March 7, 2018 (Joseph Sciambra) – Editor's note: Joseph Sciambra recovered, in part through the prayers of his father, from years immersed in a homosexual lifestyle and alienated from the Catholic Faith. He now writes extensively concerning the real-life issues of pornography, homosexuality, and the occult, particularly in the Church.
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." – Thess. 5:16-18
Start every morning with a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the gift of your son. Ask God to keep him safe from harm. Throughout the day, even if they seem insignificant, offer up little prayers, hardships, and sacrifices to the Lord for your son's protection. Remain joyful in everything you do. Many young men who identify as "gay," in general, retain very negative perceptions of their fathers as well as Christianity, particularly Catholicism; in addition, these two forces are often seen as either incredibly harsh and condemning or all-accepting and tolerant. Therefore, the religious man can be one of only two things: an ally or an enemy. You must be neither, but a father. In this regard, you must pray for determination, empathy, and prudence. This is sometimes a difficult balancing act that requires humility through supplication to God's will; Bishop Athanasius Schneider stated this very well when he said: "Genuine understanding and compassion" for a person's true good certainly does not result "from concealing or weakening moral truth."
2. Attend Mass (daily if possible) and frequently receive the Sacrament of Confession
"I believe that were it not for the Holy Mass, as of this moment the world would be in the abyss." – St. Leonard of Port Maurice
At Mass, offer up your reception of the Eucharist for the reparation of those sins committed by those who are confused or have been deceived about their sexual identity. Your prayers at Mass are critically important because a number of Catholics, especially those who are young, do not pray for the conversion of anyone involved in a same-sex relationship, because they do not believe that it's wrong. You could be the only human being on the Earth who prays for your son, and no other prayer is as efficacious as those offered to heaven during the Sacrifice of the Mass.
3. Work on your own personal sanctification
"Day after day I was able to observe the austere way in which he lived. By profession he was a soldier and, after my mother's death, his life became one of constant prayer. Sometimes I would wake up during the night and find my father on his knees, just as I would always see him kneeling in the parish church. We never spoke about a vocation to the priesthood, but his example was in a way my first seminary, a kind of domestic seminary." – Saint John Paul II
Be an example of Catholic masculinity to your son. But what does that mean? Use as your model the foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ – Saint Joseph. Many "gay" men, beginning in childhood, are attracted to the strong, silent type who is also a man of decisive action, as evidenced in the example of homoerotic male icons from James Dean to Channing Tatum. These are secular and sexualized versions of what Saint Joseph represents; everything in the "gay" community is a poor substitute for what is our hearts' true longing. Of course, you cannot be something different from your own temperament, but you can be a resolute figure for your son – even if you were not in the past. That requires not being afraid or embarrassed to reveal your faith – and this can mean doing something as simple as making the sign of the cross and praying before meals. As in the case of the father of John Paul II, these small acts can be accomplished quietly and unobtrusively.
4. Develop a devotion to Saint Joseph
"The Holy Patriarch was not an old man, but a young, strong, upright man, a great lover of loyalty, a man with fortitude. Holy Scripture defines him with a single word: just (see Mt 1:20-21). Joseph was a just man, a man filled with all the virtues, as was fitting for the one who was to be God's protector on earth." – Saint Josemaria Escrivá
In the Gospels, there are no recorded words spoken by Saint Joseph. Yet, except for the Blessed Virgin Mary, no other human being had such a great influence over Our Lord Jesus Christ. According to Scripture: "... he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them." Therefore, ask Saint Joseph to intercede on behalf of your son; Our Lord will refuse nothing to the man who so bravely protected Him from Herod's assassins. In the same manner, you must now go into battle to help save your own son. And, if you have to – offer up your own life for his salvation.
5. The family should be the center of your life
"The Catholic family represents the first bulwark against the current great apostasy. The two most efficient weapons against the modern apostasy outside and inside the life if the Church, are the purity and integrity of the faith and the purity of a chaste life." – Bishop Athanasius Schneider
The only hope for your son ever leaving homosexuality – is you. When the "prodigal son," after his self-imposed evil in the decadent world of sexual liberty, found himself near death and sleeping among the pigs, what would have happened if he had no father waiting for him at home? When the prodigal son demanded that his father accept him for who he claimed to be, what if his father had done just that? Where would the boy go?
