A Message From Father Tom
Safe Haven Sunday 2021 – Overcoming the Pornography Pandemic
What is your earliest memory? Most of our early days are pretty fuzzy in our minds – perhaps a particular moment or impression remains, but the vast majority of it is unrecoverable. Yet our brains were at work; every experience shapes us, even if we have no clear recollection of it. Research into Alzheimer’s disease suggests that when we remember something, we do not simply play the same tape, over and over, from a single source. Rather, every remembrance creates a new memory trace, so that what we think about often becomes most enduring in our minds … a larger storehouse of neural connections, as it were, so by sheer volume, these things remain longer in our minds. What enters our brains most often and is etched there by repetition goes far in shaping our personality and experience of life – the kind of fruit we bear, as Jesus puts it.
On Safe Haven Sunday, we focus on the spiritual and social health crisis caused by pornography in our culture. It is now among the early memories of many, even children as young as 7 or 8. It is pervasive, heavily commercialized, and toxic to body and soul. It is a moral wrong and a social scourge that blinds us to our full dignity as children of God. Unlike earlier times, it is now available anywhere, anytime, on mobile devices, invading our homes which are meant to be safe havens from the evils that plague our world. This past year, the COVID pandemic has drawn our lives increasingly into technology for work, school, entertainment, and passing time. Sadly, an increase in pornography has predictably followed.
While each human person is made in the very image of God, pornography in any form intentionally makes a “god of the image,” becoming our master if we give it that power. It poisons the way we view the gift of human sexuality. It engraves coarseness and profound disrespect for others in our society and all too often leads to addictions, loss of self-esteem, exploitation, even crime. It damages relationships and the capacity for true maturity and self-determination. Viewing people as objects to consume rather than persons to respect, care for, and love never brings us happiness or peace. There is simply no upside to pornography – it bears only rotten fruits.
The Off button remains our best response to a virtual world where so much content can easily lead us to sinful habits that undermine our dignity and that of others. There is also help both to resist the lure of pornography and to heal from its effects. A link to key resources is listed below.
Whatever an individual’s past, there can be a better future. Habits and addictions do not yield easily, but the sacrament of Penance with a sincere desire to change; a healthy prayer life; and constructive and life-giving ways to fill our leisure and undo our stress are all time-proven helps. Secrecy, shame, and despair are works of darkness; Jesus invites us into truth, freedom, and light, and can turn us from the “god of the image” to know the dignity of being made in the image of God as we make our way to the place prepared for us in the Father’s House, our truest and lasting Safe Haven in the presence of God.
At the heart of the Eucharist are the words of Jesus: “Do this in memory of Me.” As we share in the Eucharist, we do not just repeat an old ritual, playing the same tape over and over. Rather, we encounter Jesus himself, reaching out to us each time to make a new connection, sharing with us the love that sets us free.
For more information and links to many resources, go to https://stcdio.org/pornography/.