The National Catholic Review

Believe it or not, I'm a member of a theater company: the Labyrinth Theater Company, who I first got to know when they asked me to help them with a play called "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot," written by Stephen Adly Guirgis, and produced at New York's Public Theater in 2004.  In any event, I was eventually invited to join their merry band, which is based in New York and happily accepted.  "Lab," as they (we!) are affectionately known, has responded to the rash of gay and lesbian teen suicides by helping with the "It Gets Better" Project, which the editors mentioned in this week's editorial "Bullying, A Deadly Sin."  Nic Grelli, an actor and filmmaker, asked me to contribute something for their project, so I shared a few reflections and also a prayer I wrote for gay and lesbian adolescents, but really for any person of any race, sex, creed or inclination, who feels bullied, marginalized, rejected or ashamed of who they are.  Perhaps you know someone who might find it helpful as they struggle with any of these issues.

Comments

Daniel Vickers | 11/29/2011 - 7:21am
Thanks so much for this truly amazing and inspiring article! I've been searching for directions for so long!


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Anonymous | 10/29/2010 - 12:04pm
When I pray, I use the Lord's Prayer as my guide.  First and foremost, I praise and thank God for the good things in my life, and while I express those things that I think would be nice, I defer to God's will, because He knows better than I what I need.  Most important, I ask God to help me to resist temptation, to resist getting all wrapped up in worldly things, to keep my life in perspective.

The problem with this prayer is that it presupposes that there is nothing wrong with committing homosexual acts.  Rather than ask God help with being misunderstood, what homosexuals should be seeking is understanding about why God made them the way they are and how to deal with it.

How about, "Please, God, help me to understand these urges that I have that are different from everyone else's.  If these urges are evil, give me the strength to fight them, to find the goodness that comes from avoiding such temptation.  It feels so obvious to me that since I feel that I was born this way, that you made me this way, that there is nothing wrong about acting on my urges.  Please help me to be able to distinguish the good things in me from the bad; the worldly things and the heavenly things; the superficial from the important.  And if my homosexual inclinations are truly evil, please help me to understand and appreciate the gift of the love between men and women, the only union that leads to the creation of new life.  Please help me understand that by being obsessed with my sexual inclinations and defining myself by my preferred sexual acts only serves to separate me from You and your love.  Please help me to bear my cross.  If it is Your will."

From a happily married father of two....

Anonymous | 11/3/2010 - 8:17pm
Ms. Rehbein: Homosexual activity is sexual relations between two or more persons of the same gender. It is the constant teaching of the Catholic Church, based on divine revelation and Christian tradition, that homosexual activity is morally indefensible. The reasons for this are founded on the revealed truth that sexual experience is divinely reserved to husband and wife in their marital relations. Moreover, homosexual activity is destructive of the very foundations of human society. The Truth is immutable. It does not change. Same sex attraction is not in and of itself sinful and may afford an individual the opportunity for great grace if an individual unites his or her its suffering w/ the Cross. Conforing those who struggle w/ SSA and encouraging others to sin are two different undertakings. You are, however, eactly right on one matter, we are, indeed, all called to chastity.

To imagine that the Fr. Martin et al do not subscribe to the supposition that homosexaul activity is sin-free suggests either that you do not frequent this blog often, or Fr. Maritn et al have not adequately made their case, in which case I would encourage increased visits to "In All Things" blog. You will have no trouble sorting through this.

Fr. Hardon SJ is right to remind us that St. Ignatius has a key meditation in the Spiritual Exercises on what he calls the Two Standards. The Two Standards correspond to the two leaders in the world who are drawing people to follow them. One leader is Jesus Christ, who inspires believing Christians to dedicate themselves to the extension of His kingdom throughout the world. The other leader is Satan, who is trying to seduce people to follow him for the extension of his demonic kingdom, which, in the words of St Augustine, is the City of Man, which is in constant conflict with the kingdom of Christ. The devil knows that you get nowhere alone, you inspire others to follow you. Then you train your followers and disciples and they will carry on your work. The devil trains his followers to seduce not just people or cities, but whole nations.

The readers on this blog are in training.

Suggesting to readers that the "It Gets Better Project", which encouages youth to see their sin as as an acceptable condition, is to mislead youth in the worst possible way. That a Catholic priest would do so is, as I have said, is scandal.



Marie Rehbein | 11/3/2010 - 8:44am
Maria,

A practicing homosexual is not the same thing as a practicing Catholic homosexual.  The latter is a person with homosexual inclination who is a practicing Catholic.  The former, if you choose to use such a designation, is a person whose primary relationship would be with a person of the same gender. 

However, even in that situation, it would only be the actual sexual activity that would constitute committing a sin.  People of all inclinations, after all, have close emotional relationships without sexual activity.  Certainly, this should not be denied to people who have romantic feelings toward people of the same gender as they are.

