Father Paul Check in the National Catholic Register

Here’s a great article from Father Paul Check on the subject of the Prodigal Son and our true identity as children of God.

He is spot on in his analysis:

In my opinion, homosexuality is not first a question of sex or of relationships. It is first about identity and, in particular, a misperception and confusion about who someone understands himself or herself to be.

He writes with the pastoral charity that is a feature of his personality and ministry and which characterizes his approach to those of us who live with same sex attraction. It’s well worth the read.

Here is another portion that I find compelling:

I am often asked a question I cannot answer easily: “Father, what do I say to my son, my daughter, my friend, etc., when he or she has told me, ‘I am gay.’”

It is not an easy question to answer because much depends on the relationship the speaker has with the person, to what degree the person understands himself or herself in the light of his or her sexual attraction and other considerations.

Yet there are some things we can do as we prepare to respond to the self-revelation described above. The first might be to return to the Parable of the Prodigal Son and to the strength of the love and grace of Our Father in heaven. I am not saying that every person with same-sex attractions (SSA) is a prodigal, willful son or daughter. Not at all. The homosexual inclination itself is not sinful, the Church teaches; only the act is.

While I am certainly not proposing a strict analogy between the question of homosexuality and the Parable of the Prodigal Son, I do find aspects of the parable helpful in this context.

When the boy initially goes to his father, something has caused him to be confused about who he really is. In that moment, he is not thinking of himself first as a “beloved son.” Another identity has superseded the truth. In time, the truth will return to him, but that clarity has come through suffering. Grace has been at work in “all things.” The role of the priest in a time of trial is to steady hearts, to help deepen peace and to encourage people to believe that, during the trial, God is still good and that his grace is still at work. In these moments, the Paschal Mystery — the salvific life, death and resurrection of Christ — becomes less notional, less of a theological principle and more of a lived reality of grace in the life of the soul. The Catechism has taken flesh.

He continues with what has been one of the primary focuses of my ministry in this area, especially towards high school students: their true nature and their true identity, particularly concerning their sexual identity:

In my experience of more than 10 years in the Courage apostolate, however, I believe it preserves the right order of things. Sound pastoral practice follows sound understanding of identity — or what is called “Christian anthropology”: knowing who we are, what we are and why we are. And those questions can only be fully answered by the Gospel and the Person of Jesus Christ.

 

“The Church’s teaching makes this hard, Father,” one parent said to me. I understood the point, but I gently suggested that it was not the Church’s teaching that made the situation difficult; it was, in part, his son’s confusion about himself that was causing the tension. Our Savior did not promise that the truth would be easy to accept or to live, but that it would bring us freedom and peace (John 8:32, 14:27).

Amen, Father Check! How true this is: I am not defined by my subjective inclinations or desires, but rather as St. Francis of Assisi said: ” I am as I am in the eyes of God. Nothing more, nothing less.”

I’m always intrigued by those who say when they come out that they are finally “being honest about who I am.”

I find them not being honest enough, and this is where the beauty and wisdom of the Church points the way to the Truth about the human person. I’m only being fully honest with my sexuality when I acknowledge the truth my body reveals to me: I am a man, made for women.

Living in accordance with that truth is what brings peace, not living in accordance with the truth I feel because of my subjective experiences of sexual or romantic desires.

May more and more people hear this truth that the Church wisely teaches us!

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3 thoughts on “Father Paul Check in the National Catholic Register

  1. I tapped into both links. So we’ll written and thought out article by Fr Check. Personally my father was a very strong figure in my life, I hid my SSA from him because I would never have wanted to hurt him or tarnish my image in his eyes. I knew he loved me, this became all the more evident after he passed away and I suddenly became aware of my own mortality.

    Then the deep awareness of all the sacrifices he had made for my sisters and brothers and mother.

    Unfortunately, my cousin did not have that strong bond with his father and died of AIDS in the 1990’s. But, my father, a deeply faithful Catholic and career military man took in my cousin and he helped nurture him until he passed away. This gave me a clear picture of the “prodigal nephew”. I admire my father for his inner strength. I was the last one to see my cousin alive and he died very peacefully after the visit of a very kind Priest.

    I would never want another family to go through that painful experience, but looking back…..I can now see the hand of God in every moment of my family’s experience.

    To accept the mercy of the Heavenly Father can be a challenge for some because their expectations fall on a chastising image of a father instead of a Banquet welcoming them back with open merciful love.

    The video was exceptionally well thought out and I admire the paths from the spiritual desolation to being enlightened and accepting Christ’s and enriching love and mercy. It was very well produced.

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