Means to be chaste during courtship
Fr. François Dantec - A personal and a joint effort are necessary to keep chastity during courtship
Note from the translator: A series of articles by different brazilian and french priests on Courtship:
General View on Courtship by Fr. Luiz Carlos Lodi da Cruz
Ideal duration by Fr. Daniel Pinheiro
Mutual esteem, sympathy, trust by Fr. Daniel Pinheiro
Agreement in ideals by Fr. Daniel Pinheiro
The need of chastity by Fr. Daniel Pinheiro
Means to be chaste during courtship by Fr. François Dantec
We took the freedom to break the articles when they were too big for a single email/post and we added images and headings for easier navigation.
Chapter of the Book Fiançailles Chrétiennes (1956), by Father François Dantec.
Original in Portuguese here.
Some practical advice or the main ways to keep chastity during courtship
The couple should know that chastity is not always easy during the courtship, especially when it is too long. However, they must also be convinced that this chastity will always be possible for them, with the help of God’s grace, on which they will always be able to count.
To keep chastity throughout the courtship, it will be necessary for them to fulfill certain conditions and put into practice specific means, without which they could only come to regrettable failures.
The necessary conditions
First, they must both have a sense of esteem and love of chastity. And they should also know that God never asks the impossible... and that, to all sincere and praying souls, He gives the strength to carry out what He commands.
However, because of the force of carnal impulses, the virtue of chastity can only be maintained under two conditions: first, an attitude of effort and battle; then - and above all - an intense supernatural life nourished by prayer and the frequent reception of Penance and the Eucharist.
A personal effort
The effort will be primarily personal and have to bear not only the control of the sexual instinct with the virtue of chastity; but also all planes and all virtues. In particular, as a serious Christian Life always deserves, it is necessary to give the right place to the spirit of sacrifice and mortification.
A joint effort
This personal effort must be added to a joint effort, especially during encounters (datings). The couple must not only avoid everything that constitutes a fault against chastity, but they must keep between them, whenever and wherever they are, a certain reserve, a certain modesty, a true modesty that will preserve them from many temptations and many difficulties.
They should show true simplicity or mutual frankness in the fight for chastity. Let each one clearly tell the other what constitutes for them an occasion of temptation and difficulty. Experience shows that this mutual simplicity – which unfortunately is rare – is a very important help for the couple in safeguarding purity.
The woman (future bride), guardian of chastity
In this joint effort by the couple to ensure mastery over their sensibilities, the woman must know she has the leading role. Just as she can tempt, weaken, and downfall her fiancé by being reckless, immodest, and provocative, she can also help and support him if she knows how to be what she should be. Remembering what we said above about the considerable differences that separate men and women in sexual excitability, the woman must always consider herself the guardian and the main one responsible for the chastity of the courtship. Far from wanting to be a source of inconsiderate temptations and provocations for her fiance, she will want to be for him a delicate companion on whom he can always count at all times and to whom he will always be very grateful for the help she has given him in the rough fight of purity.
Practical tips for meetings
As far as possible, the couple should not isolate themselves in a place where they cannot be surprised at any moment.
Furthermore, Christian couples would never be “too much” advised against entertainment (dance, theater, cinema) that provokes the senses too much, making the fight for purity much more difficult.
In the same way, they will avoid trips, and prolonged walks, especially if they are going to do it alone.
It is also necessary to refuse a custom that tends to spread in certain Christian circles: the stay of the couple under the same roof. Practices like this are extremely dangerous (experience proves it), and we must reject them in the name of Christian prudence1.
Regarding the frequency and duration of meetings (datings), giving precise rules that apply to everyone is impossible.
If one or the other has, because of too frequent encounters, certain exceptional temptations or certain weakening of their moral and spiritual strength, this would be a sign that should make the couple space out meetings (datings)2.
Solitary and prolonged encounters, especially at night, are not recommended.
The best place to meet is usually the family environment. Not only because in this environment, the risk of exposure to temptations arising from certain imprudence is lower, but also because in the family environment, they will learn to know each other better, observing the behavior of the other concerning their (future spouse) ...
