Tag Archives: purity

What gift are your bringing the Babe of Bethlehem?

The Three Kings present their gifts to the Child Jesus, in the 17th Century Life Sized Christmas Creche, at Acireale, Sicily.

By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

I do not know from whence arose the secular custom of making a New Year’s Resolution, but Catholics have a much better motive for changing their lives at the beginning of a New Year: Epiphany.

Epiphany is the ancient Christian Christmas. That is, the day on which Christians gave presents was not Christmas but Epiphany, the Feast of Manifestation. On this Day, Christians celebrated the miracle of the changing of water into wine, which Our Lord performed at Cana, in Galilee, to reveal Himself to Israel and begin His public ministry. On this day too, Christians celebrated the visit of the Magi to the Child Jesus, at Bethlehem, since it was on that day, that the first Gentiles came to adore the God-King of Israel.

The Three Kings gives us all an example of Christian life. That our life should be a pilgrimage, which is guided by the Light of Heaven, and which leads us to sacrifice and leave behind everything, so that we might lay down the treasure of our life in an act of adoration of the one True God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and in doing so, be found worthy to enter the House of the Holy Family, in the Kingdom of Heaven.

So what the Three Kings did on Epiphany, is an archetype of what we should be doing every day our our lives, and each year.

Let this be the motivation of your new years resolution. What gift are you going to give the Child of Bethlehem this year?

Let your gift be a gift of myrrh

Myrrh was a rare substance, the dried sap of a tree which only grew in the hottest and driest parts of Arabia. It was burnt at funerals as a sign of morning and to cover the stench of the decaying body.

Myrrh in Christian traditions has thus always been a sign of mortification and of the spiritual gifts we give God by mortifying our passions.

And the best gift of Myrrh you can give is purity.  Because lust, howsoever little it be indulged in, is a mortal sin. And many live in this vice their whole lives, deceiving themselves into thinking, that what Our Lord speaks of, when He says, “If a man so much as look as a woman desiring her, he commits adultery with her in his heart”, he is speaking of the desire for a particular woman, the use of the imagination, or a consummated act imagined or wanted.*

No, the truth is, as the Saints teach us, that Our Lord is speaking of the simple desire to rejoice sexually at sight of her.

A whole generation of Catholics were ruined by an anecdote which was told about Pope John Paul II, that, namely, he had the habit of looking at women as the passed by. And that he excused himself saying it was only a sin if you looked twice.

This is simply not true. It’s a mortal sin. And it is not just mortal for a man who is not free to marry, such as a priest or religious or a man who is already married. It is mortal for all men and all women, whether they get a rush from it or not.

This sin consists in desire, not in acting, not in imagining, but in allowing oneself the desire. It is wrong to feel another person in this way, just as it is wrong to feel the sight of any human being, yourself, or another, in this way. This is why the use of pornography is always, in every circumstance, a mortal sin in itself. For since the consent to experience pleasure is a perfect moral act, as no one does this who does not know of the pleasure, who does not will to accept it, and who does not will to rejoice in it.

Purity on the other hand consists in repelling or rejecting with disdain and disgust impure desire, and in taking every step to avoid its occurrence, through modest dress, turning aside the eyes, and avoiding bad company and the use of social media when one is being tempted.

Let your gift be a gift of Frankincense

Frankincense was the sweetest smelling of all incenses. Frank- in the English word, means the common kind of.  All scents of incense, which are made of dried resins, use Frankincense as the base, since it has the ability to carry every scent into the air in its smoke when burnt.

Frankincense, thus, is a symbol of spiritual gifts which continually rise from the heart.  And these are best categorized under the name of prayer.  As Christians, we are called to everlasting continual communion with God. And since God is a Spirit, we can only do this through prayer, continual prayer, which is founded upon acts of Adoration, Praise, Love, Faith, Hope, Petition.  This is the true desire which should fill the heart of a Christian and blot out all lust for this world.

Let your gift be a gift of Gold

Gold was and is the treasure of kings. As a gift in the hands of the Magi, it symbolizes the greatest gift we can give, of our own selves and of our very lives, purely to God out of love for Him. Let us resolve to do all the good and non-evil things that we do, for the love of God. And let us resolve never to do anything which is sinful, not even venially.

He guards the gold of his own soul, who best protects it. For what do you have more precious that your immortal soul, which by its nature exists FOREVER. And which cannot know eternal blessedness except in GOD and WITH HIM forever.

The promise of eternal salvation in Christ, then, should be in the forefront of our minds NOT ONLY as the greatest reward and treasure we can possibly have, but as the only reward and treasure which we can have FOREVER.

And, thus, the best protection of this gold of our soul is to make every decision in view of our eternal salvation and that of others. We should use this criterion always: What way can I do this in a way which does not endanger my soul? If there is no way, then do not do it even if it appears licit. If it is evil, then flee from it, regardless of how many of those around you fling themselves into it.

