Oh, FeelingLost, my heart goes out to you.
The first step, as I’m sure you must know, is to go to confession. If you don’t already, I would recommend doing it behind a screen, as otherwise you are more likely to balk at telling the priest face-to-face. If you are worried your parish priest will recognize your voice, then by all means, seek out a good priest at a different parish who won’t know you or your voice. If it feels impossible to say you masturbated, say ‘self-abuse.’ It’s an older term for masturbation, but the priest will know what you mean. You will need to confess not just the self-abuse (and he might ask how often this occurs if you don’t say), but also the porn viewing and impure thoughts, and any time you have received Communion without going to confession. This is the first step to healing, as there are abundant graces in the sacrament. I would also recommend making an Act of Spiritual Communion right after you go to confession:
With a contrite and loving heart, say:
My Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things and I desire to possess Thee within my soul.
Since I cannot receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.
As though Thou were already there, I embrace Thee and unite myself wholly to Thee;
permit me not that I should ever be separated from Thee. Amen.
Keep a rosary - even a small one, or a single-decade one – with you, in your purse, on the computer desk, etc. Whenever you get the temptation or urge to view porn, masturbate, or indulge in fantasies, etc – get up, walk away from where you were (the computer, etc), and hold the rosary beads in your hands. Even if you cannot actually pray the Rosary, clutch the beads and pray whatever you can muster; whether that is “Jesus, help me!” over and over, or the Hail Mary over and over, or the Miraculous Medal prayer, or whatever comes to you, is up to you and what you can pray at those times. Just make sure you do pray.
Also, when you are tempted, instead of freaking out and focusing on the fact that you are being tempted and the sin is mighty appealing right then, re-focus your thoughts by offering to Jesus your temptation for the conversion of sinners. If you succeed in resisting, and have offered it to Him thus, you will make Satan** so mad** for turning his tricks back around on him like that.
Some temptations must be dealt with by fleeing them. I think this is one of them. When you are tempted, don’t keep thinking about the temptation or the sin that sounds appealing then. Think about something else entirely. First, offer it to Jesus for the conversion of sinners. Then, get up, do something, get a drink, do jumping jacks, pray the Rosary, Divine Mercy chaplet, or any little prayer you can muster. Go and kneel before a crucifix or image of Jesus or Mary. Distract your thoughts; replace your tempting thoughts with prayers. Try the ‘Jesus prayer’ (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”) Ask Jesus, in His Mercy, to grant you the grace of chastity. Ask Mary, under a title that is meaningful to you, or perhaps as Refuge of Sinners, Mother of Mercy, Immaculate Virgin, etc – ask her to intercede for you for the grace of chastity and the strength to resist temptation.
When you are tempted, think of your future husband. Commit anew each time to saving yourself for him.
Also, assuming you go to Mass on Sundays (you should), once you have gone to confession (please go soon!! Don’t put it off — it only prolongs your misery and self-loathing), go to Mass and receive Him in Holy Communion. Graces galore to help strengthen you and nourish you.
Which leads me to my next suggestion: if your schedule permits, do please try to go to daily Mass as often as you can. Even if not every day, even if only once during the week aside from Sunday – go. It is truly a great gift and you will grow spiritually and in graces. Even if you cannot make it to a daily Mass in your area, go visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as regularly as possible. Whether that is in an Adoration chapel or Adoration offered at a certain time, with the Blessed Sacrament exposed, or if it’s just visiting Him reserved in the tabernacle, go. I cannot recommend it more highly. Spend 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour – pour out all your pain and struggles to Him, tell Him all you are worried about, the graces you need, things you are thankful for – and then, rest and be still in His Presence. Let Him love you. Try to be quiet. Tell Him you love Him. I often pray, “Jesus, I love You, help Thou my lack of love,” or “Jesus, I trust in Thee, help Thou my lack of trust.” He longs for your love. He longs for your presence. So tell Him you love Him and want so much to do better, that you are so sorry for your sins and weaknesses, and long to cast off the chains of these sins. Thank Him for His Mercy. Implore His Mercy.
I find this helpful in learning to open up to Him in the Blessed Sacrament: americaneedsfatima.org/Prayers/15-minutes-before-the-blessed-sacrament.html
Do you have a devotion to the Divine Mercy? Jesus said that the greater the sinner, the greater claim he had on His Mercy. Pray the Divine Mercy chaplet. Venerate the image. I have an icon version of it in my room, and it brings me so much comfort and peace just to look at it. I talk to Jesus looking at that icon so much.
Jesus told Saint Faustina:
My Heart overflows with great mercy for souls, and especially for poor sinners…It is for them that the Blood and Water flowed from My Heart as from a fount overflowing with mercy. For them I dwell in the tabernacle as King of Mercy. (Diary, 367)
So go visit Him!! Often!!
A few more suggestions:
Whenever I am experiencing a particularly strong or overpowering temptation – no matter what the temptation is – I try to think of three things, and it helps me immensely to resist the temptation. First, I think of this quote:
“No one ought to consider himself a true servant of God who is not tried by many temptations and trials. Temptations overcome are a sort of betrothal ring God gives the soul.” - Saint Francis of Assisi
— I think of Jesus offering me this betrothal ring, of temptations overcome, how giving in would mean rejecting this ring, this proposal.
Secondly, I think of Mary, and how giving in to this sin would mean causing her to cry, would mean that I caused tears to stream down her face.
And thirdly, I think of Jesus, and how giving in to this sin would mean spitting on Jesus, hitting Him, striking Him, slapping Him in the face. I personally have recently grown a lot in devotion to the Holy Face, which is where this realization comes. I also make myself aware of my Guardian Angel’s presence, and plead for his help in resisting.
A few good saints (there are obviously many) to ask for their help and intercession: Saint Mary Magdalene, Saint Maria Goretti, Saint Joseph, Saint Michael the Archangel, your own Guardian Angel, your own patron saint/s.
Also, completely remove and clear porn sites, videos, youtube, etc from your computer’s history and look into downloading blocking software. Purge your home of any reading materials, music, movies, etc that lead you to sin or cause temptation.
Another suggestion I just thought of, two, actually: if you are online and tempted, you could try going to Savior.org which has a livestream of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. While it does not replace actually visiting Him in person in a church, it could help you to re-focus your thoughts and give a visual to direct your prayers to. Such as when making the Act of Spiritual Communion, which is recommended to pray daily, even more than once a day, if you feel the need.
When you are tempted, pray not just for yourself and the strength to resist, but pray also for your future husband. Take the moment of temptation as an opportunity to pray for him, that he will be granted the grace of chastity and be able to resist temptation. Pray for him to grow in holiness and virtue. It will help him, and help you to remember what you value most – and that you want to save yourself for him – physically and mentally, emotionally.
I’m sorry if I have repeated anything others have said since I started my reply, and I know it’s a lot, but I’m just trying to offer you many ideas to try.
My dear sister in Christ, I will pray for you. God bless you for seeking help. You are not alone, and you are loved. :hug3: