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Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, one of the two highest Marian feast days in the Catholic Church. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception confirms and clarifies that, through a special privilege of God, Mary was free from original sin from the moment of her conception. This makes our Blessed Mother a powerful symbol of purity for a world that has lost its way.

These days, it’s difficult for the average person to remain pure with all the sexual images, messages and inuendos thrown in our faces at every turn. I, like you, have to guard my eyes and ears nearly every second of the day to avoid impure messages that attempt to infiltrate my mind when I’m just going about my daily business. For example, there is an electronic billboard on my way to the grocery store that flashes a dry cleaner’s ad with the slogan “Drop your pants, here.” It’s accompanied by a photograph of a man’s legs with shirt tails barely covering his groin area and his pants down around his ankles. It’s not the most lacivious ad I’ve ever seen, but you know what? I don’t need that in my face!

We all know how bad it can get with TV commercials, suggestive song lyrics, crude jokes and the galling audacity of television shows and Hollywood films that show unadulterated graphic sex and sexual situations. But probably the most difficult battle we face is the fight against pornography. Men and women alike struggle with this; even adolescents and teens are succumbing to addictions to pornography. I knew someone some time ago who was open about regularly viewing pornography and when I asked why he—a self-proclaimed Christian—was okay with it, he simply said, “Hey. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” I was so sad that, even though he knew it was wrong, he just stopped trying altogether and gave in to it. This leads me to write something I really want to share with you, especially if you are struggling with sins against purity… It’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received in spiritual direction.

I was struggling mightily with various sins and was so discouraged with myself because, although my intentions were good, I kept failing. I actually began to mock myself whenever I tried to renew my intent to overcome these particular sins, telling myself, “You’re a hypocrite. Don’t even try because you’re just going to fail.”

That’s when my spiritual director said, “We’re all hypocrites! We all struggle! Struggling is pleasing to God because He see’s you’re trying. Pride is what makes you feel discouraged and makes you feel like you shouldn’t put forth any effort. Forget your pride. Do your best, and when you fall, don’t beat yourself up. Just get up, ask God for the grace to be better, and try again. That’s what God wants.”

That’s great news for anyone who is struggling with sin, especially sins against purity. It’s so easy to feel a) like a hypocrite, and b) like you’re the only one struggling. As if everyone else seems to have their life in order but you. But don’t believe that. Fighting the good fight means you will fall at times, just like everyone else.

This is a great reason to get to know and understand Mary better. You might think of her as some distant historical figure you can’t relate to, but you’d be amazed at how Mary relates to you. True, she was perfect. But, she still had a free will and lived in a sinful society just as you do today. She struggled with confusion and disappointment just as you do. She knew what it was like to be hungry, lonely, scared and frustrated. Mary faced the very real possibility of being divorced by her betrothed spouse. After Joseph died, she was a single parent, working hard to make sure Jesus had what he needed while he was home with her. She understands you because during her life, she experienced many of the same joys and endured many of the same sufferings and hardships that you do.

So, embrace your heavenly mother! Make a special effort to follow her closely through this Advent season and really get to know her better. And when your struggle to be pure seems overwhelming, here is a wonderful, quick prayer you can say to invoke her protection and assistance:

My Queen and my Mother, I give myself entirely to you and in proof of my affection, I give you my eyes, my ears, my tongue, my heart, my whole being without reserve. Since I am your own, keep me and guard me as your property and possession. Amen.

Count on my prayers for you and as always, you can reach me at asklisa@catholicmatch.com.

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18 Comments

  1. Jay-1033664 December 9, 2013

    Love God and your significant other 100%. (love even your potential significant others for those who are single). Be free of Satan’s #1 bondage. That is true freedom. We need to pray for true freedom from bondage. Cut off sin at the root. Chop it, cut it, purge it, scalp it!

