In this day and age, there are very few who speak or write about chastity since the world have become so lustful and sensual, but chastity is in fact one of the virtues that is most taught in the Holy Scripture. While most of the verses about chastity are found in the New Testament (which we will examine after the Old Testament passages on chastity), there are also some very noteworthy ones in the Old Testament Scripture which shows us that both the married and the unmarried Jews of the Old Law also were commanded by God to practice the virtue of chastity.
CHASTITY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE OLD LAW
Chastity is a virtue above other virtues according to the biblical Book of Exodus and Jewish traditional teaching and history
It is described in The Book of Exodus how God, when He spoke to Moses and told him to tell the Jewish people that He wanted them to “be to Me a priestly kingdom, and a holy nation”, that God wanted all of the Jews (married as well as unmarried) to practice one specific virtue for three days before they were able to meet Him and enter into a covenant and union with Him and receive the Ten Commandments, and that virtue was chastity: “He [Moses] said to them: Be ready against the third day, and come not near your wives.” (Exodus 19:15)
Exodus 19:9-11,14-15 “The Lord said to him [Moses]: Lo, now will I come to thee in the darkness of a cloud, that the people may hear me speaking to thee, and may believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people to the Lord. And he [God] said to him [Moses]: Go to the people, and sanctify them today, and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments. And let them be ready against the third day: for on the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. … And Moses came down from the mount to the people, and sanctified them. And when they had washed their garments, He said to them: Be ready against the third day, and come not near your wives.”
Unless the people had practiced chastity for three days, they would not have received the grace to appear before God and receive His Laws. The remarkable thing about this is that God first chose to tell the people to practice chastity before He told them about the Ten Commandments. The reason why Our Lord did this was to show us how much He values and wants us to practice the angelic virtue of chastity, thus showing us all that we must be very pure and holy when serving God.
The Haydock Bible Commentary explains the verses of Exodus 19 in the following way: “Ver. 10. [and let them wash their garments], with their bodies, as the Jews understand by this expression. They were also to abstain from their wives, &c. By which exterior practices, they were admonished of the interior purity which God required. All nations seem to have adopted similar observances of continence, washing themselves, and putting on their best attire, when they appeared before God. See Herodotus, &c. (Calmet) --- Ver. 15. [come not near your wives]. St. Paul recommends continence when people have to pray, 1 Corinthians 7. [Even] On the pagan temple of Epidaurus, this inscription was placed, "Let those be chaste who enter here" (St. Clement of Alexandria, strom. 5)”, and so, it is not strange that, if even pagans who do not know God observe the virtue of chastity at some times for the sake of serving their false god or gods, that Christians who are reborn through Christ’s Blood should adopt an even greater and more virtuous and chaste lifestyle than the pagans did, adding many more periods of chastity since this is only right, even by those who are married, as St. Paul suggests.
It is of course not a coincidence that the virtue that God commanded the Jewish people to practice in order to become sanctified and be worthy to appear before Him and enter into a covenant with Him, was chastity. This moment when the Jewish people were to first meet Our Lord and enter into a Covenant with Him and receive the Ten Commandments was one of the greatest moments in the history of the Salvation of mankind and a once in a lifetime event. God solemnly bound Himself to the Jewish people through this spectacular event, and yet, God only asked that one specific virtue was to be practiced before meeting with Him, and that was chastity.
From this biblical example alone it is easy to see for an honest person who does not love his flesh and the sensuality of the world just how much God loves and appreciates that men and women practice the virtue of chastity. This example from Holy Scripture also shows us that God wants even married people to practice chastity. In truth, we see that God Himself classifies the act of observing chastity for a while for even the married as a part of becoming “sanctified” and worthy to appear before Him according to the words in the Holy Bible,contrary to what many lustful people now teach. Chastity is simply in a class of its own when compared to most of the other virtues, but too few people in the world care for or appreciate the inestimable graces that are received by people who practice chastity. It is undoubtedly so that a refusal to practice chastity, whether inside or outside of marriage, is one of the greatest causes of why most people are damned to burn in Hell for all eternity. This truth was also revealed to us by Our Lady of Fatima, who said: “The sins which lead most souls to hell are sins of the flesh... Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord and are not of God!”
One of the major problems that plagues Protestants and other heretics of today is that they have little or no understanding of the ancient custom of taking a permanent or temporal vow of chastity, even in marriage. This has occurred since in their short 475 year history, they have no examples of good and virtuous people doing such things in their inherently fleshly, impure and lustful religion. When a Protestant thinks of marriage, he automatically thinks that sex must occur and that he is allowed to perform all kinds of lascivious, perverse, unnatural or lustful sexual deeds while married, but that is obviously not the way Jewish or even early Christian people thought of or viewed marriage.
Living a celibate life within marriage was not unknown in Jewish tradition. It was told that Moses, who was married, remained continent the rest of his life after the command to abstain from sexual intercourse (Exodus 19:15) given in preparation for receiving the Ten Commandments, and that the seventy elders also abstained thereafter from their wives after their call, and so did Eldad and Medad when the spirit of prophecy came upon them. Indeed it was said that the prophets became celibate after the Word of the Lord communicated with them (Midrash Exodus Rabbah 19; 46.3; Sifre to Numbers 99 sect. 11; Sifre Zutta 81-82, 203-204; Aboth Rabbi Nathan 9, 39; Tanchuman 111, 46; Tanchumah Zaw 13; 3 Petirot Moshe 72; Shabbath 87a; Pesachim 87b, Babylonian Talmud).
Jewish tradition mentions that, although the people had to abstain from sexual relations with their wives for only three days prior to the revelation at Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:15), Moses chose to remain continent the rest of his life with the full approval of God. The rabbis explained that this was so because Moses knew that he was appointed to personally commune with God, not only at Mount Sinai but in general throughout the forty years of sojourning in the wilderness. For this reason Moses kept himself “apart from woman”, remaining in the sanctity of separation to be at the beck and call of God at all times; they cited God’s command to Moses in Deuteronomy 5:28 (Midrash Exodus Rabbah 19:3 and 46.3).
Moses understood how he was called by God to a more perfect and pure service than the rest of the Jewish people, and thus spoke accordingly, saying:
“‘If the Israelites, with whom the Shechinah spoke only on one occasion and He appointed them a time [thereof], yet the Torah said, Be ready against the third day, come not near a woman: I, with whom the Shechinah speaks at all times and does not appoint me a [definite] time, how much more so!’ And how do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He, gave His approval? Because it is written, Go say to them, Return to your tents, which is followed by, But as for thee, stand thou here by me. (The Babylonian Talmud Seder Mo'ed, Shabbath, Vol. II, tr. Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, Rebecca Bennet Publications, 1959, p. 411-412)
“Thus, Moses said: ‘If in connection with Mount Sinai, which was hallowed only for the occasion [of Revelation], we were told: Come not near a woman (ib. XIX, 15), then how much more must I, to whom He [God] speaks at all times, separate myself from my wife?’”
