Much more important than any birthday…
Today, 26-09-2020, it’s the 20th anniversary of the BEST DECISION of my life: giving my unconditional YES to the Lord by deciding to embrace pre-marital chastity (since that was the one issue which was keeping me away from God).
Now, if you are: (1) a Catholic guy (2) who is currently engaging in pre-marital sexual relationships (3) and/or practicing masturbation (even as a married man) … then I INVITE YOU WHOLEHEARTEDLY TO READ MY TESTIMONY BELOW.
So here it goes…When I approached my twenties, back in Rome where I am from, I began to live a life ‘as everyone else around me was doing’. That is, I began to have girlfriends and to have pre-marital sexual relationships with them.
Because of my upbringing, I was aware of God’s commandments and by the grace of God it was clear to me that my choice put me in a position of permanent mortal sin and that I could not receive Holy Communion while living that kind of sinful life. As a consequence, I took the decision of staying away from the Church for 12 long years.
Towards my 30s, the Lord in his great mercy decided to begin his rescue mission to try and bring me back to Him. And this is how He did it: He gave me a problem which I was unable to sort out by myself, and which made me suddenly remember that there was a God I could pray to to ask for help.
To this end, I had the prompting to make a pilgrimage to Lourdes (despite the fact that I was living far from God) and there it became clear to me that the Lord was asking me to amend my sinful life style and go back to Him and to His Church.
But the big issue for me was of course that I would have to give up any pre-marital sexual relationships… so I resisted God’s prompting in this sense. But then, slowly one thought began to surface in my mind: I said to myself ‘Well, at some point I will want to get married. And I want it to be in the Catholic Church. I want to be all right with God. I will get married in the Church, and then it will be fine for me to be intimate with my wife!’.
But then I thought… what kind of reasoning am I making? I would be living in a condition of mortal sin, saying NO to God up to 5 minutes before my wedding… and then I would present myself in Church on the day of my wedding asking God to bless my life and the union with my wife?!? I could see how this kind of reasoning was flawed. This way, I would not be putting God first at all. That would not have been a serious relationship with God!
No: the only solution, the only right thing to do, was to choose God unconditionally there and then, by giving up the unchaste life I was living, and well before my possible marriage in the future.
So I began my combat in that sense… and I said to God ‘Lord I will try. I will do my best. But you have to help me in this!!! If you exist, if you really want me to come back to you, please help me in this!’
So, I made a leap of faith, and gave up any pre-marital sexual relationship (without knowing if I would be able to keep this resolution). I began to pray asking for God’s help… and He did give me the grace to live in that new way.
BUT…. The Lord then made very clear to me another thing: that I also had to give up… sex ‘by myself’ (masturbation!), as this was a ‘grave matter’ in God’s eyes and that it was preventing me from living a life acceptable to God.
This fact had been unclear to me until that point, until God brought me in contact with a holy priest who made me aware of the Church teachings in that respect.
This second stage of my conversion was even more difficult (much more difficult!) than giving up pre-marital sexual relationships. It took me six months of intense combat, daily intense prayer asking for God’s help in this area, and recourse to the help of the Sacraments (especially frequent confession). I kept on struggling… one day I would succeed, another day I would not… until, literally OUT OF THE BLUE, one morning (literally!) I sensed…….. that I was free!! I was in total control!!In other words, I wasn’t liberated by the sin of masturbation by improving gradually (I was battling, winning and losing from time to time, as I said), but suddenly, after six months of trying and praying.
I think the Lord… wanted to see me fighting for Him, He wanted to see how seriously I wanted to choose Him. And by liberating me suddenly, in one go (rather than gradually), He wanted to make clear to me that IT WAS HIS DOING, that it was a grace which He granted to me. In fact, had I come out of masturbation gradually, I surely would have thought that the progress was due mainly to my efforts and physical adaptation. But NO! That was NOT the case. The battle was indeed necessary, but the liberation was a grace given by God.
At that point, (it was the year 2000) I was truly converted and began my adult Christian journey. To cut a long story VERY short, years later I also tested my vocation in the seminary (at that point I had already moved to London), then I discerned that my vocation was marriage, …and in 2019 I married my wonderful Janet!
This way I was able to enter the Holy Covenant of Marriage free from my addiction, having mastered the virtue of self-control in this area.
Plus, being the Holy Covenant of Marriage amongst three persons and not two (that is: God, my wife and I), I was able to enter it in the right way (having already fixed my relationship with God!)To all you guys out there I want to say one thing out loud (and, ACTUALLY, even to any women who might be struggling to live a chaste life too):Both for your Christian journey, AND for the sake of your future spouse, please take steps now to free yourself from any addiction from living an unchaste life, well before entering your vocation/marriage – as they have the power to ruin it.
These things (masturbation, pre-marital sex and also pornography) have a Satanic hold over the life of any individual (man or woman!) as they totally separate us from God.
Surprisingly, these very common and serious issues are not spoken about frequently / openly… as our souls are at stake, let’s bring them to the light, so that Christ can enter and free us from bondage.
My wife Janet has told me many times that my 20 years’ journey of chastity (which I celebrate every year like a birthday) was the best wedding gift in the world which I could have given her. And that this is something that every Catholic woman desires… a faithful chaste husband free from sexual addictions who enters his marriage having already put God in the first place.
Guys I finish by repeating: this sort of battle may seem very difficult to some, but remember “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13) - I can assure you that through daily prayer and recourse to the help of the Sacraments (especially frequent confession)… the Lord will HONOUR YOUR EFFORTS and will give you the grace to live a chaste and holy life, pleasing to Him.
Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.