Countless people have asked me to start a section for men on my blog. I will continue to update this section on Sundays, so please check back. In addition, I am looking for men who would be interested in writing for this section on topics that would inspire men to grow in virtue and character. Please contact me at ifightHimwithlove@gmail.com if you are interested.
Feb. 5, 2012
From the Bottom of the Ocean Floor: One Man’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography
My first interaction with pornography occurred around the same time my father wrote the Bible verse Philippians 4:13, in my new Confirmation Bible. I had such a strong example of the word of God to give me strength and it pains me that I fell from grace. Initially, the pornography was on a hidden VHS I found when I was a junior in high school. It excited me, but it also confused me. This tape, led me towards more private selfish strategies such as the internet. From one on-line site to the next – each advancing in quality, range of categories and length of viewing.
Since I wasn’t having sex, I wanted to taste as much of the “real thing” as I could. I yearned for that contact and attention. Since I’m not one to drink myself into oblivion or do drugs – pornography sufficed.
“I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13
Let it sink in.
And let it keep sinking in.
You are falling deeper into the water and will eventually hit the bottom of the ocean. Down there, it’s dark, cold and unlivable and you are at your ultimate low. You feel worthless because you can’t stop. You need it, you desire it and can’t live without it. You’re drowning in guilt and misery. You are losing sleep, as your body is beating your faith. But, let the words of Paul reaffirm you that there is hope in the One who came to shed His blood for you.
Just because you struggle to get yourself away from the computer screen, smart phone, magazine or television, doesn’t mean God has left you. He isn’t turning His back, He isn’t staying behind the locked door. He is ever patient and always waiting for you to say, Help me! When you call upon Him, He will extend His hand of aid, strength and encouragement.
There are only two opinions, either stay on the ocean floor and wallow in sin and self-pleasure, or use your two feet to push-off the bottom of the ocean floor and swim towards the surface. Unlike cigarettes or alcohol, this is a cold turkey addiction, there is no slow withdrawal. You either view pornography or you don’t. You either touch yourself or you don’t. There is no in-between. I can attest to the above after years of an addiction. And only one gave me hope – and it’s through Jesus Christ alone that you find freedom and healing. Christ’s merciful heart can truly turn the tide.
I knew it was time to stop when I felt completely numb after watching and reacting to the videos. When I was in the skeleton thinking it was as needed of a routine as brushing my teeth at night. I started to believe I couldn’t sleep unless I released the stress. Another consequence to this numbing was that I didn’t truly listen to those that said it was inherently wrong at Church or from authority figures. This happened frequently since I ironically, have a passion for serving my Church, Catholic college community, and all male Catholic fraternal organization. Know that God doesn’t want to take away something that feels good. He wants you to be happy. However, he wants you to do it in a loving way.
Love: the selfless act of showing God’s grace and mercy to another without expecting anything in return.
When we masturbate, we take it all in for us. We don’t use our sperm to procreate and bring another child of God into this world. We expel it, like a delinquent in the classroom. Banished and thrown away as if it has no meaning or purpose in our lives.
When I reached my ocean floor, and continued to fail getting back up, I realized I couldn’t recover for myself anymore, I had to externalize my drive. I had to do it for others. If I had me time, I knew I wasn’t serving others and the guilt plagued me.
Two women (ladies, this is where you will be able to relate) in my life were essential in my road to recovery.
One young woman, who suffered abuse from a relative when she was a child, confided in me her struggles of self-worth, image and reoccurring nightmares from the abuse. In my opinion, if I continued to view pornography, I was going to become the same man who took away a piece of this woman’s purity and innocence. I had the potential to then ruin families and countless lives.
The other young lady, who confided in me, is in the Made in His Image accountability program. She has constant struggles when looking at herself in the mirror and extremely self-conscious with the hopes of being a Hollywood model. With my pornography usage, I was reaffirming the image that she was seeking. And through my actions, I was telling her that I was attracted to a fake woman, who appeared perfect on camera. Because of men like me, she was only getting worse.
