Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:

Erik Varden is a Norwegian Trappist monk and the bishop of Trondheim.

His newest book, “Chastity: Reconciliation of the Senses” (Bloomsbury Continuum, $22), came out earlier this year.

Varden has a doctorate in theology and religious studies from Cambridge and a licentiate of sacred theology from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. He speaks several languages.

“To do something beautiful for its own sake,” he writes, “for the intrinsic delight of it, without thought of gain: this, I’d say, is a way of beginning to live chastely in this world, poised to balance elegantly on whatever surging billow providence provides as a means to bear us homeward, towards the shore.”

“Surging billow,” in my own experience, might be pressing the point.



  1. Anonymous says: Reply

    Heather, I so enjoy your columns and the unexpected twist and turns you take us on as readers sharing in your journey. This one, however, is one of your finest reflections. You are, indeed, laying down your life life for those frolicking children and for my ten grandchildren on the East Coast.
    I am with you, the beauty and freedom of chastity should be shouted from the rooftops. Instead, we barely get a whisper from our clergy many of whom I count as friends and love dearly. I will be buying Bishop Vardens book today! Thank you for sharing such personal and profound insights.

  2. Anonymous says: Reply

    I so enjoy your columns and the unexpected twists and turns your take us on as readers sharing in your journey. The move to Tucson being a big one! You really took us deep in this one, a beautiful reflection on the virtue of chastity with profound personal insights. No man is an island; you are, indeed, laying down your life for those frolicking children and for my ten grandchildren on the East Coast. Thank you.
    Years ago, I heard a speaker say that chastity has the power to heal our memories and purify our soul. Why wouldn’t this be discussed everyday, or at least mentioned in a homily ever now and then?
    Thank you for bringing Bishop Vardens book to my attention and for answering his call to share your experience. Powerful!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thank you so much for these beautiful comments–look at you, with ten grandchildren back East–holding the world up, and together! Yes, teh move to Tucson was big, thanks, too, for understanding that…three years later, the dust at last is settling. The transition has been challenging and yet–I couldn’t be more thankful nor more convinced that the move was absolutely “right”.
      Yes–why DON’T we hear more about chastity from the pulpit I wonder? My sense is that the Church is so saturated with shame over “the scandals” that it dares not even venture into the area of sex…not that it’s ever much ventured there, in any kind of relatable, human way where we actually discuss the struggles AND why the struggle is so worthy, esp if we value women and children, the most vulnerable among us…Our fidelity to the teachings of the Church on marriage and family, and to to virtue of chastity, renders the Church the one place in fact–in a world that devalues women at every turn, not least of when we begin to age–that DOES value, cherish, make a place at the table for all women, whether we’re young, attractive, and fertile or not…The Holy Trinity makes it all possible–whatever our station, for us all to meet in love and service in the Eucharist…”Chastity has the power to heal our memoiries and purify our soul”–yes! Beautiful! Thanks again, and God bless you and your flock.


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