Internet Pornography: Practical means of avoiding the near occasion of this sin


What are means of purifying the mind of pornographic images?

So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive
mercy and favor and to find help in time of need.
” (Hebrews 4:16)

   Sacraments – One of the most effective means for
         transformation are the sacraments

   •  Sacrament of reconciliation

      o Reveals the true nature both of sin and
      o Sanctity does not lead to self-deception, but
      o Another formative aspect of confession of sin
         is that it brings us into communion not only with
         God, but with people as a church.
       o Pope Benedict stated in his Catechesis on the Apostles: "communion" is truly the
          Good News, the remedy given to us by the Lord to fight the loneliness that threatens
          everyone today

   •  Eucharist

      o Holy communion augments our union with Christ
      o Holy Communion separates us from sin
      o Holy Communion strengthens our charity
      o The Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins

   Sacred Scripture

  • Another means of helping to rid our minds of pornographic images is
    taking time to read and memorize Scripture every day
  • There is a free download resource available from the Family Life Center at

          o Different Scripture passage appears with each computer start up
          o Pure Mind Scripture Memory Kits are also available for persons struggling to find
             freedom from pornography

      *  Each card has Scripture verses which can be memorized to purify the
      *  There are about 20 cards per set which fit in the pocket for
             approximately $4.00 each

   Additional means of purifying the imagination

   •  Custody of the external senses
   •  Prudent selection of reading material
   •  Attention to the duty of the moment
   •  Indifference to distractions

   Additional means of purifying the memory

   •  Forge forward from past sins or offenses against others
   •  Cease thinking of past injuries
   •  Remember the benefits you have received from God
   •  Consideration of the hope for your own salvation

   Exercise ascetical principles

   •  Formation of the will leads to self-control, self-discipline
   •  Fast and abstinence
   •  Spiritual reading
   •  Lectio Divina
   •  Recollection
   •  Acquisition of the virtues

      o Moral
      o Theological
      o Little Virtues


   •  Beg Our Lord for purity
   •  Pray the Hail Mary
   •  Ask friends to pray for you on your trip
   •  Ask a contemplative religious order to pray for you daily in their intentions


   •  Hold onto a crucifix while in bed and say a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
   •  Pray the rosary while in bed, holding onto the beads
   •  When staying at a motel, ask desk clerk to disconnect the cable for Internet pornography

   Avoid both the remote and approximate occasions of sin

   •  Move the computer to an open location
   •  Destroy any pornography literature, magazines, videos, CDs, DVDs or games that are
         sources of sexual temptation
   •  Install an Internet filter
   •  Filtering software features include

      o Blocking offensive and objectionable websites
      o Selectively blocking Instant Messaging, Internet Chat and more
      o Determining when and how long the Internet can be used
      o Creating lists of websites that will always be allowed or blocked
      o Selecting different levels of blocking for each user
      o Recording when inappropriate or personal material is posted to MySpace, Facebook, etc
      o Blocking file sharing and other programs that can compromise security and privacy
      o Giving instant alerts via phone, text or e-mail when the user tried to bypass the filter
      o Allowing the appropriate use of YouTube but blocks objectionable videos
      o Filters and accountability software for cell phones, iPods, Playstations (contact your cell
         phone carrier to inquire about available “control” bundles)

   •  Create accountability measures

      o Accountability software

          * Takes away the anonymity of Internet pornography and replaces it with accountability
          * Cost for software $7.99/month and add $1.50/month for the filter
          * Covenant Eyes and Safe Eyes are both excellent programs

      o The software tool is intended to help persons who want to bring their Internet use “into
         the light”
      o Includes a trusted friend, pastor, spouse who is equally committed to helping with the
         goal of filtering out undesirable material

   •  If you must go online for legitimate purposes

      o Prioritize the online tasks that need to be performed during each Internet session
      o Before logging onto the Internet, prepare a list of specific tasks that need to be
         accomplished online and stick to that list as you use the Internet.

         A simple task list might look like the following:

          * Check e-mail using MS Outlook Express
          * Send file attachment to a co-worker using MS Outlook Express
          * Process vendor orders on for a new project at work
          * Look up real-time stock quotes on

   Accountability groups

   •  St. Joseph’s Freedom Groups (existing groups can be found at or by calling
   •  Sexaholics Anonymous

   Place sacred pictures, Scripture passages in your living environment

   • Post Scripture passages/holy images in key places (e.g. computer, monitor,
          bedroom, bathroom, office)
   • Play or sing spiritual songs at home to help protect you and help you focus
         on God
   •  Tune your radio and TV to Christian stations or turn them off
   •  Listen to tapes/DCs, read books that encourage your efforts at purity
   •  Invest in wholesome videos/DVDs – this can be a challenge but they do exist
   •  Make time for rest

      o Physical rest
      o Also a Sabbath day for spiritual renewal to refocus on God

   Learn how to establish healthy boundaries and develop healthy relationships

   •  Develop friendships which strive for a mutual growth in Christian virtue
   •  Avoid friendships based mainly on sensuality, sentiments or that negatively influence
   •  Exhibit genuine modesty in matters of dress and behavior

   Healthy leisure


   Try to identify the weaknesses or shortcomings which give an opening to the temptation

   •  Self-knowledge is always key to affective maturity and a life of virtue
   •  When beginning to fantasize, ask yourself

      o What does this fantasy mean?

