The Ripple Effect of Chastity in my Life {Freedom’s Calling, part 4}

Today, please welcome Katie Herzing for part four in Freedom’s Calling – my series commemorating Humanae Vitae’s 50th anniversary and sharing the journeys of Catholics who have come to understand and embrace the truth of this teaching. For more information on the series, you can read part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here, part 5 here, part 6 here, and part 7 here.

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I have spent my entire life in the Catholic Church from being Baptized on Easter Sunday, less than a month after I was born, until now at 33. Somehow, somewhere along the way I was given the supernatural gift of faith, and even through high school, college, and my 20’s I have remained in the Church. I studied Theology in college with the intention of being a youth minister, and since graduating in 2007, I have worked for the Church or a Church-based organization all but a few months.

I say none of that to boast about ‘how Catholic I am,’ but to just explain the importance of the Church and her teachings in my life. I once ran a round-table discussion in college called “The Mis-Conceptions of Contraception” where we talked through all of the things we should know about contraception. This was when I learned the whys of what the Church teaches – the basics of what Pope Paul VI explained in Humane Vitae.

I was an eager college student studying theology, so none of the Church’s teachings seemed like a shock to my lifestyle. I wasn’t dating anyone, and knew that if I was, we wouldn’t be sleeping together before marriage. I also wanted desperately to be a mom to a lot of children (to be honest, I still do). I learned some of the medical truths about contraception including the risks that the woman takes on and other health issues. None of these are secrets, but they are either pushed under the rug or ignored in favor of so-called sexual freedom. I always knew that because of the risks, and my understanding of Catholic teaching, contraception would never be an option for me. [And just recently my doctor asked if I wanted her to prescribe something “to help with cramps,” and I asked “well, what would that be?” She of course said “the pill,” and I said, “I’ll stick with the ibuprofen.”]

In the midst of all this, I’ve been single the entire time, and we can define that as “extra single.” That is to say, none of my experiences with contraception have anything to do with my marriage or pregnancy (achieving or avoiding). However, I think they have a great deal to do with my life. Why is this? As a single woman, I am preparing for my future vocation, which I believe to be marriage. In this, I’m working on bending my will, sacrificing, and living a life of virtue. One of the virtues I’m trying to live out is chastity. This is not just “not having sex” but includes more of how I integrate my sexuality as a woman into the entirety of my life. It affects the way I dress, where I choose to spend my weekends, and how I think about myself.

It took me a lot of time, and a few counseling sessions, to get to a point where I can say (and truly believe) that “I’m worth this. I’m worthy of love. I’m worthy of greatness.” This isn’t boasting, it’s living in the truth of who God created me to be.

I also believe that contraception has a wide reach into our larger society’s culture, values, and habits.

In the 60’s when Humane Vitae was promulgated by Pope Paul VI, the rise of the second wave feminist movement was just beginning. He predicted that if we allowed the use of contraception (a fundamental tenet of the mainstream secular feminist movement then and now), we would see a rise in marital infidelity, a general lowering of moral standards, and a rise in disrespect for women. I believe all three of those have come to fruition, even in Catholic circles. Pope Paul VI was quite the prophet.

There are many people who believe that using contraception in their private marriage has no effect on the larger community. The truth is that immediately it doesn’t seem to. Not immediately. If only one person was using contraception, we probably wouldn’t have the same issues that we have now. But most women are using contraception – married and unmarried. According to the CDC, nearly 100% of modern women will use a form of contraception in their lifetime. The idea of a “contraceptive mentality” is really just another phrase for the reality of our culture’s current mentality about children.

Contraception divorces sex from babies. I imagine this is an attractive idea to many people who enjoy the pleasurable nature of sex, and those throughout time who thought they should be able to experience that without the natural possibility of assuming the responsibility of raising a child. If I am blessed to be married, I’m certain there will be moments in our life that my husband and I will desire to be together without the prospect of a baby coming nine months later. It’s natural for us to be tempted by this thinking. But I also know that children are one of the primary reasons why God designed spouses to come together in this way free from barriers.

Our culture says the Church is oppressing us because she has restricted us from using contraception. However, when you live in the truth of the teaching, she is protecting us, respecting us, and upholding our dignity. The Church is protecting us from the physical and social consequences of putting our will, our pleasures, and our desires above what God has called us to. The Church respects women so much she doesn’t want them to be belittled, used for the pleasure of their bodies, and discarded. She upholds the dignity of the woman, the dignity of who she was created to be, and the dignity of her exquisite life-bearing nature.

