Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

Becoming Virtuous:
How to Acquire the Virtue of Temperance


So far, we've looked into Prudence, which governs the intellect, and into Fortitude, which governs the irascible passions. Now we look at Temperance, the cardinal virtue that moderates the concupiscible passions -- i.e., pleasure, pain, desire, avoidance, love, and hate -- which result from our responses to goods that pertain to our natural, bodily needs (such as food, drink, sex, etc.). While Prudence rules the head, and Fortitude the heart, Temperance can be seen as ruling "the belly."

Temperance calls on our senses of shame and decency to help us avoid the sins of gluttony, insobriety, lust, immodesty, pride, inordinate anger, cruelty, and the sort of curiosity that gets us into trouble, such as acting on an inordinate interest in the occult, nosing into our neighbor's business, the incessant yearning for new experiences, etc.

The world says "eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you may die"; Temperance says "eat some, drink some, and love God and neighbor for tomorrow you may be judged." The world says "dance like no one's watching"; Temperance says "dance like God's watching." The world says "He who dies with the most toys wins"; Temperance says  "get a few toys, have some fun with 'em, but don't think that's the purpose of life." The world says "Do what thout wilt shall be the whole of the law"; Temperance says with St. Augustine "Love and do what thou wilt" which precludes doing evil, which can't be born of love. In other words, Temperance calls on us to become pretty much the very opposite what the modern world tries to mold us to be as we walk the tightrope over that sweet spot between the angels and the animals. As humans who are spirit like the angels, and body like the beasts, we have to keep one eye looking up toward our heavenly goal, and one eye looking down toward fulfilling our temporal, bodily needs. It's a tricky place to be in that "flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another: so that you do not the things that you would" (Galatians 5:17). But good habits can help.

Pleasure is Good

Because the Church teaches the value of Temperance (especially, because the Church teaches that sex belongs only inside marriage), the world often sees Her as being against pleasure. But the Simpsons got it right:

We're the Church of a thousand feasts. We're the Church of wine, beer, large families, sumptuous vestments, gold chalices, stained glass, glorious illuminated manuscripts, Christmas puddings, Easter breads, Martinmas goose, and pastries shaped like St. Agatha's breasts. We're the Church that teaches what Aquinas said -- that

nature has introduced pleasure into the operations that are necessary for man's life.  Wherefore the natural order requires that man should make use of these pleasures, in so far as they are necessary for man's well-being, as regards the preservation either of the individual or of the species.  Accordingly, if anyone were to reject pleasure to the extent of omitting things that are necessary for nature's preservation, he would sin, as acting counter to the order of nature.

Now, he goes on to write of the good of giving up certain pleasures for the sake of penance, the religious life, etc., but the point remains: pleasure is good -- in fact, rejecting pleasure can be sinful. Taking pleasure, playfulness, the ability to joke around and have a laff, playing games -- Aquinas calls our ability to do these things after we've taken care of business a virtue in itself, a virtue called "eutrapelia" (Summa II:II-168). But our pleasures have to be moderated the way a mature adult moderates them, not the way a child would. In fact, Aquinas calls intemperance "childishness" in that it wants what it wants, now, and lots of it, with no thought of purpose and the future. If it doesn't get its way, it stamps its foot and acts surly. But give in to that childish intemperance and it'll have you eating candy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for years on end, then getting diabetes and dying an early death. Fail to rule your passions, and those passions will come to rule you.

And those who have the power to sate those passions will rule you as well. Parents (rightly) use access to pleasures to control their children (e.g., "No TV for you tonight, young man!"), and pimps use heroin to keep "their" women compliant and on the streets; now think of how your cravings give others the power to control you in the same way. And consider that, for some habits, those with the control are not good people. Addicted to TV? Hollywood producers control you. Addicted to illegal drugs? Drug cartels control you. Addicted to porn? Whores and pornographers control you. Addicted to social media? People like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey control you. Now, we're interdependent in a million ways, and rely on others all the time; we need farmers, factory workers, truckers, road crews, and sales clerks just to get a loaf of bread. That's all fine and good. But you should be angry about the idea of evildoers -- most of Hollywood, whores, drug cartels, and social media moguls -- having power over you, especially when what they're able to control you with harms you and the world. Use that anger to fuel your motivation to quit whatever keeps you enslaved. Keep motivated by the fact that your allowing them power over you feeds that evil. In other words, for certain kinds of bad habits, this isn't just about you; it's also about serving God, serving your neighbor, and making the world a better place.

