The Internet can be a good thing. We get to read Church encyclicals when they come out. We can read solid Catholic commentary on Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the US. We can participate in Catholic forums and evangelize through blogging. We can link with others who enjoy chant and sacred polyphony, and even read classics online. The list of good things is endless. But, so are the evil things, and that which tops the list is Internet pornography of all kinds.
The April 2008 issue of Homiletic and Pastoral Review is out and the lead article is entitled: Pornography, electronic media and priestly formation by Marysia Weber. I have not read the entire article yet, but it warrants some attention for lay people, seminarians, and priests alike.
We can learn many things from Judas - mainly, what not to do. Among those lessons is that even a man called by Jesus is given a free will to choose right or wrong. Judas was a priest and he made more than one bad choice - the first having to do with greed, the second with absolute pride whereby he hung himself rather than repent of his sinfulness. It is called sinful despair.
Thanks be to God the disciples in that time did not blow-off the Church instituted by Christ because a priest - Judas - committed sin by his own free will.
This article has to do with internet pornography and the lures. No one is immune to the temptation. More than likely you have already experienced that one wrong, innocent search term can lead to the most filthy of things. What matters is not that it was seen (by accident), but what you do at that point - remain there staring at it and clicking away (to get more), or shut the window and walk away. The latter is an act of virtue and temptation avoidance; the former is to put oneself in the occasion of sin, and a downright sinful choice. The person in the picture has a soul and when we choose to stare at such filth, we treat that person as an object, not a child of God.
I'm going to pull out one small part of the article and let you read the whole thing at HPR Online.
Saint Thomas Aquinas distinguishes two forms of unchastity:Go read Pornography, electronic media, and priestly formation at HPR Online
1. He describes the unchastity of incontinence as a form of loss of self-control. This, he states, is less serious because the sensual urge can be reintegrated repeatedly into an order or reason that is disposed to the truth of real things. Reason corresponds to the reality made evident through faith and knowledge. In short, the person is motivated to repent and strive anew.
2. Saint Thomas characterizes the unchastity of intemperance as a deeply rooted attitude of unchastity in which the individual directs the will toward sin without much concern. The person has become habituated in what is inordinate pleasure or excesses in food, drink or sex. Desire for pleasure blinds the individual from confronting objective reality with selfless detachment, which alone makes true knowledge of the supernatural or divine possible.
The third daughter of sloth is mental torpor or sluggishness, in which the soul is lazy and indifferent to the interior struggle. This slippery slope emerges when men and women act on their passions because they no longer exercise self-discipline, neglect frequent examination of conscience, and stop praying for the grace of the Holy Spirit. At this level, emotions seduce reason and people are less amenable to reordering sensual urges, bordering on intemperance.
The fourth daughter of sloth is faintheartedness. This is a culpable disposition in which a person refuses to face up to difficult situations that can be addressed and overcome. When priests or religious are fainthearted, they refuse to make appropriate choices. The soul gives way to sins of omission and disregards graces offered by the Holy Spirit. Regular and thorough confession becomes less important or avoided. A priest or religious becomes indifferent to regular venial sins, justifies self-soothing behavior as a benefit, and becomes intemperate.
The fifth daughter of sloth includes rancor or bitter resentment and a critical spirit. People who struggle for sanctity annoy the slothful person. This is seen in the belittling of authority in the Church or the “smorgasbord” approach to the Church’s teachings. When this occurs, faith is becoming cool to cold.
The last daughter of sloth is ill-tempered antagonism or ill-will. The slothful soul makes a conscious, internal decision to commit evil for its own sake. For example, a priest or religious engages in inordinate activities including excesses in drink, food, drugs, sex or worldly interests. All of these actions neglect the promise of obedience, chastity and striving for holiness, all of which are rooted in a prime love relationship with God. This is one of the most serious sins a person can commit.
As you can see, sloth is subtle but very deadly. By nature, sloth is contrary to charity and emerges as the source from which many sins flow.
While I have not finished reading the article, one thing I will comment on here - again - pray for priests and seminarians. All the complaints one can muster can't compare to an hour of adoration for the benefit of our priests, religious and people discerning.