When a man looks at a woman
to desire her, wrongfully,
he has already committed adultery
with her in his heart.
But is it possible
to look with eyes of pure love,
to see in the other
the deep mystery alive within,
the mystery radiating out, beautifully,
in the uniqueness of every feature,
in the particular “something” of every moment,
unrepeatable, in the life of this child of God,
and the radiant mystery of a bride of Christ?

Chastity can mean sterility,
the locking up of doors
and the sealing shut of the heart,
when this heart is touched by fear,
afraid to transgress a boundary, rightly,
yet therefore creating a boundary, wrongly,
between you and I, where I could see, in truth,
the beauty which is yours, from him.

But chastity, in its authentic truth,
is not a death, but the blossoming of love.
To step away from possessive desire,
the base way of seeing which suffocates the heart,
is not to abide always with eyes shut
and heart closed off from beauty.
A heart which does not see
and know beauty
shrivels up and grows cold.
Chastity, instead,
is the gift which allows
this poor heart within my breast
to expand, in your radiant light,
so as to see all things
within the beauty of your love,
and in your love, shining.

There is, indeed,
a fasting of the eyes,
a pruning of the heart,
which, because of Adam’s sin
as well as of my own,
reaches out to grasp and dominate,
not to love, cherish, and reverently embrace.
Yet pruning is not the end,
but fruit, the blossoming of love;
and fasting is but the prelude
to the eternal wedding feast.
But chastity, in its deepest truth,
goes even deeper than this yet.
It is not only the key
that unlocks the eyes of the heart
to see all shining within your light,
but it is also itself a conformation
of our way of seeing to your own.
In chaste and holy love
these pupils are reshaped,
this iris changes its way of perceiving,
this retina opens up from deep within
to receive something
which at first we could not see.
these eyes which are your own,
seeing shining from within the heart,
from the countenance of every person,
the beauty of a beloved spouse,
infinitely precious, holy, and beautiful,
loved from all eternity by the Bridegroom-God.

I have been this fearful heart, my God,
at times withdrawing, wrongfully,
and repressing a deep and living force within.
Yet it burns within, and seeks unceasingly
to blossom out, in love.
Yet not every turning-away is,
or has, indeed, been wrong.
For there is a movement into the desert
where, gazing deeply and intently
through the blasting sands
sweeping across the earth,
these eyes learn to see anew,
to weep in joy and gratitude
at the visage that begins to appear
through the formless mists of burning dust.
To see and know, eternal God,
your Beauty, above all things!
To receive the gift offered,
gratuitously, to me by your love.
And then to see, within this gift,
the gift that all things are.
This heart is melted by the mystery
occurring deep, hidden in the night,
in the long vigil of prayer
awaiting the coming dawn,
and bearing, already, its mysterious light
hidden deep within the soul.

Yet also, dear God,
I have seen and known
that to be touched by the beauty
which you have inscribed in them,
is to be touched, more deeply,
with an insatiable longing for you.
The two are not incompatible,
but of one piece, indeed,
for there is no true beauty
that is not yours,
and is you yourself.
To love them, truly,
is to be draw beyond
to you, my God.
And to love you
is to be opened up,
more deeply, tenderly, receptively,
to be touched by the beauty
which they have from you
as your loving gift.

True love does not shrivel the heart
but melts it in a mysterious fire,
so that it flows out in tender compassion,
in spontaneous empathy and responsiveness
to the mystery of the other.
It is so easily touched,
after first softened by your touch,
by the beauty that it encounters
in both man, woman, and child.
It does not matter, for each is yours,
and each, ineffably beautiful
with the beauty that you have given,
unrepeatable and irreplaceable,
chosen by you just for them,
from eternity, and for eternity,
without end.

The eyes are the window
to the soul, they say.
And this is true.
But they are also
the door of the heart,
where I let in another,
for good or ill,
depending on what this heart seeks,
and what it truly desires.
And they are the door also
by which the heart flows out,
once it is soft enough,
at long last, to liquefy,
turning into burning, healing tears,
flowing down upon the cheeks.


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