ADMONISHING THOSE WHO HAVE
NOT SINNED AGAINST THE FLESH
They must be warned that,
because of their loftier position, the greater is their fall. The
devil finds such souls intolerable in that he perceives that what
opposes him is surrounded by weak flesh.
They must be reminded
unceasingly of their eternal reward so they would gladly spurn the
toils of temptations which they suffer. The thought of eternal life
makes the toil insignificant.
To such did God promise:
"I will give to them in my house and within my walls a place and
a name better than sons and daughters."
John describes them thus:
"These are they who were not defiled by women, for they are
virgins, and follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth." In heaven
they sing a special song to the Lamb. While the rest in heaven can
hear their songs, they may not utter it.
They must be told that
though their state is superior to wedlock they must never extol
themselves above those who are married. They should esteem virginity
in the first place but put themselves last. Thus they will the better
keep what they have and so guard from vainly extolling
They must be reminded that
though they are continent, the good works of sinners in their zeal to
return to God can put them to shame. The continent falsely think that
the innocence of their lives is sufficient to please God, thus failing
to arouse themselves to be fervent in spirit.
And so it often comes
about that the life of one burning with love after having sinned is
more pleasing to God than a life of innocence that grows languid in
its sense of security. A land cleansed of weeds and bearing much is
more loved than clean land with barren harvest.
Their loftier state is
nothing; the way of life is everything. And so in the case of man,
there are some who, though of higher rank, are inferior, and others
who are in a lower estate are better, because the latter by their good
way of life transcend the character of the lower estate, while the
former fall short of the merit of their higher estate by not living up
St. Gregory the Great,
Pastoral Care, Chapter XXVIII, Part III