What gifts are you bringing the Child of Bethlehem this Epiphany?

Today is Saturday: go to the store of Confession and buy by your tears and firm proposal of amendment one or more of these gifts, to present to the Child Jesus at Mass on Epiphany, this Monday!

(I will leave it to those more adept than I, to guess which King is which: leave your guesses in the Comments section, if you like).


* For those not familiar with Catholic teaching on morals, please note that this case deals with a woman who is not your wife.










Male affirmation and the Secret to Purity


by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

As you can see from this blog, From Rome, I make it a point to write about topics about which I see no one talking, but which need to be spoken about. In this post I will speak to those men who are slaves to the sins of impurity and how to be liberated in Christ. This is the “you” to whom I speak.*

Some of you have been enslaved since your youth, because no one told you in time what was a mortal sin of impurity and so you developed an addiction to sins of this kind. Some of you had such an addiction and broke it. And some of you fell into such an addition later in life.

The first advice I can give you, is not to take advice from someone who is addicted to the same sin. The internet is full of individuals, with or without degrees in pertinent fields, who are obviously addicted to impurity since they openly say there is nothing bad about such an addiction.

The best advice, of all, is to take the counsel of God and His Saints.  This matter is very serious, for as Our Lady says at Fatima, the sins of impurity take the most souls to hell. And Saint Alphonsus says that no soul goes to Hell without the sin of impurity, just like no soul gets to heaven without the virtue of humility.

The second advice I can give you is, that you need to recognize that without Jesus Christ you cannot be saved. There is no self help which can save you, or which you can practice, without Jesus.  That is because, the addiction to the sins of impurity is not just a physical or chemical addiction, but a spiritual addiction.


Because, the power of procreation which God has given to men and women, is not merely a biological power. In virtue of the fact that this power cooperates immediately and intimately with God’s creative power, in creating new human souls, at the moment of conception, the power of procreation is the one biological power which touches upon the supernatural and is inextricable from the spiritual.

To understand at the most basic level this power, consider that in 80 days each and every individual adult man in the world (even the most chaste) produces enough zygotes to repopulate nearly the entire planet with its present population. God made the man this way to show us how the power of procreation touches upon the Infinite power of the God of Life.

The misuse of such a power, then, is a very spiritual sin, it is not just a carnal sin.

Now many have spoken about what to do to break such a horrible slavery, from the point of view that these sins are carnal. The first things are fasting and abstinence, which in modern times must be said to include reducing the intake of proteins, vitamins and all nutritional sources, liquor and eliminating all stimulants, whether taken internally or used upon the body. The total destruction and removal of all pornography which you keep at home, in your office, in your car, or under your control (if you have the habit of hiding it elsewhere). The mortification of the eyes and imagination. The firm resolution never to commit such sins again. The removal of your person from occasions of these sins. Ending all evil friendships. Corporal mortifications, such as cold showers. — And in this one must recognize that there is no little sin of impurity. That is, there is no venial sin of impurity. Impurity is always a mortal sin. Because impurity as a sin consists in the use of the procreative power in a way in which it is not ordered to the conception of new souls in the womb of your wife. For that is the only reason and purpose God gave you to use this power.**

These are some of the necessary means to break addiction to carnal sins.  Almost every man who has ever asked me counsel about such matters is one which I find, upon interrogation, is NOT practicing the above, or is addicted to self indulgence, as for example, eating too much red meat or using pornography.

But today I want to speak about the spiritual side of this sin. And not simply that a man falls into this sin because he does not have the habit of praying, such as praying the daily rosary. This is true, but why is it true?

Men commit sins of impurity because they are trying to prove something to themselves. This seems at first somewhat of an absurd and abstract statement, but it is not.

This is because, at the human level, we are not pure spirits, nor pure bodies, we are the union of an immortal soul and a mortal body. And often an individual who neglects to recognize this union of extremes in himself, takes action on one level, when action is required on the other level.

Thus, men who consider themselves a failure in anything visible try to compensate by proving that in something else they are a success in something else which is visible. This is why sins of impurity are so common among young men who are in a crisis about who they are to be and whether anyone really loves them in this world, and why they are so common among men who are in a crisis in their marriage or career or job, because they either do not find that they are loved by their wives, or because they think that failure in some other matter, requires them to attempt to succeed by being impure.

I will leave it to psychologists to enumerate all the occasions in which the sense of failure leads immediately to sins of impurity, especially the sin of self abuse, but I will enumerate some.

  1. Failure to win a spot on the team or in the club.
  2. Failure to succeed in a project or mission.
  3. Failure to convince others of your point of view.
  4. Failure to win at some contest.
  5. Failure to distinguish yourself in come accomplishment or talent or in good looks.
  6. Failure to be accepted by someone or group in which you put your hopes for self affirmation.

