Why the Blog Shut Down

The last five weeks have been very…full of discernment.

The last post I published was about doubts. The doubts that always seem to accompany me had/have been growing significantly, and right after posting, I took a look at myself and realized that I didn’t really believe what I was preaching, or that at the very least, I had some serious obstacles in my way. And that’s why I shut the blog down, it was an integrity move. I was in no position to teach or comment on the Catholic faith until I was able to overcome the things that were holding me back or definitely conclude that the Faith is indeed not true.

During the last few weeks it has been of utmost important for me to determine what I actually believe, whether it is Catholicism or something else. This required asking questions and seeking answers, and spending lots of time alone in the woods, and some frustratingly lonely time in the Adoration chapel. The questions ranged from whether there is a divine element in any of the things which exist to whether the divine could be polytheistic or must be monotheistic, and whether the Trinity is truly monotheistic or polytheistic. Questions of whether the First Cause must be “made” of spirit only or whether it could be “made” of matter came up too. Why must matter be created, but spirit could be uncreated? Questions arose on whether time truly had a beginning or if time is eternal, and how neither choice gives a satisfactory answer to how I exist here and now in this moment. There were questions about how Christianity spread, and whether it was by divine intervention or simply by power and force, and how it came to my ancestors specifically, the northern Germanic peoples and the Scandinavians. I questioned whether there really was only one true religion, or whether all religions could be true. I questioned whether Original Sin made sense, why I should be punished for the sin of Adam, why God would let his sin be passed on to us at the very moment of our conception. Perhaps most importantly though, the question gnawed in the back of my mind whether all of this questioning was simply me looking for an excuse, any excuse to not have to live chastely as the Church defines it. Was all of this really just about sex?

And so after 5 weeks of reading arguments both in favor and against monotheism, polytheism, theism, Trinity, eternal matter, the first cause, paganism, and Norse heathenism, I came to the conclusion that some of the questions are unanswerable through human reason. I realized that there are some things that I need to just take on faith, and thankfully, that has lead me full circle back to Catholicism, which at certain point (probably after the second Sunday in a row that I skipped Mass in that whole time) seemed highly unlikely to ever happen.

I can’t say that I’m “back to normal” because my faith was never “normal” to begin with, whatever that might mean. In fact, my faith is quite different than it was before, but it is difficult to explain how its different other than  that it just is.

I’m very glad to be back, and I’m taking life and faith a little more seriously now. As far as this blog goes, I’ve reopened some of the content I’ve previously posted, but you’ll notice that I cut the amount of posts by over 75%. There was just so much that was a waste of space, so much that was so politically charged and whiny, that I just got tired of looking at it. I’ll be posting regularly, but not every day because it is an unreasonable and untenable goal for someone who is not blogging for a living. What you can expect, though is two to three posts each week, and that the overall tone is going to (hopefully) different than it has been in the past.

Anyway, sorry for the long post. I look forward to posting soon!

Grand Re-Opening

Hey guys.

I had to shut the blog down for a bit. I didn’t know how long it would be closed, maybe a week, maybe a month, maybe a year or maybe forever. I guess that 5 weeks was how long it needed to be down.

Most of the old content on the site will come back up over the next day or so, but I’ll be making that decision on a post by post basis and there are over 1500 of them, so be patient. I will also share with you where I’ve been and what’s been going on, if you care to know.

I’m glad to be back.

Doubts

As I expressed to my confessor, I have been experiencing a lot of doubt recently, more than usual. Over the past three years or so, since the summer I was almost in seminary, doubt has saturated my heart. At times these doubts have been more prominent or more intense, sometimes leading me to even skipping Mass on Sundays (bet you didn’t know that did ya?). The last year has been more intense, but this week in particular has just been inundated. In fact yesterday morning I went to Adoration in hopes that I would get peace, but I left with more doubt than I arrived with.

So when I told my confessor about my doubt (among other things), he told me that doubt is a choice. We choose to doubt God. We choose to believe God. Either I believe in God or I don’t, but it’s a choice that is on me.

I’m not sure how I feel about that.

So Glad June is Over

I am so glad that this month is over.  Its been tough to write about this topic at times.  From the criticisms of people who don’t get Catholicism and have no interest in truth to the hashing out of my cross in a public forum, none of this been easy.

What I’ve learned is that I am incredibly flawed. I’ve learned that there is a great amount of pride in my heart, pride that has nothing to do with LGBT, but a pride that puts me before others and before God. I’ve learned that there is a rushing river of hypocrisy in my soul, that there is a weakness of faith and trust in my life. That there is a false humility that accompanies my prayers.

Most importantly, though, I’ve learned of God. In presenting the Gospel to others, I present the Gospel to myself. I learned more about God’s way, about his truth, about his life, about his mercy, about his grace.

