Why Do We Need Prayers for Purity?
These days, it is not so easy to get a black and white answer from our prelates on what is considered sins against purity (Please God, send us many holy priests.) Because of this, some of the faithful engage in sinful, unchaste behavior without realizing the enormity of their sins.
Maybe they delude themselves into thinking they are not sinning, when the Holy Spirit is making it quite clear.
You don’t hear a lot about prayers for purity. In fact, you don’t hear a lot from the pulpit on purity, period.
So this is why we need these prayers.
Is Masturbation a Sin Against Purity?
A perfect example of fuzzy teaching is the flagrant disregard of masturbation as a sin by many priests. The Church’s official teaching on masturbation is this:
“The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.”
As I’m sure many can attest, some priests in the confessional will ask the penitent, “Who told you that masturbation is a sin?”
In a Catholic Q&A, a priest responded to the question of the sinfulness of masturbation by implying that it is perfectly normal. In fact, his comments are in direct opposition to Church teaching.
“Can masturbation be sinful? I think the only time masturbation could be considered seriously sinful is if someone is using this activity to avoid one’s obligations to one’s spouse. Modern moral theologians tell us that masturbation is a normal part of one’s psychosexual development. Most people go through phases of masturbation, during adolescence, for example, individuals separated from their spouses in war time, the elderly, and others in unique situations of life. It’s hoped that individuals not become fixed or stuck in only this form of sexual expression, but rather develop a relationship with another person with whom one can express one’s own sexuality in an appropriate loving and intimate way.” [note]Fr John Ruffo, “What is church’s stance on masturbation? Mortal sin in what circumstances?”
Most of us have struggled with not falling into sexual sin, especially those of us who are single and yearn for the embrace of a spouse. Fortunately, we have recourse to the traditional prayers of the saints, who left us a treasure of prayers for purity. These prayers help us to combat the wiles of the devil. They are particularly effective in causing the devil to flee, when we find ourselves growing weak and weary.
What Does Impurity Do to the Soul?
Regarding impurity, St Alphonsus says: ” It blinds the sinner, hardens the heart, and it leads to a multitude of other sins, such as anger, hatred, blasphemy, false oaths and perjury. Demons delight in sins of impurity, because it is difficult for a person who indulges in impurity to be delivered from it.” Source.
He also says later on:
“Some heretics and servants of the devil teach, “Sins of impurity do not dishonor anyone.” Obstinate sinners often try to excuse themselves by saying, “sins of impurity are just little sins.” Or “because they are sins of habit, their gravity is diminished.” Ah what fools they are! They are so blinded, dearest soul, by their sins, that they do not see what terrible damage it does to themselves and to the body of Christ. You are a soul created in the image and likeness of God, a child of God, and an heir of heaven. Your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost, and you have been redeemed by the blood of Christ![vii] This is what impurity dishonors! The marital act is a sacramental privilege, reserved only for those united within the sacrament. Sins of impurity dishonor your soul because you lose God’s life of grace, they dishonor your body because you are a temple of the Holy Ghost, and they dishonor God because you are using the marital act, which the Almighty created as good, to commit evil.”Saint So now that we see how truly detrimental impurity is to the soul, let’s take a look at some prayers that are particularly effective.
Alphonsus Liguori, Complete Aesthetical works Volume XVI, treatise on the sixth commandment
Prayers for Purity of Thought
It’s a lot easier not to engage in sin that involves physical action, then it is to not fantasize or focus our mind on thoughts of sexual sin.
Remember that if a thought enters your head, it is not a sin.
However, it is a sin of you relish that thought.
For some, that is a greater struggle.
So now that we see how truly detrimental impurity is to the soul, let’s take a look at some prayers that are particularly efficacious.
Armed with these prayers for purity, we should all be ready to do battle with the devil, who will surely attempt to divert us from our goal to reach heaven..
Three Prayers for Purity
Prayer to Jesus, Mary & Joseph
“Jesus, Lover of chastity, Mary, Mother most pure, and Joseph, chaste guardian of the Virgin, to you I come at this hour, begging you to plead with God for me. I earnestly wish to be pure in thought, word and deed in imitation of your own holy purity.
Obtain for me, then, a deep sense of modesty which will be reflected in my external conduct. Protect my eyes, the windows of my soul, from anything that might dim the luster of a heart that must mirror only Christlike purity.
And when the “Bread of Angels becomes the Bread of me” in my heart at Holy Communion, seal it forever against the suggestions of sinful pleasures.
Heart of Jesus, Fount of all purity, have mercy on us.”
Official Prayer to St Maria Goretti
“Oh Saint Maria Goretti who, strengthened by God’s grace, did not hesitate even at the age of twelve to shed your blood and sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity, look graciously on the unhappy human race which has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially youth, with what courage and promptitude we should flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us from our Lord victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, and the grace which we earnestly beg of thee (here insert intention), and may we one day enjoy with thee the imperishable glory of Heaven. “Amen.
More about St Maria Goretti.
Prayer for Chastity by St Thomas Aquinas
“Dearest Jesus! I know well that every perfect gift, and above all others that of chastity, depends upon the most powerful assistance of Your Providence, and that without You a creature can do nothing. Therefore, I pray You to defend, with Your grace, chastity and purity in my soul as well as in my body. And if I have ever received through my senses any impression that could stain my chastity and purity, may You, Who are the Supreme Lord of all my powers, take it from me, that I may with an immaculate heart advance in Your love and service, offering myself chaste all the days of my life on the most pure altar of Your Divinity. Amen.”
You can also join the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, which has other prayers for sexual purity.
One More Catholic Prayer for Purity
One of our readers recommended this prayer, from the traditional Collect prayer for the feast of St. Lawrence.
Grant to us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, to extinguish within us the flames of vice, even as Thou didst strengthen blessed Laurence to overcome his fiery torments.”
Are there any other prayers you find helpful to maintain sexual purity?
ADDITIONAL CHASTITY RESOURCES
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Prayer for Purity
This post was first published in 2016 and updated in 2020.