We also have information from the Jewish traditional teachings on Moses and his chaste and pure marriage after Sinai. In truth,
“it was God Himself who told him [to separate himself from his wife], for it says, "With him do I speak mouth to mouth" (Num. XII, 8). R. Judah also said that it was told him directly by God. For Moses too was included in the injunction, "Come not near a woman", thus all were forbidden; and when He afterwards said: "Return ye to your tents" (Deut. 5:30) He permitted them [to their husbands]. Moses then asked: "Am I included in them?" and God replied: "No; but As for thee, stand thou here by Me" (Deut. 5:31).” (Midrash Rabbah Exodus, XLVI. 3, tr. Rabbi Dr. S.M. Lehrman, Soncino Press, NY, 1983, p. 529)
The Holy Prophets Elijah and Elisha were also celibate all their lives (Zohar Hadash 2:1; Midrash Mishlei 30, 105, Pirke Rabbi Eliezer 33). Carmelite tradition teaches that a community of Jewish hermits had lived at the Mount of Carmel from the time of Elijah until the Catholic Order of the Carmelites were founded there. The Carmelite Constitution of 1281 teaches that from the time when Elijah and Elisha had dwelt devoutly on Mount Carmel, Priests and Prophets, Jewish and Christian, had lived praiseworthy lives in holy penitence and purity adjacent to the site of the fountain of Elisha, in an uninterrupted succession.
There is quite much about chastity in the Jewish tradition and writings, but the Jews of today, however, speak nothing or near to nothing about this. When for the sake of the Torah (i.e., intense study in it), a rabbi would abstain from relations with his wife, it was deemed permissible, for he was then cohabiting with the Shekinah (the Divine Presence) in the Torah (Zohar re Gn 1:27; 13:3 and Psalm 85:14 in the Discourse of Rabbi Phineas to Rabbis Jose, Judah, and Hiya).
Jewish tradition also mentions the celibate Zenu'im (Chaste ones) to whom the secret of the Name of God was entrusted, for they were able to preserve the Holy Name in “perfect purity” (Kiddushin 71a; Midash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 3:11; Yer. yoma 39a, 40a). Those in hope of a divine revelation consequently refrained from sexual intercourse and were strict in matters of purity (Enoch 83:2; Revelation 14:2-5). Indeed, Philo (Apol. pro Judaeis 1X, 14-17), Josephus, (Antiq. XVIII. 21) and St. Hippolytus (Philosophumena IX, IV, 28a) wrote on the celibacy of the Jewish Essenes hundreds of years before the discovery of their settlements in Qumran by the Dead Sea.
Philo Judaeus (c. 20 B.C.-50 A.D.), a Jewish philosopher, described Jewish women who were virgins who have kept their chastity not under compulsion, like some Greek priestesses, but of their own free will in their ardent yearning for Wisdom: “Eager to have Wisdom for their life-mate, they have spurned the pleasures of the body and desire no mortal offspring but those immortal children which only the soul that is dear to God can bring forth to birth” (Philo, Cont. 68; see also Philo, Abr. 100). For “the chaste are rewarded by receiving illumination from the concealed heavenly light” (Zohar 11. 229b-230a). Because “if the understanding is safe and unimpaired, free from the oppression of the iniquities or passions... it will gaze clearly on all that is worthy of contemplation” (Philo, Sob. 1.5). Conversely, “the understanding of the pleasure-loving man is blind and unable to see those things that are worth seeing... the sight of which is wonderful to behold and desirable” (Philo, Q. Gen.IV.245)
St. John Damascene (c. 676-749 A.D.), a Christian theologian, describes of Moses and the Israelites concerning purity, “Did not God, when He wished the Israelites to see Him, bid them purify the body? [Ex. 19:15; Num. 6:2] Did not the priests purify themselves and so approach the temple’s shrine and offer victims? And did not the law call chastity the great vow?” (An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book IV, Chapter XXIV.--Concerning Virginity). Why so few people today speak or write about chastity and purity is not hard to guess since almost all men and women, whether married or not, are filled with impurity, lust-fulness and sensuality. This is also the reason why God performs less miracles and why He reveals Himself to less people nowadays. Indeed, since almost all are entrenched in the flesh, this greatly hinders their spirituality and conversation with God. God, however, is never far away from those who seek and love purity and chastity. Thus, “If you long for God to manifest Himself to you, why do you not hear Moses, when he commands the people to be pure from the stains of marriage, that they may take in the vision of God [Ex. 19:15].” (St. Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity, Chapter XXIV, ca. 335-395 A.D.)
There is “a time to be far from embraces” for those who are married according to God’s Holy Word in the Book of Ecclesiastes
In truth, contrary to what many lustful people nowadays teach, Our Lord and God teaches us in The Book of Ecclesiastes that there is “A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces” (Ecclesiastes 3:5) and this teaching of Our Lord in Holy Scripture directly applies to the married since He wishes them to practice chastity from time to time in order to grow in holiness and purity. The phrase “A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces” refers to the marital act. Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary explains this verse: “Verse 5. Embraces. Continence was sometimes prescribed to married people, Leviticus xx. 18., and 1 Corinthians 7. (St. Jerome) (St. Augustine, Enchiridion 78.) (Calmet).” This clearly shows us not only that Our Lord wants all the married to sometimes abstain from the marital act, but also that the marital act sometimes must be abstained from altogether instead of being performed every day as the world and human sensuality predicates.
There are two main reasons for why the Holy Bible instructs married spouses to abstain from the marital act, teaching them that there is “a time to be far from embraces”. The first reason is that spouses who perform the marital act often will more easily fall into sexual sins either with his own spouse or with himself or with some other person, since he who indulges his flesh often is much more apt to fall into sexual sins of various sorts just like a person who drinks wine often is much more apt to fall into the sin of drunkenness than a person who rarely or never drinks wine at all. The second reason is that chastity helps a person’s prayer to become better and stronger and “give[s] you power to attend upon the Lord, without impediment” (1 Cor. 7:35) according to God’s Holy Word in the Bible.
The majority of the Jews in the Old Testament Religion awaited the coming and birth of the Messiah, and because of this, they also extolled the procreation of the Jewish race since they understood that the Messiah would be born from their race. The majority of them did not understand, however, that God would bring forth the Messiah from a pure virgin and without any sexual intercourse. The reason God chose to become man through a virgin, and without any human sexual relations is because Our Lord values chastity and purity above the marital life. It was not fitting that God who is purity Himself, should become man through an act that had become wounded and lustful through concupiscence after the fall and original sin of Adam and Eve. Thus, Our Lord decreed that He would become Man both since His dignity required this, but also because He wanted His people to understand that the meritorious action of observing chastity is a great virtue that showers humanity with blessings of different kinds.
