Continuing reading on chastity in St. John Climacus' The Ladder of Divine Ascent.
Have not dealt with the visceral, the lustful, sexual aspects of lust in years, but could relate totally with how the process operates on the body and the mind, and how the devil tempts--even if a person is called to the married state.
Regardless, the effort for gaining chastity is life-long and known to all souls, as we are melded to our bodies while on earth. The natural instincts rise in puberty and often don't leave in thought or in bodily stirrings.
Of note, it is mentioned that those who think they have achieved victory over their bodies and minds in this regard, are fooling themselves. And, this leads into the aspect of chastity as a virtue of purity, and purity includes not just the psychosexual and physical, sexual inclinations of the human body, mind, and emotions. Purity extends to other levels, reaching into the soul to desire and grasp what is the freedom of the angels in this regard.
Another point about chastity is that blessed is the soul who has no more nor less attraction to animate beings than to inanimate beings.
And for this, we know that some humans (and animals) are born with seemingly more tendency to sexual prowess and desires, inclinations, than others. Some are more spiritually inclined, or able to transcend the body, but not out of disgust or perversion against sexuality or mating for the purposes of propagation of our and their species. For these persons, chastity may not pose as great an obstacle or life-long battle of higher degrees, but there is always the prize of other forms of chastity, or purity, to be desired, gained, and if gained, to honor and hold.
Everything John Climacus writes as to the wiles of the devil (and the devil in others or in us as tempter and provoker of unchaste conquests), this nothing can certainly relate with. But there was a time when it would not have been able to know from experience, the manipulations and the deceptions of the human mind when concupiscence comes to clutch the body, mind, and emotions.
This is a blessing, and knew it fairly soon into the process. It was something His Real Presence needed this nothing to learn and thus to be greatly humbled by the force of not only desires but the sheer cunning of the devil in trying to debase one's chastity. Frankly, it was awful, and the bulk of the battle was in extricating from the relationship. The outcome came when the Lord allowed the inner will and strength to mount to a point of knowing with certainty that He was the desired Beloved and none other.
For those called to other ways upon earth, in their spiritual journeys, they live and learn chastity within a sanctioned and holy relationship. It seems as if God arranges quite perfectly, even our falls from grace, and shows us for ourselves, what we truly desire when we get out of the predicament.
Climacus explains, also, the reason why illicit sexual relations are considered to be "falls", when other sins are termed "lapses." In the earlier centuries, there were stiff consequences by the Church for those who "fell" in fornication. Twelve years without the sacraments, and the sinner had to show deep repentance. For heretics, their lapse was considered not as terrible because it could be they were ignorant of the faith. As consequence, once they repented with heart-felt sorrow and new zeal for the faith, they were required to have four years of catechesis, but most could receive the sacraments immediately or soon, depending upon their return and conviction.
But, all that, as we know, has changed in our times. It perhaps is another example of how the temporal can shift, and to live too much involved and caught up in rules and temporal consequences, is not the same as the soul's intimate repentance and conversion with His Real Presence, and suffering the far worse (or so it seems) consequences of having offended Him. The agony and remorse is so great when the soul repents with God as his soulmate, that other external consequences don't seem to carry the same weight.
Yet, receiving the Sacraments when in grave sin, is not wise, in a spiritual aspect. No, it is rather serious; but only the soul who strives for chastity even if with imperfection--but with desire to be pure--would know how wretched it is to partake of His Body and Blood when so chained to wrong doing. It does seem rather impossible for the temporal Church to even begin to try to place restrictions on those who fornicate, for how could they manage? It comes down to a trust issue, between the soul and the confessor, perhaps.
But truly, it seems best dealt with between the soul and His Real Presence. If the person in sin has not the desire to change nor the contrition of heart, not struggling sincerely to overcome the unchaste behavior, that soul becomes hardened and deceived. However, the one who knows his wrong for what it is even if cannot yet overcome the vice, will anguish when receiving His Body and Blood, and know deep within how he is defiling God, seriously, painfully. These considerations, though, have to do with various, particular conditions of individual souls. All of us have chastity to gain....
Again, it would be very difficult to enforce, externally, sacramental consequences in our times. His Real Presence handles it, within each soul, either during life or at judgment. What is sad is that we people tend not to fear, and allow ourselves to be convinced that we are chaste, when there are always degrees and the whole aspect of purity in various levels, not just bodily.
Reading what John Climacus has to say on this particular step in the Divine Ascent, brings up many other truths and considerations with the virtue of chastity--far more than the little bit of discussion here.
It is worth reading, this book, and prayerfully considering his knowledge and wisdom from a time closer to the days Christ taught on earth, and the experiences of the apostles in working out a less encumbered church, at least the temporal aspects of Her, than now. Seems good to comb through some centuries' worth of this and that, and get down to some basics. Chastity, plain and pure, for instance.
God bless His Real Presence in us!