Saturday, July 26, 2014

Desire of the Everlasting Hills - A Courage Documentary

This hour-long Courage documentary chronicles the lives of three same-sex attracted courageous souls - Dan, Paul, and Rilene. It narrates their journey toward self-understanding, faith, and redemption. I was amazed by the depth of their personal sharings and how through grace their lives have been transformed by Christ and are now serving as inspirations out there to men and women struggling with SSA. Desire of the Everlasting Hills is a very powerful, inspirational, must-see film.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Mercy and Confession: 10 Tips on How to Confess Well

In our Courage community, we are blessed to have the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation once a month followed by Mass. We call this monthly gathering our 'Sacrament Sunday'. We are all sinners and we need the mercy of God, which He abundantly pours on us through sincere repentance and confession of our sins. Remember that it is here where our miseries meet the infinite mercy of God so please go to Confession frequently.

by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV

In the context of an Ignatian retreat it is always beneficial to prepare oneself to make an excellent Confession. To make a good confession demands prior preparation! The better the prior preparation, the more abundant the graces and the more overflowing the river of peace in your soul! Following are ten short helps to make the best confession in your life!

1. IMPROVEMENT/UPGRADING THE RECEPTION. As Catholics two of the most important actions we can accomplish are to go to Confession and to receive Holy Communion. In these Sacraments we have a direct contact with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This being the case, we should make a concerted effort to improve our encounters with Jesus in these Sacraments. In other words we should never take these Sacraments for granted. Also be keenly aware of the concept of dispositive grace. The abundance of graces are received in direct proportion to the disposition of the recipient. On the walls in the sacristies of the Missionaries of Charity is written: “Say this Mass as if it were your first Mass, last Mass and only Mass.” We can apply the same principle: “Confess as if it were your first, last and only time.”

2. PRAYERS BEFORE. All is grace! A source of abundant grace is the Communion of saints. Why not pray to the holy Confessors to help you to make a good confession. The following are a few: The Cure of Ars (Saint John Marie Vianney), St. John Bosco, St. Leonard of Port Maurice, Saint Leopold Mandic, Saint Padre Pio, Saint Francis Regis, Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Saint Anthony Claret, and Saint Ignatius of Loyola. “Get a little help from your friends (the saints)….”Pray to them to help you to confess well—that each confession you make is better than your prior confession!

3. PREPARE THE NIGHT BEFORE. Have a good examination of conscience booklet. Find a quiet and contemplative place to examine your conscience. Utilize the crucifix and Divine Mercy image to elicit sorrow and trust. Written! Write down the sins so that you will not forget them once in the confessional! Also, pray for your confessor— to his guardian angel—before you enter the confessional!

4. SELF-KNOWLEDGE. One of the classical steps to make a good confession is contrition but also firm purpose of amendment. This entails rewinding the film of your life and seeing the various falls into sin. But also to capture what were the preceding causes that led to the sin. Maybe it is a person that jeopardizes your spiritual life. Who knows maybe it is a recurring situation at work or family? Maybe it is your physical state of weariness? Still more, maybe it is some improper use of the electronics media and lack of prudence? You will notice often a pattern that is established that leads to the slippery path and collapse. For this reason the faithful observance of one’s DAILY EXAMEN can prove a valuable tool to know oneself and even supply for the necessary knowledge to avoid the near occasion of sin.

5. BIBLICAL PASSAGES TO PREPARE. The Church highly recommends the use of Sacred Scripture as a means to prepare us for a better reception of the Sacraments. Two excellent passages I would recommend: Lk. 15 and Psalm 51. Lk. 15 presents the Parables of God’s Mercy, and the greatest is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. By praying Psalm 51 you have one of the best “Act of Contritions” ever composed, by none other than King David after having committed adultery with Bathsheba and killing an innocent man. Praying with the Word of God adds extra power to one’s prayer!

6. FREQUENT CONFESSION. The saints highly recommend frequent confession as a most efficacious means of growing in sanctifying grace. Confession either restores sanctifying grace or it augments it. Of course this presupposes a thorough preparation!

7. SACRAMENTAL GRACE. Each sacrament communicates grace. However every sacrament communicates a specific grace pertinent to that specific sacrament. For example, the specific sacramental grace communicated in the Eucharist or Holy Communion is that of NOURISHMENT. It is the Bread of life for the journey on the way to eternal life. The Sacramental grace of Confession is different. It is HEALING! Jesus came to feed us with His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Furthermore, He came as Divine Physician. Time and time again in the Gospels we see Jesus healing. The blind, deaf, deaf-mute, lepers, paralytics, even the dead, were healed and brought back to life by Jesus. Even now within the context of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, Jesus heals us. The Sacraments of healing are the Sacraments of Confession and the Anointing of the Sick.

