The most strenuous battles today is that against the ravenous wolf that we call porn. We can safely say, with great sorrow and pain, that one of the most powerful and prevalent addictions today is that of porn. Because of the easy and all too prevalent availability and access to porn, more and more people—teens and even children—are viewing porn.
This being the case, we must have some concrete strategy or game-plan to fight against this powerful enemy of the salvation of our immortal soul. The following are ten positive steps to win the battle. Let us fight the battle, not by ourselves, but with the help of Almighty God and His Blessed Mother!
1. Love of God. First and foremost, I must be convinced of the great love that God has for me. His love for me is infinite, non-changing and eternal. Even when I fall, God still loves me as portrayed in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, or you might even call it “The Parable of the Merciful Father.”
2. Battlefield. Our life on earth is a constant battle between good and evil, the spirit and the flesh, light and darkness, the good spirit and the bad spirit. Therefore, we should always be vigilant, prayerful, alert and on guard. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” We have to know our weak point, or if you like, our “Kryptonite.” For many, it is to view progressively more revealing images—that is to say, porn.
3. Desolation. When we find ourselves in a state of desolation, that is when the enemy or the devil will attack us. By desolation we mean that in our soul we are experiencing sadness, depression, discouragement, lack of faith, hope, and love. We feel like life has no real meaning and it would be best to simply throw in the towel and give up the fight. Review your life now! Before falling into viewing porn, you were probably in a state of desolation. That being the case, what measures should you take? That is the next step!
4. Prayer and Wholesome Distraction. To exit desolation and the temptation that goes with it—often the temptation to view porn—we must take certain steps to conquer the temptation. First, quick and fervent prayer! We cannot conquer temptation by our own human efforts; we need the grace of God that comes through prayer. Then we should move into wholesome, absorbing, and healthy distractions. Examples? Sports, good conversation with a friend, an absorbing book, a hobby… All of these serve to distract our minds from being engrossed in the desire for porn and giving in to it.
5. Failure (and recovering). If we have the misfortune of falling into the trap and temptation of viewing porn, then we should never give into despair and losing all hope. On the contrary, we should be humble, admit our sin, have recourse to the Sacrament of Confession, and trust in the infinite mercy of God! Remember the consoling words of the Apostle Saint Paul: “Where sin abounds, the mercy of God abounds all the more.”
6. Self-Knowledge. Saint Ignatius of Loyola insists on our having self-knowledge so as to grow in the spiritual life. The daily examen can be invaluable in overcoming any sin or sinful pattern, especially related to lust and the sin or vice of pornography. Addictions are not easy to conquer, but with the grace of God all is possible. The following are the five steps in making a good daily examen:
- Place yourself in the presence of God who truly loves you totally.
- Give thanks to God for all of the blessings He has given you.
- Beg for the grace to see yourself as God sees you in total honesty.
- Reflect on the events of your life, your failures, and why you fell.
- Resolution, Reconciliation. Resolve to amend your life. Change!
7. Joy and Self-Fulfillment. A very key element in conquering the sin and vice of porn is by experiencing joy in our lives. Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul insists on joy: “Rejoice in the Lord; I say it again: rejoice in the Lord.” (Phil. 4:4) Joy comes from the Lord, but it also comes from cultivating a spirit of service and going out of ourselves. Here is a short but helpful acronym for joy. J.O.Y. J= Jesus… O= Others… Y= Yourself. If indeed we put Jesus first, others second, and ourselves last, then we will experience joy, and the dark and bad spirit of porn’s grip will be weakened. Both Saint Philip Neri and Saint John Bosco insisted on creating a joyful atmosphere for the young people. As the flower flourishes in the sun, so the human soul flourishes under the sun rays of joy!
8. Hard Work. It is so true the proverb or saying: “Idleness is the workshop of the devil.” How true this is related to porn! Wherever there is an abundance of free time, which promotes laziness and boredom, then the spirit of lust and the devil of porn work strenuously. Physical labor or sports, mental efforts, and spiritual activities all serve as dams to block the deluge of temptations to seek out porn materials! The saints all agree on this: Let us work hard now and we can rest forever in heaven!
9. Confessor/Spiritual Director. The battle to conquer porn cannot be won alone. Honestly, it has to be fought with the help of a Confessor and Spiritual Director. Both are important and necessary. The following is the reason. Grace and healing come through the Sacrament of Confession which only a priest-confessor can administer. At the same time, a person struggling to overcome and conquer a serious problem with porn needs to be listened to, receive advice and counsel, as well as be held accountable. Therefore, the person of the Spiritual Director is indispensable. The priest-confessor and the spiritual director can be the same person, or they can be two separate persons. Saint Ignatius of Loyola insists that to conquer the enemy, the temptation must be exposed to the light! The devil works in darkness and secrecy!
10. Call on the Blessed Virgin Mary. Experience has proven in the history of the great friends of God—the saints—that a strong, loving, filial devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary has helped immensely to conquer many of the demons, many of the sins, many of the sinful patterns in our lives. Our Lady is especially strong in helping those who entrust their lives to her with the grace to overcome the sins against the virtue of purity. Those who have fallen into porn should consecrate themselves to Mary, pray the Rosary every day, wear the Scapular, and invoke Mary especially in moments of temptation.
“Remember, O gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known, that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession, was left unaided!”
Father Ed Broom is an Oblate of the Virgin Mary and the author of From Humdrum to Holy, which offers more words of wisdom for how to become a saint today. He blogs regularly at Fr. Broom’s Blog. This post originally appeared at Catholic Exchange and is reprinted with permission.