Of Chastity, Dating and Faith

New Books Focus on True Love and Happily Ever After


Given current cultural trends, a faith-focused approach to love is sorely needed. Authors Arleen Spenceley, Sarah Swafford and Jennessa Terraccino offer timely advice on God’s plan for love, with help from the saints, Scripture and even some classic stories.



The Princess Guide

Faith Lessons From Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty

By Jennessa Terraccino

Servant Books, 2015

176 pages, $15.99

To order:



Princess Dos



In her book The Princess Guide: Faith Lessons From Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, Jennessa Terraccino discusses issues every young Catholic woman needs to know by pointing to fairy tales. She covers everything: true beauty, a woman’s role in the world, suffering, vocations, cohabitation, women’s differences from men, sin, contraception, modesty, friendship, dating and faith.

Underlying her discussion of fairy tales is Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Connecting the queen’s mirror in Snow White to every woman’s question of whether she is beautiful, Terraccino refers to St. Paul’s exhortation to women to adorn themselves with good deeds. As she writes, “He is encouraging each young woman to gaze more upon Christ and less on herself. Don’t throw out your mirror, but make sure you aren’t lingering in its shallowness.”

The book can serve as a helpful reminder of what it means to be a daughter of Christ; the style of the book is best suited for teenagers to young women, although some readers might be turned away by the style of presentation.

While Terraccino addresses hard issues, ranging from contraception to cohabitation, and also references a variety of writers — from Venerable Fulton Sheen to chastity speaker Jason Evert and popes — it may not delve deep enough for some readers. The light manner in which it discusses career paths for women may send the wrong message. While the points Terraccino makes about the special role of women in the home are vital, the style of the book does not allow for the complex and deep explanation the Church has for its position.

Bridget Weisenburger is a

recent graduate of the

University of Dallas.


Emotional Virtue

A Guide to Drama-Free


By Sarah Swafford

Totus Tuus Press, 2015

176 pages, $17.95

To order: totustuuspress.org


Emotions 101



Sarah Swafford, founder of Emotional Virtue Ministries, wrote a book that is sure to help single people build lifelong friendships, relationships and holy marriages. Emotional Virtue: A Guide to Drama-Free Relationships will surely impact the lives of many young people, both men and women. With a personal writing style addressed to the reader, she emphasizes the importance of holiness and practicing virtue, while also highlighting authentic friendship and love.

Swafford breaks her book into three parts, addressing issues relatable to the current culture. She offers practical tips to help eliminate the dramatic cycle of relationships. She addresses how the media affects the way many people see themselves, i.e., the unrealistic expectation to look and act perfect. She also discusses the way texting and social media can negatively impact and mislead a relationship when there is no commitment, possibly causing one person to use another emotionally.

She encourages readers to think about who they want to be, what they live for and who they live for. These questions relate to living in virtue, which is a lifelong journey that takes lots of time and discipline. “Reinforcing good habits (virtues) makes them stronger, and reinforcing bad habits (vices) likewise makes them stronger. And the stronger the good habits, the freer I am to love,” Swafford writes.

Swafford later explains the definition of emotional virtue. She relates it to the world’s definition of love as a feeling and contrasts it with the actual definition of Christian love. “Emotional virtue is the right ordering of our thoughts, actions and desires as they relate to our relationships,” she explains. “… When our relationships are based on a solid foundation, the experience of love actually grows richer. Feelings and emotions, rather than being bad, are taken to the next level when love is built on a sturdy framework. Living this out, externally and within our own hearts, is what emotional virtue is all about.” 

The last portion of her book describes holy ways to pursue relationships. She covers modesty and chastity regarding both men and women and explains how a relationship should develop over time. Her idea of the “natural progression of a relationship” encompasses true friendship all the way up to engagement and marriage. She explains the difference between dating and courting, helping the reader to understand that both are important.

Swafford’s book on emotional virtue is the embodiment of all things beautiful, good and true when it comes to relationships between men and women, emphasizing that God is there along the way: “He will fill you with his life. He has a plan for your life, and he has called you to greatness.”

Jacqueline Burkepile writes from Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.



Chastity Is for Lovers

Single, Happy and (Still) a Virgin

By Arleen Spenceley

Ave Maria Press, 2014

160 pages, $13.95

To order: avemariapress.com


Championing Chastity



Tampa Bay Times journalist Arleen Spenceley presents readers with a new perspective on chastity, love and relationships in Chastity Is for Lovers: Single, Happy and (Still) a Virgin.

Spenceley uses her creativity and storytelling abilities that both married and single people will enjoy. She begins her book with a testimony about writing an essay for the Tampa Bay Times explaining why she was chaste and a virgin at age 26. She then discussed readers’ responses, which were both good and bad. However, she said, “All of them were bound to each other … by a common tie: the desire to understand, experience and exemplify authentic love.”

Throughout her book, Spenceley describes what it means to be chaste and why it is so important, especially in the current culture. She uses examples from her life and the lives of others, keeping the reader interested by applying a storytelling format. She also quotes credible sources, including the Catechism of the Catholic Church, St. John Paul II, Archbishop Fulton Sheen and chastity speaker Crystalina Evert. Spenceley covers a variety of topics for men and women, single or married. She discusses dating, authentic love, contraception, natural family planning, virtuous friendship, self-control, vocational discernment and purity, to name a few. She explains the difference between “being in love” and “loving” and emphasizes that chastity is not the same as abstinence. “Chastity never ends. Abstinence does. Chastity infuses sex with love and love with sacrifice. Abstinence doesn’t. Chastity never trivializes sex, and it refuses to use or objectify people,” Spenceley explains. “Chastity looks like the person who treats a significant other first as a brother or sister in Christ.”

Spenceley concludes her book with an important analysis of true love before and within marriage: “When I say I am ‘saving sex,’ I mean I’m redeeming it. By God’s grace, I have chosen to resist the damaging cultural trends that trivialize the purpose of human sexuality.” She then goes on to say that those who choose chastity are “redeeming” sex “by treating it like it’s sacred,” which is exactly what the Church teaches. It encourages holiness in every state in life. As Spenceley says in the title, chastity really is for lovers.

            Jacqueline Burkepile writes from Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.