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Eww: immediate family, read on at your own risk. I mean, I don’t mind, but consider yourself warned is all.

It’s been — let me check my little Chaste-o-Meter app — a little over 100 days since the last Porn Incident, and a little over 40 since the last Other Thing. Again, not to toot my own horn;1 just to say, hey, look what is possible! And to give some reasons why.

I’ve mentioned Clean of Heart a lot and I’m going to mention it again. I don’t follow every suggestion of the book to the letter, but here’s the basic program.

Morning: Three Hail Marys, each one followed by this aspiration: “O Mary, by your holy and immaculate conception, purify my body and sanctify my soul.”2

Next, this prayer — really, as far as I can tell (and as I’ll explain below), the key to the whole thing:

My queen, my mother, I give myself entirely to you, and to show my devotion to you, I consecrate to you this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my hands, my whole body without reserve. Wherefore, good mother, as I am your own, keep me and guard me as your property and possession.3

Then the same Hail Marys and same prayer in the evening. Some time during the day, you read/pray the daily meditation, a page or two of good spiritual food.

I think of that as the groundwork, and it’s a good solid foundation. But inbetween, what happens when some dude pops up in your browser without no shirt on, or when your fingers magically all by themselves start typing “dudes without no pants on” in the search bar, or when suddenly for no reason a mid-day (or mid-morning, or mid-afternoon) w★nk just sounds like the best idea evar?

Here’s St. Francis de Sales (quoted in one of the meditations) on the subject:

Whenever you feel the approach of temptation, imitate a little child who sees a wolf or bear in the plain. He instantly flies into his father’s or mother’s arms, or at all events calls on them for help. Do you in like manner fly to God, seeking His mercy and help.

Note the “instantly.” The kid doesn’t say:

  • “I’ll just stick around till he shows his teeth,” or
  • “I’ll see if he can be reasoned with,” or even
  • “I’ll run when he starts chomping on my leg” or ESPECIALLY
  • “I’ll just sit here considering whether being chomped on by a wolf is a good idea right now.”

What does he do? He runs to his mother, who knows about wolves.

More specifically, I say something like this — remembering the morning & evening prayer mentioned above:

Mama. Remember this morning when I asked you to make me your property? Okay, so please take care of this, because you don’t want your property to get stained or broken.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this has never, ever failed me. What usually happens is that the temptation hangs around for a minute or two, and then evaporates like steam. Nothing left behind. And it happens every. Single. Time.

Almost as if Mary actually exists, actually takes your words seriously, and actually is the terror of demons, just like they say.

Notice that she is gracious enough to take your words seriously even if you feel a little squicky saying them. Like if you’re a little hesitant to actually say I give myself entirely to you or maybe even that property and possession bit or maybe if you’re not so sure about Marian devotion in the first place. All of the above apply to me. She doesn’t seem to mind.

Okay, I’m done. Now please pray for me that I don’t start to think that I’m super awesome and wonderful and can handle this on my own after all, because boy oh boy will that turn into a binge faster than you can say Google.

1 At least that’s all of my own that I’ve been tooting. In the last 40-odd days. Sorry, sorry.
2 And here’s the part where all you people who, like me, are a little ooky about Marian devotion need to suck it up and keep reading anyway.
3 Italics mine, because this is kind of the money part.

28 thoughts on “Wolves

  1. Peter J

    I’m Protestant, but recently my Catholic aunt turned me onto the Rosary, particularly the Hail Mary. So now, whenever I’m feeling the temptations come, I start reciting the Hail Mary, and everything vanishes. Somehow it just seems so appropriate praying to her about this sort of thing. I’ll have to try your regimen, though. More certainly can’t hurt. :)

    Reply
  2. Chris

    I’ll have to try this, Steve. I’ve got some virtual coins with higher numbers than you, but every little bit helps.

    And watch out, Peter. Our Jewish mom gets pretty persistent once she decides she wants to adopt another one. She won’t give up until you’re sitting at a proper seder with her and her Son.

    Reply
  3. eaa

    I wanted to mention something that i have noticed over that last few months – take from it what you will. I’m a female and I don’t have SSA. but as a teen i had a particular issue with the big M. I encountered porn in too accessible places (best friends house) and that made matters worse. About a year into college, this issue practically disappearred, and even through an unfortunate phase of “any kind of love will do,” I still rarely revisited this action.

    Fast forward to now, when i am pregnant with my third child, in the most hormonally balanced pregnancy i have had. since becoming pregnant, my estrogen level has increased a ton. It’s miniscule when i’m nursing, and usually elevated when i’m pregnant but never this much. I have also come to realize that my estrogen had been far below normal since…my second year of college, when i had some medical reproductive system issues crop up. It seems that i have been on the very low end ever since.

