I started out this Lenten season with a firm resolution to resist this thing. To abstain from porn and grow in fortitude and continue on past that — from forty days, to eighty, to 120, to a year. Alas, I didn’t last much longer than a week before I fell flat on my face. And for a week or two, I didn’t get up. Didn’t even really try. I was glad to be back to my “friends.”
I was sad Sunday morning that I would have to go and give them up again, and I kept them going for as I could. Years ago, I would have stayed home and wallowed in it and sunk deeper and deeper. It’s what eventually led me to fall away from church entirely for most of my twenties. But despite all the talk of a “personal relationship” with Jesus, I had no idea how intensely personal meeting Christ in the Eucharist could be. Now, his Body and Blood are my lifeblood: I could not go a week without Him.
And I laid them down. And the words of the act of contrition rang in my head: “I firmly resolve to sin no more, and avoid the near occasions of sin.” How firmly did I really resolve, when I went home fully expecting to pick them up again? Can it be true contrition, true penitence, when one knows one’s repentance is temporary?
I had screwed up my Lenten plans. But if Jesus is about anything, He is about forgiveness, and restoration, and second chances. So I laid them down, and I picked up my Lent again.
I asked Father for a true penance, a heavy penance, not just the usual decade of the Rosary that felt like a slap on the wrist. And fasting is the path I will take. Fasting, and going back to Celebrate Recovery. When one lays down sin, one has to take up something or one’s idle hands return to their old habits: I am taking up my Lent again. My Lord, please let it bear fruit.