Most people will say that this is hard to live out. I would agree, but just because something is difficult doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it. I don’t imagine that practicing NFP in my future marriage would be rainbows and sunshine every day. Nothing worthwhile is. I do believe that as a single person I’m preparing myself for it now by learning and embracing what the Church teaches and why.

I am practicing sacrifice when I invite a friend to stay with me for a few weeks while she’s in need during a hard transition.

I am practicing service when I make a meal for a friend or watch their little ones so they can have a date night.

I am practicing self-control when I deny myself an extra sweet or work out even when I don’t want to.

I am practicing love when I sit with friends listening to their struggles and encouraging them to stay strong.

I am practicing virtue now to build my muscles for when it’s harder.

Living the virtue of chastity (which is what Humane Vitae is all about at its core), isn’t easy, especially in our culture so intent on convincing us it’s useless. However, I’ve found without a shadow of a doubt that the Church is right and that living this way is worth it. I’m worth it. You’re worth it.

Katie has lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the last ten years. She loves Jesus, enjoys cooking, DIYing and decorating at home, reading lots of books (her goal in 2018 is 175!), and blogging about trying to grow in virtue. Her “day job” is helping Churches grow and thrive, so she travels a lot and chronicles her travel adventures on Instagram. No trip is without incident!

You can connect with her online over on Instagram and at her blog Becoming Perfectly Myself.

Want more of this series?

Part 1: My Introduction

Part 2: Celebrating the responsibility of our creative power with Amy Thomas of Catholic Pilgrim

Part 3: Self Control and Our Ultimate Mission with Kristi Denoy of Hail Marry

Part 5: Moved by NFP with Heidi Indahl of Work and Play, Day by Day

Part 6: Freedom in Surrender with Laura Durant Healing Heart of Jesus

Part 7 (the end): When God’s generosity meets the demands of conscience and sciencewith Leslie Sholly of Life in Every Limb

17 thoughts on “The Ripple Effect of Chastity in my Life {Freedom’s Calling, part 4}

  1. Catholicism is of the devil, the pope is of the devil, I please ask you to read jesus-is-savior.com here, I come not in wrath or anger or hatred, but hope for salvation for all of humanity, you are my kindest sister I know, all is.

    The pope misleads even the Lord’s chosen ones, I was mislead.

    One helped me out of his claws.

    He may be unsuspectingly misleading millions of people, as often is case of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    ONLY Jesus Saves (John 14:6 KJV). Catholicism also does not teach to rely on scripture well. But worst is the prayer to mary, it is idolship, idol appraisal. ONLY Jesus you can trust. Literally you will go to hell to believe in Mary instead of Jesus or pray to her, it is idol worship. I say not this in rivalry, but in friendship my best friend. I love all human souls. And jesus is a friend of mine, in the heavenly realms. Chastity is also not easy — humanity has many demons.

    Most important it is you chose and focus on jesus. Abandon that abomination catholicism, please read the link I mentioned here, google it and catholicism is of devil.

    Many say it, don’t trust my word for it.

    Many are mislead by the pope. For it looks good on front, he even mentions Jesus that I love. But he misleads people.

    My family has catholics in it. I hope, and know, you will follow my word to read up on it, for does any wise person, seek to expand knowledge. We could all be mislead. Pope misleads even the Lord’s chosen. We are all chosen by the Lord! (the light of the world we are, bible teaches). I wish you all the best and Jesus blessings from Denmark, for truly there is no distance in the Heavens.

    But heaven is ONLY through jesus

    Not through mary, mary prayer is abomination, as is mary statues. Againt 10 commandsments. Jesus is savior link can say it better than me, as I am a very sick man in physical pain. Trust him, he is extremely wise guy, for he knows jesus is savior.

    Jesus
    Baptist church in Jesus Christ
    Reborn in Holy Spirit we must

    But NO prayer to Mary
    And no Pope Idols (they look up to pope as an Idol, against 10 Commandments)

    I recommend such a church

    Like

    1. Before you start trolling people’s unrelated blog posts, I suggest you do some research into your wildly inaccurate claims. Yours are common misconceptions about Catholicism, quickly proven inaccurate if you do a little research. I’m sorry if you were misled by a Catholic, but that doesn’t give you license to belittle this faith. Your claims are so outrageous that it’s obvious you’ve not researched what the Catholic Church actually teaches on these topics.

