A Few Speaking Engagements

I’m going on the road a few times this fall to do a couple of speaking engagements. The first is this week, at the Catholic High School Formation Summit in Atlanta.

The second will be in early November at the University of Mary, in Bismarck, South Dakota. You can see the link here, but the info is below. If you’re in the area, please come and say hello.

BISMARCK, ND — Nationally recognized speaker and writer Daniel Mattson visits the University of Mary to explain the Catholic Church’s teaching on same-sex attraction.

Mattson will address “The Church’s Teaching on Homosexuality as Good News: One Man’s Story” at Grounds for Belief, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, 8 p.m., in Butler Auditorium, Gary Tharaldson School of Business. Grounds for Belief is the Thursday night speaker series sponsored by University Ministry.

“Dan Mattson offers a positive message on a topic that many people find difficult,” says Ed Konieczka, assistant director of University Ministry at the University of Mary. “His presentation will enlighten us as a way to tear down the walls that divide people on this issue. Mattson clarifies Catholic teaching with great fidelity to the Church and at the same time encourages us to support each other as brothers and sisters.”

A convert to Catholicism and a professional musician, Daniel Mattson is a representative of Courage, an international apostolate of the Catholic Church dedicated to ministering to persons with same-sex attractions. His writings have appeared in periodicals such as “First Things” and “Crisis” magazine, and he is a regular guest on Catholic radio and EWTN television.

Mattson’s talk on campus is sponsored by the Saint John Paul II Center for University Ministry at University of Mary. All talks are free and open to the public. For more information, contact (701) 355-8102 or umin@umary.edu.

From Stones to Men

I was reading something tonight from St. John Chyrsostom that recalled to mind the story of the Prodigal Son we heard in the Gospel reading for today. The Parable of the Prodigal Son always moves me when its read at Mass, for within its tale I see my own journey: I left my Father’s house, believing I would find happiness my own way, but found myself in the swine pits of the world’s view of happiness. Just as the Gospel says of the Prodigal Son, when I realized I was suffering in the swine pit, I finally “came to my senses,” and then made the journey back home to my Father.

When one is caught in a life filled with sexual pleasures, it’s nigh on impossible to see clearly. As C. S. Lewis once said, indulgence brings fog. This is something the Church Fathers always said too: sexual pleasures cloud the mind from seeing things rightly. This clouded vision is so hard to penetrate that it seems that God’s usual tool in such things is to bring suffering as a severe mercy into a person’s life.

As I read this bit from St. John Chrysostom tonight, I thought of all of the parents who I’ve met, who ask me what they should do after their child came out as a gay man or woman and left the Church behind. Usually, parents want to somehow find some sort of plan or program that will bring their child back home, and quickly. What I always tell them is to focus on loving their child, and to wait on the Lord.

We’re told by St. Paul that “love is patient.” Usually we interpret that as being understanding of our friends and family, to forbear with their particular shortcomings. But I think part of the patience of love is waiting. We see this in Christ’s patient pursuit of us:

 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Icons and paintings of this scene always tend to picture a door with no handle. The door Jesus knocks upon, the door of the human heart, only opens up from within. He never forces himself upon us. He invites, he knocks, he woos, he loves.

And he waits.

stand-at-the-door-and-knock

The passage I read from St. John Chyrsostom today resonated with this patient call of love:

So then let us also deal with the heathen sort: with condescension, with love. For love is a great teacher, and able both to withdraw men from error, and to reform the character, and to lead them by the hand unto self-denial, and out of stones to make men.

Love: out of stones, it makes men. Love is what brought me home to my Heavenly Father. In the fullness of time, God helped me “come to my senses” through the chastisement he brought into my life. Just before Jesus says he knocks at the door, the Lover of our Soul says,

Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent.

It was suffering that caused me to heed his knock. It was love that shattered the hard rocks of my heart that prevented the seed of his love to grow. It was the loving chisel of his hand that made me a man from the stone of my heart, hardened as it was to the core by sexual immorality.

Parents, be patient. Be loving, be not afraid, and as the Psalmist says, wait for the Lord, and pray that by your love, their stony hearts will be broken, and so that they will come home.

Why I Don’t Call Myself A Gay Christian

A few years back I wrote an essay for First Things magazine with the title, “Why I Don’t Call Myself A Gay Christian.” I suppose that was the spark that started my public engagement on faith and sexuality, and it’s been a fun and exciting ride ever since.

