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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Perhaps a sea-change...

Full fathom five thy father lies:
Of his bones are coral made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

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Yesterday I was surprised to see my name - me - outed as SSA, chaste-gay, gay-Catholic, and so on.  The sites who identified me in this manner are friendly sites and they are friendly writers, and they acted in good faith.  It goes without question the editors just assumed.  How often I have done likewise!  So I repeat, they acted in good faith and without malice, and I am just fine with that.  In fact, it was providential.  Although I did contact one site and asked that the link the editor provided be reworded because it could be misleading to people who do not know me.  Truth be told, in the past, other readers, along with some friends, have told me my blog is obvious - just reading the text and viewing the photos seems to reveal my 'sexual orientation'.  I have no control over what other people think of me, or the opinions they form of who or what I am.
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That said, I'm none of the above.  I don't know how to express it very well at all.  There is a prayer St. Francis of Assisi was heard to utter in ecstasy, crying out, "O God!  Who are you, and what am I?"  It is a favorite prayer of mine when I sometimes experience the presence of God, a prayer intermixed with aspirations of love.
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What am I?
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I am a man.  I am a single man.  I have always been happy that I am male.  I do what other men do, I eat and sleep and work and play and so on.  I'm a sinful man.  My sins are more numerous than the hairs on my head, as the psalmist says.  They are more varied and malicious than mere sins of the flesh.  They are deeper than any passing 'attraction'.
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I do not, cannot, identify myself as being anything other than a man, a male human being, created by God.  I may be a penitent, but I'm not a recovering anything.  I'm not a recovering alcoholic.  I'm not a recovering dissident.  I'm not a recovering ssa person or an ex-gay, or ex-sex addict.  Neither am I a survivor, or a victim, or anyone 'special'.  I am not so easily defined, so easily branded, so easily and conveniently limited and disabled by such labels and socio-politico mistaken identities.  I am an ordinary man.  A Christian man.  A Roman Catholic man.
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Unfortunately, after yesterday, many people will assume the blog is a gay blog - a gay-chaste-Catholic-ssa blog maybe - but still a 'gay' blog.  Hence, the blog is no longer relevant.  It is a place few will  want to be associated with, identified with - because it has been defined, labeled, categorized, and inventoried, and neatly put on the shelf.  By people who never knew me.
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I'm sure I'll be called homophobic and self-hating after this post - just as I have been for the last 6 years I have written this web-log.  So be it - like I said, I cannot control what other people think.  Believe me when I tell you, I do not even mind being called homophobic, and I will admit that I am in the sense that I hate homosexual acts - homosex.  A friend asked me last week, in a comment on another post, how I viewed myself in relation to ssa people.  I removed my answer - with his permission - because I felt it was indiscreet as it touched upon spiritual graces and insights, which generally are better kept to oneself.  In view of what happened yesterday, I decided to re post the comment and answer, which I will include here.
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Question:
My question, then, is: you seem to separate yourself from "the gays," and "those who struggle." You seem to write from an "outside looking in" perspective, even when at other times you contradict that notion by emphasizing your innate familiarity with the issues at hand. So, then, do you personally struggle with this, or have you evolved to a place where you no longer consider yourself as anything but heterosexual, scrubbed clean of any lingering hangups?

More directly: are you self-examining, or on the outside peering in?

Answer:  (Edited slightly for greater accuracy.)


That's a good and fair question. I'm not sure how to answer it. As for self examining - I've been self examining all of my life - day in and day out. I'm definitely not on the outside peering in. And right up front, I will say that 'it' is a very difficult struggle, but no one gets through life without suffering. I am different - I realize that every day as I read other blogs. I just don't consider myself special.

One can never say one has arrived and surprisingly I don't at all separate myself from gay people - nor do I from heterosexual people. I just no longer understand myself as limited to that identity, and frankly, though I get along with friends who are gay, I no longer identify as closely with them either. That's a complicated and easily misunderstood statement however - but it's the best I can offer at the moment.