St. Methodius, Banquet of the Ten Virgins (c. 311 A.D.): “For consider, O virgins, how he [St. Paul, in Holy Scripture], desiring with all his might that believers in Christ should be chaste, endeavors by many arguments to show them the dignity of chastity, as when he says, "Now, concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman," thence showing already very clearly that it is good not to touch a woman, laying it down, and setting it forth unconditionally. But afterwards, being aware of the weakness of the less continent, and their passion for intercourse, he permitted those who are unable to govern the flesh to use their own wives, rather than, shamefully transgressing, to give themselves up to fornication. Then, after having given this permission, he immediately added these words, "that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency;" which means, "if you, such as you are, cannot, on account of the incontinence and softness of your bodies, be perfectly continent, I will rather permit you to have intercourse with your own wives, lest, professing perfect continence, ye be constantly tempted by the evil one, and be inflamed with lust after other men’s wives."” (Discourse III, Chapter XI)
Speaking about the greatness and practice of purity and chastity of the men and women of the Old Law, St. Jerome (347-420) confirms the historical truth that chastity was practiced even then, as well as that Moses laid off the earthly garments of marriage in order to arraign himself in the pure and spotless garment of heaven and eternity, since he knew very well that “The truth is that, in view of the purity of the body of Christ, all sexual intercourse is unclean” and that sex is only tolerated and excused for the procreation of children: “Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children?”
St. Jerome, Against Jovinianus, Book 1, Section 20, A.D. 393: “But I wonder why he [Jovinianus] set Judah and Tamar before us for an example [Gen. xxxviii], unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan who was slain because he grudged his brother seed [Gen. xxxviii. 9]. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children? As regards Moses, it is clear that he would have been in peril at the inn, if Sephora which is by interpretation a bird, had not circumcised her son, and cut off the foreskin of marriage with the knife which prefigured the Gospel [Ex. iv. 24-26]. This is that Moses who when he saw a great vision and heard an angel, or the Lord speaking in the bush [Ex. iii. 5], could not by any means approach to him without first loosing the latchet of his shoe, that is, putting off the bonds of marriage. And we need not be surprised at this in the case of one who was a prophet, lawgiver, and the friend of God, seeing that all the people when about to draw nigh to Mount Sinai, and to hear the voice speaking to them, were commanded to sanctify themselves in three days, and keep themselves from their wives. I am out of order in violating historical sequence, but I may point out that the same thing was said by Ahimelech [1 Sam. xxi. 4] the priest to David when he fled to Nob: “If only the young men have kept themselves from women.” And David answered, “of a truth about these three days.” For the shew-bread, like the body of Christ, might not be eaten by those who rose from the marriage bed. And in passing we ought to consider the words “if only the young men have kept themselves from women.” The truth is that, in view of the purity of the body of Christ, all sexual intercourse is unclean. In the law also it is enjoined that the high priest must not marry any but a virgin, nor must he take to wife a widow [Levit. xxi. 13, 14]. If a virgin and a widow are on the same level, how is it that one is taken, the other rejected? And the widow of a priest is bidden abide in the house of her father, and not to contract a second marriage [Levit. xxi. 3]. If the sister of a priest dies in virginity, just as the priest is commanded to go to the funeral of his father and mother, so must he go to hers. But if she be married, she is despised as though she belonged not to him. He who has married a wife, and he who has planted a vineyard, an image of the propagation of children, is forbidden to go to the battle. For he who is the slave of his wife cannot be the Lord’s soldier. And the laver in the tabernacle was cast from the mirrors of the women who fasted, signifying the bodies of pure virgins: And within, in the sanctuary, both cherubim, and mercy-seat, and the ark of the covenant, and the table of shew-bread, and the candle-stick, and the censer, were made of the purest gold. For silver might not be brought into the holy of holies [Ex. xxxvii].”
The figure of the Eucharist in the Holy Bible requires people to be chaste in order to receive it, teaching us to be chaste for three days before receiving the Eucharist
Another example of chastity in the Old Testament is found in The First Book of Kings (also called First Samuel) where the future King David, being on the run from King Saul, asks the priest Achimelech for some food to alleviate his and his friends’ hunger.
1 Kings 21:2-5: “And David said to Achimelech the priest: ‘…Now therefore if thou have any thing at hand, though it were but five loaves, give me, or whatsoever thou canst find.’ And the priest answered David, saying: ‘I have no common bread at hand, but only holy bread, if the young men be clean, especially from women?’ And David answered the priest, and said to him: ‘Truly, as to what concerneth women, we have refrained ourselves from yesterday and the day before, when we came out, and the vessels of the young men were holy. Now this way is defiled, but it shall also be sanctified this day in the vessels.’”
Haydock Commentary explains some very noteworthy and interesting things about these remarkable verses: “Verse 4.If the young men be clean, &c. If this cleanness was required of them that were to eat that bread, which was but a figure of the bread of life which we receive in the blessed sacrament [the Eucharist]; how clean ought Christians be when they approach to our tremendous mysteries? And what reason hath the Church of God to admit none to be her ministers, to consecrate and daily receive this most pure sacrament, but such as devote themselves to a life of perpetual purity. (Challoner) --- Verse 5.Vessels, i.e., the bodies, have been holy; that is, have been kept from impurity (Challoner)… Septuagint, "my men are all purified." (Calmet) --- Defiled. Is liable to expose us to dangers of uncleanness, (Challoner) as we shall perhaps have to fight. (Haydock) --- Sanctified. That is, we shall take care, notwithstanding these dangerous circumstances, to keep our vessels holy; that is, keep our bodies from every thing that may defile us. (Challoner)”
Just like in the case of The Book of Exodus where God demanded the people to be chaste for three days before receiving His Holy Word, so the figure and sign of the most Holy Eucharist in the Old Testament time also refers to the three days of chastity before receiving it. We see the three day standard of practicing chastity before receiving the Holy Eucharist in these words: “Truly, as to what concerneth women, we have refrained ourselves from yesterday and the day before, when we came out, and the vessels of the young men were holy.” (1 Kings 21:5)
Likewise, the reception of the Word of God by the people of Israel in The Book of Exodus after three days of chastity signifies that there is a necessity for all to be chaste for three days in order to receive the Word of God (Our Lord Jesus Christ) made flesh in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Old Testament could not be more clear on the beneficial nature of chastity, and that it is necessary for a person to practice it for three days before receiving the Most Holy Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the Old Law and the Old Testament, every time God commanded the people to “sanctify” themselves this meant that they were to be chaste for a period of time as evidenced from The Book of Exodus, as we saw above. The commandment to the people to “sanctify” themselves that were given by God and His Prophets and Priests in the Old Testament are quite often used in the Old Testament, but most people who read the Old Testament do not understand that the Jewish sanctification actually meant to practice the virtue of chastity for a certain amount of time. Thus, the Church of the Old Testament just like the Church of the New Covenant practiced chastity, and drew down a shower of grace and mercy from the Lord: “The Lord knoweth the days of undefiled; and their inheritance shall be for ever.” (Psalms 36:18)
The Jews of the Old Testament time also understood how the practice of chastity would benefit them both spiritually and physically and that is also why the common practice of many of the Jews who entered into military life (as we saw in the case of King David and his men) were to remain chaste and sanctify their life in order to receive the grace of God to become victorious in battle. Indeed, God Himself directly commanded the Jews to always be pure and chaste when they were to engage in a war or a battle: “When thou goest out to war against thy enemies, thou shalt keep thyself from every evil thing. If there be among you any man, that is defiled in a dream by night, he shall go forth out of the camp. And shall not return, before he be washed with water in the evening: and after sunset he shall return into the camp.” (Deuteronomy 23:9-11)
When one remembers that God commanded the Jews to always practice chastity in both war and peace time, it is not hard to understand why in the cases when they lost their wars, their lack of chastity was a main reason (if not the greatest reason) why they lost their battles and their independence.
