Committing time each day to prayer is essential to a fruitful Exodus. Setting aside 20-60 minutes of your day:
- Frees you from other distractions so you can focus on the Lord.
- Lays a foundation for your day, offering it up in prayer.
- Is an opportunity to read the daily Scripture from the Book of Exodus and allow yourself to be guided by the meditations and action items provided daily.
- Is the perfect time to pray the Rosary, asking for Mary's help and protection
This daily holy "hour" should take place with the fraternity when possible, but can also be done alone. This pillar of Exodus 90 will provide you the strength to enter more deeply into the practices of asceticism and the brotherhood of the fraternity.
- Take short, cold showers
- Practice regular, intense exercise
- Get a full night’s sleep (at least seven hours is recommended)
- Abstain from alcohol
- Abstain from desserts and sweets
- Abstain from eating between meals
- Abstain from soda or sweet drinks (white milk and unsweetened tea are permissible)
- Abstain from television, movies, or televised sports
- Abstain from video games
- Abstain from nonessential material purchases
- Only listen to music that lifts the soul to God
- Only use the computer for work, school, or essential tasks (e.g., paying bills)
- Only use mobile devices for essential communications; nonessential texting, app, and internet use is prohibited
- Practice fasting days: Wednesdays and Fridays (abstain from meat and only eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal)
The problem with the world is that men do not spend enough time with other men. Jesus, himself, saw the value of fraternity when he took his apostles out into the desert to keep vigil while sitting under the stars and before a glowing fire. Imagine all that was discussed, taught, and revealed on such an occasion!
Exodus would simply not work without the structure of brotherhood. Every participant in the Exodus program has emphatically confirmed that the fraternal bonds that kept the men together and moving forward for 90 days was the key to his success. Fraternity, like prayer, cannot be compromised. Men develop sexual addiction in the darkness of loneliness: for years believing that, he alone, struggles miserably – like a slave to a wicked master. Surprised though he is, he finds his brothers suffer a shared plight. Together, as brothers united in “dour combat,” they can help one another overcome sexual addiction or any other obstacle. Thus, man makes man.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church recognizes this phenomenon. “The virtue of chastity blossoms in friendship. It shows the disciple how to follow and imitate him [Jesus] who has chosen us as his friends, who has given himself totally to us and allows us to participate in his divine estate…” Jesus goes so far as to demonstrate the uncompromising requirement of friendship in spiritual progress. We see this in an unlikely place in the Gospel of St. Mark. As Jesus left Jerusalem on his way to Golgotha during his passion, he required the assistance of a certain “passer-by” named Simon of Cyrene. Simon was “coming in from the country” and, shoulder to shoulder with Christ, was pressed to carry the cross. Thus we see that even Jesus, when nearly overcome by his circumstances, had a brother in which to turn. Men must re-learn what Jesus taught… that when a man picks up his cross, he, like Jesus, nearly always needs the help of a devoted brother.
Perhaps this is a truth mostly lost to modern men, but it has not always been so. St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote to a disciple, “But I also hope that in your brotherhood you will find a great mutual help. In it you will find a brother ready to wait upon a fallen companion, to sustain the wavering, to stimulate the laggard by word and example, so that, ʽministering the same [grace] one to another’ (1 Peter 4:10), you prepare yourselves to receive fresh graces from the Father, since wherever two or three are gathered together to ask a favor it will be granted, as Truth Itself has promised.”
The 90 day benchmark is not an arbitrary number; it is a period of apprenticeship whereby a man can re-learn the joy and satisfaction of self-mastery and revered freedom. Consider the reality of the situation: pornographers do their best to expose boys to their illicit trade as they know the younger a boy is when he first views pornography, the more addicted he will be as an adult. Most men spend the entirety of their post-pubescent life unhappily addicted to (or at least harassed by) pornography and lust. In some cases, perhaps most cases, the struggle men endure can last for years, if not decades.
These facts sadly recalled, a purification of 90 days now seems miniscule. A thirty-year old man who was exposed to pornography at age 12, has spent 6,570 days struggling in the darkness of his sexual habit or addiction. So, for 6,570 days this man has been enslaved to an addiction that has depleted him of self-confidence, appropriate self-love, and his integrity as a man. That his addiction can be broken in only 90 days suddenly sounds merciful, if not completely manageable!
What is 90 days? Most men consider the 90 day period of purification a manly challenge, something that may have been missing in his life for a long time. In addition, he finds the challenge especially gratifying when engaged in the company of like-minded brothers. The Jewish people spent 40 years in the desert to earn freedom, all it takes is 90 days for a man to earn back his.
How many times has a man said to himself, “I am overwhelmed; I cannot resist this temptation; I will give in this time and I will be chaste tomorrow”? And, years later, he is faced with a wicked addiction that is nearly impossible to overcome. Stop listening to the Evil One! The most important step a man will make toward true freedom is BELIEVING the addiction can be broken. Here, science can encourage us:
- “The good news, however, is that Dr. Nora Volkow’s studies found that, at least in some cases, the brain begins returning to its pre-drug state after a year of abstinence. In 1985, she began using scans to study the brains of addicts, tracking blood flow and dopamine levels, among other things. After the subjects had been clean for a year, she rescanned their brains and found that they had begun to return to their original states.
“In addition, researchers have found that it takes about 90 days – the length of many rehabilitation models, including AA – for the brain to “reset” itself. A Yale University study found that after an addict has abstained for at least 90 days, the brain gradually returns to its natural decision-making and analytical functions” (All in Our Heads: How the Brain Creates Addiction; O’Dell, Meghan).
- National Institute on Drug Abuse reports: “Generally, for residential or outpatient treatment, participation for less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness, and treatment lasting significantly longer is recommended for maintaining positive outcomes” (Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide).
- Jason Powers: Interestingly enough, people in recovery have known this saying forever “90 meetings in 90 days” because when the brain is engaged in a habit for 90 days it becomes easier to do. So if you’re engaged in a program of recovery and you do it daily, chances of relapse are reduced” (Physiology of Addiction; All Treatment).