Dear Doctimus Prime,
One thing I have learnt in my little over one month in a parish Church is that you have to be ready at all time, for just about anything. I have to rise to every occasion and situation, knowing that the person in front of me might have nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to. In the parish office where I am on call every other week, I am called upon to be several things to several different people: a counsellor, a spiritual director, a social worker, a healer, a psychologist, a listener, a friend, a brother, a father. In fewer words, I am all things to all men just like Saint Paul (cf 1Cor 9:19-23).
One occasion was a moment of deep reflection for me. I was sure of what to say but I wasn’t sure how to say it. It was a morning like every other before it. I just got into the office. I said my prayers and turned on the AC. I unpacked my laptop and some books and settled down to some reading, half expecting someone to knock on the door. “Business” was going good until he showed up. He looked to be fourteen and still in secondary school. He looked a little pale, so I am guessing there was something terribly wrong.
“Good morning Father” he said. I smiled and said “Good morning” as I motioned him to sit down.
He felt a little uneasy and distracted. I was looking straight at him but he was looking at everything else in the room besides me.
“Is there something I can help you with,” I said after waiting a while for him to present his case.
“Father, can you hear my confession?”
“I am not a priest. I am a deacon. I don’t hear confessions” was my reply.
“Okay…sorry” he was a little distracted.
Is something the matter?” I pressed.
“Can I tell you something?” was his reply.
He waits a little while, trying to make up his mind. I usually give people the opportunity to decide if they want to share with me or not. Insisting that they speak only puts them on the defensive and makes them suspicious.
“Father, I have this problem. I am always ashamed of speaking about it. I know it is wrong and I have been trying to overcome it. I have gone to confession before and tried to stop it but it is difficult and it is weighing me down… I masturbate Father.”
By this time, he is looking down at something at the foot of my desk. I could tell from his looks that he expects more from himself and is disappointed that he had let his habit come to this.
Masturbation is understood to be the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. The genital organs, as sexual faculties, are NATURALLY for use within marriage for the purpose of mutual self-giving of couples and also for procreation. Any other use for sexual display is, therefore, a derailment from the ORIGINAL INTENTION for which they are made. Masturbation is, to this end, an UNNATURAL use of the genitals for sexual pleasure. The scriptures do not mention masturbation but it gives other instances of unnatural sexual behaviour. The popular examples are those of Onan who spilled his semen whenever he had relations with Tamar, his late brother’s wife (cf. Gen 38: 9,10), and of Saint Paul to the Corinthians in which he tells them to desist from sexual immorality (1Cor 6:18-20). So I knew what to say; I just didn’t know how to say it.
“What’s your name?”
“How old are you Ben?”
“Do you have any other siblings?”
“Yes, my little sister.”
“Do you know what pornography is?”
“Have you ever viewed pornography before?”
He hesitates at first but then answers in the affirmative. I took a long imperceptible breath and then said. Where there is masturbation, pornography isn’t far off.
“You seem like a good boy. I have no reason to believe otherwise. I am happy that you been able to accept the fact that you need help. That is a brave thing to do. You must also understand that you will always have sexual urges as a grown person. It is sign that you have become a man. But you must learn SELF MASTERY over your feelings. To keep yourself sane and away from masturbation, you must cut yourself away from everything and everyone who is a negative influence on you. Avoid the use of pornography. It is like bringing fire close to petrol. Don’t be in a place all by yourself if you don’t have to. And take your spiritual life seriously. Pray the Rosary. Ask the Virgin Mary to intercede for you. Jesus does not refuse her anything (cf Jn 2:5,6). Go to confession and communion regularly. By receiving Jesus physically into you, you will receive strength to overcome your weaknesses. God loves you my boy. He will always help you with the strength you need.
Do you mind if I say a little prayer with you?
He nods and bends his head. We say a prayer and I blessed him. His face had brightened up after the prayer. He was almost smiling when he said “Thank you Father”. It is no use asking him to call me Reverend. They always relapse.
“Don’t hesitate to come see me if there is something else you need my help with, okay?”
And so ends another day of experience and learning for me. I am sure God wishes to reach people. And he does it through the little advise and prayers we say with others. I always want to extend a helping hand if it will be of any good.
*PS: Special birthday shout out to my Associate, Ms Betty Ogbue. God bless you.