…..from your Pastor’s Desk:
Keep pornography off our screens
and out of our homes
This may seem like a controversial subject to read in a parish bulletin (or website), but, it is one of growing concern both by those who succumb to it and those who have family members who so struggle.
Last Sunday’s Gospel directed us to ‘take up our crosses’. And I said that some of our
crosses are ‘self-inflicted’ and not from God at all. A good number of you have already responded to me about how that Gospel and homily impacted you. The ‘Cross’ was interpreted in many ways. Perhaps ‘the Cross’ is manifested to you in a physical sense, an illness, injury or disease. Perhaps it is relational; difficulty with a child, parent, friend or associate. Perhaps spiritual, a feeling that God has let you down or somehow
overburdened you. But, also, perhaps your cross is a ‘self-crucifixion’. Something you voluntarily brought into your being, your life, and continue to do so.
Some time back, in a cover story about “The Sex Addiction Epidemic” Newsweek magazine flagged how rampant internet pornography has become and how it seems to prove addictive to many today. People have written about the cybersex compulsion and priests have noted anecdotally [ergo this article] how one of the sins most mentioned by penitents is addiction to pornography, particularly on the internet.
It’s a big problem, and a big business. Online pornography is driven by [at least] three
1. Anonymity (real or imagined);
2. Availability (24/7); and
3. Affordability (many sites are free or
Various factors may be at work in drawing viewers to internet pornography, such as overwork, loneliness and an immature spirituality. For a workaholic, pornography may seem a riskfree stress-reliever; for a lonely or socially isolated person it may offer the illusion of intimate connection; and for an immature character it can be the shadow side of a double life, often marked by a perfect observance of external rules and rigid, black-and-white thinking. People with other addictive behaviors are at risk of adopting internet
pornography as a form of self-medication.
The use of internet pornography is not limited to the adolescent hiding it from his/her
parents. Or the single adult. Many married people fall to its allure as well. Some may be scandalized or dismayed to imagine even priests and religious using internet pornography, particularly in light of our vow of chastity, a commitment to lifelong celibacy. But priests and religious are human too and need to take the same positive decision as others to resist this widespread miasma in our society.
Let us face it folks – let us call it what it is: Pornography is de-humanization of another
person. Pornography is a major symptom of the wide de-emphasis on the virtue of chastity [the virtue that helps us use the gift of sexuality to express authentic love, which reserves sexual expression for marriage] in our day and age. This comes from a specious and erroneous belief that if what I do ‘Doesn’t’ hurt anyone else’ then it is okay to do it.
Well, it does hurt others, indirectly and directly. For one, it takes the person out of healthy relationships and creates a false set of values and an abuse of the God-given gift that is Human Sexuality. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, (par. 2339) calls chastity an apprenticeship in self mastery which is a training in human freedom. We guard our dignity when, shaking off slavery to our baser passions, we press on with freely choosing
what is good. Later it says: “The baptized must continue to struggle against concupiscence of the flesh and disordered desires.” Indeed, they [we] must…It’s something to think about, as we pray to ‘grow up’ in holiness.
Whether a person’s cross is self-created or put upon them by another or others, it is our duty, our responsibility – daresay, our honor to help them. But not to carry it for them constantly, but to guide and teach them to learn to do so for themselves. Daily. It’s not easy, but only through crucifixion can we fully realize resurrection.
I said in two of the homilies last weekend that what was a ‘Cross’ for one – may not be a
Cross for another. Not in this case. If you, or a loved one have invited pornography into your life – it is time to invite it out. Seek the strength and grace of Sacramental confession. God wants and waits to help you. And, if this is not your cross – pray from the depths of your being for those for whom it is for even if it is self-crucifixion, it is still a Cross.