What Does It Mean?

Nothing.

Let me rephrase that. Marriage means nothing.

Of course, that is not a new reality thrust upon us today. Marriage hasn’t meant anything for a very long time. This decision only reaffirms that. The word has no meaning anymore. It has nothing to do with anatomy and physiology. It has nothing to do with children. It has nothing to do with fidelity. It has nothing to do with commitment. Its meaning is relative to the one who contemplates the idea, which when something is relative, it is really nothing at all.

What does this decision mean for us Catholics, and for those who have a cursory education in anatomy?

Nothing and everything. It won’t change the truth. It won’t change doctrine. It won’t change a disciple of Christ’s behavior. We will continue to live rightly to the best of our ability to use God’s graces. That won’t change. It means nothing to us. But it will be more difficult. The momentum of hatred, disdain, prejudice, intolerance, and persecution will not be reverse. Why would it? As we fall further and further “behind the times”, we will be vilified to a greater and greater degree. Violence against will become more and more acceptable since after all we are backwards bigots, completely behind the great enlightenment of the last decade, relics. As in Canada, it is likely, that our speech will join the types of speech not protected by law, our thoughts will be policed like crazy. We may end up in prison. We may end up homeless after all our assets are stolen for not being “tolerant” of other lifestyles.

Why would we go through that?

a6e72c41-6099-460f-86c3-816d00cbf799_16x9_600x338Because today, and for 2,000 years, people have been willing to be killed for their belief in Christ. There is something greater to be had in Christ than in caving into the demands of those who seek only the treasures of the world. The men and women who have become martyrs for Christ die in vain if we lose faith at something as silly as the concept of same-sex marriage. Christ is everything, and we are willing to lose it ALL. Our jobs, our homes, our friends, even our lives. Christ is worth dying for. American culture, eh, not so much.

What does this mean for guys and gals like me?

I’m glad you asked. Its hard to say. It might make it harder than it already is to live in this culture. We may be even further ostracized than hetero Christians are, because, like wow, why wouldn’t you get married? We will be more counter cultural…if we can handle the pressure. I would like to stay that this won’t shake my resolve, but I don’t know. I hope and pray for the graces, but only God knows.

In any case we are called to be witnesses, and those we are witnessing to are going to become more difficult to get the truth across to for the time being, until reality sets in at some future time, that our shallow understanding of sex and marriage and happiness and “rights” have left us empty of purpose and meaning. The abortion discussion is only now just beginning to reach that point as greater numbers of young people are coming to believe that all people have value and a right to life. It may take 42 years for us to reach that point with marriage, maybe sooner, maybe longer.

In whatever happens, cling to Christ, the only thing in this universe that lasts past death.

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A Saint Among Us

This is difficult.

Two nights ago, my friend Sam was murdered. Why was he murdered? Because Sam had the heart of a saint. Late at night, a man, hopped up on methamphetamine, hours after killing another person knocked on his door, and asked for a drink of water. While Sam was getting the water, the man became paranoid that he had seen his face on the news in connection to his first crime and was going to call the police. So he struck him with a hammer until he died. If he had not had the heart of a saint, a heart that heeds the simple words of Jesus:

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me.

Sam would not have been murdered. Of course, that is what makes him a saint. He didn’t care that it was the middle of the night. There was someone in need, knocking on his door. This person, this Jesus, came before his own safety. And it cost him his life. But of course, we know that when we lose this life, we gain eternal life.

As the details surrounding Sam’s murder were released today, I tried to make sense of this, and I’ve tried to imagine what might have gone through Sam’s mind as he was fighting off his attacker. It’s a guessing game not worth playing. But Sam’s story reminded me of the story of another saint, my patron, St. Meinrad of Einsiedeln. St. Meinrad was murdered by two wayfarers who sought hospitality from him. Though Meinrad was suspicious of the men, he saw Christ in them, and so shared what he had with them, only to be betrayed, and bludgeoned to death. Meinrad had an incredible heart of charity, and that charity lead to his own death. Sometimes he is referred to as the martyr of hospitality, even though he was not a martyr in the conventional sense. He was not killed because he was a Christian, but was killed because he was a Christian. Do you see the difference? It is the same with Sam. In that sense, Sam is a martyr, because he was killed while he was proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its most simple and profound reality.

