Monday, August 20, 2007

I'm Back

I was at an addictions training put on for the Austin Diocese last Thur and Fri (with and emphasis on sex addiction). It was very well done and I was honored to be one of the persons that helped organize it.

The Diocesan Anti-Pornography Task Force, that I am a member of, has developed a brochure for those struggling with this issue. I have some of the content below.

19 Strategies for Helping Yourself Strive for Purity

1. Get rid of all pornography you own. Destroy movies, magazines and dump all electronic images.

2. Stay off of the computer if it is a temptation. If you have to get on a computer, then do so when other people are around. DO NOT get on the computer for any reason, if you are alone and it is a temptation.

3. Pray more. You must rely on God to deliver you from the problem. You will not be able to stop by using your own power.

4. Frequent the Sacraments and Daily Mass. The grace you need to conquer the

temptations will be found here.

5. Find an accountability partner. Check in with each other frequently

6. Fast. It helps you to develop self control. You have had a problem with self control sexually, but most men have self control issues in other areas as well.

7. Avoid the occasion of sin. Think about when, where and how you are tempted. Then think about strategies to avoid these circumstances.

8. Use holy images. Your mind has been filled with unholy images; fill it with the image of Christ, Mary, and saints.

9. Ask Mary to intercede. It may sound funny, but it is hard to be tempted when asking the Immaculate Mother of God to help you.

10. Read Scripture daily. Let God’s Word penetrate deeply into your life.

11. Go to confession with the same priest frequently.

12. Do not suppress the thoughts of temptation. Redeem them. Offer them to Christ through his cross.

13. If you feel that despite your best efforts, you are unable to stop viewing pornography, seek help from a mental health professional who specializes in addiction. He or she will be able to help you determine whether or not the behavior is an addiction, and will help you get the tools you need to conquer it. (See the back of this brochure for recommendations about where to call for help).

14. If you are married and your spouse does not know about your problem, you need to talk about it. The problem must be admitted to before it can stop.

15. Use blocking software to limit access on your computer. Also, software at can send an accountability report to your accountability partner.

16. Do not drink or use drugs while trying to overcome the temptation. Drinking or using drugs can lower inhibitions, which make us more likely to act impulsively.

17. Don’t beat yourself up after a setback. The devil wants you to give up. Seek forgiveness and start again, no matter how humbling or hard it may be. God always forgives and loves.

18. Meet with a priest or spiritual director to formulate goals and learn techniques for growing closer to Christ and becoming the person God calls you to be.

19. Exercise use of the Virtues - prudence, fortitude, temperance, modesty, purity, and self-control.

Prayer for Chastity
by St. Thomas Aquinas

Dearest Jesus! I know well that every perfect gift, and above all others that of chastity, depends upon the most powerful assistance of your providence, and that without you a creature can do nothing. Therefore, I pray that you defend, with your grace, the gift of chastity and purity in my soul as well as in my body. And if I have ever received through my senses any impression that could stain my chastity and purity, I ask you, who are the supreme Lord of all my powers, to take it from me, so that I may with a clean heart advance in your love and service, offering myself chaste all the days of my life on the most pure altar of your divinity. Amen.

Scripture When Facing Temptation

“For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” I Corinthians 6:20

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians. 4:13

“Nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

“Every athlete exercises discipline in every way … to win an imperishable crown.” 1 Corinthians 9:25

“Create a clean heart in me O God.” Psalm 51:12

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:2-3

“Go not after your lusts, but keep your desires in check.” Sirach 18:30

“I said: ‘I will confess my offenses to the Lord.’ And you, Lord, have forgiven the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32:5

“You were once in darkness, but now you you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness.” Ephesians 5:8-11

“Let us cast off the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Romans 13:12


The Diocese of Austin Office of Catholic Family Counseling and Family Life offers counseling services onsite and also maintains a referral list of Catholic friendly counselors in various areas throughout the diocese. For more information about our services, or to schedule an appointment, please call (512) 726-0405.