The Christian Crusaders also practiced chastity like the Jews and did penance in order to become victorious in battles against the heathen. Many times God also revealed through supernatural revelations to the Christian combatants just like He did to the Jews that unless they were virtuous and pure, they would lose future battles. The order of the Knights Templar was one of these virtuous orders who solemnly took vows of chastity and perfect purity, constantly waring against the Devil, the flesh and the world on one side, and the Heretic, Saracen, Muslim or Infidel on the other. They were a kind of warrior monk; a new breed indeed in the Christian world; and because of their spectacular purity, a few numbers of the Crusaders could miraculously defeat a multitude of infidels, who were much more numerous and stronger than they were themselves. These pure servants of Christ also wore a white dress which signified their inner purity. In The History of the Knights Templar, by Charles G. Addison, we read the following words concerning this: “To all the professed knights, both in winter and summer, we give, if they can be procured, white garments, that those who have cast behind them a dark life may know that they are to commend themselves to their Creator by a pure and white life. For what is whiteness but perfect chastity, and chastity is the security of the soul and the health of the body. And unless every knight shall continue chaste, he shall not come to perpetual rest, nor see God, as the apostle Paul witnesseth: Follow after peace with all men, and chastity, without which no man shall see God...”
Indeed, the necessity for us all to “sanctify” ourselves is crucially important, and especially so when we are to receive Our Lord’s Holy Body and Blood. Speaking about the reception of the Holy Eucharist, St. Jerome expresses himself in the following terms in his Commentary on The Gospel of Matthew: “If the loaves of Proposition might not be eaten by them who had known their wives carnally, how much less may this Bread [the Eucharist] which has come down from heaven be defiled and touched by them who shortly before have been in conjugal embraces? It is not that we condemn marriages, but that at the time when we are going to eat the flesh of the Lamb, we ought not to indulge in carnal acts.” (Epist. xxviii, among St. Jerome’s works)
For the same reason, in the year 1679 A.D., Pope Innocent XI addressed all priests in an encyclical, teaching them how married people are to be instructed and disposed in order to be able to receive the Most Holy Body, Blood and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist: “In the case of married persons, however, let them seriously consider this, since the blessed Apostle does not wish them to "defraud one another, except perhaps by consent for a time, that they may give themselves to prayer" [cf. 1 Cor. 7:5], let them advise these seriously that they should give themselves more to continence because of reverence for the most holy Eucharist, and that they should come together for Communion in the heavenly banquet with a purer mind.” (Pope Innocent XI (1676-1689), From the Decree C. S. Conc., Feb. 12. 1679, Denzinger #1147)
Pope Innocent XI also added additional instructions on how both the married as well as all others are to be instructed and disposed for the reception of Our Lord’s Body and Blood in the following words: “It will be of benefit, too, besides the diligence of priests and confessors, to make use also of the services of preachers and to have an agreement with them, that, when the faithful have become used to frequenting the most holy Sacrament (which they should do), they preach a sermon on the great preparation for undertaking that, and show in general that those who by devout zeal are stirred to a more frequent or daily partaking of the health bringing Food, whether lay tradesmen, or married people, or any others, ought to understand their own weakness, so that because of the dignity of the Sacrament and the fear of the divine judgment they may learn to revere the celestial table on which is Christ; and if at any time they should feel themselves not prepared, to abstain from it and to gird themselves for a greater preparation. … Furthermore, let bishops and priests or confessors refute those who hold that daily communion is of divine right...” (Pope Innocent XI (1676-1689), From the Decree C. S. Conc., Feb. 12. 1679, Denzinger #1149-1150)
So a good advice to pious persons is that they remain chaste for three days before receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist in the same way as the Jewish people were commanded by God to practice chastity for three days before they received the Word of God in the Old Covenant; and just like David and his men had to be chaste and pure for three days before they received the figure and sign of the Body of Christ in the Old Law. The honor that a chaste and virtuous person gives to Christ and the Holy Eucharist by practicing the virtue of chastity for three days before receiving the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist is, simply said, inestimable. The biblical Commentary of First Kings also teaches us this fact, mentioning that “If this cleanness was required of them that were to eat that bread, which was but a figure of the bread of life which we receive in the blessed sacrament [the Eucharist]; how clean ought Christians be when they approach to our tremendous mysteries?”
In fact, the Catholic Church has always admonished and taught spouses that there is a necessity to abstain from the marriage debt for at least three days before receiving the Most Holy Eucharist of the Mass in order to obtain blessings from God, while also recognizing and admonishing spouses that “The dignity of so great a Sacrament [of the Eucharist] also demands that married persons abstain from the marriage debt for some days previous to Communion”.
The Catechism of the Council of Trent speaks much of the necessity of purity and preparation before receiving the Holy Eucharist. In the section “On the Sacrament of Matrimony” it teaches that the three days standard of observing chastity before receiving Communion was taught by their predecessors, thus indicating that the Tradition of the Church always taught this truth: “But as every blessing is to be obtained from God by holy prayer, the faithful are also to be taught sometimes to abstain from the marriage debt, in order to devote themselves to prayer. Let the faithful understand that (this religious continence), according to the proper and holy injunction of our predecessors,is particularly to be observed for at least three days before Communion, and oftener during the solemn fast of Lent. Thus will they find the blessings of marriage to be daily increased by an abundance of divine grace; and living in the pursuit of piety, they will not only spend this life in peace and tranquility, but will also repose in the true and firm hope, which confoundeth not, of arriving, through the divine goodness, at the possession of that life which is eternal.”
In the section “On the sacrament of the Eucharist, Preparation Of Body”The Catechism of Trent corroborates the fact that the story of David in the Bible shows us that we must both fast and be chaste before receiving the Holy Eucharist: “Our preparation should not, however, be confined [only] to the soul; it should also extend to the body. We are to approach the Holy Table fasting, having neither eaten nor drunk anything at least from the preceding midnight until the moment of Communion. The dignity of so great a Sacrament also demands that married persons abstain from the marriage debt for some days previous to Communion. This observance is recommended by the example of David, who, when about to receive the showbread from the hands of the priest, declared that he and his servants had been clean from women for three days. The above are the principal things to be done by the faithful preparatory to receiving the sacred mysteries with profit; and to these heads may be reduced whatever other things may seem desirable by way of preparation.”
