Tuesday, January 08, 2013

all of me

Same-Sex Attraction:  A Parents' Guide
by Fr. John F. Harvey, OSFS, 2003

"so pardon me for asking, pardon me for thinking
pardon me for asking, pardon me for thinking
all of me is asking, all of me is thinking
all of me is asking, all of me is thinking" (Tanlines - All of Me, 2012)

my advice to parents, family and friends.  what do you do when your child comes out of the closet?  depending on their age will determine what you do.  however, as the revised document, though not perfect, suggests correctly, they are always our children.  and we always love them!!!  we face a difficult decision when our loved ones lives with or struggles with same-sex attraction (SSA).  "i love you, but i cannot approve your behaviour.  please do not ask me to do so."  this is a thought we all have - one that i have gone through in my own family as well.  however, the come back usually goes something like, "if you love me, you will accept our loving relationship, which for us is like your marriage.  but if you do not accept us in our union, then you do not love me."  oftentimes, the grown child will refuse to communicate with his parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, etc.  that is the situation i found myself in, in 2003, that has led me to the EnCourage Ministry - a support group for those families of loved ones living or struggling with same-sex attraction.  someone in my family came out of the closet.  now what?  how do i reconcile my love of God, and my love of Holy Mother Church?  this is not a new problem, however, we continue to struggle to find the words and language to show our love both of God, and neighbour.

why is it easier for someone today to come out as homosexual than as a virgin?  our culture puts too much emphasis on sexual orientation.  indeed, our true orientation is God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  nonetheless, we do need to find loving and respectful words for a dialogue, because those struggling continue to be children of God, sons and daughters of the Father, and help us see the face of Christ.

our Holy Father's recent address to the Curia before Christmas mentioned briefly same-sex attractions and same-sex marriage, though not directly.  being part of the Archdiocese of the Internet, there are many people who agree, don't agree, and couldn't care less on this issue.  i recently had a good dialogue online with a few of these people (@josephamodeo, @frjohncyr, @srhelenaburns, @me) both for + against same-sex marriage.  however, it was when i read @josephamodeo -- a Catholic, writer, + more --'s article on his difficulty with the Pope's message that got things going.  indeed, we agreed that there needs to be a dialogue - and both sides need to be ready to listen.  both/and + either/or sides have not always listened in the past.  but this is now 2013, the Year of Faith.

i mentioned SSA once before.  i haven't really written about this, however, this post has been percolating for ten years.  "preaching the truth is hard.  hearing the truth is harder, [sometimes]" à la Cardinal Ouellet.  indeed, standing up for the holy family of father, mother and children is a living martyrdom.  but our journey as Christians is one of holiness.  the journey is hard sometimes, ... thank goodness we do not walk alone.

for a long time now, i have been helping people who are struggling with SSA, and helping family members of those living with SSA.  especially since my own conversion in 2003, every parish i have been in since then has had people seeking answers to the truth - those struggling with SSA, and the families of those living with SSA.  the Church does not use the word gay, since that implies identity.  (we can talk about how labels erode our true identity as children of God, sons and daughters of the Father, at another time)  that might be part of their reality, but it is not everything!  i have often reflected on this notion of coming out.  what our brothers and sisters struggling with SSA force us to realize is that, "have we ever come out as Christians"?  since, there are many parallels in both journeys - again, the words and language are quite similar.

for example, a few months ago, on my day off, i was downtown coming home ready to watch a late episode of Seinfeld.  i flipped through stations and i came across this:
"Le mercredi 24 octobre:  En mars 2011, à l’âge de 33 ans, Jean-François déclare à ses proches qu’il est gai. Se sentant libéré, il peut désormais être lui-même et vivre pleinement. Le «coming-out» n’est pas une étape facile à franchir pour les femmes et les hommes homosexuels. Elle nécessite beaucoup de courage et de détermination, surtout quand il s’agit de le dire à ses proches. Jean-François confie à Ginette les hauts et les bas de la démarche qui l’a amené à ce moment marquant et libérateur de sa vie."
i consider J.F. a friend, though we have talked in a while.  he was on Rogers local TV, being interview by, Ginette Gratton Reçoit.  the show discussed how to be yourself, the key to happiness, liberation, who am I?  his coming out as gay on the specific date of March 18, 2001, his being afraid of telling family, telling friends first to gain confidence, then struggling to fit in.  in fact, almost all questions we ask ourselves.

J.F. is a good guy.  in most of my experiences, those living with SSA (vs. struggling with SSA) have always attacked Holy Mother Church.  there was no listening, as @josephamodeo mentioned earlier.  however, i continued watching because of his humility.  for the first time i was hearing a different type of voice - one that struggled with (maybe happily lives with, --i am not sure--) SSA, but one that was also open to being Catholic, to living his faith, in searching what God had in mind for him.  indeed, he felt at home in the Church.

this post has gone on long enough.  i do have more to say, but i have come to realize one thing not only with our brothers and sisters struggling with (or living with) SSA, but with anyone:  you can't change them, all you can do is change yourself.  we pray for this and for that, we pray to change the world.  when we should pray to change our hearts, first.  the time will come for dialogue, but in this Year of Faith, this is the invitation for us to come out of the closet as Christians!  to come to know God in Our Lord Jesus Christ better.  to love Him more.  to follow Him more closely as disciples.

to paraphrase some of the words from J.F.'s show through the eyes of Faith:
in 2003, at 27 years old, i - me, Fr. Jonathan Blake, - came out of the closet as a Christian, as a Catholic, as a man overwhelmed with joy in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  indeed, i felt alive for the first time, and i started seeking the man Christ meant for me to be!  of course, coming out as Christian is difficult for men and women today.  one needs courage, boldness, + determination, especially when it comes time to share the good news with family and friends.  i shared this good news with the youth group at the Cathedral, then to my family.  there were ups and downs, but today i continue to find my peace in God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.
J.F.'s friends accepted and welcomed him.  indeed, they even suspected something.  my brothers and sisters in the Faith accepted and welcomed me.  in fact, they too suspected that i was Christian, that i was Catholic.  but we were both tired of being afraid.  today, the same message applies for J.F. + for me, and for all:  it gets better.

however, now that you have come out of the closet as a Christian, as Catholic, you need the Church, you need brothers and sisters to support you.  we can't walk alone.  indeed, no man is an island.  seek out people of Faith to encourage you in your walk with Our Lord!  go to Church.  get involved with your parish.  union de prière.


ps.  Tanlines' All of Me was #10 on SiriusXMU's Top 41 Countdown of 2012.

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