God shows us that our sexual orientation is just one part of us, an important part, but not the defining part. He shows that an orientation is just that, an orientation, its not an inevitable direction that one must go. The arrow on the compass may be oriented north, but north may not be the direction you need to go to get to your destination.

Let’s finish off this month by completing our novena for those struggling with same sex attraction with a simple Hail Mary, asking for the grace to follow Jesus wherever he may lead.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

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Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination

The following is a link to a document issued on November 15, 2006 by the USCCB.

Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination

It is over 20 pages long, so I have chosen not to post it in its entirety here, but below are a few passages I wanted to directly quote for your own personal reflection.

The Church teaches that persons with a homosexual inclination “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” We recognize that these persons have been, and often continue to be, objects of scorn, hatred, and even violence in some sectors of our society. Sometimes this hatred is manifested clearly; other times, it is masked and gives rise to more disguised forms of hatred. “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs.”
Those who would minister in the name of the Church must in no way contribute to such injustice. They should prayerfully examine their own hearts in order to discern any thoughts or feelings that might stand in need of purification. Those who minister are also called to growth in holiness. In fact, the work of spreading the Good News involves an ever-increasing love for those to whom one is ministering by calling them to the truth of Jesus Christ.

*     *     *

By its very nature, the sexual act finds its proper fulfillment in the marital bond. Any sexual act that takes place outside the bond of marriage does not fulfill the proper ends of human sexuality. Such an act is not directed toward the expression of marital love with an openness to new life. It is disordered in that it is not in accord with this twofold end and is thus morally wrong. “Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.”

*     *     *

The Church points not only to the intrinsic order of creation, but also to what God has revealed in Sacred Scripture. In the book of Genesis we learn that God created humanity as male and female and that according to God’s plan a man and a woman come together and “the two of them become one body.”

Whenever homosexual acts are mentioned in the Old Testament, it is clear that they are disapproved of, as contrary to the will of God. In the New Testament, St. Paul teaches that homosexual acts are not in keeping with our being created in God’s image and so degrade and undermine our authentic dignity as human beings. He tells how homosexual practices can arise among people who erroneously worship the creature rather than the Creator:

Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.

*     *     *

The Church does not teach that the experience of homosexual attraction is in itself sinful.

*     *     *

The homosexual inclination is objectively disordered, i.e., it is an inclination that predisposes one toward what is truly not good for the human person. Of course, heterosexual persons not uncommonly have disordered sexual inclinations as well. It is not enough for a sexual inclination to be heterosexual for it to be properly ordered.

*     *     *

It is crucially important to understand that saying a person has a particular inclination that is disordered is not to say that the person as a whole is disordered. Nor does it mean that one has been rejected by God or the Church. Sometimes the Church is misinterpreted or misrepresented as teaching that persons with homosexual inclinations are objectively disordered, as if everything about them were disordered or rendered morally defective by this inclination. Rather, the disorder is in that particular inclination, which is not ordered toward the fulfillment of the natural ends of human sexuality.

*     *     *

The passions are not fixed, unchanging obstacles to moral action. They do not simply have to be repressed in order for one to act morally. Repeated good actions will modify the passions that one experiences.

*     *     *

The basis of this ministry, if it is to be effective, has to be a true understanding of the human person and of the place of sexuality in human life. “Departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral.”

*     *     *

Love and truth go together.

*     *     *

The Christian life is a progressive journey toward a deepening of one’s discipleship of Christ. People do not all move forward at the same pace, nor do they always proceed in a direct line toward their goal. Those who stumble along the way should be encouraged to remain in the community and to continue to strive for holiness through conversion of life. In this regard, frequent reception of the Sacrament of

Penance is of great importance. Ongoing, sound spiritual direction is of significant help.

*     *     *

There are so many more great things in this document that I wish I could just post the entire thing. This document is great in that it is not just for priests. Any of us who know somebody who has a homosexual inclination is to one degree or another involved in this ministry as fellow Christians serve one another and spur each other on. It is important for Catholics to know what the Church teaches about homosexuality and how the Church envisions ministering to them.

Novena for Strength and Conversion of Those Experiencing Same-Sex Attraction

1 Our Father…1 Hail Mary…1 Glory Be

Dear Jesus, I know that every perfect gift, and especially that of chastity, depends on the power of Your providence. Without You a mere creature can do nothing. Therefore, I beg you to defend by Your grace the chastity and purity of my body and soul. And if I have ever imagined or sensed anything that could stain my chastity and purity, blot it out, Supreme Lord of my powers, that I may advance with a pure heart in Your love and service, offering myself on the most pure altar of Your divinity all the days of my life. Amen.