“We are wary of those who, under the pretext of greater intimacy, want to avoid the gaze of relatives and only feel comfortable when they are away from those who could protect them the most. If a boy truly loves a girl, he will readily accept seeing her in her natural surroundings, where he can get to know her better.”
“Frequent dating in restaurants, on the street, in public parks, in the car, or, even more deplorable, in the bedroom could not be tolerated. These are occasions too close to sin to be accepted by serious people.”
“If they cannot meet without actually being exposed to a proximate occasion of sin, they must make all the necessary sacrifices to save, first of all, their souls” 3.
In order not to expose themselves to violent (and useless) temptations, the couple will avoid all familiarity and particularly dangerous attitudes between them: in this way, they must never lie down next to each other or sit on each other’s lap.4 (Read the translator’s note)
Finally, it is not useless to point out that it is at the moment of parting that they must be particularly vigilant and reserved since it is then that the temptation is generally strongest.
As a general rule, let couples know that chastity becomes more and more difficult as the engagement lengthens and as they approach marriage.
This will therefore be one more reason to “watch and pray” with greater fervor. Perhaps it is time to make datings (meetings) less frequent and more reserved.
In the midst of their difficulties and struggles, the couple will invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary: Is she not the Mother of Purity and the Mother of beautiful love? They will turn to her together, when they meet, and also separately.
They will be more than ever faithful to the regular practice of confession. Together or separately (according to the circumstances), they will have to frequently seek in the Most Holy Eucharist the supernatural energies that one would in vain seek to obtain away from it.
In this way, they will obtain from God the supplement of strength to remain always pure.
Conclusion of the exposition on chastity in courtship
Such are the rules governing chastity in Christian courtship.
They can seem strict. In fact, they are, especially if we compare them with the shameless debauchery of the customs of our time.
However, this severity is only the expression of prudence and the most elementary prudence.
And if all couples had the wisdom to observe them, they would avoid many temptations, tribulations and falls, sins and miseries, which, unfortunately, we are led to observe and deplore in many cases.
Even more, all those who agree to conform their conduct to these rules will find inestimable rewards there: they will see love grow among them along with respect, esteem, and trust. They will deeply admire each other and enjoy the pure and high joys the victorious effort for purity brings to all good souls.
Finally, all this will attract precious graces to your souls in the present and the future.
And one day, they will discover that nothing has contributed so much to the building of their Christian love as the joint effort, with the grace of God, for the absolute respect of chastity during the engagement5.
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In this regard, we must approve of the sensible observations addressed to parents: “Parents cannot tolerate, without incurring the gravest moral responsibility, that the couple goes on vacation alone or are by themselves at home in their absence. They must oppose this vehemently and accept no arguments.” (“Les Gardiennes du Foyer”, June 1956, p. 8).
However, daily and prolonged datings must be considered excessive and dangerous. When dealing with more extended datings (a few hours), it would be convenient to limit them to one, or at most two per week.
University of Ottawa Catholic Center: Cours de Préparation au mariage, p. 73.
Note of the translator from the Portuguese Edition: Our author’s example might give the impression that what is less intimate than what was mentioned is not undue familiarity or a particularly dangerous attitude. This is not the intention of those who gave other rules respecting chastity in earlier parts of their book. So we can remember with him that passionate kissing on the mouth is a grave sin and prolonged kissing on the lips. Kisses on the forehead or the cheek are seriously prohibited if they are prolonged, passionate, or too frequent because, in that way, they would undoubtedly provoke undue emotions in one or the other. Following Father Lodi’s advice, avoid going beyond talking and holding hands in courtship.
In a recent article in the family magazine: Le Gardiennes du Foyer, nº 153, January 1956, p.18, we find a very interesting sentence: “Human nature is made so that a man and a woman, when they love each other, are a terrible temptation to each other. This is what St. Jerome famously said: ‘A man and a woman are fire and straw, and the devil breathes on them.’ Our couple loves each other. They are man and woman, attention to the devil!..” The same magazine, nº 156, June 1956, pp. 24-28, devoted a considerable article to the Christian morality of chastity. When the present chapter was in preparation, we had the grace to read these pages and to be inspired therein by many details and even some particularly well-found phrases.