The struggle for perfection


#1

Hello, all.

I’m new to the forum. I’m 20 years old, a second year university student, and am discerning with the Dominican friars (hence my username.)

I carry, among others, the cross of same sex attraction. It’s never been a big deal for me, just a vocation to a celibate life.

I struggle. It is such a struggle. I used to look at pornography and masturbate regularly. For the past few weeks I’ve been totally chaste. I’ve been so happy, but I’ve been struggling so much.

When I relieve the tension through masturbation, and also adding pornography, I usually don’t feel lustful feelings and such things for a few days, until I need to do it again. However I do feel a lot of shame and remorse that I’ve sinned.

I’ve finally decided that I’m done being remorseful for something I don’t have to do in the first place. However, being a few weeks into it, I’m finding that each day I’m more and more focused on exactly what I can’t do. I’m not only questioning my decision not to masturbate, but my vocation to celibacy all together. I’m so tense. I get angry quickly. Emotional songs make me cry. I’m a mess. I’m also experiencing more intense crushes on guys, which is totally not fun.

Do any of you who are struggling with sexual purity feel this way? How do you deal with it?


#2

Welcome to CAF, glad to have you here with us.
Praying for you to overcome your temptations. I suggest you speak with a Priest, he will be able to give you the proper guidance & direction needed.


#3

Congratulations on making it as long as you have. It may be worth seeing if you can find a counselor to help you with these emotional issues (you may start by talking to your priest, he may be able either to give you advice or to point you torwards a counselor who won’t give you morally unsound advice - I suspect a priest on a university campus has dealt with these sorts of issues before). My first thought - and to be clear, this is only a thought and not anything more than what this sounds like to me, a person with no knowledge or training beyond the ability to use google (so take it with huge brick of salt) - is that this sounds like almost like withdrawal symptoms, and a quick google search seems to confirm that your situation is not uncommon. But again, this is just a thought, and whether or not it has any value or not, it probably would make sense to try to find someone you can discuss this stuff in person with who is knowledgable on the subject.

In any case, you will be in my prayers. Congratulations again on your perseverance - it’s not easy - and good luck with your discernment as well.


#4

I’m not sure where you live, but if it is available in your diocese there is a ministry of the Church called “Courage”. It is an apostolate of the Roman Catholic Church of support groups for those suffering from same sex attraction and/or their families and loved ones. I know the apostolate exists in the Diocese of Phoenix, and may where you are as well. They have a website: www.couragerc.org.

May God bless you and keep you as you carry your cross.
Kris


#5

Hi DiscerningDom.

You mentioned questioning your calling to celibacy. Maybe you’ve read the Catechism on this already, but in case you haven’t I’d like to mention the section on chastity: vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm

Note the emphasis it gives to ALL baptized Christians being called to chastity.

2339 Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: **either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.**126 "Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end."127

2340 Whoever wants to remain faithful to his baptismal promises and resist temptations will want to adopt the means for doing so: self-knowledge, practice of an ascesis adapted to the situations that confront him, obedience to God’s commandments, exercise of the moral virtues, and fidelity to prayer. "Indeed it is through chastity that we are gathered together and led back to the unity from which we were fragmented into multiplicity."128

2341 The virtue of chastity comes under the cardinal virtue of temperance, which seeks to permeate the passions and appetites of the senses with reason.

2342 Self-mastery is a long and exacting work. One can never consider it acquired once and for all. It presupposes renewed effort at all stages of life.129 The effort required can be more intense in certain periods, such as when the personality is being formed during childhood and adolescence.

2343 Chastity has laws of growth which progress through stages marked by imperfection and too often by sin. "Man . . . day by day builds himself up through his many free decisions; and so he knows, loves, and accomplishes moral good by stages of growth."130

2344 Chastity represents an eminently personal task; it also involves a cultural effort, for there is "an interdependence between personal betterment and the improvement of society."131 Chastity presupposes respect for the rights of the person, in particular the right to receive information and an education that respect the moral and spiritual dimensions of human life.

2345 Chastity is a moral virtue. It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort.132 The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ.133

It might be more helpful to you to think upon these lines. Many married people, though they indeed have companionship, still struggle with chastity all their lives. Though marriage indeed can be chosen by those who “burn with passion” as St. Paul says, the virtue of chastity is not ultimately going to be gained by anyone through the mere presence of a lawful “release” or “outlet”. It is gained by self-mastery, by the grace of God, by prayer. I am a single, non-SSA man who has never had the companionship of a woman, and I don’t know if I ever shall. I, too, am called to chastity. I have not found any peace when I have given into my passions.

Someone recommended the “Courage” apostolate - I hope one is near you. May God be with you. And please, bring this to a priest! Arrange an appointment for a longer confession if you must! He has the training and grace of state to help you much better than we on Catholic Answers Forums can.

Finally, you’ve probably heard of this already if you’re discerning with the Dominicans, but please consider enrolling in the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, which is one of their apostolates. It’s specifically oriented towards developing chastity and fighting impurity. angelicwarfareconfraternity.org/


#6

I second this. I’m in the Angelic Warfare Confraternity and it’s awesome! Not magic, it doesn’t make your desires just go away, but such a powerful help. You can join it and still try all the other methods (I particularly recommend distraction -when you have sexual thoughts, distract yourself with something completely different, preferably both mentally and physically exhausting, rather than sitting there thinking ‘don’t think about sex, don’t think about sex, don’t think about sex.’!). Putting your chastity under the protection of St. Thomas rocks. Do it! :smiley:


#7

Look over at the Moral Theology page here. It seems every other post has to do with some sexual sin or another. Our society is saturated in this nowadays.

But you are doing a wise thing, particularly at an age when concupiscence of this type is always very strong. Have you a spiritual director? If not, you ought to find one. It seems you are on the cusp of moving to a deeper and more experiential understanding of exactly what ascetic theology is.

Remember always that what is at the root of Christian perfection is love, and that the ideal to which you should always be moving, always desiring to conform with all your powers, both natural and supernatural, is Jesus Christ himself. St. Bernard once said, “An unflagging zeal for advancing and a continual struggle for perfection is itself perfection.” Meditate on that a little.

God bless.


#8

I “third” the Angelic Warfare Confraternity. Like Batfink said, it’s no magic spell, but it has helped me immensely in “the struggle for perfection” :thumbsup:


#9

One tip that helped me coquer the lustful urges comes straight from the Bible. In Matthew 6:22 it says, “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.” So what that says to me is avoid seeing things that make you think about sexual stuff. No more R-rated movies or looking at magazines that show partial nudity. Remind yourself that people were not made for your personal gratification and you have no right to view them in that way. It worked for me anyways, 10 months without masturbation or any serious issues with lustful thinking. That’s saying something for a 22 year old man. Praised be to God!


#10

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