BY PABLO BOTEYO
The twelve steps are something every person who deals with an addiction that resonated in their life knows very well. Thirty-three days is the amount it takes to consecrate oneself to the Virgin Mary. However, they are not often put together because one deals with the psychological aspect and the other with the spiritual self.
This gap is what Franciscan University senior Tommy Shultz is trying to break in his new pornography addiction program called Novo, which means to “make new” in Latin.
Shultz plans to release this program for free toward the end of Jan. 2015.
“Growing through this addiction I realized a big problem that was facing the Catholic Church,” Shultz said. “People were looking at it as more of a sin than an actual addiction. So I heard from people just you know, be aware of the occasion of sin, avoid those places, make sure God forgives you, and move on. But you’re never really taught how to combat a very real addiction.”
The program lasts 30 days and combines theology and psychology, as well as incorporating one’s prayer life. A day would consist of prayer, readings, reflection and a video at the end of it all that reflects upon Theology of the Body, which Shultz said was a big part of his conversion story.
“A couple of things it focuses on that I don’t think other programs focus on is, one, is what happens after you fall,” Shultz said. “I think a lot of the time we do focus on it as just a sin, we just despair, don’t know where to go, and starting to believe that even God doesn’t love us because we can’t get rid of this thing. “
Shultz makes the program flexible after the 30 days to where one can continue the program, taking one day per week elongating the recovery process from 30 days, and then 30 weeks if a person wishes to continue past the original 30 days.
“That was a big part of the program that I wanted to do since I started writing the program about three years now, on and off,” Shultz said. “Over the summer I kind of just got the conviction that I had to go with it. I had spoken to a lot of people that I deal with through ministry, found people who deal with this issue, and I’ve realized it’s a big issue whether you’re Christian, secular, whatever you are and I what I heard most was that there was no help out there.”
Since he decided to this, Shultz has had many people offer their help, including Franciscan graduate Kelly Butler, who recorded the videos for free in a week. Amongst others is Matt Fradd who helped Shultz raise $1,000 to travel to Oregon to record the videos.
“I talked to Matt Fradd over the summer, kind of providential, at a conference where he was speaking and started talking to him about the program,” Shultz said. “I gave him all the information, we kept in touch, he found out I was fundraising, shared it on his Facebook page, and within two days he had it raised by people I didn’t even know. Probably about 80 percent of the funds were from people I didn’t know.”
Shultz is now working on editing the program with Matt Fradd to help but it on ThePornEffect.com so people can sign up for Novo free of charge. It will also allow for pairing of random accountability person to help each other push through the addiction if they choose, or chose a friend they already know, or do it on their own.
“An interesting thing about this program is that it is not gender specific,” Shultz said. “I actually have a man and a woman test-driving it before releasing it to make sure there is something that both sexes can relate to. But I wanted that as a really defining factor of the program because I didn’t want to split the sexes up. Though I realize both sexes have differences in how they’re going to need to approach that, I think the accountability will help with that.”
Franciscan University will also be using the Novo program in the Counseling Center for groups to help people with pornography on campus. It can also be used for other things like bible studies or group reflections on Theology of the Body “whose truths are for both men and women” as Shultz said.
“You hear talks, you see books, and all this other stuff and a lot of that it is very helpful, but there’s nothing that really takes it to the next point or that gives you really real practical steps to help you get out of it,” Shultz said. “And that’s a big part of what I want to do with this program. It also does not have to be so much of a let’s support each other, but also a let’s fight through this together type of program.”