What is Chastity and Why is it Important? An Interview with a Youth Chastity Speaker

The following is an interview with Perla, a youth chastity speaker. I have been so privileged to get to know her personally, and I hope that her story and words of wisdom on chastity inspire you as well!

Hi Perla! Thank you for taking the time to meet with me! Could you start by sharing a little about yourself? What was your childhood like?
Thanks Chris! Well, I come from a family of 5 and am the oldest sibling. I have a really close extended family where I grew up in Chihuahua, Mexico. Then my dad worked in the United States, while the rest of us were in Mexico, so we all moved to the United States when I was 10 in order to live together.

What impact did moving to the United States have on your life?
It played a huge impact on my life! It was a whole new world – I had to learn English, the culture was so different, my extended family was so far away, and we didn’t get close to many people outside of our family.

What careers and interests did you have growing up?
I always wanted to become a teacher, I love little kids. I think I even have a special charisma with kids, I loooove kids. And math. So I wanted to become a math teacher. Of course, that changed when I got to college, when my encounter with Christ happened.

What was your encounter with Christ?
I had all the big questions, like what is the meaning of life, what happens after death, etc., but I never looked to the Catholic Church for those answers. I changed my major 5 times, always searching for the answers to life. Psychology gave some answers, but not enough. For a while, I thought that maybe service was the answer, so I did a lot of service. Then next I thought that it was love, so I started dating this guy. But nothing was enough, and I was tired of looking for answers. Then one day one of my friends invited me to join a Catholic bible study. I only joined because I witnessed how much joy my Protestant friends had in their lives, and they did bible study too. So I was willing to give a Catholic one a try. The bible study was run by three middle-aged couples, who hooked my friends and I by offering us a home cooked dinner – it worked for us college kids! In their homes, we went over the scripture readings for the next Sunday mass on Monday nights. I began to learn so much! Once I encountered the truth of the Eucharist and from there the truth of the Catholic faith, I decided to look at Catholic universities to finish college. A son of one of the families that hosted bible study went to Ave Maria University and told me about it. It was the only college that I applied to at that point, and praise God, they ended up offering me a full ride to study there.

What degree did you end up graduating with? And what did you want to do when you graduated?
I majored in Theology with a minor in Philosophy. I had this deep desire to do the same thing for other college students that was done for me: maybe offering a bible study for other college students. Providentially, FOCUS (the Fellowship of Catholic University Students) came to Ave Maria and shared their mission with the students and I, and it lined up perfectly with what I wanted to do after graduation! I applied and got accepted!

You were a missionary with FOCUS for how long, and what was it like?
I was a missionary for three years. It was a great experience, I loved meeting students where they were at and challenging them to take their faith seriously. It was also a great adventure, especially with being open to be placed anywhere in the country. I always thought that it was very humbling to have students open up to me and give me their trust and friendship.

How did you come across your new job?
After my 3rd year with FOCUS, I felt a strong call to come back home and work within my home diocese, San Angelo in Texas. The diocese didn’t have any openings for evangelization or anything like FOCUS, so a close friend invited me to apply for a job as a prevention specialist.

What is a prevention specialist?
We work as a team of 8, most of us are between ages 23-26, and we go to elementary, middle, and high schools in Midland, Odessa, and surrounding cities. Our aim is to prevent them from falling into high-risk behaviors and be fulfilled in their good decisions. So we speak with the students about their self worth, the purpose of their bodies, the purpose of sex, sexual abstinence, the risks of the media, STDs, parenting, and how to build healthy relationships. In addition, we offer assistance for anyone who has suffered from abuse or addiction afterwards.

How long are you at a school?
We are there for three days, Tues-Thurs.

What does a day at a school consist of?
Our presentations last for 45 minutes, but our total pace can vary anywhere from 1 to 7 presentations a day. And we might travel to a few schools per week. So we are aiming to work with around 30,000 students by the end of the school year!

