I am still trying to learn custody of my eyes and thoughts, I often sin venially by inappropriate glances at women.
All the same, I was received into the Church at Easter this year, have been studying the faith for some years before and kept up that study since, I feel a real passion to spread the gospel.
I’m a graduate student, and we have lots of new students arriving on campus this week and next. I’ve been helping out at the Catholic chaplaincy’s stall all week, but found that each day I’d sat by this parade of beautiful young students, I was looking inappropriately at them at least 100 times in a day! Not thinking bad thoughts, nor consenting (well, maybe once or twice consenting) but just looking at the wrong parts of their bodies, not at their eyes, not seeing their souls. Still praying for them and their conversions, still looking people in the eye when talking with them, but still also sinning at the same time.
So I have a dilemma, if I go out to publicly evangelise, I commit a sin, but if I don’t, if I just sit in my room and pray to avoid temptation, I fail to do any good.
What to do? Do I just need to spend a few more months, or maybe years, in intense seclusion, penance and prayer until I can control my desires enough to be an effective and pure messenger of the gospel, or should I learn as I go along, even though that may mean making ‘mistakes’ along the way?
I find the more I focus on the fact that I’m looking impurely, the more I do it. If I was only avoiding this sin because there were no women around to look at, I might just be more tempted once I returned to the world.
Is this struggle a sign that maybe I’m supposed to live as an enclosed brother? I can see how that would help me avoid temptation, but I don’t see how it would make me more useful to God.