Our sisters in Chicago have been sponsoring a class on TOB via webcast with Fr Thomas Loya. I've been thinking about one class in particular that he did, in which he spoke about how to look at people. The context had to do with modesty. The problem in our society is that the very idea of modesty has become so foreign that we are often surrounded by images of scantily clad people. Advertising does this a lot in an effort to sell more products. Sometimes these things can be temptations to lust.
Father said that we can't go around with a bag over our heads, so how can we deal with this reality? I'm summing up what he said, which was very rich. The key is not to focus so much on the body images, but to see the person who is there.
So much of pornography is anonymous--the emphasis is just on a body. The person is hidden underneath all the flesh.
But according to TOB, the body reveals the person. The key is to see others as persons. The next time you see one of those less than modest images on a billboard or a TV commercial, in your mind turn the image into a person and usually lust goes away. What if you knew the person depicted? What if she were your sister? Or if he were your brother?
Father said that the way we see comes out of who we are--like Jesus told us in the Gospel, it's what comes out of our minds and hearts that makes us dirty, if those thoughts are not clean.
Fr. Loya was not saying that we should go and deliberately seek out such images, especially if they might be a source of temptation. But in our world we can't avoid them completely. He said if all we're doing is running away, that's not chastity. Chastity makes us free because it gives us real purity of heart.