It’s been a tough day. I was supposed to stay with Sam at his house on Friday, and now that isn’t going to happen. I miss him already. He was a kind-hearted individual who went out of his way to make others feel welcome and cared about. He treated me as  if I were an old friend who had known him forever whenever I saw him over the last few years. The world is losing out by his death. But I have confidence that his presence is not totally lost. He is present in all the lives he has touched, and he is more alive now than he ever has been as he contemplates the glory of the beatific vision.

Sam truly was and is a saint among us.

Rest in peace buddy.

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Worldly Falsehoods

I recently had a link shared with me about a letter written by a very angry woman about her gay son and religious bullies. It was quite clearly very emotionally driven and she undoubtedly had very good reasons for writing such a letter. As I’ve reflected on the letter, and its message, I’ve considered many ways to craft a response to an old letter written by a woman in a different state to particular people and I’ve decided not to. It’s not my place.

But the letter itself subtly reinforced stereotypes of gay people and stereotypes of Christians. It quite easily added more bricks to the walls that prevent true dialogue, and for that the community to which it was written has certainly missed out on a real opportunity for increased understanding among its members.

I am going to refute, though, the negative and/or erroneous things that our culture continues to push on us.

1. That religious people who oppose same-sex “marriage” are bullies.
Our culture has a way of picking out a handful of instances of terrible things occurring and using them to broadly paint groups of people. Some gay kids are bullied other kids. These gay kids’ lives are living hells. Those things are utterly terrible and if the bullies claim to be Christians, they are doing it wrong. However, to paint religious people who oppose parts of the gay activist agenda as bullies is simply not fair. The vast majority of Christians have not bullied a gay person. The vast majority of Christians know gay people, work with gay people, and are even friends with gay people. Having and voicing an opinion different from your own is not bullying. You do a grave disservice to individuals who actually are bullied when you make such ludicrous assertions.

2. That if you don’t support X, Y, or Z demand, you hate homosexuals.
Since when does love require the absolute support of everything that someone believes or does? If this truly is the case, then no parent has every loved a child, and no child has ever loved a parent. And no spouse has ever loved the other. If this is what love is, if this is what love demands, then love is not real, and love has never existed, and never will. Do you agree with everything that your loved ones do? Do you give them everything they ask for, no matter what? No? Why do you hate them?

3. That Jesus accepts everyone as they are.
If this were true, why did Jesus come to earth as man? Why did he teach? What value was there in his teaching if his people were doing nothing wrong, if they were living exactly as he liked? More importantly, why did he die? If Jesus accepts us as we are, there is no sin, and there is no need for atonement for that which is not sin, so for what purpose was his death?

The fact of the matter is that Jesus didn’t accept people as they were. Anyone who tries to say otherwise hasn’t spent much time reading about Jesus’ earthly life. Yes, he hung out with sinners. That is precisely why he came. He said that he came not for the righteous, but for the sinners, because the healthy have no need for a doctor. He came to heal the sinners he hung out with, not confirm them in their sin! We often hear about Mary Magdalene, and how today’s Christians are like the crowd, and today’s gays are like Mary Magdalene, and we need to listen to Jesus and stop throwing stones. True, very true. But we also have to listen to Jesus when he told Mary to turn away from her sin. He never told her that the crowd was wrong, and that she could go on doing what she was doing, she was told to sin no more.

Jesus meets us where we are, asks us to leave our lives behind and follow him. The disciples all left their lives behind to attain the things of God. It always astounds me when people try to say that Jesus basically came to tell us to be nice to each other, and that we should go after worldly pleasures.

