|The Annunciation by Philippe de Champaigne, 1644|
Chastity requires a proper understanding of human sexuality. This requires the realization that every single person has worth. Everyone, therefore, should have respect: respect for themselves and for others. Each of us wants to be respected. We do not want to be treated as things for the use of others. We do not exist for someone else’s convenience or pleasure.
Human sexuality reveals that we are created male and female and that there is a complementarity to the sexes. It is the fulfillment of our vocation to love which is fruitful. Love is a living virtue. It cannot be reduced to feelings or sensations. That would be static, without meaning. The mutual gratification of individuals is not love. Love involves truly giving oneself to the beloved without holding back, that is, without closing off the possibility of new life coming from that love.
In his address to a group of bishops from the United States, Pope Benedict said this:
"It is in fact increasingly evident that a weakened appreciation of the indissolubility of the marriage covenant, and the widespread rejection of a responsible, mature sexual ethic grounded in the practice of chastity, have led to grave societal problems bearing an immense human and economic cost." (Vatican City, March 9, 2012) He pointed out that whatever hurts marriage and the family hurts society. "Sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage. Defending the institution of marriage as a social reality is ultimately a question of justice, since it entails safeguarding the good of the entire human community and the rights of parents and children alike."We truly need God’s love in each of our hearts. This is the love that we know and appreciate as we honor our mothers today. Good mothers show the love of God in their selfless dedication to their children. If we can apply that same love to others, we will not be thinking about what we can get out of others, but rather how we can help others. We will be thinking about how we can honor marriage and see others as sons and daughters of God.