The sad truth – many parents, particularly mothers of "gay" sons, willingly accept those demands for instantaneous approval and recognition. Especially in those families with a history of abuse or neglect, it's far easier to believe that someone was "born gay" than to go through the heartache and pain of self-examination in order to determine the underlying trauma that perhaps initiated the homosexuality.
Those in the LGBT community have many family members and friends who celebrate their sexual orientation, sometimes as a gift from God. But they have very few, or more likely no one, who love them enough to challenge some of their most dearly held assumptions. You can be that one person. This doesn't mean that you should browbeat your son, but any relationship with him, no matter what transpired in the past, must now be based upon the truth. How he reacts to that truth will largely dictate his future perception of you. But, in order to preserve a place that he may return to one day, you have to allow him to get angry and walk away. Then, like the father of the prodigal son, all you can do is pray and wait.
6. Never accept the false ideology that your son was "born gay"
There is no evidence for a biological or genetic determinant for homosexuality; even the very gay-affirmative American Psychological Association cannot claim that anyone was "born gay." According to the APA:
There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.
However, psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors, and even some priests within the Catholic Church, will tell you that if you do not accept your son as "gay," you will contribute to his eventual psychological destruction – even to the point of suicide. However, in nations with the longest recorded history of modern LGBT acceptance – namely, the Netherlands and Sweden – disparities in terms of mental illness still exist between homosexuals and heterosexuals, and even among same-sex "married" couples. In addition, drug use and STD rates remain higher among the LGBT population.
7. Promote healthy heterosexual relationships
"There is no greater force against evil in the world than the love of a man and a woman in marriage." – Cardinal Raymond Burke
Oftentimes, a boy who later comes out as "gay" experienced difficult circumstances in his own family. Whether these situations were due to domestic violence, abandonment issues, neglect, an overprotective mother and a disinterested father, molestation, or even bullying at school, these early experiences sometimes leave "gay" men with a profound sense of loss. In order to fill that void, they attempt to self-heal through sexual behavior with other men. It doesn't work, hence the proclivity for multiple partners in the gay male community, even among those who are in a relationship.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to the family as a "domestic church." Consequently, observation of the family creates an innate appreciation for creation and the Creator. For every "gay" man seeks the same sort of harmony that is biologically possible in heterosexual couples but results in only a simulacrum when imitated by two men. And, instead of the potential for generating life, the all-male imitation of copulation brings forth only death – through the rise of the AIDS epidemic and a continuing scourge of rampant STDs among the gay male community. The total opposite of this disorder can be appreciated in Catholic men who are husbands and fathers as they mirror not only the tremendous courage and self-sacrifice of Saint Joseph, but the love of the Father, through the death of His Son, for all of humanity.
8. Talk to your son
"Jesus does not deny the existence of sin and sinners. This is obvious from the fact that he calls them 'sick.' On this point he is more rigorous than his adversaries. If they condemn actual adultery, Jesus condemns adultery already at the stage of desire; if the law says not to kill, Jesus says that we must not even hate or insult our brother. To the sinners who draw near to him, he says 'Go and sin no more;' he does not say: 'Go and live as you were living before.'" – Father Raneiro Cantalamessa
Never be afraid to initiate a conversation. The person your son most fervently disregards is also the person he most wants approval from; the person your son would rather not talk to is also the person he most desires to have a connection with. In fact, the majority of men who "come out" will do so first to their mothers, and sometimes not at all to their fathers. Therefore, it's important that you begin the discussion. Usually, this will immediately elicit a response of avoidance, curiosity, or disdain. The conversation may end before it starts. But given the opportunity – the truth must be stated out loud. This may be your only chance. And there is a sense of urgency that always exists when approaching this topic with a young man who is about to become sexually active with other men or has just started. Because there exists a unique set of factors, including a large alienated population where sexual opportunities are plentiful, the presence of numerous psychological disorders and the absence of the moderating influence exerted by women, the gay male community creates an environment in which STDs often multiply completely out of control. Therefore, it's better for someone to walk away upset, after hearing the truth, than remain in an oftentimes silent and tacitly facilitating relationship. You have to be willing to fully take on the role of the father to the prodigal son. And sometimes that means saying goodbye – staying behind, and praying as if your son's life depends on it – because it does.
