33 Day Purity Boot Camp
In preparation for Total Marian Consecration
My Dear Brethren,
I have felt compelled to write to you about this topic. The word “compelled” actually would be an understatement because this “33 Day Purity Boot Camp” has not left my head since its conception. I started formulating this “battle plan” a year ago when I decided to get serious about my own personal war with lust.
I write you this not only for my sake, but for your sake. As Paul says in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians, “For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” I would like to invite you on a 33 day exploration into the LORD’S grace. For 33 days I would like to journey together, as pilgrims to experience life in a richer way. In John 10:10 Jesus teaches, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” How does He give us this life? One word: grace! Question 456 in The Baltimore Catechism asks, “What do you mean by grace?” It then answers, “By grace I mean a supernatural gift of God bestowed on us, through the merits of Jesus Christ, for our salvation.” Grace is the only thing that will free us from our addiction to pornography. I would like to share with you ways to invite grace, life, and true happiness into your life. I thought of the 33 Day Purity Boot Camp while I was reflecting on the various writings of the saints and doctors of the church, but these are in no way my own ideas. If you were to take all 2000 years of the Church’s advice and compare it, you’ll be very amazed to notice how similar it is. Why? Because good theology is always plagiarism; there can never be “new” truth, only new ways of understanding that truth. If someone comes up to you and says, “I’ve had a revelation of new truth.” Run! I have no new truths to share with you but perhaps a new way of seeing it in your life.
We have been called to be soldiers for Christ (2Tim 2:4). We have been called to be pure (Eph 5:5). We fight three major enemies: the devil, the world, the flesh. Every good soldier knows and understands his enemies. He gains this knowledge from going to boot camp. So too, if we wish to be soldiers for Christ, we must undergo a boot camp, so to speak. We must learn how to effectively defeat out three enemies:
He tempts us with thoughts of self-gratification, lustful images in our minds, and past failures. There is no debating with him. If you encounter him -run. He’s an angelic being; he is way smarter than you’ll ever be. Never debate or play with temptation. Shut the door as soon as you feel it coming near. It wins every time. Run. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8.
Meaning the secular world. It feeds you lies. Lies about purity, lies about freedom, and lies about what’s morally acceptable. We are in a culture war and you’re being blasted at 24/7. If you want to beat your battle with lust, you must learn to become counter-cultural. This will mean some sacrifice, but it will also mean freedom. “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” James 4:4.
Because of our fallen natures we have a tendency to choose sin. You’re reading this because you most likely have an issue with lust. Lust is an inordinate love of the pleasure of the flesh. Your issue with lust didn’t conquer you over night and it will not surrender over night. New habits must be learned. Right now you’re a slave to your appetites but this process is about making your appetites a slave to your will. “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit, are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other…” Gal 5:17.
“The world, the devil, and the flesh are a band of adventurers who take advantage of the weakness of that savage you have within you. In exchange for the poor bauble of pleasure, which is worth nothing, they want you to hand over to them the pure gold and the pearls, the diamonds and the rubies, drenched in the living redeeming blood of your God- the price and the treasure of your eternity.” Saint Josemaria Escriva.
Here are five ways the saints throughout the ages have recommend beating our three enemies.
4. Mortification (Exercise)
5. Acts of Charity
I can promise you, that if we apply those 5 things daily for 33 days, we will see our lives totally transformed! Just as boot camp doesn’t automatically make a good soldier, boot camp is in no way a cure for lust or pornography. No, that comes from lots of experience on the battle field. Boot camp is the starting point. No boot camp… no solider. We must learn to crawl before we walk. This 33 Day Purity Boot Camp is meant to lay a foundation of good habits. Habits, that in time, will become virtues. Virtues are the opposite of vice. It’s been said that it takes three weeks to build a new habit. Saint Louis De Montfort recommend a 33 day preparation, thus the inspiration for our training. Right now we have many vices to beat. Therefore, for 33 days, “gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:13.
“If you’re not a man of prayer, I don’t believe in the sincerity of your intentions when you say that you work for Christ.” - St. Josemaria Escriva
“By often turning your eyes on Him in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with him.” St. Francis De Sales
For 33 days commit 20 minutes daily to your prayer life. Prayer is like exercise; at first it will seem unnatural and even painful. But the more you do it, the more you will enjoy it and the more you will see where it is beneficial for your life. Only you know the state of your prayer life. Pick one thing to focus on for 33 days. If your prayer life is non-existent, start small. If you are a daily prayer warrior, add something substantial. Peter Kreeft, one of my favorite modern Christian writers said this, “I strongly suspect that if we saw all the difference even the tiniest of our prayers to God make, and all the people those little prayers were destined to affect, and all the consequences of those effects down through the centuries, we would be so paralyzed with awe at the power of prayer that we would be unable to get up off our knees for the rest of our lives.” No relationship will thrive without communication. Prayer is how we communicate with our Father. There are many types of prayer: intercessory, thanks giving, contemplative, and adoration. Spend 33 days on your knees.