4. That the left/liberal/progressive/Democratic party/mainstream media represents the interests and desires of the entire LGBT community.
I don’t doubt that a large majority of the LGBT community that is out and living the so-called LGBT lifestyle is having its interests served by the aforementioned social conglomerate. But there are tons of members that are not represented. Not every gay person supports gay “marriage”. Not every gay person sees themselves as a special victim. Not every gay person desires to live out the lifestyle. Not every gay person wants to force others to give up their religious liberties and freedoms.

So when people write about “evil Christian bullies” as the enemy of the LGBT community, it doesn’t resonate with me, a member of the LGBT community (a membership I do not hold by choice, but by circumstance).

5. That there is no place for gays in Christianity unless Christianity “gets with the times.”
This is blatantly false. I’m an example. Joey Prever is an example. So are the thousands of members of Courage chapters everywhere. Christianity is for every person no matter the time or the place or the cross that they bear. I don’t need a religion that tells me that whatever I do, as long as it isn’t “mean,” is ok. That’s a religion of mediocrity. Jesus worshipping Christianity serves me quite well. It doesn’t tickle my ears. It spurs me on to a depth of life that goes far beyond the shallow cult of body-image lust that is so prevalent in the LGBT culture. It spurs me to see others as divinely and purposefully created, not as objects to be lusted over, and used for my physical pleasure. It spurs me to turn away from worship of my body and the bodies of others who will all return to dust, and to focus my heart and my soul on things that will last: the spiritual and the divine, the treasures that are not subjected to the laws of physics, decay, and chaos. It invites my heart to rest in something substantial as opposed to superficial sexual escapades.

The world is a messed up place. These are just a few of the many lies out there that snare our brothers and sisters. These lies first and foremost prevent those who need the healing power of Christ from encountering him. They are told that Jesus does not love them or that his followers are hateful bullies. Some of the lies create a counterfeit Jesus that resembles the image of the worshipper, more than Jesus Christ, and our brothers and sisters are tricked into idolatry and worship of a false Jesus. These lies also drive the weaker or more poorly catechized brothers and sisters out of the Church. They batter believers into thinking that Jesus is wrong for not changing his teachings to meet the demands of the world or science (despite the FACT that the born-this-way argument has never been remotely proved scientifically).

Don’t fall for these lies. Jesus DOES love you. Jesus created you for a great purpose and wants to HELP you live for that purpose, to live for more than the passing pleasures that this life offers. He doesn’t hate gays, and neither do Christians (people who follow Jesus, not people who follow themselves). He has woven joy into living the plan he created you for if you are willing to make just a small sacrifice in order to follow him, dine with him, commune with him. His own life promises that sacrifices will not go unrewarded. Whether this is the first time or the millionth time, Jesus is waiting for you today, to make you a new creation.

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Laudato Sii

As a conservative I read many things I did not want to hear.

If I were a liberal, I am certain that I would have read just as many things I would not want to hear.

I think that means that this was a good letter. As much as there were things I did not want to hear, it was because I know in my heart that I do not live up to this letter, that I am part of the problem. I have often thrown away food. I have thrown away things that work perfectly well so that they may end up in a dump. I have bought many things I have never used. I am a part of the problem.

But I found joy in reading because I felt convicted! Laudato Sii is incredibly beautiful, and is nothing new that the Church hasn’t already found in her tradition. I don’t know why some Catholics hate it so much? Its deeply Franciscan (the canonized Saint, not the pope). It is based soundly upon Scriptural views of creation, and reaffirms things that previous popes have been saying for decades, and that the bishops of multiple nations across the globe have been saying in recent times as well. You may not like Pope Francis, but this isn’t a liberal hippie dream he pulled out of his old papal butt. This is a restatement of Christian teaching on our place in creation and the duties of being stewards of God’s creation, including each other.

I found so much hope in this letter, and I can’t wait to read it a second time.

Safe Green Spaces

Frequently, we find beautiful and carefully manicured green spaces in so-called “safer” areas of cities, but not in the more hidden areas where the disposable of society live.

Definitely not the most seriously sad thing in Laudato Sii yet, but for some reason has hit me the hardest so far.

