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Purity – the Key to a Healthy Nation?

March 24, 2015 by  
Filed under Book Club, Cardinal Virtues, Vicki Burbach

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The Four Cardinal Virtues (Week 12 of 12)

Only the combination of the intemperateness of lustfulness with the lazy inertia incapable of generating anger is the sign of complete and virtually hopeless degeneration. It appears whenever a caste, a people, or a whole civilization is ripe for decline and fall. – The Four Cardinal Virtues, Temperance: The Power of Wrath, Paragraph 12

Purity – the Key to a Healthy Nation?

In 1996, United States Court of Appeals Judge Robert Bork published the book, Slouching Toward Gomorrah, to describe the certain decline of America due to our obsession with radical individualism, among other things. But I contend that we are not just slouching, we are actually sprinting our way blindly toward Gomorrah, or in more recent history – Rome – destined for certain destruction lest we step back and reconsider our values as a nation.

You’d think we would heed lessons learned from the late, great empire of lust and licentiousness. On the contrary, we appear to be using the history of Rome as a guidebook for our own demise. For how could we not head the way of the Roman Empire given the direction our values have headed? We are obliviously skipping our way down the same path!

Not that it’s necessary, but for the sake of discussion, I’ll provide just one example to illustrate the depths to which we’ve sunk. Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of 50 Shades of Grey – a story about a young woman and her lurid relationship with a billionaire who introduces her to a twisted world of sexual bondage and eroticism (not that I’ve read it). Apparently, the book sold over 100 million copies, breaking print records in the United States as well as in The United Kingdom before readers and their friends as well as curious bystanders flocked to the movie. Despite heartfelt campaigns against the film by organizations concerned with purity and chastity, the motion picture was a record-breaking, box office hit. According to Variety Magazine, on opening weekend, Fifty Shades of Grey” sizzled at the…box office, setting new records for the highest-grossing Presidents Day holiday opener of all time and ranking among the biggest R-rated debuts in history.”

But 50 Shades of Grey is not the problem. The success both of the book and the movie merely amplify “the dishonorable team of blind lust and calculated greed [surrounding] the province of sexuality” (p. 173) in America. We, as a culture, are over our heads in the intemperateness of lustfulness, among other things.

But as Pieper makes clear, intemperance is only part of the problem.

Not only does our culture lionize lust, perversion, and virtually all other sexual immorality, it has disparaged righteous anger to such an extreme that even the most passionate soldiers of Godliness have been pummeled to a bloody pulp.

Have you ever seen a dog after he’s been beaten down? Over…and over…and over again? He loses his will to fight, eventually cowering at even the possibility of a first strike. That is America today. Those who continue to promote purity are a mere whisper in a stadium full of cheering fans. And if their pleas are acknowledged at all, it is with venom and disparagement. Rather than continue to allow the wrath of anger to swell within them, many turn their backs to the problem. Or worse, they resort to the old adage, “When in Rome…”

So is there any hope?

Only when we reverse the course – when more of us address lust and perversion with righteous indignation – will there be a chance at regeneration.  When individuals take steps not just to stop the course, but to change direction. When we refuse to watch out of curiosity. When we bring back the stigma associated with sexual immorality, rather than having a “to each his own” attitude. When we actually ask store managers to remove pornographic magazines from the checkout line. When we decline to “click” on questionable material. When we refuse even one dime to any book, movie, music or other form of entertainment that promotes lust and intemperateness, even if it means standing alone in the midst of friends or family for the cause.

We must return to the values of nobility and purity with a passionate wrath that is not stymied by political correctness, individualism or radical egalitarianism. Only then will we be able to light a match in the darkness. For if we reclaim purity as a value, our nation may turn a corner and avoid the fall.

Conclusion: Overall, this has been a great book – although I must admit at times I’ve been tempted to pull out a no-brainer novel just to balance it all out. It definitely required active reading, but in the end, I think it was well-worth it. The last few chapters were profoundly impactful for me, personally (That whole temperance thing – I could certainly use a dose of self-discipline!). What did you think about it?

Note: We are making a bit of a change to the schedule – after completing The Four Cardinal Virtues next week, we plan to take a two-week break over Holy and Easter Weeks. Join us again on April 14th, as we begin our next book,  30 Days with Teresa of Avila, part of the Navigating the Interior Life Series, put together by our own Dan Burke and Anthony Lilles!! If you give a donation for scholarships for priests, religious, and the faithful poor at the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Dan will send you a signed copy (be sure to order now because Dan is a lot slower than Amazon). Just click the link HERE to make a donation. Otherwise, you can purchase the book HERE, or on Amazon HERE.  (FYI – For those who have examined our posted schedule, we do plan to return to the original schedule and read The Confessions by Saint Augustine immediately after reading 30 Days with Teresa of Avila.)