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Catechism on Sexuality

I’m sorry that I didn’t have anything prepared for you this morning. Most of my posts were prepared many days in advance, but as of right now I have not completed any further posts. In my original outline of the month, I just had “Foundations of Sexuality” written in for today. To be quite honest, I have no idea what my intentions were for today. Tomorrow is just as vague for me as all it says is “Communion of Persons”. It seems that such vague broad topics could become giant books before they are adequately discussed, so I will avoid the issue and just take some texts from the Catechism today about sexuality in general and homosexuality in specific, and tomorrow I will provide some texts from other Church documents, and after that I have some Sacraments on the list and some Saints, which I am far more ready to write about.

Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.

2332

Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depend in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.

2333

Jesus came to restore creation to the purity of its origins. In the sermon on the Mount, he interprets God’s plan strictly: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” What God has joined together, let not man put asunder. The tradition of the Church has understood the sixth commandment as encompassing the whole of human sexuality.

2336

Whoever wants to remain faithful to his baptismal promises and resist temptations will want to adapt the means for doing so: self-knowledge, practice of an ascesis adapted to the situations that confront him, obedience to God’s commandments, exercise of the moral virtues, and fidelity to prayer. “Indeed it is through chastity that we are gathered together and led back to the unity from which we were fragmented into multiplicity.”

2340

Chastity represents an eminently personal task; it also involves a cultural effort, for there is “an interdependence between personal betterment and the improvement of society.” Chastity presupposes respect for the rights of the person, in particular the right to receive information and an education that respect the moral and spiritual dimensions of human life.

2344

Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

2357-2359

Novena for Strength and Conversion of Those Experiencing Same-Sex Attraction

1 Our Father…1 Hail Mary…1 Glory Be

Dear Jesus, I know that every perfect gift, and especially that of chastity, depends on the power of Your providence. Without You a mere creature can do nothing. Therefore, I beg you to defend by Your grace the chastity and purity of my body and soul. And if I have ever imagined or sensed anything that could stain my chastity and purity, blot it out, Supreme Lord of my powers, that I may advance with a pure heart in Your love and service, offering myself on the most pure altar of Your divinity all the days of my life. Amen.

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And the Greatest is Love

char·i·ty /ˈCHaritē/: a divinely infused habit, inclining the human will to cherish God for his own sake above all things, and man for the sake of God.

CharityIt is perhaps love, the virtue of charity, that is, that SSA seeks to destroy above all else. Even a person of good will, can mistake the feelings and longings that accompany SSA as love, and in turn can believe that any self-control which suffocates those feelings in longings is a destruction of love. However, it is those feelings and longings themselves which destroy love, love for God, and love for man.

Love for God
In the pursuit of chastity, there is both a duty of justice, giving God his due in respect to our sexuality, but also a sense of self-sacrifice, of conforming my free will to his will by accepting his gifts. It is to enjoy his presence within our soul, not for any benefit we might receive, but simply because he is who is. In fact, by committing to self-sacrifice and accepting his gift, we are not likely to experience material benefit. We are going to suffer, going to experience pangs of loneliness, endure physical tension, receive mocking and scorn from those who don’t understand, but we do it because we cherish God.

SSA seeks to destroy all of this. The whisper of the wood of this cross is that God is not worth it. God is not enough. God cannot fulfill you the way a sexual relationship can. It is constantly attempting to distort the identity of God, diminish his divinity, and trivialize communion with him. And when this is successful to some degree, we, to some degree, fail to love God.

Love for Man
Equally destructive is SSAs rejection of love for man. In my experience, SSA is primarily about lust. It really isn’t about some kind of pseudo-marital relationship. It primarily works at transforming my view of others into objects. It comes down to how can I use this person for my own gain, how can I derive personal pleasure from this person’s existence? If I can, that person is useful and if I cannot, that person is not useful. It doesn’t matter what that person’s needs or wants are, it becomes all about me. Step by step, I fail to love others simply for being. I fail to give of myself to fulfill their needs and to help them come to closer to God. Instead of dying to self and putting that energy into shining Christ’s light, I make them die to eternal life.

SSA blinds one to the dignity that each person has by virtue of being a creature of God. It rejects the purposes for which God created these magnificent works of art. It takes the Mona Lisa out of the Louvre and leaving it behind a dumpster in a dingy alley, where the painting is unable to inspire others to beauty and hides the work of the artist from fame and glory.

