Friday, June 26, 2015

Seven Sources on Chastity

"My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure."

Before his conversion, St. Augustine of Hippo famously prayed, "Give me chastity and continency, only not yet." (The Confessions, Book VIII)  In the fifth canto of Inferno in Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, Dante the Pilgrim asked Francesca of Rimini how she and her lover were lured into the sin of lust.  Francesca's reply (for the original version in Italian, see below*) caused Dante the Pilgrim to faint out of pity:

"And she to me: ‘There is no greater pain, than to remember happy times in misery, and this your teacher knows. But if you have so great a yearning to understand the first root of our love, I will be like one who weeps and tells. We read, one day, to our delight, of Lancelot and how love constrained him: we were alone and without suspicion. Often those words urged our eyes to meet, and coloured our cheeks, but it was a single moment that undid us. When we read how that lover kissed the beloved smile, he who will never be separated from me, kissed my mouth all trembling. That book was a Galeotto, a pandar, and he who wrote it: that day we read no more.’"

The Circle of the Lustful: Francesca da Rimini ('The Whirlwind of Lovers')
by William Blake

In His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord taught:

"Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." (Matt. 5:27-29)

The Beatitudes Sermon, by James Tissot
In His Sermon at the Temple in Bountiful, the Lord reiterated:

"Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart" (3 Ne. 12:29)

If a book containing the story of Lancelot and Guivevere plunged the unsuspecting Paolo and Francesca into the second circle of Dante's hell, what might that entail for an entire society whose media, magazines, and mores make Medieval mischief appear immaculate?  If a right eye could offend in 1st century Palestine or Bountiful, what are the implications for a civilization drenched in provacative or pornographic images and themes? 

Here are seven sources on chastity to help us pluck out offending the right eye:

7. The Plan of Happiness, President Boyd K. Packer

"E quella a me: «Nessun maggior dolore
che ricordarsi del tempo felice
ne la miseria; e ciò sa 'l tuo dottore.
Ma s'a conoscer la prima radice
del nostro amor tu hai cotanto affetto,
dirò come colui che piange e dice.
Noi leggiavamo un giorno per diletto
di Lancialotto come amor lo strinse;
soli eravamo e sanza alcun sospetto.
Per più fiate li occhi ci sospinse
quella lettura, e scolorocci il viso;
ma solo un punto fu quel che ci vinse.
Quando leggemmo il disiato riso
esser basciato da cotanto amante,
questi, che mai da me non fia diviso,
la bocca mi basciò tutto tremante.
Galeotto fu 'l libro e chi lo scrisse:
quel giorno più non vi leggemmo avante»." (Inferno V:121-138)


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