understanding is still capable of having a thought of the kind, he puts it away at once. He has no eyes, as St. Augustine, an experienced witness, says, for anything but the filth in which he is immersed. The Holy Scriptures say of the two impure judges, who wished to load the chaste Susanna into sin: "They perverted their own mind, and turned away their eyes, that they might not look unto Heaven, nor remember just judgments." St. Ambrose writes of a man who was so given to this vice, that it really made him blind, and when he saw that his sight was leaving him day by day, he cried out: "Farewell, friendly light;" I will rather become blind altogether than give up mY pleasures. Farewell, beautiful sun. I shall no more enjoy your light, but it does not matter, so long as I can gratify my passion! The same might be said by all who are resolved to give themselves up to impurity, and to indulge in unlawful affection: good-bye, friendly light of my soul, I do not want you any longer. Eternal principles, divine truths, inspirations of the Holy Ghost, salutary rays of grace, inspirations of my guardian angel, warnings and sermons of the servants of God, farewell! your light will never shine on me again. God will sometimes send you into my heart, but I shall not perceive you; you will knock, and I will not open to you; it will be of no use to send lights from above into my soul; for I shall henceforth wander about in my blindness, although it leads me into the darkness of hell.

The same may be said of all works of devotion; farewell, friendly light. Prayer and good works, I have hitherto been attentive to you with zeal and heavenly consolations; but now I must leave you; I have no more taste for you. Holy Sacrament of Penance, I have often cleansed my conscience by your means, but now I have done with you; it is impossible for me to repent of my sins of impurity, since I love them more than any thing else. Precious Food of Angels, Flesh and Blood of my Saviour Jesus Christ, with which I have hitherto strengthened my soul once or twice a month, I desire you no longer; I prefer, like the prodigal, to satisfy my hunger with the husks of swine, rather than sit at the Table of God, and eat the Bread of Angels. Word of God, which it has been my pleasure and joy to hear, to the great profit of my soul, farewell; I cannot bear you now, for you speak to me of things that I hate to hear of, and you threaten me with eternal damnation for what I most love and am determined not to leave; good-bye, I have heard the last of you! Spiritual books, Lives of the Saints, in the reading of which I used to spend an hour every Sunday and holyday, away with you; I can no longer collect my thoughts, for they constantly turn to where my treasure is. You, Saints, please me no longer, for your chaste lives are a constant reproach to my excesses! Tender love and devotion to the Mother of God, what a consolation you were to me often, you were always my refuge in temptation, my helper in want, my consoler in afflictions, my only hope after God when I was doing penance for my other sins; farewell; I have no taste for you any more! I still say the Rosary every day, but I have no hope, nor confidence in it, because I know, Mary, that thou hatest this impure heart of mine from which those prayers come. God, and all that belongs to His service, farewell; I cannot think of you any more, for you disturb me in my pleasure! Divine light of my soul, farewell!

And so it is in reality, my dear brethen. What a holy and perfect man David was; I wonder as often as I think of it; a man after God's own heart, who always walked in the presence of God: "My eyes are ever towards the Lord (Ps. xxiv. 15.);" whose mouth was always filled with the divine praises: "Seven times a day I have given praise to Thee (Ibid, cxviii. 101.); " whose heart with all its thoughts and desires was occupied all day long with the law and the commandments of God: "Thy law is my meditation all the day (Ibid 97.); " who used to break his rest during the night, in order to praise God: "I rose at midnight to give praise to Thee (Ibid 62.);" who used to value the divine inspirations more than all earthly sweetness: "How sweet are Thy words to my palate, more than honey to my mouth (Ibid. 103.); " "who was so full of the love of God that he could swear that he would never forget Him nor His commandments: "I have sworn and am determined to keep the judgments of Thy justice (Ps. cxviii. 10)." "Thy justifications I will never forget, for by them Thou hast given me life (Ibid. 03.)." David, I say, had hardly looked with a lustful eye on Bethshibee, and committed sin with her when, as the Sacred Writer tells us, he spent some years without thinking of God. So much was he infatuated with this vice, that he did not even see how wicked he was until the Prophet Nathan explained it to him by the well-known parable of the poor man's ewe lamb; then his eyes were opened, and he remembered his God, and how grievously he had sinned, and he cried out: "I have sinned against the Lord (II Kings xii. 13)."

