The Essence of Purity

 ◊  Saint Peter Regulatus, pray for us

I was listening to the homily for today’s morning Mass on EWTN radio as I drove to work. The homilist, Fr. Joseph Mary, paraphrased Dietrich von Hildebrand:

The essence of purity is reverence.

Fr. Joseph Mary added, “…reverence for the person, reverence for my own dignity, and reverence for God. That is what the essential element of purity is.”

reverence = noun, a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe

To put it in the negative, impurity is irreverence (to the person, to my dignity, to God).

In other words, to be not pure means that I don’t care enough about the good of the other person. I am willing to use the other person for whatever I feel or want. This can be from the typical connotation of purity as lustful thoughts to outright sexual activity, but it also extends to how we treat other people in general—do I manipulate or exploit people, do I gossip about them, etc. It goes back to treating people as persons and not as objects. You use objects; you love persons. Purity is about the whole person, not just about their sexuality as most people refer to it.

Kierkegaard wrote, “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” It is to revere others, to will—to choose—the good for them. It is to be sensitive, mindful as the Buddhist would say, to the needs of others. It is to love them.

So what is missing in me—what hole am I trying to fill when I do not revere other people? I can be so selfish at times. Do I not trust God enough to know that He will indeed give what is needed, in other words, to feed me? Give us this day our daily bread.

Father, I believe. Help my unbelief. Help me to be more open, more mindful, more reverent.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.