Some ideas: Here at P.O.R.N. Militia we recommend the most Holy Rosary.
· Daily morning, noon and night prayers.
· Chaplet of Divine Mercy
· Pray the Psalms daily
· Liturgy of the Hours
· Daily Mass
· Eucharistic adoration.
· Mediation of the Stations of the Cross
· Prayer journals
· Use a prayer book
Fasting is the support of our soul: it gives us wings to ascend on high, and to enjoy the highest contemplation! God, like an indulgent father, offers us a cure by fasting.-Saint John Chrysostom
Ordinarily you eat more than you need. And the natural result, a heavy fullness and discomfort, benumbs your mind and renders you unfit to savor supernatural treasures. - St. Josemaria Escriva
Above we talked about prayer. You have to say “no” to something, in order to make time to pray. You have to say “no” to anything, in order to do anything else! That is the premise of fasting, saying “no” to something good to achieve something great. By fasting we become the masters of our physical desires instead of becoming slaves to them. Fasting is a biblical discipline that can be defended from both the Old and New Testaments. Christ expected his disciples to fast (Mt 9: 14-15) and gave them instructions for how they should do so (Mt 6: 16-18). For 33 days, fast from something you consider good and enjoyable in your life in exchange for something better. Fasting is deciding to downshift, power-down, turn off, unplug, and walk away from any distractions that might stop you from being fully effective in your life. Set aside any thing that might stop you from being the best husband, worker, friend, and disciple. For 33 days “Be still” and fast daily. If you can’t tell yourself “no” to a piece of pizza how are you going to be able to tell yourself “no” when you are sexually tempted? For 33 days stop and smell the roses. Stop staring into a screen and start staring into your family. Logoff facebook and put your face in a real book. Pull out of the drive-thru line and cook something. Turn off the radio and say a prayer. Get off the couch and go walking. Actually use your iPhone to make a phone call. I’m not saying that any of those things are bad. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with television, the internet, fast-food, music, or even iPhones. But the misuse of those things is another subject all together. Our culture wants constant instant entertainment. Our culture fills itself with continuous noise and distraction. Our culture uses every means of wealth and technology to look for something- meaning. But ironically our culture refuses to stop and listen. Stop and listen to what God is telling you.
Some ideas: Here at P.O.R.N. Militia we recommend skipping a meal and staying away from all forms of secular media for the entire 33 days.
· Your favorite foods for healthier foods
· Television for a reading
· Secular music for Christian music
· Facebook and other “social” networks for real conversation
· Watching sports for playing sports
· Time for yourself for time for your family
· Giving up fishing for fishing for men
· Giving up shopping for giving to the poor
Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.- St. Jerome
You pray, you mortify yourself, you labor at a thousand apostolic activities…but you don’t study. You are useless, then, unless you change your ways. Don’t tell me you’re good; you’re only “goodish”.-St. Josemaria Escriva
In our modern time of instant knowledge we have no excuse for not knowing out faith. “You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart” Jeremiah 29:13. Jesus puts it this way in Luke 11:9-10 “And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” We do not have to go to any drastic measure to ask, seek, or knock - no it’s just a click away. We have every resource and every imaged type of media at the tip of our fingers and yet we are ignorant of our faith. Those scriptures told us God is pleased when we seek truth- not when we become experts. No one likes a “know-it-all.” God is pleased when we are seeking to learn our faith. C.S. Lewis says, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” If that is true, ask yourselves, “Why do I have sports statistics memorized but I can’t explain the Church’s teaching on the sacrament of reconciliation? Why am I an expert on hunting and fishing but cannot understand what the church teaches about contraception. Why can I tell you all about mechanics but can’t hold a conversation about the teachings of Christ. Why can I quote movies but have no comprehension of the Bible? Why am I fluent in stock market lingo but cant hold a conversation about the church’s teaching on Marian dogma?” St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” I would also submit that ignorance of Church teaching is also ignorance of Christ. Because the Church is the Body of Christ, therefore when the church speaks, it’s with Christ’s voice. For 33 days, spend twenty minutes daily learning about your faith. You can’t give to others what you don’t already possess yourself. Also find out more about porn addiction. How can you BEAT IT, if you don’t know ABOUT IT?