Reading Assignment:

None!  Please enjoy a prayerful end to your Lenten journey, as well as blessed Easter week!  We'll meet back here April 14 when we begin our next book (see note above)!

Discussion Questions:

1. What are your thoughts about this book?  Is it one you would recommend?  Why or why not?

2. Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

Read More:

For More Information on the Book Club:

Reading Assignment:

None!  Please enjoy a prayerful end to your Lenten journey, as well as blessed Easter week!  We'll meet back here April 14 when we begin our next book (see note above).

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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at

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  • Jeanette

    Prayer to Our Lady of America, Patroness of our Land
    Written at the behest of Our Lady, October 5, 1956 by Sister Mary Ephrem (Mildred Neuzil)

    Oh Immaculate Mother, Queen of our country, open our hearts, our homes, and our land to the coming of Jesus, your Divine Son. With Him, reign over us, O heavenly Lady, so pure and so bright with the radiance of Gods light shining in and about you. Be our leader against the powers of evil set upon wresting the world of souls, redeemed at such a great cost by the sufferings of your Son and of yourself, in union with Him, from that same Savior, Who loves us with infinite charity.

    We gather about you, O chaste and holy Mother, Virgin Immaculate, Patroness of our beloved Land, determined to fight under your banner of HOLY PURITY against the wickedness that would make all the world an abyss of evil, without God and without your loving maternal care.

    We consecrate our hearts, our homes, our Land to your Most Pure Heart, O great Queen, that the kingdom of your Son, our Redeemer and our God, may be firmly established in us.

    We ask no special sign of you, sweet Mother, for we believe in your great love for us, and we place in you our entire confidence. We promise to honor you by faith, love, and the purity of our lives according to your desire.

    Reign over us, then, O Virgin Immaculate, with your Son Jesus Christ. May His Divine Heart and your most chaste Heart be ever enthroned and glorified among us. Use us, your children of America, as your instruments of peace among men and nations. Work your miracles of grace in us, so that we may be a glory to the Blessed Trinity, Who created, redeemed, and sanctifies us.

    May your valiant spouse, St. Joseph, with the holy Angels and Saints, assist you and us in “renewing the face of the earth.” Then when our work is over, come, Holy Immaculate Mother, and as our Victorious Queen, lead us to the eternal kingdom, where your Son reigns forever as King.

    (200 days)

    • Joan

      Jeanette, what a beautiful prayer to our lady. I have not heard of it before but its lovely and I will add children of England to it also. Thank you.

      • Jeanette

        Hello Joan! The following website may be of interest to you as to the origin of this prayer. I am not American, but Canadian, and had heard about Our Lady of America or as she is also called, Our Lady of Purity and this beautiful prayer and was intrigued by it.

        • Joan

          Hi Jeanette, thank you for passing that link on for me, I appreciate it. Hope you have a lovely Easter!

          • Jeanette

            You’re welcome. Happy Easter to you Joan!


  • Patricia

    From today’s posting: “Only the combination of the intemperateness of lustfulness with the lazy inertia incapable of generating anger is the sign of complete and virtually hopeless degeneration.”
    Our nation rushes to the bookstores and movie theaters to see 50 Shades of Grey- Blockbuster highest sales movie…lust controls our actions and we “fix it” with an abortion, we sell hamburgers and cars with sexy images……..and then we watch beheadings and burnings and there is not enough outrage about it, co mpassion for our fellow Christians to do whatever it takes make it stop…and more people from other countries join in….and it still goes on!
    How true is that statement!

  • Purity is the key to just about everything healthy. There is a sign at my workplace about purity and insists that one who is a virgin at marriage does not have to worry about former lovers. Her spouse need not worry either. They can relax and take care of daily life witout such baggage.

  • Margaret Munck

    I am in the process of founding an order directing our lives to Purity. Jesus can only teach purity, he can not miss guide us or redirect us to a half truth. Please take a look at the blog site. We are, ” Women Espousing Purity for Christ.”

    • LizEst

      Thank you Margaret. Blessed, Holy and Joyous Easter to you and yours! May the purity of the Risen Lord Shine in your heart and in this venture of yours!

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