A Catholic Monthly Magazine


by Maria Kennedy

by Maria Kennedy

Chastity for Christians means not having any sexual relations before marriage. It also means fidelity to husband or wife during marriage. Wikipedia

Chastity is an uncool fruit of the Holy Spirit in today’s world. Rather than deal with it directly I have decided to look at an underlying bond that exists between couples and which I believe is permeated with the graces of the Holy Spirit. For Roger and Barbara the Holy Spirit’s fruit of chastity is supported by their honesty, their patience and their willingness to find reconciliation with each other.

After Roger came home and told Barbara he had changed his mind about buying the convertible car, everything seemed to return to normal, only it hadn’t. On the surface everything was normal, the routines, the dinner chats, the communications about appointments and activities. Yet even though this was the case Roger still felt a distance between them, as if they were sitting in the same room yet they had their backs to each other.

Roger had been married to Barbara for forty-three years and he knew when Barbara was unhappy in their relationship. If their relation Our Lady of Guadalupe ship was a dance you could say just now, Barbara and Roger were between dances. If Roger wanted the dance to begin again, which he did, then he would have to consider his moves around his wife. It was like taking the steps of the pre-dance warm-up, though in reality it was closer to tip toeing around the house in socks.

Roger was familiar with those pre-dance steps as he had found the emptiness of the stalled dance in his marriage before, little trials over the years, not enough to break the dance forever, yet painful enough in those early lessons to give Roger some insight on how to conduct himself. It required a delicate touch. If he messed it up he would either get an earful or tears or even both.

Roger knew this latest coolness was probably tied up with taking that convertible car for a spin. But exactly how that was upsetting Barbara, Roger wasn’t sure. Roger liked dancing the marriage dance with a rose between his teeth, showing some passion and enthusiasm, but that only made Barbara stare back at him with one eye open and the other shut, a mixed message if ever there was one. So over the years he had restrained his approaching steps with less energy, maybe a simple hand gesture, and he hid the rose behind his back. Roger made his first move. 

“How did you get on with Shirley the other afternoon? Did you get any good tips on going to Europe?”

Barbara snapped back. “So we’re going again now. You haven’t got any more surprise purchases in mind?”

Roger tried to shrug it off. “I was just having some fun.”

“That’s right,” replied Barbara a little more emotional for Roger’s pre-dance wishes, “I thought it was fun planning a trip to Europe for both of us until I realised I’m the only one that wants to go.”

Roger said nothing and his little effort at the pre-dance quickly turned into a backwards manoeuvre. It was true he wasn’t as fussed about an overseas trip as she was. If he wasn’t careful she would cancel the trip before it had even got off the ground because in her mind it wasn’t fair to make him go if he didn’t want to. She could be very stubborn like that.

couple-dancing-Barbara expected the marriage to be fair, open and honest. She didn’t see the marriage as a dance but more like a walk along a road where open communication avoided surprises, and corners were planned pregnancies, planned career moves and planned retirement holidays. But Roger liked some spontaneity. So over the years he had adapted his dancing style to his wife’s walk along her open road. Roger was only truly happy when he danced alongside his wife, and in his marriage it was a chaste dance, a dance only for her.

Roger wanted Barbara to fully embrace and renew her enthusiasm for a trip to Europe. He needed to convince her he was keen enough, and he was, as long as she was there to share the trip with him. Roger left the Catholic newspaper on the table near where she would take her cup of tea and circled the part that interested him with the comment, “I’ve always wanted to go there.” He had his hand out inviting her to join him in their dance and now it was up to her.

Barbara found the newspaper message soon enough, read it briefly and pushed it away. “What is he up to now?”

At this point it was hard to tell if Barbara was taking his hand or pushing it aside. Though later he noticed she had prepared a nice dinner with dessert.
As she sipped her evening tea she finally made her thoughts clear. “I didn’t know you’ve always wanted to go to Jerusalem.”

“Always,” replied Roger and in his head he could hear the violins beginning a steady, rhythmic three four beat.   

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