It’s Time To Be Honest with Ourselves

Dear fellow brothers and sisters in Christ;

There are a TON of articles floating around about how the Church is going to “change” (implying “reverse”). Don’t worry – the sky isn’t falling – it’s just that we need to transform and elevate the language we use, otherwise what is going on won’t make much sense.

As I share in my testimony, one of the only places on earth I found that distinguished between attractions experienced (not specifically chosen) and identity embraced (specifically chosen), was the Catholic Church. The world does everything to inhibit this truth from being known (if you don’t believe me, try bringing this truth into this world – you will likely be crucified).

In saying that, if that distinction is not made known, then the fullness of the Catholic position will likewise not be reflected. That is, any document that does not speak to attractions experienced and identity embraced clearly as distinct items, is flawed. It is possible that if read with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it may be able to fully communicate truth. However, if this were the case, further clarification would be needed anyway.

Denying the distinction between attractions experienced and identity embraced would be like saying the distinction between manslaughter (not a specific choice to kill) and first-degree murder (a specific choice to kill) should also be denied. However, if we can make this necessary distinction with regards to murder, then it would make sense that we should be able to make this necessary distinction with regards to sexuality. If we want to be honest with ourselves, we will make that necessary distinction.

Recognize the Flaw

This flaw is perpetuated every time words like “heterosexual” or “homosexual” (or “gay” or “straight”, etc…) are used recklessly without clarification as to their precise meaning. If the distinction between attractions experienced and identity embraced became known, the face of this topic would be changed forever.

As well, we need to remember that particular attractions experienced do not equate to something being “our nature”, nor do they necessitate that a particular identity must be embraced. Those who promote otherwise, draw people to build an identity and self-concept anchored first and foremost on themselves (their sexual attractions and or inclinations), as opposed to God. This is the placing of the finite (creation) above the infinite (Creator). To do this is not only to contradict objective truth, it is also to commit the sin of idolatry. To assist others in this is to be complicit in the sin of idolatry.

The Solution

Languages need to adapt in order to reflect the distinction between that which is not specifically chosen (attractions and or inclinations) and that which is specifically chosen (embraced identity). We cannot take short cuts.

As well, we must recognize subtle nuances that have huge implications. For example, saying “gay people” is not even close to the same thing as saying “persons who experience same-sex attractions”. This is similar to how coffee and cream is not the same as cream and coffee, macaroni and cheese is not the same as cheese and macaroni, and pork and beans is not the same as beans and pork.

We all know this, and in fact the FDA makes laws about labelling food that respects this logic. Yet… our world rejects this logic when describing people. What is more important? A can of beans or a person? If the label matters for something as trivial as a can of beans, would it not be all the more important if it were to be referring to a human being? Just sayin…

Regardless, in each way of expressing those elements, the main “ingredient” matters, for it indicates the nature of the substance. Ever heard someone say “Would you like coffee with your sugar?” This could only be said if people knew in their hearts that the “ingredient list” makes a huge difference.

Time To Be Honest With ourselves

Let’s be honest with ourselves and recognize that self-identifying and defining ourselves according to labels like gay or straight contradict the order of our “ingredients”. We are not sexual attractions first and foremost, but rather persons first and foremost; persons who experience xyz attractions or inclinations.

THAT is self-honesty.

Now let’s bring that to the world (please share this article, because we need your help).

It’s Time To Be Honest with Ourselves

Dear fellow brothers and sisters in Christ;

There are a TON of articles floating around about how the Church is going to “change” (implying “reverse”). Don’t worry – the sky isn’t falling – it’s just that we need to transform and elevate the language we use, otherwise what is going on won’t make much sense.

As I share in my testimony, one of the only places on earth I found that distinguished between attractions experienced (not specifically chosen) and identity embraced (specifically chosen), was the Catholic Church. The world does everything to inhibit this truth from being known (if you don’t believe me, try bringing this truth into this world – you will likely be crucified).