If there are any unfortunates here present, who are victims of an unlawful passion, I call them all to witness if such is not their own experience? No matter how pious, devout and zealous they were in the divine service, as soon as they were ensnared by impurity, did they not at once lose all taste and inclination for piety and good works? It cannot be otherwise; St. Paul says: "But the sensual man perceiveth not those things that are of the Spirit of God; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand (I Cor. ii. 14. );" the light of his understanding is gone out, and he no longer finds joy or pleasure in anything, but the gratification of his brutish passion. While thus blinded, he pays no attention to his other duties and obligations; his honor and good name, his position and authority, his office and dignity, farewell to them all, once his desires get the upper hand. The father forgets what he owes his children, the child what he owes his parents; the husband forgets his wife, the wife her husband; the man of high position forgets the character he has to keep up before the people; the religious and the priest forget the holiness and dignity of their state; the young man forgets his advancement, the young girl her virginal honor. All these things are utterly disregarded when unlawful love gains the upper hand.

In this blindness sins are heaped on sins with the utmost recklessness. The demon of impurity is called in Holy Scriptures, Asmodeus, which means in Hebrew, an abundance of sins; to signify that the unchaste body is like a heap of countless sins of all kinds. And such is really the case. The thief does not steal every day; the murderer is not always taking away people's lives; the passionate man is not always cursing and swearing; the vindictive man does not always seek revenge; the drunkard is not always intoxicated; but the impure man who is entangled in the snares of a guilty passion, commits so many sins every day, that his life is like a stormy sea, in which one mountain-wave of sin drives away another. Let us try to count up, my dear brethren, the fearful number of sins committed by such a man in thought alone; on the supposition, which is likely to be true, that he thinks of impure things wilfully only ten times a day, that makes already three hundred mortal sins in a month, and more than three thousand six hundred in a year; what will it be if he continues that mode of life for two, three, five, ten years, or longer? And yet, I have only reckoned ten sins of thought in a day. As a matter of fact, all his thoughts from morning till night, and even the night are about impure subjects; he is always, as far as in him lies, ready to gratify his passions, and it is only the want of opportunity which prevents him from carrying his desires into effect.

What a countless number of sins are thus committed in thought alone! I will not speak of sins committed by immodest looks and conversations, by impure letters, by unchaste touches, and in other ways that I dare not name. I will not speak of the different kinds of sins, which arise from impurity committed with married people, with relatives, or with persons consecrated to God. They hardly do anything but sin, so that their whole lives, while they are addicted to an impure affection, are one continued sin. We might say that with other vices, the devil fishes for sins with a hook; he has to wait a long time often, before the bait is taken; but with impurity he catches sins as it were, in a net, and by the hundred. If the impure man wishes to confess his sins, he cannot count them all; it is humanly speaking, impossible to do so, and his confessor has only to ask how long, how many weeks, months, or years he has been in the habit of impurity so as to be able to give a guess, at the vast number of sins, thought, word, and deed he has committed.

In this blindness, there is no sin too great for the unchaste man to commit, if it is necessary to his ends; if it is required to make an enemy of his best friend, he does so; to trouble his brothers and sisters, he makes little scruple of that; to dishonor his father and mother, he does so without hesitation; if he must keep up appearances by receiving the sacraments some times, sacrilegious confessions, communions, and masses heard without profit, through want of true sorrow, are small matters to him. He has no respect for holy places consecrated to God, if he can there satisfy his lust by impure looks and desires. The blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle does not frighten him any more than if It were a dead thing; for in Its very presence his heart is filled with filthy thoughts, and his eyes seek for new objects of gratification. Mention any of the greatest sins, such as murder, parricide, heresy, idolatry, which he is not ready to commit, for the sake of his impure love.

King David, the holiest of men, imbrued his hands in the blood of Urias, his most faithful and innocent soldier, on account of an impure passion. King Solomon, whose wisdom the world wondered at, bent his knee before idols of wood and stone, and offered incense to them; to such a degree of folly was he brought by impurity. Tertullian says of him: Solomon lost the glory that he had with God, by women who brought him into idolatry." The city of Lubeck, as Drexelius narrates, was shocked by the example of a young man of good family, who after a long indulgence in impurity, became so infatuated with a person of beautiful appearance, that neither the entreaties of his mother and his relatives, nor the fear of God, nor his decaying health, nor the loss of his wealth could bring him to repentance; so that he at last was reduced to poverty and distress. His mother, who had hitherto supplied aLl his wants, seeing the bad use he made of what she gave him, refused to do any more for him; so that the young man, blinded by his passion, rushed on her with drawn sword, threw her down and threatened to take her life, unless she gave him money to carry on his infamous amours. When his crime became known, he was afraid of being severely punished for it, so he withdrew with his companion into a house of public shame, and lived there until he had spent all the money he had extorted from his mother, as well as what he could get by selling his clothes; until at last being reduced to the extreme of destitution, in a fit of madness he thrust a long knife into his breast and kept turning it round and enlarging the wound (as was verified after by an examination of the dead body) until he breathed forth his accursed soul.