Jeff said...

This sounds like good advice for ANY addiction or bad habit.

bullschuck said...

You didn't include my favorite scripture on the subject, 1 Cor 10:13. "No temptation has overcome you except what is common to man, but God is faithful, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. And when you are tempted, He will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." That's from the BLSMV, the Bull's Lousy Scripture Memory Version.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that's going to be an awesome pamphlet that will surely help many. Was there any discussion on abstaining from Holy Communion, until sacramental confession had been made? I've had friends who've been told repeatedly by priests all over that they "need the grace of the Sacrament to overcome" and that they ought to receive the Eucharist even if they haven't made it to confession. This seems to be a gross error, as mortal sin impedes the graces that we receive from the Sacrament, and all sins against purity are mortal. I don't mean to dump on any priests, it's just so disheartening to hear advice that seems so contrary to the Faith, on a subject that is so hard to overcome in the first place.

Marcel said...

While objectively it might be grave matter, an addict is not free to choose the evil. As the Catechism clearly states in the paragraph about masturbation:
CCC, 2352 - "To form an equitable judgment about the subjects' moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety, or other psychological or social factors that can lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability."

Jason said...

If I may weigh in, I do not doubt the Catechism's statement, but I do take issue with one of yours. If an addict is truly not free to choose the evil, then how can he overcome it? I disagree that addiction takes away free choice completely, because of the very fact that it can be overcome. But aside from that, a pamphlet does not have the benefit of discernment, such as does a priest. Lacking such discernment of mitigating factors of culpability, a pamphlet ought to at least warn people to stay away from Holy Communion until Sacramental Confession can be had and a priest instructs a penitent to do otherwise. To do otherwise would be to support the possible spiritual harm of another in addition to showing a complete lack of reverence for our God in the Eucharist, at least in so far as silence allows us to participate in the sins of another, or so it would seem. That being said, I agree with the other posters that what is contained in the pamphlet already is wonderful advice, and I wish you the best in your endeavors in this worthy cause.

Marcel said...

I said an addict isn't "truly free". This means there can be diminished culpability on the part of the addict. While the act is still sinful, the act cannot be subjectively mortal if you aren't completely free to choose one or the other. Remember that to be a mortal sin one has to have all three conditions met - grave matter, full consent and full knowledge. An addict cannot give "full consent". Sinful - yes. Mortally sinful - doubtful for most sex addicts. It isn't the same as alcohol or drug addiction either. Less than 1% can go "cold turkey". Addiction is a disease, but is not curable, but can become manageable - with help, which comes from God's grace first and foremost.

The addict has the freedom to reach out for help, but little freedom aside from that. As has been shown by research, only a very small few true addicts have ever stopped without help. Look at the 12 steps of any program (AA, etc). The first says that the addict is "powerless" over the addiction and needs God's help.

This is not an attempt to gloss over the gravity of the sin. But, an honest look at the fact that not all grave matter committed ends up being morally sinful.

To answer your other concern, this pamphlet will be mostly (but not exclusively) used in the confessional and in spiritual direction. Us laity who have others coming for help refer them to confession.

Jason said...

I still have the question though, as to why something so basic as warning people to abstain from Communion if they haven't been to Confession (unless intructed to do so by a competent priest)would be left off of a brouchure such as this one. It's a basic point of Catholic teaching, and it can't do anything but protect both the soul of the sinner and the reverence due to God. I don't see how it can do any harm, at any rate, but it does seem odd that it wouldn't be included.

Marcel said...

Simply put, I don't think you are seeing all of the implications of what you want to do. The last thing an addict needs it to be told they are guilty of anything.

The shame involved is one of the biggest things that keeps them from seeking help.

There is more to it than this though, which I don't have the time to type out. If you want to discuss on the phone or in person, let me know.

But, it isn't as easy as being "a basic point of Catholic teaching" as I have already pointed out.