And use, too, the knowledge that all the time you focus on serving your bad habit is time you're not spending doing other, worthwhile things. Hooked on porn? Think of all the time you could have spent working out, learning a language, perfecting a skill, practicing an art, praying, studying, or helping or getting to know better a family member or neighbor instead of shaming yourself in front of a flickering screen in a dark room, becoming ever more humiliated, weak, and incapable of dealing with real members of the opposite sex in the real world. It's tragic.

Breaking Bad Habits and Making Good Ones

Experts say that there are things you can do to make breaking a bad habit a lot easier. Their advice:

First, in preparation, manage your stress in general (e.g., prayer, exercise, getting the right amount of sleep, learning how to work smart instead of hard, taking time to rest and play, the relaxation technique described on the Fortitude page, etc. all may help). Then, on the day you've firmly resolved to break your habit, devise a ritual that marks the beginning of your fight against that bad habit. For ex., if you're giving up cigarettes, light a bonfire and throw your last pack into it, or if you're resolving to get fit, burn a picture of yourself in which you look horribly fat, or if you've decided to give up pornography, pray a novena to St. Joseph for purity, etc.

Second, given that some habits are indulged in out of boredom, find interests, hobbies, and friends, and otherwise work to alleviate ennui. Keep yourself busy and distracted, focused on other things.

Third, identify any stimuli that tend to trigger the undesired behavior (for ex., people who smoke too much often crave a smoke after eating most of all), and then remove any unnecessary triggers (for ex., smokers can't not eat, but they can prepare for that after-dinner moment and find a substitution. Or if your problem is watching porn when you're alone, you can put your computer in a public part of your home, get rid of the browser on your phone, keep busy with friends, etc. Those who eat too many sweets can get those foods out of the kitchen so they don't see them, only shop from a list or use a delivery service instead of wandering the store aisles grabbing up the cupcakes and cookies as they go, etc.). Is there a certain time of the day during which you're more likely to engage in the bad habit? A certain place that makes the undesired behavior more likely? Is there a certain emotion that triggers the behavior? Identify those times, situations, and things, and find work-arounds.

Fourth, find the motivation that works for you. Ex., "getting healthy" might be too vague to be inspiring to you, but "being able to walk around Paris with the family next year without getting winded" might keep you focused. "Being porn free" might be too wishy-washy feeling to keep you on task, but "being masculine and free of things that enslave me and make me simpy" or "not allowing women to control me" might work. "Losing weight" might not do much for you as a goal, but "being able to fit into that one dress" or "making myself attractive so I can more easily find a spouse" might. In other words, describe your goal in terms that are more likely to keep you motivated. Once you've found your motivator, either write it down or come up with something to symbolize it and keep copies of that note, or symbol, in various places you see throughout the day (on your fridge, computer screen, bathroom mirror, etc.). Use that thought or symbol as a mental motivator, bringing it to mind when you're tempted to engage in the undesired behavior. And, as should be obvious for Catholics, ask God and the Saints for help in those moments as well.

Fifth, replace a bad behavior with a good one -- and know that rewarding a good behavior that replaces the bad behavior is more effective than punishing the bad behavior. For ex.,
if you want to stop eating so much processed sugar, replace your cookie jar and candy dish with bowls of nuts, sugarless hard candies, and dried fruits. Or, instead of smoking, maybe you decide to try to keep your hands busy by knitting. Reward the knitting instead of punishing the smoking -- perhaps by buying yourself a new outfit when you finish knitting a blanket.

Sixth, make the bad habit difficult and annoying to practice. For ex., if you're trying to stop eating so much, adopt the habit of brushing and flossing after you eat, no matter how little you eat. When it's 9pm and you're feeling peckish, you know you'd have to brush and floss after you eat that cookie, which may well be a demotivator. As another example, allowing yourself to only smoke in the garage or the bathroom might make smoking less pleasant if you're unable to moderately use tobacco. For some habits, we Catholics have an in-built mechanism of this sort: if your habit is a potentially mortally sinful one, knowing you'll have to confess it to a priest, and willing to do that, can be good motivation to keep you away from bad behavior.

