Two Thomases, a Guy Named Clive and a Hobbit Called Frodo

I recently received an email from a young man in his twenties who told me that he hates that he’s attracted to men.  I really can understand where he’s coming from, since I felt that for most of my life.  The great question for so many men and women who live with same-sex attraction is the great “why me, why this?”  I have had my fair share of being angry with God, and crying at night, wondering why God would allow this in my life, and why he wouldn’t take it away after praying so much for it to be gone.  When you live with same-sex attraction, and you realize that the God you follow tells you that you can’t act on those desires, it’s easy to start to view God as a despotic tyrant who’s no better than Zeus, playing with the fate of mankind like a child might torment an ant with a magnifying glass on a sunny day. That’s how I came to view God, and so about ten or so years ago, I turned my back on him and flipped off the Basilica in my home town every time I drove by it as an act of defiance.  If Jesus had been around at the turn of the new millennium, I would have been at the front of the throng yelling, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

With the passage of time, however, I’ve come to view that three-domed Basilica in town as the most beautiful feature of the skyline of my city, and I no longer view my life with same-sex attraction as the result of a despotic deity who views people as playthings, but rather as allowed in my life by a loving God, for my good and for my sanctification.  I’ve come to view his “no” as the “yes” I would choose if I could see myself clearly.  As C. S. Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain, “Those divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us to where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted.”

The question of “why” still remains, however.  In trying to make sense of “why,” these words from Thomas Merton have helped me immensely:

Suffering, therefore, must make sense to us not as a vague universal necessity, but as something demanded by our own personal destiny.  When I see my trials not as the collision of my life with a blind machine called fate, but as the sacramental gift of Christ’s love, given to me by God the Father along with my identity and my very name, then I can consecrate them and myself with them to God.  For then I realize that my suffering is not my own.  It is the Passion of Christ, stretching out its tendrils into my life in order to bear rich clusters of grapes, making my soul dizzy with the wine of Christ’s love, and pouring that wine as strong as fire upon the whole world.

This was a jaw-dropper of a quote when I first read it, and I had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that the suffering I experienced living with same-sex attraction was a part of Christ’s suffering, a suffering that could be united with His, and that He allowed in my life as a “sacramental gift of Christ’s love.”  But even if that’s taken on faith, it makes one wonder why God has to love me that much, and in that way.

C. S. Lewis calls this sort of love of God  “the intolerable compliment,” allowed by God, and used by God, because we’re like works of art, as this famous passage from The Problem of Pain describes so well:

St. Peter speaks of the whole Church as a building on which God is at work, and of the individual members as stones.  The limitation of such an analogy is, of course, that in the symbol the patient is not sentient, and that certain questions of justice and mercy which arise when the ‘stones’ are really ‘living’ therefore remain unrepresented.

But it is an important analogy so far as it goes.  We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character.  Here again we come up against what I have called the ‘intolerable compliment.’  Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be.  But over the great picture of his life–the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child–he will take endless trouble–and would, doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient.  One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and recommenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumbnail sketch whose making was over in a minute.  In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.

In all of those past moments of wishing away my same-sex attraction, I slowly began to realize that I would be wishing not for more love, but for less. Now, I no longer hate my same-sex attraction and instead I’ve actually come to embrace it.  Not because it is good, or because I desire to celebrate my “gayness.”  No, I embrace it because I realize that it’s the most important and valuable tool God has used in creating the Divine work of art that (hopefully!) is my life.  I think I’d be an intolerable person if it weren’t for the chiseling and softening effect that same-sex attraction has had in my life.  I view same-sex attraction in the words of William Wordsworth from his poem, Nature and the Poet, where he says,  “A deep distress hath humanized my soul.”  The distress I’ve faced in living with same-sex attraction over the past three decades of my life has “humanized my soul” in ways that I’m convinced nothing else could. It’s a blessed and precious instrument in the hands of God, shaping me into the man God wants me to be.  In that light, I view it as something that Lewis might call a “severe mercy,” and thankfully, in coming to that conclusion, it no longer is distressing to me as it once was.