8. QUALITIES OF A GOOD CONFESSION. In the Diary of Saint Faustina the most important qualities of a good confession are highlighted in # 113: 1) complete sincerity and openness; 2) humility; 3) obedience. Adhering to these qualities one cannot go wrong! Reminder! We want to strive to make better Communions and Confessions until the end of our lives!

9. AVOID DISCOURAGEMENT. Even though one might fall frequently, never give in to discouragement. Some bad habits have possibly clung to us for decades. Many have a “Micro-wave” spirituality—namely instant holiness! It does not work that way! Change is often tedious, laborious and painful. The key is to keep praying, working, fighting as a true soldier of Christ to be liberated from the shackles of sin. Of course a key message from the Diary is that the worse thing possible is to fail to trust in God’s infinite mercy! As St. Paul reminds us, “Where sin abounds God’s mercy abounds all the more.”

10. MARY AND MERCY. Never forget to invite Mary to be present in your remote preparation for Confession, your immediate preparation for Confession. Even ask Mary to enter with you into the Confessional so that you make the best confession in your life. Blessed Pope John Paul II called the Marian sanctuaries—Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe—“Spiritual clinics”. How true! Lines of penitents await to meet the merciful Jesus in the confessional in these Marian Sanctuaries. Among the many beautiful titles of Mary are the following: “Mother of Mercy, Mother of Good Counsel, Health of the sick.” Behind many powerful conversions is of course the grace of God but also the maternal intercession of Mary!

“When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you.  I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul.  Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy.  Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust.  If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity." 

(Our Lord Jesus to St. Faustina, Diary 1602)

About Fr. Ed Broom, OMV

Fr. Ed Broom is an Oblate of the Virgin Mary. He blogs regularly at Fr. Broom's Blog.

(Credits:  The Catholic Church FB page, Bro. E)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Pagyakap sa Buhay: Breaking Free From the Spirit of Death

Forwarded invitation

"Pag-yakap sa Buhay" is a full-day healing conference on breaking free from shame, self-hatred and other manifestations of the spirit of death.

Shame and self-hatred comprise a polluted seedbed of destructive thoughts. The journey to freedom from these twin enemies begin in experiencing Jesus who promised us a full and abundant life (John 10:10).

This conference is for people who are wrestling with despair, hopelessness, hurt, anxiety, fears, grief and life-altering conditions such as sickness and disability. But most of all, it is for all of us who are seeking a meaningful and purposeful life.

Date:  August 23, 2014, Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Venue:  Meralco Multi-Purpose Hall, Meralco Compound (Gate 2), Ortigas Center, Pasig City

Cost:  Php 950.00 (Metro Manila), Php 750.00 (Provincial). Lunch and Dinner included.


Keynote Speaker:  Jonathan Hunter

A sought-after speaker and prolific author, Jonathan Hunter is the Founder and Director of Embracing Life Ministries. He has spoken throughout the U.S. and around the world about the liberating and transforming power of the Cross to free humanity from the spirit of death and its effects. He has appeared in numerous features both in print and broadcast media and has been a guest lecturer in universities, seminaries and churches.

Jonathan has brought his experience of living with AIDS and his ministry to those living with life-altering conditions in compiling a healing resource for the various programs of Embracing Life Ministries.


To Register:

1. Via Bank Deposit

Account Name: "Agos ng Buhay (Living Waters Phils) Inc."
BPI Current Account: 3201-036568
BDO Savings Account: 430207239

Please scan your deposit slip and email it to

2. Via Online Registration

Go to the website:
Click on the "Pag-yakap sa Buhay" Headline.
Follow the instructions to register and pay via credit card or Paypal.

For More Info:

Phone: (02) 571-3904
Mobile: 0908-811-5824 OR 0927-284-5037

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Why I Chose Love: Journey of a Catholic with Same Sex Attraction

This is the personal reflection of Jake Stanwood (not his real name) about his journey with SSA as a Catholic. I love the way he narrated his story - realistic yet full of hope. This is also in response to those people who think they're left with no choice but to "act out" their desires. I truly believe that this is the path that leads to true happiness - the path of true love. 

“We love you no matter what sexual orientation you choose to live out.” These are the words of a father to me, his 15 year old son, 10 years ago. Um… Awkward? Up until that point my dad had never talked to me about sex, and the topic was never mentioned again. I remember every little detail about the conversation: The sweaty palms, cold freezing office space, and the awkwardness created by the long wooden desk separating us from talking like normal people. How did I respond? I said nothing. Absolutely nothing. I stared at him with a blank face and ran back into my room crying and thinking about how the heck I ever got into this mess.