Seventh, make any good replacement habit easy and pleasant to practice. For ex., if you replace overeating with running, find a beautiful place to run, get the right kind of shoes so your feet don't hurt, perhaps find someone to run with, etc.

Eighth, generally speaking, don't compete with others when breaking a habit; compete with yourself instead. Don't compare your progress to that of So-and-So; compare yourself to how you were doing yesterday, last week, last year. On the other hand, for competitive types who truly hate the idea of being beaten, a competition may be just the thing if that sort of orneriness is more motivating than is the idea of being free of the bad habit: if you are competitive in that way and have a friend who is as well and who wants to break the same habit, make a game of it.

Ninth, having a buddy trying to break the habit with you might help, especially if you keep each other accountable, cheer each other on, reward each other, etc. Otherwise, just having a friend who's willing to do some of those things for you may help, even if he doesn't share your habit. There also might be support groups -- online or off -- for people wanting to give up the habit you're focusing on (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous). If none of the above is possible or feasible for you, cheerlead for and inspire yourself by leaving notes and reminders to keep you going. And remember that we Catholics have all the good angels, Saints, and God Himself to help us! Stay "prayed-up" and receive the sacraments as needed.

Tenth, depending on the sort of habit in question (some need to be given up "cold turkey" -- totally and all at once), divide the larger goal into smaller goals. For ex., if you're such a caffeine junkie that your goal is to give up coffee forever, have your first goal be "give up coffee in the evenings." Later, set a second goal of giving up coffee after noon. Then focus on your use of coffee in the morning, etc. Or if you're wanting to not eat so much, start by cutting out dessert. Later, focus on smaller portions, then cutting out a food group that vexes you, etc. For even those habits that need to be given up cold turkey and totally, thinking of them in terms of smaller goals might be beneficial ("I will give up porn for three days", then, after the three days "I will give up porn for five days," etc.) On the other hand, some folks are better off going full throttle from the get-go, no matter the habit; you likely know yourself better than anyone else does, so do what works for you. The overall point: for many habits, it's best to focus on incremental improvement each day instead of the larger goal.

Eleventh, find any "tricks" there may be that are particular to your habit. For ex., those trying to lose weight might be helped by using smaller plates, smaller spoons, taking smaller bites, eating much more slowly, taking a break between courses, not eating after a certain time, focusing on carbs rather than calories, etc. Those trying to give up porn might be helped by having a picture of Our Lady as their computer or phone wallpaper, installing blockers on their browsers, having a statue of an inspiring Saint next to their computers, allowing someone else complete access to their computers and phones, etc. Ask yourself what sorts of things would stand in the way of your enjoying the bad habit, would slow down the behavior or otherwise interrupt it.

Twelfth, if you stumble, don't give up and quit. Start in again and don't think about the misstep; focus, instead, on the good you've already accomplished. Your slip-up didn't take that good away; that good still "counts."

Sometimes, a total pattern disruption might be in order, if it's possible to pull off. Those addicted to opiates, for ex., might need some time in rehab, or those who are heavily addicted to porn might benefit from two weeks in a cabin by themselves, with no internet access. If such large scale pattern disruptions aren't possible, making smaller disruptions might help, such as painting a room in a different color, rearranging the furniture, etc. -- something to make your environment feel new, unlike the same place in which your bad habit played out so many times.

And throughout all this, don't be afraid of seeking professional help if you need it. Lots of people -- including lots of decent Catholics -- suffer from problems that can make giving up a bad habit particularly difficult. Depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, various forms of autism -- if any of these sorts of problems afflict you, don't consider yourself weak (or a "bad" or at least  "not good enough" Catholic) for getting any help you need, taking medications prescribed, etc.

Some inspiration: research shows that the median time it takes to change a behavior is 66 days -- roughly 2 months and 1 week.1 Know that it's very possible you're only 2 months and 1 week away from being free of that nasty habit that rules you like a tyrant!

