Men, I need help. It is the sin of masturbation; I have been struggling to overcome it for a long time. I came across Jason Evert’s page catholic.com/chastity/q11.asp. and I am following it. At first I avoided going to confession because I figured I shouldn’t go until I overcame this sin, but after a long time I came to understand that I can not overcome this sin without God’s grace, so I went to confession. The first priest I went to said that I must have been looking at pornography, although I wasn’t. When I told him that I wasn’t he laughed and said that the feelings don’t come from nowhere. I thought to myself, “Just like adolescent boys intentionally have nocturnal emitions?” Slander is a sin by the way. Every time I went to this priest it was the same thing over and over again, so I decided to go to the other priest in the church. He told me it is not enough for me to keep confessing the sin each week. I thought to myself, “I know that, that’s why I kept away from confession for so long.” I know that’s not what confession is all about, but Jason Evert said that we should go to confession regularly. So then I went to the last priest in this church, he got very furious with me and he said, “We are Catholics, not Jews or Episcopalians!” I don’t really know how they compare to Catholics, both don’t have the sacraments. He then chastised me about how I am abusing the sacrament, which is why I didn’t want to go in the first place, he said we can’t keep confessing the same sin over again, confession is about change, not absolution. But I am only following what Jason said, he said we should not be discouraged to confess the same sin over and over again, the devil wants us to believe that we can’t. I am so confused and I hate myself because of this sin, I end up feeling worse about myself whenever I come out of the confessional. I came out of the confessional crying, the priest mocked me because I didn’t say the traditional act of contrition. If I did not think masturbation was wrong, I would not be confessing it. I felt so filthy that I did not even receive communion. I am a cross-country runner, who runs everyday, I do not look at pornography, watch movies with erotic love scenes, I only watch EWTN, I do not look at Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, I have no posters of girls in my room, besides the blessed mother, and I do not have a girlfriend, I attend mass daily, I visit the adoration chapel once a week, and I pray to St. Joseph along with praying the Rosary, what am I doing wrong? Please help.
I am no expert on the Sacramental part of your problem, but I can sense the lonliness in you.
That is what is causing you to sin, I feel.
It is the lonliness that is causing you to perform this act.
Do not feel guilty. You are one of millions in the world who are lonely.
You are doing the right thing by not looking at anything that will fuel the fire.
Youre home setting sounds lovely.
Keep praying to the Holy Spirit to help you.
As for whether the priests have treated you properly, well I don’t think they have.
But as to whether you should keep going each week, I am not sure of the rules.
“Give your cares to God and He will care for you” (1Peter 5:7)
You are obviously trying to avoid temptation but you are unable to avoid it in our culture. Keep trying but you really can not control it. So be patient with yourself. God loves you anyway and He understands. Maybe He just wants you to keep trying and show Him your perserverence. I havebeen there, I understand. Eventually, whe God decides, you will be relieved of the demon which haunts you so much. Keep praying, keep in the Sacraments and He will make your load lighter when it fits His plan. God loves you, never forget that. Never give up to the other side!! God Bless, Steve
The first two are the minimum.
I would suggest looking seriously for a spiritual director, who will teach you how to examine your conscience and make a good confession about once a week, and at least monthly. If the priest does not seem attentive, respectful, and deeply concerned for your soul, there is something wrong and you should find another.
Pray the Rosary, every day, if possible. It takes about 30 minutes. It’s very important to meditate on the mysteries.
Fast. Eat no food except bread and water for a day, once or twice a month. Become an E5 man and fast with a purpose.E5 Men
Pray to Our Lady, Mary and to St. Joseph for purity and also to St. Maria Goretti, in particular. She forgave the man who lusted after her and stabbed her to death, at eleven, on her (slow, agonizing) death bed.
Don’t beat yourself up when you sin. Say an act of contrition immediately, and go to confession as soon as possible. We have all fallen short of the glory of God, and the difference that makes a saint is to keep asking God to pick you up again.
Keep busy. Occupy your mind and hands with good books and good works. Improve your work skills.
When you are unavoidably exposed to an immoral image or immodestly dressed woman, try to see without looking (one glance, not two, and focus on her as a person, her eyes and face, and pray for her soul. Pray that God show her mercy, and keep her from punishment because of any sin of yours in looking at her.
The more you focus on the value of her as a person, with hopes, dreams and an immortal soul, that you can help protect her (your duty as a man, her brother in Christ), by looking away and showing respect, and yes appreciate ALL her her beauty, without just focussing on her sex appeal, the less you will be tempted.
