I don't see how I can believe in the Church anymore


#24

I know, I’m not not posting antagonistically either, I’m just searching for a fresh perspective on my experience. Don’t be afraid of anything you’re writing here. When I have the courage I’ll talk to a good friend of mine, who’s just finishing his education in canon law before returning to my country.

He’s a good priest, and a good confessor, and I’ll recieve spiritual guidance from him on this. But that’s still quite a bit in the future.


#26

#27

It sounds like you prayed too much, for a layperson, such that it compromised the rest of your life. It seems that you let this sin not just to be something you strive to defeat, but let it be a monster that trod you down.

Even Saint Paul struggled with a habitual sin which he called a “thorn,” though we can only speculate on what that is.

While we should never simply accept sin into our lives as a friend, and while we should strive to overcome it, we should also be resting easy in Christ and God’s mercy even when we do fall. Most of us will not complete our transformative journey to perfection in this life, and that’s okay, so long as we continue to trust in God.

When we find something new, like a hobby, but it could apply to religion, too, many of us will often dive in too deeply. We throw ourselves in 110%, our enthusiasm is so high. And then we burn ourselves out, unless we learn the right amount of moderation for our position in life. It sounds like that may have happened to you in regards to your anxiety about this sin.

Would you be able to return, setting aside what seems to be a type of strictness that should be left to the monastics? Some of us are more prone to anxiety and OCD like tendencies than others, which need to be worked past.


#28

There are online 12 step groups that address sex/porn/masturbation addiction. There is free help if you want it. The program is spiritual, not religious, but is compatible with faith if you have one. I have used the 12 steps to gain freedom from a number of addictions. It has saved my life and sanity. You can do a search for sex related 12 step programs online.


#29

I would recommend you read Romans 7 and 8.


#30

Your troubles are far more common than most of us know. Blessings to you.


#31

I can’t help but notice in your posts that you don’t mention your love for God. I’m not saying you don’t, but I wonder if in your prayers you are focusing too much on your sin and missing out on the love God has for you, and your wanting to defeat sin because you love Him. Every day thank Him for the blessings you do have. Show Him your love through adoration and doing charitable things for others. Don’t focus on what is not happening, but on what is good in your life and those you care for.
I’ve suffered depression and my own battles with sin. The changes I needed came from love of God and family, and learning to love myself was a big step. God Bless.


#32

For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. (Mt. 15:19)

This is the only door that the evil one may use to tempt us. Every sin we commit begins with a thought, so that is where you need to use your best effort. St. Catherine of Siena (a pure virgin) wrote that she struggled with unrelenting thoughts against purity, and when they ceased, she asked Our Lord, where were you? He said, I was in your heart helping you to resist. May she help you with her intercession, for she knows the strength of Satan in our thought life.

Another help I suggest the powerful sacramental often used by St. Teresa of Avila, who was tormented similarly. When she splashed holy water, the devil flew from her. He HATES holy water! Have you tried anointing your forhead with the sign of the cross when these thoughts arise? Until you overcome the mental imaging that produces the act, it will be very difficult to resist.

Finally, I suggest that you conceive a love of Christ so strong that nothing on earth will allow you to indulge that passion. Look at Him when these thoughts arise and cry out for His mercy, attesting that you love Him above your own desires.

When you attain mastery, it is very possible to imagine the act while you are sleeping, for which you need to use holy water again. Dreams are not sins, by the way, so use the authority of the Holy Spirit living within you and command the evil one to depart!

I prayed for you at mass today - God bless you.


#33

Often we see God as we see our own parent. Our earthly parent will get exasperated and sometimes cut their children off, throw them out of their lives, decide to disown the child.

Remember that God does not disown any of His children. He is not frustrated with you or with me no matter how many times we fall. Scripture reminds us:

Proverbs 24:16 Though the just fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble from only one mishap.

And gives us the example of the Prodigal son and the loving Father.

As many times as you are willing to seek forgiveness, He is there with open arms to forgive. Fr Groeschel was a well known Catholic teacher, he would say that his last word in this life would be asking God for mercy.

God is “slow to anger and plentious in mercy”.

I will pray for you. I hope you have some good Catholic friends in your life, it is so difficult to be a “lone ranger” Catholic.

And finally remember, Satan knows our names but calls us by our sins, God knows our sins yet calls us by our name.


#34

God provides grace so that it is possible to not sin mortally. A mortal sin must be voluntary. In the case of an addiction or habit it can be involuntary. So, it is possible to sin materially but not actually, due to habits and addictions. Someone that has an addiction or habit, and does not will it to continue, but tries earnestly to end it, can be free from culpability, thus free from sin.

Catechism

1746 The imputability or responsibility for an action can be diminished or nullified by ignorance, duress, fear, and other psychological or social factors.
2352 … To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.

Why we stay in the Church:

Catechism

25 To conclude this Prologue, it is fitting to recall this pastoral principle stated by the Roman Catechism : The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.