A worksheet to use to help you think about all the above and break your bad habit: Today It Begins (pdf)


There's a separate page on this site devoted to the matter of modesty in clothing; here, I want to talk about a different sort of immodesty, a type that's become extremely prevalent in the past few decades. It's the sort of immodesty we see all the time now: tell-all blogs; people blathering on about the most intimate details of their lives -- or the lives of their loved ones -- on talk shows or on social media; strangers getting way too chummy way too quickly; people recording their childish emotional outbursts and uploading them to the internet to get sympathy or to "virtue-signal"; Tik-Tok videos of people explaining what they demand of others in terms of their "preferred pronouns," or which labels to use to describe their "unique" sexuality; mawkish sentimentalism posing as "caring"; the applauding of the factitious disorder (e.g., Munchausen Syndrome and Munchausen's by proxy) that is manifest in parents -- almost always mothers -- parading their allegedly transgendered toddlers about; the constant bids for constant attention on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, OnlyFans, and the like; emotional displays from people who are, in essence, daring you not to act like you care; narcissism and self-indulgence posing as victim; how every talent contest now has to begin with the heart-wrenching details of the contestants' backgrounds, etc.

There seem to be a few things giving rise to these phenomena: 1) the conflation of the public and private spheres, 2) a down-grading of thinking and reason, and a raising up of the idea that in order to be "genuine," "authentic," and a good person, one must feel deeply and be willing to reveal that alleged depth of emotion to everyone else in the world, 3) the general feminization of society, and 4) the increasing prevalence of people with "Cluster B" personality disorders -- especially Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcisstic Personality Disorder -- likely due to fatherlessness, bad child-rearing practices, and the aforementioned feminization of society.

Women, especially, are prone to this sort of immodesty.

Put an end to this nonsense. Check any inordinate need for attention you might have. Don't say "I feel" when you mean "I think." Never devalue the masculine, and defend men when they are disrespected as a group. Don't over-share. Keep your private life private, and if you can't do that, at least keep your loved ones' lives private. If you are prone to this sort of attention-seeking behavior, check yourself for Cluster B personality disorders, humble yourself, focus on others' needs, and ask God to grant you the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. Consider getting competent professional help if the Cluster B disorder descriptions fit you (and if someone you love has a Cluster B personality disorder, learn everything you can about it, how to protect yourself from the drama, and how to deal -- and not deal -- with that person). Make use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques to stop yourself from acting out emotionally in negative ways.

When you see this sort of behavior in others, don't reward it with attention, "likes" on social media, attentive body language, and especially not with verbal expressions of pity or sympathy. Don't mimic it, approve of it, or feel compelled to join in with it lest you be "cancelled" or otherwise shunned. Don't allow yourself to be emotionally manipulated by such displays. Shame it. Shut it down.

Please know that I am in no way saying there's any shame whatsoever in expressing joy, grief, anger, or any other emotion at the right time, in the right place, in the right way; I'm an Italian American female, if you get my point, and St. Thomas himself writes about the importance of sharing sorrow with friends and seeking consolation from them. What's being spoken of here is an inordinate, over-the-top sort of "emotional incontinence," a discounting of reason in favor of the affective, emotional manipulation, ploys designed to play on others' emotions for some gain to the one emoting, emotional blackmail, insincere emotional display for the purpose of getting attention, histrionics, the tendency to make oneself the star of every drama, etc. What I'm talking about, in essence, is a lack of humility.


Humility is acting in a way that is consistent with the truth about oneself, plain and simple. It starts first with recognizing Who God is, and who you are -- and are not -- relative to Him. If you have a respect for this reality, deep down, to your depths, if you focus on doing His Will instead of your own, think of others before yourself, and fulfill your duties with patience and gratitude, then you will have the virtue of humility.

To this end, the importance of reminding yourself of your sinful nature can't be stressed enough. The Catholic practices of making a nightly examination of conscience and going to Confession are so important in keeping in mind the ways in which we fail, and the marvelousness of God's mercy. Without Him, we and those we love are doomed to "the second death"; with Him, we are forgiven and invited to share in His glory! Think of it! And be grateful.

Be grateful to God not just for that, but in a general way, for everything. Open the Book of Nature, or just ponder it, and be glad. Think of your family and friends, and be glad. Think of the tragedies and hardships you've endured and which have made you stronger and brought you closer to Christ, and be glad. Think of how much worse things could be, and be glad. Drop the buttered toast? Be glad you have bread to eat. The toast landed buttered side-down? Be glad you have a floor to clean. Things not working out as you'd planned? Be glad that you've been given a mind able to make plans and learn lessons from failures.

Have God in your mind all throughout the day, and set up a prayer routine that works for you. At the very, very least, some sort of Morning Offering (it doesn't have to be a formal one; it can be a brief prayer in your own words, a simple acknowledgment of God's existence and your love for and gratitude toward Him the moment you open your eyes), prayer before meals, and a nightly examination of conscience should be a part of your day.

