Tag Archives: chastity

St. Aloysius De Gonzaga (1568-1591)

Feast day: June 21
Canonization: 1726
Patron of plague victims, purity, and chastity

Aloysius de Gonzaga was barely 23 and a seminarian when he died caring for plague victims in Rome. But the 16thcentury Jesuit’s holiness was evident even as a young child – he immersed in serious prayer, taught catechism, and fasted regularly.

An aristocrat and eldest of seven, he grew up in northern Italy. His father, a Marquis nobleman, planned for Aloysius to become a soldier

While a teenager serving at a Florence court, Aloysius became seriously ill. Like St. Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits), Aloysius was radically transformed during convalescence as he studied lives of the saints.

Over his father’s objections (but to his mother’s delight), he joined the Society of Jesus in 1585, with St. Robert Bellarmine as his spiritual advisor. In 1591 while studying theology for ordination, a plague broke out in Rome. Aloysius contracted it while caring for a hospitalized plague patient.

Before taking his last breath on June 21, 1591, Aloysius’ eyes were fixed on a crucifix he held. He succumbed while pronouncing the Holy Name of Jesus, on the octave day of Corpus Christi.

Peer-group rap – key to inspiring youth chastity

As a high school sophomore, Mary Rayer wasn’t too sure about the catholic church’s teaching on chastity, but a presentation by the Culture Project changed her thinking – and her life.

“It shook me to the core,” she said. “I thought, ‘wow, this is intriguing. I want to dive deeper into it and know more about it.’”

Now a 21-year-old senior at Temple University, Rayer is living what she learned from Culture Project missionaries who visited her school as part of an apostolate started in 2014. Since its inception, the culture project has taken its message of restoring culture through the experience of virtue to more than 150,000 young people like Rayer in 52 dioceses.

Legates are linked in

Legate Mike McCartney, a father of seven and an avid Culture Project supporter, has seen the apostolate at work in his parish of St. Joan of Arc in Toledo, OH. “You’ve got these sharp, clear-eyed and, by the world’s standard, attractive young people who are passionate for the faith and passionate for youth and talking the truth. They’ve got a well-prepared testimony that they can deliver with crispness and vitality and the kids love it.”

McCartney said that was abundantly clear to him as he observed several of his own children interacting over dinner with members of a Culture Project team following a presentation to the parish youth group. “They have a vantage point with the kids that we don’t. We have a great relationship with all our kids, but I know that they hear a message from The Culture Project in a context and word that is different from ours. It’s so reinforcing. They’re supporting what we are trying to inculcate in our kids at home, but it’s coming from a 22 or 24-year-old, not a 64-year-old. So it’s got more relevance for them and is fresh and relatable. That’s what I love about it as a parent. They’re partners for us in our children’s formation, an extension of everything we’re trying to do that’s good.”

Cristina Barba, who founded The Culture Project in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia after working in evangelization and speaking about pro-life issues and chastity, said the most effective aspect of the apostolate’s work is the witness given by missionaries. “Middle school students and high school students are seeing young people who are just a few years older than they are and who are alive, living the faith and joyful . . . They’re relatable, credible witnesses and I think the young people are ready to listen to them. They want guidance and a lot aren’t getting it.”

Deacon Gary Rudemiller, a Culture Project supporter and Legate from Lexington, KY, agreed. “Our culture is very strongly against anything that’s godly and our children these days are pummeled with secular ideologies, alternative lifestyles, and alternative gender ideologies. There’s nothing good coming from our mass media that’s going to lead a child to have a healthy relationship with God or Jesus Christ.” Furthermore, Rudemiller said, The Culture Project is reaching a demographic – middle and high school students – that apostolates geared toward college students and young adults do not. “We hear kids are being exposed to pornography as early as 8 or 9. We can’t wait till they get to college to reach them. We need to teach them virtue early.”

Partnering with parents

He added that many parents may not be equipped to instruct their younger children in virtue because they have been affected by the culture as well. “They need help making sure they’re planting the seeds of virtue because kids are made in the image and likeness of God. Virtue is something our culture seems to want to step upon and trample into the ground and groups like The Culture Project are elevating virtue.”

