Top 3 Tips on Maintaining Innocence in a Non-innocent Age

Top 3 Tips on Maintaining Innocence in a Non-innocent Age June 17, 2023

The most innocent soul I have ever met.

This is what one of my friends said about me at a pool party recently. The most innocent soul I have ever met. It’s one of the best compliments I have ever been given. Especially at a time when I am struggling with a sin that makes me feel decidedly not innocent.

But what is innocence exactly? And why is it so good?

What is innocence?

Innocence is one of those things that is more easily defined by what it is not rather than by what it is.

Innocence is not:

  1. Solely referring to sexual purity
  2. Ignorance of evil/naivety
  3. Sinlessness

Innocence is Being Childlike

In a word, innocence is being childlike. Jesus calls us to be childlike and he never asks the impossible of us. Patty Brito/Unsplash

In a word, I would define innocence as being childlike. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, innocence is

Freedom from sin, guilt, or moral wrong in general; the state of being untainted with, or unacquainted with, evil
Freedom from cunning or artifice, guilelessness, artlessness, simplicity

Children are all of these things. Guilelessness. Jesus himself praises this, lauding Nathaneal when they first meet: “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile” (Jn 1:47)

Moreover, Jesus is constantly exalting us to be more like little children, “for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19:14).

Innocence is two six-year olds, one black and one white, maintaining with 100% certainty that they are twins (here’s the video). Innocence is my seven-year old self’s insistence that the entire family lay on the grass to watch the birds fly by. And innocence is Ariel’s ability to recognize the good in the human world in spite of the evil (check out my last post for more on Ariel’s desires and ours).

The World Needs Innocence

Anyone can see we are living in a non-innocent age. Sexuality in all its forms is actively encouraged. The dignity and value of human life is under constant attack. And we are exploiting our very home with no regard for its intrinsic value.

But even the most worldly people recognize the value of innocence. Imagine a child waving to all sitting in an airport. Who wouldn’t look up from their phone and smile back? For a moment, stress, worries, and bad moods dissipate. This is the power of innocence. And in a non-innocent world, innocence is all the more necessary. Luckily, we don’t need to be actual children to achieve innocence.

After all, Jesus calls us to be childlike and he would never ask the impossible of us.

How can I achieve innocence?

So, if it’s not impossible, how can we achieve innocence?

Here are three things to remember when searching for innocence.

1. Remember, it is not too late

Perhaps you’re reading this and you have a sense of sadness. You might think, I’ve lost my innocence. I can’t unsee the things I’ve seen, I can’t undo what I’ve tried. But innocence is like virginity. It is a choice. No one can take it from you. And, in a sense, God can restore it.

Though we live in time, though we might be forever marked by the things that have eroded our innocence, God transcends time. He can transform us and he can restore us.

Innocence is a choice. It can’t be taken. And if you’ve lost it, God can restore it.

The catechism acknowledges that chastity, intrinsically tied to innocence, is a “an apprenticeship in self-mastery” and that “self-mastery is a long and exacting work. One can never consider it acquired once and for all” (CCC 2339, 2342). This implies that chastity can be achieved even after a state of unchastity. If it is a lifelong journey, then that allows for failure.

Mary Magdalene is the ultimate example of this. Possessed by seven demons and likely having lived an unchaste life, she was perfectly restored. So much so that she was the first to see the risen Lord. It is not too late to be restored to innocence.

2. Rely On God’s Grace

In Christ’s sacrifice, God fulfills his promise in Isaiah: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Is 1:18).

We cannot be innocent without Jesus’ sacrifice. Christ is “holy, innocent, and undefiled” (LG 8). It is this sacrifice that allows us to be innocent as well. By our Baptism, we are brought into Christ’s innocence: The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ (CCC 2345).

Therefore, we must rely on God’s grace. We must throw ourselves into daily prayer and engage with the sacraments frequently. Especially confession! God will transform us.

In a struggle with a certain sin, I’ve found myself going to Confession around two times a week. Though this can be frustrating, I choose to keep my focus on God’s grace. My desire to be innocent of my sin is pleasing to God, regardless of my current failures to live up to said desire. 

3. Protect Yourself

What messages are you receiving from social media? Are they impeding your innocence?

Apart from Jesus and Mary, we are all afflicted by original sin. Thus, none of us are truly innocent. The world has its grip on us. The internet seems to make it particularly easy to lose our innocence. Social media can easily expose us to the wrong kinds of voices. Sometimes it’s not as obvious as extremists declaring that all forms of sex are good. Sometimes it’s subtle, hidden in subtext.

God calls us to use discernment in identifying these voices. What are the things that attack our innocence? Once you have identified them, take measures to protect yourself from them. This does not mean living in an echo chamber where you only hear voices of those who agree with you. It means making sure you are aware of the messages you are receiving and their effect on you. It is good to be open to other perspectives (that’s what patheos is all about!). Just make sure you’re receiving a balanced set of perspectives. And if any are leading you to sin, then it needs to be cut off.

We need to be aware of our own limits. Someone far advanced in their relationship with Christ may be able to listen with compassion and understanding to a Satanist’s reasonings. But someone who is only getting to know the Lord might be tempted to enter into that life. Know your limits and protect yourself.

Key Takeaway

Innocence is being unacquainted with evil. It is seeing the good in spite of knowing evil. It is choosing the good without ever considering evil as an option. Though impossible to achieve on our own, Jesus’ sacrifice washes us clean as snow. It is never too late to recover our innocence. Let us rely on God’s grace and protect ourselves from attacks against our innocence.



Thanks for reading today’s article! Remember to check out my other posts on discernment!

Fun fact about the Catholic Bird Lover: I train Capoeira, a Brazilian martial arts. For more from me, follow me on Instagram @birdloversmusings





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