I would like to make very clear however, that I genuinely consider 'dissident' gay-Catholics - you know what I mean by that description - to be Catholic. Just like I consider a Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden to be Catholic - once baptized always a Catholic. Even if they would be excommunicated - even then they are Catholic - only not in good standing - not in communion with the Church. I can judge and not approve of their conduct, but I cannot judge their soul. So, since no one has condemned them in that way, or barred them from Communion - I continue to consider them to be Catholic, and as far as I understand it, Catholics in good faith - until the proper authority decides otherwise.

As St. Paul or St. Edith Stein couldn't separate themselves from the Jews- likewise I do not see myself any better or worse than the most dissident gay Catholic. I sound the way I do, using they and them and so on, because I don't buy into the gay mentality per se - I don't approve of homosexual behavior. To be honest, I find the sexual behavior repulsive, and truth be told, some behaviors I have always considered repulsive and disgusting.

To be frank, I have struggled with these issues for many years, but around 12 years ago I experienced a wonderful grace and gift of freedom of spirit as regards sexual sin. The temptations seemed to decrease in intensity, although they never went away of course, but I was able - through sheer, undeserved grace, to put them in perspective, or cope with them in peace. Likewise, I experienced a certain freedom from objectifying others as sexual beings and was able to move beyond lusting after the body of another - which I understood as a form of idolatry and covetousness.  
Temptations never go away - thank God - nor should they.  It seems to me Our Lord has taught me how to deal with them - or not, by which I mean, suffering through them. In fact I often seem to notice an increase when I pray for others.  Again - I do not believe the 'sufferings' are any greater than those suffered by ordinary people.  As a matter of fact, I think the sense of extraordinary suffering experienced by ssa persons is often due to their disappointment in their failures and that they are not made perfect overnight, and that the temptations do not somehow disappear.  That is an error sometimes referred to as 'angelism'.

Interestingly, in the spiritual life, when one spiritual battle seems to have been overcome - or a particular vice seems to be at least in retreat, another soon follows - so it seems to me. I've learned that temptations take different forms. The world and the flesh and the devil are very seductive, so we are never safe. We are always tempted at our weakest point in novel ways.

So the answer to your question must be 'no' - I'm not scrubbed clean of lingering hang ups and I'm not on the outside peering in. I'm your friend and your brother - and I'm in the very same boat as you. - Original source



Art:  The Tempest, Felix Nussbaum

37 comments:

  1. +JMJ+

    You'll laugh now, Terry, but I never just "assumed" with you. I didn't "realise" what everyone else found so "obvious" about you until last year. Truly.

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  2. Father Joe1:47 PM

    Thank you, Terry. Thank you. love, prayers, Father Joe

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  3. Beautifully expressed here--and as a reader of yours these six years, I can say you're conveyed this throughout your blog. To sum: People shouldn't label themselves by sin category.

    Lots of love,
    Gette

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  4. Roman Catholic man sounds perfect to me..

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  5. "Likewise, I experienced a certain freedom from objectifying others as sexual beings and was able to move beyond lusting after the body of another - which I understood as a form of idolatry and covetousness."

    Amen, that's a fruit of the Rosary, I have found.

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    Replies
    1. I can totally agree with that statement. And yes it's a fruit of the rosary I think too.

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    2. That's been a fruit of the rosary for me too. For seven years I whined in God's general direction over my own problem with such "idolatry and covetousness" and it got me nowhere. Started saying the rosary every day - BAM - results.

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  6. beautiful, well-said, you're so integrated and i'm so jealous - lol! love you, too.

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  7. Your blogg is interesting and inspiring .
    Sexual orientation shouldn't need to be anything but a private matter,and no ones business.

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  8. WOW! What a grace this was for me today. Thank you!

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  9. You hit the right nail on the head Ter, you're always in my prayer.