Barba said the apostolate strongly encourages parents to have conversations with their children about the topics the missionaries cover in their presentations. Especially at Christmas, she said, when the emphasis tends to be on material gifts, she urges parents to invest in their children in another way by taking time to focus on their relationships. “Kids want to hear from their parents more than they act like they want to . . .. We tell [parents] you want to provide for your children in material ways, but to please think about what is most important and what you value most and invest in these conversations and let them know they can talk to you.”

Inspired by lapsed Catholics

Before starting The Culture Project, Barba said she had been struck while traveling in Europe by how many people had turned away from the Catholic Church because of misunderstanding its teaching on marriage, family, life, and sex. From that emerged her plan to send missionaries out with a universal message for a secularized culture through talks on sexual integrity, friendship, and relationships.

Although the missionaries give well-honed presentations with good content, Barba believes their effectiveness stems from the commitment each makes to daily Mass and a Eucharistic holy hour and living in community. “That is priceless,” she said. “I know when I’m sending a team into a diocese, they’re getting young men and women who are living holiness and in a community that’s going to call them out if they’re not.”

Friending youth with truth

Missionaries present themselves to young people as a group of friends who believe in what the Church has to offer, Barba added. Since the apostolate began, she said, more than 50 young people have responded to that call and many have gone on to live out the message they proclaim by marrying and starting families or entering the priesthood or religious life.

As someone who has coached high school students and teaches Confirmation classes, Legate Dan Vogl said he knows Culture Project missionaries relate well to young people. “Their approach, their youth, joyfulness, and excitement about what they’re doing is contagious.” He said Culture Project missionaries sacrifice both time and treasure and essentially put their lives on hold not only to empower their own lives through truth, but to share what they believe with others. “This is a cause that doesn’t necessarily have immediate rewards, but they hope they can make a difference over generations.”

Still, as is evident from the testimonies of Rayer and others, Culture Project missionaries do know that their messages have had an impact. One high school senior from the Toledo diocese, for example, said, “Your talk tonight has given me so much insight on how a true and pure relationship should be . . . . I never truly knew what chastity meant or what it was. You have helped open my eyes to my own relationship and how it may not be as healthy as I thought it was.”

Vogl, who with his wife, Ayde, got involved in supporting the apostolate through San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, said in a time when it is difficult to be countercultural he sees in The Culture Project young people breaking the mold. “Our culture teaches immediate gratification and that is a recipe for disaster. The Culture Project is fighting that. I applaud them.”

Culture Project teams are currently serving in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, where the apostolate is based, in the Los Angeles and San Francisco archdioceses, and the Toledo, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh dioceses.

For more information about The Culture Project, contact Julie Pesusich through www.thecultureproject.org.

JUDY ROBERTS is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Summit speakers reveal how families can restore culture

JASON AND CRYSTALINA EVERT KEEP CHASTITY MESSAGE RELEVANT TO YOUTH

The January 2020 Legatus East Summit is set to feature renowned chastity speakers Jason and Crystalina Evert as masters of ceremonies. Each is also expected to deliver an individual chastity talk.

Jason and Crystalina Evert – who have been married for 15 years and have seven children – have spoken about the virtue of chastity on six continents, to more than one million people. They have also co-written more than 15 books

Currently living in Arizona, they have also co-founded the Chastity Project and operate the website chastity. com. Jason recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

What are your talks going to be about at the 2020 Legatus Summit? 

G.K. Chesterton once said that the family is a cell of resistance to oppression. God wanted to bring redemption into the world through the Holy Family. God wants to continue to restore culture and heal culture by means of the family. We’re going to address how much the family is under attack and how big a crisis we’re seeing in the culture, in the Church, and in the family, and how Legatus members can bring renewal to the Church primarily through their families.

What are your thoughts about Legatus?

I think Legatus s is a crucial ministry within the Church. It’s a real gift to see how people can take their spirituality and bring it into a secular setting, not to proselytize their employees but to be a leaven in the world. I’ve been impressed with the Legates I’ve met, their interior life, and how seriously they take their Catholic faith.

How did you get into chastity speaking?