But let me be clear: I don’t embrace it, for its own sake, as if my same-sex attraction is objectively a good because God brings good from it.  No, it’s definitely a disturbance in my person, something that’s amiss within me, a weakness and a disability. In the hand of God, it becomes like a surgeon’s knife, where the pain that comes from it isn’t good, in and of itself.  It’s the purpose behind its use, when used deftly by the Great Physician that brings good from it, and through it. The good is the result, not the instrument of transformation.  Seen through that lens, I have come to embrace it, and wouldn’t rewrite it out of my life.  In that sense,  I view it in a similar way as Joseph the Patriarch viewed being sold into slavery by his brothers, when he told them in Egypt,

“Do not fear. Can I take the place of God? Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve this present end, the survival of many people.”

Joseph’s response to being sold into slavery reveals two important responses I need to have towards living with same-sex attraction.  The first is the humility to realize that I am not God.  I never would have planned to live with same-sex attraction, but again, in the words of C. S. Lewis, to write this out of my life,  I would be wishing for not more, but less love.  As God (sort of) said to Isaiah, “shall the clay say to the potter, you don’t know what the heck you’re doing up there?  Make me, and shape me–just do it in the way I think you should shape and make me.  Oh, and by the way–that tool you keep using to shape me into who you want me to be?  Put that thing away, because frankly, I’m not a fan.  It hurts, so lets ditch it and find something else a bit more pleasant, thank you very much.”

This brings me to the wisdom of the second of our two Thomases, this one a saint, St. Thomas More.  He wrote these words while locked up in the Tower of London, awaiting death at the hand of King Henry VIII:

If we determine with ourselves that we will take no comfort in anything but the taking of our tribulation from us, then either we prescribe to God that he shall do us no better turn, (even though he would), than we will ourselves appoint him; or else we declare that we ourselves can tell better than he what is better for us.  And therefore, I say, let us in tribulation desire his help and comfort, and let us remit the manner of that comfort unto his own high pleasure.  When we do this, let us not doubt but that, as his high wisdom better sees what is best for us than we can see it ourselves, so shall his sovereign high goodness give us that thing that shall indeed be best.

This is not to say that St. Thomas More didn’t pray that he be released from prison, or that we shouldn’t pray for release from that which disturbs us. He speaks of St. Paul, praying three times that his “thorn in the flesh” would be taken from him.  Even Christ prayed that the cup of his death should pass.  It is good to cry out to God for relief, just as Christ did in the garden, but what St. Thomas, Joseph the Patriarch, (and most importantly Jesus) show us in common is the humility, and deference, appropriate to Our Heavenly Father. We must abandon our future, completely, to Divine Providence. This is the most difficult virtue to acquire, but the one that ultimately brings peace to our lives: willing acceptance of the permissive will of God.

Secondly from Joseph comes a bit of wisdom that is the real biggie that makes sense of same-sex attraction in my life.  It comes back to Thomas Merton’s quote, and the whole story of the Cross:  our suffering, the “distresses that humanize our soul,” can become united with the Passion of Christ, “for the survival of many people.”  Our suffering, especially when we hate same-sex attraction so much, is the greatest means by which we enter into the Passion of Christ, and as St. Paul says in Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.”  This is not without purpose: we can suffer on behalf of others and for their salvation. When life is hitting the proverbial fan, and I’d like to just wake up tomorrow and shut off the pain of living, the question God continually wants me to ask is for whom am I willing to endure this particular moment of sadness, loneliness or pain. Suffering then becomes focused outwardly, through the prism of love of others, and in this way, it becomes much more tolerable. In a certain sense, this response is one that no longer feels like we’re being bandied about by the winds of circumstance. Rather, we can choose it, in that moment, out of love for others, and in that way I think we can connect more with Christ’s love for others too.  It’s nothing new.  The old adage, “offer it up,” is the best option we can choose, if we desire peace in the midst of the storms of life.

