DEFENDING TRADITIONAL MARRIAGES MAKES ME A HATER?

Father Mike Schmitz is a revelation when it come to talking common sense about SSA.  His words and inspiration has gotten me through some hard times.  Below is an article he penned a  while back that still resonates today.

 

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IT SEEMS LIKE EVERY TIME I TRY TO EXPLAIN THE CHURCH’S TEACHING REGARDING SAME-SEX “MARRIAGE” I AM ACCUSED OF BEING A “BIGOT” OR A “HOMOPHOBE.” I AM TOLD THAT I “HATE” AND THAT IT IS A VIOLATION OF A PERSON’S CIVIL RIGHTS TO SAY THAT THEY CANNOT MARRY WHOMEVER THEY WANT. HOW DO I RESPOND?

This is a cultural issue that will have serious consequences for generations to come. All thinking people must seriously consider the facts and the far-reaching implications of any change in legislation with regard to this issue.

I am disheartened by the use of these terms. In my experience, the only thing these terms do is short- circuit intelligent discussion. By using words like these, a person or group who is opposed to same- sex acting out is painted as someone whose perspective is based on irrational hatred or fear. Unfortunately, I have experienced this as well.

Webster’s Dictionary defines a “bigot” as a “person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.”

It is possible that someone who opposes so-called same-sex marriage is guilty of hatred, but is this necessarily so? By definition, prejudice prejudges people according to irrelevant criteria: race, gender, wealth, etc. Honest and reflective discernment, however, distinguishes between truth and falsehood, right and wrong.

Prejudice often claims that some people are worth more than others according to some arbitrary standard, but this is not what Christians are claiming in this debate. In the case of this legislation, we are not determining a person’s worth, but whether or not the legislation is oriented towards the common good and the dignity of the human person. No one is talking about making those with same-sex attraction into “second-class citizens.”

Furthermore, the Catholic Church squarely condemns any law that would violate a person’s dignity as being made in the image and likeness of God. The Church has spoken out against crimes perpetrated against any human being. This includes the bullying and unjust discrimination leveled against men and women with same-sex attraction.

A phobia is an “exaggerated and usually inexplicable and illogical fear” of something. What happens when this word is used in the context “homophobia”? What is being said is that the person who opposes the acceptance of same-sex attraction is acting out of an irrational fear.

Essentially, the person who is a bigot has an irrational hatred and the person who has a phobia has an irrational fear. But are all people who support the traditional definition of marriage driven by these illogical hatreds and fears? When these terms are used in public discourse, it places the individual or group in the class of people who are illogical, hateful and fearful.

With regard to “hate,” it is tragic that Christians have become associated with this term in regard to same-sex attraction. Jesus commands us to love everyone. Men and women who experience same-sex attraction are not our enemies; they are our brothers and sisters. The fact that the Church is generally thought of as hateful represents a serious failure on our part to truly love our brothers and sisters.

Is it hateful or unjust to have laws that regulate marriage? No one can marry anyone they please. This is not singling out any certain group and denying them rights that belong to others. We have laws regulating marriage for everyone. No one can marry their sibling, or their dog, or multiple people at once, or a member of their own gender. The statement that people cannot marry members of their own sex is no more based on hate than is the statement that no one can marry his or her grandmother. It is a simple affirmation that is based on the reality of what marriage is.

So why are these terms used? Unfortunately, many Christians come across as being angry or fearful. I believe that there has been a lack of true compassion and willingness to listen to the stories of the men and women who experience same-sex attraction. In many Christian circles, the impression that we give the rest of the world is that we are secretly hoping that these people are condemned.

I also think that sometimes Christians have acted in knee-jerk fashion, immediately reacting to the same-sex lobby in government and the media rather than reflectively and intelligently responding in love.

But I also believe that these terms are used to end the discussion. If I am coming from an irrational point of view, then I am not worth listening to.

As participants in government and public discourse, we need to define our terms and make sure we are using them accurately. This goes for both sides in the debate. Neither group is squaring off against monsters on the other side of the fence; we are respectfully, intelligently and lovingly arguing an issue that is important for all of us.

