Thursday, May 24, 2012

Looks as if I may be wrong about the 'victim soul' mentality Michael Voris spoke to in yesterday's post.

Evidently the term victim soul works for some Catholic men and women with SSA, and it is bolstered by the in depth analysis of Dr. Jeffrey Mirus who writes at Catholic exchange, and maybe influenced the Michael Voris take on things.  Dr. Mirus seems to support the Eve Tushnet conviction that "same-sex-attracted Catholics face challenges that single laypeople or clerics do not face in living chastely."

 Dr. Murius supports that theory here:
But a person with homosexual inclinations faces an even greater challenge. He or she must not merely integrate, control and channel sexual inclinations, but must largely deny them altogether, not only in their physical expression, but also in a far broader range of affectivity which is conditioned even in small ways by sexual interplay: Heightened interest, a sense of romance, a special tenderness. It is true that a celibate priest must be very careful of what we might call sexually-tinged affectivity, on the altogether sound theory that one thing leads to another. But the person with persistent homosexual inclinations must suppress or redirect such inclinations to an even greater extent. This is an enormous challenge. 
Now consider such a person in a culture which is pressing full tilt for the embrace, approval and even glorification of this same affectivity which he is called by Christ to suppress or redirect. And finally, consider him (or her) in a subculture of chastity in which he must constantly hear arguments against the positions of gays (i.e., those who advocate a specifically homosexual lifestyle), arguments which are sometimes clumsily expressed in ways which denigrate “homosexuals” generally and which, even if they are not clumsy, keep his conflicted sexual inclinations ever before his mind. In this subculture of chastity—hopefully a Christian subculture—others may find relief from their long, wearying preoccupation with their sexual defenses, but not he. - Homosexuality: A Special Call to the Love of God and Man        
To read the rest is to pretty much read what Voris said in his video on the subject of gay people being specially chosen and even victim souls.    Mirus writes:
The Catholic tradition is rich in understanding of victim souls, those who seem to have been put on this earth primarily to suffer physically, perhaps being ill or even paralyzed their whole life long, yet embracing a mission of love for souls, and growing into an intense and fruitful union with God. All of us, of course, are victim souls in smaller ways in that we each have our own crosses, which are so many opportunities for spiritual growth and cooperation with Christ: “In my flesh,” says St. Paul, “I make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His body, the Church” (Col 1:24). So must we all, if we are Christians, and we should rejoice in the opportunity. Nonetheless, it is clear that some souls are singled out for a particularly obvious mission of redemptive suffering.  
Homosexual persons, by the very nature of their particular cross, must raise chastity to a special height, dealing not only with physical temptation but with the broad range of their own human affectivity. It follows that those who must suffer this disorder throughout their lives have been chosen by God to give a particular and exalted witness to the virtue of chastity. This is vocation as beautiful as it is arduous, and it is doubtful that its importance to our sex-saturated age can be overestimated. - ibid  
If you read the entire article I cite and link to above - you will see very clearly where Voris is coming from in his video presentation on the subject.  There is essentially nothing wrong with the article - it is well stated and very compassionate.  I simply object to the implication that homosexual persons are to be treated as a special category within the Church.  That there is a special order as it were, just for gay people.  maybe my exchange of emails with the friend who alerted me to the Dr. Mirus will be self explanatory enough:
I take exception with something you’ve said.

You state persons with SSA are no different than heterosexual persons striving to live chaste lives. That’s not entirely true.
Persons with OSA don’t have to check their affective and sexual inclinations at the door, so to speak. While they may be disordered to an extent, they are essentially still ordered to an “acceptable ‘other’.” That is NOT the case for the person with SSA. The person with SSA must not only be physically chaste, but also work on re-ordering their affective and mental life, as well … something that persons with OSA can “play” with and delight in to an extent (read: legitimate flirting).
Dr. Mirus does a much better job describing this than I do. Please take the time to read his article here:

Fair enough.  So I replied:

Perhaps I'm being a bit myopic in looking at the question of speciality in the suffering of homosexuals - I tend to side with Harvey on his caution not to exaggerate the sufferings of the condition, or create a specious spirituality for it. I still think that it is extremely unfair to divorced Catholics, and others, who for one reason or another cannot have a relationship, then to exalt the sufferings of gay people as something more extreme.  Gay people are not only expected - as everyone else - to live chastely, but to dedicate their lives - their celibacy - to the service of others, either by works and/or prayer and penance. If gay Catholics  want to claim for themselves the title of victim soul - more power to them; although truth be told, many seem to have spent most of their lives complaining society has already victimized them through bullying and discrimination for being different, and the denial of marriage benefits.  It seems to me that for many it is the being different they want to cling to, chaste or not.

