Virtus Week

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Deacon Ryan Sales is one of the lead organizers of Virtus Week. Photo by Henry Gramling.

From Oct. 2 to Oct. 5, Campus Ministry and the Office of Student Affairs are hosting a four-day event at the University of Dallas focused on bringing awareness to the harmful effects of pornography – Virtus Week.

Deacon Ryan Sales, minister for faith formation as well as campus ministry and one of the lead organizers of Virtus Week, said, “We need to not just call pornography out as a sin, but we need to lift up our brothers and sisters who are fighting this battle and support them.”

Bethany Weinand, residence coordinator in the office of student affairs, worked closely with Dcn. Sales to bring this event to fruition.

“As a Catholic school, it’s our mission to direct our students to knowledge of the truth. The rise of free internet pornography over the last twenty-five years is an egregious offense against the dignity of the human person. Porn harms consumers, their loved ones, and those involved in its production. We must bring that truth to the light,” said Weinand.

Virtus Week consists of four separate events – one each day – that target porn addiction in unique ways.

Virtus Week kicked off Monday with a presentation from Fight the New Drug, a secular, non-profit organization that focuses on exposing the harmful side effects and addictive nature of pornography. One of their key missions is to demonstrate how pornography has become a public health crisis.

Initially, Fight the New Drug would have been a stand-alone event, but Dcn. Sales and OSA chose to broaden the program.

“We were working on gathering together what resources currently exist on campus – coordinating Fight the New Drug’s presentation here at UD,” said Dcn. Sales. “Rather than just having a single event to fight the new drug, why not have several events appealing to a broader range of people and giving them more tools, more information and really rallying the university behind the banner of fighting this epidemic?”

Tuesday featured a screening of the film “The Heart of the Matter,” a Christian film with testimonials of the impact of pornography on people’s lives.

Today, Fr. James Martin Nobles O.P. will lead a prayer vigil before the Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine at 7:30 p.m. Virtus Week concludes tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 5, at 7:30 p.m., with a panel discussion in Gorman Lecture Hall A on the natural and spiritual effects of porn, both culturally and individually.

This panel discussion will include testimony from Thomas O’Donnell, a student who has overcome an addiction to pornography.

“I just want to help other people that are struggling with the same thing to overcome it – just to let people know that there are resources out there for them on campus,” said O’Donnell. “It can be easy to feel like there’s no hope sometimes when you’re in the midst of the struggle, but I did it. You can do it too. There’s definitely hope.”

The goal of Virtus Week is to provide insight both to the addicted and those who are unaware of the nature and effects of porn addictions.

Helping youth who struggle with sins against chastity, especially young men, has been a focal point for Dcn. Sales, who believes that the Catholic community has a particular responsibility to assist their brothers and sisters in need.

“The faithful understand beyond just the physiological and the cultural impacts that these behaviors are sinful,” said Dcn. Sales. “They distort the relationship between man and woman and turn it into one of objectification. It disorders their desires and dulls them to authentic intimacy.”

Children are being exposed to porn at increasingly younger ages. The average age of exposure for young men is around nine years old.

“Technology continues to be provided to our children at a younger and younger age. The social media applications that we’re using – the algorithms know that they’re able to capture the atten- tion of people who are on those platforms and hold their attention lon- ger if they slowly orient them more towards consuming addictive content,” said Sales. “They want you to be addicted. We know that the maxim ‘sex sells’ plays out even amongst our children.”

Above all, the goal of Virtus Week is to encourage those who struggle with this addiction to seek the help they need.

Weinand said, “I believe our greatest resource in fighting pornography is communion and connection in the body of Christ. Authentic love and real human connection ultimately prevail over isolation and false intimacy. Christ always goes before us and invites us to meet him in areas of darkness. As Augustine says, ‘In my deepest wound I saw you there, and it dazzled me.’”

1 COMMENT

  1. One of the best resources for overcoming a porn habit or addiction is the book Power Over Pornography. Its unique application of advanced cognitive behavior tools really works, especially at preventing relapse. I highly recommend it.

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