Given that knowing the truth about yourself is the root of humility, it's not a sign of a lack of thereof to know what good there is about you. There's no sin in knowing you're a great painter or singer, or that you're intelligent or beautiful, if you are.  What's sinful is attributing gifts and talents to yourself alone, forgetting that any talents or gifts you have are from God. Work to develop them, put them to good use, and do so with prudence. But know that they are not yours, and know that they can disappear in a moment. Love to show off the fact that you have a doctorate? One cerebral ischemic event, and access to all that knowledge can be lost to you for the rest of your earthly days. Love to upload pictures of yourself to the internet for others to admire and compliment you on? One car accident, and your beauty can disappear into scar tissue (and, anyway, after the age of 30 or 35 or so, your beauty will change to a mature sort that doesn't attract men, so don't rely on your pulchritude to save you and bring you attention for the rest of your life). Treasure your gifts by treating them with gratitude and humility, and using them to serve others and serve God.


Like all the other emotions, shame, though unpleasant, is, in itself, is a good thing. In the same way that pain lets us know something is wrong with our bodies, honest shame lets us know that there is something wrong with something we've done. As psychiatrist M. Scott Peck put it in his book "People of the Lie,"

Unpleasant though it may be, the sense of personal sin is precisely that which keeps our sin from getting out of hand. It is quite painful at times, but it is a very great blessing because it is our one only effective safegaurd against our own proclivity for evil. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux put it so nicely in her gentle way: 'If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter.'

You will never be virtuous if you're unable to go through the pain of looking at yourself clearly and recognizing your propensity for evil. Again, I insist that the Catholic practice of making a nightly examination of conscience is key. Once you find things you are guilty of, the cures for such unpleasant but necessary feelings of shame are humility, making necessary apologies, making any due reparations, resolving not to repeat the shameful act, the sacrament of confession, and then trusting in God's mercy after one has done those things.

Social shaming acts as a teacher and is one of the means by which a society maintains order. Now, it may be the case that some things were inordinately societally shamed in the past, and there are definitely ways in which social shaming can be unjust (e.g., shaming for the wrong things, inordinate shaming, shaming for things over which one has no control, scapegoating, shaming that becomes gleeful or engaged in to satisfy oneself in some way, etc.). But the problem today is that many things that need to be shamed are not shamed at all. Blasphemy, promiscuity, pornography use, approving of abortion, the embracing of a victimhood mentality, racial scapegoating posing as anti-racism, anti-male hatred posing as feminism, the sort of immodesty written about earlier -- these things need to be shamed. Don't be afraid to use social shaming in a way that is prudent, serves charity, and doesn't cross over the line into judging others' souls or primarily serving your ego. Make accurate assessments, and -- this is absolutely crucial -- be exceedingly careful that social shaming doesn't involve projection or displacement on your part, or lapse into bullying or unjust judgment of others instead just judgment of their actions.

Our Insatiable Want and Ensuing Softness

Since the so-called "Enlightenment," a combination of phenomena have been working together against us in a deep way -- scientism, attacks on religion, usury, fiat currencies, incessant advertising, the industrial revolution, and a form of crony, corporate capitalism that sees endless growth as the purpose of a business's existence. As a result -- and while we're experiencing a time of unprecedented wealth and longer lifespans, even for the poorest classes -- we're becoming little more than consuming machines, endless vacuums for more, more, and ever more.  More food, more clothes, more gadgets, more tech. Bigger things, shinier things, newer things, different things. And as soon as something is "upgraded" or "improved," we replace the old. We are never sated.

