That most beautiful virtue of purity! Fr. Kinsella stresses the importance of purity in the young woman as a requisite to a good and strong marriage.

One very strong safeguard for the virtue of purity is saying the 3 Hail Marys morning and evening for purity and modesty. Help is needed if we are to stay pure in a very impure world…especially as a young woman or man who is bombarded with images and temptations every step of the way!


Painting by Daniel F. Gerhartz

From The Wife Desired, Fr. Leo Kinsella

Some years ago a questionnaire was published in the Religious Bulletin of the University of Notre Dame. It listed some fifty virtues, qualities of mind and body and accomplishments. The list included such virtues as purity, humility, and justice; such qualities of the mind as tolerance and humor, of the body as figure and beauty: such accomplishments as skill at tennis, swimming and music.

Five hundred young men were asked to choose one virtue or quality or accomplishment which they would have above all others in their future wives.

Most of the choices were sensible and mature. However, out of five hundred young men we could expect some to be immature if not juvenile. I remember that one demanded of his future wife that she be an expert swimmer. He would have this above all else in his companion for life. He must have been an habitué of the swimming pool; perhaps he was on the swimming team. Evidently, he could visualize his wife swimming along through life by his side.

We should not be surprised that a dozen or two were not too serious or intelligent in their selections. You might not agree with the remaining choices. Although you might not decide on honesty, for example, yet you would probably hesitate in passing up this virtue.

Well over three hundred of these young men picked the virtue of purity. Instinctively young men realize that the virtue of purity is a prerequisite for marriage. The girl who lacks it is a bad risk for marriage, whatever else be her assets. No self-respecting young man will seek out for his wife a girl who has been pawed over by every Tom, Dick and Harry in the neighborhood.

A girl who develops the reputation for being “fast” with the boys will win dates from inconsequential young men. She will have what she thinks is a good time for a few years.

But she is wasting her time as far as finding a good mate for life. The worthwhile young man looking for the girl to be his inspiration, his faithful companion, and the mother of his children, will pass her up; or, if he should unknowingly become acquainted with her, will on learning of her real worth, drop her like a hot potato.

Allow me to say that this is not just theory. Remember the three hundred men at Notre Dame who chose purity in their future wives above all else.

Lest anyone need more convincing, it should be mentioned that authorities on family life are in agreement that violation of purity to the extent of sexual experience before marriage is a handicap for a future married life.

No one says that the handicap cannot be overcome. Yet, it remains a handicap, and the girl who is preparing herself to be the ideal wife heeds the voice of experience and avoids this obstacle to future happiness.

These opinions are held by some with no religious convictions about purity. Some of them do not seem overly concerned about religion. Their experience in dealing with marriage problems tells them that lack of purity often wrecks a marriage. This is their observation, and it is honestly stated.

By nature a girl is strongly inclined to modesty. It becomes her and enhances her charm. “Depart not from a wise and good wife, whom thou hast gotten in the fear of the Lord, for the grace of her modesty is above gold.” Ecc.VII, 21.

A good home life, her religion, and her school promote this natural instinct and carry it along to the full-blown, delicate flower of purity. It is a drastic change in the life of a girl for her to abandon, even temporarily, the virtue of purity. The cause must be considerable.

One great cause for loss of purity among girls of high school and college age is an inferiority complex.

Take Hattie for example. She was not a ravishing beauty. Yet, she was attractive enough; or at least she could have been if she worked along the correct lines. Hattie missed a prom or two. She was being passed over by the boys. Visions of her old maid aunt haunted her. Panic set in and she lost confidence in herself and in the future.

She began throwing herself at the boys. The word got around. And it was not long before she was receiving the attention of several of the most odious young reprobates of her neighborhood. You may be sure that these characters who contributed to the destruction of a girl’s virtue would not hesitate to ruin her reputation.

Hattie was now getting the attention which she craved. She now had dates, but she was a marked young lady. And time was quickly running out. Opportunities for a happy married life were growing dimmer with each succeeding “fast date.” Remember the choice of the young men at Notre Dame?

It is obvious that Hattie’s frantic efforts to have dates were her undoing. She lacked confidence in herself, the quiet confidence, which comes to the girl who is developing her personality.

It is not necessarily true that the girl who has the most dates during high school years will catch the best husband in the shortest time. This is especially true if she compromises her purity in order to acquire these dates.

The young lady who abandons purity or allows it to become tarnished sells herself much too cheaply. She is not preparing herself to become the ideal wife. In fact, she is frittering away her chances of becoming a wife at all.

How stupid it is to think that purity will scare away young men. If a girl is a “wall flower,” it is not because of her purity. It is in spite of it.

Purity of itself attracts. The self-absorbed girl has the makings of a “wall flower.” While this type of girl sits on the side lines, she has plenty of time to reflect. Often her reflections indicate a not overly generous soul.

