Courage Apostolate San Antonio Chapter: Serving in the Peripheries: by Fr. Richard M. Samour Chaplain of Courage and EnCourage for Today's Catholic.
“The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also the existential peripheries: the mystery of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and indifference to religion, of intellectual currents, and of all misery.” Pope Francis.
Jesus commanded to his disciples “to go out and proclaim the good news to all creation” (Mt. 28:16-20). We, as baptized Christians, are the XII disciples of Jesus, with a specific mission: to offer hope and peace to the hopeless and the wounded as the US Bishops encourage us: "The mission of the Church is to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to all people and to minister to all people in His Name. In our time and culture, special challenges are faced by those Church members who carry out this mission among persons who experience same-sex attraction" USCCB.
Courage and Encourage International is an apostolate which offers support for men and women who experience Same-Sex Attraction (SSA), and who are committed to helping one another live chaste lives marked by prayer, fellowship, and mutual support by their loved ones (EnCourage) led by the chaplain.
Catholics are misinformed with secular point of views regarding homosexuality and SSA. Much of this information is not founded in biblical principles and is not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church. The clergy, ministry leaders, and parishioners have no formalized reference point by which to discern the truth and provide a faith-based perspective to their faith community or loved ones. Courage and Encourage International, having a thirty-year history, has had very little exposure to the faithful at large.
The faithful are not prepared to have conversations with people inside or outside our faith community on this topic because they lack the true Catholic teachings and/or our ministers have little to no experience sharing this topic. Some members who claim to be homosexual [gay/lesbians] have a misperception of the position of the Church. Catholics are left without a compass by which to navigate or cope with this topic to extend support to friends, family or loved ones who may be experiencing SSA or who are engaging in homosexual behaviors. The heart of Courage is the accompaniment of men and women who experience SSA. As Pope Francis challenges us: “to welcome them, to love them, to respect them but also to encourage them to live chaste lives finding holiness in the midst of the daily situations.”
How can we understand accompaniment? Prudence, Understanding, Patience, Teaching, and Docility to the Spirit” (EG, 171).
What does Courage Believe? Courage believes that each person is created in the image and likeness of God and rooted in dignity. (CCC#1700). 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. "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 We do not choose feelings. We choose actions.
In our meetings and fellowship, we often speak about our relationships at home, at work, hobbies and what we do in our normal day and life. So fundamentally, it is learning and hearing about being human. Life is a collection of days, and every day we make decisions. It takes humility and courage to face some questions about our lives: 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?
We live in a world and time in which relativism is having a big impact not only in the secular society but in Christian society. The main duty of the Church has been to teach the truth in love (Ep. 4:15), but also to accompany the faithful taking into consideration the new signs of the times. As Pope St. John XXIII prophesized in the opening of the II Vatican Council: “Today more than ever we are called to serve mankind as such, and not merely Catholics... Today’s world, the needs made plain in the last fifty years, and a deeper understanding of doctrine, have brought us to a new situation. It is not that the Gospel has changed: it is that we have begun to understand it better.”
These prophetic words of the Pope continue to resound nowadays. The world has changed since Pope John XXIII spoke in the opening of the II Vatican Council. There’s also been a change on the way of living, but not in moral teachings, in consequence the doctrine has to "accompany" the faithful. People need to hear and embrace this truth, the truth of the Gospel, that is what the Church's teach us: "Christian life requires a willingness to love. And I don’t mean “love,” the theory, or “love,” the warm feeling. I mean “love,” the act of will, the act of courage. Real love is always expensive. Real love is always based in the truth about ourselves and about others. And while the truth will make us free "nobody said it would make us comfortable. The human heart is created for the truth, and the truth is meant for the human heart." Most Rev. Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia
The Church through the Courage Apostolate offers hope, charity and a way of living to be safe of any sexual desires contrary to Chastity with unique feeling: same sex attraction, homosexuality, pornography, etc. You do not have to walk this journey alone. The Church who speaks the Truth in love will help you to grow in all things into "Him who is the head—Christ”—who “causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:14-16).
If you wish to learn more about the Courage and EnCourage (the support group for parents of loved ones with same-sex attraction) Apostolate, or you simply know someone who you love may be interested in joining the group, please do not hesitate to contact me.
All communication with Courage and EnCourage is strictly confidential. Fr. Richard M. Samour (210) 996-1371, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.couragesatx.net.