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The Single Vocation  -  II

Virginity, the Angels & Our Lady

Salwa Bachar
St. Thomas once said that, as chastity is the eyes of mankind, so marriage is its feet; through marriage, mankind walks; through chastity, mankind sees (Summa Contra Gentiles book III, chap. 136, 3). The difference between these two legitimate vocations is what I will discuss in these next installments on the single vocation.

A medieval manuscript depiction of st John Chrysostom's writings helping people

Our Lord inspiring St. John Chrysostom as he writes

Virginity and chastity have been treated extensively by the Saints. Two particular texts of St. John Chrysostom on this subject came to my attention in an un-published 248-page compendium on Virginity, Purity and Chastity compiled under the direction of Mr. Atila Guimarães; it entails a translation to Portuguese of the many Latin texts of the Church Fathers on those subjects. The mentioned texts of St. John Chrysostom deal with two separate subjects: 1. virginity and the angels; 2. virginity and original sin.

These two texts by St. John Chrysostom put virginity in perspective. In this article I will include an English translation of just the first text, and interpret it in light of tradition. I note that when virginity is mentioned, it is interchangeable with chastity and celibacy.

Virginity & the Angels

Responding to heretics in his book De Virginitate (On Virginity), St. John Chrysostom comments:

“Virginity is good, I acknowledge this. And, furthermore, it is better than matrimony; I also acknowledge this. And if you like, I will add even more to this: Just as the heavens are to the earth, so are the angels to men. And it is necessary to add something further.

A painting of many angels singing and playing instruments

The virginal state likens men to angels, states St. John Chrysostom

"After all, the angels, since they do not take wives nor husbands, they are not made up of flesh and blood nor do they live on earth; they do not feel the stimuli of sensuality, they do not need to eat nor drink, they do not experience the attractiveness of sensual music nor the charm of beautiful bodies, nor other similar things. But just as the sky free from clouds shines magnificently at midday, so also the angelic nature, free from all concupiscence, necessarily remains lucid and radiant.

“But the human lineage, although inferior to those spirits by nature, puts its own energies into play and strives with effort, as much as it can, to emulate them [the angels]. In what way? The angels do not marry. Neither does the virgin…

“You see how excellent virginity is, and how it makes the dwellers of this earth similar to those citizens of heaven. And with the aid of non-material virtues, it does not permit the defeat of those who are clothed with flesh, making even those who are men emulators of the angels.

“To you [heretics], the lot of the evil servants awaits you, while the virgins of the Church have reserved for themselves many and great possessions, which no eye as seen nor ear has heard, and no human understanding has grasped.” (De Virginitate, part II, chap. 10)


St. John Chrysostom speaks here of a “lucidity” and “radiance” that the angels have. He implies that men are able to walk towards this lucidity and radiance when they remain virgins.

I believe this lucidity and radiance are exemplified in the Middle Ages, and that the organized celibacy of monasticism was the source of many fruits that arose in spiritual and temporal society, especially the intellectual rigor of the Scholastics. We would neither have had the beauty of Gregorian chant, nor the lucidity of St. Thomas’ theology, for example, had it not been for the monks’ observance of chastity in the state of celibacy. This was what enabled them to pursue the study of their respective subjects completely and with a clearer mind, free from the cares of the world.

Virginity against the Devil & the Revolution

Many saints, especially St. Thomas, have demonstrated that virginity brings with it many psychological and spiritual benefits. These benefits are especially important nowadays when devoting our full time to fighting the Revolution, because one needs all the psychological and spiritual energies possible to engage in the combat. For the Revolution will stop at nothing to destroy Catholic Civilization and the Church, and to bring souls to perdition.

The Revolution, as we know, was inspired by the Devil, who is the source of all revolutions. He has all the spiritual and psychological weapons at his disposal, so it is only logical to counter his attacks with spiritual and psychological weapons of our own, those that come from purity.

Virginity & Our Lady

Purity is something the Devil particularly hates and fears, not only because Our Lady was immaculately conceived (which was already a victory over the Devil to begin with), but also because she perpetually remained a virgin. These are the crowning characteristics of Our Lady, the Devil's mortal enemy. Since Scripture says that Our Lady crushes the head of the Devil (“I will put enmity between thee and the woman… she shall crush thy head” Gen 3:15), it is logical that his defeat must come firstly from the purity of Our Lady.

A depiction of Mary assumed into heaven by fra angelico

Our Lady being assumed into Heaven surrounded by rejoicing angels

Furthermore, I believe this purity was the gate that opened Our Lady’s soul to a plethora of spiritual graces, graces that she uses as weapons to defeat the infernal enemy. When one practices purity and surrenders himself to Our Lady, I believe that he is given access to her graces, albeit in an imperfect way.

It seems that it was to emphasize purity that Our Lady assured us that her Immaculate Heart will triumph, and that purity will be the instrument for the defeat of the Revolution and the foundation of the Reign of Mary.

An important consideration for these benefits of virginity is – as mentioned in a TIA response to a recent question – that it is possible for both the psychological and spiritual benefits of virginity to be restored to those who, having lost their virginity, choose to practice chastity. It is a work of the grace that Our Lady is particularly pleased to give us, she who is Queen of Virgins and dispenser of all of Our Lord’s graces.

Virginity’s superiority to marriage

Because the virgin is not concerned with the family, he or she is free to attend to the needs of God, as St. Paul affirms: “He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided.” (1 Cor 7:32-35)

This psychological “division” that St. Paul speaks of is the same division that St. John Chrysostom says the angels do not experience. They are not subject to the limitations and distractions caused by the flesh and, as such, are entirely focused on and devoted to the service of God.

Because of this, St. John Chrysostom says, human virgins are like the angels, and can be more fully devoted to God than those who are married. This is what makes virginity a state of life that is superior to matrimony, whose time is mostly consumed by temporal matters. Those who are married cannot devote their time fully to the matters of God, while virgins can.

My next article will interpret the second text of St. John Chrysostom, which deals more with virginity’s relationship to marriage.

elect

Fra Angelico presents the elect with the angelic choir in Heaven

 Continued


Posted December 8, 2017