Archive, Conversation with

Outdated Virtue?

Is chastity an outdated virtue? This was the question raised at a panel discussion in Rome the evening, during which I conversed with Sr Anna Mirijam Kaschner, secretary general of the Nordic Bishops’ Conference, Mr Andreas Thonhauser, Vatican EWTN Bureau Chief, and Dr Vincenzo Bassi, President of the European Association of Catholic Families.

‘What is really required is a pedagogy of chaste living. Having forgotten what the word actually stands for, we’ve reduced chastity to an unobtainable ideal, almost a caricature: the image of a virgin in a white dress in a tower – a reality beyond reach! In the genuine tradition of the Church, meanwhile, we find a way to order through the mess, to wholeness through fragmentation, and we have many experienced guides.

There is a line from the Song of Songs that our Cistercian Fathers loved very much: “Ordinavit in me caritatem”, “[God] has set love in order in me”. It was our Fathers’ assumption that anyone entering the monastery, or for that matter, anyone entering a marital union, would enter into it with a certain amount of internal chaos needing to be sorted out. One of the tings monastic formation provides when it works, that seminary formation provides when it works – and I think we’ve seen that very often it hasn’t worked – is a way of repairing that which is broken in myself, which means facing that in me which is wounded and which may inspire fear in me.

All this while having someone who walks alongside me. Because the journey to wholeness and freedom presupposes someone who has already been through the darkness, who has walked through the chaos, who can show me the path enlightened by Holy Scripture and Church’s tradition, but also by their own experience of redemption – and perhaps of a bourgeoning of holiness, which is another word for wholeness.’

You can find the broadcast of the conversation here.

Photographs: Daniel Ibáñez – EWTN.