"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Courage Apostolate Conference.

TOB and Courage?
A friend of this blog usually let's me know when and where the annual Courage conference is to be held, although I was sure he once told me the location is not widely published to respect the anonymity and privacy of the attendees, as well as to forestall gay activists and other protesters from disrupting the meetings.  Nevertheless, I noted Catholic News Agency posted an article on the event, with dates and location, as well as speakers.  Evidently I was misinformed, since the Courage website also provides all the information needed. 
I was somewhat surprised by a couple of the speakers scheduled:  "Featured speakers this year include noted professor Dr. Janet E. Smith, Byzantine Catholic theologian Fr. Thomas Loya, and professional counselor and therapist Suzanne Baars, along with the priests who serve as national and local directors of Courage."  Which just might confirm my expectation that popular interpretations of  JPII's Theology of the Body  is making its way into what may eventually evolve into a "gay spirituality" - mark my words.
I'm not saying the highly accredited speakers at the Courage conference will be presenting anything unsound, Fr. Harvey wouldn't tolerate such a thing.  But I do wonder about what some participants may take away from the conference?
Disinterested Friendship...
One of the issues I've had as I've come across pop-TOB as it is sometimes loosely interpreted for same-sex disinterested friendships, is that emphasis is frequently placed upon what I term same-sex inordinate affections, especially as it concerns the question: How far can I go in loving my friend?  Can I hold hands?  Can I admire his/her body?  Can I cuddle?  Massage?  Kiss?  I may be wrong, but I think such questions betray what St. John of the Cross would say is a vain rejoicing in sensory and natural goods, not to mention a lack of detachment.
I knew a man whose spiritual director once told him regarding his 'scruples' over similar intimacies in the same-sex friendship he was in, to "See the face of Christ reflected upon the face of your beloved.  See the outline of Christ's body upon the limbs of the one you love.  By his resurrection he has made all things new..."  Needless to say, I was shocked, considering my friend's spiritual director was a monk and a priest, teaching in a prestigious college out East - needless to say, he was also gay.  My friend wisely ignored the priest's advice.
Vain rejoicing in sensual and natural goods and the need for detachment in every relationship.
I'm no expert but it is obvious to me that type of spirituality is in error.  As St. John of the Cross, commenting upon St. Paul affirms, "The sensual man is the one who occupies his will with sensory things, the animal man who is unperceptive of the things of God; while the other who raises his will to God, he calls the spiritual man, and he is the one who penetrates and judges all things, even the deep things of God.  [1 Cor. 2:14, 10]
St. John continues:  "Until a man is so habituated to the purgation of sensible joy that at the first movement of this joy he procures the benefit spoken of - that these goods turn him immediately to God - he must necessarily deny his joy and satisfaction in sensible goods in order to draw his soul away from the sensory life.  Since he is not spiritual, he should be fearful lest through the use of these goods he may perhaps get more satisfaction and strength for the senses than the spirit.  Because of their predominance in his activity, the sensory forces increase sensuality, and sustain and nourish it.
And this we should ponder considerably, for it is really true.  No one who has not yet mortified his pleasure in sensory things should dare to look for notable benefit from the vigor and activity of his senses regarding these goods in the belief they are a help to the spirit." - Ascent of Mt. Carmel, Bk. III, Ch. 26.
Photo:  This is so 'Up With People' looking, I had to post it.


  1. doughboy3:27 PM

    hi, terry. the location & agenda for the national courage conference is always posted on the national courage website, so anyone can find out when/where, etc. it's the location and meeting times of the local groups that must be guarded with strict confidentiality. i am our local group's facilitator, and even when i send out my reminder emails to the group, i never put in the name of the actual place per se, just in case a copy of the email were to fall into the wrong hands.

    this year's conference is at a good, solid location; a seminary with a conference center, on private property, and we will be well inside the interior of the grounds and be left alone. i've only been a member for 5 years now and have not been to every conference since then, but from what i understand, that has not always been the case - out being left alone. protesters have made appearance, shouting anti-courage epithets and the like. our members, i'm told, respond in true gentleman and lady-like fashion either with silence and prayers, or honest, calm engagement.

    four years ago the conference was at st. louis university; a catholic university .. and we became aware of a proposed protest to be held right outside the college church on the campus boundary, where abp. burke was going to celebrate the opening Mass. we moved the Mass at the last minute to a chapel in the interior of the campus and were left in peace. no protesters allowed on private property. my sister-in-law was present with me at the Mass, as my brother (a permanent Deacon) was serving at Mass. she commented that never before had she been part of a celebration of the Eucharist where the Spirit was so obviously flowing.

    the courage conference is a blessing and a real shot in the arm for those of us committed to living chastely. i have not taken the time to research the history of this years' speakers, but i am confident it will be a good conference. the courage apostolate has a new leader: fr. check from the diocese of bridgeport, and he's a great example to us all of masculine spirituality. that may sound funny, but i hope you get what i mean. fr. harvey should be in attendance as well. it will be good to see him again.

  2. Thanks DB - I look forward to hearing about it!

  3. Lots of situations take courage to face, especially when dealing with integrity.

  4. Interesting post. I have never felt the urge to read Theology of the Body. I will probably never read it. I absolutely love the writings of St. Alphonsus Liquori, though. I consider him the best Catholic writer ever. I can't imagine going from his style to that of Pope John Paul's. I tried reading Crossing the Threshold of Hope some years back, and I just got lost in the text. It was so hard to follow! I never made it past the first chapter.

  5. Yes--JPII's writings can be quite deep...I have found that you have to take his writings in little pieces, for every word is meat. So yes you cannot sit and read one of his writings in an evening...

    What I found really helpful is to try some of his easier writings, such as his Apostolic Letters. We study these in my Secular Carmelite community. A good one is the one on the Holy Rosary as it is a topic that we are all familiar with. Try reading just a paragraph or two at a time and sit back and dwell on what he is saying. The Apostolic Letters are short so not quite as easy to get overwhelmed.


  6. This poem of JP11 helped me once, when I was gorged with unsatisfactory self seeking.

    Girl Disappointed in Love

    With mercury we measure pain
    as we measure the heat of bodies and air;
    but this is not how to discover our limits--
    you think you are the center of things.
    If you could only grasp that you are not:
    the center is He,
    and He, too, finds no love---
    why don't you see?
    The human heart--what is it for?
    Cosmic temperature. Heart. Mercury


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