I sometimes forget myself and marvel at the selfish sensuality and narcissism which persists in us even after we conclude our way of life is in opposition to the Gospel and decide to take up our cross and follow in his footsteps. I'm always astonished by the gay persons seemingly insatiable need for approval
Anyway, I appreciate your forwarding the article, I reviewed it quickly and will return to it and probably post my comments later, perhaps even softening my stance on the subject, but I can see right now, gay Catholic is the new term and has become a niche category in Catholic spirituality.
Pray for the suffering souls in gay Catholicism.  I wonder if there are indulgences attached for that?  Oh!  Oh!  And if gay is so normal, why does it need special consideration in the first place.  I'm being sarcastic - don't answer that.


  1. Terry:

    Legitimate question. Please don't think I'm being incendiary. I'm not. At all. (And if it's too much for the combox, delete it and email me privately. You have my address.)

    You know (sort of) where I stand with this. 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?

    1. Thom - I decided it is better to reinstate my original comment to you - here it is:

      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 perople. I just no longer understand myself as limited to that identity, and frankly, though I get along with my friends, I no longer identify as closely with them either. That's a complicated and easily misunderstood statement however.

      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. 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 consider them to be Catholic.

      As Paul or 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, while some behaviors I have always considered repulsive and disgusting.

      To be frank, I have struggled for many years - you know how old I am, but around 12 years ago now 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 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 coveteousness. Although, I've pretty much have always had a disposition to mortify my curiosity and avoid that tendency to voyeurism or cruising gay people are known for. I'm not sure how to explain that one better, however - it does not mean I was ever virtuous - I think I was just discreet.

      Yes, temptations continue to assail me - thank God - but Our Lord has taught me how to deal with them - or not - meaning to suffer them through. In fact I always notice an increase when I pray for others.

      Interestingly, in the spiritual life, when one spiritual battle seems to have been overcome - or a particular vice seems to be 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 is really 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 - in the very same boat as you.

  2. Since Thom asked a more serious and personal question, maybe my dumb question is nothing in comparison, but I wanted to say what Mirus wrote here rings true:

    "Heightened interest, a sense of romance, a special tenderness. It is true that a celibate priest must be very careful of what we might call sexually-tinged affectivity, on the altogether sound theory that one thing leads to another. But the person with persistent homosexual inclinations must suppress or redirect such inclinations to an even greater extent. This is an enormous challenge."

    For heterosexual men, we tend to treat our female friends in a different way than our male friends, and it IS still based on the attraction and complementarity of the sexes. In some ways, it's "flirty", but that also implies intentions that may not be there, so I don't know if that's right.

    In my particular situation, I cannot even consider dating or marrying anyone until my annulment is cleared up. But I am friends with lots of cute girls, and it's different than good-looking male friends. Little things like the kinds of jokes, or the emotional feelings for them (not romantic, but feelings like, for instance, interest in their well-being, compassion when they've been mistreated, etc.), all of this, while devoid of any untoward intention, is ordered along the lines of general male-female interaction, specifically as male and female.

    Even in families it's like that - a father may admire his daughter's beauty in different way than his sons, and how many moms marvel at their "handsome young men", and even in a family the social and emotional bonds are colored by sexual complementarity. Again, this doesn't imply anything sexual per se, just that there is what used to be called "general sexual attraction" between the sexes.

    Even in cases like mine, I can still acknowledge "yeah, she's a knockout, and I am very attracted to her, but I know I have to be careful because due to my own obligations and *circumstances* I cannot go in that direction"


    1. I'll deal with you later. ;)

  3. For people attracted to the same sex, this whole thing may be a bit our of whack, and in that sense, they do have to fight harder than heterosexuals do.