181 “Believing” is an ecclesial act. The Church’s faith precedes, engenders, supports and nourishes our faith. The Church is the mother of all believers. “No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother” (St. Cyprian, De unit . 6: PL 4, 519).


#36

Part II…
Your journey at least sounds similar to mine. You have a mental issue with something and start down the whirlpool of despair and self recrimination. In the meantime the very act of making it such a big thing and worrying about it so much is like sitting in the room next to the giant big red button and saying ‘DON’T PRESS THE BIG RED BUTTON!!!’ over and over. The constant thinking about it makes you tempted all the more. Then you pray over it to have the temptation lessoned and think about it while you pray for it, your anxiety increases… and then you give in and the biological factors take over (endorphins, oxytocin…) and everyting is lessoned for a bit…

That’s not a healthy way to think, pray, or act. And it is, by itself, falling to the traps of Satan who wants us to despair and just say ‘Ta heck with it. I’m going MY way and losing all this mental overhead!’

This isn’t the Church’s fault. It isn’t Jesus’ fault. And, in the manic state you describe, I think your culpability is greatly lessoned (much as mine was when I felt I had to say 10 perfect hail mary’s or God would punish me somehow… it was a bad time).

if you are like me, it sounds like more of an anxiety disorder that expresses itself through impurity and which is cloaked in religion.

Your path is entirely up to you. For me…

A) I went to a therapist to help deal with it. A Catholic one to be sure, but a therapist nonetheless.

B) I worked with a decent priest/spiritual director who got to know me well. For my case with scrupulosity I had to completely surrender. I didn’t think something was a mortal sin unless he did. God loves you. He’ll cut you a break here. Because of that:

C) I didn’t cut myself off from the sacraments or the mass. You have alot going on. it’s easy to say ‘If I take communion unworthily I’ll perish like Paul says!!!’. And that’s true… if you are in a place where you have complete control. I wasn’t there, and it doesn’t sound like you were.

Things got better. Alot better. And I was able to realize the beauty that is there in the Church, in the sacraments, and in the living Christ present in the eucharist, who just wanted me to get better.

Your mileage may vary. But it worked for me.

God isn’t sitting up there with a fly swatter waiting for you to step out of line. Give yourself some grace. Give yourself a chance. Get some help. And it can work out.


#37

I know many, many, good Catholic men who struggle with purity.

Men are wired to be visual creatures when it comes to sex. And we live, in the modern West, in a place where sex is used to sell many things, and where purity is considered prudishness.

On top of that, we have alot of men coming back to the faith after a youth where they got soaked in a watered down Christianity that didn’t give them good preparation to fight against impurity; and where any sort of fight was actively discouraged by the secular world.

I really loathe the way things have worked out.

Women should be treated with respect and honor.
Men should be treated with respect, and shown how to treat Women.
Men and Women aren’t the same.
It’s stupid to have a culture that encourages hook ups for youths, immodesty for both sexes, and then when they are adults be shocked (SHOCKED!) that people feel used. What did they think would happen?


#38

St Thomas provides 4 key strategies to overcome lust

  1. Flee External Triggers: could be watching TV shows with sex/porn themes (e.g. Game of Thrones, or practically most mainstream shows today); could be just sitting at my computer at night if that is what I usually did when watching porn, could be hanging around certain guy friends who are always talking about sex (I had to stop hanging around 2 guy friends like this), etc.

  2. Don’t let evil thoughts hold: if an external trigger (from #1) triggers us, it usually comes in form of thought. At that point, the thought doesn’t have to grow. It only grows if I let it by either taking certain action (continuing to watch the show, etc) or not taking certain action (not changing what I’m doing - go for a walk if I see something on TV that triggers my lust)

  3. Persevere in prayer: this is good strategy to combat #2 above, to prevent any lustful thoughts that do start in us from growing. Just say rosary if a lustful thought enters my mind

  4. Stay busy with healthy activity: isolating in my house is opposite of this. Going out and volunteering at my church or doing fun activity (golf, running, etc) or working on my hard or doing project on my house etc etc.

Thus, the reason I maintain any lustful thoughts is because I fail to do 1-4 above.

I believe St Thomas (someone correct me) also used analogy of Black Dog (lust) and White Dog (purity) that are in a battle to the death. And that the one that wins is the one we feed. And how doing 1-4 above feeds the White Dog and starves the Black Dog and vice versa = not doing 1-4 starves the White Dog and feeds the BLack Dog


#39

Thanks for sharing. Your struggle is authentic as is your desire for holiness.But don’t let the focus on one sin deny you so much more grace.