Some ideas: Here at P.O.R.N. Militia we recommend reading the New Testament and the writings of the saints.
· “God Wants You Happy” by Jonathan Morris
· “Be a Man” by Fr. Larry Richards
· “Introduction to the Devout Life” by Francis de Sales
· “33 Days to Morning Glory” by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley
· “Jesus of Nazareth” by Pope Benedict XVI
· “True Devotion to Mary” by St. Louis De Montfort
· “Victory over Vice” by Fulton Sheen
· “The Way” by St. Josemaria Escriva
· “Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament” by St. Alphonsus Liguri
Also find out more about porn addiction.
- “The Porn Trap” by Wendy & Larry Maltz
- “Porn Nation” by Michael Leahy
- “Good News about Sex & Marriage” by Christopher West
- “Taking Down Goliath” by Matt Fradd
- “Pure of Heart” By Jason Evert
To labor is to pray. -Motto of the Benedictines
Say to your body: “I would rather keep you in slavery than be myself your slave.”-Josemaria Escriva
You may be thinking, “How does doing exercise have anything to do with my spiritual life?” It has everything to do with your spiritual life- well at least half! We are not purely spiritual beings, we are not angles. We are creatures that are made up of soul and body. Part of spiritual discipline is physical discipline. Research shows that people who exercise have a better chance of beating addiction. St. Paul refers to the spiritual life in terms of physical exercise, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. As with your prayer life, only you know where you are physically. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t exercised in years or if you run 5 miles a day. Do something extra. Add something new. Pick some form of exercise and stick with it- twenty minutes a day for 33 days.
· Join a gym
· work out with someone
· Join a intramural softball league
· Weight Lifting
Acts of Charity
Anything done for another is done for oneself.-Pope John Paul II
Being charitable doesn’t mean giving away old clothes or copper pennies…let us- you and I - give ourselves unstintingly. And we’ll keep those who come in contact with us from going through the same sad experience.
Charity is the truest form of love. In the Greek it’s known as: agape or the love of God or Christ for mankind. Charity is to do something for someone and not expect anything in return- to love other people just because they are creatures of God. Jesus said that we should love our neighbors as if they were ourselves. Acts of Charity involve giving of our time, talent, and treasure. Acts of charity are not about BIG acts. It could be simply things in out lives. Or as Mother Teresa said, “To show great love for God and our neighbor we need not do great things. It is how much we put in the doing, that makes our offering something and beautiful to God.” For 33 days look for small opportunities to make other peoples lives better- one small action at a time- record what you did. C.S. Lewis said this about charity:
“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them. I am speaking now of "charities" in the common way. Particular cases of distress among your own relatives, friends, neighbors or employees, which God, as it were, forces upon your notice, may demand much more: even to the crippling and endangering of your own position.”
· Give money to a charity
· Volunteer at a soup kitchen
· Do more duties around the house for your spouse
· Do chores for your wife
· Volunteer at a food bank
· counsel and prayer at an abortion clinic
· Help at an after school program
· Give money to any beggar who asks for money
· “Pay it forward”
For 33 days focus on Prayer, Fasting, Study, Exercise and Acts of Charity! For this Boot camp to be successful, you will have to do ALL five in some way for ALL 33 Days. That you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God's way in righteousness and holiness of truth” Ephesians 4:22-24. Take 33 days and commit. Commit to God, others, and yourself. Pick things that will be a struggle for you. But do not set goals for your spiritual journey that are unrealistic and unattainable. Don’t set yourself up for failure. But don’t be upset when you fail. If you mess up or miss a day, do not be discouraged--start back immediately! In closing, I think C.S. Lewis says it best:
“We may, indeed, be sure that perfect chastity-like perfect charity-will not be attained by any merely human efforts. You must ask for God’s help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important chastity or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments and, on the other that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.”
At the end of this 33 day process we will be ready to consecrate ourselves to the Mother of Purity. I‘ll be posting more about the consecration in days to come. “Love our Lady. And she will obtain abundant grace to help you conquer in your daily struggle. And the enemy will gain nothing by those perversities that seem to boil up continually within you, trying to engulf in their fragrant corruption the high ideals, those sublime commands that Christ himself has placed in your heart. Serviam!- “I will serve!”- St. Josemaria Escriva
I will be posting daily prayers, reflections and scriptures as we embark on our journey to consecrate ourselves to Mary- Good Luck soldiers, THIS IS WAR.