Young home-schooled friends of ours act in and narrate this uplifting 18-minute video of The Life Of St. Andre Bessette of Montreal, showing miraculous healings and the saint's devotion to St Joseph. Utterly charming!
Update (29 December 2013): As always, our testimony is our testimony, and, as a reminder, Catholics don't believe in cloning. Nothing in the discussion below is meant to subtract from pastoral attention for the celibate majority of Catholics who have sought support for living chastely with SSA. We two devote a great deal of energy to advocating for their needs. My plea to an ecumenical audience for better overall pastoral care for individuals and families affected by SSA would, if received, very much benefit our single friends with SSA. And we two speak out loudly against the reckless assumption that persons with SSA have some sort of obligation to pursue opposite-sex attraction and marriage; one of our most popular presentations is on "Twelve Ways a Catholic Pastoral Approach to SSA Differs from a Classical 'Ex-Gay' Approach."
Furthermore, we are acutely aware of the overwhelming pain resulting from mixed-inclination marriages where full consent was not obtained and unresolved impediments have led to tragedy. Our peer and pastoral counselling includes assistance to married folk who have to ask, "What now?" -- and seek help either alone or with a spouse. Part of sharing our own model of an exceptional, sacramental mixed-inclination marriage is to help prevent and alleviate impediments to marriage or to marital intimacy.
Over several days of January 2009, in conjunction with his second-last visit to Toronto, Father Harvey spoke to various audiences with testimonials from various members of Courage. At a clergy luncheon The Sheepcat spoke alongside Father and introduced me as his fiancée (though I already knew many people present from my pro-life and pro-family work). On the following day we had a premarital counselling meeting with Father Harvey as an adjunct to the preparation we were doing through our parish. Based on our personal interactions as well as my studies of his writings, I am highlighting a few points.
1. Whether to marry Father Harvey correctly resisted the 1960s proposition that what we now call same-sex attraction be an absolute impediment to marriage. We're grateful for his convictions! We have encountered people who believed we weren't eligible for the sacrament through which we're working out our salvation. We can't imagine not being married to each other.
To use Father Harvey's language from The Homosexual Person, The Sheepcat does and continues to have "clear signs of homosexuality." Yet The Sheepcat also had "a strong physical attraction for his fiancée, and control over all sexual tendencies." These he has maintained in marriage. He has also sustained such significant inclination change that, should I predecease him, I would think he should remarry.
Marriage is suiting us very well. We have made the goal holiness, not inclination change. I am not weirded out by The Sheepcat's ongoing SSA, and I do not pressure him to be like other men. Actually, my back gets up when people misunderstand our testimony and ask, "When did he go straight?" The Sheepcat is an exceptional husband, and sharing his experience of SSA is just another part of our SPICE-y intimacy.
Where it seems that Father Harvey and his contemporaries left a gap is with precisely how a couple should be guided given that a particular person with SSA is eligible for marriage.
Today, on the third anniversary of the death of Father JohnHarvey, OSFS, co-founder of Courage, I am examining a topic close to my heart: what Father Harvey said and did about marriage involving a spouse with same-sex attraction (SSA).
Update (28 December 2013): In yesterday's version of this post, I overstated my case as to the lack of discussion of mixed-inclination marriages in Father Harvey's second book. I have updated that paragraph to reflect that Father did report other counsellors' findings about numbers with passing commentary about processes. Given that his second book was meant to expand his first, I continue to find the difference striking. I remain open to correction from those who are more knowledgeable about Father Harvey's thought.
The fact that homosexual practices have wrecked many marriages has caused a psychiatrist and a canonist to consider the possibility of making homosexuality an impediment to marriage.... Instead of more speculation about the confusion which the proposed canonical impediment would bring, it seems better to recommend another approach involving pastoral rather than canonical considerations. Efforts should be made to persuade genuine homosexuals and persons of confirmed bisexual tendencies to give up the idea of marriage and to practice perfect chastity in the world. To this end a practical program should be spelled out. Since there are different degrees of inversion and of apparent bisexuality, it will be necessary to adapt the pastoral approach to the specific type with whom one is dealing, and to go still further in the refinement of counsel in consideration of the individual's personal history. (“Homosexuality and Marriage,” Homiletic and Pastoral Review [December 1961], 227–234; available at CatholicCulture.org)1
When Courage was established in 1980, the original members, who were pursuing celibacy, developed the Five Goals: Chastity, Prayer and Dedication, Fellowship, Support, and Good Example. The original wording of the Fourth Goal was
To be mindful of the truth that chaste friendships are not only possible but necessary in a celibate Christian life and to encourage one another in forming and sustaining them.
If you've heard one of our talks which includes my own testimony, you'll know that a turning point came with my first encounter, at 19 turning 20, with an example of a sacramental marriage worth emulating. Today on the Feast of St Thomas the Apostle, I'm posting the first part of a three-part series on the husband and wife behind that story.
I was so blessed to be present -- not least because I was with The Sheepcat, a great gift of God whom I was able to recognize partly because of the Langans' influence. Towards the end of Papa Tom's long illness, we'd prayed Vespers with him at Bridgepoint, and I told him what he meant to me as he tugged up and down on my thumb. Lady Janine said that even though he wasn't too verbal in such encounters, he did use words later with his family, to tell what he'd experienced. His wife and family were so precious to him, and especially at the graveside service led by Fr Robert Barringer, I was deeply conscious of the many sacrifices the Langan family had made so that students like me could be formed on every level.
Deep down I knew that if we went on our Vancouver speaking tour, we would miss Papa Tom's passing. And that we were supposed to go anyway.
Update (24 June 2013): Welcome, readers from other sites, and thank you for your interest.
Dear journalists and bloggers, to everything there is a season. The time before and during Pride is our busiest for peer and pastoral counselling because of the number of new disclosures that arise at this time of year. In addition, what used to be a time of desolation can now be a time of consolation for which we are grateful. We regret that during Charity, Clarity, Chastity 2013 neither of us will be available for interviews or debates.
For those interested, here issomebackground, or you can check out the two "Best of" panels in the left sidebar.
If you are not inclined to join us, please go in peace. If you are inclined to join us, we thank you for your generosity.
Last year we decided to do something constructive about LGBTQ+ Pride, so we set up a roster where people could commit to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in reparation for offences against charity, clarity, and chastity. Volunteers from six continents signed up to cover the 240 hours of Toronto's Pride Week 2012, joining in some form of private fasting or sacrifice and praying in reparation.
The second annual prayer campaign, which we're calling Charity, Clarity, Chastity, is underway and continues until 3 pm on Tuesday, July 2. Toronto is a place of special need not only because Catholicism is being
attacked, but because this year’s festival is the dress rehearsal
before our city hosts WorldPride 2014.
Courage is the official Catholic apostolate for persons with same-sex
attraction (SSA); within that, EnCourage is the official Catholic
apostolate for loved ones of persons with SSA. In the Archdiocese of
Toronto, these are the only approved ministries concerned with SSA. A
Courage Reparational Group is "a group of men and women who desire to
unite themselves with Our Lord particularly in their weakness while
praying for the conversion and healing of those who struggle with
same-sex desires" -- as every Christian is called to do with regard to
his or her own particular weaknesses.
The campaign is based on a "theology of weakness." Says the foundress of the original Courage Reparational Prayer Group, "We offer up our own pain and struggle, and unite it with the passion of Jesus to bring life to others. It gives meaning to our suffering." At the core are three prayer intentions:
Charity: We repent of any ways in which persons with
SSA or gender identity conflicts have been the object of unjust
discrimination, including violent malice in speech or in action, and
have been abandoned, rejected, or denied unconditional love. We affirm
that there is a place in the Church for persons with SSA and gender
identity conflicts, who are included in the universal call to holiness.
Clarity: We repent of any distortions of Church teaching as properly expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 2357 to 2359. We affirm that same-sex acts cannot be approved under any circumstances; that same-sex inclinations are objectively disordered, signifying concupiscence and yet not in and of themselves sinful; and that persons,
regardless of their inclinations and acts, are made in the image of
God, have intrinsic dignity, and are to be accepted with respect,
compassion, and sensitivity.
Chastity: We repent of any sins against God’s plan for
male and female complementarity and the gift of human life, including,
but not limited to immodesty, masturbation, artificial birth control and
artificial reproductive technologies, abortion, pornography, sexual
abuse, adultery, fornication, polygamy, prostitution, no-fault divorce,
and same-sex acts. We affirm the unitive and procreative meanings of
authentic married love; and the treasure of holy celibacy as lived by
single persons, religious, and priests.
Last year I wrote:
Many pro-family people have been inspired by the example of 40 Days for Life, in which prayer vigils are held outside abortion clinics. Sometimes 40 Days yields a visible result such as a mother giving the thumbs up to declare she's chosen to keep the baby, a driver who stays seated in her parked car and then drives away without having gone into the building, a passerby who unburdens himself about the child he paid to have killed twenty years ago, . . . but often we won't find out in this lifetime what effect our prayers have had.
If you pray for the intentions listed in reparation for Pride, the results will tend to be ones you won't be present to see with your own eyes. A troubled high school student who is consoled by the memory of a kind word when she is feeling harassed and unloved. A cruising ground aficionado who, after yet another episode of meaningless sex, asks himself, "What am I doing here?" A gay activist who, looking for ammunition against those dreadful Catholic bigots, decides to inspect the Catechism for himself. Trust that God will use your prayers!
I know from previous years that I tend to feel a spiritual heaviness from this season's continual social pressures to accept gay ideology. What a relief then to cast such troubles at the foot of the Cross! I can attest how much better I feel having taken extra advantage of the opportunity to adore the Blessed Sacrament this week. It is such a privilege to intercede for people who experience same-sex attraction (whether or not they're trying to practise chastity).
In this Year of Faith, please sign up today. There's a sign-up sheet where you can commit to an hour praying in the presence of Our Eucharistic Lord.