Friday, June 10, 2011

Jesus, help me

The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord... Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! ... Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body.... You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
 – excerpts from 1 Corinthian 6:13-20


I was watching Women of Grace on EWTN, which I highly recommend to everyone, and the topic was pornography addiction. This is perhaps the most pervasive addiction of our times.

If ever there was an addiction which is satanic in origin, it is most certainly the addiction to pornography. And the only effective form of healing for this is through the help of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

The effect of this malady of the soul is the degrading of the individual person as he or she feels the shame of this addiction, and the degrading of others who are viewed as mere sexual objects. The effects are felt throughout society as men and women begin to view their relationships through a distorted lens; and ultimately families are afflicted by divorce, and children suffer through the pain and humiliation of a broken home.

As someone who is recovering from a pornography addiction, I can tell you that for me it was impossible to tackle this addiction on my own. By myself I would never have been able to climb out of the hole of self-destruction that I was in. It was only through the grace of Christ that I was able – not to climb out, but to see the walls of my spiritual prison just disappear.

It would be wrong to say that I was set free. In fact I accepted to voluntarily – through my own free will – become a servant of Christ. I gave up the "freedom" that the world offers. Instead, I chose to follow Christ along the narrow and hard path; I chose to become one of his sheep and join his flock; I chose to answer the call of the Good Shepherd.

We need to strengthen ourselves every day through prayer, but we also need to remember to ask for God's help at the moment of our temptation. We need to ask Him through our daily prayers to "lead us not into temptation", but we also need to remember to ask Him when we are confronted with temptation to "deliver us from evil"; to free us from the snares and traps of the devil.

At those times we should not be ashamed to say, "Jesus, help me. Give me your strength." He can break any chain and free us from any prison. He is the rock that we can climb on to save us from drowning in a raging sea. He is our shelter from the storm and our strength.

This is the reason that He came to earth and suffered and died for us; to save us from sin and to redeem us when we have fallen; to lead us along the path to eternal life.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Epilogue

Why is the bottom line on the Orthodox Cross above slanted? I read a few explanations which I found to be unsatisfactory.

For me it represents the path from earth to heaven, by following in Christ's footsteps. That is why it is inclined, and why it is at the level of Christ's feet. Or another way of saying the same thing is that Christ is "the way" to heaven. He is the bridge between our temporal earthly lives and our eternal lives in heaven. This is a reminder of when Christ says "I am the way... no one comes to the Father, but by me."

It also recalls Revelation 21 and the new Jerusalem. On one side is the old earthly Jerusalem where men sacrificed animals at the altar, and on the other side is the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven where the Lamb of God is sacrificed at the true altar of God.

Finally, it recalls the words of the Messiah, "Follow me!" Jesus repeats these words over and over in the Gospels. It is the last thing that He says to Peter in the Gospel of John. It is the first thing he says to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew in the Gospel of Matthew. And He affirms in John 10:27-28 that if we respond when He calls out "Follow me!" then we will be given eternal life.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.
 – John 10:27-28
Like any Icon, the image is intended to be contemplated on, and to become a "window to heaven".

4 comments:

  1. We all have temptations every single day, as humans we are very weak. But we have God's help to overcome obstacles and gain strength.
    And is so worth it. :)
    I battle with my own sins, and I can tell you that I like my life a lot better now that compared to the time where I committed the sin.
    Did I have freedom? maybe. But not a real freedom, only what the world offers, which is not enough.
    I just want to get in shape and maintain my spiritual life in order.

    God bless you!

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  2. Ride. Thank you. Your words are very comforting.

    But I want to say something. Be very careful of the price we pay for the world's "freedom". The world tells us that we just have to give up our "inhibitions". But what that really means is giving up our innocence. And this leads to us feeling guilty and "dirty". And then we feel that we don't deserve the good things of God anymore. So then the world tells us that the "cure" for this is to immerse ourselves deeper in sin. And this seems right because we want to punish ourselves anyway. And this is how Satan draws us in.

    It seems too good to be true that we can be forgiven. It almost seems too easy. We're not used to being given something without having to work for it first. We just have to give up the things that deep down we know are not good for us anyway – even though they may make us feel good temporarily. And in return we are given a gift of true inner peace. The innocence that the world said was lost forever is returned to us by God.

    And yet we still succumb to our old weaknesses. But if we go to Confession and we go to Mass then we are reminded of God's mercy. "Lord, I am not worthy..." "Lord, have mercy... Christ, have mercy" "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world" "I confess..."

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  3. You are right, because we feel we are not worth it anymore we separate away. I think that is why confession is so important, we need to forgive ourselves as well. :)

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  4. Yes, in effect we do "forgive ourselves". But in a deeper sense we accept God's forgiveness for us. This requires an act of faith in God and His Infinite Mercy. Only an Almighty God is capable of forgiving sins and bringing about true healing.

    The Pharisees accused Jesus of blaspheming God when He said to a paralyzed man, "Your sins are forgiven." He said this to heal him. And then He said to the Pharisees, "Which is easier, to say, `Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, `Rise and walk'?" (Luke 5:23)

    But it is easier to heal a man of his physical ailments than of his spiritual sickness. Today, our doctors can perform "miracles" and can cure many diseases and even psychological ailments, but at the same time we see the rise of spiritual sickness in our society – like pornography addiction. I believe this is a direct result of our turning away from God as a society.

    Psychologists may try to assert that confession is just another form of therapy, but it is something different altogether. It is a true miracle that God performs when our sins are forgiven by the priest acting “in persona Christi”.

    But you bring up a still deeper theological point. Is it God that condemns us, or is it that we condemn ourselves? Ever since hearing Marino Restrepo's testimony, I am more and more convinced that we condemn ourselves. God is always willing to forgive us, but we may become too ashamed (or proud) to ask for His forgiveness. We are the ones that turn our backs on God; He never turns His back on us.

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