The Lily of Purity
The Four Sentinels of Protection


MAN’S worst enemy is evil concupiscence, the lust of the flesh, which aims at destroying that celestial flower, the lily of purity. At no period of life is this enemy bolder and more importunate than at your present age. Then is concupiscence kindled within your breast like an unholy fire, so forcibly urging you to sin that it is necessary to make every effort, to employ every means, if you are to resist its power. Thus it comes to pass that the greater number of sins against chastity are committed by young men and young women. Therefore it is so highly important, so absolutely necessary, for you to know the means for the preservation of your chastity, and the manner in which you may best protect and cherish the fair lily of purity.

I will proceed to direct your attention to the sentinels who guard the lily of chastity. I have already mentioned certain sentinels when I spoke of the enemies of the lily. You must resist your evil desires and inclinations, observe custody of the eyes, suppress the risings of vanity and an undue anxiety to please, be cautious in your dealings with persons of the other sex, eschew undesirable conversation and objectionable books, and seldom, if ever, go to theatres and public dances. Those habits and rules of conduct are sentinels which must be posted in the garden of your heart, untiringly to guard the lily of chastity from danger, to defend it against its foes, to ward off evil influences.

I.  Fear God and Be Humble

To these must sentinels of a mightier and loftier character be added. The highest and most powerful of them all is the fear of God united to humility of heart. Happy are you if you constantly feel this holy fear and never forget that you bear about you the treasure of chastity in earthly vessels. Never pride yourself upon the fact of having preserved your innocence hitherto, as if it were all your own merit. And when you hear that others have fallen into sin, and been put to shame, do not judge them harshly. Remember that we all are fallible and weak; what has happened to others may happen to us likewise. Holy Scripture thus warns us: "Wherefore he that thinketh himself to stand let him take heed lest he fall." When a girl begins to pride herself on her talents and good looks, to disregard and mock at the warnings of her parents and confessor, to tell them that they do not know what they are talking about, she will, in all probability, fall into the sin of impurity when she is assailed by some strong temptation, or finds herself confronted by an occasion of sin. She even may end by following a vicious career.

II.  Resist Evil Thoughts

It is the duty of a second sentinel to oppose a determined resistance to evil thoughts and impulses. The chief and fundamental principle in combating disease is to lose no time in employing the proper remedies. The same principle is applicable to the maladies of the soul. As soon as you become conscious of sinful thoughts, imaginations and impulses, direct your attention to something else, to the tasks you have to perform, or to anything which is free from danger, and likely to engross your mind. If you are alone, seek some harmless companionship. In any case breathe forth with heartfelt earnestness some such ejaculation as the following: "My Jesus, mercy!" "Sweet heart of Jesus, be my love!" Such brief prayers, if uttered with sincere devotion and childlike confidence, have a marvelous, an almost infallible power.

III.  Avoid Idleness

A third sentinel must assign to both mind and body plenty of work. "Idleness is the parent of all vice," is a proverb which is true indeed, and in reference to the sin of unchastity it is more especially true. She who has nothing or very little to do does not know how to while the time away; and when she is alone thoughts and imaginings of every kind come to her, the evil enemy suggests impure ideas which facilitate a fall into sin. Countless is the number of young persons who, through their own idleness, or from lack of suitable occupation, have lost their innocence. Therefore you ought to consider yourself fortunate, and give thanks to almighty God, if you have plenty to do. It is well if your parents set you one task after another, never leaving you leisure to idle about. A spring is clear and lucid because the water is in motion. How foul and turbid, on the contrary, is a stagnant pond!

IV.  Avoid Occasions of Sin

A fourth sentinel ought to be kept in reserve. It has a most important and difficult duty in regard to the lily of purity. Its office is to influence the human will, and induce persons to avoid occasions of sin against the virtue of chastity.

All previously mentioned enemies of the lily lead to such occasions of sin. I will here only mention some voluntary, proximate occasions. In such a voluntary, proximate occasion is a young woman who without necessity goes to, or lingers in, any place where it is highly probable or almost certain that she will fall into sins against chastity. The same remark applies to her if she of her own free will seeks to be alone with any person who is .very likely to lead her into sin. Such occasions must be avoided, at whatever cost, else nothing can avail to save her; even prayer and confession will be of no use.

You surmise how very difficult, how well-nigh impossible, it will at times appear to avoid such occasions. See, therefore, that you follow betimes the exhortation uttered by Our Lord: "Watch and pray!" Watch while you are still young, watch throughout all the years that are to come, that thus your heart may not cleave to any occasion of sin so as to refuse to be separated from it, and thus be cast into perdition.

Keep careful watch, for who can know,
How slight a spark wakes passion’s glow;
And should it scorch thy lily fair,
That loss thou never could’st repair.