A wonderful old book about the battle for chastity in an increasingly unchaste world is the timeless “The Difficult Commandment” (1925) by C.C. Martindale, S.J. This section is one of my favorites:
“Catholics have, besides Our Lady, a great patron for all that concerns purity: St. Aloysius Gonzaga. One of the most remarkable facts about him was that he became able to think of exactly what he pleased. When he wished to turn his mind off any subject, he could do so, and keep it off; and he could think without distraction of anything that he chose, and keep it up so long as he wished. Of course he could not do this without great practice, nor, I have no doubt without special help from God. But there are few men who succeed in getting such an extraordinary control over their thoughts and imagination. Still, you see it can be done.”
Almost from the day I got out of the gay lifestyle and the porn business, remarkably, this long-dead little Saint, rushed into my life. I was at some out-of-the-way Church and, after Mass, looked into the small parish gift shop. I picked up a rather thick looking book on the life of St. Aloysius, was intrigued, and bought it. I adored the story. But, imagine, an ex-porn star being inspired by the incredibly chaste life of a 16th Century virginal seminarian who succumbed to the plague at age 23; this is a testament to God’s saving power and to the all-encompassing breadth and depth of the Catholic Church. I found his commitment to remaining pure and unsullied by the sins and lusts of the Earth so very foreign from my own experiences. Even as a young boy, he blushed and became terribly offended, when, accompanied by his wealthy father, they inspected a cadre of military troops, and the men inevitably cracked some lurid jokes. It confirmed just how lost I had been, as I constantly surrounded myself with sex, innuendo, perverse films and books. I had to cut myself free.
From that moment on, whenever a sexual or impure thought entered my mind: I would quickly eliminate those initial impulses from my brain. For, as the thoughts would enter, they would be somewhat nebulous, just beginning to form, and not completely solidified. When that occurred, I would stop those thoughts from coalescing into a solid image. This required me to be vigilant, alert, and quick. When I recognized the thought beginning to take shape, I had to recognize that thought as an unchaste idea or memory. In the next second, I had to cut off that thought from forming. Then, I had to act with great speed, to remove the uncompleted idea and to replace it with some other thought or image. It became rather cumbersome, and oftentimes nerve-racking, but, as time progressed, it got easier and became almost involuntary. A few months later, when I entered the religious life, I spent a blissful few years completely unencumbered by concupiscence. It happened solely by the Grace of God, and also through the intercession of St. Aloysius. It gave my mind and body time to rest; time to heal. Today, I often have pictures from my past slip back into my head; only, I never let them linger there. I call-out to Jesus, His Mother, and the Saints, in particular St. Joseph, and they disappear. I relay on them, and try not to muscle through on my own. My will can only accomplish so much: in the battle, I need the armies of Heaven hovering about me.