Helping young Catholics to find and give the love that they were created for, that is the goal for Jason Evert, founder of Chastity Project, when he visits Australia later this year.
Jason will deliver a keynote address at the upcoming Australian Catholic Youth Festival, which takes place in Adelaide from 3-5 December 2015.
‘Pope John Paul II once said that chastity can only be thought of in association with the virtue of love. My hope is that through the presentations I offer, the youth will see how chastity frees them to love and frees them to know if they are being loved,’ Jason told the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Office for Youth.
Jason will break open one of the ways young people can respond to the Festival’s theme in their every day lives; “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8).
Jason and his wife Crystalina Evert have spoken to more than one million people on six continents about the virtue of chastity.
After working for Catholic Answers in San Diego for more than a decade, the couple moved to Denver and began a new ministry focused solely on promoting purity. The ministry is known as, Chastity Project.
Acknowledging that nowadays many young people grow up in difficult family situations, Jason said, ‘they’re hungry for love, and are eager to learn how to begin again and find the love they desire. My goal is simply to help them to find it’.
One may well ask, why is chastity imperative in today’s modern society? Jason explained, ‘chastity is important because it frees us to love. If I cannot say no to my sexual desires, then what is my “yes” worth? By learning to master our desires, we grow in freedom so that we can make a true gift of ourselves’.
‘I am quite sure that any woman can distinguish between a husband who has self control and a husband who sees his wife merely as an outlet for his sexual urges.’
‘Through practicing chastity as a single person, we train ourselves in patience, purity, faithfulness, and self-control, and these virtues are tremendous assets in building solid marriages,’ Jason said.
‘Chastity trains us to love because we’re doing what’s best for the other person, not merely what feels good in the moment,’ he added.
‘It’s not about shaming or scaring anyone into obeying the Church’s laws, but about opening our hearts to the fact that God loves us, and created human relationships to be a refection of that love.’
Speaking about his own faith, Jason describes it as ‘the most important thing in my life. It guides my thoughts, words, actions and aspirations’.
He admits that he struggled with his faith in high school but gradually ‘discovered the depth and richness of the Church’s teachings, and have fallen in love with it’.
Highlighting the vital role that faith plays in a young person’s life, Jason said, ‘Faith is essential for young people, as well as old, because we have been created by God and for God. If we are unaware of this, then we miss the whole point of our existence’.
The theme of the Australian Catholic Youth Festival is “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). When asked what this piece of scripture means to him, Jason said, ‘if we practice purity, not only will we see God in the next life, we’ll see him in this life! We’ll see him in our girlfriend or boyfriend, as well as in ourselves. The opposite is also true. If we are not pure in heart, we will have greater difficulty seeing God in all of these ways’.
As many young Australians prepare for World Youth Day next year in Krakow, Poland, the home of Saint John Paul II, Jason has recently published a book about JPII. He encourages young people to learn about JPII in the lead up to World Youth Day. ‘Saint John Paul the Great experienced tremendous suffering as a young person, having lost his mother, his brother, his father and many of his friends and teachers. He lived through Nazi and Communist occupations, but never lost faith. During this time of great suffering, God forged him in a remarkable way.’
‘As a young priest and bishop, he would escape to the mountains with young people and teach them from his book “Love and Responsibility”. He would camp and kayak with many engaged and newlywed couples, explaining to them God’s plan for life and love. Interestingly, not a single one of them ended up divorced. When you take the time to read what he was teaching them, you learn why!’
Previously, Jason visited Australia for World Youth Day in 2008 and on another occasion to speak at schools in the Archdioceses of Melbourne and Sydney. He described the young people as ‘very warm and receptive to the message’.
He added, ‘I look forward on this visit to meeting more young people and travelling to a new part of Australia’.
Copies of Jason’s books and resources from Chastity Project will be available for sale during the Australian Catholic Youth Festival.
Early bird registrations for the Festival close on Thursday 27 August 2015.
Find out how young people or your organisation can be involved at the festival at: www.youthfestival.catholic.org.au