 

 

WRITTEN BY FR. MIKE SCHMITZ

Father Mike Schmitz is the chaplain for Newman Catholic Campus Ministries at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He also serves as the Director of the Office of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth. You can submit questions at fathermikeschmitz@gmail.com. You can listen to Fr. Mike’s homilies in iTunes.

 

 

How EnCourage is Like The Parable of the Prodical Son

I was siting around thinking about what to write today when I heard Fr.Leonard proclaim the gospel on the televised mass on EWTN.  Since I need work on my homiletics, I started thinking about this excerpt from scripture (Luke 15: 11-32).  How very much like the waiting father are we, the parents of children with same sex attraction.

 

We suffer  for our children, rue the ill advised choices they make, but re-affirm every day our love for them.  Sure many days we don’t like them very much,  we are human after all, but never do we stop loving them.  The father of the Prodical son never stopped loving his younger son.  He never stopped wanting the best for him.  Just like us. Heck, more so than us!  More than anything, we pray and hope and possibly bargain with God for our children to return to the embrace of Holy Mother Church.  Not for us but for their immortal soul and their salvation.

 

The question I challenge myself with each day is, “can I accept my child with open arms if he were to come back?”  I pray I can be as humble and strong in my love and faith to do so as that father, Our Father in heaven.  Jesus provided us with the way to do so through this parable.

 

Make no mistake, it is hard.  Too hard to be honest.  But we need to find that faith, that inner strength to ensure our feelings are not about us and how we feel.  They have to be for our child, all our children.  the father of  the Prodical son left his sins in the past, welcomed him with open arms and looked forward to the future.

 

If we don’t we are no better than the older son. Give that some thought.

 

 

 

Ministering To Those With Same Sex Attraction

Last summer I was privileged to attend a conference in Plymouth Michigan on behalf of the Archdiocese of New York.  The best, most succinct speaker during the conference, in my opinion, was Msgr. Charles Pope.  Many have heard of him, he is the author of the Courageous Priest blog.  He is fascinating, riveting, engaging but mostly., honest, compassionate and reasonable.  He authored a 3500 word document as a companion to his talk at the session that can be found and downloaded here:

blog.adw.org/2015/04/equal-in-dignity-and-in-responsibility/

He is also active on Facebook where he posts insights each day.

 

Monsignor Charles Pope.

 

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Scenario 1: Two men present an infant they have adopted for baptism. The men are living in a same-sex relationship and have had their “marriage” recognized by the State. They claim to be parishioners and the pastor does recognize them, though he never knew of their relationship, living arrangements, or the existence of their civil “marriage” license. In the baptism of infants and young children there is to be some well-founded hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith (cf Canon 868.2). This highly irregular situation makes the pastor wonder as to the proper course of action.

 

Reply: In a fairly straightforward way, this scenario can be handled like that of a cohabiting heterosexual couple or a couple in an invalid marriage. When irregularities exist in the presenting family, the pastor must balance the fundamental need of the child for baptism with the likelihood of him or her actually being raised in the faith given those irregularities.

Some irregularities, such as validating a marriage, can be easily resolved; others cannot. Some cohabiting couples are planning to marry, but for others marriage is either not in the near future or is unlikely to occur at all. The faith of some heterosexual couples is vigorous despite the irregularities, but for others their faith is tepid and their practice of it is tangential to their lives.

And then there is the large number of single mothers presenting children for baptism. Some have had a one-time fall, others are prone to promiscuity or serial relationships that are unhealthy. Some are actively practicing their faith; many are not.

And yet here is a child in need of baptism. Given the urgent need for baptism, the historical tendency of the Church has been to baptize even the children of prostitutes. The “well-founded” hope that children will be raised in the faith has more often been understood to mean even a glimmer of hope. The fact is, whatever the irregular situation, the parent(s) are coming to the Church and requesting baptism. That means there is some faith.

Some pastors are far more restrictive in their interpretation, but the usual and historical stance has been to be generous in seeing a well-founded hope, given the necessity of baptism for salvation.