And now for some wisdom from a hobbit and a wizard. A passage from The Lord of the Rings has given me hope that though I never would have chosen to live with same-sex attraction, there is a purpose to it, that transcends by far the discomfort, pain and distress that it has caused in my life.  I have to think of the end of the story, not the beginning, and not the chapter I’m in now.  Thanks be to God, the agonizing parts of the story in the opening chapters I’ve lived with already, and now in the middle, the confusing parts of my past life, where things made no sense in my concept of what a loving God should be like, are becoming the best parts of the story, because I see in them the foreshadow of a damn good ending. I realize now that the Author of my story is writing a far better book than I ever imagined for myself, and it’s a darn good yarn because of same-sex attraction, and loneliness, and the challenge of being chaste.  These words of Frodo and Gandalf I think have meant a lot to people over the years, and they have meant the world to me in trying to make sense of same-sex attraction.

‘I wish it had not happened in my time,’ said Frodo.

‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. And already, Frodo, our time is beginning to look black. The Enemy is fast becoming very strong. His plans are far from ripe, I think, but they are ripening. We shall be hard put to it. We should be very hard put to it, even if it were not for this dreadful chance.’

‘I am not made for perilous quests! Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?’

‘Such questions cannot be answered,’ said Gandalf. ‘You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.’

‘But I have so little of any of these things!’

—-

‘And now,’ said the wizard, turning back to Frodo, ‘the decision lies with you. But I will always help you.’ He laid his hand on Frodo’s shoulder. ‘I will help you bear this burden, as long as it is yours to bear.”

That’s it, in a nutshell:  the decision lies with me.  How will I respond to this quest I would never have chosen?  Will I chuck all of my beliefs and convictions out the window (as I once did), and settle for companionship with a man?  Nope, that’s not for me since I view that as staying around in Bag End, trimming the hair on my feet and smoking pipe weed all the time, which isn’t a story worth reading at all.  It’s so, well…pedestrian and common and easy. Heck no, I’m diving in for the adventure of a lifetime, even if it is filled with lots of crappy moments, and moments of painful depression and loneliness and times when I just wish it was all over, and wish the Eagles could just swoop me up and drop me into the mouth of Mt. Doom.  I’ll take the challenging path, through Mirkwood, through the Dead Marshes, past Shelob’s Lair and the gates of Mordor, thank you very much, because that’s where the great story lies, that’s where the adventure is.  Besides, I don’t journey on this trip alone. I’m in a Fellowship, and along the way I get to meet and know and love and learn from people I view as wise as Galadriel, and Elrond.  I’ve met bishops and priests, monks and nuns–some of them are like the Elves, and some more like the Dwarves, and some a bit quirky like the Ents, and my life is more rich for it. I’ve yet to meet a Tom Bombadil, but hopefully one day I can meet and get to know Cardinal Dolan. All in all, I think now how boring it would be to not try to live chastely, even if I feel that I’m not naturally cut out for it.

In, Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis has a line that has totally opened my eyes to what I must always remember when I think about living a life with same-sex attraction, especially when the nature of the quest for chastity seems overwhelming for me, and I just want it over, or to go back to Bag End and quit.  The most important aspect of our journey through life is that I have to remember the end of the story, in the way that Abraham did when he showed faith in God.  As Francis puts it,

As a response to a word which preceded it, Abraham’s faith would always be an act of remembrance.  Yet this remembrance is not fixed on past events but, as the memory of a promise, it becomes capable of opening up the future, shedding light on the path to be taken. We see how faith, as remembrance of the future, memoria futuri, is thus closely bound up with hope.