What is your main message to the students?
The thing that I really focus on for them is that they know who they are. We talk about how they have so many important sides to them: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, and sexual. We talk about why we have certain yearnings in our hearts in the first place, so that they can see their natural good desires. A big emphasis is placed on showing what is necessary for sex: commitment, faithfulness, truly loving your spouse. Because the purpose of sex is to bond husband and wife together and for the procreation of children. Bottomline. From this understanding we can show them that sex truly belongs in marriage- fulfilling also the heart and mind because all 6 sides of the person would be truly satisfied.

Was there a moment in your life where you started getting interested in speaking about chastity?
Yes! There were major two instances. Growing up, I had the common girl dream of meeting that perfect guy, falling in love, and getting married. But what my friends were doing, what the world was offering, with hooking up and all that, it never satisfied my heart. It was never going to fulfill me at the end of the day. Even a good relationship in high school was not satisfying for me because we weren’t going to get married soon after. There were plenty of attractive guys in high school that I was attracted to, but dating and hooking up just didn’t click right even though I didn’t know why exactly. The other instance was as a missionary on the college campus, where I was seeing women fall under pressure to have sex before marriage and not live chastely. There seemed to be a missing link between their faith, the meaning of their body, and their yearning for true love. It seemed as if God had to be kicked out because all He offered where restrictions to their desires. So I spent a lot of time with some college women learning and reconciling all of these things with God’s desire for us! So we deeply understood that chastity in fact fulfills our desires. It is way more than just “don’t don’t don’t.”

We hear the world chastity a lot, but are less familiar with what it actually means. How do you define it?
I understand chastity as purity of body, mind (thoughts and imagination), and intentions. Purity meaning no stain of selfishness, lust, slavery to passions, but free to love, to choose the best for the other person with joyful selflessness.

As you grew up, did you ever dream that you’d become both a missionary and chastity speaker?
No, not at all. Haha.

What would you have thought?
I would have thought that I would have been going abroad, India or Africa. I would have never thought that I would do it here, home, with my generation. That would have seemed extremely radical.

How has it been now that you’re living it out?
It’s been a transformative experience: to see the goodness of God in how He cares for me. I’ve learned how to put others before me. I’m convicted of the truths that I’m saying as a chastity speaker, as well. It’s challenged me to live with integrity in all areas of my life and truly love everyone who is around me. I’m asking myself questions like “am I building healthy relationships myself?”

Is our culture to blame for these problems of chastity? Or would you attribute this to their youth or something else?
I think that there are many factors. Yes, I think that society plays a role, especially the media like movies, music, and TV. I think those things have a huge pull on young people. It’s also on the parents, if they are not convicted of the truth and share it. Their children need to see good examples from them so that the message will get to their hearts. A third factor is that boys and girls need to be challenged, challenged to do something better. Such as love requires you to wait, to build your character first. Many times they are told that they don’t have self-control because they are young, but they actually do. They can stand up with courage against the current. I don’t think that they hear that enough, or at all.

What is different for the youth growing up in 2015 from what it was like for you growing up?
The biggest difference is that for today’s children the internet is so available, especially on their phones. It offers them so many extra risks and distractions.

What advice would you give the parents of children nowadays?
I would affirm them that they have a big influence on their kids’ lives. They mold their kids. I would challenge them to look into the truth of all these things, to live them out, and pass them on to their kids through example. I’d also ask them to try to monitor their social media time, monitor their exposure to the internet. I’m thinking especially of the risk of pornography.

What sort of role do you think pornography plays in our culture’s battle with chastity?
It plays a huge role. It is so available, and really young people are exposed to it, even as young as 9 years old. Every heart longs for true love so there is a natural curiosity for what intimacy is, but pornography does not offer an answer it actually begins to warp people’s hearts and minds and scar them for life in a sense. It handicaps them for true love and true sacrifice.