    I can have a female friend and think "perhaps I could go for her, but no, I've chosen a different path" - it's still rightly ordered, it's just that circumstance makes it wrong. Do you see what I mean?

    But I do agree with you that it isn't right to treat gay people as a separate class of people who need special attention - perhaps the Church has room to expand its understanding of this particular temptation, but as far as a "gay Catholic" identity, I agree with you 100%

    I hate the very notion that some people are "homosexuals" and some are "heterosexuals", as it it were some immutable thing like mutant powers in X-Men - "homo sapiens" and "homo superior" are immutable in Marvel comics. I just though of making a joke about "homo sapiens" and "homo homo", but I dunno. I do think it almost funny that it's gay activists that insist on the one hand that actual sex and gender arr fluid and changeable, but gayness is set in stone - forever.

  4. Thom's question is gone. Interesting.

    1. Terry and I agreed to take it and the response down for discretion.

    2. John, I can send you my reply if you want. If you would have been reading when you are scheduled, you wouldn't have missed it now would you? Haha!

  5. “It is true that a celibate priest must be very careful of what we might call sexually-tinged affectivity, on the altogether sound theory that one thing leads to another. But the person with persistent homosexual inclinations must suppress or redirect such inclinations to an even greater extent.”

    I don’t see why that is so—the “to an even greater extent” part. In both cases, it seems to me, “sexually-tinged affectivity” is inappropriate and potentially dangerous. It is out of place considering the particular nature of the call to holiness that each individual, the celibate priest and the SSA person, has. If the reason is that, for the celibate priest (assuming the sexually-tinged affectivity is for a woman) this is natural whereas for the SSA person it is unnatural, and so therefore it is more demanding, an implication seems to be that somehow any leeway in the “sexual interplay” referenced would be more in line with the affectivity of the celibate priest in a way that makes it more acceptable or understandable whereas for the SSA person this would not be so. But I would argue that, while that is probably true on the natural level, in light of the nature of the vocation that each individual has—both of which forbids any physical expression of such “sexually-tinged affectivity”—the demands are the same in severity at least, while there are probably particular differences in how such demands are to be realized. “Heightened interest, a sense of romance, a special tenderness”—these may be natural to the celibate priest, but are they not to be renounced by him and is that not, essentially, to go against his own “nature” as his such, his own inclinations just like the SSA person must not allow those facets a place in his or her own life, though the object of such affection is a member of the same sex?

    “Now consider such a person in a culture which is pressing full tilt for the embrace, approval and even glorification of this same affectivity which he is called by Christ to suppress or redirect. And finally, consider him (or her) in a subculture of chastity in which he must constantly hear arguments against the positions of gays (i.e., those who advocate a specifically homosexual lifestyle), arguments which are sometimes clumsily expressed in ways which denigrate “homosexuals” generally and which, even if they are not clumsy, keep his conflicted sexual inclinations ever before his mind.”

    Doesn’t the celibate priest face the same difficulties from the culture in his own way? There is not only little to no support for chastity (whether for straight or gay people) and there are constantly arguments against the Church’s position on celibacy, isn’t there? Arguments which are clumsily expressed in ways which denigrate “priests” generally ("Why don't they just let them marry, all this fooling around is the result of the celibate promise anyway", not merely for living celibately, but often now suggesting that to be a priest is equivalent to being a child molester or something of that nature.

    1. Patrick, did you see my reply? I think it's because "sexually-tinged affectivity" doesn't actually mean "based on a actual sexual desires", like for example, the kinds of affection young couples considering marriage may legitimately show (nothing directly venereal, meaning nothing that has as its object a heightening of sexual passion, no explicit fantasizing, but an affirmation that one does in
      fact love and want the other in an exclusive way - an arm around the shoulder, hand-holding, decent kisses, etc.) I think all he means is that mm and women interact in a different way than men and men. Someone called it "legitimate flirting", but I think that's inaccurate too, since flirting always has a goal - even if it's as innocent as asking a girl out on a date (which is something a priest can't do).

