THERE is this book I recommend to everyone: “The Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco.” In one dream, St. John Bosco dreamt about holy purity. He saw his boys given white handkerchiefs around the altar of our Lady. They were told that a storm was coming. When the storm came, they were to fold and keep their handkerchiefs and to face the altar.
The storm came, yet very few boys did as they were instructed. Some had their handkerchiefs damaged a bit. Some did not keep them at all, and very few did as they were told.
In interpreting these dreams, St. John Bosco would come to, more or less, these principles: (1) Once purity is lost, it can never be retrieved. One may be returned to the state of grace but never again to innocence. (2) The Blessed Virgin Mary is the guardian of Purity. If one does not want to lose one’s innocence or if one does not want to fall again to sins of the flesh, he must have a genuine devotion to Our Lady. (3) One must guard one’s purity viciously, or one must be ruthless in keeping away occasions of sin. (4) Constant prayer and penance is necessary to preserve one’s purity or to keep oneself away from sins of the flesh.
The world, the devil and the flesh are very successful today in waging war against purity and in bringing many souls to perdition. Looking at almost everywhere, there is always a hint of sexualization. I once passed by a billboard and the model shown wore immodest clothes and sat in a rather seductive way—and they were advertising shoes!
What are we, Catholics who love our Lord and are serious about the salvation of souls, to do?
Perhaps we could form a habit of constant prayer and penance and try to influence as many as possible, leading them to love God and to work for the salvation of souls—this is for everyone!
Perhaps we could promote genuine devotion to our Lady—especially the devotion of the three Hail Marys—in workplaces, in schools etc.—not the moral therapeutic devotion but true devotion to our Lady.
Perhaps parents can monitor their children to guard them from committing mortal sin—despite all those parenting strategies you read in self-help books, all those would be futile if you do not foster the sanctification of your children.
Perhaps we could return to the timeless penances the saints used to keep them from falling back into sins of the flesh like custody of the eyes, a practice looked upon with contempt by many priests and religious today—yes, some saints have fallen and if you have fallen too, you can still return to grace and perhaps merit a canonization.
Perhaps we could promote holy purity not in the way many promote them now—feel good, and all those—but in the way the saints like St. John Bosco, St. Alphonsus, St. John Mary Vianney etc. promoted them—tried and tested, they work. I remember the Mother of St. Louis the king telling her son: “I would rather see you die than see you commit a mortal sin.”
Let us end with these sobering words from our Lady when she appeared in Fatima: “More souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh than any other sin.”