I joined the Church several years ago, after a long search. It involved prayer, reading about the Church’s history and becoming engrossed in scholastic philosophy. It was a wonderful time, though I always prayed for strength for trying times if they should ever come.
While I know that the first year of a conversion is full of passion and love, that’s like a romance. Whereas the lifelong passion of a good Catholic is more that of a marriage.
Like most sinners I can’t say I was the best Catholic, though I prayed the rosary semi-daily and occasionally parts of the Liturgy of the Hours.
All the while I was battling something many Catholics have trouble with. The sin of impurity. I prayed about it every morning, evening, it was part of my rosary and mass intentions; To be healed, to have strength, to cultivate virtue and lessen cupidity.
But no matter how I fasted (always and only with the approval of a spiritual advisor), what special retreats I went to, what shrines I visited… the habit was entirely unchanged. Not as much as a dent was made in it.
This contrasted with the Catholic Church’s strong claim that no one is tempted above their mean. One liberal confessor assured me though that it wasn’t even a sin, another that my addiction had decreased my culpability, a third would say I should avoid communion (adding that as a qualifier)…
Since I fell (and fall) several times per day, that meant I could only have communion on those Fridays in which our parish had confessions.
People suggested (and kept suggesting until recent - when I kindly told them to stop suggesting more books) to read this saint or that saint, to wear this medal or that medal, to pray this prayer or that prayer. And for a while I indulged them. Enrolled in a St. Thomas confraternity, wore a rope around my waist, special blessing by priest. Put on a scapular, special blessing by priest. Placed a statue of Mary right next to my computer, special blessing by priest. An icon in my entry which I pray a Hail Mary before and once entering my home (along with a prayer that I should not die outside of God’s mercy), of course with an adding special blessing from a priest. Salt and Holy Water, etc… .etc… etc…
The only saint I found some solace in was St. Augustine’s writings, though he doesn’t exactly offer up a solution. St. Aquinas leaves me cold, since he got blessed to never have cupidity. Stories about saints magically transferring other people’s into themselves so they could carry them, or stories about desert fathers transferring the lust from one man into another (point of story was that the one it was transferred into was being judging I know…)… I don’t know what to do with. I had a litany of these saints I prayed to, St. Thomas I asked for a little bit of the blessing he had, the Archangel St. Michael I asked daily (and at the end of each rosary) to protect me from temptatious spirits.
At the very least I can say that I never moderated my belief in the rightness of the Church’s claims about sexual immorality. But I never gained the ability to resist.