When I was in college at Franciscan University of Steubenville, I led many high school retreats and became aware of the struggles that young people were having there. I also did three years of crisis pregnancy counseling where I was in front of an abortion clinic, talking to women about other alternatives to abortion. But when you’re meeting a woman who’s having an abortion in 45 minutes, you start to feel pretty late. Why am I meeting her in front of an abortion clinic? Why can’t I meet her when she’s 15 years old? Because if she can understand chastity and real love then, then she probably would have never dated this guy to begin with, and wouldn’t be in this difficult situation.

After 21 years of chastity speaking, how do you keep the message fresh?

By listening to the young people. After every assembly, I make myself available as long as I can to be with them. I told one school, “Hey, I’ll be here if you have any questions afterwards,” and the students formed a line seven hours long. They would come up and just pour out all the details of their abortions, molestation, cutting, and addictions. They’re my professors. Their hearts are what I’m listening to, and that is why I think the teens relate to me.

Are kids today different than when you started speaking about chastity?

Kids today are up against a lot more. You look at everything from cell phones, Internet porn and sexting, which wasn’t on the radar two decades ago, to the question of gender, which was not something that kids wrestled with to this degree. All the chaos of what it even means to be human wasn’t nearly at the levels that it is today

Are you and Crystalina working on anything new?

We’re going to be releasing a lot more YouTube videos. We’re building a little TV studio in the house. I can’t believe how many kids come up to me and say, “Your talk changed my life.” I’ll ask where they saw the talk, and they’ll say, “YouTube.” From our generation, I don’t know too many people who have had YouTube conversions. But these kids live on their phones. So we’ve got to find effective means to bring them the Gospel where they are.

What about same-sex unions?

FR. JOHN TRIGILIO: Chastity is required of all people, no matter their state in life . . .

Fr. John Trigilio

Fr. John Trigilio

This question has become more common in recent years with the passage of laws in some states that recognize homosexual unions and, more recently, judges legalizing same-sex “marriage.”

The Catholic Church has always taught that the homosexual inclination is disordered. It distinguishes the sexual orientation from sexual activity. It is not sinful to have homosexual orientation, but it is sinful to engage in homosexual behavior. The Church still considers the orientation disordered but recognizes many homosexuals do not choose to have this inclination. Only when they engage in homosexual activity is there culpable sin.

Any and all human sexual activity, whether heterosexual or homosexual, outside of marriage (between one man and one woman) is considered seriously and gravely sinful. Masturbation, adultery, promiscuity, fornication, artificial contraception, pornography, and homosexuality pervert the original intention that God has for marriage, namely love (unitive dimension) and life (procreative dimension).

It’s impossible to see homosexual unions as being in line with God’s intentions for marriage since the product of intercourse is not fruitful. Along with masturbation, fornication, and adultery, homosexuality is a selfish act that cannot fulfill the divinely ordained purpose of the reproductive powers. The Church teaches that God instituted the sacrament of Marriage, and only He has the authority to change the nature of marriage. Neither the Church nor the state has the competence to alter the substance of marriage or the family. Attempts by civil government or the courts to alter the law in favor of same-sex unions distort the true meaning of marriage, which has existed for thousands of years.

The Church encourages people who suffer from the disorder of same-sex attraction to live a chaste and celibate life. Chastity is required of all people, no matter their state in life — single, married, or celibate. It is a virtue in which our thoughts, words, and actions are modest. Celibacy is a discipline by which one does not marry.

The grace from frequent Confession will help the homosexually oriented person in his or her commitment to be chaste. There are also many good Catholic support groups (for example, Courage) to help people with homosexual tendencies to live good and virtuous lives. Other groups, like Dignity, which promote monogamous relationships, are not considered in conformity with Catholic teaching.

Sexual intercourse is a holy and sacred act reserved for husband and wife, who are a man and woman married in the eyes of God, and who are committed to living a permanent, faithful and, God-willing, fruitful union.

FATHER JOHN TRIGILIO JR. is an author, theologian and president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. This article is reprinted with permission from “The Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions,” which he authored with Fr. Kenneth D. Brighenti.


Catechism 101

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2358, 1603