    I am suddenly a teenager again, full of hormones and finding avoidance of the big M to be very difficult. when i fail I berate myself and I’m feeling terribly unworthy. I find that I am very much looking forward to the postpartum drop in estrogen so that it won’t be difficult anymore.

    My point i suppose, is that, as I have discounted the difficulties that others experience at times, we all are prone to do that. Some things that are profoundly difficult for one person, can be easy for someone else. until I had more normal hormones, I used to think that women were wimps about their girl stuff, when i was just not experienceing what they were. I didn’t understand depression, until i experienced it. I didn’t understand a lot of things in that same way.

    I can be frustrating or encouraging to hear accounts from others overcoming difficulties. We need to realize that our expereinces may be very very different, and the things that make issues easy or hard for us may change dramatically too.

    Hang in there. I keep you in my prayers and I am so encouraged as I watch your challenges from afar. I do not really know what you are going through, but i recognize that it is your unique struggle and no one elses, and deserves utmost respect. I hope you get fewer of the “why are you punishing yourself” comments and more of the “good for you for following your conscience though it’s difficult” comments.

    Reply
  4. Joseph

    I thought your comments on bingeing in other articles very interesting (though I’m hetero), because it’s something I have experienced personally, but it’s not something people seem to ever talk about or put their finger on. For me it’s always been “oh well, gonna have to go to confession for the first time anyways” like you have said. So far I have been good since spring, so almost a year, the longest ever pretty much since puberty. Marian devotions, especially the Rosary, are definitely effective. I have the same experience. I say a rosary while falling asleep, and since I began doing so, I have found it very dangerous to do without, often resulting in mid-night temptation storms. Not to be an authority (definitely not that… I’m more likely clueless) I guess what I am hoping to say is that in addition to certain daily devotions, I find that it’s also extremely effective to make prayers and consecrations (centering ourselves back onto God) directly before entering a situation of temptation, such as sleeping, internet use, showers etc. Also, I would suggest physical running away with your analogy haha… physical occupation usually stirs our minds long enough to let us take control again. I have a problem because I don’t know exactly what I did differently to go so long… Devotion to the Eucharist is one, even though I can’t attend daily Mass :/ I think another factor is keeping yourself centered and focused on God being the end of all your actions.. This summer I spent lots of time in vocal prayer each day, which helped sort of elevate my mind I guess, but I am finding and understanding a lot of Fr. Dubay’s books, like “A Fire Within”, and his explanations of meditation and contemplation are steering me in a more mature direction I think, and I would definitely suggest you read some of his stuff as well, if you already haven’t (I started with “Prayer Primer”, not finished with “AFW” yet). He does a lot of explaining normal spiritual growth and how it’s directly related to how generously we live out the Gospel. You can listen to some talks in EWTN’s audio library (type in Dubay as a search word), which are very good as well. This recommendation is mostly because it is extremely non-lukewarm, which I tend to be, and drives not for a “whew at least I’m in a state of grace” but for the “transforming Union” with God and saintly perfection, and seems to set out a pretty clear development as to how that takes place for nearly everybody. I wish I had known this before last year’s “Three Rosaries, One Divine Mercy Chaplet, St. Bridget prayers etc. etc. a day” stint, that inevitably wore down into a completely dead prayer life, with not even a rosary a day, haha. I’m sure you’re aware of meditative prayer since you’ve mentioned it, but I was just thinking perhaps it would be very worthwhile to put this into effect at your stage as well (lol I was just there perhaps a few months ago I-know-so-much-of-course), but either way it’s also very excellent no matter who you are. Just hoping to be even a little helpful, or at least provide some encouragement, sorry it was so long haha.

    Reply
  5. Stephen Sottile

    I appreciated your perspective in this note. I too have selected to be celibate and am gay (my partner died many years ago). The St. Michael prayer is also very helpful when one is assaulted by the urge.

    Question, if you ever fell in love with a man would you insist on a chaste relationship or would sex be on the table again, as it were?

    Reply
  6. Debbie Sterbin Sercely

    Oh, isn’t Our Lady wonderful! :) I know that struggle all too well, Steve. Hang in there, and I’ll be offering some extra prayers for you. Here’s to making it another 100 years. :)

    Reply
  7. Babs

    I hate this subject, but I gotta give you an “Atta Boy”. Not because your so chaste, but because you turn to Mama. I’m learning this practice ever so slowly for my own temptations, and how my pride h.a.t.e.s it! So, yeah, anyone who is stuck on a certain sin can find this to be a really good reality check. Thanks!

    Reply
  8. Ron

    Congrats, Steve. I wish I could say that it’s been that long for me too regarding these issues, but honestly, I can’t. You are an inspiration to me, and to lots of other people as well.

