Mangaluru: My friend, a nun, who was undertaking the mission of higher education shared with me what one College lecturer had confided in her when she came to invite her for her wedding. She said, “Sister, during our Catechism classes, in preparation for marriage, the priest who was instructing us told us that the best gift a girl could offer to her groom on the first night is her virgin body kept pure and never sullied through any careless indulgent act. And I am happy to tell you that I am giving that gift to my groom”.
Our parents of yester years were faithful to their family life, a life of commitment and fidelity to each other as life partners and they were also committed to raising a family and bringing up their children in the fear of the Lord. Their relationship with their growing children was to foster personal accompaniment, a friend to friend relationship, giving them proper guidance in order to promote character formation. All this was possible because they themselves, when they were children and while they were growing up, had taken the trouble of preserving the gift of their purity and were submissive the guidance of their parents. Sunday Catechism and moral guidance from all quarter helped them to keep their steps steady to walk the talk which they learned at home, in school and from society.
Today, times have changed and one is tempted to ape the West in their values and way of life which is very lax. It seems as if only fleeting pleasure is important. However the sacred words of Jesus which reveal to us Gospel values, the teaching of our Holy Mother the Church which provides the spiritual focus at every Sunday Mass and Catechism classes held anywhere, all stress eternal life with God forever and ever. Our life on earth is temporary and our final destination is Eternity. Many accidents are taking place in the present times especially among the Youth who are caught up in rashness, restlessness, the allurement and pleasures of the world, the social media, night parties and suggestive dresses. They also indulge in meetings and get-togethers without the supervision of any elders and without the knowledge of school/college authorities. All these happenings are very alarming.
Moreover immoral activities today are on the increase such as child sexual abuse, human trafficking, child prostitution, etc. Little children as also adolescent boys and girls get trapped in such activities through bad company. This leads them to indulging in bodily pleasures galore with a sense of licence either by force or voluntarily. Reading pornographic literature and viewing blue films are also very dangerous materials which lead young people into impurity, especially where there is no guidance from parents and children do things on the sly. If this is the general state of affairs how can we expect families to be firm in their morals and right character-formation ?!
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This is the most educative and striking beatitude among the Eight Beatitudes taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. May Parents take it as their personal responsibility and bounden duty, which they cannot shirk under any circumstances, to walk closely and watchfully with their children. May they create a relationship that is based on trust and confidence in each other so that children do not hide anything from their parents. This especially applies to the mother. The home atmosphere should be such that loving and pure thoughts are planted in the minds of children which will help them to distinguish the good from the bad, the helpful from the dangerous. In this way children will get the strength, light and grace to choose the hard right against the easy wrong.
Modesty of the body is an important value that the mother should observe in the way she dresses her child. A mother may think that it is harmless if an innocent little girl wears sleeveless, backless dresses; however child psychologists will tell a mother that values are sown and grounded in early life. If the child gets used to wearing backless dresses or dresses with straps, when she grows up, she will hold the same opinion that it is perfectly acceptable to wear dresses that show her cleavage or low-backed dresses.
The father’s role in the family is equally important. The little boys will observe how their father behaves and will follow his example – his language, habits, life-style all will play an important role in determining how his sons grow up. The way in which he treats women folk, both within the family and in general, will surely influence the attitudes and values of his sons. They will learn to appreciate modesty or the opposite. May both parents realise that they need to stress the lesson of modesty to their children when they are small and then it will stay with them throughout their lives.
Spiritual help is a strong antidote to indulging in entertaining impure thoughts, desires, speech and deeds. Just like addiction to drugs or alcohol, once a young boy or girl gives in to sins of impurity and unchaste behaviour, it will be very difficult to come out of it. A great help is to make a good confession and believe in the mercy of God. Think of the scene of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. Jesus exhorted the crowd: “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” A young person can draw great strength from the deep awareness that Jesus is our Merciful Saviour and a friend of the young, not a harsh judge.
Praying to Mother Mary is a great help. Praying three Hail Mary’s every night before going to bed along with the invocation after each Hail Mary: “Through thy sacred virginity and immaculate conception, O Most pure virgin, queen of angels, obtain for me purity of soul, mind and body” is a powerful prayer of protection. Many reflections and stories are available as to how Mother Mary has helped young girls and boys from being enslaved by impurity. Lives of Saints such as St Agnes and St Maria Goretti will surely inspire little children and young girls to value and preserve the gift of their purity.
Finally, may parents give proper guidance to their children both by precept and the example of their own lives of fidelity in their commitment to family life. This will surely go a long way in helping society to sustain a pure and chaste environment, both now as well as in the future.
Ms Tilliola RC Peris and her husband, the late John Peris , her companion for 53 years, were Coffee Planters for 34 years. Thereafter due to health reasons they shifted to their house in Mangaluru town. “Tilly”, as she is better known, is a deeply spiritual person and an active social worker. Many a grieving and sad souls find solace in her company. Today at the age of 77 she would put a younger person to shame, as she never wastes time but keeps herself busy helping people of all castes and creeds who are in dire need of help.