Remember to pray your night and morning prayers, and grace before meals. I also find it helpful to pray while walking. Keep the presence of God in mind throughout the day.
Psalm45:9, First I want to apologize for any hurt an unsympathetic priest may have brought you, keep them in you prayers to change! As you already know in a confessional you are confessing to God and receiving absolution from God through an earthly vessel, this is awesome gift when you really think about it. I too had this exact problem sin-confession-sin-confession, I was able to stop by avoiding the obvious such as you are doing (porn, ect) but more than that I just didn’t go THERE if you know what I mean, I just felt that if I did go there I was surely being selfish and totally offending and ignoring my Lord. I got to a point where I honestly did not want to offend Him anymore with this stupid selfish nasty sin. So I just don’t go there anymore. I obviously received a grace I was praying for. Jesus says “Ask and you shall receive.” With this grace I have not committed the sin or even had an urge to commit the sin in over five years. Christ truly in a mystical way becomes apart of us. I hope with the Grace of God you stop going there. I will keep you in my prayers!
I am sorry to hear that you received such counsel in the confessional from three different priests.
My experience with a large number of confessors has generally been much different. Most are exemplars of the Mercy of God. But now and then you run into a confessor who misunderstands or does not help.
It is not unusual for Catholics to find themselves confessing the same sin for a long time. Maybe over their entire life, they struggle, are victorious for a while, then fall again. I suspect it is more common that we find ourselves in a rut of repetitive sin than that we run through the whole smorgasbord of sins over our lives.
Have confidence. Pray to St. Joseph for help. This sin that troubles you truly can be overcome with prayer and fasting, but do not be discouraged if you need to confess it “seventy times seven times.”
May God bless you.
I know what you’re going through. After a while, you begin to ask yourself, “How serious about this am I?” I mean, you can’t abuse the Confessional, but you can’t go on not receiving Communion, either. Then it seems to become a choice–give in to the life of sin and despair, or, I don’t know. That’s pretty much what I’ve always done. I keep picking myself up and going back to Church, even if it’s sporadically. Luckily, I’ve never had such cynical priests.
Speaking of which, keep looking for a Church where the priests are tough, orthodox, and firm, but also compassionate. I’ve been blessed with an abundance of them here.
As for doing anything wrong, I don’t see that you are. You’re going far and above anything I ever tried. You might just be despairing, which warps your worldview. For me, when I’m in that moment of temptation, I go play guitar or something. When THAT frustrates me, I go for a bike ride. Luckily by then the A.D.D. kicks in and I’ve forgotten what I’ve obsessed about. Not always, though. I still fall flat on my face…
The things you are doing to help fight the urge to masturbate are the things you should keep doing. If you masturbate again, you should definitely go to confession again. It is there that you will find the grace to fight against the sin. When you get discouraged and choose to stay away from grace is when the Devil wins. I have confessed that sin several times, and everytime, the priest was gracious and gave me good advice. If you feel uncomfortable with those priests, go to another parish for confession. Today is the first Friday of the month. Find a parish that does the first Friday nights of reconciliation. That is usually where I make my confessions. Then stay for the night and receive an indulgence.
Remember, and I have learned this the hard way (because I have greatly struggled with the same temptation), that you will not explode if you stop masturbating. Life may become uncomfortable for a while. You may lose sleep. Become irritable. But you will live.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is that, to stop masturbating, you have to really want freedom from it, and you have to stop. Period. It sounds dumb, and it will be a struggle, but the temptation won’t go away until you fight the temptation (maybe for a long time) and simply don’t do it. It will get easier eventually. And offer up your battles with temptation for the sake of those priests.
[quote=Psalm45:9] So then I went to the last priest in this church, he got very furious with me and he said, “We are Catholics, not Jews or Episcopalians!” I don’t really know how they compare to Catholics, both don’t have the sacraments. He then chastised me about how I am abusing the sacrament, which is why I didn’t want to go in the first place, he said we can’t keep confessing the same sin over again, confession is about change, not absolution. Please help.
Didn’t Jesus say something about forgiving your neighbor 70 times 7 times? And I believe that was meant metophorically, I interpret it as; as many times as it takes, as many times as forgivness is asked for.
Sounds like you got a bit of a bum deal in the confessional. If possible seek yet another Priest. The Priests I have been to have always left me feeling forgived and understood.
