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What’s Your Identity?

While it is true that same-sex attractions are a part of my life story, today I share of myself to defend the Catholic Church.  Yes, you read that correctly - defend. I pray that you will open your heart to hearing my voice.

Who Do You Say I Am?

Countless people (yes, even Catholics) try to impose the “gay” identity onto me. They feel that if I want to be honest with myself, I should describe and define myself in that way. Many are quite frank in expressing that if I don’t embrace that identity label, then I must be self-hating, delusional, in denial, mired in shame, and so forth (and really, it’s gettin’ kinda old).

This way of thinking reflects the deeply entrenched (and intrinsically false) idea that “being gay” or “being straight” is “who we are”. However, this might be why people think I must embrace the “gay” identity in order to live a joyful and fulfilling life. They cannot comprehend that there is another way – the chaste way – a way that I joyfully embrace.

Today I embrace a chaste identity; an identity anchored first and foremost on my relationship with Jesus Christ. I do so while being honest with myself about the existence of my attractions, and while joyfully striving to live chastely.

I got to where I am today by realizing a few key objective truths.
1. The attractions I do not specifically choose to experience need to be considered distinct from how I do specifically choose to self-identify and define myself.
This led me to consider the significance of my embraced identity for the first time.

2. To be open to growing in virtue is to be open to Christ, while to be closed to growing in virtue is to be closed to Christ.
Out of my love for Christ, I knew I needed to fully open my heart to virtue.

3. To seek fulfillment in Christ while being closed to growing in virtue, is to be self-contradicting.
To seek fulfillment first and foremost in Christ while at the same time embracing an unchaste identity like “gay” or “straight” (identities that are not anchored first and foremost in Christ), will tear our soul in opposing directions. I lived this.

Everything boiled down to my own openness to grow in the virtue of chastity. That brought me to realize:
4. The Church doesn’t reject people, but rather people reject the Church.
Only I can decide for myself as to whether or not I will be open to growing in virtue, and my decision will reveal the state of my heart. 

And that brought me to realize this:
5. If we truly love Christ, we will disengage from that which counters virtue (such as unchaste activity and unchaste identities). At this realization, I knew I could no longer self-identify as “gay” and still be fully honest with myself. That identity label drew me to not see myself first and foremost according to my relationship with Christ. I knew I had to make the choice to fully open my heart to the fullness of virtue – and drop that identity label.

Note that self-identifying as “gay and Catholic” is no different than self-‎identifying as ”straight and Catholic” in the sense that both are unchaste ways of self-identifying, and thus reflect a closedness to the fullness of the virtue of chastity.

Identity and Self-Concept Matter

Our embraced identity influences our self-concept, and vise-versa. Both influence what we perceive to be fulfilling. For that reason, the formation of identity and self-concept needs to be our focus when discussing one’s pursuit of fulfillment in any context. Case in point, the matter of embraced identity and self-concept is what separates those of us who defend the Catholic Church, from those who aim to destroy it.

What Should We Do?

Simply put, the Church invites all of us to become the living reasons as to why someone might desire to see themselves first and foremost through the lens of Christ. However, we will be better able to respond to this invitation if we strive to exemplify the fullness of virtue ourselvesThis is how hearts will be won over for the Lord… I am living proof.

That is why today, I joyfully offer my life to defend the Catholic Church.

Will you help by sharing my voice?

 

What’s Your Identity?

Same-sex attractions are a part of my life story… but today I share of myself to defend the Catholic Church.
I pray your heart will be open to hearing my voice.

Who Do You Say I Am?

Countless people (yes, even Catholics) try to impose the “gay” identity onto me, as though it should be how I describe and define myself (and if I don’t, then I must be self-hating, delusional, in denial, mired in shame, and so forth). Many cannot see past the idea that “being gay” or “being straight” is “who we are”. This reflects how our world has elevated sexuality to be the standard by which we should see ourselves, and sadly for many, how we should measure our self-worth.

As well, just because I experience same-sex attractions, people think I must (as a matter of self-honesty) embrace the “gay” identity in order to live a joyful and fulfilling life. They cannot comprehend that there is another way – the chaste way – a way that I joyfully embrace. I embrace a chaste identity; an identity anchored first and foremost on my relationship with Jesus Christ.