In our own times religious and priests have been known to leave their convents, and to forget their sacred character, to deny their faith and become heretics, and nearly always that they might indulge in impurity. If there are any real atheists amongst Christians (that there are real atheists who do not believe in God there is unfortunately no doubt) but if there are any such amongst Christians, they are those who are blinded by the passion of impurity, to such an extent that although they make outward profession of Christianity, they really do not believe properly in God or in any of His truths. This is almost the only vice which makes a man have recourse to witch-craft and devilry, and brings him so far as to deny God and His Saints, and make himself a slave of the devil, for the sake of gratifying his passions, as is proved by many examples, which time does not suffer me to narrate.

Oh, how I pity poor Tobias, when he lost his sight! "Joy be to thee always;" said the Angel Raphael to him. Alas, said the blind man, "What manner of joy shall be to me, who sit in darkness and see not the light of Heaven?" But I could weep tears of blood, through heartfelt compassion for those unfortunates, who are so blinded by their filthy passion, that they cannot see their misfortune, and actually love it! O unfortunate souls, how are you to be helped? I hardly know how; for as there is no vice which so blinds the understanding, so there is none which so hardens the will in evil, as we shall see in the:

Second Part.

This follows necessarily from the first part, and therefore does not need much proof. For, as the will cannot work unless the understanding goes before with its light and knowledge, it is evident that when the understanding is blinded to good, as is the case with those who are given to impurity, the will cannot be led on to good. There is a great difference between the maladies of the body and those of the soul; if I am attacked by a dangerous fever, I may be cured although I know nothing of the nature of my illness, nay, even if through the violence of the disease, I am utterly unconscious, it is enough if the doctor knows what to do to cure me. But if I am sick in the soul, that is, in the state of sin, it is not enough that God, the only Physician of souls, knows my miserable state and can cure it; I must first see the malice of my sin, and the misery of my condition, in order to help in the work of my cure by repentance and a purpose of amendment. But what hope of repentance can an unchaste man have? How can he have it, since he is so blinded, that he does not even know the malice, misery and danger of his state, and therefore pays no attention to it?

Besides, even if he did open his eyes and see his misery, it is almost an impossibility for him to resolve to abandon it, and to hate above every evil what he hitherto loved more than anything else; nay, humanly speaking, it is an impossibility for him to renounce an impure passion and affection, as long as he is in the occasion of it. We know that bad habits become a sort of necessity; but there is none that takes a quicker hold of the heart, strikes deeper root and lasts longer than impurity, when once one has become addicted to it. Have you never remarked what the ivy does to the oak? It first creeps over the outside of the bark, and as it gets stronger, it grows into the oak and forms but one tree with it. Try now to separate them from each other, and you will find that you cannot tear down the ivy without bringing away the bark of the oak, and so killing it. So it is with carnal pleasures. The desires of them increase with continued indulgence, until they become a second nature, so that it is easier to separate the soul from the body, than to take them out of the heart. This is the vice of which God says in the Book of Job: "His bones shall be filled with the vices of his youth, and they shall sleep with him in the dust. For when evil shall be sweet in his mouth, he will hide it under his tongue (Job xx. 11, 12)." "His sin even to hell (Ibid, xxiv. 19)."

I know well that there is nothing impossible to the Almighty, but if anything were impossible to Him, it would be the conversion of one who is entangled in the meshes of an impure love; for what means could God use to bring him to true repentance, as long as he is in the occasion which foments his passion? When camphor is once set alight, it defies all efforts to put it out, and burns even under the water. Agricola says: "The nature of camphor is so suitable to fire, that when it is once alight, it burns until it is altogether consumed, and will burn even under water." See the unhappy state of an impure man. Isaias says, using the words of the Holy Ghost: "You shall conceive heat, your breath as fire shall devour you. And the people shall be as ashes after a fire." "And the Prophet Ezechiel: "Thy uncleanness is execrable; because I desire to cleanse thee and thou art not cleansed from thy filthiness;" that, I have not been able to do; "Neither shalt thou be cleansed before I cause my indignation to rest in thee."