I must remember the future.  What a strange and poetic concept.  I need to remember that in the difficult-to-grasp-craziness of God’s omniscience and omnipresence, the story’s already done, even though I’m in the middle of it now, and it’s still being written.  God, over all and above all, is there, now, since Time holds no bonds on Him, because He is its author. He can’t wait to show me how it ends, and so to with everyone else who walks the earth in this valley of tears.  In times of despair, I consciously choose to remember the end, which is exactly what all the saints showed us before:  All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Besides, we’ve got more than a white wizard–more than a victor over a mere Balrog–to help bear this burden for as long as it is ours to bear.  We’ve got the King of Kings, the one who conquered Death, once and for all, to walk not just with us, but in us.

“Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” 

35 thoughts on “Two Thomases, a Guy Named Clive and a Hobbit Called Frodo

  1. This has to be one of the most beautiful essays I have ever read about suffering. My eyes are full of tears.

    I follow your blog because my sister has just recently “come out” and has chosen to divorce her husband of 15 years (with his consent). She has two school-aged children. She is already actively involved in a lesbian relationship. Her decision has brought on great suffering in my mother’s heart as well as in mine.

    But aside from that, for me as a mother and wife, this year as been particularly hard because my husband, children, and I underwent many challenges and trials (death of my mother-in-law, surgeries, illness, depression, challenges in school). I was already very burdened by the weight of these trials and trying to hold the family afloat when my sister made her announcement. All of the sudden, the world became dark and hopeless. Just like Gandalf, I was saying “our time is beginning to look black.” I turned my focus on me and the hard things of my life, the pain, the sadness.

    I am grateful for the summer months and dear supportive, faith-filled friends but mainly I am grateful for Our Lady. I have taken up reciting the Rosary (for the 1st time) and have learned (at least in little bits) how to give my burdens over to her care so she can lay them at the foot of the Cross.

    God is amazing in His infinite love for us. Thank you for so eloquently expressing how God in his mercy uses human suffering, our suffering, yours and mine, to carry out His inconceivably loving plan for us, for the church, and for the world.

    You are a light. I am grateful.

    Blessings,
    Mar

    • Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m sorry for the suffering you yourself have endured–it sounds like a hellishly difficult summer. All this talk about suffering having a good outcome doesn’t take away the reality of the suffering, and I’m reminded too of the fact that Jesus himself wept at the tomb of Lazarus.

      It’s got to be so very hard for your mother and you to see your sister go down that path. I have told parents and family members that the greatest way they can love their loved one is by viewing the suffering they endure as a result of the choices of a loved one, as the means that can actually bring their loved one back into the fold. Uniting the suffering we receive BECAUSE of someone we love, with the suffering of Christ, I think is the greatest means of redemption.

      I hope that makes sense!

      I’ll say some prayers for you tonight.

    • Dear Mar,
      Pick up the book 33 Days to Morning Glory by Michael E. Gaitley, MIC……this is book teaching us to be consecrated to our blessed mother Mary. It is a huge healing for the suffering that “this” life can bring. I have a son who also was married, divorced and has been living with SSA and the lifestyle. A once very close relationship has become very constrained with little time spent together. I pray the Prodical will return home. It is heartbreaking. Remain faithful to the truth with your sister, and place her at the foot of the cross. She too is a prodical and hopefully one day will return to the Father. The culture is so accepting that it has made it much easier for some to choose this path. I truly believe however, that deep down they know the truth. I believe shame and lack of faith keeps them where they are…..pray,pray, and pray some more!!! God bless, Patti

      P.S.
      Learn about Courage (those suffering with SSA) and EnCourage for family and friends of those with SSA.

  2. Thanks you for sharing such wise words with us with regards making sense of the sufferings brought about by our SSA, and so clearly and beautifully expressed. There is a profound Truth in this gem of a post that has yet to sink in fully for me, but I know when it does it will unleash an inner strength and power to share God’s message of hope, of mercy, and of Love that I know is still latent, with passion and conviction that such TRUTH deserves to be proclaimed by those he has chosen. Thank you for the reminder that I have been chosen, like Frodo, and Joseph, to fulfill a greater end. God bless you. Please allow me to share the link to your blog post to my own blog post entitled, Jesus is THE End, because this ties in beautifully to the message I want to share. http://victoryinthecrossofchrist.blogspot.com/2013/07/jesus-is-end.html

    • I’m pretty sure it’s from “No Man is an Island.” Good Stuff.
      More from Merton:
      “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
      and
      “We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.”