One guy I know told me that for a time in his life he was going to confession twice a day! I thought that was odd until I realized that Confession is “hic et nunc” as any decent priest understands. It’s true you can’t get cheap grace, but don’t ever stay away from the confessional because you think you are abusing the sacrament. That really is the devil trying to keep you from the confessional. You don’t have to be detached from the sin to feel contrition.
The advice from an earlier poster to find a good spiritual director is a must. Look for a priest of Opus Dei.
The comment from the confessor who said we are not jews or episcopaleans is curious. Perhaps he saw your frequent recourse to confession as the triumph of form over function, but he would be wrong.
Fly to Mary during moments of temptation. She loves you.
Offer up your discomfort and frustration for souls in mortal sin.
Say this often: Jesus, keep me from the things that keep me from you. Go to bed exhausted. And take one day at a time. One hour at a time if necessary.
I’ll pray for you.
Do you run competitively? What’s you record for the mile?
at www.opusdei.org you will find an email address. send them a note and see if they have a house in Syracuse.
I’ve been there. Overcoming this sin was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life, specifically because it was ingrained in me as “ok” at such an early age (my Catholic school taught this, no less!). Anyway, you can imagine my surprise when I finally read the Catechism and discovered I’d been persisting in grave sin for years. By this point, I was thoroughly addicted.
When I told my confessor, he gave me the advice to avail myself to the Blessed Mother, who has a special concern for all her children struggling with addiction. You said that you already pray the rosary, which is wonderful, but I found quite often that praying the rosary while I was feeling tempted didn’t help at all. Why? Because at that time, we are idle and doing something repetitive. It is so easy for your mind to wander back to the things that tempt you. I found it was far better to say a quick prayer to our Blessed Mother, and then pray for help finding something to do to keep my mind off of the temptation.
In dealing with this sin my understanding of grace, forgiveness, and sin had to grow. At the beginning of my struggle, I would stumble and fall often. The problem was, rather than picking myself back up and continuing with the race, I would say to myself “Well, I’ve done it once already, so I’m gonna have to go to confession. I might as well do it again”. This is a terrible way to fight an addiction, let me tell you! Because whatever progress you have made since your last confession is wiped out. It’s easy to think that way, but it’s not a good understanding of mortal sin.
First, and you may have heard this plenty of times before, remember that 3 conditions have to be met to make a sin mortal.
1-it must be grave matter.
2-you must know it’s grave matter.
3-you have to engage in the sin with full willingness.
Point #3 is the ray of hope. Addiction can lessen your willingness to engage in this act, which means that even if you fall, don’t automatically assume you are no longer in a state of Grace. Don’t automatically assume therefore that nothing you do can damage your relationship with God any further, since you’ve already cut Him off completely.
There is also something I didn’t realize about mortal sin until after I had “overcome” this addiction (I put that in quotes because I am still strongly tempted from time to time, but God be praised, I haven’t given in). Even if we fall into mortal sin, a sincere intention to go to confession at the next possible opportunity is enough to pull us out of that sin. Often times I had the problem of going to confession on Saturday night, sinning on, say, Monday (I was usually able to hold out that long, if only so I could receive the Eucharist on Sunday). I’d then have the rest of the week to face before Confession came around again. To my way of thinking, for that week I was in a state of mortal sin. But this wasn’t the case. If we are sincerely sorry, intend to go to confession as soon as possible (and do go), we have been forgiven from the moment we repented, not the moment we received absolution. This is why the Churchs says that for serious reason, a person who has sinned without going to confession may receive the Eucharist, so long as they intend to go to confession as soon as possible.
One final thing I would like to suggest is how to deal with the things that may enter your mind when you are tempted to masturbate. With myself, even if I did not look at pornography, the images in my head were still pornographic (or at least very sensual). Allowing those thoughts to play on was usually what led me to the sin. If this is how you are usually tempted, try steering your thoughts in a different direction. If you envisage a beautiful woman, fantasize not about her body, but perhaps her feelings. Think about having a conversation with her, about her hopes, dreams, fears, etc (although you have to kind of have a really active imagination for this). If you can humanize her, it becomes more difficult to use her as an object of pleasure.
I will pray for your continuing struggle. The last thing I will leave you with is the teaching of the Church on the sin of masturbation, from the Catechism. You may have read this before, but just in case I thought I’d post it. It is a firm message, but one filled with hope for those struggling:
By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. "Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action."138 “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of "the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved."139
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.