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  10. Anonymous5:07 PM

    Dear Terry,

    It is never dull around here is it? I out myself as a boring, dull person who is trying to get into to Heaven. All other labels are not necessary.
    Pax et Bonum,
    Katie

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  11. Anonymous5:27 PM

    Well, you did mention at the end of last year, that this would be your year of farewell, but not before you "rip the lid off the world of Catholic blogging." Was that how you worded it?

    CSH

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  12. Terry,

    You are able to verbalize so eloquently the paths of so many of your readers. I for one am inspired by your faith and courage. AMEN to what you wrote in this post.

    much love in Jesus and Mary

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  13. Terry, I never thought of you or your blog as gay or ssa or anything like that. I always see you as an artist, a Catholic artist.....

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  14. "other readers . . have told me my blog is obvious - just reading the text and viewing the photos seems to reveal my 'sexual orientation'."

    It never crossed my mind until Thom, OFS explicitly said it recently in the question you reposted above.

    But then again, I can't spot one if my life depended on it.

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  15. I'm not going to praise you 'cause I know you don't like it :)

    But I AM gonna have a good laugh at the line quoted by love the girls above, about it being "obvious" from the pictures and stuff.

    I LOVE your sense of humor, LOVE the badly-edited and vintage photos. It never struck me as "gay", but as "don't give a crap how people label me". Perhaps "queer" in the original, non-homosexual meaning of the word - peculiar. I think your humor is a real gift, and I wouldn't want to see it change, except to get funnier.

    Keep it up and God bless you, my friend.

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  16. God bless all of you. Thank you for everything. I'm really embarrassed now. Haha!

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    Replies
    1. That's why I didn't compliment you on this post :)

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    2. I think LarryD felt the same way. LOL!

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  17. This is only my second time on your blog. The first time, was after one of those "labelers" linked to it. I like the way you write and express yourself. You are very clear and sensitive to the perceptions of others without being held back by them. Don't worry about how others label you would be my advice, if you need advice (which I don't think you do). Anybody who takes the time to read your blog will be impressed that, above all else, you are an honest person struggling--just like the rest of us. You are correct in saying that does not make you special, it makes you a brother, a friend. God Bless and take care, Martina.

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    1. Anonymous7:55 AM

      I agree, Terry. Don't worry about how others label you.
      Love, SF

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  18. Wait a sec - I thought Terry was a nickname for Teresa or Theresa....you're a....man???? Holy moley - that changes everything. LOL

    God bless you, Terry.

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  19. There is a prayer St. Francis of Assisi was heard to utter in ecstasy, crying out, "O God! Who are you, and what am I?" It is a favorite prayer of mine when I sometimes experience the presence of God, a prayer intermixed with aspirations of love.

    Beautiful. I also like Saint Catherine of Siena's: "YOU ARE HE WHO IS, I am she who is not."

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  20. "I am different - I realize that every day as I read other blogs. I just don't consider myself special."

    When you say "different," what do you mean?

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    1. I have two heads. LOL! I just mean all of us are unique - we are each chosen: "God chose us in him (Christ) before the world began, to be holy and blameless in his sight, to be full of love... he predestined us to be his adopted sons, that all might praise the glorious favor he has bestowed upon us in his beloved... Each of us receives Christ's favor in the measure in which Christ bestows it..."

      That is what I mean most deeply. Otherwise - more superficially, I just meant that I'm not a Stepford. ;)

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  21. Go away for a few days and all sorts of things go down.

    "I am different - I realize that every day as I read other blogs. I just don't consider myself special."

    I love this. Of all people, we Catholics should be comfortable with a little mystery. I never understood the obviously very deep need for some people to label other people except to cover their own emptiness (self-loathing?) and feel part of a group.

    I like this blog because it is "different." And you may not think so, but the self that you reveal through this blog is special to me.

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  22. This blog is so Bona to Vada. It has broadened my horizons and caused me to think more deeply about important issues. It's never lost it's humanity (I mean that in a religious and not secular way)and encourages others to contemplate that unflinchingly. You wear your cross well sir. Carry on.
    Love,
    Aaron

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  23. Thanks, Terry.