Indeed, there is a “great necessity of this previous preparation”for all who presume to receive the Most Holy Body of Our Lord: “We now come to point out the manner in which the faithful should be previously prepared for sacramental Communion. To demonstrate the great necessity of this previous preparation, the example of the Savior should be adduced. Before He gave to His Apostles the Sacrament of His precious Body and Blood, although they were already clean, He washed their feet to show that we must use extreme diligence before Holy Communion in order to approach it with the greatest purity and innocence of soul.” (The Catechism of Trent, On the sacrament of the Eucharist, Necessity Of Previous Preparation For Communion)
Considering all of the above, it is clear why The Catechism of Trent, in the Chapter about the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and the Necessity Of Previous Preparation For Communion, rightly declared that he who dares to approach the Holy Eucharist “without this preparation [of purity] not only derives from it no advantage, but even incurs the greatest misfortune and loss,” which directly contradicts the lustful and depraved world who teaches that God does not require any kind of special purity in order to receive Him: “In the next place, the faithful are to understand that as he who approaches thus prepared and disposed is adorned with the most ample gifts of heavenly grace; so, on the contrary, he who approaches without this preparation not only derives from it no advantage, but even incurs the greatest misfortune and loss. It is characteristic of the best and most salutary things that, if seasonably made use of, they are productive of the greatest benefit; but if employed out of time, they prove most pernicious and destructive. It cannot, therefore, excite out surprise that the great and exalted gifts of God; when received into a soul properly disposed, are of the greatest assistance towards the attainment of salvation; while to those who receive them unworthily, they bring with them eternal death. Of this the Ark of the Lord affords a convincing illustration. The people of Israel possessed nothing more precious and it was to them the source of innumerable blessings from God; but when the Philistines carried it away, it brought on them a most destructive plague and the heaviest calamities, together with eternal disgrace. Thus also food when received from the mouth into a healthy stomach nourishes and supports the body; but when received into an indisposed stomach, causes grave disorders.” (The Catechism of Trent, On the Sacrament of the Eucharist; and the Necessity Of Previous Preparation For Communion)
Indeed, in The Revelations of St. Bridget, Jesus also tells us that we will be punished if we receive Him in the Eucharist with a wicked or impure heart. Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to St. Bridget, saying, “When the words ‘This is my body’ are spoken, the bread becomes the Body of Christ that people receive, both the good and the wicked, one person as much as one thousand, according to the same truth but not with the same effect, for the good receive it unto life, while the wicked receive it unto judgment.” (The Revelations of St. Bridget, Book 4, Chapter 61) And so, “as the sacred feasts approach, observe chastity with your wives for several days preceding, so that you may approach the Lord’s altar with a peaceful conscience.” (St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 19:3)
Before the apostasy of the 20th and the 21st century, it was commonly known by the faithful of the Church that the Church taught married spouses to abstain for at least three days from marital relations as well as that all people (except the sick or weak) were to fast from the preceding midnight until the moment of Communion in order for the servants of Christ to be pure and better disposed to receive the Holy Eucharist. Nowadays, however, since people are worldly and lustful, they either reject or ignore this ancient Church teaching. It is indeed obvious that Christians who receive the true Body of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist rather than just a figure or shell of it as the Jews did in the Old Law, should minimally practice as much chastity or even more purity than those in the Old Law did, since this is only reasonable and just. The true Body of Christ is of infinitely more value and deserving of honor than the figure of it, and yet most so-called Christians of today do not even practice as much virtue as the Jews in the Old Law did.
Already in the 6th century, Pope St. Gregory the Great, in his Epistle to Augustine, Bishop of the English, rightly declared that God demands from us purity and chastity when we are to receive Him in the Most Holy Eucharist of the Mass, since this was even required in the Old Law which was only a sign of the Eucharist. He said,
“Furthermore it is to be attentively considered that the Lord in mount Sinai, when about to speak to the people, first charged the same people to abstain from women. And if there, where the Lord spoke to men through a subject creature, purity of body was required with such careful provision that they who were to hear the words of God might not have intercourse with women, how much more ought those who receive the Body of the Almighty Lord to keep purity of the flesh in themselves, lest they be weighed down by the greatness of the inestimable mystery! Hence also it is said through the priest to David concerning his servants, that if they were pure from women they might eat the shew bread; which they might not receive at all unless David first declared them to be pure from women.” (Selected Epistles of St. Gregory, in "Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers", Volume XIII, Book XII, Epistle LXIV)
It is a sad fact to have to relate, but carnal Christians who reject purity and holiness before receiving the Most Holy Eucharist of the Mass show a lack of estimation and appreciation for the Body of Christ by their worldly and pleasure seeking lifestyle, showing themselves to be lovers of the flesh and of the world rather than of Our Lord. It is an utter disgrace and blemish on every Christian (who have received countless of more graces than the Jews of the Old Law) to practice less virtue than the Jews in the Old Law did. This lack of virtue is undoubtedly also one of the main reasons of why the Church’s members have been decreased drastically during the 20th century and why so many of them were allowed to fall into immorality and apostasy from God. The Holy Bible is crystal clear when it says that: “whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and of the Blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that Bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the Body of the Lord. Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)
Our Lord Himself tells us in The Revelations of St. Bridget that there is an absolute necessity for all to receive Him in purity and chastity. Our Lord spoke to St. Bridget in a revelation, saying: “I am like a ruler who fought faithfully in the land of his pilgrimage, and returned with joy to the land of his birth. This ruler had a very precious treasure [the most Holy Eucharist]. At its sight, the bleary-eyed became clear-sighted, the sad were consoled, the sick regained their strength, the dead were raised. For the purpose of the safe and honest protection of this treasure, a splendid and magnificent house of suitable height was built and finished with seven steps leading up to it and the treasure. The ruler entrusted the treasure to his servants for them to watch over, manage, and protect faithfully and purely. This was in order that the ruler’s love for his servants might be shown and that the servants’ faithfulness toward the ruler might be seen.
“As time went on, the treasure began to be despised and its house rarely visited, while the guardians grew lukewarm, and the love of the ruler was neglected. Then the ruler consulted his intimate advisers concerning what was to be done about such ingratitude, and one of them said in answer: ‘It is written that the neglectful judges and guardians of the people were ordered to be hanged in the sun. However, mercy and judgment are your nature; you are lenient toward all, for all things are yours and you are merciful toward all.’
“I am the ruler in the parable. I appeared like a pilgrim on earth by virtue of my humanity, although I was mighty in heaven and on earth by virtue of my divinity. I fought so hard on earth that all the muscles of my hands and feet were ruptured out of zeal for the salvation of souls. As I was about to leave the world and ascend into heaven, I left it a most worthy memorial, my most Holy Body, in order that, in the same way that the Old Law could glory in the ark, the manna, and the tablets of the covenant, and in other ceremonies, so the new man could rejoice in the New Law—not, as before, in a shadow but in the truth, indeed, in my crucified body that had been foreshadowed in the law. In order that my body might be given honor and glory, I established the house of the Holy Church, where it was to be kept and preserved, as well as priests to be its special guardians, who in a certain way are above the angels by reason of their ministry. The one whom angels fear to touch due to a reverent fear, priests handle with their hands and mouth.
