The Only Ways to Avoid Impurity (Especially In Our Time), by Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri
The first means is, to avoid all occasions of sin. It is impossible for anyone who does not endeavour to flee from the occasions of sin, especially in the matter of sensual pleasures, to avoid falling into sin.
FLEEING FROM THE OCCASIONS OF SIN
St. Philip Neri said: “In the war of the senses, the conquerors are the cowards who flee.” The occasion is like a veil put before our eyes, so that we can see nothing else—neither God, nor hell nor the resolutions we had made. The Scripture says, it is impossible to walk on burning coals without being burnt: Or can he walk upon hot coals, and his feet not be burnt?
So it is morally impossible for anyone to put himself voluntarily into the occasion of sin and not to fall, although he may have made a thousand resolutions and a thousand promises to God. This is clearly shown every day by the misery of so many poor souls who are plunged into vice for not avoiding the occasions.
Anyone who has had the evil habit of sins of impurity must know that, in order to restrain himself, it is not enough merely to avoid those occasions which are absolutely proximate; for if he does not also flee from those which are not altogether proximate, he will easily fall again.
The Deceptions Even of Apparent Virtues and Holiness
Nor must we allow ourselves to be deceived by the devil into thinking that the person towards whom we are tempted is a saint; it often happens that the more devout a person is, the stronger is the temptation. St. Thomas Aquinas says, that the holiest persons attract the most. The temptation will begin in a spiritual way, and will terminate carnally.
The great servant of God F. Sertorio Caputo, of the Society of Jesus, said that the devil first induces one to love a person’s virtue, then the person, and then blinds one and brings one to ruin. We must also flee from evil companions: we are too weak; the devil is continually tempting us, and the senses are drawing us to evil; the slightest suggestion of bad companions is only wanting to make us fall.
Evil Occasions, Bad Companions
Therefore the first thing that we have to do to save ourselves is to avoid evil occasions and bad companions. And we must in this matter do violence to ourselves, resolutely overcoming all human respect. Those who do not use violence to themselves will not be saved. It is true, that we must not put confidence in our own strength, but only in the divine assistance; but God Wills that we should do our part in doing violence to ourselves, when it is necessary to do so, in order to gain Paradise: The violent bear it away.”
— from The Saint Alphonsus de Liguori Collection” by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, Catholic Way Publishing
— See also “Jean Vanier’s sad fall from grace” [The Spectator]