I got to where I am today by realizing a few key objective truths.
1. The attractions I do not specifically choose to experience need to be considered distinct from how I do specifically choose to self-identify and define myself. This led me to consider the significance of my embraced identity for the first time.

2. To be open to growing in virtue is to be open to Christ, while to be closed to growing in virtue is to be closed to Christ. Out of my love for Christ, I knew I needed to open my heart to grow in virtue.

3. To seek fulfillment in Christ while being closed to growing in virtue, is to be self-contradicting. That is, to seek fulfillment first and foremost in Christ while at the same time embracing an unchaste identity like “gay” or “straight” (identities that are not anchored first and foremost on Christ), will tear our soul in opposing directions. I lived this.

Everything boiled down to my own openness to grow in the virtue of chastity. That brought me to realize:
4. The Church doesn’t reject people, but rather people reject the Church. That is, only I can decide for myself as to whether or not I will be open to growing in virtue, and my decision will reveal the state of my heart. 

And that brought me to realize this:
5. If we truly love Christ, we will move away from that which counters virtue. That means, we will bring ourselves to eventually disengage from unchaste identities. At this realization, I knew I could no longer self-identify as “gay” and still be fully honest with myself about who I truly was. I knew I had to make the choice to fully open my heart to the fullness of virtue – and drop that identity label.

It was this that brought me to realize that identifying as “gay and Catholic” is no different than ‎identifying as ”straight and Catholic” in the sense that both ways of self-identifying reflect ones closedness to the fullness of the virtue of chastity.

Embraced Identity Matters

We know that our embraced identity forms our self-concept, and our self-concept influences what we perceive to be fulfilling. For that reason, the formation of our embraced identity must be made a focal point when discussing anything that has to do with one’s pursuit of fulfillment (in any context). The matter of embraced identity is what separates those of us who defend the Catholic Church, from those who aim to destroy it.

Many object to how I specifically choose to self-identify and define myself. To me, this reveals a world that is closed to virtue; a world that is closed to Christ. That is what breaks my heart more than anything.

All we can do is pray and strive to be the living reason why someone might desire to see themselves first and foremost through the lens of Christ. Mother Church invites all of us in this way.

How will you respond to this invitation?

 

 

 

Nuances Matter Part 001

Roll your fingers together: Money.
Roll your fingers together, then flick: Booger.

Conclusion?
Subtle Nuances Matter.
Got it? Good.
Now let’s move on. Here are a couple of examples. More nuances explained to come in future posts.

Saying OSA and SSA?
Using terms like OSA and SSA to speak about opposite-sex attractions and same-sex attractions respectively, can lead us into trouble. Why? They embed nuances, perceived by many who are outside of the Church (and who are therefore not fully understanding of Church language). For many, speaking in terms like this “clinicalizes” the topic of homosexuality. They perceive the Church to be treating homosexuality as a “disease to be cured” and that becomes one more reason for them to be closed to the Church. This very effectively drives youth away from the Church.

To Have or to Experience
Secondly, in how we speak and write, we need to reveal that though it may be in our nature to experience attractions, that does not necessitate that to experience a particular attraction is our nature. Particular attractions experienced are exactly that – something experienced. When we view this topic with that frame of mind, then the position of the Church becomes much more clear.

We can think of it in this way: experiencing a desire to be charitable might be in our nature, but it is not “in our nature” to donate a charity from a particular group.
Likewise, experiencing a desire to be in a relationship with another person might be in our nature, but it is not “in our nature” to desire to be in a relationship with a person from a particular group.

We must do everything we can, in the most prudent and appropriate way per circumstance, to bring to light that attractions are part of the human experience. If that is not brought to light, then people will be more inclined to believe it is their nature to experience a particular attraction. In other words, people will be more likely to perceive it to be their nature “to be gay” or “to be straight”, and so forth.

If people are more inclined to believe that to experience a particular attraction is their nature, then the secular side has won and the Church has lost. Why? Because if our particular attractions are our nature, then if we choose to not act on our attractions (because of some moral conviction) – even for the sake of Christ, to the secular world, we are “denying our nature.

