Monday, August 24, 2015

Speaking. The Truth. In Love. (Updated)

Ingmar Bergman’s Winter Light.

“Welcoming and Accompanying Our Brothers and Sisters with Same-Sex Attraction” And two Gay Catholics too.

Kathy Schiffer, one of the better writers on the Catholic Channel at Patheos, offers an overview of the Courage Conference in Michigan earlier this month.

It's a balanced report on the conference and well worth the read.  I was especially interested in Dan Mattson's presentation.  In my opinion, Mattson is one of the more integrated spokesmen for  SSA persons living the Courage model of holiness and ordinary life.

First, the reason for the Conference:
The specific objective of the gathering was to assist the 2015 Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family in its deliberations regarding pastoral outreach to families that include persons with homosexual tendencies.
The Courage Approach
Participants also heard the moving testimonies of men and women who experience same-sex attraction but who have been helped by the Church and by chaste friendships as they journeyed toward greater chastity and sanctity. Conference faculty also included experts on Christian anthropology, natural law, the psychology of homosexuality, Scripture and chastity.
Dan Mattson discussed the problem of loneliness in the life of the homosexual person, but considered his own loneliness as a single man to be part of God’s permissive will for his life.
“If it is God’s will that we don’t share in the particular form of love or intimacy that is proper in marriage, we do well to accept this lack as a gift from him,” he said. “Even if we are sexually continent, trying to find a semblance of the intimacy of marriage through a ‘chaste celibate gay relationship’ is running away from that which God has deemed as good for our souls.
“But, most importantly, by attempting to run from the pains of loneliness through such a relationship, we cheat ourselves from the great storehouse of riches that God in his divine providence desires to give us through the loneliness he permits us to feel. We are settling for far too little love from God if we choose a path away from the scalpel he desires to use to shape us into the image of his Son.” - NCRegister

Dan Mattson is a pretty incredible guy.  He must have a very deep spirituality, a mature faith to understand the efficacy of loneliness - to see it as God's loving will for the soul.

To arrive at that point is to 'go beyond strong men and frontiers, to wrestle with wild beasts, to trudge through lonely wooded valleys, strange islands, turgid rivers, the whistling sound of love-stirring breezes amidst sounding solitude' - to borrow the language of St. John.  It is a dark night which many flee from to find consolation in and through the satisfaction of their appetites, longing for the fleshpots of Egypt - referring to something Archbishop Vigneron spoke about at the conference, comparing the exodus from the gay lifestyle to the Israelites leaving Egypt.

"It is lonely when you're among people, too." The Little Prince

For Dan Mattson to understand that so well, indicates a great grace, something not everyone who experiences homosexual inclination can be convinced of.  Many go away sad.

Yet I can tell you from experience, even if you try to flee the darkest loneliness through inordinate affection and unlawful attachments, if you continue to pray in your discontent, the necessary purification comes eventually.  One can be lonely in the closest relationships.  Loneliness is a call.  Lovers can become friends, friends can become brothers, and they can, if courageous, support one another in the way of perfection.  It seems to me this is why the apostolate Courage is so very beneficial to those who strive to live in accord with Catholic teaching to sanctify their lives.  Chaste - 'disinterested' same sex friendship is essential to the process.

The Conference was praised by Father Sean Kilcawley, director of the Office of Family Life in the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb.:
... calling it “an amazing gathering of people with different perspectives, all trying to find a solution.”  
“For people experiencing sexual brokenness of any kind,” he believed, “healing comes when we see ourselves as loving sons and loving daughters of a loving Father. The conference reinvigorated my motivation to return to my diocese and focus on teaching adults and young people about the beauty of the Church’s sexual ethic.” - ibid

I believe that sums it up quite well.

UPDATE:  3PM CDT 8/24/15 - Janet Smith live with Al Kresta - discussing the Conference and why Tushnet and Prever were invited.  Works for me.  Next they will be discussing Deacon Jim Russell's objections to Joe Prever.

Janet Smith's response: very reasoned and accepting and understanding.  Good to hear her response.

The entire controversy is good - it is promoting discussion and understanding.  It is opening pastoral care to a variety of experience.

Ed. note:  It is the very first time I ever listened to Kresta and the first time I heard Janet Smith speak - she's very personable and down to earth.  Thanks Diane for the heads up.

Update II:  And then I discovered this at OSV: Joseph Prever's talk and Janet Smith's reply to Deacon Russell.

All-rightey then.  I still think Deacon Russell's concerns were fair and did much to clarify issues related to the conference.  Janet Smith revealed that Russell was not alone in his concern, writing:

Several of those involved in the planning process objected strenuously to the invitations extended to Joseph Prever and Eve Tushnet, both participants in what has become known as the “spiritual friendship project,” a project that some portray as a rival or critic of Courage. Some elements of their work raise some important concerns and other elements are very promising. Since the contributors to the spiritual friendship project are committed to living chaste lives, to seeking holiness and to being faithful to their faith communities (in the case of Prever and Tushnet, that is Catholicism), we wanted to be in friendly dialogue with them. We thought those who attended the conference would benefit from hearing Prever and Tushnet and that they (like the rest of us) would benefit from hearing other speakers at the conference. We knew there was a risk of some confusion arising, but we thought the risk worth it. We were not trying to lay out some uniform, fixed template for pastoral approaches. Again, we wanted to establish the nonnegotiable foundational principles of Christian anthropology, to report on some successful pastoral approaches and materials, and to listen to those whose voices we absolutely must hear if we are going to be truly pastoral. - JS at OSV

"Several of those involved in the planning process objected strenuously to the invitations extended to Joseph Prever and Eve Tushnet..."

Best keep that in mind before anyone goes after Deacon Russell.  I certainly wasn't aware of it, and as I said originally, I concluded initially that their inclusion in the conference amounted to a sort of endorsement of their position.  I'm glad it's all been sorted out now.

That's all.

Behavioral modification device 
to help homos avoid using the term 'gay'.
Now available at Walgreen's.


  1. Thanks very much. We all need to sort these things through. Thanks for doing so in such a sane fashion!

    1. Thank you very much. Sorry you had to see this - if I knew you'd be reading I wouldn't have posted the Curly gif. Oh well.

      God bless. I appreciated listening to what you had to say.

  2. I think I liked the Curly gif best....

  3. "Ingmar Bergman’s Winter Light"

    I decided to watch this movie since the picture you posted caught my eye and has me wondering what it would be like to stand there like the tormented pastor and ask God the same questions he was asking of him.

    I watched "The Virgin Spring" when I was a kid and it haunted me for the longest time. I may watch it again as a grown up kid to better understand.

    1. The movie stills are my favorites.


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.