What is disinterested friendship?
When addressing the issue of homosexual persons and the call to chastity, the Catechism states:
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. - CCCMany people take the words of the catechism and interpret them to suit their lifestyle or practice of chastity as they themselves understand it. In other words, disinterested can sometimes mean whatever one wants it to mean. (This may explain why so many people do not really trust 'gay-pride Catholics'.)
I've been thinking about how I would explain what disinterested means when it comes to spiritual friendship. It seems to me disinterested may best be defined as dispassionate - without passion. It's something monastics strive for and has a correlation to the ordinary spiritual work involved in the observance of chastity, or purity of heart. It is obtained by vigilance. The Christian who is called to chastity is called to vigilance. Christ said to the disciples, "What I say to you I say to all: Watch." Be vigilant. Vigilance goes hand in hand with prayer, "Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation." Prayer makes us attentive - vigilant. Vigilance keeps custody of the heart. (Which is why the work of organizations such as Courage is so good for persons struggling with same sex attraction, because Courage offers a support or framework as a means to sanctity.)
In the spiritual life an attraction might be considered the first movement towards sin, a first response as it were to temptation. It's connected with concupiscence. There is no sin committed when one hasn't willed or consented to the movement. (I'm not talking about ordinary attraction, but rather sexual/erotic/passionate attraction.) The attraction is repulsed by vigilance - as long as one does not cultivate an affection for the 'attraction' or entertain it - he remains vigilant. However, if we follow the attraction, our passions can be aroused and we become more or less dependent or attached to the joy or pleasure the attraction stimulates. When we allow or cultivate inordinate affection and/or disordered attraction in our heart, we are easily defeated and become encumbered by the inclination to sin which clings to us.
Vigilance opposes the very beginnings of sin. It is obtained gradually, not by anxious, care-filled watching [Luke 17:20] but by long continued practice, prayer, the sacraments, sometimes falling and rising through frequent confession, until we know our own propensity to sin and humbly rely totally upon God's mercy. On the other hand, when we compromise our faith and make provisions for our passions:
"Our fall is aggravated, sealed and becomes our own permanent property, a permanent pledge of eternal perdition through following our fallen will and the will of demons." - St. Ignatius Brianchaninov
Disinterested equals dispassionate.
Enkindle in our hearts a deep love and reverence
for your Holy Name, that filled with confidence
in its saving power, we will be courageous
in breaking with every sinful affection
and unlawful attachment. Amen
- Prayer for 4th day of Novena to the Infant Jesus