See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Courage Conference 2010: 4th Report


Editor's note:  The address by Fr. Loya was emailed to me in it's entirety, but it is much too lengthy to post all at once, therefore I will just post pertinent excerpts at this time.  First I want to offer a bit of commentary before posting those sections of the transcript.
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"What profit comes to a man from all his toil?" - Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, First Reading, Ecclesiastes 1-2
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Today's second reading at Mass struck me as especially providential for the last day of the Courage Conference, it speaks to something I have always thought of actually, especially concerning those men and women who leave everything for Christ.  Men and women with same-sex attraction actually 'leave everything' behind, they in effect 'deny their very selves' or the persona they perceived themselves to have been - you will understand this better after reading Fr. Loya.  In many cases they leave friends and lovers, sometimes jobs and careers, and frequently, find themselves marginalized even within the Church.  It is just a fact of life, something one comes to accept with a certain peace and joy knowing they have something to suffer with Christ who "died outside the camp...hence they too share in the insult and contempt he bore, with the rest of the saints in light." 
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More deeply, they have found their true life hidden with Christ in God.  Their ascesis consists in putting to death the parts of their life that are steeped in earthly values and disorders: fornication, uncleaness, passion, evil desires, and that lust which is idolatry.  (I use the original New American translation for Colossians 3, since I think it accords better with the authetic text - even the old RSV translation used 'coveteousness' rather than 'greed' - to my mind, 'lust' is more accurate.) 
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Perhaps more profoundly, the truth, not always immediately perceived or experienced in its fullness, is what the work of Courages actually accomplishes in these people who have embarked upon the narrow way:  Essentially, they have "stopped lying to one another", as St. Paul exhorted the Colossians.  "What you have done is put aside your old self with its past deeds, and put on the new man - one who grows in knowledge as he is formed in the image of his Creator.  THERE IS NO GREEK OR JEW (OR HOMOSEXUAL) HERE... RATHER CHRIST IS EVERYTHING IN ALL OF YOU."  Colossians 3, 1-11  (Read the whole passage.)
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The Report from the Conference.
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terry, i can't even begin to unpack the follow-up workshop of suzanne baars on affirmation. i bought the audio cd that the DSP made for the conferees. looking forward to sharing it the the rest of my chapter back home. 
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this evening we were presented with a byzantine priest named fr. thomas j. loya, STB, MA. he was well-spoken and funny. never thought i'd be listening to a funny byzantine priest. anyway, it was another densely-packed theological presentation. this year's conference has been for me the most philosophically and theologically charged that i've attended.
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in his kindness, fr. loya provided a handout that summarizes nicely his 90-minute talk entitled "same sex attraction and true compassion." i'll leave it to you what you'd like to excerpt for your blog, should you choose to publish for your readership.
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Father Loya:
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"in order to understand what the Church truly has to say about same sex attraction (commonly known as 'homosexuality') and what the Church truly says on related topics such as same sex marriage and also to be truly sensitive and compassionate about these issues it will be necessary first to understand what the Church is and secondly to step into what i call the 'H-Zone' - the Honesty zone. 
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in a certain sense the Church is the 'Press Secretary' for God. the Church simply looks at the entire created order, most especially the human person, and reports on what God has said and done in that order. then the Church advises us to step into the 'H-Zone;' in other words, to be honest to that order. the H-Zone works like this: if we are Honest to the created order, especially to the theology and language of our human body-persons we will be Holy. Holiness is the only ticket to real Happiness and that happiness will last forever in Heaven. Conversely if we 'dis'-honesty we will end up with another 'H' word - Hurt. enough hurt can end us up in the other big 'H' - Hell. 
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so, now let us enter the H-Zone. it will be necessary to stay with me the whole way because you are probably going to hear something very different on this topic of same sex attraction. but in the end i think you will better understand what the Church really has to say and more importantly why the Church says what it does on these issues. you will definitely hear true compassion and sensitivity precisely because our goal is honesty, and true compassion comes by way of that which is honest.
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The Cruelty of Labels.
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we are living in times where words do not mean anything and the venerable meaning of words can be arbitrarily changed. the truth is words do mean things because they are expressions of concepts, principles and truths. in all honesty, the word 'homosexual' does not exist. this word is of recent usage and it is self-nullifying. something cannot be 'sexual' unless it involves both complementary genders. having to do with complementary genders is what the word 'sexual' actually means. therefore to translate 'homosexual' honestly we come up with the self-nullifying, self-contradictory: 'same' (homo)-complementary genders' (involving male and female). if there is no such word as 'homosexual' then there is also no such thing as a 'homosexual.' now stay calm! stay with me. remember, you are wandering in the H-Zone and you are about to hear real compassion. 
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to size someone up, label them and dismiss them (even if they insist on being labeled) is never compassionate sensitive or honest. no, in truth, there are no 'homosexuals.' there are only persons who through no fault of their own have developed what they believe to be a sexual attraction to their same gender. notice how i qualified the words 'believe' and 'sexual.' we will come back to this. 
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the word person has its meaning in God. a person is a being of will and intellect made for his or her own sake and worthy of respect, dignity, and love. notice how the supposedly insensitive, archaic, homophobic Church does not use the word, 'homosexual.' rather the Church refers to persons. it is the supposedly 'sensitive' secular world that insists on labeling and categorizing people in the false presumption of being 'sensitive' and compassionate.
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Proper Notions of Theology of the Body.  [Ed. note:  I've been so disillusioned by the Chris West version, I forgot some people actually get TOB right.] 
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the theology of the body is especially helpful here because the body does not lie. we all have bodies and they are either masculine or feminine. in the Creation story in the Bible we see that gender is part of the very definition of being human. gender is not arbitrary. gender is not a preference. gender is not God's practical joke. gender defines our humaneness. it is through gender that we can enter into a union and communion of persons, that we can love spousally in the way that God loves. this is a love that both unites and is fruitful. the truth of the matter is that in the order of creation love and fruitfulness are inseparable. life and love go together. our human sexuality is an icon of the very interior life of the Holy Trinity.
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but we are also a 'package deal.' the physical makes visible what is invisible. our bodies reveal our persons. God is the perfect artist, designer and creator. this means He creates things that are integrated. the human persons is a composite of body-mind-soul-spirit which is designed to be completely integrated. we cannot say that my body is male but my mind says i should really have been a female and this is the way that God made me. God only makes integrated persons; otherwise God would be a bad artist, creator and designer. God has nothing to do with the creation of that which is disintegrated, disordered, deformed, etc. Disintegration comes about through the effects of original sin and disintegration is not something to be celebrated. this is what is meant by 'dis'-order. it simply means something is not according to the created order of things. the word 'dis'-order is not a comment on the person.  - Fr. Loya, Courage Conference 2010
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It's a lot to take in, so I will post more installments later.  Fr. Loya articulates many things I have thought of and understood intuitively, yet I have not been able to put into writing.  His teaching appears to me to be very sound indeed.
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Many thanks to my 'reporter' from the Conference for the edifying reports.

5 comments:

  1. Father Loya is also an iconographer.

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  2. Terry--

    Thanks for sharing these tidbits with us.

    Sara

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  3. Ter: I'm praying for your reporter and all at the Conference. Thank you for having the guts to post this series and arranging for the onsite tidbits.

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  4. Terry - some very informative postings thnxs

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  5. Terry, I am a fairly new follower of yr. blog and am
    being so enlightened by what I am reading.
    Thank you for posting this.

    ReplyDelete


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