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Can past use of pornography prevent me from entering the convent?

Madelyn asks:

Dear Fr. Anthony,

I am in the process of completing the psychological evaluation for my application to religious life. Everything seems to be going well and I feel peaceful about this order that I am applying to. However, there is something in my past that is bothering me. I've faced certain trials regarding internet pornography which has been combated through prayer and the Sacraments. I'm happy to say that, by the grace of God, I've been freed from this sin for over 7 months. But, my question to you is: could this be something that could prevent me from entering religious life in the near future? I'm going to talk to the psychologist who is completing the evaluation but I'm worried that this past problem will prevent my entrance. Maybe I'm just being overly concerned? Thanks.

Dear Madelyn,

You need to remember that you are in God's hands now, and he is going to show you the path he wants you to follow through the people he has placed in your path as his representatives. It is important to keep this foremost in your mind. You are seeking his will and he is going to make it known to you.

Now, you are concerned about this weakness in your past, and it is something the evaluators have to take into consideration as they seek what is best for you. The best path is always clarity and honesty. Now, remember too that the psychological evaluation is only one of several elements that will be taken into account to decide regarding your entry.

As regards the particular problem that concerns you, one very good sign is that you have been working successfully to overcome it in the real circumstances of your life and not in some artificial environment. This is immensely positive. What the evaluators will be concerned to look into are the possible causes of your past failings and the possible enduring effects. If they were to decide that you need more time to ensure that you are stable in your new habits, that is not a step backwards but rather an important step forward in your vocation. Accept any delay but don't put off consecrating yourself to Christ in your mind and heart. Whatever the outcome, remember that God already sees what is in your heart and loves you for it.

I'll be praying for you.

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