Evangelistic Suicide
To youth who have been raised in a culture that proclaims that we should be honest with ourselves (which in itself is a good thing), “denying our nature” by choosing to not act on our attractions, is seen to be an act of self-hatred, and thus we should be pitied (or have our credibility undermined). Try to evangelize the world about the joy found in the Catholic Church, while also letting people believe that if they want to be good Catholics, they need to “deny their nature”. You will not be successful. However, this is essentially what people will perceive for as long as they have not yet come to embrace that attractions are experienced, and not something we “have“.

If we do nothing to elevate the conversation to introduce the reality of experience with regards to our attractions, then we are doing nothing to help break that false perception that our world has embraced, which is this: your attractions and or inclinations are “who you are”. This is important because this way of thinking is perfectly compatible with saying “I am SSA” or “I am OSA”, and even “I am same-sex attracted” or “I am opposite-sex attracted”. In each of those respective potential ways to describe oneself, the matter of attractions being experienced, is not brought to light - that truth is effectively inhibited.

What About Virtue?
We have to trust the Holy Spirit that He will guide us in the words we speak and the lives we live. The point is simply that if we have an opportunity appropriately bring to light the reality that our attractions are something we experience, we will help the world move one step closer to understanding the reality that pursuing the virtue of chastity does not counter our nature.

If we do not bring to light that our attractions are something we experience, then the idea of growing in the virtue of chastity will be likely rejected as something not only unreasonable, but something counter to “our nature”; something counter to “who we are“.

If we are going to be speaking to people of this world, we need to be aware of this.

 

What’s Your Identity?

What’s Your Identity?
Same-sex attractions are a part of my life story. I’m not ashamed of this, because I know (and the Catholic Church upholds) that our attractions are not specifically chosen. Just as with any other thing in life, it’s what we do with our situation that matters.

Countless people (yes, even Catholics) try to impose the “gay” identity onto me, as though it should be how I describe and define myself (and if I don’t, then I must be self-hating, delusional, in denial, etc…). They cannot see past this idea that “being gay” or “being straight” is “who we are”. This reality reflects how our world has elevated sexuality to be “the standard” of our day, for it has now become the means by which we describe ourselves, define ourselves, and sadly for many, also how we measure our self-worth.

Many people often try to “help me become honest with myself” by trying to get me to embrace the idea that just because I experience a particular attraction, I must embrace a particular identity in order to live a joyful life. They cannot comprehend that there is another way – the chaste way – a way that I joyfully embrace.

I got to where I am today by realizing a few key objective truths.
1. That which is not specifically chosen (such as the attractions I experience) and that which is specifically chosen (how I self-identify and define myself) are not the same thing.

I have come to believe that to be true, and have embraced it out of my own commitment to self-honesty. That is what led me to consider the matter of embraced identity (how I self-identify and define myself) for the first time.

I also came to know this:
2. To be open to growing in virtue is to be open to Christ, while to be closed to growing in virtue is to be closed to Christ.

I then came to realize that:
3. To seek fulfillment in Christ, while at the same time being closed to growing in virtue, is to be self-contradicting. That is, to not just describe, but to define ourselves in an unchaste way (as gay or straight), while trying to believe that we are still wholeheartedly following the true Christ, will tear our soul in two directions. I tasted this with my own life.

Everything boiled down to my own openness to grow in the virtue of chastity. That is how I came to realize this:
4. The Church doesn’t reject people, but rather it is people who reject the Church.
The decision to be open or closed to growing in virtue is our choice, and it simply reflects the state of our own hearts.

And… in growing in the virtue of chastity, I had to square up with what it meant to embrace a chaste identity. And that brought me to realize this:
5. A chaste identity is anchored first and foremost in Christ. Therefore, to embrace the identity of being “gay” or “straight”, is to embrace an unchaste identity, and thus is to be closed to Christ. If we truly want to be open to virtue, then we need to self-identify and define ourselves in a chaste way; we need to self-identify and define ourselves first and foremost as beloved sons and daughters of the Most High, or as beloved brothers and sisters of Christ.

I felt as though the world lied to me.

After seeing how the world tried to convince me to embrace an unchaste identity which elevated the finite (sexuality) to be greater than the infinite (God), I began to ask “How could the world teach that embracing the gay (or straight) identity is necessary for us to be honest with ourselves, when it clearly compromises objective truth?” The world gave me no answer and only tried to silence my voice.

Nonetheless, it was this that brought me to realize that identifying as “gay and Catholic” is no different than ‎identifying as ”straight and Catholic” in the sense that both ways of self-identifying reflect ones closedness to the fullness of the virtue of chastity.

If we truly are open to Christ, then we will truly be open to growing in virtue. If we are truly open to growing in virtue, then we will be motivated to help people not embrace identities in which there is a closedness to virtue.

Embraced Identity Matters

We know that embraced identity forms our self-concept, and thus it influences what we perceive to be fulfilling. When the matter of identity or the associated pursuit of fulfillment is challenged, many feel it to be a personal attack. That in itself reveals that embraced identity needs to be the focal point of every discussion on this topic. It is the reason why I am here defending the Catholic Church, while others are aiming to destroy it.

There mere fact that people object to the idea that I could specifically choose to not self-identify and define myself in an unchaste fashion (as “gay”), reveals the heart of our world – a world that is closed to virtue, a world that is closed to Christ.

That breaks my heart more than anything.

All we can do is pray and strive to be the living reason why someone might desire to see themselves first and foremost through the lens of Christ. Mother Church invites all of us in this way.

How will you respond to this invitation?

 

 

Jesus Is In The House!

“If the old Pilipino ladies can kneel, then so can you.”

Sigh. Just one of many things I wish I could say to people. This is not a matter of procedure, but rather of reverence. It seems as though many people don’t understand who is really in the house when they are at a Catholic Church. Newsflash: it’s actually Jesus Christ.

If you don’t believe me, I invite you to ask those Satanists who know that desecrating a non-consecrated host is of no purpose. I invite you to ask the Wiccan seer who can detect the presence of a consecrated host amongst others that are not? I invite you to ask a faithful Catholic who has had his or her life transformed over time by faithfully receiving the Holy Eucharist while in a state of grace?

The Eucharist is not a membership card, or a bonus you get for signing up. It is not even a right (no one has “the right” to receive the Holy Eucharist). It is a gift for all of us to receive – no different than the gift of the actual company of Christ. However, it is on our heads and hearts as to whether we ensure we receive the gift with proper reverence (aka with a clean house).

Time to Clean House
In short, in consuming the Holy Eucharist, you are receiving Christ. However, if your “home” is a mess, then you are telling Him via your unworthily receiving of Him, that He is not worthy enough as a guest to have you spend the time and effort to clean your house before he comes over to hang out and get the grand tour.  Let’s face it, if Jesus Christ showed up at your doorstep in person, unannounced, wouldn’t you try to clean things up just a tad? Every time we receive the Eucharist while our “house” is a mess (I’m talking about the state of our soul), we are giving Jesus not only the grand tour, but we are also saying – “I love you Jesus, but not enough to care about giving you a clean place to enter”. Many of us even treat our mother-in-laws better than that!

Do You Love Him?
If you do love Jesus, treat Him as a guest in your house, and for the love of God (yes, literally) treat His house as though you are a guest. Would you dine and dash from a friend’s dinner party? “Hey thanks for the food – I’m outta here!” I doubt anyone would be that rude. However, people seem to have no problem rushing out of Church right after they receive the spiritual food that is Holy Communion. Why do people think they should not dine and dash from the house of people who are not God, but feel they should dine and dash from the house of person who is God? Irrationality at its finest.

The only answer I can fathom is that people simply have no idea of what they are actually doing. They simply do not realize that the Holy Eucharist is the actual body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. That means we all need to pick up the slack and help people come to realize the magnitude of what they are doing – not by condemning, but by inviting them to learn about the Eucharist. What helped for me was learning about the Eucharistic Miracles. What’s that, you say? Google it and see. It will blow your mind.

If we could help people come to approach the Holy Eucharist with the reverence that is due, this world would be a different place. The graces that flow from receiving that Sacrament while in a state of grace, are free and infinite. They are transformative. Humbling ourselves to confess our sins to an actual person (the priest) to get to that state of grace is what draws us into further holiness. And that dying to ourselves for the sake of Christ will attract others to do the same.

Go to confession, become free, and Receive Him.

Know that He is in the house – your house.

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Could God Ever Love Someone Like Me?

It was just after I had hit rock bottom. I had come to believe that no one could ever love me, after the things I had done and after the people I had hurt. The state of my soul was illuminating before me, and it brought me to tears. Whispering in my ear, were the words of the dark side that controlled my life, telling me that what I had done was unforgivable. Those words, suffocated me, but daily I struggled to gasp for new breath.

It was the only life I had ever known.

Amidst my rejection of the idea that I could ever be loved, there I was, crawling back to Church, the last place the world taught that I should ever look. However I had to reconcile the idea that my wayward life had become so, in my complete absence from Church. Without an anchor, I became lost at sea. And I was drowning. Rather, I had all but completely drowned.

Humbly, I gave up control, realizing that under my illusion, I had degenerated into the man I was at that time. But looking up at the crucifix, with the realization that God could possibly love me, was the hope that I needed to survive another day. “His arms are open for all of us”, a wise priest once said. However, there is more to the story; His crucified body was Sacrificed for all of us, so that we may have eternal life – so that we may bridge from this universe into the eternal domain of the Creator God.

With that hope, I lay my life down before the Lord at the adoration area, near the back of Church. I went to the very front – in front of the front pew, so no one else could see me. it was just God, and I. There was no one else in the Church. It was St. Joseph’s Basilica in Edmonton – large and cavernous, designed for a person to aim their sights towards the eternal life. There I laid my head down, on my laptop bag, on the tile floor, curled up in the fetal position, weeping. I wept for the spikes I drove through his hands. I wept for the crown of thorns I pressed into His flesh. And I wept for the souls of those I led astray. I wept with the hope that God could love a sinner like me.

I spent time with Him there. He comforted me. He was beside me, He was around me. As I wept, I began to die to myself, little by little. I became more and more convicted that I needed to look to Him to help me get out of the cycle of life I was living – the cycle of life in which I was dying. At the foot of the tabernacle, I called out to Him for mercy. I called out to Him hoping that he would say “You are my beloved child”. As time had passed, I had begun to fall asleep. In the presence of the most Holy of all, the Lord of all Creation, the Author of Love, I gave myself to Him, and desired His encompassing embrace.

With a sideways closing glance at the tabernacle, as my eyes opened ever so slightly, the Lord placed a memory onto my heart – the memory of unconditional love. As my eyes were closing for the last time, as the tabernacle slipped out of view, I was reminded with all of my heart, the joy that I experienced as a little boy, knowing that I was unconditionally loved. The memory was of my mother as she used to sit in my room in a rocking chair beside my bed, as I fell asleep, after tucking me in. My eyes would tire, but between extended blinks, I could see her there, waiting with me, in her chair, taking care of her little boy…with unconditional love. Today I asked my mother about those times, and her eyes welled up with tears. I asked her not to cry, and she merely said that she remembered those years and expressed them as a very fond and near-forgotten memory. She said I was about two years old when she did that. I have faith that God will restore the memories in His Eternal Kingdom.

I hugged my mother, knowing that she was the first person to show me the love of God. That day at the tabernacle, with my whole life brought to Jesus Christ, His love became revealed to me – it was like my mothers, but only infinitely greater. Today His love is what I desire to grow in now more than ever. If I could only share that same love with others – Lord knows I strive to do that. But “how” is more difficult of a question. Thus I know I must pray, and ask for your prayers as well.

But I know God has His ways, and I trust that he will unfold His plan in His time. In the meantime, perhaps we can also all pray that others may come to remember how God has touched their lives through other people, such that they may give thanks and praise to the one who loves us all in the most profound and infinite way, the One who Created and breathed life into our very beings. Abba. Father. Daddy. I love you.

God bless you, and thank you for your prayers.

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