Posted On 2023-04-09 In Projects

Men’s Workshop: The way out of addiction

GERMANY / AUSTRALIA, Markus M. Amrein/mf •

The Men’s Workshop had once again invited to an online event, this time on the topic: “Life crisis that led to faith!” Jim from Sydney gave a touching testimony on how he experienced the gift of purity. —

Jim J., German-born Australian, showed the participants that evening how the word of Jesus: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8) “how this word became very real to me and led me through some very personal encounters to a deep conversion and on a path of purification and healing from my pornography addiction.

The more I read the Scriptures daily, the more the Word became true for me: the Word will reveal the meaning of lived experiences. When Scripture is read in the light of the same Spirit who wrote it, it always remains new, Pope Francis once said. I have experienced and realized that the Word is truly alive.”

The road to addiction

Jim grew up the youngest of four children with his single mother in northern Germany; he didn’t know his father, but he knew at least three different “uncles.” The family environment was very abusive and violent, fueled by excessive alcohol consumption. When his mother located his biological father in Australia through the Red Cross, she decided to emigrate there with Jim. Jim was 15 years old at the time. In order to quickly gain a foothold in Australia, he did not speak German for years, learned to speak perfect English, studied mechanical engineering, finally found a good job, married, had children and grandchildren. For more than 30 years, he volunteered as a group leader in a 12-step program for people affected by drug, alcohol and other addictions.

As a child, before emigrating to Australia, he had begun using pornography. That turned into addiction. “This dark and deep path into pornography addiction got deeper and darker until I practically couldn’t see reality anymore.” Neural circuits in the brain change when someone becomes addicted. Decades of research have shown that many drugs, as well as good food or sex, activate the reward system in the brain. As different as substances and stimuli are, such as nicotine, cocaine or ecstasy, alcohol, chocolate, nasal spray, gambling or porn movies, they all increase the dopamine level in the so-called nucleus accumbens, which neurobiologically acts like reward (cf. for example the research of Christian Lüscher). Jim knows this was the case for him when he was under 15.

“When I had my encounter with our Lord, I began to fill that dark, deep valley with the living water: ‘He who thirsts, come to me and drink it,[3] 38 he who believes in me!’ As the Scripture says, “From within him will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:37-38).” This imagery helped me greatly, as slowly but surely I saw the deep valley of darkness become a river of hope and salvation.

Brain research shows that new neural pathways can be laid, and this is a great hope for all of us. As we feel shame and guilt.”

My first deep personal encounter to the path out of addiction was the birth of my first daughter. As I held her in my arms after birth, I was overcome with an overwhelming sense of shame and guilt, and I vowed never to look at another woman permanently again. It was a very difficult and long road with numerous setbacks. Through my habit of self-medication, I had become a slave to my addiction.”

The way out

Sometime after my first encounter with Jesus, the devil played his tricks to get me back off my faith, as I had some success in my recovery at that point.

There was an opportunity to meet again with my brother, whom I had not seen for many years. He wanted to go to the Reeperbahn to meet with me. I was torn between saying no or getting involved in this experience. I prayed hard and asked for a solution, an answer, but none came. I gave in and went because I longed to reconnect and connect with my big brother.

He took me to his favorite peep show and urged me to attend, which I reluctantly did. By this time, my brother had become estranged from his daughter and didn’t know exactly where she was or what she was doing, as she had been involved with some questionable characters in the past. As I entered the very small room, a picture of his daughter came to mind: what if she was in this show? With that thought, I walked out and waited for my brother. When I told him what had happened, at first he was very upset with me, but as the conversation went on he became very emotional and by the end of the evening vowed never to go there again. After that experience, we started to really bond and build a very healthy relationship.


The Garden of Eden

We are meant to be people of the garden. Reading Genesis inspired me to take a journey back to the garden. My way out of that deep, dark valley seemed like a bare-knuckle climb. The image of living water kept coming to my mind as I prayed to our MTA and our Lord.

Why not fill this valley with the living water that Jesus speaks of? Surely Jesus could fill this dark valley with his living water if he could turn water into wine. As I put my trust in Him, I felt myself slowly getting closer and closer to the highest part of the valley and catching a glimpse of the garden. I began to feel free because, “To freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not let a yoke of bondage be put on you again” (Galatians 5:1)! I began to really experience this freedom and how gentle our Lord was.

My conversion was initiated when I sealed my Covenant of Love with Our Lady and loved the Word, making it come alive in me every day.

My journey was enriched by the discovery of Father J. Kentenich’s booklet ‘On the Richness of Purity’. When I read it for the third time, it was clear to me what my task was.

Our Lady became my model for purity

How do I achieve purity of heart? For me, through the MTA, because she was also the fulfillment of my imagination. She breathed life into me because purity of heart also requires the purification of the social climate, through a constant struggle against the moral permissiveness based on a false idea of man’s freedom. Disciplining the imagination and the emotions.

My consecration to St. Joseph, my Covenant of Love with him, in 2021, has immensely consolidated my path of purity and chastity.

If the men of today were more like St. Joseph – protectors and defenders of beauty, instead of using and abusing the feminine mystery – what a different world it would be! Some men are called to consecrated celibacy. Most men are called to marriage. Both callings are necessary. Without marriage, no children. Without priests, no sacraments. Married men must be chaste in marriage. Priests and bishops must be chaste in their priestly ministry. God wants all men to live the chastity and self-giving of St. Joseph.”

The prayer of Fr. Kentenich accompanies me daily:

Hail Mary, for the sake of your purity
keep pure my body and my soul.
Open wide to me your heart and the heart of your Son.
Invoke in me a profound self-knowledge
and the grace of perseverance and faithfulness until death.
Give souls to me and take everything else for yourself.

More information and dates of upcoming online meetings for men:

Original: German. Translation: Maria Fischer @schoenstatt.org

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