May the Grace, Peace, and Love of our Lord Jesus Christ who came to dwell among us as a little child be with you all as we prepare to celebrate our Lord’s birth yet again this Christmas season. We are writing to assure you of our prayers for you and your family and to encourage you in the great vocation that our Lord has bestowed upon you when he entrusted to you your own sons and daughters. Christmas is a reminder to all of us that God has been born into the world, into our families, and into our hearts. Most especially, it is the joy of children at Christmas that should remind us of the joy we all share in when we realize that the living God was once a little child to show us what it means for each of us to live in the joy of being a child of God. As Catholic mothers and fathers you have been entrusted with the task of being the first educators of your children in the faith (Rite of Baptism) and of revealing the love of Christ to your children each day through the love you express to them.
We realize that this task is made ever more daunting because of the culture that we live in. Everyday our young people are bombarded by anti-love, anti-gospel, and anti-family messages. Technology has made the messages more and more accessible, which can leave many of us feeling overwhelmed. Each of us, at Integrity Restored, are also parents and have our own families. We began Integrity Restored just a couple of years ago because we saw a need in the Church to assist Catholic families who have been negatively impacted by the anti-love culture that surrounds us by providing education, training and resources for individuals, spouses, parents, and clergy so that the Church might be better equipped to heal the wounds inflicted by the culture. What we did not forsee was the fact that your children would be reaching out to us, oftentimes without you knowing about it.
We receive emails everyday from people who are looking for help. Sometimes it is a wife who is looking for answers when she discovers that her husband has been unfaithful by looking at pornography, sometimes it is an adult man or woman who is just “sick of sexual sin”, and more recently teenagers who find us online and reach out because they desperately want help. No matter the age of the person who writes to us, their story is almost always the same—they were first introduced to pornography at a young age. Whether the person in my office is 15 or 50, they were most likely exposed for the first time between the ages of 10-14. Today the average age of exposure is 8.
When a teenager reaches out for help, we try our best to encourage them that Jesus loves them, that in most cases of first exposure the fact that they saw pornography wasn’t their fault, and most importantly to talk to you, their parents, about the fact that they are hurting, struggling, and need help. Because of the dignity and greatness of your vocation to be the first educator of your child and to reveal the love and mercy of Christ through the love and mercy you show your child, you are the most effective instrument of healing that Our Lord can use to bring restoration and healing to your child.
However, it is very common for that teenager to respond to us by saying, “I just can’t tell my parents”, “I don’t want to disappoint them”, “I’m too shy or ashamed to tell them”, or “It will just be too awkward.” This isn’t your fault either. Most of us did not grow up with the internet. Our parents could “get away with” not giving a very complete or intentional talk to us about the gift of human sexuality. They certainly didn’t have to give us a talk about the harms of pornography. Today, our circumstances are much different. Our young people are learning about human sexuality from the internet. They are seeing pornography before they leave middle school and by the time they get to high school, in many cases, they are being asked to send inappropriate pictures to other students. This reality makes our primary duty to educate our children even more urgent. John Paul II once said that, “the abuse of sexuality is the greatest obstacle to spirituality.”
We are here to help and support you in this duty. We also are asking for you to help us by doing all you can to prevent early exposure to pornography, and open up a dialogue with your children so that they will never feel that it is unsafe to seek your help. On our website you will find articles and videos to assist you in protecting your home internet connection, setting parental controls, using accountability software, and starting a conversation with your children. We also highly recommend that you visit www.cmgparent.org. This website was designed by our friends at Catholic Mutual Group in partnership with Covenant Eyes to educate parents about online dangers and model conversations between parents and children.
This Christmas, our prayer for you is that Jesus will enter into your homes and hearts in an ever more profound way. Please give your children the gift of a safe internet connection, and more importantly, a safe relationship with you. So that they will always know that they can come to you with anything, that you will always respond to them with love, and that you will do whatever it takes to provide the tools and healing they need to safeguard the love of Christ within their hearts. Our part is to continue to be a support to you in the beautiful and amazing vocation of parenthood which Christ has entrusted to you.
+May the Incarnate Lord continue to bless you and your families this Christmas season,
The Integrity Restored team
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