  3. Thank you so much for these wise words! I have tears in my eyes right now because of this beautiful reminder of the divine purpose behind my SSA. May Father’s richest blessings in Christ be yours today, brother!

  4. Oh my my my… I have never read your blog before, I am a heterosexual protestant, and I am your brother.

    You mentioned that your suffering can be for the sake and salvation of others. I can think of a dozen folks to send this to that will be helped immeasurably by your words that have been forged in the furnace of your suffering.

    I am sure you know very few will really grasp the depth of what you are speaking of here. Of course misunderstanding is another of those tools which our Father wields that can do us so much good. But I want you to know, I understand, and you are beloved.

    Nothing else to say other than, God is spinning a “darn good yarn” and I can’t wait to sit in eternity and go over every thread with you.

    Blessing my Brother

  5. Whenever someone can weave Scripture, fantasy, history, and theology into a coherent tapestry, I must tip my hat to them. And my appreciation for this piece goes so much beyond that. Perhaps it is the fact that I immediately thought of other passages in Scriptures that say the same thing, passages I have been trying to ignore, or maybe it is just that you just quoted Lord of the Rings in a theological essay about SSA (Seriously, so great!), but something about this essay just resonated with my spirit, that powerful feeling that seems to say “This is true, and it can change everything.” It’s scary, knowing that surrendering the future into God’s hands is your only real chance at happiness but at the same time realizing that you are in for even more pain and suffering and only then saying “Come what may, not my will but yours be done.” Yet, I am quite sure that if I really, truly believed the things you wrote in this essay, the surrender would be simple. What would happen than merely hating my SSA and the pain and suffering it causes, I took Saints Peter, James, and Paul at their words that it is possible to rejoice because of your suffering?

    I must admit I have no idea what that looks like. I know what it doesn’t look like. Let’s just say I had to laugh at your paraphrase of Isaiah 29:16. It may (or may not, whose to say?) have looked very similar to a prayer I prayed to God this very weekend, not so much consciously but through my actions and attitudes. But, especially when I am coming out of one of my more bitter hours, I wanted to thank-you for this post; it was exactly what I needed to hear, both the warning where that anger, hatred, and bitterness can lead and the encouragement that there is in fact another way.

    For the reproach, for the encouragement, for the example, for Gandalf, but above all for your loving service to the lonely, hurt, afraid, and just plain stubborn may God richly bless you. You make more of a difference than a mere comment can ever express. Thank-you,

    ~Ryan Adderton

    • Thank you Ryan–it’s posts like yours that make all the crappy stuff I’ve gone through in life worth it. And that’s “what living with a remembrance of the future” can be for you. It’s important to cling with hope that this will be the case with you too, as you live out the bad days, the sad moments. I’m not done with them either, but I’m in a fortunate place where I realize that my journey can serve some greater purpose. It’s that great line from Joel, chapter 2, that God will restore the years the locust have eaten:

      23 So rejoice, O sons of Zion,
      And be glad in the Lord your God;
      For He has given you the early rain for your vindication.
      And He has poured down for you the rain,
      The ]early and latter rain [o]as before.
      24 The threshing floors will be full of grain,
      And the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil.
      25 “Then I will make up to you for the years
      That the swarming locust has eaten,
      The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust,
      My great army which I sent among you.
      26 “You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied
      And praise the name of the Lord your God,
      Who has dealt wondrously with you;
      Then My people will never be put to shame.
      27 “Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel,
      And that I am the Lord your God,
      And there is no other;
      And My people will never be put to shame.

