Custody of your desires is a phrase not often heard when speaking on the value of moral integrity. In the book of Sirach, we encounter the practice of moral integrity where the exercise of true wisdom involves the custody of unrighteous anger which cannot be justified and will lead man to ruin. Moral integrity with respect to the union of the person with God is an act of faith that involves honest and clear intentions; let what you say be simply yes or no, anything more than this comes from the evil one.
Jesus’s demonic encounter in the desert serves as a clear example of the evil one’s intent to destroy Jesus’ moral integrity. The entire sequence of events in the desert demonstrates the realty of good versus and evil and even more the need to maintain proper moral integrity of faith by resisting any temptation aimed to distract us from our relationship with Jesus Christ. A particular point to the exchange between Jesus and the devil is the devil’s curiosity of Jesus. One may argue that the myriad of temptations the devil proposes to Jesus is to find out who he exactly is. The devil appears hellbent on convincing Jesus to renounce his own Divine and human integrity by committing the exact same sin that severed the devil’s previous relationship with God.
The gift of moral integrity and the dignity of the human person
The moral integrity of a human person possesses two fundamental characteristics, the first expresses a desire to respect life from the moment of conception to natural death. The second calls every human being to maintain and respect the powers of life and love placed in him. The sexual integrity of every human person ensures that both man and woman are to be respected and not sexually exploited in any way. A proper exercise of moral integrity rooted in Jesus Christ ensures the unity of the person it strengthens the practice of self-mastery of a person’s freedom.
Every person has the right to physical and moral integrity as it reflects man’s unique character and heritage as a child of God. Jesus provides us with a clear example of respecting the inherent moral dignity of a human being when he encounters a pagan Syrophoenician woman who on her knees begs Jesus to heal her daughter who had been possessed by an unclean spirit.
Jesus responds to the woman’s request in the following way:
Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs. But she answered, Yes Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.
Remember, Jesus destroyed sin and death
Self-mastery of our sexual impulses requires an assent of our baptismal identity and promises to proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ and respect all of God’s children. It calls us to avoid the impulses of the flesh by focusing on Jesus Christ Himself through a deliberate act of prayer, fasting, and acknowledgement that God truly loves you and I.
An act of self-mastery requires us to renounce in the name of Jesus Christ the very act(s) that distract us from exercising a proper moral integrity and loving God and our neighbor more than our sins. St. Paul remind us:
But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised form the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So, you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
It is important to remember that Jesus destroyed sin and death, thus you and I no longer have to be a slave to sin. Devotion to a particular saint such as St. Maximillian Kolbe, St. Gemma, St. Padre Pio, St. John Marie Vianney or your patron serve as direct intercessors and protectors from the snares and temptations of the devil. A simple response of “no in the name of Jesus Christ” to a temptation you sense coming is a very direct way of keeping the evil one from your daily walk with Christ and protecting your moral integrity as a child of God. Always remind yourself that your love for Jesus Christ is greater than your love for sin.
Prayer intimately united with Jesus Christ as the source of our communication with God serves as the best antidote against the loss of a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our Christian life cannot exist without daily communication with God our Father. In the end, our response of faith to God will pave the way toward our final end, heaven.
Prayer and the Christian life are inseparable, for they concern the same love and the same renunciation, proceeding from love; the same filial and loving conformity with the Father’s plan of love; the same transforming union in the Holy Spirit who conforms us more and more to Christ Jesus; the same love for all men, the love with which Jesus has loved us.