From the Pastor: Safe Haven Sunday Approaches
I cannot say enough good things about this program encouraged by our Bishop and the accompanying resources available from dosp.org. The following is straight from the Diocese of St. Petersburg website. “The family home is to be a safe haven. But the inappropriate use of technology in the home deprives it of this role and is the greatest threat to the sanctity of marriages and families today. Pornography and other online threats are often one click away, and parents can feel overwhelmed with not knowing how to best protect their children in our fast-paced digital world. The weekend of February 13-14, 2021, the Diocese of St. Petersburg is taking another bold step to help families by celebrating our third, diocesan-wide Safe Haven Sunday. This awareness day will provide access to practical resources that any caring adult can use to protect themselves and our young people from online risks.”
Ask any good, solid, church-going Catholic parent if pornography is a problem. Unlike their worldly friends, schoolmates, and co-workers who think pornography is simply a harmless diversion, instructional, a “manly” thing to engage in, or even a “means of women exerting power over men,” they will answer, “Absolutely. One of the worst problems today.” But then ask them if it is a problem in their house and they will answer, “Of course not.” They are, after all, good, solid, church-going Catholics. They would never admit to having a problem themselves and, if they are parents, will adamantly deny that their children would ever engage in viewing (or producing) such filth.
Catholics have their heads in the sand on this topic. Ask any priest who hears confessions. It used to be only men who got addicted to porn. Now it is also the women. It infects, afflicts, and damages both males and females, although it is still more prevalent among males. Now it is extremely widespread among children from Junior High up. It used to be difficult to obtain. Now it is hard to avoid it even when attempts are made to block it out. It is even more difficult to break away from it once it is found, fed upon and digested, imitated with self and/or others, and habitually sought out in ever more vivid details. It is demonic beyond most people’s wildest imaginations. Ask anyone who is trying to quit. Is it easier to give up smoking or porn? Porn. Cocaine or porn? Porn. Spousal abuse or porn? Porn. I know of no other addiction which gets so deep into man’s (in the traditional use of that word) body and soul and clings so tenaciously. And I can think of no other addiction which is so widespread. Yet, as I stated above, good, solid, church-going Catholics give their children 24-hours-a-day access to this filth via smartphones and computers and somehow convince themselves that their children will not do what they themselves would have found far too tempting to resist when they were young. Worse, many of the parents and grandparents are themselves addicted and don’t want to let it be known that they are even aware of porn’s existence or prevalence so they do nothing to protect other family members from engaging in this evil. Did I mention yet that just viewing pornography is a mortal sin? Yes, even if you do not do any of the physical stimulation that generally accompanies it. Commandments numbers 6 and 9 are broken directly, plus others indirectly when one purposefully engages in such “free speech” media.
Fortunately, though difficult to break, this addiction can be conquered! After all, if it is demonic, which I have already stated that I believe it is, the Church has the proper weapons to fight the battle. Of course, stopping yourself and--especially--the young ones from ever engaging in this deadly activity in the first place is the best thing to do. Protecting everybody from online, TV, movie, book, and other porn media heavyweights is easier than fighting the battle once you have made friends with the enemy! Don’t let satan get a foothold in your eyes, mind, soul, and body. There are many bits of help available on the diocesan webpage. Go to http://www.dosp.org/freedom-from-porn to find resources for counselors, advice, programs, and so much more to help you resist, fight and heal, and even to help you love, help, and cope with an addicted spouse or child who just can’t seem to give it up.
Do not underestimate the power of the Sacraments in this battle! But, at the same time, do not pretend that they are magic, either. Recognize and acknowledge your sin, repent, and go to confession. Having ascertained that you are in a state of grace, fast, attend Mass, and receive Holy Communion often. But physically do something more. Get rid of the literally damnable items which brought porn into your life or house in the first place. Cancel cable and all movie sources if you cannot resist watching porn even if it is branded as something “innocent,” or “soft,” or “normal.” Swap a smartphone for a flip phone. Throw the computer in the trash. Have someone put a blocker on the phone and computer that you “absolutely must have.” No amount of recreation, communication, or business necessitating those devices is worth going to hell for. None. Confide in your parents, in your spouse, or in your adult children if you need help. Do whatever it takes to get “sober” again or to keep others out of this trouble. All the while continue availing yourself of prayer and the sacraments. Rinse and repeat as needed.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka