I've spent much of my life in a titanic struggle.
To be holy. To be a boy. To be a man.
To fit in.
To not fit in.
To run away.
To come home.
To find a home, a place.
To be chaste.
To be normal.
To be holy.
Never knowing how to let myself be loved.
That's like a poem in a way.
So anyway. I came across a comment on Fr. Martin's blog in response to what the Holy Father told Juan Carlos Cruz, that God made him gay. The man is in his 60's and wrote:
I wish I could relive life and as I was realizing I might be gay, some priest or pope had said that to me. How different my life might have been. ....but no one did...and so I lived in hiding and dark depression through my teens, twenties and some of my 30s. Dark suicidal depression. I might have actually been open to love and had a beautiful life. But no. I believed extreme conservative religious teaching and never had love. My one existence on this earth....and no love. Really sad. But....in my 60s now that I don't care about love...God has made me happy....but man oh man...I wish I had not listened so much to the Church and super religious people. - Mark F.Fortunately, that hasn't been my experience, but I understood the sentiment. It also made me sad and made me feel somewhat alienated. If someone had told me it was okay - and they did - it didn't change anything. My conscience wouldn't allow it. When my conscience was formed, I was still very young. I had no understanding of same sex attraction. I knew what it was to be chaste however. I knew it was holy and good. I knew sexual 'self-abuse' and looking at 'dirty' pictures, and 'impure' thoughts were sins - even mortal sins. I knew sex was for marriage. I knew virginity was for religious life, and chastity was for all - according to their state in life. (I really did - from a very young age in fact.) Though I never wanted to commit a mortal sin, I did. Being in the state of mortal sin made me unhappy... infinitely sad.
Therefore, I was never happy when I engaged in sexual acts which I knew were mortal sins. I was never happy in a lifestyle based upon that. I liked and loved gay persons, worked with them, socialized with them, and enjoyed good times, but I never quite fit in. I tried to fit in - but I never did. A good friend of mine once shared with me that he could never understand how some guys were just fine with being gay - they felt fulfilled, and so on. He and I couldn't understand how they could reconcile sexual acts with being Catholic and receiving the sacraments. Neither of us could do that in good conscience - even if and when a confessor might tell one of us that it is not a sin. Our consciences told us otherwise.
So. I don't get it.
Like I said, I've spent much of my life in a titanic struggle with these issues. I've had to defend myself against gay people who made fun of me for my faith, from straight people who were suspicious because I live with a friend, or worked in a gay profession, or had gay friends. I never fit in with the conservatives who insist that gay Catholics not say gay, or insist that they need to belong to a self-help group, and then it can only be Courage. I never fit in with all their rules about that, or their insistence I condemn this priest or that gay-Catholic as too liberal.
So many of these folks gossip and condemn others based upon who they live with, what their past was, how they dress. They suspect every single man and woman. They want to know why you are not married, do you have a girlfriend, and so on. They point out who they think is gay and speculate on their moral life. These same people often put great emphasis on their religious practices, judging your Catholicism based upon the question 'are you trad or novus ordo?' Even great Churchmen - aka Cardinal Burke - tell families they shouldn't let their gay relatives, especially those in a relationship/living with a partner, come over for family dinner. Likewise, a man who lives with another man - albeit chastely and celibately - can't sing in the choir, nor can they do the readings at Mass. (Personally, I would never presume to even take up the collection at Mass, lest I scandalize someone.)
To be sure, I tried to fit it all in - I even tried to defend religious people who said and did that stuff - those who said you not only had to be chaste and celibate - you couldn't live with a same-sex best friend. But it didn't work - it wasn't my call. Some of the discrimination I point out here bordered on the 'unjust' - based in bigotry. Their 'acceptance' was superficial and conditional, as well as patronizingly situational. It wasn't authentic. I wasn't being authentic trying to assure these types that I fully embraced and lived Catholic teaching. (I did and do.) Needless to say, I totally understand the man who said he wished he hadn't listened to super religious people. I agree with him for reasons I just stated, but also because all they seem to see are evil threats to their perfectly constructed theories and neatly placed battlements. Though I do not fit in with these folks, neither can I fit in with the New Ways Ministry types, or those who ignore Catholic moral teaching and indulge their sexual appetites and claim God blesses that. I don't know how they justify that, but I'm not their judge.
I am fortune's fool.
What the Pope said to Juan Carlos Cruz, if true, is not meant for me. (I've said the same thing about Fr. Martin's book and message.) What people will take from what the Pope purportedly said is not for me either. Some are interpreting the Pope's statement to mean approval for homosexual acts and they are saying the Church's teaching must change, and so on. They claim that if God made men gay and wants them to be happy, then homosexual acts are not disordered, and so on. The Pope did not say that. And even if he did, (he didn't) - it is a message/teaching not meant for me.
This is one of the few times I've become concerned over something the Holy Father is quoted as saying. I have no way of determining the accuracy of the comment, but many are responding as if it was a new teaching. That's unfortunate.
Like I said, it has been a lifelong struggle not without some degree of suffering - and it isn't over yet - but that is why I have dropped everything, as it were, to comment on this issue today. I do not look for sympathy or agreement - this is just my personal reflection.
'He has confused the proud in their inmost heart' - I think that is the grace in all of this for me. If I can become humble - O my God, what a grace this is.
Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine.
Song for this post here.
Song for this post here.