As a college campus missionary, it’s common to hear about students “hooking up.” What would you say to someone who just wants to have some fun for one night?
If I could really talk to them, I would ask them, have you looked at the true desires of your heart? Your heart has a true yearning and desire to be loved. You won’t be satisfied until you are known and loved: hopefully by your family and your spouse in the future. That yearning is in everyone’s hearts. One night stands… there is no way to truly love a person through that or be loved. Then understand that the opposite of love is use. Sure, hooking up offers a thrill but at the end it will not be fulfilling and isn’t love. It is the use of each other- most likely girl using guy for emotional gratification and guy using girl for physical aspect. It’s seeing only the body of the person without revealing who they truly are. You in fact see less of them instead of more.

How can someone struggling with chastity start to change their habits?
If you’re Catholic, make sure go to confession. Confess it clearly, humbly, and sincerely. Ask God for healing, in your heart and mind. Go to the sacraments. Besides that, get an accountability partner/group. Most young people ARE struggling with this, in actuality or in understanding. Be honest, form a small accountability group, and set small goals to grow little by little.

Any final thoughts?
I want to stress this: know and believe that God is interested in your love life. God is not a boring God. Trust and believe that He has something beautiful planned for you, and He will not leave you disappointed.

Thank you Perla! Thank you for your very important work with the youth!

Too Wise to Get Married?

Many “wise” and “experienced” Americans love to advise young adults to never get married, since “it isn’t worth it.” I may not be as experienced, but I’d like to disagree.

Is this really the best message to be sending to the youth of the world? This message demoralizes young adults, making them think that they are not perfect enough to get married. It makes marriage seem hopeless and a waste of time. “Live for yourself first.” I don’t know about you, but when I live for myself, life is booooorrrriiiinnnggggg. It’s when I’m helping others out that I come alive.

I agree that you need to go into marriage with the right mindset, it is a big responsibility, but you can’t just throw out the baby with the bathwater. Complaining about how bad it is isn’t helping anyone have a better marriage.

A major issue with this line of thinking is that it signals that marriage is only about what is best for ourselves, and if not, we can take the easy way out. If my spouse doesn’t treat me right anymore I should just end it. If I’d rather be with some other woman, I should do that since it’s all about me, right? If my kids are too much work I don’t have to be responsible for them. That’s the line of thinking that has been encouraged, and it leads to bad consequences for spouses and children everywhere.

The ridiculous thing about that line of thinking is that that’s not even LOVE. Our culture likes to say that everything’s about love, right? Well if marriage is all about love, then it shouldn’t be about us. Love isn’t selfish, it’s selfless. Marriage should be about doing all that we can for our spouse and for our children. It’s about doing what is best for them even if it is an inconvenience for you.

Of course marriage is hard. We understand that, and I’m not arguing against that. Often it is not the big decisions but lots of little ones that breeds tension. But that doesn’t mean that marriage doesn’t work. We don’t drop out of school because we have to do homework until late at night every night. We don’t quit work just because it is hard. Living your faith is difficult, but we don’t give that up because of that. If you want to do ANYTHING good in life, it is going to be hard, but it’ll be worth it.

The mindset that marriage is all about us seems to be a reason for many of the problems in our society. Divorce, abortion, contraception, cheating, single parent homes, domestic abuse, and more are the result of me-first marriages.

Instead of complaining about how hard marriage is, we need to encourage each other that marriage and love is worth it. It is about selflessly helping your spouse and children, building a foundation for a great society. A society with strong families has a strong foundation.

Our society needs to learn how to love again. When we learn how to love, we will learn that marriage is worth it. Bashing marriage will not help to foster stronger families and a stronger society. I don’t know about  you, but I’m too wise to not love.

Mike Wallace Interviews Margaret Sanger in ’57

What changes time brings. I’m sure that a good amount of people are familiar with Mike Wallace, the journalist from 60 minutes, who passed away on April 7th. So as the news came out, I happened to run into a certain interview that he did even before he was with 60 minutes. This was an interview from 1957 with none other than Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.

You can watch the interview here.