    I actually had to look up "Stepford" to understand the reference fully. I assumed it was tied into that movie "Stepford Wives," but I had no idea what it was about.

    I agree that we're all unique. It makes me think of the passage about each of us having a name known to God alone, how uniquely mysterious we are even to ourselves, let alone others.

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    Replies
    1. So you haven't seen my posts on Stepford Bloggers then? Haha!

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  24. I have, but I was in the dark. I'm going back to read them with new eyes. Then I think I'll look for specific "Stepford Bloggers" as I read and bounce around from blog to blog.

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  25. Anonymous2:07 PM

    "Unfortunately, after yesterday, many people will assume the blog is a gay blog - a gay-chaste-Catholic-ssa blog maybe - but still a 'gay' blog."

    And your blog is somehow unique amongst the other popular Catholic blogs that way?

    The WDTPRS blog, Mark Shea's blog, and many others seem to fixate endlessly on homosexuality these days. One is presently all in a twitter over the Green Lantern coming out of the closet. Your blog, then, is no gayer than theirs are.

    It is a lot less combative and much more welcoming, however. For one thing, you don't get people all riled up only to beat them down with bold red "ink". Neither do you mercilessly lambaste the inferior intellectual capacity of readers who dare to challenge your point of view. You've got this thing called "charity" about you.

    So I hope you'll think twice about throwing in the towel. There's something to be said for an interesting Catholic blog that isn't punishing to read and participate in.

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  26. I make it here about once a week and boy, I'm really coming in late.

    Terry,

    A previous post you made about people with SSA and victim souls, along with this post reminded me of something. Perhaps it's a similar thing or could be used as an analogy.

    Many larger businesses now have these diversity groups where people of a certain race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc., could meet on a regular basis.

    Now, for years I would get email notifications and invitations from the women's diversity group and a naturalized U.S. citizen from Mexico I worked with would get one from the hispanic diversity group. One day, he just got fed up and had a few choice words. He said he spent his whole career just trying to be an ordinary worker, not a hispanic worker. I realized then that he summed up my problem with these programs.

    Your post is along the same lines.

    One thing that I have pondered with regards to Catholics who have SSA and who want to live chaste, is why "come out" if it is not necessary? Those who "out' themselves often do so to advance the gay agenda, no? I mean, I could understand someone acknowledging that they have SSA if they were involved with or running a chapter of Courage and wanted to help others. To acknowledge sexual orientation in a context like that makes sense as it would give the person trying to help others, credibility.

    Similarly, if one was an advocate for same-sex "marriage" and other such things, then had a change in heart in favor of chastity and abstinence, and began blogging on Catholic issues, I could see where they may feel compelled to explain their orientation so readers could get context. But, I don't think it is necessary. In fact, given fallen human nature, we all have some attractions or tendencies that are disordered in some way. To my mind, a man who gets kicks out of stealing identities has a disordered tendency because God wired us to know not to steal. But one who has such a tendency would have no need to tell the world that he likes to do these things and must fight strong temptations, except in rare circumstances.

    For the vast majority of Catholics with SSA, who have had little or no public "outing," it would seem like one is playing into the demands of the world by coming out when their intent is to live chastely as any, single, heterosexual person would need to do.

    I'll be honest, I come to your blog for a little light humor, but I also come to your blog because you are well versed in the lives of the saints which is always an interest to me. You also bring some interesting thoughts on religious life. And, you challenge my thinking at times. When I first saw Michael Voris' segment on people with SSA, I was inclined to applaud him on it. I liked the change in his tone. But, I had some interior conflicts and didn't quite understand them until I saw your post which disagreed with some of what he said. I think his video was from the heart and well intended, but I found myself more in agreement with you on that one.

    In any case, I was coming here before and will continue to come here for the reasons mentioned above. I may not get here every day and I may not comment all the time, but I do like to check in.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks much Diane. I appreciate your good insights.

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  27. I maybe should have added this:

    "Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me. You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass; and there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak. 'Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play upon me." - Hamlet, Act III, Scene ii

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