June 15, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — I felt a rush of unpleasant emotions as I perused articles and videos of “LGBT” events happening within the Catholic Church, that seemed to cross from welcoming those with same sex attraction to actually condoning the acts of homosexuality.
I felt confusion, anger and much sadness as I came across articles including one about a parish holding a Gay Pride Mass and another, of a parish that is having a “gay” dance party titled, “Moving with the Spirit”, which appears to be a major fund raiser. In the midst of this chaos, I also came across a video from Fr. James Martin speaking about his book, “Building a Bridge.
I was angry and sad because I feared this “bridge” is the sort of so-called “help” that was available to me, back when I began to look for the truth about how God wanted me to live with my same sex attractions. In 1983, while very active and miserable in the “LGBT” culture, I spoke to a priest who told me that I could have sexual relations with a man as long as I was in love with him. I went back to doing what I was doing and continued to be more miserable.
I was let down yet again, when in the late 90’s, I sought out help to live chastely from a Catholic gay and lesbian support group within the diocese. A group leader said, “I'm sorry, but this group isn't for you because some here are in relationships, and some want relationships, and I'm concerned that you might judge them.” In the last couple years, two friends of mine desperately sought out support to live chastely, and contacted the same ministry. Both individuals were told the same thing I was told. If the goal was truly to welcome those who identify as LGBTQ, and bring them lovingly to the truth, then why are things still the same 18 years later where there is no support being offered from this group to those striving to live chastely according to Church teaching?
As I read the articles above and many more like them, I found myself becoming more angry, hurt and abandoned by shepherds in my Church.
The more I thought about this, the more hurt I felt. I began to wonder why I should stay in a Church that wasn’t helping those of us who fully embrace the Church’s moral teachings. In venting with a couple friends, my anger, pain, and focus on the negative current events led me to say that the only thing keeping me in the Catholic Church right now is the Holy Eucharist. My heart continued to feel heavy and I began to fear and doubt that I would stay in the Catholic Church even with this truth of the presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
It was at this point that I felt much conviction in my heart. I apologized to one friend for being so negative and later, I took this to prayer and the Sacrament of Confession. I learned that I was allowing all of this negativity, fear, sadness, and anger to block me from seeing the beautiful reality of Jesus Christ being present and fully alive not only in our Church, but also in my own personal life.
Yes, there are very scary and confusing things happening in the Church. But there are also very exciting things happening as well. I was missing sight of this and the many wonderful things he was doing in my own life. He has blessed me with good supports, and more importantly, some recent insights that brought further clarity and healing to my life. And yet, I almost missed them. I was so focused on the miserable and scary things happening in our world and in our Church, that I didn’t allow myself to ponder the beauty of the day: the moments when I met Christ in others. The moments when he brought more healing and affirmation to my soul through connections to others, through scripture, speaking to priests and especially through prayer.
Although, Courage International is not in my diocese, I do have friends who follow the goals of Courage. We pray for each other and are there for each other. I have priests in my life that have been positive male role models and who do support my living a chaste life and who pray for me and those like me. It’s a wonderful feeling to have priests who support and affirm my living chastely during a time when the culture and unfortunately, many in the Church, are loudly proclaiming that asking people to live chastely is unfair and unjust. These supportive priests in my life have said amazing positive things when I desperately needed to hear them and as a result have helped me see the reality of Christ’s presence in my life and in this world despite the chaos and turbulence I see.
One example is a priest telling my friends and me, that when we go to the Blessed Sacrament in adoration, Jesus is there, looking at us, noticing us and loving us. I have taken this image with me to Mass. And when I see the consecration, and when I go up to receive Holy Communion, I imagine Jesus looking at me and noticing me and loving me. Then I think that He is there looking intently, and lovingly at each one of us in that church at the same time. It might not make sense to us, but it doesn’t have to. He is God. He can do anything. This is the God who loves us. This is the God we serve. He has not abandoned us and He never will.
There are subtle signs of hope and truth happening that we can easily miss. For example, Courage International is in many dioceses and offers wonderful resources. Another example is that Fr. Martin isn’t the only author releasing a book on this topic. Daniel Mattson recently finished his book, “Why I Don't Call Myself Gay: How I Reclaimed My Sexual Reality and Found Peace. He is an awesome speaker and writer who does fully embrace the Church and all of her teachings.
So as things continue to change in our culture and as the book by Father James Martin comes out and debates become heated, let us commit to hope. God is doing awesome things in our Church. The hope we have is in Christ. We have nothing to fear with God on our side. Let us commit to Truth but let’s embrace it with joy. We don’t have to let anything steal the joy that Christ has given us. Let us commit to Love. How can we love? Yelling at each other isn’t a way to do it. Neither is allowing ourselves to despair. A very important way is through prayer. Now, more than ever we need to pray for every single priest, sister, brother, bishop, cardinal, our pope and for us the members of the Church.
We can’t change anything. But God can. With God all things are possible. We need to turn to Him and allow Him to show us His will for our lives. But it’s much more than that. We need to fully trust God and accept that the battle has already been won. He will not abandon any of his children. He loves all of us no matter what view we hold regarding this topic and He longs for us to come to Him and embrace His love, His hope and His truth. Let us stay close to Him and encourage one another. Let us surrender to this loving Heavenly Father and ask Him to give us the wisdom we need to love and not condone. Let’s also ask for the ability to keep our emotions in check and not allow these emotions to become walls that prevent love.
I discussed this article I felt led to write with a friend of mine and she said something beautiful. Sometimes the storm clouds are so dark and ominous. It is so easy during these times to be anxious or even terrified at what these looming clouds might bring. However, we forget that it is God who is in control of these clouds. The bright shining sun is on the other side. He can use these clouds to bring about his will and even more importantly He can give us peace even in the darkness of the storm.
A priest friend of mine suggested that the Serenity Prayer is a wonderful little prayer that we can use during this turbulent time in our Church. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
David Prosen is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville with a MA in Counseling. David's testimony was featured in Blackstone’s film, The Third Way: Homosexuality and the Catholic Church and he has had several articles published for Lay Witness and Crisis Magazine. He has given presentations across the country on the topic of “Same-Sex attractions” from an authentic Catholic perspective.