      Jesus Christ established the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic, Church when he gave Peter the keys to his kingdom, thus making him the first Pope. Individual popes can certainly mislead people, but that doesn’t disprove anything Jesus did.

      Of course chastity can be hard. Virtues typically are. Jesus didn’t say following Him would be easy, or struggle-free, so pointing this out doesn’t disprove anything about Catholicism. It simply shows how we need God. He said to “take up your cross and follow me”. If a Christian fails to recognize that, they fail to recognize what a Christian life consists of.

      Do you know that Catholics cycle through reading parts of the Bible each day, that we take our most often-said prayers from the Bible, and that the Mass is based on the Bible? Indeed. We embrace the Bible and tradition passed on through time, neither of which can be in conflict with each other. It’s both/and, not either/or. Also, nothing in the Bible says it’s the only source you can use. Scola scriptura is not a biblical principle.

      If you don’t “believe” in Mary, your story of Jesus falls apart. He gave his mother ten times more of his life than his public ministry. He chose to be incarnated through her. How insulting to belittle her, the New Eve, and chosen Mother of God. Catholics worship only Jesus. But we recognize there are lots of saints in heaven we can ask to pray (intercede) for us. It’s just like asking a friend here on earth to pray for us, but those already in heaven are already with Jesus, and their prayers are powerful. To honor Mary and the saints in this way is totally different than the worship due only to God.

      If you would like to continue a conversation, you are welcome to contact me privately. I am happy to discuss my faith with anyone genuinely interested in the fullness of truth found in Catholicism, the Church I would highly recommend researching.

      Like

      1. Dear Laura thank you so much for your comment reply

        Jesus is the only way. -John 14:6 (KJV)

        The trouble with catholicism is it redirects the primary focus onto Mary. But it is not the only trouble, so I hope you will check out that jesus-is-savior link mentioned also. The trouble is subtle and most people notice it not. For Satan never comes in wolf clothing, no he dresses as a sheep so most won’t notice.

        Much Love Light and Abundance
        Michael Olsen

        Like

        1. Michael, I understand that Jesus is the only way to heaven. He is the way, the truth, and the life. I am a relatively well-read Catholic who has chosen freely the one Church I believe to be the Church established by Jesus. It is absolutely not accurate to say that our “primary focus” is on Mary. Why do you think that? I’m honestly curious, because to me as a actual Catholic, that is absurd.

          The saints are a beautiful part of being Catholic. They give so many diverse examples of what it means to run the race and reach heaven after a life of heroic virtue. But they do not detract from God. In fact, they point us to Him, by showing us what it looks like to live for Him. Isn’t that what we all aim to do by living Christian lives? We give glory to God by doing so. To be inspired by that is a beautiful and wonderful thing, and shows us how to love God even better. God works through the saints to inspire us. And it is a beautiful thing to ask saints to pray for us, just like we would ask our friends here on earth too. There is nothing evil about that, and I hope you can grow in appreciation and understanding of this.

          Like

          1. Dead idols benefit only the flesh. Only God (The Lord you can trust). It is a breach of 10 Commandments to have other Gods.

            And god haunts people for generations who do, he can be very violent here.

            He takes it not easy on those who have idols, dead idols.

            The 10 commandments are very clear here, king james version.
            If you pray to other god’s or look up to them, than the LORD, you will die, go to HELL for Eternity!

            Blessings via HIS Mighty Grace (Jesus Christ)
            and his abundance, only eternal life via him
            Yours truthfully Michael

            Jesus is Lord.

            Like

          2. Michael, We believe in one God, the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There are no other gods. We ask saints to pray for us, but that is totally distinct and different from worship and idolatry. If asking people to pray for us is worshiping them as a god, then why is asking living people to pray for us okay? Does that make them a god? Do you think physically alive people can pray for us? Then why can’t people most spiritually alive in union with God in heaven bring our petitions to him? That’s absurd and nonsensical. Worship is due only to God. I agree with you on that. But you do not appear interested in hearing what the Catholic Church actually teaches, as I’m repeating myself and asking questions you don’t answer. I will not be entertaining this discussion further if you continue to repeat your condescending misconceptions. You can email me privately if you are genuinely interested in an honest discussion.

            Like

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