Love One Another! 7/2006 → True Love Waits - Pure Hearts
It began with an interest in photographs of scantily clad women on the final pages of certain magazines. I was 13 years old. My body’s reaction surprised me. I discovered that sexual arousal was a pleasant experience, and I couldn’t get enough of it. The practice became more and more frequent, until it became a daily habit.
And so, gradually, without realizing it, I sank into the mire of sexual addiction. By the time I was 17, I was buying pornographic magazines on a regular basis. By then I had also begun to realize that something was the matter with me. Erotic thoughts dominated my mind with increasing frequency and intensity to the point of obsession. Out on the street I undressed women with my eyes; at home, alone, I reached for pornographic magazines. At the same time, life became increasingly more gray, bitter, tedious, meaningless and dirty. I felt oppressed. A sense of dread weighed on me. Tormented by self-loathing, I found it hard to concentrate on my studies. With my family and friends I could find nothing in common. I cut myself off from people, locked myself away in my tedious world. But something was wrong, I felt. My conscience bothered me and I felt the need to change my life.
The turning point came during a pilgrimage to a Marian shrine when I was nineteen years old. By that time I was beginning to reflect more deeply on my life and conduct. In this, I was helped by a number of good people who pointed me in the direction of real values and real joy. This joy was achieved not by bowing to the idols of hedonism and consumption or by indulging one’s weaknesses and taking the easy route. Rather it is achieved through effort, by working hard on oneself, by living the Gospel values and obeying God’s commandments. I will always be grateful to the people who helped me at that time. Though the path they showed me was the “hard way,” it was the only way to victory and joy. That way is Jesus Christ – our Lord and Savior. Glory to Him for all ages!
Looking back on it now, I can see that God did not abandon me, not even during the period of my greatest wallowing in sin. How to explain the fact, for instance, that the impulse to go on that pilgrimage took me at the very time I was avoiding the sacraments and least interested in attending church. I know now that it was the Good Shepherd, calling me, the lost sheep, to Himself.
But to get back to the turning point. A few months after that unforgettable pilgrimage, I got up the nerve to tell a priest in confession that for many years I had been receiving Holy Communion sacrilegiously – i.e. while in a state of mortal sin. That was Jesus Christ’s great triumph in my soul. From that point on I began to face my problem honestly. I no longer behaved like an alcoholic who assures himself and others that he is well and in control of himself. No longer did I stifle or cheat my conscience. I began to escape this “moral schizophrenia” – this taking part in the life of the Church and renouncing Satan and evil on the one hand, and remaining deeply mired in serious sin on the other. You cannot live such a lie. You cannot go forwards and backwards at the same time. Though we all sin, we should at least strive to live by God’s laws and commandments; and when we fall into sin, we need to pick ourselves up without delay and get back on the right path. .
Before I found “right path,” I was often assured in porn magazines that all boys masturbated and that this was quite normal. I remember coming across a letter in one of those trashy publications. A boy described how much he had wanted to quit being a consumer of pornography and what a futile struggle this had been. Every attempt at living a chaste life had ended in a dismal failure – an “explosion” is the word he used.
I was persuaded that since I couldn’t fight it I might as well live with it. (How easily I fell for that lie!) I tried to limit my consumption of pornography but scored only meager success. There were even times when I ceased to be troubled by my addiction. I became indifferent to evil and saw no harm in this. What a terrible state to be in! It could have led to the total deadening of my conscience and complete demoralization. Terrible harm might have come to myself and those around me. Our world today finds itself in great danger precisely because so many people have lost the sense of sin – and sin is always a betrayal of God, the One Who wants only the best for us.
But the Merciful Jesus kept me from straying beyond the point of no return. Thanks to Him, Whose love for me brought Him to unspeakable torment and death on the cross, I am able to share this witness today. Friends! Do not believe those terrible lies! Do not fall for the lie that living a chaste life is impossible. It is possible! Every day I give thanks to God because every day lived in purity is a true miracle – a marvelous thing. These marvels are possible, and not just for me!
Yes, life has its troubles and problems, but when I live a clean life I see things altogether differently: Life has purpose. Suffering has meaning. The world takes on a whole new aspect, as if scales had fallen from my eyes. I see not only the evil and ugliness around me but also the good and the beautiful, and I can truly rejoice in these.
A soul that cooperates with God’s mercy will triumph over
every temptation, every form of enslavement, even if the struggle
should take many years. There is no temptation that cannot be overcome.
If there were such a “failsafe” temptation, you can
be sure Satan would be using it exclusively. Since his goal is to
destroy all souls, why should he waste his time with a whole arsenal
of different temptations when just one will do the trick –
irresistibly? The sheer multiplicity of temptations is proof that
they can all be overcome, provided we fight earnestly and honestly
and call on God for His help – “for with God all things
are possible” (Luke
A year ago, after persevering in chastity for several years, I suffered a relapse. I switched on a pornographic movie. I told myself it was only for a moment, that I would quickly turn it off. I thought I had the willpower. Who was I kidding! But even though I felt terrible afterwards, I did not fall into despair. The very next day I went to confession.
Let’s face it: we are weak and imperfect beings. Instead of being discouraged by this, we need to strive all the more to join ourselves with God. Just consider what a tremendous grace this is: a sinful creature uniting himself with the powerful, holy and unblemished Creator!
My relapse taught me I had to be vigilant. Without God I could not persevere for even a minute. I needed to cling to Him, keep Him constantly in mind, and immerse myself in His grace.
Looking back on my life, I can discern three stages. The first stage marks my descent into sin and living a life of sin for a period of several years, despite fitful attempts to break out of it. The second stage begins with my decision to look truth in the eye, call the problem by its name and embark on a fierce, several-year-long struggle with my addiction. Finally, through perseverance and God’s grace, I made it to three stage – a life of purity.
I have been chaste for several years now. Not a day of it would I give up for any pleasure or treasure in the world. This is not to say that there is no more struggling or wrestling with temptations. Certainly there are times of peace when I can look at women chastely, when I am not tempted to sin. But there are also moments – sometimes even days – when I think I can hold out no longer. My old addiction makes itself felt most strongly at the sight of pornographic magazines or films in store stands and windows. My hands start to shake, saliva rushes to my mouth and my heart begins to beat like mad…
I feel confident, however, that any relapse will be a rare occurrence. In fact, there need never be one again as long we place our whole trust in Jesus and not in ourselves or our own strength. As long as we fight off the temptations and call on Him for help we cannot fail to triumph with Him. After a time of trial, joy and peace will come again. A clean conscience is perhaps the greatest treasure on earth. It is worth fighting for.