In saying that, if that distinction is not made known, then the fullness of the Catholic position will likewise not be reflected. That is, any document that does not speak to attractions experienced and identity embraced clearly as distinct items, is flawed. It is possible that if read with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it may be able to fully communicate truth. However, if this were the case, further clarification would be needed anyway.

Denying the distinction between attractions experienced and identity embraced would be like saying the distinction between manslaughter (not a specific choice to kill) and first-degree murder (a specific choice to kill) should also be denied. However, if we can make this necessary distinction with regards to murder, then it would make sense that we should be able to make this necessary distinction with regards to sexuality. If we want to be honest with ourselves, we will make that necessary distinction.

Recognize the Flaw

This flaw is perpetuated every time words like “heterosexual” or “homosexual” (or “gay” or “straight”, etc…) are used recklessly without clarification as to their precise meaning. If the distinction between attractions experienced and identity embraced became known, the face of this topic would be changed forever.

As well, we need to remember that particular attractions experienced do not equate to something being “our nature”, nor do they necessitate that a particular identity must be embraced. Those who promote otherwise, draw people to build an identity and self-concept anchored first and foremost on themselves (their sexual attractions and or inclinations), as opposed to God. This is the placing of the finite (creation) above the infinite (Creator). To do this is not only to contradict objective truth, it is also to commit the sin of idolatry. To assist others in this is to be complicit in the sin of idolatry.

The Solution

Languages need to adapt in order to reflect the distinction between that which is not specifically chosen (attractions and or inclinations) and that which is specifically chosen (embraced identity). We cannot take short cuts.

As well, we must recognize subtle nuances that have huge implications. For example, saying “gay people” is not even close to the same thing as saying “persons who experience same-sex attractions”. This is similar to how coffee and cream is not the same as cream and coffee, macaroni and cheese is not the same as cheese and macaroni, and pork and beans is not the same as beans and pork.

We all know this, and in fact the FDA makes laws about labelling food that respects this logic. Yet… our world rejects this logic when describing people. What is more important? A can of beans or a person? If the label matters for something as trivial as a can of beans, would it not be all the more important if it were to be referring to a human being? Just sayin…

Regardless, in each way of expressing those elements, the main “ingredient” matters, for it indicates the nature of the substance. Ever heard someone say “Would you like coffee with your sugar?” This could only be said if people knew in their hearts that the “ingredient list” makes a huge difference.

Time To Be Honest With ourselves

Let’s be honest with ourselves and recognize that self-identifying and defining ourselves according to labels like gay or straight contradict the order of our “ingredients”. We are not sexual attractions first and foremost, but rather persons first and foremost; persons who experience xyz attractions or inclinations.

THAT is self-honesty.

Now let’s bring that to the world (please share this article, because we need your help).

Fully Open to Virtue = Fully Open to Jesus Christ

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Feedback from a Reader

I am writing this right before bed so I will make this brief (hopefully).

I am a woman who has been sober (from alcohol) for a number of years. I am now a practicing catholic, and I now live in the freedom that only Christ offers. I would like to leave my reversion story out of this email, only because of wanting to address a different issue.

Since reading more articles and listening to people who are a part of Courage, I have learned so much more about my alcoholism and addiction history. The reasons why Alcoholics Anonymous can be helpful, can also make it binding. Trapped in one’s identity and not discovering ourselves as brothers and sisters in Christ. I have learned that my attraction and disordered relationship to alcohol and drugs is a symptom of the mortal sin in which I battle. Not that I AM JUST an alcoholic/addict. That I am NOT separate from my fellows in my worries, fears, struggles, and pains. Through the Courage community discussing openly the struggle of a specific suffering, I too have come to see that alcoholism is the cross I bear.