  6. Dan Mattson, the Holy Spirit rests very, very heavily on you! All of this is incredibly beautiful and good and true! I can think of dozens of people, people with SSA, clergy, and other parents who will benefit from it. And bringing LOTR into it…that just undid me! Thank you for your “yes”! Might our Good God keep you under His vigilant care, like Gandalf, but better, because He’s Real!

  7. One more thing…. The Fellowship = Courage!!! So good, so true! (Love the fact you made us click the link to see what you meant!)

  8. Wait a minute, Dan – the Eagles wouldn’t be dropping YOU into Mount Doom, would they? Wouldn’t it just be you dropping the same-sex attraction into the fire? You would continue on, as did Frodo, but still just a silly little hobbit, without the opportunity to have been transformed by the ordeal.

    But as it stands now, I picture you, like the Frodo who had to carry the ring up the mountain, battle-worn, to be sure, but at the end of the story, finally relieved of all burdens, sailing off into the glorious West!

    (I just can’t get this post out of my mind! )

  9. Pingback: Sept. 9, 2013 - My Catholic Conscience

  10. One more thing. Your post describes precisely what so moved Dawn Eden when she attended the Courage Conference this year: “Healing with Courage”. She describes the conference as “numinous” and then goes on to say that, “seeing how the men and women of Courage recognize their dependence upon God’s grace helped [her] to see how God is every bit as present in the wounds he doesn’t instantly heal as He is in those he heals only over time.” Within that quote, she links readers to your first First Things essay.

  11. The Book that (in a simple, loving way) taught me more about suffering and accepting it (and at times embracing and finding joy in the suffering) is “He and I” by Gabrielle Bossis a French actress that also became a Catholic Mystic. Suffering in itself can actually be a deep healing for the Soul.

    • Thank you for that recommendation. I’ve got a list of books that I want and need to order, and I’m always interested in finding more books on the subject of beauty from suffering.

      God bless you!

      • Jesus to Gabrielle, His words of encouragement to her and all that struggle living a virtuous life……

        (He and I……Gabrielle Bossis’ Diary, January 3, 1948)

        January 3, 1948
        “Never mind if you haven’t kept your word, or if you have fallen lower than yesterday. If you despise yourself and tell Me so in sorrow, you need’nt be afraid to believe that you’re in My Heart. this Heart, so great and good, so little like the hearts of men.
        I Am compassion, not malice. I carried you as a mother when I carried My cross. Then you can imagine what tenderness I feel when I hear you telling me of your shortcomings, what eagerness to forgive you…
        Oh, the tenderness of a Savior—– who could ever fathom it? Who could even hear of it without being scandalized? So from time to time, be glad to be counted as nothing; to look at all that you lack, at the good that you failed to do; to see yourself in the faults you didn’t want to commit but committed after all. You may be sure you don’t see them all. I alone know the number and the weight of them, and yet, I love you. I Am Love.
        Don’t offend Me by being afraid and running away. That’s what hurts Love. Enter into My immensity like a little child who joyously seeks to drink and sleep on it’s Mother’s breast. Rest. Take strength for yourself. Take joy. Everything is in Me. For you.
        Renew your trust and come back to your humble path ever nearer to Me. You know that your spiritual house is not firmly built and that it’s only foundations are in Me. when it topples down, I take the debris and build a new temple more beautiful than the last because you have humbled yourself. Think of this; it will help yo to take pleasure in humiliations. Wasn’t I myself intimately acquainted with humiliation during My entire life on earth? I —- God. What Company, My child!
        You see, what pains Love is indifference, apathy, stagnation. When it comes to Me many people act as though I was still dead. But my child, I am alive and I am near them, in them, waiting for them to talk to me, to smile at me. Waiting for their heart to beat a little for me.
        I require so little, Am so readily pleased. I only ask to be invited and I look after the Banquet.”