The things that stood out from the video to me, which took place 55 years ago:

  • Cigarette advertisements everywhere, haha, please forgive the beginning.
  • The Roman Catholic Church has always been against contraception, this was quite obvious from the entire video. How would this whole debate have been different if the Protestant churches in America would have stuck with the Catholic Church on this issue?
  • We are quite familiar with all of Margaret Sanger’s arguments for birth control, contraceptives, abortion, and overpopulation. These views are now the popular opinions nowadays.
  • On the issue of overpopulation, check out this video.
  • Mrs. Sanger has a point on Catholic laypeople not holding true to the teachings of the Church and the hierarchy. The issue remains today. It is extremely important that the laypeople are educated as to why the Church believes what it does, because it does make sense.
  • My favorite part: Wallace quotes the Church’s teachings in forbidding birth control: “The immediate purpose and primary end of marriage is the begetting of children. When the marital relation is so used as to render the fulfillment of its purposes impossible, it is used unethically and unnaturally.” And then Mr. Wallace continues, “And what is wrong with that opinion?” Wow! What a zinger. Ms. Sanger started talking about how it has the wrong views on love, on marriage, on women. Ms. Sanger believes that love is really only convenient pleasure and attraction. And marriage, only a civil contract. You’ll hear later on what her marriages were like..
  • Natural law is brought up by Mr. Wallace. Today, natural law don’t mean anything in the public sphere! And note how Wallace says that the Church is against contraception not because of its own teachings but because it is a natural law. That is a very specific and important remark.
  • We never hear the clear teachings of the Church anymore on public media like this. What a breath of fresh air! If only the media was still neutral like this, it makes everything make more sense when you can see both sides.
  • Sanger complains that the Church “speaks to people as they were God.” Well, yes, Ms. Sanger. Please reference Matthew 16:18-19. Jesus founded the Catholic Church, sent the Holy Spirit to guide it, and gave Peter (and all popes) the keys to heaven- just like how the Kings of Israel would give their keys to their servant to rule as they were away. So yes, the Church has authority. God founded it, God guides it, and God gave it authority.
  • There is a great emphasis on “what they want” from Ms. Sanger. She is absolutely for people choosing to do whatever they want, even if it might be bad.
  • What are the motives of the Church for forbidding birth control? Hey! I’m Catholic, pick me, Ms. Sanger! Here’s what I’d say: Birth control reduces women to objects of lust, pregnancies from failed birth control are often in situations where having children is not responsible, pregnancies when birth control is used are seen as “accidents,” babies that result from these “accidents” are seen as “mistakes,” true commitment from spouses is not necessary, it becomes easier for cheating to happen, men have zero responsibility and often will not remain faithful because of the easy way to get away with being a player, it turns sex into nothing more than a glorified hi-five- unless your birth control doesn’t work, of course.
  • Catholics out-breeding other religions and groups from being against against birth control: that is hilarious. But obviously if one group is having more children than other groups of course it’s going to start to shift the demographics. Check out the Muslims in Europe, for example.
  • But the official teaching of the Church, thanks to Wallace is that “The Catholic Church does not command Catholic husbands and wives to have even one child, the Church considers it more than normally meritorious that they have no children. If they mutually and perpetually give up the use of the marriage right for the love of God.” Now try to bash us, Ms. Sanger…
  • And now Mr. Wallace gives us a quote of a recommendation that birth control does in fact lead to promiscuity. Seems like common sense to me.
  • Thank goodness. Ms. Sanger agrees that Catholics have the right to use their voice to lobby against those things that they consider to be unlawful. I’m thankful that we still have that right, and hope it lasts into the future. Hello HHS Mandate. But the government legislating religious beliefs.. well.. unfortunately President Obama and Kathleen Sebelius (a self professed Catholic) have done that.
  • Do you believe in sin? Funny how sin seems so easy to spot when there is a murder or act of terrorism, but when it comes down to something that we all have done, the lines become very grey all of a sudden.
  • “The greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world.” She follows this up by specifying children that have disease, etc. But she HAS children! And ask someone who has a disease whether they would rather have not been born..
  • Ms. Sanger’s second marriage sounds horrible.
  • Mike Wallace rocks. May he rest in peace.

