Sense of Life. Articles in English. It’s Been A Hard Road.
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It’s Been A Hard Road


It all began six years ago when I was twelve years old. By chance I picked up a women’s magazine with an article on sex in it. Fascinated by the contents and photos, I began to masturbate for the first time. After that, I began a feverish search for similar material in other publications and glossy magazines.

Before I realized it, self-abuse had become a constant element of my life. I “did it” several times a day. Masturbation became a way of dealing with boredom and life’s problems. Since it gave me so much pleasure, I did not think I was doing anything wrong. My conscience was silent, and perhaps that is why I had no suspicion that I might be doing myself considerable harm.

Coming from a Catholic family, I went to church religiously every Sunday and holy day of obligation. But I rarely went to confession, since I regarded it as little more than an unpleasant duty. As time went on, I needed ever-stronger stimuli, and so I got into pornographic magazines and erotic films. My parents had always told me that adultery was evil, that one had to respect women, etc. etc. As far as I was concerned, I was in total compliance with the Sixth Commandment – after all, I wished no one any harm. I treated the whole thing as a mind game. Who could my behavior possibly hurt? Sometimes I’d be told that masturbation and impure thoughts were evil and sinful. But even this presented no problem, for the words never reached my heart. They were never more than words that I could play mind games with.

At times, however, I did suspect there might be something wrong, since a day wouldn’t go by without my indulging in self-abuse. Could I be addicted? But then, right away, my mind would start playing its games and rationalize the problem away. I told myself that I was in complete control, and that I could drop the habit at any time. But then, when I tried to do this, resolving that, as of tomorrow, or next week, or next month, I would put an end to the habit, I discovered that the urge was stronger than I, and so I’d end up giving in to it without so much as a struggle.

By this time I had become conscious of my sinfulness, but I still could not pluck up the courage and make a clean breast of it in the confessional. And every Sunday I continued to receive Holy Communion and commit a sacrilege.

This went on for four years. Then, just two years ago, I went on my second summer youth retreat. The problem of purity was the topic of one of the conferences. It was only then that I realized how I was harming myself, how weak and enslaved I was, and how much I stood in need of God’s help. I decided to open up to the conference leader. For the first time, I was able to share with someone else the extent of my enslavement and my powerlessness to help myself. That retreat helped me discover the unfathomable depths of Divine Mercy Who forgives sinners and raises them up. I realized I could do nothing without God’s help. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and entrusted my whole life to Him.

From that time on, a lot began to change in my life, but it was a hard road. After returning from the retreat, I began to delight in every day that I spent in a state of purity. Every day was a great triumph for Christ. Seeing that it cost me such great effort and suffering, I was amazed that I could live even one day like this. Nevertheless, after two weeks, I gave in to sin again. I found this very humbling. I despised myself and could not look in the mirror. But I was determined to soldier on, hoping that this time I would be confessing the sin of self-abuse for the last time. After that, every period of time lived in chastity, regardless of whether it was two weeks, a week, or even a few days, was another step forward. I was being apprenticed into the radicalism of choosing what is really good and profitable for me and rejecting what was harmful. There was no place for compromise here. It was a matter of being either hot or cold. True, this was a very slow process, since I often found myself back at what seemed like square one. But, in fact, I was very rich in new experiences.

Prayer entered my life. I came to see that without it things did not go well. Whenever I gave up praying, it was as if I were saying to God, “Thanks for your help, but I can get along without you now.” I began to develop a sense of responsibility and order in my life. At first, this was very hard, but when I succeeded in remaining chaste for four months, I saw it as an incredible experience of cooperation with grace. After that, it was another five months of chaste living, then a setback again, followed by another two months, and then another setback. I saw how living with Christ was strengthening me and giving birth to a new person. I thanked the Lord for every day that I lived without falling into sin, and begged him for the strength to continue the struggle. At first, when I experienced weakness, I felt crushed and fell prey to doubt; but then I noticed that this was an excellent opportunity for me to draw afresh from the springs of salvation, and so to feel loved by the Creator.

I have grown to respect women. Whenever impure thoughts tempt me, I call on Mary: Be Queen over my pure thoughts! This brief ejaculatory prayer always gives me the assurance that I am not alone in this struggle. I have now been pure for almost nine months, and I see great fruits from this. Going frequently to confession is one of them. Or maybe it is the reverse? Chastity is the fruit of frequent confession. One thing is certain, that I am the greatest fruit of my struggle for purity.

Self-abuse ruined my emotional life. It destroyed me as a person and as a man, It made me feel unworthy of Divine or human love, unable to love. Love for me was a mere abstraction. Now Christ is slowly teaching me to love others and myself. He is showing me the meaning of human dignity and how important it is to preserve it. Jesus is showing me that I am a marvelous creation like every other person. He is leading me out of my “comfort zone, so that I can rise above my selfishness and open myself up to others without fear. Christ is teaching me that by opening myself up to others I am prompting others to do the same with me.

I strongly believe that one day, despite my past wounds and related obstacles, I will love a woman with a genuine and pure love. I believe I will be able to “draw” her dignity out of her and show her what a great gift it is. I believe that in marriage I will prove myself to be a loving husband and father who is capable of protecting his family’s dignity.

Lord, I thank You for this time of struggle, for not deserting me, and for being my rock. Thank You not only for this time lived in chastity but also for the times of my failures, after which I have always been able to re-encounter Your Love. Thank You for the gift of frequent confession and for Father Peter. Thank You for loving me so much despite everything. You love me for nothing and constantly say to me, “It is good that you are alive.” Thank You for the gift of life. Praise to you, Lord!

Peter, age 18  

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The article was published with the permission from "Love One Another!"

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