Living in the fullness of the truth and receiving our Lord physically and spiritually in the sacraments has given me strength and awareness that I never knew existed. Does it mean that I don’t have dreams where I use and drink? No. Does it mean that my mind does not wander into fantasies of a selfish life of gluttony and overindulgence? No. Does it mean that I don’t wonder why I can not have just a few glasses of wine with my friends? No. These things happen, and I  am sure they happen for you.

The big difference I see, is because the life of an active alcoholic is outwardly destructive. No one who loves  me, or even society for that matter, would tell me I am denying my “true self” by not using drugs and drinking alcohol. Here, friend, is where my heart goes out to those who experience same-sex attractions. My first sponsor identified as a lesbian, and lives an actively gay lifestyle with a “wife” and child. I love her very much.   It is difficult because I can not support her lifestyle, and I am sure I seem like the least loving out of anyone she knows. I digress, because that is another aspect of this whole issue. But, I pray that one day people will be more accepting of people who decide NOT to participate in same sex behavior. Especially from those in the LGBT community.

Alcoholism was a stigma too, and now sobriety is hailed. Only because people can’t see your brokenness on the outside, doesn’t mean those who experience same-sex attractions do not deserve healing (brokenness that is seen on the outside with alcoholics n drug addicts). I know the pains of mortal sin.

I know more about Gods redemptive power because of testimonies like yours. Know that I am praying for you, and please please pray for me. I hope that awareness means helping each other bear the crosses in which we have been given. “love thy neighbor as thyself.” I pray for your courage, and thank you for sharing it with me. Praise be Jesus Christ!

 

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Evangelization 101

Evangelization 101
Evangelism! Sounds easy, right? Well, considering the reality that our world is becoming more and more hostile to Christians, this is becoming more and more difficult.

Gone are the days of saying “because it says so in the Bible/Scripture/Tradition/Magisterium”. People have a different view of the Church, and we need to respond to that, if we want to be effective in what we are doing.

We have to move from an authoritative stance, to revealing a virtuous lived example – so that we might be the living reason why someone might choose on their own accord, to grow into a deeper relationship with Christ. Now, how on earth do we do that? Simple:

1. Share your story and aim at the heart. Share your story appropriately though. You will need to pray a lot about what this might look like.

2. Focus on where people are, as opposed to where you think they “should” be, and speak in terms that reach the heart, such as in terms of self-honesty. Everyone wants to be honest with themselves, right? Right. When we do this, we can empower people to take charge over their journeys (instead of being “victims”).

3. Model an openness to growing in virtue. This might be the most difficult to do because it can be humbling to reveal our shortcomings. But if you fall from grace here and there (or more than that), good fruit may come forth, as long as you humble yourself before the Lord with a true heart of contrition - especially within the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Do your best – that is all you can do, and be honest with yourself about your efforts. God seems to have his ways in letting us know if we are slacking off – He will let us know.

Let us remember this: Virtue is the fruit of a deepening relationship with Christ. It transforms hearts, and that transforms lives.

Anyway, following this three-step plan will change the world – try implementing it and see for yourself.

See you at the foot of the Cross!

Carving The Turkey (Not What You Think)

Carving The Turkey (Not What You Think)
Thanksgiving Dinner, and my brother and my uncle are talking about vasectomies.

I leave the room. Not because I am squeamish, but because my heart is breaking. They have no idea. See, I am single, and hope and pray that one day I may able to celebrate my love for my future wife by giving fully of myself to her. Meanwhile these two guys are discussing how “awesome” is it to “get snipped”.  If they only could step back and realize the blessings they have.

Amidst this wonderful thanksgiving conversation (ironically while mom is “snipping” the bindings around the turkey legs) I try to interject – “… but what if there is a car accident, and you lose them?” I am looked at scornfully as though I am from another planet. My uncle goes on laughing about things as though I am out of my mind for even suggesting an objection. My brother, who is considering the procedure, feels more at ease with pursuing it. Gee, thanks uncle.

My heart breaks for both of them that neither of them reflect an openness to grow in virtue. Instead of loving their wives in a way that respects the creation of God, they “love” their wives in ways that introduce a lack of control and reverence for their bodies.