      * What am I feeling?
      * Am I sad, lonely, afraid or what?

      o Take responsibility for your problems

      * Stop blaming others
      * Instead of manipulating others to get your needs met, learn to ask for what
         you need directly

      o Seek out a counselor, formator, spiritual director or confessor

      * For constructive and guiding advice
      * Who is willing to confront old behaviors if they recur

   •  Key to this process is honesty


   The above steps may have to be repeated several times before the temptation

   •  It requires persistence and resolve to stop giving into lustful thoughts.
   •  When we repeatedly exercise our “spiritual muscles”

      o We grow stronger in using our free will
      o Making it easier to resist the next temptations we face

   Helpful Websites for Internet pornography addiction

   • – Resources for Catholic fathers

   •  National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families

   •  Porn No More

   •  Pure Intimacy

   •  True Knights

   •  Catholic Culture

   •  Pure Warrior

   •  Saint Augustine Men's Purity Group

   Additional Resources

   •  Bought With a Price, Pastoral Letter, Bishop Paul S. Loverde

   •  Blessed are the Pure in Heart, Pastoral Letter, Bishop Robert W. Finn

   •  Pornography, Electronic Media and Priestly Formation, Sister Marysia Weber, R.S.M., D.O.

   •  Pure Manhood, Jason Evert – Catholic Answers

   •  Breaking Free 12 Steps to Sexual Purity for Men, Stephen Wood – Family Life Center

   •  Breaking Free Audio CD Series: Twelve Steps to Sexual Purity – Steve Wood; An Affair of
         the Mind
– Laurie Hall; The Healing Power of Confession – Scott Hahn;
         Family Life Center Publications

   •  Renewing the Mind of the Media A Statement on Overcoming the Exploitation of Sex and Violence in Communications, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

   •  Real Love Answering your questions on Dating, Marriage, and the Real Meaning of Sex,
         Mary Beth Bonacci – Ignatius Press

   •  The Pornography Plague CD – Jeff Cavins


Pope Benedict XVI renews the importance of maintaining a depth in our prayer and supplications so that we maintain a clear focus. “Our petition must not sink into superficiality; ...the central point is still ‘that we be freed from sins.’ That we recognize ‘evil’ as the quintessence of ‘evils,’ and that our gaze may never be diverted from the living God.” (Joseph Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazareth, p.168).

See also, "Internet Pornography: An occasion of sin for our time" by Sister Marysia Weber, R.S.M., D.O.


Sister Marysia Weber, R.S.M., D.O. "Internet Pornography: Practical means of avoiding the near occasion of this sin." Sacred Heart Mercy Health Care Center (March 1, 2010).

Published by permission of Sister Marysia Weber, R.S.M., D.O.


Sister Marysia Weber, R.S.M., D.O., a Religious Sister of Mercy of Alma, Michigan, is a physician certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. She completed her residency and a fellowship in consultation-liaison psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in 1989 and practices in her religious institute's multidisciplinary medical clinic, Sacred Heart Mercy Health Care Center. Her primary work includes assessing and treating seminary candidates, priests and religious. She has also offered numerous formation workshops on a variety of formation issues for U.S. Bishops, seminary formators and vocation directors. She presented to the U.S. Bishops in Dallas TX in 1992 on "Pedophilia and Other Addictions". She was a member of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse in 1994-1995. Sister Marysia has presented to the Curia, Vatican City State on "Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy in North America" in 2002.

Her publications include "Pornography, Electronic Media and Priestly Formation" in Homiletic and Pastoral Review, April 2008, and Significant Markers of Human Maturation Applied to the Selection and Formation of Seminarians in Seminary Journal, Spring 2009. Her paper, The Discernment of a Priestly Vocation and the Expertise of Psychiatry and Psychology will be published in Seminary Journal, Spring, 2010. Her paper, "The Age of Internet Technology in the Life of Seminary Candidates and the Diocesan Priesthood: Breaking Free from Internet Pornography Addiction" is pending publication.

Copyright © 2010 Sister Marysia Weber, R.S.M., D.O.

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