Return a Blessing

All of you should be like-minded, sympathetic, loving toward one another, kindly disposed, and humble. Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult. Return a blessing instead. This you have been called to do, that you may receive a blessing as your inheritance.

1 Peter 3:8-9

This piece of advice from the first Pope should be our motto, our slogan in presenting the Gospel to the world today, especially when it comes to the truth about marriage and the family.

While we may not all be like-minded, as we should be, we do need to be loving towards each other. We have to be kind and be humble. We cannot pretend that we are better or above everyone else simply because the Church has the truth. The Church is both Mother and Servant. The Church exists to glorify God and to bring God to the world. We serve others, we must do so humbly. We must offer the truth firmly, but with humility, because the truth does come from us, but from God.

We must be kindly disposed to others. We cannot return evil for evil or insult for insult, no matter how tempting it may be. The people of the world are our brothers and sisters, too. God desires for them to be in communion with him, and as his brothers and sisters, we must desire the same thing for them. We must treat them with dignity and respect, and must never stoop to levels so low as to insult them.

This can be hard, given how wrathful, vengeful, and angry the opponents of the Will of God are. They do not like us. Nay, they hate us. But we have to love them, even the worst of them. And perhaps this is my greatest cross. Maybe the presence of same-sex attractions in my heart is not my heaviest cross. Maybe loving others with same-sex attraction, but who reject the truth is my most difficult and heaviest burden.

Thank God that he is there to help us. Thank God that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are precisely what we need in order to love and serve others, and bring the Gospel to them in such a way that the light of Christ will win their hearts and souls. Thank God that when we return a blessing to the curses of the world, that a blessing is our inheritance, and not just ours, but an inheritance for those to whom we evangelize.

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Excerpt From The Letter on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons

It has been argued that the homosexual orientation in certain cases is not the result of deliberate choice; and so the homosexual person would then have no choice but to behave in a homosexual fashion. Lacking freedom, such a person, even if engaged in homosexual activity, would not be culpable.

Here, the Church’s wise moral tradition is necessary since it warns against generalizations in judging individual cases. In fact, circumstances may exist, or may have existed in the past, which would reduce or remove the culpability of the individual in a given instance; or other circumstances may increase it. What is at all costs to be avoided is the unfounded and demeaning assumption that the sexual behaviour of homosexual persons is always and totally compulsive and therefore inculpable. What is essential is that the fundamental liberty which characterizes the human person and gives him his dignity be recognized as belonging to the homosexual person as well. As in every conversion from evil, the abandonment of homosexual activity will require a profound collaboration of the individual with God’s liberating grace.

What, then, are homosexual persons to do who seek to follow the Lord? Fundamentally, they are called to enact the will of God in their life by joining whatever sufferings and difficulties they experience in virtue of their condition to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross. That Cross, for the believer, is a fruitful sacrifice since from that death come life and redemption. While any call to carry the cross or to understand a Christian’s suffering in this way will predictably be met with bitter ridicule by some, it should be remembered that this is the way to eternal life for all who follow Christ.

It is, in effect, none other than the teaching of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians when he says that the Spirit produces in the lives of the faithful “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control” (5:22) and further (v. 24), “You cannot belong to Christ unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires.”

It is easily misunderstood, however, if it is merely seen as a pointless effort at self-denial. The Cross is a denial of self, but in service to the will of God himself who makes life come from death and empowers those who trust in him to practise virtue in place of vice.

To celebrate the Paschal Mystery, it is necessary to let that Mystery become imprinted in the fabric of daily life. To refuse to sacrifice one’s own will in obedience to the will of the Lord is effectively to prevent salvation. Just as the Cross was central to the expression of God’s redemptive love for us in Jesus, so the conformity of the self-denial of homosexual men and women with the sacrifice of the Lord will constitute for them a source of self-giving which will save them from a way of life which constantly threatens to destroy them.

Christians who are homosexual are called, as all of us are, to a chaste life. As they dedicate their lives to understanding the nature of God’s personal call to them, they will be able to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance more faithfully and receive the Lord’s grace so freely offered there in order to convert their lives more fully to his Way.

