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By Amanda Zurface

Today, as a Church we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, a priest who even priests look up to and ask for his intercession.

In case you don’t know anything about Alphonsus, he founded a Religious Congregation of Men known as the Redemptorists. Throughout his life he preached the Gospel of mercy passionately, and found his source of strength in the Eucharist. Alphonsus went to Jesus when he was reposed in the tabernacle to talk with Him, to be close to Him, and to share his desires with Jesus.

Jesus knows our desires. He even knows them better than we know our own desires. Jesus still wants us to tell him our desire–to be chatty with Him and to have a relationship with Him. I find this very consoling. However, I get confused by my wants, dislikes, must haves, don’t needs, and all those humanly things. So why does the the Son of God still want to hear about my desires when I sometimes don’t really even know what my desires are?

Bear with me as a paint a picture of this reality. On occasion, I have found myself looking in the refrigerator, even when I am not hungry. What was going on these moments? Maybe I was just bored. Maybe I was hungry for something other than food. I think it could be possible I was avoiding the one thing I was looking for—intimacy, conversation with God. Have you ever had this experience?

This sort of experience can take place especially when it comes to human sexuality and our individual sexual desires. We confuse what we want with what we actually need, don’t we?

No one needs sex. No one needs porn.

How to Change Our Desires

What we actually need and even desire (which Jesus already knows) is true love and authentic and sacrificial intimacy. This is the only thing that fulfills–not masturbation, not another glance at the newest porn film, and not the sext from your boyfriend or girlfriend. These are all cheap and not the real thing. We are made for a banquet, a feast in Heaven.

Here’s some encouragement:

Bring this topic to Jesus. Tell him about your desires and then let Him tell you your desires. Again, He gets our desires better than we do.

Next, bring this topic to a priest in Confession and Spiritual Direction. If you haven’t tried it yet, say out loud that you desire pornography. As soon as you do, you’ll find you don’t believe yourself, because you really actually want something else…something more. Second, the healing begins right then and there. How? I’ve asked Father Sean Kilcawley who is the Program Director and Theological Advisor for Integrity Restored to explain it to you and offer a few more nuggets of insight for us to reflect on throughout the day.

Q: Father, how does Confession and Spiritual Direction help someone heal from a struggle and/or addiction with pornography?

A: The Sacrament of Reconciliation, or Confession, is the sacrament of Christ’s mercy. It really should be the place where we come to know the love of Christ in the midst of our sinfulness and our struggle. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This of course is experienced most when we are most vulnerable in confession. When we confess our sins completely. When we confess the extent of our pornography addiction or struggle. One aspect that is often forgotten is that despair can often accompany habitual sins of impurity.

Spiritual direction is a key element of recovery as it is the place we learn to be in relationship with Jesus. Addicts often believe they are unloveable, that if they were know by another that person would reject them, that no one—not even God—can meet their needs. In spiritual direction we learn to pray, to be in relationship with Christ, and to seek Him as a refuge. Spiritual direction should be a place where the experience of mercy is facilitated, and mercy leads to conversion.

Q: Father, why does Jesus want us to tell Him our desires when He knows them better than we do?

A: The act of faith is an act of entrusting ourselves to Jesus. We do this as we reveal to Him the desires of our hearts. As we continually reveal our desires to Him and express those desires to Him, the desire grows. We build the disposition to receive the graces that we are asking for.

Q: Father, tell us about Jesus’ mercy. Why do you think we forget to see and ask for it? Why do we need it?

A: John Paul II reminded us in Dives in Misericordia that mercy is love that goes beyond the demands of justice. The experience of mercy is the experience of being loved—especially at a time when we don’t “feel we deserve it.” It is the experience of the prodigal son who is embraced by the father after rejecting Him. It is the experience of the woman caught in adultery who encounters the Love of Jesus at a time when others—maybe even she herself—want to put her to death. We often forget to seek mercy because we condemn ourselves for our sins. We think we “should know better.” We forget that we were once just a kid who was exposed to pornography by someone else. During this Year of Mercy we should be reminded that we can all begin again. We can encounter Jesus as if for the first time, and allow His love to transform us. His mercy leads to conversion and conversion leads to healing. A man who recently started recovery after a 40 year sex addiction recently shared with me that his 8-year-old son said to him in passing, “I like the new Dad.” His son could see the evidence of conversion—the fruit of mercy.

Q: Father, through the intercession of St. Alphonsus Liguroi, will you please offer a prayer for all of our readers seeking to live lives of integrity and to find freedom from pornography and other sexual addictions?

A: Heavenly Father, we ask you to fill us with the spirit of your love. Help us to be ever mindful of the goodness, love, and mercy of Christ. Help us to remember that Christ is always present in our lives. We ask you to heal the wounds of our youth. Reveal your love to us that it may transform our hearts and we may live as your beloved sons and daughters. We pray for the courage to do whatever it takes to remove the obstacles to love in our own lives. Grant us the courage to seek accountability, to make honest and vulnerable confessions, to come to you with open and vulnerable hearts that they may be transformed. We also pray for all who have been called to be instruments of healing in the lives of those who struggle with sexual brokenness. Protect them from the attacks of the devil, from the spirits of division, envy, and lust. Grant them the grace to reveal the face of your Son to all they encounter. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen

Our priests are a gift to us and can offer us the council we seek in good and bad times. To learn more about living a life of integrity and to find a confessor and/or spiritual director in your area, please e-mail Integrity Restored at admin@integrityrestored.com.


Amanda ZurfaceAmanda Zurface is the Catholic Campaign Coordinator for Covenant Eyes. Amanda holds a License and MA in Canon Law and BA’s in Catholic Theology and Social Justice. Amanda has served in various roles within the Catholic Church both in the United States and internationally. She resides in Washington Court House, Ohio.


 

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