Our always wanting more leads not only to pollution and to the waste of natural resources, but to a softness, an effeminacy, that ends in corruption and the death of civilizations. As the saying goes, "Hard times create strong men; strong men create good times; good times create weak men; weak men create hard times."  The hard times are coming; it's time to prepare by conquering any inordinate need you have for things that serve to keep you mindlessly consuming. Some things to think about regarding consumption itself:
  • Grow some of your own food, and learn how to preserve it.
  • Learn how to take cuttings from plants and trees, propgating them, and planting them. Ask friends and neighbors if you can take cuttings from established plants and trees they might have.
  • If you have any kind of a back yard at all, consider getting two hens for every member of your family (and treat them well!).
  • Cook your own food instead of eating out or ordering in, and cook things grown locally when possible.
  • Have a budget and stick to it.
  • Think twice, a day apart, before making an unnecessary purchase.
  • Buy analog rather than digital, and simple over complex, whenever possible. When you have to make a purchase, get around planned obsolescence and bad design by buying things that have the fewest points of failure and that are made to last, even if you have to spend a few dollars more (e.g., don't buy the electric can opener, buy the manual one instead; don't buy "smart" objects connected to grids and the internet, buy lower-tech versions instead; don't get the kitchen timer with batteries, get the old-school, wind-up version instead, buy and learn to season and care for iron skillets instead of the non-stick kind with linings that flake off, etc.)
  • Buy things made in your own country when possible. This not only supports your nation's workers, it eliminates waste involved in shipping.
  • Don't upgrade if what you have is usable.
  • If possible, repair something instead of throwing it out.
  • Learn to sew.
  • Buy clothes that are classic in styling rather than "fashionable."
  • Share and pool resources with others.
  • Barter resources and services with others.
  • Replace cleaning products with homemade alternatives (e.g., use a vinegar-water solution to clean windows instead of buying an expensive product).
  • Make use of your local library and its interlibary loan system for movies and for books you'll only read once instead of buying those things or using streaming services.
And as to toughening yourself up, first break those bad habits talked about earlier, most especially any that involve sin. Learn to offer up your sufferings so that you come habitually to see suffering as important and meaningful. Get into the spirit of things during the Church's penitential times, especially Lent. Start doing things to subdue your flesh -- nothing egregious, but little things that require effort and sacrifice, and that keep in your mind the very concept of self-mortification. Various practices adopted by some, at least periodically, include:
  • Engaging in a regular work-out regimen and strength training (especially important for men who have women and children to protect).
  • Taking cold showers instead of hot ones.
  • Giving up simple food-related pleasures, such as taking your coffee or tea without cream or sugar, giving up salt as a condiment, giving up dessert, etc.
  • Keeping Wednesdays as penitential days in addition to Fridays, as did many early Christians (perhaps by abstaining from meat on that day as well).
  • Fasting instead of merely abstaining from meat on Fridays (and perhaps on Wednesdays).
  • Taking on other, longer times of periodic fasting.
  • Focusing on making a very fruitful Lenten season each year.
  • Practicing "St. Michael's Lent" as St. Francis did, from Marymass (the Feast of the Assumption) on August 15 to Michaelmas on September 29.
  • Focusing on posture so that you sit up straight and walk tall.
  • Keeping the temperature of one's room colder or warmer than one usually does, depending on the season.
  • Ensuring your sleeping habits are regular and ordered (going to bed and awakening at regular times).
  • Jumping out of bed immediately in the mornings instead of dilly-dallying under the warm covers.
  • Parking farther away from the door than one has to.
  • Putting a pebble in your shoe.
  • Walking instead of riding.
  • Taking the stairs rather than an elevator.
  • Praying while kneeling on something uncomfortable.
  • Taking on additional prayers, such as the Liturgy of the Hours, novenas, etc.
  • Giving alms.
  • Volunteering to help someone in need.
  • Going on retreats or pilgrimage for the purpose of penance.
  • Delaying gratification: instead of giving in to your desire for a pleasure immediately, wait for some time before indulging. (Note that the ability to delay gratification is one of the single largest predictors of success in life. Teach your children to work for things they want, to have a low time preference, to be patient, to delay receiving rewards and pleasures, etc. It's absolutely crucial to their ability to get on well in life).
Be careful with these mortifications; don't go crazy with them! With some, it's best if one undertakes them only after counsel: for ex., if you are wanting to fast for longer than a day, talk to your priest, and if you have any medical problems, talk to your doctor first (if you're pregnant or nursing, don't even think about fasting). No legitimate Catholic practice would ever compromise your physical health! And if any of these are practices you can't undertake without grumbling and becoming dour and nasty (or, conversely, becoming prideful), desist and talk to your priest.

But know that whatever you undertake to keep your passions under control, it will all be for naught if you don't conquer lust.

Lust. Again.

Note: Lust is not at all a problem only men deal with. Not even close. But because men, as a group, are more prone to using pornography than women are, as a group (though it's women who pose for the bulk of it, I imagine), the wording here will be directed to men. Mentally replace words as needed to make it relevant to you if you're female.