If she attributes her own lack of popularity to the virtue of purity, to what does she attribute the popularity of many of her acquaintances? She refuses or is too dull to see that it is their vivacity. They are interesting people and can have a good time and can promote fun for others.

“Ah! Sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found thee. Ah! I know at last the secret of it all . . . For ’tis love and love alone the world is seeking.” No truer words were ever sung than these in the famous love song. The only excuse for our existence is the love of God. For this He made us, to love and be loved.

The virtue of purity is not an end in itself. It is the guardian of love. As we ascend toward God through His creatures, we are waylaid by a host of enemies. One of these is lust of the flesh. Its most subtle and overpowering assault is to masquerade as love.

Purity guides us around this trap. The path it takes us over at times is stony. This is particularly true for young people who are seriously courting or are engaged.

To love a person is to wish him well, to hope for and plan for and work for his happiness with all your being. A real Christian wishes all mankind happiness and thereby fulfills the great precepts of Christ to love his neighbor. This love of neighbor, all embracing and including the little Pigmy in far off Africa and even our enemies, is a spiritual thing. It emanates from the soul, from the mind and the will.

We know that the opposite sexes were made by God to attract each other. This attraction in itself is not love, unless it includes the spiritual side of our nature.

Many people physically attract each other even to the extent of marriage. Yet, many of them are not really in love. They do not seem capable of love. They are too self-centered.

Love is just the opposite. It looks outside for self, forgets self. The marriage built on physical attraction alone will last just as long as the infatuation lasts, and this generally is not very long.

For a normal, happy marriage there should be both the spiritual and physical attraction between husband and wife.

Ordinarily, love begins for a young girl when she becomes well enough acquainted with a young man to develop a spiritual affinity with him. She admires his qualities and abilities. She likes his attitude toward life in general. She begins to feel at ease, at home in his presence.

Then other things begin to happen. A simple phone call brings a flutter to her heart. Her pulse quickens when he calls at her home. She has eyes for no one but him.

With reason she wonders whether she is in love. Her doubts will vanish when she reaches the point of growth in love where all her being reaches out for him in the effort to bring him happiness. Her own whims and desires fade into the background. His happiness is her only real concern.

Obviously, this early stage of love, undeveloped and untested by actual married life though it be, poses a real problem for engaged couples. Their spiritual love for each other readily flows over into the physical side of their nature. These emotions quickly enkindle the sexual impulses. Here the virtue of purity, the watch-dog of love, must come into play to steady the two lovers.

Champions are not made overnight. Long and tedious practice must precede real success. The daily exercise of purity over the years is required to build up the virtue or facility of purity. It will be a safeguard for these engaged couples when they need it most in times of emotional stress. Intelligent reflection in moments of calm will show them the foolishness of hasty desires and the danger to their love and respect for each other in stealing privileges from their future married lives.

The period of engagement is a challenge to the sincerity of their love. It is a test of sacrifice and self-denial, without which loves flies out the window. How often the nascent flower of love has been choked off by the rank weeds of impurity.

The sham and insincerity of pretending to be better than one is renders the hypocrite obnoxious to all. The failing is more common after middle age, when the tendency of hiding sins and blemishes of character grows. Young people are more likely to be the victims of another hypocrisy, the pretense of being worse than they actually are.

I saw so much of this when I was overseas with the Air Forces during the war. Many of the young fliers, half-way through their allotted missions, seemed to feel it necessary to impress the recent arrivals from the States as to how reckless they were with the female population of Paris.

With divers’ winks and knowing looks these self-styled old reprobates (many were only nineteen or twenty) would have the young lambies believe that they had plumbed the depths of Pigalle from one end to the other.

I suppose that we should not begrudge the young blades the foible of parading as overwhelming lady killers. Yet, half of these fancied “wolves” would find themselves hard put later on in married life to fill the bill emotionally for all but the most feckless of wives.

Obviously, only the very young would be taken in by this display of masculinity.

But that is just the trouble. These hypocrites were dealing with the young. The hypocrisy of pretending to be better than reality hurts no one. The hypocrisy of pretending to be evil has led many a person into serious sin.

The power of example is prodigious, and what a calamity it is when failures in the virtue of purity have followed such a will o’ the wisp as the feigned example of the hypocrite.


Holy Mother Church strongly urges the use of Holy Water upon her children. Every Catholic home should always have a supply of Holy Water. If sprinkled with faith and piety, it can move the Sacred Heart to bless your loved ones, present or absent, and protect them from all harm of soul and body. When worry and fear take possession of you, use Holy Water. The devil hates Holy Water because of its power over him. He cannot long abide in a place or near a person that is often sprinkled with Blessed Water. Bless Yourself, Bless Your Children! – The Living Rosary


What is purity? Why is it important? How do we grow in this virtue?

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