by Fr. Richard M. Samour- San Antonio Chaplain
“Look at the face of the other.… Discover that he has a soul, a history, and a life, that he is a person, and that God loves this person.” Benedict XVI
“I felt that there was nobody I could talk to about that at all. Certainly not my family. Certainly not my pastor. Certainly not my friends.” (A Courage member testimony), No, you are not alone and you are not rejected. The Catholic Church offers the opportunity to walk in the direction of Jesus living in sanctity and love as Jesus taught us.
Morton Kelsey, an Episcopalian priest, once said, “The church is not a museum of saints but a hospital for sinners.” " Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future." (Oscar Wilde)
The subject of SSA, transgender and Homosexuality has become viral and popular to the point that many people: news media, politicians, journalists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and some theologians have established their personal conclusions and points of view, some based on scientific studies and some more than personal opinions. Unfortunately, sometimes the first idea that comes to mind for many people is ... "He or she is a sinner." The truth is that we are all searching for redemption. Jesus established the Sacrament of Reconciliation with the intention that all men (women) be saved.
I often preach in my Church that to be a priest is not a guarantee to be saved, I too, need salvation. No one, myself included, is a VIP with God, I need mercy, we need mercy, this is why, I say, I go to confession every month.
Pope Francis has been very clear and explicit regarding mercy. This is why his book "The Name of God is Mercy”, in one of his reflections he said, "Jesus is the face of Mercy."
Because we live in a secular world, away from moral values and considering what Jesus Christ invites us to live, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24) it is difficult sometimes to deal with certain aspects-human sociological as SSA and Homosexuality.
Jesus' invitation is specific and radical, not general and vague, Jesus invites us to "die of love" for Him, he has called us to live a holy, chaste life, seeking holiness in everyday life. St Jose Maria Escriva said many times that we can sanctify ourselves through our daily work.
The Catholic Church, being faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ, preaches and invites everyone to share the good news: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. " (Luke 4:18-19); Jesus also was clear in establishing the great commission, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. "(Mk. 16: 15) Gospel means, good news, good news, "God loves you, God is not mad at you, God wants you to be saved. (Kerygma) "
It is important, urgent and necessary in our times to continue talking about the Good News of Jesus Christ, his love and compassion. Remember that the name of God is mercy and that the face of God is Jesus and relate it to the SSA and Homosexuality in particular.
The universal church established the ministry called Courage to walk and accompany all those who experience SSA, those looking for answers, but mostly who are looking for love and acceptance of others and not rejection.
"In the Lord’s eyes, no one is “gay” or “lesbian” or “homosexual”. Everyone is a child of God with particular talents, experiences and struggles. The aim of Courage is not to change a person’s sexual inclination or attraction, but to surrender completely their identity to Christ.” Rev. Paul Check—Executive Director Courage International.
In our meetings and fellowship we often speak about our relationships at home, at work, hobbies and what we do in a normal life, so fundamentally it is learning and hearing about being human. Basically Courage is a prayer and support group of faithful where they feel confidence and accepted.
Life is a collection of days, and every day we make decisions, and also it takes humility and courage to face some questions about our lives. It is very important, as Fr. Paul Check has said to ask ourselves these questions: How do I know if I am living my life well? What is the purpose of my life? What does it mean to be fulfilled and at peace?
A person is not defined just by his/her sexual behavior. The term "to come out of the closet" or to hear about the community of LGBT is very common. In my personal opinion, this is disrespectful and not well defined, nor accurate, this is discrimination. We are created in the image and likeness of God. Men and women with SSA and homosexuals have a lot of positive aspects, they are talented with abilities and contributions to the society...a contribution of love. When we think about the question of Jesus to his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mk. 8:29) It is a question of identity, "it is the reason why the Church avoids the labels of “gay,” “homosexual,” and “lesbian”. The Church, in her maternal wisdom and charity, and taking into account the origin of man, does not want to collapse someone’s identity merely by their sexual appetite. That seems unjust and uncharitable. It takes a bit more charity to say that a person has same-sex attraction than to use the labels that are very popular in the culture today." (Fr. Paul Check)
One day a friend of mine told me that the Church is offensive and discriminating when it considers SSA and homosexuality "intrinsically disordered. "
My answer was with the words of Fr. James Marshall the former Chaplain of Courage San Antonio, "When you talk about disorder, everybody deals with some disordered passion in their life,” Fr. Marshall said, “whether it’s anger or lust or greed, gossip, alcohol, or whatever, and it doesn’t make the persons themselves disordered. Every person is worthy of respect and dignity because they are made in the image and likeness of God.” The Church “refuses to consider the person as a ‘heterosexual’ or a ‘homosexual’ and insists that every person has a fundamental identity: we are creatures of God and, by grace, his child and heir to eternal life. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 1 October 1986, sec. 16.)
There is hope and a future for men and women experiencing SSA and homosexuality, if you want to know and learn more about Courage or maybe you or someone who you love want to join the group, please do not be afraid and contact me. All communication with Courage is strictly confidential.
Fr Richard Samour (210) 996-1371 or the email address firstname.lastname@example.org