I end the page about Prudence with words about how lust darkens the intellect. If you haven't already read that, please go back and do it now. And then listen to Dr. E. Michael Jones talk about how lust is used for political control: Libido Dominandi (mp3) 2

That is how powerful lust is. And I want you to get good and mad about it. I want you to hate your lust like the enemy it is. I want you to despise it. And I want you to conquer it.

If you are addicted to porn you are working to remove yourself from "the gene pool." You are making yourself less marriageable, less masculine, and weak. You are allowing pornographers (swell lot, they are) and whores to take you away from family life. From life itself. From eternal life.  You are allowing them to turn you into a cowering simp, afraid to deal with -- and incapable of sexually functioning with -- a real woman in the real world. They are taking you away from fatherhood and success. They are stealing your birthright -- no, you are giving it to them, just like Esau gave away his for a bowl of soup. And you are giving away your birthright for -- what? Dopamine hits triggered by digitized prostitutes.

I want you to be enraged about this! I want you to hate that you've handed over to others your confidence and virility, your very manhood. I want you to grit your teeth in anger when you think of skanks and pimps raking in the money while you sit in the dark feeling humiliated, and your civilization collapses.

"But Western women have become awful, selfish creatures; I likely can't get married anyway as things are, what with the easy divorce and bad custody laws and --- " Excuses!  And that excuse is still rooted in the idea that women control you. Are you only a man if a woman is around to witness it? Read the medieval tale of Phyllis and Aristotle and think about how you are giving away your power to whores. Stop it!
Be a man because that's what God made you to be! Reclaim your masculinity! What do you have to show for your addiction? Nothing. Unless you count dirty, crunchy kleenexes and the shame of feeling like a useless, ever more perverted, out of control coomer. Cut it out. Now. And know that with every minute and every dollar you spend on porn, you are helping to create the sort of non-culture in which prostitutes and pimps are rewarded while good women and men suffer, families disintegrate, and children grow up without fathers.

"But I don't know how to quit!" Yes, you do. You stop. You get mad, stay mad, and will yourself to never give a second's worth of attention to filth that is beneath you and designed to enslave you and destroy your people. You use that anger. You kindle it. You keep it alive so that when you think "porn," you think "they do not control me!" instead. You put blockers on your browser. You take the browser off your phone. You move your computer to a public room of your house. You give someone else access to what you see on the internet so the embarrassment would prevent you from failing. If your addiction involves humiliation (cuckoldry, feminization, etc.), you treat your "wounded inner child" the same way you'd want your son to be treated -- i.e., you stop the shaming self-talk, and stop coupling the feeling of shame with sexual pleasure. You put obstacles between you and the problem. You distract yourself.3 You work out. You learn something, master something, make something, keep busy. You pray more. You have friends over for darts and beer. You rejoice at the idea of self-mastery, of having defeated an addiction that made you weak and ashamed. You rejoice in your newfound freedom and masculinity. And if you stumble, you don't cry like a little girl and quit; you get off the mat like a raging Rocky Balboa and keep going. You reclaim what you are: a man of God. A confident man who is in control of himself, has conquered himself. A dignified man who can look anyone in the eye without shame. A man who refuses to be beaten by sluts, pimps, demons, and the enemies of his people. A man destined for Heaven. A man.4


1 "How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world," European Journal of Social Psychology Eur. J. Soc. Psychol. 40, 998–1009 (2010) Published online 16 July 2009 in Wiley Online Library (

2 The phrase "libido dominandi" translates to "the desire to dominate" or "lust of rule." It comes from the preface to St. Augustine's "City of God."

3 When a lustful thought comes to mind, pray the sinner's prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner." Then swat the thought away like it's an annoying fly and either forget about it or think of something else. Replace any pornographic visual mental image with an image of something wholesome and masculine: have a "go to image" or thought mentally ready -- it could be anything: the Allies storming the beach at Normandy, a baseball game, your childhood train set, a math problem (e.g., think of two random three-digit numbers and add them mentally), etc.. Play a song in your mind (perhaps the one below). Do something else that engages your mind and hands, and frame it all such that you're not telling yourself that you're not trying to do X, but that are doing Y instead.

4 I can't resist adding some audio inspiration: Muddy Waters singing "Mannish Boy" (mp3) 

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