      I think, for example, the kind of joking we do with members of the same sex, or the interest we take in their emotions and their needs, is very different from how we treat the opposite sex. This is not "sexual" in the sense that we actually desire sex, but it is based on the complementary and the "otherness" of the sexes.

      A good example I have seen in my large extended family is that often a much younger girl cousin will "flirt" with a particular older male cousin or uncle. Maybe any parents out there know what I am talking about. Now this is entirely innocent - there is obviously no actual sexual desire, but a little girl would never be that way with an older girl cousin.

      I also know, at tge opposite end of the spectrum, a certain Catholic blogger who has been divorced a while back and never got his marriage annulled, or couldn't. There's a woman he is best friends with, takes out on the town, and they both love to go dancing. I also know for a fact that they are not involved sexually, and that he at least is under careful pastoral guidance. Now, this situation is obviously due to a need for the presence of the opposite sex in a substantial way in each others' lives, even though there is nothing "sexual" going on. I cannot imagine it being considered okay for a man to take a man out

      And really tgts another social area that is "sexual" - based on sexual complementarity. A girl wants to waltz with her daddy at her wedding, not her mom, and a man's going to dance with his grandmother and other female friends and family, not the male ones. This is not based on sexual *desire*, but it's ultimately ordered along the same spectrum, what moralists used to call "general sex attraction" - the attention of men to women as opposite as complementary, even if sex is not what is desired, they will always seek each other's company.

      And even desire, to an extent, can be legitimate in some cases. And unmarried man is always free to ask out an unmarried woman, to get to know her better. In most cases, this will involve some actual sexual attraction, some actual sexual desire (though not explicit). And this is obviously why God made men and women attractive to one another.

      The difference is, while someone who is a consecrated celibate cannot go down that road ecause of vows (equally true of a married man), a person attracted to the same sex cannot either, but in almost all cases that is not his own choice at all, so he has to fight even the inclination. Even a young priest knows what he can and cannot do, but he has to acknowledge that he IS attracted to women, and that that is of itself good and healthy, even if he cannot act in any way. A person with sSA has the hard task of not even being able to acknowledge the essential goodness of such attractions.

    2. Or, to put in JP-esque language which I know you speak :), there's always a special tenderness between the sexes that exists because of their sexual differentiation and complementarity, if that makes sense.

  6. Terry,

    Thanks for sharing the photo of Veronica Lueken... it's SO her in a TRAGIC sort of way.

    I feel like we are on our own planet here in this discussion in our own corner of the universe. I say this because for the great majority of ssa people this whole discussion is LIGHT YEARS away. I don't think most could even see what angle this discussion is coming from.

    I tend to agree with Dr Mirus on this one. As for Michael Voris, I am certain that he was just trying to make sense of it all and we all fail miserably at that most of the time but I think he has a few valid points. I dont know about the "victim soul" part. I agree with your take on that Terry. I think too many ssa people already consider themselves to be victims (in a whole other way of course).

    On a funnier note, years ago when I lived in Minneapolis on Sunday mornings some AM radio station used to beam in a weekly report from "Veronica" except most of the time she was too ill to speak but another lady would speak in her stead with a strong Lawngeiland accent. it always began with, "well now THIS WEEK...Veronica has been suffering from a bad back......" or some other ailment.

    1. DB agrees with the Dr. too. I might be too strict.

      Anyway - glad you enjoy the Veronica photo. I lived in Boston when all of that stuff was going strong and sometimes I thought I was a total heretic because I laughed at all the crazies who went there. They all believed the Vatican was infiltrated by enemies and that Paul VI was drugged and replaced by a double. I did enjoy some of the people however, I was always amused. Blue berets! Blue chapel veils! Blue on blue. And the miraculous photos were always a hoot.

      Oh well.

  7. Thanks very much, Mercury. I think I understand better now what the Dr. was saying.

    1. Well if for ONCE I can help explain something to you, my friend, I'm glad :)

      Thanks for all the times it's been the other way around.

  8. Darn Terry--if I hadn't been out last night I would have realized. Sorry to be off schedule.


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