“I honored the priests with a sevenfold honor, as it were, on seven steps. On the first step, they should be my standard-bearers and special friends by reason of the purity of their mind and body, for purity is the first position near to God, whom nothing foul can touch nor adorn. It was not strange that marital relation was permitted to the priests of the law during the time in which they were not offering sacrifice, for they were carrying the shell, not the nut itself. Now, however, with the coming of the truth and the disappearance of the figure, one must strive all the more fully for purity by as much as the nut is sweeter than the shell. As a sign of this kind of continence, first the hair is tonsured, so that desire for pleasure does not rule over spirit or flesh.
“… My grievance now, however, is that these steps have fallen apart. Pride is loved more than humility, impurity is practiced instead of purity, the divine lessons are not read but the book of the world, negligence is to be seen at the altars, God’s wisdom is regarded as foolishness, the salvation of souls is not a concern. As if this were not enough, they even throw away my vestments and scorn my weapons. On the mountain, I showed Moses the vestments that the priests of the law were to use. It is not as though there were anything material in God’s heavenly dwelling, but it is because spiritual things cannot be understood except by means of physical symbols. Thus, I revealed a spiritual truth by means of something physical in order that people might realize how much reverence and purity are needful for those who have the truth itself—my Body—given that those who were wearing but a shadow and a figure had so much purity and reverence.
“Why did I reveal such magnificence in material vestments to Moses? It was, of course, in order to use them to teach and symbolize the magnificence and beauty of the soul. As the vestments of the priests were seven in number, so too the soul that approaches the Body of God shall have seven virtues without which there is no salvation. The first vestment of the soul, then, is contrition and confession. These cover the head. The second is desire for God and desire for chastity. The third is work in honor of God as well as patience in adversity. The fourth is caring neither for human praise nor reproach but for the honor of God alone. The fifth is abstinence of the flesh along with true humility. The sixth is consideration of the favors of God as well as fear of his judgments. The seventh is love of God above all things and perseverance in good undertakings.
“These vestments, however, have been changed and are now despised. People love to make excuses and smooth over their guilt instead of going to confession. They love constant lasciviousness instead of chastity. They love work for the benefit of the body instead of work for the salvation of the soul. They love worldly ambition and pride instead of the honor and love of God. They love all kinds of redundancy instead of praiseworthy thrift, presumption and criticizing God’s judgments instead of the fear of God, and the clergy’s thanklessness toward everyone instead of God’s love toward all. Therefore, as I said through the prophet, I shall come in indignation, and tribulation shall give them understanding… My mercy shows pardon to them all and endures them all. However, my justice calls for retribution, for I cry out each day and you see well enough how many answer me. Nevertheless, I will still send out the words of my mouth. Those who listen will complete the days of their lives in that joy that can neither be expressed nor imagined because of its sweetness. To those, however, who do not listen, there will come, as it is written, seven plagues in the soul and seven plagues in the body. They will find this out, if they think and read about what has been done. Otherwise, they will quake and quail when they do experience it.” (The Revelations of St. Bridget, Book 4, Chapter 58)
Again, God’s holy word is clear that there is “A time to embrace,and a time to be far from embraces.” (Ecclesiastes 3:5) But most people, however, refuse to obey these words of Our Lord which says that one must practice chastity from time to time. Instead, they choose to act in a gluttonous way in the marital act by overindulging in it even though it is contrary to reason to have more marital relations than what is necessary.
The infinite value of the many and great graces and special friendship of God that lustful people lose because of their inordinate love of this fleshly act is, simply said, impossible to estimate, since a single Grace is truly of more worth than the whole of the universe combined. “He that loveth cleanness of heart, for the grace of his lips shall have the King [of Heaven] for his friend.” (Proverbs 22:11)
Many Popes and Saints, as we have seen, tried to get all Christians to practice chastity before they received the Eucharist. It is clear that this is an Apostolic Tradition, since the Church, from the beginning, tried to admonish and teach Her children to always abstain from the sexual act before receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. For example, in the year 866, Pope St. Nicholas the Great wrote a letter to Boris, prince of Bulgaria, and explained the reason for abstaining from marital relations on Sundays and holy days, saying that: “If we must abstain from worldly labor on Sundays, how much the more must we be on our guard against fleshly lust and every bodily defilement.” And so, it is certain that the Church always have taught that Christians are to remain chaste before receiving the Eucharist. St. Caesarius of Arles (c. 470-543 A.D.), who was a fierce promoter of chastity before receiving the Most Holy Eucharist, wrote concerning “a good Christian” in the following way: “That man is a good Christian who, as often as the sacred feasts come around, in order that he may receive Holy Communion more serenely, observes chastity with his wife during the few preceding days, that he may presume to approach the Lord’s altar with a free and serene conscience because of his chaste body and pure heart.” (Sermon 16:2)
Jonas, Bishop of Orleans from 818 to 843, scolded married folk for “irreverently coming” to church after engaging in marital relations. Not only were these married folk “so indiscreet as to come up as far as the altar,” lamented Jonas, but they also received “the Body and Blood of Christ.” Jonas warned those soiled with the “uncleanness” of their marital activity: “Let them understand that they should only enter Christ’s Church and receive His Body and Blood with a clean body and a pure heart.” (Jonas of Orleans, De Institutione Laicorum) St. Caesarius of Arles adds: “Who is unable to advise that, as often as the sacred solemnities approach, chastity with one’s own wife should be observed several days preceding, so that the altar of the Lord may be approached with an upright and pure conscience. Indeed, if a man communicated without chastity, he will receive judgment where he might have had a remedy.” (Sermon 1:12)
Origen (c. 182-254 A.D.) in his Treatise on the Passover, Exegesis of Exodus 12, explains that the Holy Bible teaches us that we must receive the Holy Eucharist with: “Your loins girded.” He then goes on to explain what this means: “We are ordered, when we eat the Passover [the Eucharist], to be pure of bodily sexual union, for this is what the girding of the loins means [in the Holy Scripture]. Thus Scripture teaches us to bind up the bodily source of seed and to repress inclinations to sexual relations when we partake of the flesh of Christ.”