Chapters 11 & 12

When I reflect on this little passage, it seems to me that the Church’s teaching on this subject is far more respectful than the world’s views. The Church treats me like a free moral agent. The world treats me as a slave. The Church treats me like a human. The world treats me like an animal in heat. In any other area of difficulty, the world would tell me: you can rise above your struggles, your appetites, you can fight it. It’s what it tells alcoholics every day. It’s what it tells those with physical disabilities every day. It’s what it tells children with learning disabilities. It’s what it tells girls with eating disorders. But me. God no. The world believes that I have no control over my sexual impulses, that trying not to give into them is futile and cruel. In fact, the world tells me I am not culpable for my sexual acts. I can neither consent nor deny consent in sexual activity, because my sexual orientation has a complete control over my sexual actions.

On the other hand, the Church tells me that I have free will, albeit damaged by original sin and concupiscence. I am not limited by my passions any more than any other person is limited by theirs. Like any other person I can cooperate with God’s abundant grace (or I can not), but the choice is mine. To Jesus I am a human. I have dignity in his eyes.

This is why, when I have struggled in the past with whether or not I could continue to follow Jesus Christ, or if I would just go into the world and live the life the world calls us to, I ultimately decided to choose Jesus again. He cares about me as a whole person, the world cares nothing for me, an animal in its eyes. Here I find peace, a peace for which is hard fought. Out there I find the ability to numb my self, a numbing which is the result of cheap self-medication. At times they may seem similar in their interior experience, but they couldn’t be more different. One is beautiful, one is ugly. One is freedom, one is slavery. One is eternal, and one is only temporary.

I know which one I want and deserve.

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Don’t You Know Your Homophobia Could…?

So I have a tumblr (no I won’t tell you what it’s called), and an anonymous poster asked the following statement on a Catholic tumblr I follow:

Do you not even care that your homophobia could lead to the depression or suicide of gay teens?

I don’t know what particular kind of commentary this statement was in response to, but the blogger gave a great response. I also responded to the anonymous statement and kind of just wanted to share it here as well for other people who would agree with the OPs statement about our alleged homophobia as Catholics (don’t get me started on “homophobia”).

Anonymous OP is ignorant.

I’m a gay Catholic. And the Church’s teachings do not drive me towards depression or suicide. How could they? Has the OP ever even familiarized themselves with the teachings? Probably not. Read them. They are beautiful.

Sure, I struggle with them a lot. Not because they are hateful, but because they are hard. We ALL have difficult things we must do. They don’t drive us to suicide in and of themselves.
If anything drives me towards depression it is the closed-minded liberals who demand that as a gay person I walk lock and step with them in their ideology. That to be authentic I must support the entire LGBT liberal left agenda and that if I don’t I’m a hateful bigot. They mock Jesus and my religion. They believe that if I don’t embrace the gay lifestyle I hate myself. They look for every opportunity to smear the right, especially gay conservative Christians. We don’t act just like them and because we are different from them they treat us worse than any Christian has ever treated me. THAT’S what could drive one to depression.

But even that in and of itself doesn’t drive someone to kill themselves. To reduce mental illness to the fact that others don’t agree with your thoughts, feelings, and actions is ignorant and immature.

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Control

Almost without exception, homosexual clients report an increase in preoccupying sexual fantasies when they have experienced a disappointment. They feel most out of control and likely to act out sexually when they are feeling weak, lonely, and generally down about themselves. Similarly, the opposite is true – when they are feeling more adult, more masculine, more successful, more personally empowered, the attractive men in their enviroment may be appreciated, but they are less likely to be sexually compelling.
Clients often describe becoming angry at themselves, feeling depressed, and attempting to get out of depression by acting out sexually. The sexual behaviour is an anxiety reducer and an attempt at reassertion of self. The emotional energy that could have been appropriately directed toward self-assertion is repressed, turned against the self in the form of depression, then released sexually.
This self-defeating cycle further reinforces a nonmasculine self-image and the feeling of being out of control.

-Joseph Nicolisi, PhD

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