A Good Confession
I went over to our local diocesan centre today and asked to speak to a priest for confession. The only one available was a retired priest in residence, and we met in the chapel.
It was an unusual yet very rewarding experience. He spent a lot of time with me, and promised me his prayers in my struggle against internet porn.
One thing he said really stuck with me: these ladies I "adore" - using the word in the sense of its Latin origins "to pray to", implying I am expecting something from the object of my adoration - cannot fill any of my needs. True adoration must be directed towards God alone; only God can provide what I really need. These women, flawless in their shallow beauty, will only disrupt my perception of the deep beauty my wife exudes. In short, he said, these porn stars need prayer. They are people. Real people. They have parents, they have siblings, they have friends, and most of all, they are the object of God's attentive affection, no matter how much they reject it.
He didn't just give me a few tidbits of encouragement; he spent over half an hour with me, digging and digging, with words of wisdom aimed where they would do the most good.
He was also hard of hearing, which meant I had to list my sins quite loudly in that private chapel, which was a humbling experience.
He recognized the role the computer has in this type of temptation, and said he had learned that since computers act in terms of YES and NO, of 1 and 0, when the initial search is made for online porn, when that electronic pulse from the mouse click or the keyboard is sent, that is the moment the sin occurs.
And yet in all his recognition of the gravity of the sin, he never once made me feel rejected or unworthy. He welcomed me to the sacrament, and encouraged me to come back frequently, saying that was how I would defeat this temptation. In fact, he was the first priest I've ever heard say that it could be defeated. Most priests have simply said that we all struggle, the key is to keep trying, worrying about it makes it worse, etc. None of those statements are untrue, but also none are really helpful. He didn't try to justify it or explain it away. He called sin sin.
He also recommended I read Deus Caritas Est, and is the first priest I've ever heard do so - I consider that to be a remarkable statement. I think I've found my new favorite confessor.