It is a terrible thing that Father Veja relates of a Sicilian to the Indies in pursuit of wealth, accompanied by his paramour. After a few days they were overtaken by a fearful tempest, which so frightened them, that they resolved to be reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, and to separate from each other. The tempest ceased, and they arrived safe at Manilla. There they forgot their resolution, and recommenced their former sinful life. After some time they again embarked, and such a great storm arose that the ship was driven on a rock and nearly all on board perished. The merchant, by a special act of divine goodness, was enabled to hold on to a piece of the wreck and so to keep his head above water, and what is still more to be wondered at, his companion in sin was enabled to do the same. In this dangerous condition, they floated about for some time, cursing the wicked life they had been leading, and, shedding tears of bitter sorrow, they promised God earnestly that if He would save them, they would never again offend Him by the sin of impurity. The merciful God heard their prayer and on the following day they reached land, and again arrived at Manilla. Who would not think that now at least, the sinful man would have entered a monastery, and the woman, like another Magdalen, have done penance in a cave? And yet they returned to their former mode of life.

But God was still patient with them, and found another means of trying to bring them to do penance; He sent a mortal illness to the merchant, so that according to the opinions of the physicians, there was no hope of his recovery. What shall I do now, said the sick man? How can I prepare myself for death? There is no hope for me; I am lost. He gave the same answer to the priest who went to give him the last Sacraments; still the latter was so far successful, that the dying man was induced to send away his accomplice in guilt, after which he confessed his sins and received the other Sacraments. Now, at last it seemed as if he had finally made his peace with God, but, oh terrible power of impure desire! no sooner had he begun to get a little better, so that the doctors told him he was out of danger, than he began to repent of having turned his paramour out of doors, and sending for her, he begged her pardon for having done so, throwing the blame on the stupidity of the priest, as he phrased it, who had frightened him with the danger of death; then taking her by the hand, he leaned forward to embrace her, and in so doing, gave up his sinful soul to the devil. So true are the words, "His sin even to hell," so that penance even in the last moment can hardly be a real supernatural penance.

I no longer wonder at that which the Abbot Rupert at first found so strange; namely, that when Noe heard from God that the world was to be destroyed by a deluge, he did not have recourse to the divine mercy in prayer: "The end of all flesh is come before me; the earth is filled with iniquity through them, and I will destroy them with the earth (Gen. vi. 13)." Noe knew well that he was pleasing to God, and that his prayers would be heard, why then did he not try to avert such a terrible punishment from the human race? Could he not at least have asked God to mitigate it a little, and to destroy only some families? Certainly, Moses acted quite differently when God in His anger threatened to destroy all the people of Israel; for he offered himself as a victim to appease the divine anger: "Either forgive them this trespass, or if thou do not, strike me out of the book that Thou hast written (Exod. xxxii. 31, 32);" Noe, on the contrary, never said a word to prevent the destruction of the whole world: "Noe, a just and perfect man, remains silent and does not pray for the unjust," says Rupert, nor try to appease the anger of God that they may not be punished."

This is the reason, my dear brethren. The sin of the Israelites in the desert was idolatry, a far greater sin than impurity, but not so difficult to repent of and to avoid, and therefore, after the first promise on the part of Moses, idolatry disappeared. On the other hand, at the time of the deluge, the vice of impurity had gained the upper hand: "The sons of God seeing the daughters of men, that they were fair, took to themselves wives of all which they chose (Gen. vi. 2)." Noe saw that there was no hope of repentance in such a case, and therefore he did not think it worth his while to pray. The event justified his anticipations, for we do not read of a single one being converted, in spite of the threatened punishment. Hence, all spiritual writers agree in saying that it requires a miracle of grace to make an unchaste man leave off his vicious habits and unlawful amours, and be really converted. What a great happiness it was for you, Augustine, to get that wonderful grace through the prayers and tears that your holy mother Monica offered for you during the space of seventeen years! You acknowledge yourself that you so often wished to be free from the burden, and yet, that you could not overcome yourself nor give up your vicious habits: "I groaned under the iron bondage of my own will." You acknowledge that God, in His mercy, drew you out of the abyss, as it were, by the hair of the head.