    O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

    Reply
  9. Daughter of Christ (Anonymous)

    Reading your blog hit my heart. It hurts my heart because I feel I put myself in the situation you mention. Everday its like “Oh I just look at a picture or a blog that makes me wanting to masturbate. Well that few minutes just takes me out of my body and I look for a long period of time and lately fall into masturbation. What does my future hold with my Same sex attraction. My fantasies about past attractions are full force in my mind, and I feel awful about them. Thinking about religious life but becasue of my attraction to woman I dont think that living with a ton of woman would be a good idea. Im aslo thinking about preaching about the truth and where my life was while in the the midst of sin. I know the truth and want to preach. However if I do that I would feel like such a hypocrite because I still struggle with masturbation. I know its wrong to masturbate but having SSA just gets me down and I hate the feelings. Thanks for lstening!!

    Reply
  10. Larissa

    Awesome post!

    From where I come from, devotion to Our Lady (especially Our Lady of Aparecida, who’s the patroness of my country) is a very strong feeling. And it is very healthy, I’d say.

    Keep on praying to Her. You’ll see the wonders She’s capable of!

    Reply
  11. krism

    Thanks for posting this! I’m going to try this and I hope that it works as well for me as it has for you. 40 days? That’s absolutely amazing! I can barely go 3 days without caving in. You’re an inspiration to all those who strive to be chaste. Keep it up!

    Reply
  12. John

    The same temptations drive us straight married guys up the wall too. Chastity is a great blessing, but it’s a real fight too, and I know exactly where you’re coming from in your struggles with the deed, and in Mother Mary’s support.

    Reply
  13. wouldhavebeengreat

    Never thought I would ever comment on this blog (let alone this one), but I had to remind you brother that talking about sex is sexy…

    Reply
  14. Mark from PA

    Well, this is interesting. I have to admit that I am amazed because on another site a man said that he was pure (didn’t have an ejaculation) for 4 years. The comment above me is interesting too.

    Reply
  15. Micaela

    I just found your blog today and already I feel so touched by what I have read. You have incredible bravery, my friend and brother in Christ. And obviously God has infused you with some incredible wisdom as well.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing.

    I will be putting the “run to mama” idea into practice immediately.

    Reply
  16. Joseph Jablonski

    Steve, you are a Catholic tank for God. When this world is drowning in indulgence, you are fighting out publicly! I will be following your blog, because the people I debate gay marriage on don’t believe that a man or woman with SSA can live a life of celibacy. My prayers are with you and all who commented!

    Reply
  17. Owen

    Well done, I am so happy to hear what you’ve accomplished. Gives me great hope. I really like the humor in your posts too, refreshing change from the other blogs/forums I’ve come across on this topic.

    Reply
  18. Jesse

    Hey! This is the consecration prayer for Schoenstatt!! Are you involved in it? I’m a student and Schoenstatt has led me much closer to the Blessed Mother and those around me! You are in my prayers definitely!! Servus Mariae Nunquam Peribit!

    Reply
  19. Sara

    I’ve just stumbled upon this lovely blog and am so glad I did. You are a wonder to behold, my friend. Thank you for being so painfully honest about your struggles. It’s always encouraging to hear that others are fighting similar battles…and that sin can be overcome.

    Also, that consecration prayer made me think of the one that I try to say daily. It’s been a strong devotion and my favorite prayer since I was introduced to it last year. It allows us to leave everything to Our Lady and trust in her to bring us to the comfort of our Lords embrace. It goes something like this…

    O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth. Refuge of sinners and my most loving mother. God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, a repentant sinner (strike breast), cast myself at your feet, humbly imploring you to take me, with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you. If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: “She will crush your head,” and “You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.” Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands, for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter, you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us, from the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

    V. Allow me to praise you O sacred Virgin.
    R. Give me strength against your enemies.
    Amen.

    Mary mother of God….Pray for us!

    Reply
  20. ScaredAndScarred

    I struggle everyday with SSA. I came out in September of last year to several people who were very, VERY encouraging. Not one demeaning word was said to me. Everyone has been so supportive….except for me. I loath myself.

    Yes, I want a relationship with a man who will always be there to hug me, hold me, kiss me, etc…but I will never get that.

    Because of this, my drinking has increased. I tried stopping for several weeks, but it keeps roaring its ugly head. My depression has acted up again.

    In a fit of anger one day, I told God, “I’m going to give you three choices. Which one should I choose?

    1.) Men: I’m going to find a man that will love me for all time.
    2.) Murder: I’ll take my own life.
    3.) Medicine: I’ll drink and drug my problems away.

    I can’t go on like this. I’ve seen a counselor who is specialized in sexuality and substance abuse problems, but it doesn’t seem to be helping.

    Reply

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