Breaking the porn habit

Question: Since my children gave me a computer, I find myself dabbling with pornography. Can you tell me how I can break the habit? What exactly is pornography? 

— Name and address withheld

Answer: The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes pornography as follows: “Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world” (No. 2354). 

Dabbling in pornography is one of the “new” sins that have emerged with the wider use of the Internet. This problem can be very compulsive and habit-forming. I recommend to people who are attached to Internet pornography that they mark the Sign of the Cross on their computer each time they turn it on or are tempted to stray on to pornographic sites. Alternately, you might attach a little crucifix or holy card to your computer.  

Jesus the Eternal Word 

Question: I was reading a book that said Jesus came into being at his birth through Mary. Does this mean that he did not exist before? 

— Name withheld, Cocoa Beach, Fla.

Answer: A fundamental conviction of the earliest Christian faith is that there is one God in three persons. God is three, yet one. All the persons are equal. Furthermore, God is eternal and none of the persons existed before the other. This is formulated for us in the Nicene Creed, which we profess at Mass on Sunday and solemnities: “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven.” The profession that Jesus was “eternally begotten” means that he existed from all eternity. Thus it cannot be said that Jesus came into being in his birth from Mary. 

This faith is set forth in the beginning of the Gospel According to John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. ... And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory of the Father’s only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth” (1:1-3,14). 

Intercessions at Mass 

Question: At Mass in our parish, the deacon adds, “And for the personal intention you hold in your heart.” I thought the priest has to know our intentions before God answers them. Is this true? 

— Leonard Loftus,Geneseo, Ill.

Answer: To be effective, the general intercessions have to be known by priest and people. The priest also has to know the “special intention” of the Mass (the intention for which a stipend may be received). However, to be efficacious, the priest does not need to know the personal intention of every person in the congregation. 

Msgr. M. Francis Mannion is a priest and theologian of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Send your questions to Pastoral Answers, Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750 or to mfmannion@osv.com. Letters must be signed, but anonymity may be requested.