Oh! how many are lost by indulging their sight!  – St. Alphonsus de Ligouri
If your eye offends you, pluck it out. – Jesus
We live in a hyper-sexualized, even pornified culture, and if you’re a man who wants to be pure, you’re going to be involved in a constant warfare against lust. Everything from toothpaste commercials to weight loss ads have some sort of sexual spin. After all, as they say, sex sells.
Then there is the rampant immodesty in women’s dress (even in church, sadly), including mini-shorts, crop tops, and leggings worn as pants. Popular TV shows are filled with graphic sex, and celebrities dress in see-through clothing—that is, when they aren’t releasing nude photos of themselves.
Now, these temptations are so powerful because they involve our sight—one of the most potent of our senses, especially for us men. What we see is indelibly etched into our memories, and we can never truly un-see anything. Additionally, our sight has a powerful connection to what we want. Radio ads will never be as effective as TV ads, because hearing simply isn’t as strong a sense as sight.
Today I want to talk about an ancient Catholic practice that can help us combat temptations to lust: Custodia occulorum, or custody of the eyes.
What is it
At its most basic level, custody of the eyes simply means controlling what you allow yourself to see. It means guarding your sense of sight carefully, realizing that what you view will leave an indelible mark on your soul.
Many of the saints, in their zeal for purity, would never look anyone in the face. “To avoid the sight of dangerous objects, the saints were accustomed to keep their eyes almost continually fixed on the earth, and to abstain even from looking at innocent objects,” says St. Alphonsus de Liguori.
Now, staring at the floor at all times is a bit extreme for most of us,