My own approach in cases of irregularities among heterosexuals is to use this as a teachable moment, a call to repentance; I use it as an opportunity to summon the parent(s) to faith. I don’t just stay silently “nice. ” I exhort cohabiting couples to separate if reasonable and not deleterious to the child. I tell them that they should prepare to marry if this is advisable, and that they should most certainly stop fornicating right away. I tell those in invalid marriages that they should be validated. I tell those who are not coming to Mass to do so faithfully starting right away.

I also instruct them that they are going to be making a promise to God (and I read it right from the baptismal rite) to raise their children in the faith. This means that they cannot go on living in a way that is at odds with that faith. I ask them to soberly consider whether they are really ready to make this promise (which includes working to eliminate the irregularities). I tell them that if they are not, they should delay the baptism. It is difficult to imagine how they can avoid being sentenced to Hell if they fail to follow through on such a promise; I am very clear with them on this.

I would not change a thing with a same-sex couple. It is unlikely that I would refuse to baptize the child. However I would make it clear that they, too, have a decision to make in terms of the promise they will make to God. If they are going to raise this child in the Catholic faith, like any cohabiting couple, they need to stop having sexual intimacy, possibly separate entirely, and most certainly never teach the child that homosexual acts are anything other than sinful, as God’s Word teaches. If they are not able to make these changes and begin to conform to Catholic teaching (which their promise in the baptismal rite indicates) I recommend they delay the baptism until they are ready. But the decision is theirs.

In cases where baptisms involving any of the irregular situations described above go forward, I recommend that every parish handle them discreetly. In other words, celebrate them more privately, at times other than Masses or regularly scheduled baptisms. They ought not to be done alongside baptisms where properly married parents present their children. If such a practice has developed it should be discontinued so that further scandal and desensitization to irregularity are avoided. The baptism of a child presented by a same-sex couple at Mass or alongside proper situations would shock most congregations. And while unmarried heterosexual parents at baptisms are less apparent (and so cause less shock) these sorts of baptism also ought to be done more discreetly.

This may mean more work for clergy, but it must be done going forward if we are to assert, as I think we ought, that those with same-sex attraction are treated with equanimity.

 

And a Word a From Fr. Check

 

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Courage Newsletter ~ February 2016
Message From Our Director

Dear Courage and EnCourage Family,

Christ’s peace to you.

We are happy to introduce this inaugural edition of our newsletter. In the central office, we want to use all of the means at our disposal to advance the Gospel and to build and strengthen our community. Desire of the Everlasting Hills and Invited to Courageous Love are among our recent efforts to expand the reach of the apostolate, so that we may share the joy, challenge, and suffering that compose the lives of faithful disciples of Jesus Christ…and so that we may share with the wider Church the experience and practical wisdom of Courage/EnCourage over 35 years.

This periodic newsletter will be another way for us to keep in touch. Ever since I first began attending the annual conference in 2003, I have always wanted to do more to sustain and promote the spirit of the conference throughout the year. This is one modest attempt to further that goal.

Now that we have five full-time employees in the central office, with another soon to join, we can take on more projects like this one. There are other things that we have in mind and will in time present to you. Please

Fr. Paul Check
Executive Director
be sure that I also want to develop ways to listen and respond to your suggestions and concerns, because I do not want this communication to be only one way. Our members and those affiliated with our apostolate have valuable insights and ideas that can serve many others.

We would be grateful if you would help us to increase our mailing list by inviting people to sign up.

With prayers and best wishes for a fruitful Lent,

Fr. Paul Check
Executive Director
Be Sure You Are Signed Up, Then Spread the Word

If you received this e-mail directly from Courage:
You are already on our contact list because you have some sort of a relationship with Courage or EnCourage, perhaps by having attended one of our conferences. You may unsubscribe or update your contact information and interests at any time by following the links at the very bottom of the every email.

If someone forwarded this message to you: Join our mailing list today!
Signing up for the Courage/EnCourage e-newsletter does not mean you will get a lot of emails. We plan to send out a message no more than once a month. The list is absolutely confidential and will not be shared with anyone.

Join our mailing list

Then spread the word by forwarding this newsletter.
Let anyone who may be interested know about our new Courage/EnCourage newsletter: Courage and EnCourage members, others with SSA or their family and friends, clergy, lay ministers, mental health professionals and more. Simply forward this email to them or direct them CourageRC.org where there is a link for sign up on the home page.

