Solace for the Sizzling

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On the Gridiron
Saint Laurence is the patron saint of those who have sizzled (or may be sizzling) on the gridiron of lust. I have long appreciated the collect in honour of Saint Laurence that the Church recommends to her priests in the daily thanksgiving after Mass of the Roman Missal:

Grant to us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, to extinguish within us the flames of vice, even as Thou didst strengthen blessed Laurence to overcome his fiery torments.

A Gift
Continence is a gift, not an achievement. One becomes chaste by grace, not by dint of stress and strain. Mother Church has known this all along. This, I suppose, is why she bids her priests pray daily for the angelic virtue. I appreciate the realism of the official prayers for chastity found in the Roman Missal. It is assumed that one is engaged in spiritual combat. Out of weakness or weariness or a combination of both, one may at times emerge from the battle scarred and bruised.

The Secret
What is the secret of chaste living? 1) You have to want it, 2) you have to ask for it, and 3) you may have to wait for it. Does not Sirach say, “Humble thy heart and endure . . . and in thy humiliation keep patience” (Eccl 2:2-4)? It pleases God to bestow the gift of chastity through the hands of the All-Pure Mother of God. In this particular combat, the rosary is the mighty weapon of the weak. That being said, let’s look at the prayers for chastity given by the Church in the Roman Missal. It is recommended that most of these find a place in the daily prayer rule of the priest.

From the Preparation for Mass

Ure igne Sancti Spiritus
Refine our hearts and affections, Lord,
in the fire of the Holy Spirit,
so that our bodies may be chaste and our hearts clean
to serve Thee according to Thy pleasure.

Rex virginum, amator castitatis
With the heavenly dew of Thy blessing,
God, King of virgins and Lover of stainless chastity,
quench the wildfire of lust in my body,
leaving all of me, body and soul, steadfast in purity.
Deaden within me the stings of desire and all lustful excitements.
Give me true, complete, and abiding chastity,
and therewith all those other gifts of Thine in which Thou truly delightest,
enabling me to offer daily sacrifice in praise of Thee
with a chaste body and clean heart.

While Vesting for Mass
As he washes his hands:
Lord, give power to my hands, washing away all stain,
and enabling me to serve Thee with mind and body unsoiled.

While putting on the alb:
Lord, purify me and cleanse my heart,
so that being purified in the Blood of the Lamb
I may come to enjoy everlasting bliss.

While putting on the cincture:
Gird my loins with the cincture of purity, Lord,
quenching lustful desires and leaving me strong in chastity and self-restraint.

Mass Orations for the Grace of Continence
Note: These orations disappeared from the 1970 Missale Romanum (!) and reappeared under Pope John Paul II in the 2002 edition.

Collect
Refine our hearts and affections, Lord,
in the fire of the Holy Spirit,
so that our bodies may be chaste and our hearts clean
to serve Thee according to Thy pleasure.

Secret
Lord, break the fetters of our sins,
and give us back the innocence Thou gavest us before,
so that we may offer sacrifice to Thy praise in perfect freedom and purity of heart.
It was Thy grace that saved us first; let Thy forgiveness save us now.

Postcommunion
O Lord, our Helper and protector, come to our aid;
let modesty and chastity blossom anew in our hearts and bodies
with all their strength and freshness;
and let this sacrifice that we have offered to Thy lovingkindness
cleanse us from all temptation.

From the Thanksgiving After Mass
Given after the oration in honour of Saint Laurence is the Virginum custos et pater, addressed to Saint Joseph:

Saint Joseph, father and guardian of virgins,
to whose faithful keeping Christ Jesus, innocence itself,
and Mary, the Virgin of virgins, were entrusted,
I pray and beseech thee by that twofold and most precious charge,
by Jesus and Mary, to save me from all uncleanness,
to keep my mind untainted, my heart pure, and my body chaste;
and to help me always to serve Jesus and Mary in perfect chastity. Amen.

In addition to these prayers of the Church, priests may also want to say two other invocations after Mass every day:

Saint Michael the Archangel, set a shield of protection about me
to preserve my priesthood from every taint of scandal and every assault of the Evil One.
Saint Joseph, pray for me and for all priests in need of thy intercession.

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