  2. James-987756 December 9, 2013

    THIS IS SO BEATIFULL AND TRUE

  3. Esther-532964 December 10, 2013

    Excellent article. Thank you for writing it. That is a very nice prayer too. I wrote it down so I can pray it. Many blessing! Esther

  4. Mark-966538 December 10, 2013

    Thank you very much for the wonderful advice and encouragement, Lisa. It is valuable to be reminded that we need to pick ourselves up and start again after we fall, and to never give up working toward our goal.

  5. Timothy-421869 December 10, 2013

    I can only hope and pray, that my greatest failings my someday turn into triumphs!

  6. Gerard-Marie Anthony December 10, 2013

    Great article Lisa!!! It’s always important to remember that Mary is our mother and loves us with a pure love and sees us not just for our faults and failings, but always as her children. God bless and keep shining Christ!

  7. Eric-929127 December 10, 2013

    I don’t know if it was a local case or on the national stage. Just caught the end of the story. But recently I heard that it is now legal to watch pornography at the public library. Whatever our individual sins are. It doesn’t help that law makers are letting it go too far.

    Sometimes it helps when our actions carry with them some sort of stigma.

    Just my abreviated thoughts on the subject. Don’t want to hijack your post today. I’m starting to realize that as of right now I’m not quite worthy.

    So I think I’ll take a moment instead for a prayer to Mary.

  8. Johnson-472247 December 10, 2013

    I always pray for protection from Pornography. It strengthens me and helps keep me from giving in to temptation.

  9. Paul-1037933 December 10, 2013

    we’re fighting against a supernatural enemy, the devil, and human structures of sin, e.g. pornographic websites and the whole smut industry. But God’s grace is stronger. So lets count on the supernatural weapons: sacraments, esp daily communion in holy mass, frequent confession, personal prayer, and daily holy rosary ( i found out it’s just 15-20minutes!); and also the human means, like being busy with work, charity, installing web filters, regular talks to a spiritual director, etc. There’s an old Persian saying: Trust in God, but tie up your camel.

  10. Vanessa-503762 December 10, 2013

    This is a great read. Truly a solid reminder and inspiration. :)

  11. Sarah-550187 December 10, 2013

    Great article! Thank you :)

  12. Sam-5269 December 10, 2013

    Yes, excellent article. Pride and shame go hand in hand with this temptation. Thanks for putting it in perspective!

  13. Anya-974452 December 10, 2013

    Thank you for such a great article. It is sad how many marriages suffer because of the infidelity of one spouse who gives into the grave sin of pornography. Just last year, my Pastor stated that pornography is the #1 industry in the world today and boasts an 800 million (yes, you read that right, 800 million) in sales and whatnot. Sad… Even sadder than marriages that suffer from this are the Twin Hearts of Our Lord and Our Lady. How offended they are when man gives into such animalistic tendencies.

  14. Julie-631165 December 10, 2013

    Thanks for the post! the Immaculate Conception is such an amazing thing to learn more about. I recently read a reflection by John Paul II about the Immaculate Conception. In it JPII says that our struggle with ourselves and our sin is no main focus, but THE MEANS TO THE AIM, which is LOVE. JPII also pointed out that even though Mary was without sin, she still struggled in her journey towards holiness, but in a different way. The bottom line is that the gift of Jesus and the motherhood of Mary we have person who are compassionate towards us in our struggle with sin and love us perfectly. Praise the Lord!

  15. Bill-304473 December 11, 2013

    When I read the article I could relate to the failing and never giving up.. Whenever I make an act of contrition and get to the line ‘I will sin no more and avoid the near occasions of sin’, I think of how I know I’ll commit some sin in such a short time after mass. As is said, never give up and think ‘if you can’t beat him, join him’. Keep trying. Good article

  16. Dominic-981542 December 11, 2013

    That was nice reading Lisa , thank you .

  17. Joseph-240565 December 12, 2013

    Hebrews 2

    16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

    17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

    18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

  18. Pierre-1003970 December 12, 2013

    If Jesus knew you would get through your weakness by yourself, He would have never bothered to come to Earth and die. So be humble, and ask for His help.

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