Is There Anyone More Succinct?

image“Lenten practices of giving up pleasures are good reminders that the purpose of life is not pleasure. The purpose of life is to attain to perfect life, all truth and undying ecstatic love – which is the definition of God. In pursuing that goal we find happiness. Pleasure is not the purpose of anything; pleasure is a by-product resulting from doing something that is good. One of the best ways to get happiness and pleasure out of life is to ask ourselves, “How can I please God?” and, “Why am I not better?” It is the pleasure-seeker who is bored, for all pleasures diminish with repetition.”
– Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

GOD Accept Me As I Am

During lent we are called to follow in the 40 days of Christ as we best can.  When we were innocent and a child the huge sacrifice was to abandon chocolate.  As we got older, we may have even forgone any Lenten offering.  Through it all, God is with us, blemishes and all.  He does not ask for perfection, just to strive to be better each day.  I saw the picture below on my personal Facebook account and felt the need to share.  God bless you!

 

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Dealing with same-sex attraction

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Persons who struggle with same-sex attraction (SSA) are often falsely told by society that the Church rejects them. Because of this confusion, many bear a great resentment against the Church, but Jesus and his Church never reject a repentant sinner. No one who calls on Christ for mercy and repents of his sin will be lost. The doors of the Church are always open to the repentant sinner.

 

 

The Heart of Jesus is especially moved by those who suffer in any way — be it mentally, physically or spiritually. Certainly, those who strive to lead chaste lives, but struggle with SSA bear a difficult cross and deserve our sympathy; however, this sympathy will be misguided if it leads to condoning immoral behavior.

 

 

Words of Compassion

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Here on a Sunday let us be reminded of why we are Catholic especially as we encounter people in our life.  We need to embrace each individual as a child of God and nothing less.

 

Same-sex Attraction

2357 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.

2358 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.

SSA Information Sources

 

This information was found on the website of St. John Neumann  Catholic Church in Sunbury, Ohio .  The link to their website is:

www.saintjohnsunbury.org/same-sex-attraction

 

My prayer is that all Catholic Parishes include something similar on their sites.

Support Groups

Courage – Catholic ministry to people with SSA (Same Sex Attraction)

Encourage – Catholic ministry for people with loved ones who struggle with SSA

Here is some information on Same Sex Attraction we pray you find helpful.

everlastinghills.org/movie/ Three intimate and candid portraits of Catholics who try to navigate the waters of self-understanding, faith and homosexuality.

The Third Way-Homosexuality and the Catholic Church vimeo.com/93079367

www.crisismagazine.com/2015/the-case-against-same-sex-marriage-2

www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/04/27/supreme-court-same-sex-parenthood-column/26452519 about the children

The Nature of Man

Article from Catholic Answers Magazine

YouTube video, geared towards parents of children with Same Sex Attraction, presented at a Courage Conference:

An interview on Catholic Answers Live:

www.catholic.com/radio/shows/living-with-same-sex-attraction-7655

Here are links to a couple of articles Dan has written:

www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2012/07/why-i-donrsquot-call-myself-a-gay-christian-1

www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2013/04/homosexual-orientation-or-disorientation

www.firstthings.com/article/2007/01/a-label-that-sticks-1

Here’s a link to my blog:

letterstochristopher.wordpress.com/

New article published about advice I’d give to parents when a child comes out.

www.legatusmagazine.org/dealing-with-same-sex-attraction/%20

Website

Dr. Rob Rienow – www.VisionaryFam.com

Books

The Homosexual Person: New Thinking in Pastoral Care by Fr. John Harvey

The Truth About Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful by Fr. John Harvey

Same Sex Attraction: A Parent’s Guide by Fr. John Harvey

Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic by Elizabeth Moberly

The Gay Gospel: How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible by Joe Dallas

The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction by Janelle Hallman

When Homosexuality Hits Home by Joe Dallas

The Courage to Be Chaste by Fr. Benedict Groeschel

 

Bishop Barron on

In my opinion, this video by Fr. Robert Barron is the most
brief, forceful, and meaningful in expression on behalf of Catholic sexuality I’ve ever seen.  Please take a look for yourself.