Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Overcoming My Shame of SSA

This is a personal sharing by Bro. Victor. I must say that we are fortunate in Courage to have a handful of priests who stand by us and minister to us. On the other hand, we also yearn for more and more members of the clergy to be bold in defending and upholding the Church's teachings on homosexuality publicly in as much as they are in defending pro-life issues like the RH bill and abortion as the gay agenda is slowly and constantly pushing its way to make it more acceptable by our society.

You know what my problem is? I feel disempowered.

I would like to shout out that I'm a Catholic, single male, I'm 40, and I struggle with same sex attraction. But how can I do that when there are very few leaders in the Catholic Church who are even willing to set an example? How many of our Catholic priests are courageous enough to stand up among the congregation and identify with this struggle?

No, they remain silent. They listen to us confessing our sins of impure thoughts and acting out our intrinsically disordered sexual desires, but where are the church leaders who do not just absolve us of our sins in the secrecy of the confessional, but also stand with us before the church community, to declare that, “Hey, I too am a leper, crying out to the Lord to have pity on me.” Because that is how I feel, like a "leper"; to have to struggle with SSA in secrecy within my Catholic community, and if I were to disclose my struggle with SSA, I would be “cast out into a leper colony”. And I feel as though the only circles where I can experience the full measure of freedom to express my innermost struggles, is among other men and women who also struggle with SSA. So in this sense, isn't it true, that Courage, the support group for Catholic men and women struggling with SSA, is the Church's modern day “leper colony”? When will a “leper” like myself be allowed to be fully integrated with the main body of the church community?

It seems the only people who are bold enough to speak aloud publicly are people who have SSA, but are fighting against the church; and advocating “gay” rights, which to me are “rights that allow persons with SSA to act out in defiance to the Catholic church's teachings on morality and chastity”. Yet those of us with SSA, but choose to live according to the guidelines on morality and chastity pertaining to homosexuality in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, seem to be “bullied” into silence by the “stigma” that being a Catholic person with SSA still carries with it in our contemporary church communities. A “stigma” that makes me feel ashamed to speak up in my church community, rather than boast with great joy that Christ redeems me each day in my struggle with sexual brokenness, that it is by His grace alone that He sustains me in my daily battle for purity.

I often feel overwhelmed by the seeming hopelessness of living as a Catholic “outcast” with SSA. However, if I were to regard my SSA as the “thorn in my flesh” similar to that which St. Paul also spoke of, then perhaps I should actually rejoice and be glad even that I have been given this “thorn in my flesh” as a constant reminder of my dependence on God, that it is His grace alone which sustains me. Perhaps as well, I should also learn from St. Paul, who with wisdom that can come only from the Holy Spirit, spoke of the added benefit of this “thorn in his flesh” that “kept a proud man humble before God”. Perhaps the great paradox is that that this “thorn in the flesh” which seems more a curse than a blessing, helps to develop in the person struggling with SSA, the virtue of humility.

Perhaps this “stigma” of shame that comes with my SSA has little or nothing to do with the lack of solidarity and support coming from church leaders, or the potential threat of rejection by the greater church community in the event of self disclosure, but rather it is a “shadow” that comes with my own self-absorbed pride in constructing an impenetrable fortress about myself, projecting an image that I am perfect and unblemished, yet knowing desperately deep inside that it is all a lie.

“Lord, help me to lay down my pride, tear down the fortress I have built around myself, my fake image, my false pretenses, my excuses and finger pointing, pushing the blame on others; and build instead a new life grounded on the truth that You have redeemed me through your love and sacrifice, that by Your grace I can grow daily in inner chastity as well as humility, patience, temperance, fortitude and charity; and that you have set me free to love others as the Father has loved me. Lord let this truth of Your redeeming love empower me to speak freely and boldly of Your love for me, the same love you offer to all mankind; and help me to love all people, as You, Lord Jesus, love me. Amen.”

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