Our crosses are used by God to give us the chance to live by Faith and so to increase our capacity to be filled with his love for all eternity - to increase the degree of glory we will enjoy in heaven. Do not rob people that experience SSA of the chance for God to use the cross they carry in this way. Do not dumb the Catholic Faith down to a natural level when God is offering them so much more! God will raise up great saints from those who are willing to deny themselves in this way!
Do you know people who are dealing with Same Sex Attraction or confusion about their gender? Whatever you do, do not rob them of the chance to grow in grace and glory by advising them to put their cross down and not carry them in imitation of Christ. Do not condone disordered behavior out of misplaced sense of love or compassion. As Christians, our mission is to put people in touch with the person of Jesus Christ through prayer and the sacraments. He will give them every grace they need to be faithful to him and the teachings of his Church. He will make many saints from among those who are faithful to him in this way and saints are what our world needs more than anything else because they show us how powerful His love and grace are!
"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
"I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18).
Jill, a friend of mine shared this story with me. She had attended a CRHP (Christ Renews His Parish) weekend and became close friends with Phyllis. Phyllis shared with Jill her sadness about her young adult daughter, Micah, who had left the Church because she was dealing with same sex attraction and was actively involved in a relationship with another woman.
Micah was very angry with God and the Church and could not understand why the church taught that this type of relationship was disordered. At this point she wanted nothing to do with the Church ever again. Jill felt sad for Phyllis and for Micah and prayed and offered sacrifices for both of them continually.
One day while Jill was praying the rosary during Eucharistic Adoration, she felt a very strong inspiration “to invite Micah to the Eucharist.” It shocked her and she thought, “Really, Lord? What am I supposed to tell her, come to Mass with me but you can’t receive Holy Communion?…”
She decided to ignore the inspiration for that reason but the inspiration became stronger and stronger. Finally, she decided to call Micah and ask her if she wanted to have a cup coffee with her. Micah responded right away that she did and so they met at Starbucks. The first time they met they talked for six hours. Micah poured her heart out to Jill and Jill just listened for the most part. They met once a week for a few months - mostly, with Micah talking and Jill listening. Micah brought up so many concerns that Jill didn’t have an answer for but she knew that Jesus could help her. That was when Jill realized what Jesus meant by “Invite Micah to the Eucharist.”
She told Micah that she didn’t know how to answer all of her concerns but she knew someone who did. So she told her about Eucharistic Adoration. Jill knew from experience that, by regularly spending time in prayer there and pouring her heart out to Jesus, that he would help her with her concerns and questions and give her peace. She invited her to go with her and Micah agreed to give it a try.
The first time they went they spent about 30 minutes in silent prayer with Micah in the front and Jill in the back. They continued to go to Adoration followed by Starbucks each week. During this time, Micah was truly encountering Christ and experiencing his love for her. Many times she would weep the whole time in Adoration.
After a few months, Micah told Jill that she was ready to come back to the Church because she really wanted to receive Holy Communion. Jill knew Micah needed to go to confession and she also knew she needed a priest that was both very pastoral and, at the same time, faithful to the true teachings of the Church; someone who would proclaim the Truth clearly and unambiguously, and who also believed in the grace that God would provide to live by it. She just so happened to know a priest like that so she set up an appointment with him for Micah.
Micah and Fr. Tony met for an hour this first time. She asked him so many questions and he gently but firmly explained to her why the Church teaches what it does about Same Sex Attraction.
But he also told her that Christ would never ask something of her that he wouldn’t give her the grace for and that he would be with her in the sacraments and prayer to strengthen her and help her to carry this cross; and that eventually she would experience joy and peace by living in fidelity to Christ and his Church.
He explained that her suffering was redemptive and that was it was a means of uniting her deeply to Christ and could also be used as a prayer of intercession for other people. This concept was hard for her to understand at this time but it greatly intrigued her.
At the end of the confession, however, He told her that he could not give her absolution until she was ready to give up this sin.
She told him that she was not ready to do that.
Fr. Tony sat there for a while and then he asked her if she could promise that she would at least try.
She said she could promise that.
He then gave her the following advice: He told her that in order to fight this temptation, she needed the strength from Holy Communion and that God would change her desires over time.
He told her that every time she was at Mass or Eucharistic Adoration, to ask God for that strength. If she fell into that sin, before receiving Holy Communion, to go ASAP to the sacrament of reconciliation and ask for forgiveness and then back to Mass & Holy Communion to ask for strength.
She took his advice very seriously and after several months of falling back into the sin and going to the sacrament of Reconciliation and repenting and asking for strength, she told Fr. Tony that she was ready to give up this life style permanently.
At this time, she joined Courage International.
Courage International is “an international apostolate of the Catholic Church – for those who experience same-sex attractions and who have made a commitment to strive for chastity. They are inspired by the Gospel call to holiness and the Catholic Church’s beautiful teachings about the goodness and inherent purpose of human sexuality. Through our apostolate, people who experience same-sex attraction receive pastoral support in the form of spiritual guidance, community prayer support, and fellowship.”
She has continued to live a chaste life through the support that she receives:
5 GOALS OF COURAGE
The Five Goals were created by the members themselves, when Courage was founded. The goals are read at the start of each meeting and each member is called to practice them in daily life. Here are the Goals in their entirety:
To live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality (Chastity);
To dedicate our entire lives to Christ through service to others, spiritual reading, prayer, meditation, individual spiritual direction, frequent attendance at Mass, and the frequent reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist (Prayer and Dedication);
To foster a spirit of fellowship in which we may share with one another our thoughts and experiences, and so ensure that no one will have to face the problems of homosexuality alone (Fellowship);
To be mindful of the truth that chaste friendships are not only possible but necessary in a chaste Christian life; and to encourage one another in forming and sustaining these friendships (Support);
To live lives that may serve as good examples to others (Good Example/Role Model).
She will tell you that she is happier than she has ever been. One thing that brings her so much joy is that her suffering – the temptations that she faces – is redemptive. She unites each one to Christ’s prefect sacrifice in the Mass and offers it for other people who struggle with SSA and have alienated themselves from Christ and his church. She has seen many people, including many of her friends, experience a deep conversion to Christ and are living a chaste life in fidelity to Christ and his church. Her joy far surpasses any suffering she experiences!
There are so many different types of suffering and crosses that people carry! There are crosses of illness - physical, psychological, emotional, etc.; crosses of same sex attraction, gender identity crisis; addiction, loneliness, grief, bereavement and loss; the crosses of infertility - just to name a few. It helps me to remember that this earthly life is not paradise - it is a preparation for paradise in heaven. It is a time of testing; a time to grow and to allow God to increase our capacity to love Him for all eternity. A time to live by the dark night of Faith (believing in God's love even when he seems absent or distant or asleep on the job); a time to grow in merit; and suffering is a big part of all of this. "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:6-9).
Our secular culture does not clearly understand this and therefore does not understand the deeper purpose & meaning of suffering. This is because our society is predominantly hedonistic, meaning that the number one goal seems to be the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain - at all costs. How different is the Way that Jesus taught us:
"If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16:24).
Even though, at first, this sounds like a way deprived of fulfillment, it is, in fact, the exact opposite. We are not meant to endure suffering as Christ did with our own strength, so the crosses that we carry become the very means to a deeper union with God who makes them bearable. This supernatural union with a loving Being, infinitely higher and greater than ourselves, is the conduit of true and lasting joy and “a peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Micah's testimony is proof of this!
Read another testimony here
Read about "Why the Cross? (from the cross to glory) here