The amount of Popes, Fathers and Saints that could be quoted concerning the absolute necessity to be chaste before the reception of the Holy Eucharist and the Body and Blood of Christ is almost endless. Gratian, in his Marriage Canons From “The Decretum”, which is based largely on the authority of the Church Fathers (written in the 12th century), clearly shows us how this Apostolic Tradition of observing a period of chastity before receiving the Holy Eucharist was firmly established and believed by the faithful in the Early Church. However, these quotations and Early Church Canons also clearly shows us the necessity of abstaining from marital relations not only before Receiving the Sacraments of the Holy Mass, but also on all Holy Days. Gratian writes concerning this,
“That spouses may not lawfully render each other the debt during times of prayer, St. Jerome writes in a certain sermon, saying: "A man should abstain from the Flesh of the Lamb when he renders the debt to his wife. You know, most dear brothers, that one who renders the debt to his wife cannot devote himself to prayer, nor can he eat the Flesh of the Lamb." Also: "If those who touched women could not eat the Showbread [that was the mere sign of the future Eucharist described in the biblical book of 1st Sam. 21:4], how much more should those who have not refrained from matrimonial embrace refrain from touching and violating the Bread Come Down from Heaven? Now, we do not condemn marriage, but when we are to eat the Flesh of the Lamb, we ought to forego carnal works."
“Also, [Saint] Augustine, [in Sermon ii of the Temporal Cycle, that is, for the Second Sunday of Advent]: "One should abstain from conjugal union on the solemnities of the saints. On Christmas and other festivals we ought to abstain, not only from the company of unbelieving concubines, but also from our own wives." Also, [Saint] Ambrose, in his sermon on the Lord’s Coming: "On fast days one ought also to abstain from one’s wife. Brethren, you should abstain, not only from every impurity, but you should also carefully hold yourself back from your own wives. Let no one have relations with his wife. The same, on the First Letter to the Corinthians [Chapter 7]: If a wife is taken for procreating children, not much attention needs to be dedicated to that. What is necessary for conception and childbirth shows that one can abstain from works of the flesh on feast days and rogation days, as the law demands at those times."
“Also, Augustine, in his book Questions on the Old and New Testaments, [Question cxxvii], says: "One must refrain from one’s wife on certain days. Sometimes a Christian may lawfully approach his wife, at other times he may not. On the rogation days and fast days, one may not lawfully approach her, because one should then abstain even from lawful things, in order to entreat and pray more easily. Hence the Apostle [1 Cor. 7:5] says that spouses should abstain for a time by mutual consent, to devote time to prayer. For according to the law [cf. Is. 58:4], one may not sue and fight during fasts, although one might afterwards." Also, [Saint] John Chrysostom: "Without continence, one does not truly do penance. One who claims to do penance and master himself by self-denial speaks in vain if he does not abandon the bed-chamber [cf. Joel 2:16] and add continence to his fasting."
“Also, [Pope Saint] Gregory, [to the Questions of Augustine, Bishop of the English, Reply 10]: "A man should refrain from entering a church after sleeping with his wife… We do not suggest that marriage is wrong, but because lawful conjugal relations cannot occur without lust, one should abstain from entering a sacred place… Lawful union of the flesh must be for the sake of offspring, not for lust, and fleshly intercourse for having children, not for satisfying vice… But since, in the act of union, men are dominated, not by desire to procreate offspring, but by lust, spouses do have something to regret in their union."
“Gratian: The following forbid the celebration of marriage on days of abstinence. Hence in the Council of Laodicea, [A.D. 363-364, canon 52]: "Marriages or feasts may not be celebrated during lent." Also, from the Council [Lateran Council of 649] of Pope [Saint] Martin, [canon 48]: "The feasts of the martyrs may not be celebrated during Lent, but the offering may be made in their memory on Saturdays and Sundays. Neither feasts nor weddings may be celebrated during Lent." Also, from the Council of Lerida [A.D. 546]: "Weddings may not be celebrated from Septuagesima until the Octave of Easter, during the three weeks before the feast of St. John, and from Advent until Epiphany. If any do so, let them be separated [excommunicated]." Also, [Pope Saint] Nicholas, to the questions of the Bulgarians, [A.D. 866, Letter 99]: "I think it no way possible to take a wife or have any celebrations during the season of Lent."” (Gratian, Marriage Canons From The Decretum (Vulgate Edition), Case Thirty-Three, Question IV, Part 1 and 2)
Thus, “As often as you come to church and wish to receive the sacraments of Christ on a feast, observe chastity several days before it, so that you may be able to approach the Lord’s altar with a peaceful conscience. Devoutly practice this also throughout Lent, even to the end of the Pasch, so that the Easter solemnity may find you pure and chaste. In fact, a good Christian should not only observe chastity for a few days before he communicates, [that is, before he receives the Holy Eucharist] but he should never know his wife except from the desire for children. A man takes a wife for the procreation of children, not for the sake of lust. Even the marriage rite mentions this: ‘For the procreation of children,’ it says. Notice that it does not say for the sake of lust, but ‘for the procreation of children.’
“… So, too, we read in the Old Testament that, when the Jewish people were about to approach Mount Sinai, it was said to them in the Lord’s teaching: ‘Be sanctified, and be ready against the third day, and come not near your wives,’ [Exodus 19:15] and: ‘if any man be defiled in a dream by night, let him not eat of the flesh of the sacrifice of salvation, lest his soul be cut off from his people.’ [Deut. 23:10; Lev. 7:20] If after defilement which happens to us even unwillingly we may not communicate [receive the Eucharist] unless compunction and almsgiving come first, and fasting, too, if infirmity does not prevent it, who can say that there is no sin if we do such things intentionally when we are wide awake?
“… Since no man wants to come to church with his tunic covered with dirt, I do not know with what kind of a conscience he dares to approach the altar with his soul defiled by dissipation. Evidently, he does not fear what the Apostle said: ‘Whoever partakes of the Body and Blood of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the Body and the Blood of the Lord.’ [1 Cor. 11:27] If we blush and fear to touch the Eucharist with dirty hands, we should fear much more to receive the same Eucharist within a polluted soul. As I mentioned, we have been created in our soul according to God’s image. Now, if you put your image on a tablet of wood or stone, and someone impudently wanted to shatter that image with stones or to stain it with dirt, I wonder whether you would not take up arms against him, I ask you, if you are so jealous of your image that was painted on a lifeless tablet, what kind of an injury do you suppose God suffers when His living image in us is defiled by dissipation? Therefore, if we do not restrain ourselves for our own sake, let us do so for the sake of God’s image according to which we have been made.