They talk. They laugh. They mock abundant families. They reject Christ in their relationships. It truly does break my heart. The opportunity for renewed fatherhood they have and they don’t want. The opportunity for initial fatherhood, I don’t have, and I do want, if it be according to God’s plan.

See, I used to contracept all the time. In my days running around trying to “prove” to myself that I was “straight”, I spent a lot of time with women, and we always closed the act to new life. My reason was different than theirs, but was to the same effect. I wanted sex to be about my partner and I, and that’s it. Why? So I could have sex without responsibility – simple as that.

Over the years as I began to grow in deeper relationship with Christ, I began to see quite clearly how that (contracepting) led me to objectify my partners more and more.  I thought to myself, “If I can’t keep it in my pants for long enough for her to be outside of her natural fertility zone, then I have a problem with self-control. Can I love my wife enough to respect how God made her?” The answer I was living was “No”, but the answer I wanted to give was “Yes”.

That led me to transform my approach to life and relationships. I wanted to love more completely, and less selfishly. In fact, it led me away from all forms of non-marital sexual relations. Can you guess what that means for a single person? It meant “not getting busy” – or doing things that would “inevitably” lead up to getting busy. The more I stepped away from it, the more I realized how deeply entrenched I was – as a product of our culture.

I was neck deep in horse poop… and when I stepped out of it, I still smelled like horse poop. That is, the tracings of my prior life followed me around like stink lines from a cartoon. It was the smell of my past life, which tried to haunt me with past images and even sensations, at the most inopportune times (yes, especially during the elevation of the Host in Mass).

Today I am being washed by the grace of God. He has blotted out past memories, in preparation for my future spouse (whether it be a woman or the Church).  In either case, I will strive to give her (or Her) the fullness of my love, by giving her the fullness of myself.

In doing so, I honor the fullness of truth of who I am. My desire to live chastely, perhaps even in the state of permanent celibacy, is not a liability. Virtue is never a liability – but an asset to the Kingdom of God.

I pray that hearts may understand. Especially the heart of my brother. Please pray for him.

 

FREE RESOURCES

PAMPHLETS

Item No P1004: Sexuality and the Catholic Church (English)  ISBN: 978-0-9916889-2-0
“I am impressed by this resource – it’s honesty and faithfulness. I  think that what is lacking for our young women and men are models of a  chaste joy-filled life. That we still have to have ‘faceless’ voices in  the Church strikes me as a counter sign. We need these voices to be  shared!” - Fr. Stefano Penna, Vice-President, Newman Theological College, AB, Canada

“Great job at explaining the topic” - Fr. James Lloyd, CSP, Courage Chaplain, NYC, New York, USA

“This is superb! God wants all of us to discover His Truth, and there are sincere seekers out there for whom your message can mean life itself.” - Fr. Joseph Jacobson, AB, Canada

“Thank you, beautifully written.” - Liz T., Youth and Campus Ministry, AR, USA

More Pamphlets HERE
Note: To order hard-copies of any of these resources for your church or school etc…, please contact info@pursuitoftruth.ca. All resources may be reproduced in full for educational purposes.

AUDIO

Part 1: Listen to Testimony HERE (previously featured on the Courage International Home Page)
Personal Testimony 0:00:00 to 0:45:00

Unscripted Question and Answer 0:45:00 to 1:20:00

“The material covered was very raw and moving, especially in how it was related it back to their personal journey. Our team likes the content.” - Steve Duran, Lighthouse Catholic Media

Part 2: Clarifying the Differences Between Chastity, Celibacy, and Abstinence HERE
Helping to educate the world on the language of the Church – free mini-guide!

Part 3: Further Audience Questions and Comments with Written Answers HERE
Raw and from the heart – these answers show how we can elevate the conversation and help walk with people towards a deeper relationship with Christ!

 

 

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