Monday, July 13, 2009

Courage conference.

My online friend - I'll call him JJ - called me this morning to tell me about his experience at the Courage Conference at Villanova in Philadelphia this past weekend. He was pumped. JJ is a guy who is so obviously being led by the Holy Spirit it is edifying.
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His conversion from homosexuality has taken a relatively short time - maybe 6 - 8 years now. He finds great support in Courage, the apostolate for men and women who happen to struggle with same sex attraction and yet desire to live in accord with Roman Catholic moral teaching. It has been a very successful apostolate for those who desire to live chaste lives with the support of others and the blessing of the Church.
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What is Courage?
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"Persons with homosexual desires have always been with us; however, until recent times, there has been little, if any, formal outreach from the Church in the way of support groups or information for such persons. Most were left to work out their path on their own. As a result, they found themselves listening to and accepting the secular society's perspective and opting to act on their same-sex desires.
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His Eminence, the late Terence Cardinal Cooke of New York, was aware of, and troubled by this situation. He knew that the individual dealing with same-sex attractions truly needed to experience the freedom of interior chastity and in that freedom find the steps necessary to living a fully Christian life in communion with God and others. He was concerned that many would not find this path and would be constantly trying to get their needs met in ways that ultimately do not satisfy the desires of the heart.
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In response to this concern, he decided to form a spiritual support system which would assist men and women with same-sex attractions in living chaste lives in fellowship, truth and love."
- Courage
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JJ was very impressed with Dr. Nicolosi's presentation on reparative therapy this past weekend - reparative therapy is based upon the conviction that a person really can change their sexual orientation. Another speaker who happened to be a priest discussed the question many SSA people ask themselves, "Why am I like this?" Something Nicolosi also addressed. Nicolosi has a new book entitled, Shame and Attachment Loss: The Practical Work of Reparative Therapy by Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D. On the Narth website, the reader can find a series of endorsements for Nicolosi's book, the following is a sample:
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"Dr. Nicolosi's theory and therapeutic method is consistent with my decades of research on childhood gender identity disorders. His book shows how homosexual attractions and enactment functions as a situational reaction to feelings of gender inadequacy and to unmet emotional needs including a developmental lack of male attention, affection and affirmation from father-figures and/or other male mentors. Same-sex attractions function as attempts to "repair" an emotional deficit in a male's own "perfectly normal and authentic needs for male attention, affection, and approval.
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Dr. Nicolosi helps his clients to identify circumstances and emotional states when most tempted to homosexual behavior. He affirms human will, and the reality of the ability to choose to interrupt the sequence of psychological events would otherwise lead to homosexual temptation and to homosexual enactment. This book is not only psychologically sound and theoretically insightful, but it is consistent with the Judeo-Christian theological understanding of the creation of humans as male and female and the normality of close emotional, non-sexual, relationships among men as illustrated by the loving relationship between David and Jonathan. His book clearly illustrates how he assists men with same-sex attractions to adjust to created realities of human personality and relationships, while abandoning a False Self that emerged from a problematic development in early life.
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Dr. Nicolosi shows theoretically and therapeutically how strengthening feelings of masculinity diminishes same-sex attraction and how mental health depends on acceptance of psychological realities. He does so with a compassionate understanding of the client's needs and problems." - ---George A. Rekers, Ph.D., Th.D.
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JJ never went through reparative therapy, but he gained a great deal of insight from Dr. Nicolosi's books. He has a great spiritual director and confessor, frequents the sacraments, prays, studies, and so on. Through the observance of chastity and the deepening of his spiritual life, JJ has experienced tremendous freedom from unwanted homosexual desires as well as a former attachment to auto-eroticism. He told me he has never felt more liberated in his life and with this new found freedom of spirit, he can no longer identify himself as gay or homosexual. His experience is a forceful witness to the healing grace of God. JJ and I have corresponded and talked somewhat regularly on the phone for a couple of years now - I've witnessed his growth in wisdom, maturity, and grace. His journey has been incredible and most edifying.
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Lest anyone be discouraged however, let me assure you that Courage is not focused upon changing a persons sexual orientation, but about living chastely and personal sanctity. The Catholic Church in no way requires SSA persons to change their perceived sexual-orientation, only to refrain from homosexual acts and promotion of the gay lifestyle.
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The five goals of Courage.
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"The following five goals of Courage 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.
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1 - Live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality. (Chastity)

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2 - Dedicate ones life 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)

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3 - Foster a spirit of fellowship in which all may share thoughts and experiences, and so ensure that no one will have to face the problems of homosexuality alone. (Fellowship)

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4 - Be mindful of the truth that chaste friendships are not only possible but necessary in a chaste Christian life and in doing so provide encouragement to one another in forming and sustaining them. (Support)

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5 - Live lives that may serve as good examples to others. (Good Example/Role Model)
- Courage website
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Keep in mind however, the studies of Dr. Nicolosi and NARTH are helpful for those seeking to understand some of the possible causes of homosexual attraction as well as the effects - it helps answer the question, "Why am I (they) like this." I think it is well understood that not all people are interested or believe themselves capable of changing something they view as a lifelong sexual orientation, and that only those persons who are highly motivated to change and who voluntarily seek reparative therapy - independent of coercion - can be helped. That said, NARTH demonstrates that people can change. Those who believe it impossible may still benefit from the research, which can be a valuable aid in understanding the temptation to homosexual behavior as well as a help to acquiring greater self-knowledge, something so necessary in the spiritual combat.
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What is NARTH?
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"We respect the right of all individuals to choose their own destiny. NARTH is a professional, scientific organization that offers hope to those who struggle with unwanted homosexuality. As an organization, we disseminate educational information, conduct and collect scientific research, promote effective therapeutic treatment, and provide referrals to those who seek our assistance. NARTH upholds the rights of individuals with unwanted homosexual attraction to receive effective psychological care and the right of professionals to offer that care. We welcome the participation of all individuals who will join us in the pursuit of these goals." - NARTH website

2 comments:

  1. Terry: Most would not know that because of the very well-known Courage Center in Minnesota that deals with handicapped people, Courage is not known as "Courage" in Minnesota.

    It goes by "Faith in Action" in Minnesota (I had to look it up.)

    You can visit them at the archdiocesan webpage:

    http://www.archspm.org/family/Human%20Sexuality/human_sexuality_courage.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Ray - I never remember that.

    ReplyDelete


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