“Great….even my parents think I’m gay” “That person at school thinks I’m gay too, maybe it’s because of the way I talk.” “Wait…maybe I should change the way I talk? That will make me look manlier.” “Crap, that person is totally staring at me and thinks I’m gay.” These are just a few of the crazy thoughts that constantly ruminated in my head. Talk about feeling paranoid. It always felt as if I was split in between two worlds. One side was telling me, “Just come out of the closet, hook up with someone, embrace the fact you’re gay!” The other side, (far less appealing) said, “If anyone ever finds out, you’re dead!! Don’t ever talk about this to anyone.”

Praise God, He created a Church that has given me a third option, that doesn’t seem like it’s going to drown me in lust or turn me into a stoic that’s being internally destroyed by his desires. I have chosen the path to Chastity. I have chosen the path toward authentic love and sexual self-control.

Is this easy? NO.

The sexual temptations have always been there for me, and I suppose will always be. I am not afraid to admit that until the day I die I will probably always be attracted to men. However, I don’t think this aspect of my cross has been the greatest struggle. The greatest struggle has been my interior life. Experiencing same sex attraction (SSA) and being Catholic is hard (well, being Catholic is hard). It is a unique/heavy cross to carry, and a very painful one. It comes with its share of anxiety, heartache, tears, and boogers. Us folks, who have SSA, we struggle with a lot. Among those things are body image, father wounds, bouts of depression, feeling less masculine, and a lot of us aren’t good at sports (which makes it harder for us to bond with other men). Growing up I always felt different and uncomfortable around other men, as if I was unworthy to even be called a man. However, I think it’s especially difficult to carry out this chaste lifestyle in the midst of today’s hyper sexual culture.

The culture today has become increasingly pro-gay. Just take a look at shows like Glee, Modern Family, or anything Lady Gaga… this stuff didn’t build up overnight. While this DOMA thing was taking place my Facebook newsfeed exploded with red equal sings. The younger generation has become largely accepting of the gay community. I’m glad that people are starting to become less homophobic and are speaking against gay bullying. However, this doesn’t mean that I’m for gay marriage or I think people should pursue same sex relationships.

It just doesn’t fit human sexuality or natural law. Just because I have an inclination to do something doesn’t mean that I should follow it. When we pursue sexuality outside of the way God designed for it to be we can find ourselves in messy situations. Hence the high promiscuity, infidelity, and STD rates associated with the gay community. But of course the media will never portray it this way, living a gay lifestyle is portrayed as glamorous and fulfilling. I am not saying that every gay person is living a promiscuous life and is carrying an STD on them. I have many friends who identify as gay who are hard workers and are doing awesome things with their lives. However, I will not deny that amongst the “gay scene” multiple partners and infidelity rates are pretty high. Homosexuality has to be identified more with behavior, than with identity. That’s how the gay movement has progressed so much they’ve turned it into its own culture. The minute we reduce ourselves to our sexual orientation, we lose sight of who we really are.

I’ve chosen to never engage in a sexual relationship with another guy and remain celibate, despite the fact there are times I feel the ache of this desire. This may seem like a total fail in the eyes of the world, but am I really missing out on much? Chastity gives me so much more. It gives me the ability to live out healthy and loving relationships with both men and women. It is giving me the opportunity to bring healing to areas of my masculinity that have been gravely wounded. It respects me for who I am, allows me to appreciate beauty, and recognize the dignity in every person. This has involved a lot of wrestling with God. Many people think wresting with God is a bad thing. FALSE. You can only wrestle with someone who is close to you, so in a way wrestling with these attractions has drawn me closer to God. It is a cross, but with every cross the Lord is always right beside us.

Yes, I realize that I will not always get what I want. I can’t tell you about the hundreds of days I felt I just wanted someone to hold and be intimate with. Sometimes I look at happy couples and wonder if I am missing out! But, I understand that fulfillment goes much deeper than wanting someone around. I find fulfillment by being in relationship with the God who created me to be fulfilled by Him, and in community.

The truth is, I love being Catholic.

The Church loves me. It desires what is best for me, and sometimes this kind of love hurts, because it doesn’t always feel good. However in the long run it guides me to a much more fulfilling life and a more adventurous one. No, the Church is NOT a bigoted institution that hates gays. Quite the opposite. I have never met as many loving and understanding people as I have in the Catholic Church. I am incredibly fortunate! I have many friends in the Church that know about my struggle and are there to support and encourage me along the way. I have a choir of saints and angels who are constantly interceding for me, a mother in heaven that deeply loves me, and a God who bears his very self in the Eucharist each and everyday. If you ask me… I’ve hit the jackpot.


Jake Stanwood (pseudonym) is a writer and speaker who has shared the message of chastity with thousands of people. He graduated from college in 2012 and since then has devoted himself to serving the Church through mission work. This blog originally appeared on “Think Catholic”.

(Additional credits to: