Book Talk Tuesday, Introduction to the Devout Life, Part 3, Chapter 12

Book Talk Tuesday, Introduction to the Devout Life, Part 3, Chapter 12


PURITY is the lily among virtues–by it men approach to the Angels.
There is no beauty without purity, and human purity is chastity. We
speak of the chaste as honest, and of the loss of purity as dishonour;
purity is an intact thing, its converse is corruption. In a word, its
special glory is in the spotless whiteness of soul and body.

No unlawful pleasures are compatible with chastity; the pure heart is
like the mother of pearl which admits no drop of water save that which
comes from Heaven,–it is closed to every attraction save such as are
sanctified by holy matrimony. Close your heart to every questionable
tenderness or delight, guard against all that is unprofitable though it
may be lawful, and strive to avoid unduly fixing your heart even on
that which in itself is right and good.

Every one has great need of this virtue: those living in widowhood need
a brave chastity not only to forego present and future delights, but to
resist the memories of the past, with which a happy married life
naturally fills the imagination, softening and weakening the will.
Saint Augustine lauds the purity of his beloved Alipius, who had
altogether forgotten and despised the carnal pleasures in which his
youth was passed. While fruits are whole, you may store them up
securely, some in straw, some in sand or amid their own foliage, but
once bruised there is no means of preserving them save with sugar or
honey. Even so the purity which has never been tampered with may well
be preserved to the end, but when once that has ceased to exist nothing
can ensure its existence but the genuine devotion, which, as I have
often said, is the very honey and sugar of the mind.

The unmarried need a very simple sensitive purity, which will drive
away all over-curious thoughts, and teach them to despise all merely
sensual satisfactions. The young are apt to imagine that of which they
are ignorant to be wondrous sweet, and as the foolish moth hovers
around a light, and, persisting in coming too near, perishes in its
inquisitive folly, so they perish through their unwise approach to
forbidden pleasures. And married people need a watchful purity whereby
to keep God ever before them, and to seek all earthly happiness and
delight through Him Alone, ever remembering that He has sanctified the
state of holy matrimony by making it the type of His own union with the

The Apostle says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without
which no man shall see the Lord:” [87] by which holiness he means
purity. Of a truth, my daughter, without purity no one can ever see
God; [88] nor can any hope to dwell in His tabernacle except he lead an
uncorrupt life; [89] and our Blessed Lord Himself has promised the
special blessing of beholding Him to those that are pure in heart.

[87] Heb. xii. 14.

[88] S. Matt. v. 8.

[89] Ps. xv. 2.