The Annunciation

Today Catholics celebrate the Annunciation, where the angel Gabriel was sent to Mary and with Mary’s yes, she conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Notice how it’s March 26th, 9 months before December 25th (It is usually celebrated on March 25th but that was a Sunday this year). The following is the tale from the Gospel of Luke:

“In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.”

-Luke 1:26-38

And with that, I have a few quick reflections to share with you:

This, even more so than Christmas, was the actual moment when Jesus came to us. From this day forth, Jesus was growing in the womb of Mary. Think of the greeting between Elizabeth and Mary, where both Jesus and St. John the Baptist were in the wombs of their mothers (Luke 1:39-45).

God could have come to the world in so many different ways, but He chose to come by perhaps the most normal way possible. The only “supernatural” signs were the appearance of the angel Gabriel and Mary conceiving by the Holy Spirit. For anyone other than Mary and Joseph, these things would have went by unnoticed, even though GOD CAME INTO THE WORLD! (It’s really exciting, please excuse the caps.)

Jesus was conceived. He did not even start out as a fully grown baby. No, God reduced Himself not only to a human, but to mere cells in His mother’s womb, the same way that the rest of us begin our lives. God depended on Mary’s body to nourish and protect Him through those 9 months. And if Mary was alive in the United States today, she could have had an abortion and killed Jesus legally. Think about THAT for a second. Jesus could have been aborted if He was born in the USA anytime after 1973. Of course, the Holy Family had their own problems to avoid, notably when King Herod had all newborns around the time of Jesus’ birth killed. Anyways, I think that in and of itself tells us that God is pro-life. He could have been aborted when He was in the womb, so thank the Lord that He wasn’t.

Emmanuel. God is with us.

And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
-The Canticle of Mary

Fatherhood

In honor of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, it’s a fantastic day for another post on manhood, specifically fatherhood!

So I’d like to start by stating that many of the issues that we like to talk about nowadays are “women’s issues.” But as much as they might be seen as “woman’s issues,” many of these issues are created by the failures of men and fathers.

For example, the problem of abortion is created by a lack of maturity by men. The choice of having sexual relations with a woman is a major choice that you don’t just do for fun. No, a man should recognize that this action naturally could lead to pregnancy, and with that a greater call to self sacrifice for the mother of his child and his child.

The problem of prostitution and pornography is also created by a lack of self control by men. These “industries” hurt both women and men by treating women as objects of pleasure instead of dignified human beings and trapping men in addictions that are very hard to break. This openness that our society has to these industries also makes it hard for men to remember to treat all women with respect and dignity.

The problem of children growing up fatherless is quite obviously failure on the part of men. What a horribly selfish crime it is that a man would help bring a child into the world, in what is perhaps the most intimate act on earth, only to never be a part of raising and caring his child?

Many children may have fathers but they do not spend enough time with them. I found a fantastic study from the US Department of Health and Human Services on the impact of fathers on children here, that I will be referencing for the rest of this post. According to the study, the way that children see their father treat their mother goes a long way in how they learn to treat others themselves. Sons learn from the good example of their fathers to treat women with respect and dignity at all times, and daughters learn from their fathers’ example how they should be treated by men as they grow up. The study even shows how fathers who do not control their anger or treat their wives with respect often father children who are anxious, withdrawn, or anti-social. On the academic side, the study shows that children whose biological fathers are highly involved in their lives have higher IQ scores and get better grades. The study even notes how it is important for children to be raised not just in a household of cohabitating parents but in a household of married parents. The sad truth is that if the parents are not married yet even though they are living together, it is much less likely that they will ever get married. And if they don’t get married, it is much less likely that they will stay together. Men need to man up and commit, for the sake of their wives and children! The last issue that the study addresses is how children with an involved father are more emotionally and socially secure and outgoing, especially as youths. These children are less likely to suffer from depression or get involved with crime and drugs.