9. Eucharistic Adoration
"Every one of us needs a half an hour of prayer each day, except when we are busy – then we need an hour." – Saint Francis de Sales
Take time out of your day, about an hour, to adore Our Lord Jesus Christ in the form of the Blessed Sacrament. Find a quiet chapel, close your eyes, and ask God for His help. Thank Him for giving you the patience and strength to endure and for keeping your son alive, so that one day he may perhaps turn around and head back home – where you will be waiting.
10. Fast and penance
"All that we do without offering it to God is wasted." – St. John Vianney
Deny yourself little pleasures, such as a favorite meal, snack, or drink. Skip a lunchtime break and instead attend Mass or visit an Adoration Chapel. Oftentimes, when a loved one does something that we know is wrong for him, he is oblivious to the perilous situation he has placed himself in – and we are the people who suffer. But your suffering is not in vain – when combined with prayer, it will perhaps make the difference between life and death for your son. Never think, just because the two of you are not speaking – that what you are doing every day of your life is not having a direct impact on your son. The unappreciated and unnoticed prayers of my father, while I danced the night away in a San Francisco gay disco, although I didn't know it, kept me from utterly destroying myself. The father I abandoned and despised – never abandoned me.
Two more, and they are the most important:
11. Pray the rosary
"The rosary is the 'weapon' for these times." – Saint Padre Pio
Every day, make it a habit to recite the rosary. Set aside a certain time that is dedicated to this prayer. If possible, pray the rosary with your wife, other family members, or alone. At first, like much of what you are doing on behalf of your son, it seems ineffectual and hidden, but if and when your son returns to his senses, the worth of those prayers and sacrifices will be revealed. Until that day arrives, you must remain vigilant; as Padre Pio remarked, the rosary is a "weapon" through which you will defend your son from the demonic forces of confusion and deceit. My father prayed the rosary daily for my conversion.
12. Never give up hope
"The father of the prodigal son who waited on the road suffered more than the prodigal son." – Archbishop Fulton Sheen
If you give up on your son – it's almost over. When I was a kid, I tried to hide. I thought being artistic, effeminate, and shy made me "gay." I was embarrassed. While I may have exhibited a natural aptitude toward creativity, the insular world of drawing and picture-making became a safe escape from what I wasn't good at – namely, sports or any physical activity which required a modicum of hand-eye coordination and dexterity. Was I effeminate, or did I become reclusive and unsure of myself, soft-spoken, scared of other boys, but accepted by some girls? Did I begin to take on the outward expressions of my peer group? As a boy, when I was comfortable with my surroundings, especially around women – I was bouncy and exuberant; among men, I didn't know what to do.
By my late teens, I didn't care what anyone thought of me, including my father. As my attitude changed, so did my appearance. I was simultaneously trying to shock, gain attention, and test the loyalty of those closest to me. Not surprisingly, my father wasn't pleased. His continued distance and silence signaled to me what I wanted to know. However, I pushed a little further. Finally, my father had to speak up, and he said what needed to be said. Of course, I didn't take it well; even objective criticism, with my best interest at heart, I regarded as a personal attack. It was inevitable. Because this battle was never just about me, and it wasn't about a scared kid against a homophobic world in the age of AIDS, and it wasn't about finding myself in the arms of another man – it was always about me and my father. When I would curse him, I subconsciously believed that he was the one who sent me into every gay bar, bathhouse, and sex dungeon. I wasn't ashamed of who I was or what I did, but I hated him for it. Maybe he wasn't the father I wanted – or needed; maybe he didn't give me the attention I wanted – or needed. But when all seemed lost, when it mattered most – he did the right thing. Looking back, it's the ultimate irony that through his prayers – I was saved.
Published with permission from Joseph Sciambra.