Oh, you who now a days are converted, and have given up your impure habits, you too can speak of your happiness! Certainly you have great reason to return humble thanks every day of your lives to God, for the extraordinary grace by which He freed you from the occasion of sin, either through the death of your accomplice, or by some other act of His power. Is it not true, that if that occasion was not taken away, it would be impossible for you to resolve to quit it? You must acknowledge in your conscience that such is the case; that you neither could, nor would have done so. But you, unhappy people who are still living in sin, do not expect that God will give you the grace which He bestows upon hardly one in a hundred. Yet, what am I saying? You do not even wish for that grace! A physician once said to a sick man, who was asking him for something to allay his thirst: "Wait, and I will give you what you want." "Good," said the sick man; "but I do not wish the thirst to be taken away altogether." He wished to feel a little thirsty, that he might have more pleasure in drinking. So it is with the impure; they do not wish to be freed from their desires, that they may have the pleasure of gratifying them. St. Augustine says of himself: "I prayed to Thee, Lord, and yet, I was afraid Thou wouldst hear me too quickly, and free me from the disease of concupiscence, which I preferred to gratify rather than to overcome."

How can there be any hope of conversion under such circumstances? Terrible are the words of the Prophet Osee; they should make one dread even the name of this vice: "They will not set their thoughts to return to their God (Osee v. 4);" that is, not only will they refuse to be converted, but they will not even once turn their thoughts to God. And why not? "For the spirit of fornication is in the midst of them, and they have not known the Lord (Ibid)." And will they then never think of conversion? No, not even in old age; when their bodily strength has left them, their hearts will still be full of impure desires. But will they not think of God on their death beds, when most men try to think of Him? No, not even then, and even then least of all; their sin is even to hell. Would to God, my dear brethren, that this were not confirmed by bitter experience!

Passing over the numerous examples that are given in books, I will relate one that was told me by one of our Fathers who is still living. He was once called to a dying man, who confessed his sins, and received the last Sacraments with every mark of fervor, so that the Father went away consoled, thinking the man well prepared for death. Hardly had he left the house, when the maid-servant came running after him, calling him back. What is the matter? asked the Father, is he dead already? No said the maid-servant, with pallid countenance; it is with me that the sick man used to sin; when you went away I had to go into his room for something, and as soon as he saw me, he made impure proposals to me, saying that if I consented, he would die satisfied. The Father ran back at once, but found the man speechless; he tried his best to arouse him to renew his sorrow for sin, but while he was so engaged, the man died. Father Segneri relates a nearly similar example of a girl who lived in improper intimacy with her intended husband (unfortunately such sins are only too common before marriage), God in his mercy sent her a dangerous illness, in order to put a stop to her crime; the illness lasted some months, so that she had time to repent. She profited by the opportunity and often renewed her sorrow and detestation of her sins, with a firm purpose of amendment. At last she asked her confessor's leave to speak to her partner in guilt, and to warn him to repent, that he might not lose his soul. The priest incautiously consented, not suspecting any evil, and suggested to her what she should say to warn him; but hardly had she laid eyes on her lover, when she forgot all she had intended to say: the old, impure flame burst forth anew, and she cried out with all the strength she had left: I have always loved you with my whole heart, and it is now that I can best prove my love for you; I know that I am to be damned for your sake, but no matter; I am quite willing that it should be so. With these words she fell back exhausted and gave up her unhappy soul! The priest and the young man, who were standing by, were almost frightened out of their lives. O desperate passion! "O infernal flame of impure love!" (I might cry out with St. Jerome), which can hardly be extinguished until it is buried in the flames of hell.

Unfortunate souls, what shall I say to you? I can be sorry for you, and that is about all; unless the Almighty God in His mercy, gives you some wonderful grace and opens your eves! Innocent souls, it is to warn you that I have undertaken to speak of this subject; it is for you also that I repeat the conclusion of my last sermon: Bless God, and thank Him for the special grace by which he has hitherto preserved you from this accursed vice; but be all the more careful to preserve the precious treasure of your purity. The very first thing you learn from this vice, is hurtful to your innocence; a single moment in dangerous company, may be for you the beginning of an unhappy eternity; a single immodest look, or any other occasion, may be the first unhappy moment of an accursed life: a single immodest conversation, or an impure love tale may be the cause of your having to weep and gnash your teeth in hell; a single impure thought, wilfully indulged in, may be the cause of final impenitence to you! Do not tire of the constant violence you must use in combating the desires of the flesh; victory will be followed by an exceeding great reward. What glory for you, chaste souls, to be able to offer a pure sacrifice to the Almighty! The angels in Heaven will honor you as their dearest friends; the Immaculate Virgin and Mother of God will take you under her special protection, as her beloved children; Jesus Christ, the Spouse of chaste hearts, will invite you to His eternal and joyous marriage feast; the calm and peace of your own consciences will give you more comfort and pleasure, than all earthly delights, that the world and the flesh can give, and you can rejoice in the sure hope that you are dear children of God, who will follow the Lamb into eternal joys. Amen.