St. Jacinta and the Fight Against Pornography

Last week I began to write about the seers of Fatima, the three shepherd children, and provided EWTN’s short synopsis of the life of St. Jacinta Martos, the youngest of the three. Of the three children, Jacinta was the one most deeply moved by the vision of hell, which led her to a deep compassion for sinners and a tremendous zeal to pray and make sacrifices for their conversion so that they might avoid the eternal misery of hell.

 After the apparitions Jacinta developed a very grave and serious manner that made her seem very old and mature for her years. Indeed, she could very much seem like the old-school grandmother rebuking people for their conversation and behavior, telling them that their words and actions were sinful and offensive to God. Yet, she was not just some bitter scold, her presence radiated peace and the presence of God that gave authority to her words.

 She also received various communications from Our Lady after the apparitions through which she learned that more souls go to hell for sins against the flesh than for any other sin and she prophesied the introduction of fashions in clothing that would be very offensive to the Lord in light of which she especially warned women against giving way to immodesty in dress. Though Jacinta was not even ten years old when she died, she was able to see the disorder in the way men and women were relating to one another.

 Sins of the flesh, that is sexual sins, sins against chastity, are not the worst of sins, but they are very common and people readily justify their sexual sins, while they do not readily repent of them, especially because of the sense of shame that accompanies them. Before a person sins the devil seeks to break down the barriers of shame, but after sin the devil seeks to build up shame as a barrier to repentance. On top of this, contemporary culture glorifies sexual sin; the virtue of chastity is now seen as being abnormal.

Modesty in dress also serves as a protection for the virtue of chastity, but in place of such modesty we have the ever increasing sexualization of even very young girls. We have indeed gone far beyond the bounds of immodesty to the point in which our society is inundated with pornography.

 Pornography is a plague and a curse upon our society. It degrades women above all, but also men. Watching pornography is the moral and spiritual equivalent of feeding on raw, untreated sewage. The poisonous images are easily taken into the imagination, but afterwards they are not so easily removed. No one watching a pornographic movie would want to see their daughter on the screen, but every woman in those movies is someone’s daughter. The way in which men look at women and relate to them is shaped by the pornographic images they feed on. Women, in ever growing numbers, are also watching pornography and it shapes the way the view themselves. Many women have also become devout readers of pornographic books, hiding beneath the genre of ‘romance’. Pornography undermines healthy relationships between men and women and destroys marriages. The sexual act, instead of being a loving exchange between husband and wife, ends up being mediated by pornographic images of strangers, turning intimate loving knowledge into anonymous mutual exploitation.

 The plague of pornography is wreaking havoc in the lives of adults, but its destructive power is also stripping children of their innocence at ever younger ages. Exposure of minors to pornography is a form of child sex-abuse. Even though the child only stumbled on the pornographic image while using the internet the purveyors of pornography cannot be exonerated of their crimes. Those crimes are very extensive indeed since it seems that scarcely any one passes through Middle School any more without being exposed to pornography and many do not even escape elementary school without suffering such exposure. These days children even younger than St. Jacinta was when she died (10 years old) are frequently exposed to pornography. The exposure impresses on the young mind a distorted image of sex that wounds and scars the young soul.

 Apart from the violent and abusive relationships that seem to characterize pornography, it always inculcates in the young mind a view of sex separated from honorable marriage and the procreation of children. That pornographic distortion always vitiates public school ‘sex education’ programs where the underlying message ends up: this is the biology, use it ‘responsibly’, make sure you are ready, do not violate someone’s consent, protect yourself against disease and children, for the rest, ‘have fun’. Really X-rate adult entertainment is only the tip of the iceberg. The glorification of ‘sexy’ whether in fashions or in the visual media really deserves the designation ‘pornographic’. Indeed, we are living ever more in a pornographic, voyeuristic culture.

 St. Jacinta reminds us that it is not just the psychological and relational damage produced by pornography, here and now, that is at stake, but the eternal salvation of immortal souls. The viewing of pornography is spiritual deadening and shuts the soul to the life-giving power of the word of God.

 St. Jacinta, however, does something more than just remind us, she prays for us, she continues in heaven to pray for the conversion of sinners. We should call upon her to protect and deliver those we love from the scourge of pornography and to give us the strength and wisdom to fight against this radical corruption of all that is true, good, and beautiful.

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Fr. Joseph Levine graduated from Thomas Aquinas College and after a long journey was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Baker, Oregon. He currently serves as pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in The Dalles on the Columbia River.