  12. This is a beautiful reflection on so many different things. I wish I had the wisdom and insight to see this clearly and at nearly 50, I feel I should. But I do not. I cannot see any good at all that SSA has brought to my life. The relentless bullying and abuse, the recurrent nightmares as a child of my father trying to kill me – all this has served to keep me from what I consider my true potential. To say I am ultra-sensitive would be an understatement. Yet I can’t see where any of that sensitivity is being employed for anyone’s good let alone mine. And believe me, I have “wept and fasted, wept and prayed.” Chiseled and softened? More like chiseled and hardened. In some ways, I feel like a poseur when it comes to life, work, relationships. But when I reflect on the recent action of a certain “gay” Catholic blogger to “come out,” in order to live authentically, I get really thrown. Is that the action I need to take to keep me from feeling this way? But I feel there is something deeply flawed in that approach, but I can’t put my finger on just what it is.

    I’m rambling. I think I need to read this particular post over and over again. But I commend you and the work you are doing here. I am grateful for it and it deserves wide recognition. God bless you.

    • Thanks for your comment, and for your honesty. I can relate–I suppose I mean “chiseled and softened” in the sense that a marble statue goes from rough to smooth, where the surface, after being subjected to countless blows, scrapes and sandings feels “soft and smooth.”

      At the same time, I feel that I’ve been broken down too, humbled, and put down on my knees in submission to God, in a sort of cosmic “Uncle,” sort of Jacob wrestling with God. I’ll always have a limp, but I finally gave in, and said, “OK, have your way with me, Lord.” Not that that’s over, by any stretch of the imagination–it’s just that the big resistance (I think, hope and pray!) has been overcome.

      I don’t think the move of that particular “gay” blogger to “come out” was wise, and I think it’s deeply flawed because it’s NOT authentic to our true nature. The USCCB has wisely advocated against “coming out,” for good and prudential reasons.

      I’m so sorry for your suffering, and for the awful situation with your Father, and the bullying you’ve received in your life. That’s so painful. The question of suffering is the great question of all, isn’t it?

      I hope to write some more about that soon, because it’s been the biggest problem I’ve had with God, and why for a long time, I realized I would have crucified him, if I could have.

      Can I recommend Dawn Eden’s book, on the healing of sexual abuse, with the help of the saints? It’s very good, and she knows sexual abuse herself.

      Also, she gave an excellent talk at the recent Courage Conference, which you can find here:

      http://couragerc.net/2013_Conference_Videos.html

      I’d also recommend Dr. Bill Consiglio’s talk from the same conference. His talk is “All Things For Good,” and he speaks from the wisdom of being around 70 years ago and having lived with attractions for men the whole time. It’s very, very good.

      God bless you, and you will be in my prayers! Please write me, anytime, if you’d like.

      letterstochristopherblog@gmail.com

  13. Just found a great book that reminded me of this essay of yours: Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s Finding True Happiness. This book is not available from regular book sources, but rather is a new offering, recently assembled by Trent Beattie and offered for FREE (just pay shipping and handling) at Matthew Kelly’s DynamicCatholic.com.

    Here are some excerpts from an article about the book:

    “We find happiness where we least expect it—in self-denial.”

    “Self-seeking ends in destruction of self, while self-denial (and seeking of God) culminates in happiness.”

    “Good can come even from the worst situations, by a mere act of the will.”

    “Happiness, then, is found by making decisions (acts of the will) to contradict our own errant impulses.”

    And from the blerb about the book on the Dynamic Catholic site, you can see that he also addresses a matter or particular concern to those with SSA, that of loneliness: “In addition to addressing the topic of joy vs. pleasure in Finding True Happiness, Fulton Sheen also helps us gain the right perspective on things such as loneliness and the secret of sanctity. This brings us to our ultimate purpose, which is found in God alone. Only by losing oneself in God, will we find our true selves– and true happiness along with it.”

  14. Pingback: Everyone yelling at each other | Res Studiorum et Ludorum

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