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John Winters wrote:

Hi, guys —

I'm 19-years-old and I'm addicted to pornography and masturbation. I'm praying the Rosary everyday but I can barely pass four days without consuming some porn. I went to Confession last week, but I sinned again after three days.

  • Should I go to Confession every time I fall?
  • Will I be annoying the priest or am I being too scrupulous?
  • Is it a mortal sin to go a long time without receiving Holy Communion?

John

  { How do I handle my sexual cravings and is it sinful to go a long time without receiving Communion? }

Bob replied:

John,

This is a difficult addiction to break, but you must make it a firm resolution to conquer it.

Go to Confession as frequently as you can . . . weekly would be good. (You can tell the priest you are struggling with this and he will know how to deal with it.)

It is not a sin to refrain from Holy Communion for long periods, but you should go to Communion after Confession, weekly if possible — for that is a source of ultimate grace, provided you are prepared for reception.

The Rosary may not be enough for you, though it is a powerful weapon. Fast, try staying off social media and television, and see if that improves your ability to stay sober. You must think of this like a drug addict and stay away from activities that get you triggered. Also, try adding in a daily Mass whenever possible.

If measures you take don’t help, you need different measures — never assume this is unbeatable. Remember Jesus said, if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out . . . (Matthew 18:9). He was making a point that you just can’t quit on the fight against sin as though there is nothing left to do. There are always options.

Victories are won by dozens of little battles. There are also lots of programs to help. Just search: "breaking porn addiction" for some help.

Remind yourself that you are too young to sell your life into slavery and God wants you to have freedom. This is true slavery. Think about it — how satan laughs when he has us crippled — don’t let him have that satisfaction!

God will help you, but He will also let you grow through this. When you are free, you will be free indeed.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Mike replied:

John,

My colleague Bob is correct on all points. I just wanted to add my two cents.

If we have been struggling in this area, it's best to refrain from receiving Holy Communion but instead say a Spiritual Communion:

Spiritual Communion

O Lord Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.
I love you (above all things with all my mind and my heart) and I long for You in my soul.
Since I cannot receive You now sacramentally, at least come spiritually into my heart.
I embrace myself entirely to You and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.

Optional add-on: Come Lord Jesus and glorify Yourself through my weak body.

Amen.

At times, this is what I do and because God is not bound to the sacraments, I ask Him to give me the same graces and strengths that I need to live in this world and culture as if I had received Him sacramentally that Sunday.

What is really needed in these situations is a good Spiritual Director but that can be very hard to find.

To my knowledge, the only precept or teaching of the Church on this issue is the third precept:

II. The Precepts Of The Church

2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:

2042 The first precept (You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canons 1246-1248; Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium, canons 881 § 1, § 2, § 4)

The second precept (You shall confess your sins at least once a year) ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism's work of conversion and forgiveness. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 989; Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium, canon 719)

The third precept (You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season) guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord's Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 920; Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium, canons 708; 881 § 3)

2043 The fourth precept (You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church) ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canons 1249-1251; Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium, canon 882)

The fifth precept (You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church) means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 222; Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium canon 25; Furthermore, episcopal conferences can establish other ecclesiastical precepts for their own territories (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 455))

The faithful also have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his own abilities. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 222)

That said, and I'm sure Bob would agree, you should be able to get to Confession on any Saturday or even by appointment if you call the rectory ahead of time so the third precept in your specific case is irrelevant.

You shouldn't have to worry about annoying the priest or being too scrupulous. The Bishops of the United States have recommended all families strive to get to Confession at least on a monthly basis. To avoid issues of scrupulosity, prepare the sins you have committed ahead of time and when confessing them, keep it simply!

I admire how conscientious you are of the reality (and holiness) of the Blessed Sacrament.

Kudos to you!!

Mike

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