“Above all, no one should know his wife when Sunday or other feasts come around. Similar precautions should be taken as often as women menstruate, for the Prophet says: ‘Do not come near to a menstruous woman.’ [Ezech. 18:6] If a man is aware that his wife is in this condition but refuses to control himself on a Sunday or feast, the children who are then conceived will be born as lepers, or epileptics, or perhaps even demoniacs. Lepers are commonly born, not of wise men who observe chastity on feasts and other days, but especially of farmers who do not know how to control themselves. Truly, brethren, if animals without intellect do not touch each other except at a fixed and proper time, how much more should men who have been created according to God’s image observe this? What is worse, there are some dissolute or drunken men who sometimes do not even spare their wives when they are pregnant. Therefore, if they do not amend their lives, we are to consider them worse than animals. Such men the Apostle addresses when he says: ‘Every one of you learn how to possess his vessel in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who have no hope.’ [1 Thess. 4:4,5] Because what is worse, many do not observe proper chastity with their own wives, they should give abundant alms, as I said above, and forgive all their enemies. Thus, as we mentioned, what has become defiled by dissipation may be cleansed by constant alms giving.” (St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 44)
Now, then, when exactly must one start to observe chastity and purity if one wants to receive the Eucharist in accordance to the ordinances of the Church? The Bible is clear on this point in The First Book of Kings: “And the priest answered David, saying: ‘I have no common bread at hand, but only holy bread, if the young men be clean, especially from women?’ And David answered the priest, and said to him: ‘Truly, as to what concerneth women, we have refrained ourselves from yesterday and the day before [that is, three days in total when adding the same day he received the bread], when we came out, and the vessels of the young men were holy. Now this way is defiled, but it shall also be sanctified this [third] day in the vessels.’” (1 Kings 21:3-5) This biblical text shows us that spouses must be chaste on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, if they are to receive the Most Holy Eucharist on a Sunday. This means that they must be chaste for two whole days before the reception of the Eucharist, as well as completely chaste on the whole day they also received the Holy Eucharist.
These three days also correspond perfectly to Our Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection, which is the mold that all Christians must conform to and form themselves after if they want to be saved. “Know you not that all we, who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in his death? For we are buried together with him by baptism into death; that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin may be destroyed, to the end that we may serve sin no longer. For he that is dead is justified from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall live also together with Christ: Knowing that Christ rising again from the dead, dieth now no more, death shall no more have dominion over him. For in that he died to sin, he died once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God: So do you also reckon, that you are dead to sin, but alive unto God, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let no sin therefore reign in your mortal body, so as to obey the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of iniquity unto sin; but present yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of justice unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you; for you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are whom you obey, whether it be of sin unto death, or of obedience unto justice. But thanks be to God, that you were the servants of sin, but have obeyed from the heart, unto that form of doctrine, into which you have been delivered.” (Romans 6:3-17) Douay Rheims Bible Commentary explains the verses in Romans 6:6 in this way: “Our old man: Our corrupt state, subject to sin and concupiscence, coming to us from Adam, is called our old man, as our state, reformed in and by Christ, is called the new man. --- Body of sin: The vices and sins, which then ruled in us, are named the body of sin.”
In truth, if we are dead to the world, we shall live forever with Christ. Therefore, every time we will receive the Holy Eucharist, we must be chaste for two days before we receive it, as well as on the day we receive it. For example, if we want to also receive it on a Friday apart from the normal time on the Sunday, we must be chaste on the days of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Then, if we also decide to receive it on the Sunday, we must continue to be chaste on Saturday and Sunday. Those, however, who choose to perform the marital act on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, are obliged to abstain from the Eucharist that Sunday so that the next week, they may receive it in a state of perfect purity.
It must be said, however, that no one that is married should perform the marital act on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, since these days signify Our Lord’s suffering, death, and resurrection which is what we all must conform to if we wish to be saved, by putting to death our old sinful, fleshly and sensual nature and man, and by being resurrected in Christ, rising to heaven in purity and chastity as a new spiritual man that has been freed from our former Body of sin: “Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is the service of idols.” (Colossians 3:1-5)
The virtue of Chastity helps people become victorious in battles or war according to the Book of Judith
As we have already seen from the example of the Holy Scripture, God commanded those who are engaged in war to always remain chaste during their war in order to become victorious. The Book of Judith in the Holy Bible is another great example of how the Jewish people was saved from death and triumphed over their enemies through the holy fear, virtue and chastity of a holy woman named Judith.
The book describes how Judith and the Jewish people was being occupied by a heathen army and that all seemed as though they were going to either starve to death or be butchered by the enemy army. God, however, had other plans and choose a virtuous and chaste woman to single-handedly save the Jewish people from certain death.
Judith 15:11 “For thou [Judith] hast done manfully, and thy heart has been strengthened, because thou hast loved chastity, and after thy husband hast not known any other: therefore also the hand of the Lord hath strengthened thee, and therefore thou shalt be blessed for ever.”
Judith 16:26 “And chastity was joined to her virtue, so that she knew no man all the days of her life, after the death of Manasses her husband.”
As we can see from these verses, the love and practice of the virtue of chastity is not a vain or useless practice, but it is in fact a virtue so dearly loved by God that He showers humanity with countless of graces and helps of different sorts because of it.
Our Lord also teaches us in the New Testament Holy Scripture that a widow will become more blessed if she do not remarry, just like in the case of the holy widow Judith who stayed unmarried after the death of her husband. “But more blessed shall she be, if she so remain, [that is, a widow] according to my counsel; and I think that I also have the spirit of God.” (1Cor. 7:40) This passage clearly shows us that God desires both men and women to stay chaste and unmarried after their spouse have died, and that the virtuous and chaste life of all who stay chaste are “more blessed” and beloved by God when compared to those who remarry and have children for the love of God. In truth, God is infinitely more honored by those souls who, for His sake, offers up their purity and chastity as a holocaust to Him, since the marital life is more sensual with many cares and worries that draws us away from God and perfection.
The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Chastity and Purity is undoubtedly a direct proof that God loves the chaste and pure with a special love, since God has never loved nor will ever love anyone (whether angel or saint) more than Her. In The Revelations of St. Bridget, Our Lord explicitly revealed this truth about Our Lady in the following words, “The angels and other saints bear witness that your love for me was more ardent and your chastity more pure than that of any other, and that it was more pleasing to me than all else. Your head was like gleaming gold and your hair like sunbeams, because your most pure virginity, which is like the head of all your virtues, as well as your control over every illicit desire pleased me and shone in my sight with all humility. You are rightly called the crowned queen over all creation - “queen” for the sake of your purity, “crowned” for your excellent worth.” (The Revelations of Saint Bridget, Book 5, Revelation 4)
In truth, the love and practice of the virtue of chastity draws down many great blessings on mankind, and victory in war is just one of them, as we have just seen. Too few today, however, are able to see or appreciate the great worth of this angelic virtue.
The Book of Wisdom teaches that chastity is very beneficial for salvation
The Book of Wisdom clearly describes the difference that the Holy Scripture makes between virtuous and chaste people on the one hand, and carnal, sensual and worldly people on the other. The memory of the chaste generation is indeed immortal and “it triumpheth crowned for ever, winning the reward of undefiled conflicts.”
Wisdom 4:1-5 “O how beautiful is the chaste generation with glory: for the memory thereof is immortal: because it is known both with God and with men. When it is present, they imitate it: and they desire it when it hath withdrawn itself, and it triumpheth crowned for ever, winning the reward of undefiled conflicts [in the cause of continence]. But the multiplied brood of the wicked shall not thrive, and bastard slips shall not take deep root, nor any fast foundation. And if they flourish in branches for a time, yet standing not fast, they shall be shaken with the wind, and through the force of winds they shall be rooted out. For the branches not being perfect, shall be broken, and their fruits shall be unprofitable, and sour to eat, and fit for nothing.”