Why did the rich young man go away sad?
He asked: "Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?" He obviously kept the commandments - but he was rich... and we all know the rest of the story. Yet as John Paul II points out, there is a deeper meaning to the question the nameless young man asked: ""Then someone came to him...
". In the young man, whom Matthew's Gospel does not name, we can recognize every person who, consciously or not, approaches Christ the Redeemer of man and questions him about morality.
For the young man, the question
is not so much about rules to be followed, but about the full meaning of life. [...] In order to make this "encounter" with Christ possible, God willed his Church.
Indeed, the Church "wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life".15
We all ask this question ourselves - we all seek the meaning of life, to understand - especially the moral teachings of the Church, which run contrary to modern culture. We look for examples of holiness and goodness, to inspire and help us live according to the Gospel - hence we question moral teaching and its apparent limitations. We want to find someone, something, to support us, to inspire us on the narrow way, which may be in fact, far more constricted than we at first imagined ...
34. "Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?". The question of morality, to which Christ provides the answer, cannot prescind from the issue of freedom. Indeed, it considers that issue central, for there can be no morality without freedom: "It is only in freedom that man can turn to what is good".56 But what sort of freedom? The Council, considering our contemporaries who "highly regard" freedom and "assiduously pursue" it, but who "often cultivate it in wrong ways as a licence to do anything they please, even evil", speaks of "genuine" freedom: "Genuine freedom is an outstanding manifestation of the divine image in man. For God willed to leave man "in the power of his own counsel" (cf. Sir 15:14), so that he would seek his Creator of his own accord and would freely arrive at full and blessed perfection by cleaving to God".57 Although each individual has a right to be respected in his own journey in search of the truth, there exists a prior moral obligation, and a grave one at that, to seek the truth and to adhere to it once it is known.58 As Cardinal John Henry Newman, that outstanding defender of the rights of conscience, forcefully put it: "Conscience has rights because it has duties".59
Veritatis Splendor - what does it have to do with gay saints?
Gay people seem to have an especially hard time today, since everything in the culture militates against any sort of moral censure on homosexual behavior and same sex marriage. Catholic teaching is said to constrict, to limit personal freedom. Many gay people go away sad. Veritatis Splendor is for me, one of the most important documents and keys to understanding all that the Church teaches - and under girds the more specific moral teachings on the homosexual person from the Ratzinger CDF and papacy.
Faithful and chaste 'gay' Catholics look for ways to make Catholic teaching more understandable, more acceptable to gay people. Nothing wrong with that, to be sure. Some religious and non-religious gay people also look for saints to inspire and elevate 'gayness'. On some level, I think that is part of the reason some people search for gay saints. (Secular gay saints are people like Harvey Milk, Matthew Shepard; such 'gay icons' are often exploited for propaganda purposes.) Some may even look for a spiritual 'lover' in the saints, a romantic hero. I think that is why some of the saints gay saint makers write about, are very often depicted in art as ideally handsome and in a homoerotic manner.
Of course, there are sincere, devout persons who look for a saint they can befriend, someone they feel they can know intimately - one who understands what they go through, what they suffer, what they rejoice over, aspire to, and so on. Patron saints are often very personal - in fact some imagine they choose us, that we do not really choose them. I see it as Divine Providence and simply a natural dimension of the communion of saints.
Are there really gay saints?
Until the 19th-20th century the terms gay/homosexual didn't exist. Same sex sexual behavior, like masturbation, was considered unnatural vice - contra naturam.
Homosexuals would probably have been referred to as Sodomites - a vice too wicked to speak its name. An unnatural vice even the devils reject - according to the Dialogues of St. Catherine:
It is not its sinfulness that displeases [the devils], for they like nothing that is good. But because their nature was angelic, that nature still loathes the sight of that horrendous sin actually being committed. It is true that it was they who in the beginning shot the poisoned arrows of concupiscence, but when it comes to the sinful act itself they run away. - Chapter 124
Of course there were several saints who condemned same sex sexual behavior. Their teaching is like a thorn in the side of contemporary LGBTQ persons, Catholic or not. Nevertheless, it is important to take it into consideration in order to counter claims that certain 'couple' saints, or BFF saints were actually gay and the Church somehow knew and approved. From St. Peter Damien:
“Just as Saint Basil establishes that those who incur sins [against nature] … should be subjected not only to a hard penance but a public one, and Pope Siricius prohibits penitents from entering clerical orders, one can clearly deduce that he who corrupts himself with a man through the ignominious squalor of a filthy union does not deserve to exercise ecclesiastical functions, since those who were formerly given to vices … become unfit to administer the Sacraments.” - St. Peter Damian
Long story short - the saints and Church Fathers, in accord with Scripture, condemned homosexuality. Therefore, one is not likely to find a 'gay saint' - although today, if it makes one feel better, they can imagine people such as Sergius and Bacchus, who were known to be friends, to be really close friends who lived chastely and became martyr saints. In fact, saints such as Blessed Cardinal Newman, can be a very good example of holy friendship - friendship which is completely chaste and disinterested
- untainted by any romantic/erotic disorientation.
I'd like to suggest that if one is looking for a patron, one ought to cultivate devotion to one's guardian angel - who could be closer to us than our angel? If you want a canonized saint to be a patron for gay people, one might do better to look amongst the penitent saints, the martyrs for purity, the misfit saints, and more specifically, the saints who preached against the vice. Seriously - who better to help someone struggling with same sex attraction than those who condemned it? Out of charity, they owe it to those who strive to live according to Catholic teaching. All saints endured the spiritual battle - that is how heroic virtue is forged.
These days, I understand things much more simply than I did when I was younger. So for me the issues surrounding 'gay' is really not so much about overcoming something, as it is about embracing chastity - loving God with all of my being, and my brother as myself. It is about becoming holy, our sanctification is God's will.
All I can say to this saint business, if you really want a special saint - there are many, many in the Church calendar, and many newly beatified and canonized to look to.
However, if you really want a gay saint - become one yourself. Go to Christ, in the Church, in the Blessed Sacrament and ask:
"Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?" (Mt 19:16)