On Preserving Chastity
Rome, May 23, 1556
Emerio de Bonis,1 a scholastic teaching in Padua, had been in the Society only five years and felt somewhat insecure in it. He had been suffering temptations against chastity and decided to write to Ignatius, in a letter that has not survived, opening his soul to him and manifesting his troubled spiritual state. Ignatius had Polanco write a consoling letter to him, indicating remedies he might put to use. Ignatius also offers him the opportunity of coming to Rome to continue his studies. Later in life de Bonis became an eminent director of souls and spiritual writer. Polanco wrote this letter in Italian [Ep. 11:439-440].
The peace of Christ.
My dear Master Emerio in Christ;
Our Father has understood what you wrote. Though you show great courage in overcoming the enemy who up to the present has harassed you, but by God's grace has not overcome you, he leaves it to you to decide. Judging that it would be to your greater consolation, whether to come to Rome next September, or to remain in Padua, or to change to some other college in which you could take charge of the first class, as you do there.
In this way you will, with God's help defend yourself. Besides your prayer, make it a point not to look at anyone fixedly in the face, which might cause you any uneasiness of heart. In general, when you deal with the neighbor, let your eyes be averted, and try not to think of this one or that one as handsome or ugly, but rather as the image of the most holy Trinity, as a member of Christ and bathed in His blood. Moreover, do not become familiar with anyone. It will be enough if in school, you fulfill your task as teacher in pure charity and obedience. Always deal with your students in public and not in private, and extern students should not be allowed the run of the house, unless the rector has, in some particular case, given permission. By attending to your progress in God's service and the way of perfection, God will continue to help you.
Also be on your guard against those times and occasions when you are usually attacked. Briefly raise your mind to God. And above all, make a real effort to abide in His presence, frequently recalling that His Infinite Wisdom is present both to the inner and exterior man.
There is no need to multiply remedies if you make faithful use of these. And do not forget the first, which concerns the eyes. You will, then, never complain with him who says: my eyes cause me grief [Lam. 3:51].
Our Father and all of us commend ourselves to your prayers.
From Rome, May 23, 1556.