Much is written in the news and emphasized in many areas of the media about gay rights, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and the Catholic Church’s opposition to all of the above. Some have gone so far as to send their petitions to the White House to have the Catholic Church declared a hate group. Thanks to the media portrayal of Catholic teaching it would be easy to see the church as a force that wishes to suppress those who only want to live a life natural to their sexual orientation and to be in a loving relationship, even if it involves the same sex. What the general public doesn’t see is the way in which Catholic teaching focuses its doctrines about love on the love of God and humanity. Courage Apostolate is a nation-wide and world-wide support group whose objective is to accept those with same-sex attraction and to support them in their personal desire to put God first.
In an article featured in the Arlington Catholic Herald, Fr. Paul Scalia, chaplain of the Courage Apostolate in the Diocese of Arlington writes about the positive experiences and grace that maintain this support group for people with same-sex attraction: “Many members thought for years that there could be no relief, no way out. Once they believed they must either live in secret shame or come out of the closet – neither of which brings peace. Now they find the freeing truth that chastity is possible. This truth brings hope: that they are able to live chastity even with the same-sex attractions.”
Fr. Scalia has worked with this group for several years helping people to find acceptance and peace. He recounts a testimony given by one member: “The comfort which I have derived from being not only accepted but truly understood is a gift beyond any imaginable. My prayer now is not to have this cup pass from me, but to love the way God intends, instead of the way that I wanted. I ask for the grace to unite my will with His, and to let my light shine forth in reflection of His love. I have hope again that I may indeed one day be fit for eternal glory in God."
Fr. Scalia shares the sentiment that love for God, and aligning our will with his Holy Will brings true happiness. He imparts a moment of enlightenment when a member of Courage proclaimed that when living the life that society encouraged, he felt as happy as he knew; what he did not know at the time was that he could aspire to greater happiness. Life’s experiences teach us that happiness is not a feeling, it’s a way of life. Choosing a way of life aimed at loving God, doing his will and sacrificing our own self-directed desires leads to the more permanent state of happiness.
Happiness focused on a sexual lifestyle is fleeting at best. Fr. Scalia writes, “I have gained a great admiration for the men and women in Courage. There would be nothing easier for them than to surrender to society's siren song and live the homosexual lifestyle. But they have the spiritual honesty to acknowledge that that would provide only a false and ephemeral peace. They have the spiritual courage to look at their sins, wounds and struggles. They also appreciate more than most the importance of the Church's doctrines and sacraments.” The peace that comes from living in spiritual honesty, from putting God at the center of our lives, and directing our love toward him brings a lasting happiness. The Courage Apostolate is not about changing one’s natural sexual orientation, it’s about growing in one’s love for God through a life of chastity. This is a worthwhile goal for humanity in general. For more information on the Courage Apostolate see http://couragerc.net/
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