From the sense of failure most men react by seeking to affirm themselves by some act of impurity. By this they attempt to prove to themselves that they have what it takes to be a man and/or have it more than or better than those men whom they perceive to be their rivals or role models, whether as fathers or as peers.

And this is why only Jesus Christ and the identity He offers you in His Kingdom can save you.

Because only that kind of salvation which is interior and which satisfies that which we need most fundamentally, can rescue us from the real spiritual problem in which we fall, which consists in this, that we recognize that we have failed to be what we were never made to be WITHOUT RECOGNIZING what we are called and made to be.

This is verified in sins of impurity. Because the onset of such sins is nearly always at a time in life in which the individual has in his own eyes failed, because he is seeking to be that which he is not.

And the most common error here, is that a man seeks to be a man who is perfect according to the body, when in truth, we are made to be men who are perfect according to the soul. When we try to satisfy that which Saint Augustine calls, the most intimate desire of our heart, in something else, we find it does not fit, we then consider ourselves a failure, and then we try to make up for the dent or damage to our innermost conception of our own dignity. That is why, as St Augustine says, Thou has made our hearts for Thee, and they are restless until they rest in Thee.

And to be precise, I am not talking here about merely psychological depression. I am talking about ontological depression.

That is why we cannot be saved except by the Most Holy Trinity. Because when you turn back to the Most Holy Trinity, you turn back to the Source of all Order and Identity.  And repentance will be just that: the decision made possible by God’s grace and YOUR collaboration with it, to seek again that which you were made to be and to stop wandering down ever-narrowing dark alleys of existence, in which there is no lasting consolation, but only worsening deprivation and worsening emptiness.

We are called to be the adopted sons of the Eternal Father. We are called to be the adopted brothers of the Eternal Son. We are called to be the adopted temples and soldiers of the Eternal Lord and Vivifier, the Holy Spirit. And I will add, we are called to be the beloved sons and knights of the Blessed Virgin, Our Mother in Heaven.

We are called by a Love which has contemplated our own personal individual existence from Eternity. We are called by this Eternal Love to be loved eternally. We are called by this Love which is God to be loved by everyone in Heaven, perfectly and forever. There, where God will wipe away every tear and sorrow and all shall be gladness and rejoicing. A Beatitude which we will posses in soul, but which also will pour over out of our souls into our bodies.

This is why, the most powerful prayer to break from the slavery to the sins of impurity is the Our Father. Because in this one prayer we can come to understand that our eternal destiny our ultimate and perfect affirmation, consolation, encouragement comes from the Eternal Father and finds its fulfillment only In Him.

This is also why repeated meditations or confessions which focus ONLY upon the eternity of hell and how horrible and terribly we have failed God by sins of impurity, is NOT going to solve the problem. It may even make it worse, because it increases the sense of failure and gives no hope or direction where to find true success.***

So my final advice is to contemplate that throne next to Himself to which God has called you, and for which He has made you and in this way you will find a stable ground upon of grace upon which to step forth from this slavery.  For if you want that throne in which is found all goodness, you must understand that you must give up all impurity. Because just as the power of procreation touches upon the Infinite, so the virtue of purity is the root of immortality.

Because in the task of being something, where it really matters, that is, in getting to Heaven, God Himself with His Eternal Love and with His Omnipotence, has both made you in Christ and empowers you with His Holy Spirit — if you accept the challenge — to succeed eternally and achieve perfection in being eternally loved by everyone in Heaven, and not according to the flesh, but according to who you are, which is that according to which you are unique in all the cosmos, in all time and eternity.

May Our Immaculate and Ever Virgin Mother, who is so saddened when She sees us sin in any way, especially against purity, be your refuge and path back to God. For She who never was in any way impure was rewarded with the greatest joy in Heaven and She wants you, as Her adopted child, to enjoy that with Her, for as a Mother, Her heart can not rest until She sees you with Her in Her home and at Her table.****


* And I speak to men, for no other reason, that being a man, I know something about being a man. I will readily confess, that as a hermit and consecrated virgin, I know nothing about women.

** And yes, that means, if you do not have a wife, you should never use this power. To understand this, let me use an example from an entirely different matter. At a gun range, when you practice shooting, you shoot at a target. If you shoot at anything else, you will never be allowed to return and may also be arrested and sent to prison. These are the rules of a gun range.  And God has His own rules, because all Creation is His Range, and God Has an eternal prison, it’s called Hell. And Arresting Angels (not nice people at all), who are the angels of destruction and damnation (a.k.a devils) which take those in mortal sin to Hell.

*** This why I believe it is necessary for Confessors, during confession, not simply to hear the sins of impurity enumerated by the penitent, or simply talk about the eternity of hell which they merit, but to remind the sinner that he is called to a true destiny where he can succeed in arriving, because God is at his back every step of the way.

**** And She has many graces which no one ever asks Her for. One of which, is the grace to be worthy of Her love through a life of purity. For only the pure shall merit to kiss Her hand in Heaven.