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.