All Christians are called to priestly, prophetic, and kingly roles. As men, we are specifically called to provide for our families and those in need, to teach and instruct others, and to lead in what we say and do. We must follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, thinking of others first and ourselves last. It is very important in our modern age, where we see a void of strong and selfless men in society, that we encourage each other and challenge each other to man up and start living for others instead of ourselves. By doing this, we will be addressing many of the current hot topic issues of our society right at the source.

St. Joseph, pray for us, that we may be men of faith, love, and courage, caring for all of the women, children, and needy in our lives!

I’m pro-life. Why aren’t you?

Being pro-life is one of the most important things to me. I consider it to be perhaps the most important issue of our generation, with now the HHS Mandate situation also receiving consideration. This post is to explain why I am pro-life and why it is an important issue of our time.

The most fundamental reason why I am pro-life is because life begins at conception. As an engineer, it continues to amaze me how our modern “rational” society refuses to look at this issue from the scientific standpoint. This is something basic that I’d imagine we all learned in high school or even grade school. So what happens at conception?

“The two cells gradually and gracefully become one. This is the moment of conception, when an individual’s unique set of DNA is created, a human signature that never existed before and will never be repeated.” -In the Womb, National Geographic (2005)

“By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from from the moment of conception.” -Dr. Hymie Gordon, Chairman of the Department of Genetics at the Mayo Clinic

“The exact moment of the beginning of personhood and of the human body is at the moment of conception.” -Dr. McCarthy de Mere, medical doctor and law professor at the University of Tennessee

It’s simpler than you think. If you and I were not conceived, we wouldn’t be here right now. Right? So how did we get here? We were conceived, we grew in the womb, we were born, and we grew up to be who we are. The most important thing that everything hinges on is being conceived.

Did you know:

  • At 25 weeks, 79% of babies survive premature birth
  • At conception, your intelligence and personality is already set in your genetic code
  • Your heart started beating after just 18 days
  • Your hands formed at 3 weeks and your fingers formed at 6 weeks
  • As a fetus, you actually had a stronger sense of pain than you have now, you felt pain longer and more sensitively
  • As children mature, they lose this extra sensitivity for pain that fetuses have

A fantastic site to check out: Just The Facts

So there’s the scientific side of it. Now, if you’re a Christian, I’ve got some bible for you.

“Thou shalt not kill” -Exodus 20:13

Those who commit child sacrifice “he shall surely be put to death” -Leviticus 20:1-5

“What you did for the least of these, you did to me” -Matthew 25:40

Jesus repeatedly taught us to care for the poor, the weak, the defenseless. And who is more poor, weak, and defenseless than a child in the womb nowadays? To think that according to our national law, a fully grown man has more protection than a child in the womb, is sick. I don’t know about you, but that screams selfishness to me.

The right to life is one of the fundamental rights as listed in the Declaration of Independence, and it is appalling that our country would restrict this right. If we do not have the right to exist, what other rights can we assume the government will give us? It’s a scary situation. And now our government is continuing this abuse of our rights by taking away our right of religious freedom.

Abortion has been legal in the United States of America since 1973 even though it kills a fetus, it kills a human person. Over 50 million lives have been lost, and now 1 in 4 pregnancies end in abortion. Abortion disproportionately affects African Americans and Hispanics. If you really care about helping others and supporting those in need, you need to get involved in this struggle to restore our inherant right of life for all the unborn and end this tragedy that has taken many times more lives than the Holocaust. We have a modern day Holocaust of the unborn taking place across the globe that we must stand against to protect the defenseless and those in need. Was it cool to support the Jews during the Holocaust? No. Was the government and the establishment all for the civil rights movement in the 60’s? No. It’s taken time, but we are going to overcome this injustice. The facts don’t lie, Abortion is murder.

More info:
The Catholic Church’s take
The Bible’s take
Mother Teresa’s take
Life Site News
Students for Life