Jesus is a love story. It begins with His love for us, and then, as we accept Him as our Savior and begin to become conformed to His teaching, it is also about our love for Him.
Conversion begins by falling in love with Christ. Like all love stories, it’s unalloyed joy at the beginning. Jesus is gentle with those who are babes in Him. He gives a lot and doesn’t ask much. But as time goes on, the Holy Spirit leads us to a deepened awareness of our own sinfulness. We realize that we have to change.
Early in our Christian life, conversion may mean giving up some cherished little sins. It does mean backing off from the sins that were eating at us and that drove us to our knees in the first place. But there are other sins that we have either hidden from ourselves or just won’t see. Legal abortion was one of those sins for me.
I came to Christ deeply repentant over something I had done. But I had neither shame nor guilt about my years advocating for legal abortion. I thought that was a positive good, a way of saving women’s lives. No one could have been more convinced of their pro choice convictions than I was.
The interesting thing is that God didn’t confront me with this at first. It took about a year and a half before that inner voice that is the Holy Spirit began to say, “This is wrong, and you’ve got to change.”
It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was so difficult that I made a mess of it. I tried, against all reason, to hang on to the relationships and the people I had been close to in my pro choice life. I dipped and dodged, stuttered and hid, trying to be two people at once.
I spent tortured hours wondering about all the questions that people raise on this blog: What about rape victims? What about women with severe diabetes or who are undergoing cancer treatment?
It was tough, miserable and painful. I would not have made the transition so fully if God had not pushed me.
I write this to tell you why I have such sympathy for gay people who experience the same longing for the Divine that everyone else does. “You have made us for yourself, Oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you,” St Augustine said.
God calls homosexuals to Himself, just as He does all people. He uses them as priests and laypeople throughout His Church.
In this day and age, when so many of their friends attack the Church because it refuses to bend on matters of human sexuality, Catholic gay people often find themselves in situations similar to the one I encountered when God asked me to step out and proclaim that abortion killed a living a child.
They will lose the people they love if they go forward in a Church so many of their friends think of as the enemy. They will be challenged if they try to follow the Church’s teaching that they are called to celibate lives.This is a hard teaching, a difficult way of living. Those who follow it with integrity of purpose are doing something heroic for Christ. Make no mistake about it: Faithful gay people who eschew the wide road of gay culture to pick up their cross and follow the narrow road of faithful Christian living are earning stars in their eternal crowns. Their reward will be great.
The Catholic Church is almost unique in that it does not condemn or revile gay people. At the same time, it does not re-write 2,000 years of Christian teaching to suit the demands of the gay rights movement. So many Churches fall into one error or the other regarding homosexuality. But the Catholic Church hews to the straight line of loving and empowering gay people, while refusing to tell them that sinful behavior is ok.
“The Church finds herself in the unhappy situation of having to say ‘no’ to things she knows are contrary to the human good,” Father Paul Check says.
The Church is charged with the care of their immortal souls. As such, it can do no less. It would be clerical malpractice of the worst sort to do anything other than tell people the truth about their sinful state.
All people, including homosexual people, need the support and comfort of human contact. We all need community, and those of us who are wounded in various ways need the community of people who are like us. Gay people need the friendships of other gay people. Christians need the friendship of other Christians.
Do you see where I’m going with this? It follows, doesn’t it, that gay Christians need the friendship and fellowship of other gay Christians. Courage, the well-named organization for Catholics who experience same-sex attraction, provides ministries, as well as opportunities to build social relationships for gay Catholics.
Courage will hold the 2013 Courage/Encourage Conference Thursday, July 25 – 28, at the University of Mary of the Lake, Munelein, IL. Cardinal Francis George will be the main celebrant for mass on Friday, July 26, at 11:30 am. Bishop John M. LeVoir will also celebrate mass.
According to Father Check, who is the national Director of Courage, the conference will feature workshops, personal testimonies, and opportunities for confession and Eucharistic adoration.
If there is not a Courage affiliate in your diocese, it might be a good idea to work toward starting one. For more information about the conference, go here.