Each time I thought about using the computer for anything besides its original academic purposes, I reminded myself what type of man those two lovely ladies needed in their life. Putting it in this selfless context, kept me honest with myself. As I started to change this dark habit, I found ways to cope and make it easier to avoid temptation, especially when you are in college and need the internet for a large portion of your school work. Each day when I go to sleep and realize I have passed another day without the dark past, I realize I am that much further from not turning back towards it. Once the distance is great enough, you start to focus inwardly and respect yourself with greater dignity.
Here are a few other suggestions that I highly recommend.
1. Never delete your search history in your web browser. By seeing what you have looked at keeps you honest and stops you from numbing the guilt.
2. Go to Confession immediately after falling, don’t hold that emptiness within you. Christ wasn’t able to carry the cross on his own either. He fell three times and each time he was able to find the strength to continue. Eventually at the end of his journey, he conquered death itself.
3. Keep your bedroom door open when you are on the computer.
4 Set prayer alarms throughout the day. By forcing yourself to pray at times you would normally comfort yourself with pornography, you shift towards God. For me, daily mass at 5 PM was an essential element to the day.
5. Get in an accountability group. The best one by far is www.covenanteyes.org. Type in “catholic” in the coupon code to get 3 months free. I highly recommend it!!
Jan. 29, 2012
Men, and Virtue, and How to Attain It – By Dave DiNuzzo Sr.
Dave works for The King’s Men. The mission of TKM: Under Christ the King’s universal call to serve, we as men, pledge to unite and build up other men in the mold of leader, protector, and provider through education, formation and action.
Dave works for The King’s Men. The mission of TKM: Under Christ the King’s universal call to serve, we as men, pledge to unite and build up other men in the mold of leader, protector, and provider through education, formation, action, and healing.
Dave joined the King’s Men in September 2010. When he joined, TKM had 8 weekly formation and accountability groups in 3 dioceses. Now, there are 28 groups in 17 dioceses and this number will be outdated by the end of the month! There are upward of 500 men meeting weekly around the country.
TKM fosters a culture of authentic manliness in our overly sexualized world and they do this mainly through formation and accountability, and by encouraging men to be involved regularly with the sacraments. One of their main events is a retreat called Into the Wild, which nearly 1,000 men have participated in since 2009. The men are led into the wild to spend three days and four nights together, where they engage in the sacraments, daily Rosary and Perpetual Adoration. TKM empowers men by combining outdoor activities with the faith. For more on this, visit the retreat website www.IntoTheWildWeekend.com. These retreats challenge men to grow in virtue, as they gather the tools to be a virtuous man, through doing what men were naturally born to do: lead, protect, and provide.
Please pray for TKM, as they are actively engaged in spiritual warfare. In the past 5 years, TKM has been responsible for shutting down 7 sexually oriented businesses. In addition, they were sued by Adult World in Pennsylvania for their protesting. The case was taken to the Federal Court, but thankfully, the judge ruled in favor of TKM.
TKM is also hosting a Healing Retreat in November 2012 for any man who has suffered from various forms of abuse. For more information, please visit their website.
[Ladies, this post may seem as though it is only for men, but keep reading, there’s something in this for you too.]
I feel like I’m constantly either writing or talking about virtue, but nearly every day, I realize that we all need to hear about virtue more and more. Virtue is vital to living a Christ-centered life. What is virtue? In short, virtue means manliness (from the Latin virtus). Maybe that doesn’t make sense… how can Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance (the Cardinal Virtues) mean manliness? They don’t – they mean what they mean. It’s the exact opposite – manliness means possessing the virtues. Does that mean that in order to be manly, a male must be virtuous?
Precisely! Authentic manliness is living virtue! Plain and simple. Alright, so how do I know if I’m virtuous (or manly)? The definition is a good place to start: “Virtue is the habitual and firm disposition to do the good.” So, what do you think? Are you virtuous? Be careful, you can’t partially possess virtue – it’s all or none. Either I have the “habitual and firm disposition” or I don’t. The test?… do I perform the virtue as a habit while also doing it promptly, easily, consistently and with joy? If not, you don’t have that particular virtue. If so, then you do. There’s no sliding scale, no gray area, no “sorta, kinda, sometimes”. It’s all or none.