I’ve been a bit silent on the blog here, since starting my book, as well as doing some writing for other outlets, but tonight I stumbled on another blog of a fellow who published a post with the same title, so I thought I’d link to it here.

 

Thoughts on Suffering

I have been a bit silent on this blog. But for good reason. I was writing a book. It’s sitting on the desk of a publisher right now, waiting for the next step in the editing process. I’m not sure when it will be published, but Lord willing, it will be sometime in 2017. So now that that’s out of the way, I have time to do some other writing.

In the meantime, this is bit of some old writing I stumbled upon, written on Christmas Eve, 2008.

Our lives are beautiful. We lurch forward, day to day, sometimes stumbling, sometimes standing, often bowed down by grief and trouble, occasionally filled with the lightness of boundless joy. Dreams are dashed, or sometimes granted beyond our wildest imaginings, and yet often we realize that our dreams, if fulfilled, would have fallen far short of what we imagined would bring us happiness. We are scarred by wounds that befall us, marked by the battles we wage in our lives each and every day. But in it all is the constant beauty of God’s loving hand, always guiding us, always lifting us up, always binding our wounds and drawing us to His loving arms. All that befalls us is transformed into our good, and when we reach that far shore, we will be welcomed with open arms, and our scars will be testament to God’s healing grace. We will wear them as a badge of honor, and say to anyone who will listen to us, “See this! This is where my Heavenly Father healed me! I was afflicted, and he tenderly cared for me. This wound here? I brought it upon myself, but Our Savior took it upon Himself, and bled for me in my stead. How glorious is His love for us, He who binds our wounds, wipes away our tears and brings joy out of sadness.”

Our lives are far richer for the sorrows that befall us, because of God’s inestimable grace and lovingkindness. Praise be to God, for His compassions fail not, and they are new every morning.

May we never be healed of the wound of living.

The Birth Pains of Mothers

I often hear from parents who are greatly troubled by the poor choices their sons or daughters have made.

I tell them that usually the birthing pains of a spiritual birth are far more painful–yet like the pains of physical labor of a mother, all of them are forgotten when their son or daughter is born again.

I tell them to think often of their tears and sorrow for their child like St. Monica’s tears.

And today, in reading something from St. Francis de Sales, he said much the same thing.

I hope this can be an encouragement to any parents who are still waiting for their child to come Home.

Thus St. Monica, with so much fervour and constancy, fought against the evil inclinations of her son, St. Augustine, that having followed him by sea and land, she made him more happily the child of her tears by the conversion of his soul, than he had been of her blood by the generation of his body.

 

A Journal Entry On Loneliness

As I write my book, I’ve been digging deep into things I wrote many years ago.

One of the threads of the book concerns the loneliness I felt so often in my life.

This Journal entry from September 22, 1998 will be making an appearance in my book:

What a time this is! I can so quickly go from the mountaintop to the valley—I feel as if I’m in the valley now. How do I feel? Utterly, utterly alone. I feel empty and simply desire to be filled. There are others around me, and when I am with them, it brings me temporary joy. It is so easy to slip into some sort of thinking that being with people will simply always bring temporary joy, and that upon me leaving them, I shall fall again into “despair,” instead of being refreshed by my time with them.

But what does this loneliness mean? Is it God calling me to say that He is my only comfort and rest? Or is that a depressed man’s hope for salvation?

FACT: God is my only salvation and only source of joy and the only answer for the aching emptiness of my soul. I don’t like that! And what does that mean? Could I have joy in a world in which my sole companion was Jesus Christ? If the world were merely He and I, would I be happy? In part, my heart has a thrill at the thought, but that is squelched quickly for I find that hard to conceive. And terrifying. Yet I am a needy, needy being! I ache inside tremendously, and I so long to fill that empty void with SOMETHING, so that I may feel joy. I know this: that SOMETHING can only be Jesus Christ—and what staggering reality is this? He will not tolerate anything to compete with Him. He desires to ravish my soul, completely!

That last line makes me think of John Donne’s Holy Sonnet XIV

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
The only path to peace on this earth, the only salve for the soul, is to be ravished by the Lover of our Soul. No earthly love will ever satisfy or appease us.
I needed the ache of loneliness to realize this.