I give you credit for posting this question. I also struggled for years with this. It wasn’t until I sought God’s grace that I overcame it (sounds like you are well on that path, I have been blessed, I guess- but just encouragement that it can be done).
2 points to consider-
*I read on another thread to place a crucifix in a room where you are tempted- look at Jesus dying on the cross for you when you are about to sin. It may help you over come this battle.
*there is a book (protestant author)- can’t remember the title exactly (“Spiritual battle every man must fight”- something like this)- it is a popular book- you’d find it at any Christian bookstore. It is an easy read and has some good tips (chastity of the eyes, etc…) Of course read it from a Catholic viewpoint.
I wish you the best. Keep going to confession. I will say a prayer for you.
I’ve found that going to daily Mass gives me strength against this temptation. I consider this the most important thing I do for myself every day.
I’ve also recognized that the times that temptation is most difficult to overcome is when I’ve “latched on” to the thoughts (especially sensual). Our minds generate thoughts constantly, it was meant to do so and we do not always have control over the nature of our thoughts. I try to recognize when I’ve latched on and then think of something else. We can only think of one thing at a time and we can probably redirect our thoughts toward something else. Again the sooner we recognize this the better.
I think we men get bombarded by Lust every day in many, many ways. I’m not an expert in the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, but the particular examen may be of help.
Also, you may want to consider praying the Liturgy of the hours (see www.liturgyhours.org) especially morning and evening prayer each day. This is the prayer of the church and is yet another way to unite ourselves with one another throughout the world. The Psalms are so full of wonderful images and prayers!
Even with all these tools, intense sexual desire may pummel you with an intensity of immense force. Turn to Jesus and remember His passion and death for you. Eventually the feelings will pass.
These feelings can be used for the good of the Kingdom as it is closely related to our God given gift of creativity. Our desire then would not be to “get rid of” this desire, but to respond to His grace and serve Him and direct them according to His will
Peace be to you in this struggle.
Thank you everyone. The Church that I was confessing in is not my home parish; the only reason why I was going there for confession is because it was more convenient with my work schedule. The priest at my home parish has been much, much, much more helpful and I don’t feel damned every time I walk out of there. I have come up with the conclusion that I cannot go to confession at that church anymore, I always feel horrible when I leave there. Chris C. I ran Cross-Country competitively in High School, now I just run for enjoyment and exercise, which helps fight temptation. I was a medium paced runner; my best mile time was 5:15. Some people mentioned praying to St. Maria Goretti, the funny thing is that I have been praying to her every night for over a year. Here is her prayer: “Heroic and Angelic Saint Maria Goretti, we kneel before you to honor your preserving fortitude and beg your gracious aid. Teach us a deep love for the precepts of our Holy Church; help us to see in them the very voice of our Father in heaven. May we preserve without stain our white baptismal robe of innocence. May we who have lost this innocence kneel humbly in Holy Penance; and with the absolution of the priest may the torrent of Christ’s precious Blood flow into our souls and give us new courage to carry the burning light of God’s love through the dangerous highways of this life until Christ our King shall call us to the courts of heaven.” Even the prayer seems to allude to frequent confession. I also pray to St. Anne, St. Lucy, St. Agatha, St. Agnes, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. John the Baptist, and of course; St. Augustine. With regards to St. Anne, the old saying goes, “If mother says ‘no’ then ask grandmother.”
I found this article insightful:
Since I began confessing this sin, every priest I’ve been to has encouraged me to keep coming back to confession. No judgment and no harsh words from them.
It is not something most of us “grow out of”, and with society as it is, we are one mouse click or one magazine away from the “near occasion of sin”.
So we do the best we can. That is all we can do.
I sent you a message because my story is very personal, and I did not want any content to cause this thread to close.
This subject is more widespread problem than most people think.
All I will say is that, Grace, Prayer, and keeping busy are important.
Put good things in your mind and memory than such things that decay the mind to death.
Go with God!
I guess the goal is to come to the realization of how boring sin is. We have to relearn how to recognize the reverberations within our own soul. In these times it’s difficult to even know what we like and what we don’t like. And so we are paralyzed; frozen.
The answer might not be ‘to avoid’ but to confront. Again, watch the David Lynch films: sin away with them (since the difference isn’t clear to you), stike ‘God’ in the face with them (he may be asking you to). Watch “Blue Velvet” and “Wild at Heart” and “Mulholland Drive”.