One of the keys to moving away from habitual sin is spending time daily with Scripture and in prayer. Most of us have heard this for years and our immediate response might be, “I don’t have time.” I felt this way 10 years ago. But I can tell you today, as I enjoy over three years of being free from pornography, if my day is crazy busy I still spend an hour with Scripture and in prayer every morning. Most days I spend an hour and a half! If you would have suggested that I could carve out this kind of time years ago I would have laughed.
During a parish retreat it was suggested that we read the daily Catholic readings since it would only take five to seven minutes per day. The presenter let us know that we could access the readings for the day on an app called “Laudate.” I went to the app store that evening after the retreat and downloaded the free app.
Becoming Aware of My “Danger Zones”
For me, one of the danger zones for acting out with pornography was in the morning shortly after I woke up. I thought to myself that if instead of masturbating I read the Liturgy of the Word I wouldn’t need any extra time. On the app, I found a wealth of resources in addition to the daily Scripture readings. This included info on the “Saint of the Day,” daily prayers, a daily mass video, and more.
Many of the resources I have accessed in order to avoid the habitual sins of pornography and masturbation have suggested identifying the danger zones and triggers for unwanted behaviors. Once these danger zones are identified, we then need to “clean house” and come up with healthier actions to replace the unhealthy ones.
Shortly after developing the habit of reading the daily Scripture readings, which literally took five minutes, I started reading the reflections about the readings. This only added 10 minutes to my daily discipline.
While the app prevented me from masturbating first thing in the morning, I would still fall at other times. My next danger zone was time in the shower. So I began listening to audio homilies when I showered, which helped me get through it without falling. And this didn’t cost me any more time in my day.
Here I was, taking in Scripture and reflecting on it first thing in the morning, but I was still falling at other times of the day. Unfortunately, with habitual masturbation, any time I had access to a bathroom, or at the height of my addiction, a private room, I could be in danger of falling. When I fell multiple times the day before, particularly at night before drifting off to sleep, my self-loathing often discouraged me from practicing my morning Scripture and prayer disciplines the next day.
Some years ago I discovered the “Rosary and Chaplet” feature on the app. Since I was having difficulty finding time to pray the rosary daily and was having major difficulty not masturbating before I fell asleep, I began listening to the Scriptural rosary on the app. This helped get me through that time without falling.
Trusting God’s Continual Grace
I would love to say that these daily practices of reading Scripture and praying when I woke up and went to sleep extricated me from the scourge of pornography and masturbation right away. That would be a lie. As I continued to fight my battle of addiction, my failings often times discouraged me enough that I stopped practicing these disciplines for a time. But, praise God, His grace repeatedly called me to come back and try again. These daily disciplines are an important part of my recovery from pornography and masturbation addiction.
If you’re struggling with pornography, masturbation, or both, I encourage you to start with baby steps. Even if you don’t think it’s doing any good, even if you don’t seem to be getting anything out of Scripture, give yourself the gift of the Liturgy of the Word every day. Isaiah reminds us, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
Thanks to God’s grace and his Word accomplishing His purpose, I’ve been free from pornography for over three years and, aside from only three slips, from masturbation for 10 months. I’m proof that God wants desperately to transform us and draw us close to His loving and merciful heart!
Jim Gorski is a 57-year-old father of four children who has been married to the same woman for 34 years. He completed his master’s degree in social work in 1984 and has directed church music groups for the past 39 years. He remains a grateful child of the most high God and strives to trust in God’s loving mercy and His ability to provide for Jim’s every need.