Let me clarify… it is possible to have glimpses of virtuous behavior and not possess the virtue, so don’t get all hot and bothered thinking that what I’m writing means that you’re not a good guy. I’m simply relaying what St. Thomas Aquinas spent much of his life working on. For more clarity, let’s concentrate on the virtue of courage, otherwise known as fortitude. Men want to be courageous, right? When a man possesses courage, he “ensures firmness in difficulty, has constancy in the pursuit of good, and the resolve to resist temptations.” When a man possesses courage, these characteristics are always present, without wavering. What happens, then, when a male isn’t courageous? What can he do about it?
If you want to grow in virtue, it takes two things: 1. Grace and 2. Practice. The grace part isn’t up to you, but the practice part is. If you want to grow in virtue, practice makes perfect! Ask God for opportunities to practice each virtue. If you ask (sincerely), He’ll give you the opportunity. Try it, you’ll see. I recommend that you think long and hard about which virtue you need/want to work on the most (and soon!) and ask God for it.
So, then does that mean that women can’t be virtuous, or shouldn’t even try to be? No, not at all. And it doesn’t mean that a woman who is virtuous is manly. In the case of women, they should also be striving for virtue. Women grow in virtue the same way men do, through grace and practice, but the natural inclinations of men and women are different. Men and women are complementary (not complimentary, like “hey, that color looks nice on you”, but compliment like two things that go well together) and our natures work really, really well together! God intended it that way. We are of equal dignity, but different in nature. Men are all called to lead, protect, and provide. “Women are called to trust, surrender, and to be receptive.
Some women hear this and become squeamish, as if this is some sort of oppressive mandate to hold them down. Not at all! This is intended to allow men to hold you up! When both men and women are living virtuously, our natures are working properly and are the perfect complement! To think that working against nature would somehow be oppressive is pretty ridiculous. Think about it, have you ever heard a woman say, “I would hate it if a man treated me with respect, if he honored and cherished me and if he made me a better woman!” Never! Clearly, this is a little extreme, but it begs the point… why are these natures complementary and why are men called to live the virtues? The answer is simple. To be more Christ-like! All men should all be attempting to emulate Christ Jesus, the perfect model of virtue, the perfect model of masculinity.
There’s plenty more to be said on the topic of virtue, but for a more concise explanation, check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1803-1845.
“The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.” – St. Gregory of Nyssa.
Jan. 8, 2012
I don’t often watch TV anymore, as my life has proved to be full of other activities, interests, and hobbies in the past five years. I do watch the occasional football game, mostly Notre Dame, because I am a glutton for punishment. However, the other night I was watching Transformers: The Dark Side of the Moon with my younger seventeen-year-old sister. I was appalled at the unnecessary explicit emphasis on sexuality in the beginning of the movie. Sam, the main character is living with his girlfriend who only wears the skimpiest of clothing. There are several other scenes with sexually suggestive material, which I commented on to my sister. I wondered, though why a few scenes must ruin an otherwise intriguing, entertaining movie?
As I’ve been home over the holidays, I have watched several shows and movies with my sister and noticed this disturbing trend. Every show and movie is overly sexualized. One of my favorite movies from high school was Anchorman starring Will Farrell. I watched it enough times to have it memorized and I loved quoting it with friends. Then, I went to college, graduated, got a job and didn’t watch it until this past year, almost six-years later. I was appalled at the overwhelming emphasis on sex, particularly outside of marriage. I was sickened enough by it that I had to throw it out. Yes, you read correctly. I threw it in the garbage!
Some respond with, “There isn’t anything that bad about it. It’s just a funny movie!” Yes, there is some comedy in it, which I appreciated, but I would like to submit an analogy for consideration. I’m not exactly sure who to give credit to because I have heard multiple people use it.