Love for Self
In sullying love for God and love for man, SSA reverses the direction of one’s “energy” from flowing out towards God and others to flowing in towards self. When one does not exhale love to others, there is no way inhale love into self, no way to receive love from another person. Slowly our energy becomes stagnant, for there is no replenishment because we are too busy holding on to what we have to deal with what others might give. In doing so, what love we have begins to suffocate and die, just as if I stopped breathing because I cared more about selfishly keeping all of my CO2 than accepting O2 from others. If we can’t learn to love others we can’t learn to let others love us, and we ourselves will fail to love even ourselves. That is we fail to do what is truly best for ourselves. We may still “feel good” about ourselves, and we may still enjoy life, enjoy the things that we do and the people we do them with, but this is not the same as loving ourselves, caring for our soul and our dignity.

And this is where this week ends and it also where this week begins, because if I have not love, no other virtues matter. All becomes worthless, pointless monotony without the gift of love and the giving of self.

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Trial of Hope

Hope /hōp/: the desire of something together with the expectation of obtaining it.

HopeHope is deeply affected by the SSA which exists in my life. There are many things in the life of a Catholic which rely on hope, and it feels, at times, that SSA dashes those hopes to pieces.

For one, there is a desire for the peace of Christ. I simply want to be content in who I am, what God created me to be, in Jesus’ commands, in my state of life, etc. But SSA prowls about, seeking its ruin. It is so difficult at times to find peace because there are moments that I hate how God has created me. There are moments when I find it difficult to reconcile “who” I am with what is expected of me by God. There are times when I cannot find how I can be content in my state of life in living the commandments. So peace eludes me. SSA is like a junkyard bull dog which runs along the fence, chasing those who approach, kicking up dirt and dust. SSA wants to chase away the peace when it approaches, and without the cardinal virtues, it is easier to simply let it have its way.

Secondly, there is the hope that through the grace of Christ in the Sacraments I will be able to be obedient. There is hope that there is joy in that. But it is often hard to truly believe that there will be joy in obedience, and my failures leave me feeling hopelessness in the Sacraments.

The ultimate hope, though, is the hope for eternal life with God. I can’t even begin to describe the hopelessness that can accompany SSA in this regard. The lack of hope is fed by fear of failure, shame in that failure.

Often the hopelessness isn’t intellectual or logical; it is simply a feeling of suffocation, a weight that bears down on the soul. And though it is more of a feeling or emotion, it is not random, but usually comes with specific triggers. The biggest one, for me at least, is actually not failure, but weddings. Weddings are a great reminder for me of what I cannot have. In the joy of a wedding, a certain amount of sadness creeps in to my heart which transforms itself, as I allow it to poison me, into hopelessness.

I could go on about different things that make me feel hopeless, but it would get too depressing. Before, though, you think that I live in this little shell of hopelessness, my life is not hopeless. In fact, I feel hopeful a whole heckuva lot more than I feel hopeless. But when the hopelessness does come, it comes in great intensity, and can last for upwards of a week or two.

I would just ask that you’d pray for all of us, that we wouldn’t lose hope in our trials and struggles and failures but remember that Jesus promises that if we take up our crosses and follow him we will have eternal life.

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Trial of Faith

Faith /fāTH/ a supernatural virtue by which we with the inspiration and assistance of God’s grace, believe those things to be true which He has revealed.

faithI don’t even know where to begin in writing about the distinct interaction between faith and same-sex attraction. It’s perhaps where I find the most in common with the non-believer who experiences same-sex attraction. I ask the same question: if this is wrong, why do I feel this way? I am not immune to this question simply because I believe in Jesus Christ and trust in his Church.

There are moments, hours, days, sometimes weeks at a time where I struggle greatly to believe those things which God has revealed to be true. It can be hard to remind oneself that a feeling is not the same as the truth; that just because I feel something does not mean that it is true.

The most difficult part about all of this is that these questions of doubt do not simply linger around the one moral question of homosexual behavior, but seeks to undermine my entire faith in the entire deposit of faith. And that is because I know that God isn’t a cafeteria choice. I don’t get to pick and choose which parts of God I like anymore than my friends can pick and choose which parts of me are real. I’m blond whether they believe my hair is blond or not. I’m 5’11 5/8” tall whether you believe that or not. You accept all of me, the parts you like and the parts you don’t, but you don’t get to cut me to pieces. The same is true with God.

So when doubts about sexual morality arise, doubts about my identity as a Catholic almost simultaneously arise. And that can be very stressful, as if struggling with same-sex attraction is not stressful enough. And I don’t know what’s worse, the stress of the doubts, or the fear, even in my moments of peace, that eventually, one of my rounds of doubts will permanently break me, that in a deep moment of desperation I will choose to leave the Faith and never look back. One can always feel strong in their faith at one moment, but we cannot foretell what might occur in the future that could make us stumble to the point of never recovering.

Simply put, we need intense prayers for faith, maybe more than any of the virtues I’ve already written about. To lose faith renders the other virtues dead and unimportant. If I lose my trust in God I have no use for prudence or justice or fortitude or temperance. So please, please pray for us.

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