I was in a similar situation a few years ago. Getting married and having kids has helped immensely. I realize that may not be an option for you. But being around people you love and trust and that can give warmth and love may help. There is also a physical and psychological side to this(in addition to spiritual)


#40

Hey mate how’s it going? I don’t have a ton of time atm. I’ll try to post something a bit more through later. I just want you to know that much of what I read in your post (didn’t have time to get through all if it thus far) sounds very familiar to me. I applaud you for writing an honest and descriptive post. One thing I did want to hit on really quick is it took me time to come to terms with the idea that God isn’t a set of regulations. I knew this, but given the face of what I saw from others, and even the church sometimes, when I started practicing my faith it was tough to see anything else. Keep working for purity, this is honestly one of the tougher ones in our culture, however after finally “getting the hang of it” I would definitely recommend it. I will pray for you as well. I can only guess but it sounds like your in the middle of real progress, and I highly encourage you to keep going. There is light at the end of the tunnel! My other thought is that God isn’t a set of rules. Rules DO matter in the sense of sin, but remember the order of the commandments, try to keep your eyes on Jesus, (ie the goal) and if your struggling a simple prayer “Jesus I trust in you” can help to redirect your thoughts. I find some of the advice gets a litttle complicated at times, so I like to try to keep is straightforward.


#41

He Was Alone So That We Might Not Be Alone: by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev

“During the last days of His earthly life Jesus Christ was left alone to face those who hated Him, endure sufferings and death. He drank to the bottom the cup of suffering that was prepared for Him and underwent the most horrible thing that a person could experience: a profound loneliness and feeling of being abandoned by God.

He was alone in Gethsemane, for His disciples were fast asleep. He was alone at the court of the high priests, alone during His interrogation by Herod, alone at the tribunal of Pilate, for His disciples had fled. He was alone when He went to Golgotha, and a passer-by, and not His beloved disciple, helped Him to carry His cross. He was alone on the cross and died alone, having been abandoned by all.

While on the cross Jesus cried to His Father: “My God, My God! Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mt. 27:46). The pain of all mankind and every person was contained in this cry, the pain of everybody who feels alone and abandoned by God.

It is painful to be abandoned by one’s friends and close ones, but there is something still more horrible – when it seems that God has left you, when an insurmountable wall has been raised between you and God and He neither hears, nor sees, nor notices you.

If you suffer from loneliness, remember how lonely the Saviour was during the last days of His life.

If your close ones or those under your care have turned away from you, if you have been slandered undeservedly, if people call you a heretic and destroyer of traditions, if they bear false witness against you and say that you deserve to die, remember that the Lord Himself underwent all these.

If he who lived with you under one roof, communed from the same chalice, ate your bread, he whom you trusted with all your love, with whom you shared your thoughts and feelings, from whom you hid nothing and for whom you spared nothing, if this person betrayed you, turned away from you, “raised his heel to smite you” and spat on you, remember that Jesus also underwent this.

If your cross weighs upon you so heavily that you are not able to carry it, and if those close to you do not want to help you carry it, be thankful, perhaps, to the passer-by who will help you carry it for at least part of the way.

If the feeling of being totally abandoned by God has overwhelmed you and it seems that there is no God, that He has turned away from you or does not hear you, do not despair, for Christ also underwent these horrible and bitter experiences.

If people condemn you and blaspheme, smite you in the face and spit on you, nail you to the cross and give you bile instead of water, pray for them, for “they know not what they are doing”.

In fear and trembling, bowing before the holy tomb of Jesus in silence and reverence, let us thank the Lord for He was alone so that we might not be alone, He was abandoned so that we might not be abandoned, He suffered insults and mockery, slander and humiliation, suffering and death, so that in the midst of any suffering we might feel that we are not alone, that the Saviour Himself “is with us unto the end of the ages”


#42

#43

#44

I’m going to offer what I think is a totally different approach (I’ve skimmed the previous responses, not read them in detail–if I missed something, sorry.)

As you should know, to commit a mortal sin you need full assent of your will. Clearly–to me at least–that’s lacking here. No full assent of the will, no mortal sin. Certainly it’s not an admirable thing, it’s a sin, but there’s no way it can be a mortal sin. What constrains your will? I don’t know–genetics? the people around you? How you grew up? Psychological issues? It could be anything. But it’s certainly there.

There is one school of theological thought that says none of us is really completely free. Therefore, at the last judgment, God will present us with our sins and then we will have–for the first time–a truly free ability to either reject our sins or accept them. Sounds reasonable to me. The black-and-whiters here won’t like that, but you can’t please everyone.

It is impossible for any human to judge another, and we shouldn’t try. To give an example, yes, I drink a bit–but two beers are pretty much my limit, and if I go 3-4 months without drinking alcohol, I don’t even notice. Contrast that with an alcoholic whose thoughts are consumed daily with drinking. Now ask yourself, if both the alcoholic and I get totally drunk out of our minds and do some bad things, who commits a mortal sin? Me. Because I can take it or leave it. At least in this matter, my will is able to say yes or no with equal ease. The alcoholic? There is almost no way he can control himself. If he gets drunk, is that a good thing? Certainly not. But does it rise to the level of a mortal sin? No. His will is weakened. You are in the same situation. Ease up on yourself. That doesn’t mean don’t address the problem, but it does mean to stop making it an all-consuming concern. There are a lot of other things in the world to be more concerned about. Get more concerned about them.


#45

@leonhardprintz: I’m so sorry for the burden you carry. What kind of posts would help you at this point?


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