The analogy is this: Would you eat brownies? How about if I put just a little bit of fecal matter in them? Not enough that you could really tell much, because the baker put just a little bit in the mix before stirring it all together and putting them in a pan to bake. You look at them, think they look tasty, and smell pretty good too. The baker tells you to help yourself and you do. Right before you bite into your generously sized brownie the baker says, “Oh yea, I almost forgot to tell you. I put a little poop in the brownies. Not enough that you’ll notice, but I just thought that I would let you know.” Your face suddenly cringes and you slowly put the brownie back as you simultaneously respond, “You know, I’m actually not as hungry as I thought I was.”
Why not eat it though, it’s not enough crap to harm you, is it? One saying goes, “You are what you eat.” I would like to extend that saying with, “and you don’t become what you don’t eat either.” If you eat healthy food, your body will feel better. Doctors tell us that if we eat a large amount of unhealthy junk food on a consistent basis, we will gain weight and not feel very well, in general. Let us consider this then: the mind, eyes, and ears are not much different when “eating” or “consuming” information, images, or ideas. What we watch, listen to, and subject ourselves to often becomes our way of thinking and affects how we act as well. This is especially true if we don’t have a filter or our conscience is not well formed. Are you seeing the connection?
There was a big shift in my life for me to go from watching and listening to whatever my friends suggested and what was popular to actually analyzing media with a filter. There were several aspects that affected me. Certainly, I grew in my faith….an incredible amount actually and I thank God daily for that growth. Yet, when I think more about my transformation (and it is still happening), I can pinpoint a few aspects that were/are integral to the process. First, I was surrounded by older guys in college who were more mature and would question my actions, thoughts, and opinions. Second, I immersed myself in a culture of men and women who were striving to deepen their faith through the frequent reception of the sacraments, reading, conversation, and prayer. Third, I tried to examine myself honestly, find areas of my life that I was embarrassed by, and began rooting out those sins or wounds. Fourth, and maybe most importantly, I began learning about virtue.
Virtue, I propose, is the key. Virtue in its truest form means manliness. There are seven main virtues: four cardinal (Prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude) and three theological (faith, hope and love). All the virtues are critical to becoming men of God, but I would like to focus on the cardinal virtues for a brief moment. Cardinal in this sense has its root in Latin and stands for hinge. Therefore, these virtues are the hinges upon which the door of the moral life swings. Virtue brings about manliness and the cardinal virtues, in particular, direct the moral life, which is where our culture is clearly struggling. We must become men who are directed by prudence, standing up for justice, temperate in all things, and courageous in all situations. The Church gives great guidance, definitions, and clarity when it comes to the virtues. Look them up.
Men, begin this New Year with a resolution to learn about virtue. Then, look at what you’re watching and see how it affects the way you view women. Our culture is saturated with sex and it affects both men and women. I think it’s time for us to stand up, be the leaders and warriors we were created to be, and become men of action for the true, good, and beautiful.
Christmas Beats Porn…But Only Barely
By Matthew Warner (From the National Catholic Register)
That’s right. Christmas still beats porn. But only barely. And probably not for long, unfortunately.
I’m talking about Google search trends (of course).
Porn is one of the most searched for things on the internet, as disgusting as it is. But, according to such search trends, people still love Christmas more than porn…at least for a few days a year. Every year around this time there is a peak where more people are searching for “Christmas” than for “porn.” And this year, though some thought porn would finally reign, Christmas managed to just barely nose out our unquenchable thirst for porn yet again – for a day or so.
The trend, however, is disturbing. Interest in Christmas has been trending slightly downward, while the search for porn has gone drastically up. There is a good chance it will be next year when porn finally beats Christmas.
This sad stat is an indicator of our sad state. Come on people. We can barely love Christmas – for ONE DAY – more than we love porn? And that’s just on one day of the year, folks! Sheesh. Clearly the information age has not been nearly as kind to Baby Jesus as it has to the porn industry (yet).
I’ve lamented before about the many things we could do if we didn’t love porn so much. Clearly, more time spent searching for sin is not only less time searching for God, but more time spent running away from Him. Imagine how the world would change if all of that energy we spent running from God was instead spent searching for God? And we wouldn’t need a search engine either. Our God has made Himself so easily findable as to actually become one of us. We just have to open our eyes and see Him.
For the complete article click here.