Faulting Fr. Jim for contributing his prayer to the It Gets Better project can be seen (if you are perceiving homosexuals are particularly sinful sinners) as being no different from people faulting Jesus for consorting with tax collectors.
Anonymous | 11/3/2010 - 5:46am
Fr.Martin contribted his "prayer", to this the "It Gets Better Project". The header of their website states: "Many LGBT youth can't picture what their lives might be like as openly gay adults. They can't imagine a future for themselves. So let's show them what our lives are like, let's show them what the future may hold in store for them". This is to encourage and support homosexuality. A practicing homosexual, by definition, would not have to option of abstinence, as he or she would be practicing homosexuality. We, as Catholics, are not afforded the option of interpreting the Catechism nor are we permitted to disregard it. We are certainly free to leave the Church if we do not believe in its precepts.
Marie Rehbein | 11/2/2010 - 10:00pm
Maria,

Practicing homosexual Catholics probably do choose abstinence in most cases. However, I believe that the Catholic teaching is based on Old Testament prohibitions against homosexual activity, which I believe was addressed to the children of Israel for the express purpose of forming them into a nation with a culture pragmatically oriented away from pleasure and toward procreation.  The point of this was to provide a setting in which Jesus's birth could be documented as unique and divine.

The current Catholic teaching pertaining to sexual activity of homosexuals is essentially the same as for anyone who is not married.  There is no special punishment for homosexuals who do not adhere to the teaching.  Therefore, I do not find it at all inappropriate to comfort people who find themselves attracted to people of the same gender as they, especially since they not only encounter society's criticism but also their own as they internalized those same prejudices during their preadolescent years.

Father Jim's prayer is not appropriate only to homosexual people.  Therefore, I do not see why you perceive him to be advocating unchastity.

Quite frankly, I agree with you about being vigilant against the Devil.  However, I believe the Devil works by distorting perception and encouraging condemnatory responses.
Anonymous | 11/2/2010 - 9:21pm
1 Peter 5:8-9

Be calm and vigilant, because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat. Stand up to him, strong in faith.
PJ Johnston | 10/30/2010 - 5:07am
Sometimes you don't know how beaten down you feel until you run into something like this and realize how much you need to hear it.  Thank you for the beautiful prayer, Fr. Martin.
Marie Rehbein | 10/29/2010 - 8:59pm
Perhaps, John Stangle was a late bloomer, but it is indeed the case that adolescents are aware that they are gay or lesbian when they are.  Those who are not, may consider the possibility that they are when they do not find themselves as intensely attracted to the opposite sex as they perceive their peers to be, but that is something different.  Telling people they are not what they are is not helpful to them. 
Winifred Holloway | 10/29/2010 - 5:40pm
I can only echo what Stanley posted.  Thank you for this prayer.  Solidarity and compassion for the marginalized and despised is what makes Christianity a truly universal faith.  The scandal of the Cross.
Adrienne Krock | 10/29/2010 - 3:20pm
THANK YOU! That was wonderful! (Of course. I'm not surprised. And I'm very proud to post the link on my Facebook page and elsewhere!)
Stanley Kopacz | 10/29/2010 - 3:03pm
There's Father Martin, doing what I expect and hope from Jesuits.  It's why I subscribe to this magazine and come to this website.  So much vilification over a simple prayer to help people in trouble, isolation and despair.  For goodness sake.

I'm glad I can go through the rest of my life not getting upset about the existence of homosexuality.  What a waste of energy and mindspace. 
J STANGLE | 10/29/2010 - 12:37pm
Excuse me, but adolescents arn't, "gay and lesbian". What they are is highly influenced by a culture pushing homosexuality as, normal. And, by groups trying to tell them that they are, "gay and lesbian". And, by those promoting a homosexual life style as something exciting and in vogue. 
Anonymous | 10/29/2010 - 12:21pm
Thanks, Fr. Martin.  Your prayer doesn't need any editing - it's  great the way it is.
Anonymous | 11/2/2010 - 7:58pm
Ms. Rebein: Practicing Roman Catholics, if faithful to the Catechism, do not subscribe to the practice of homosexuality, as it is defined as sinful behavior by the CCC. A priest is called to protect the souls of others. He is not called to lead others into sin. Doing so is is to give scandal to others. The Church fobids this. Endorsement of the "It Gets Better Project" is endorsement of sin. There is no compassion is leading others to sin. One man's compassion is another man's scandal. This post will be deleted. Hope you get the chance to read it before it is deleted.
Marie Rehbein | 11/1/2010 - 9:19pm
Maria Byrd,

Your commentary which was deleted was outrageous.  It gave the impression that you are extremely troubled by homosexuality.  There was no justification for how you went on post after post as if you meant to persuade people by assaulting them with your anger about the topic.  Do you have no compassion for people you do not understand?  It's as if you were trying to negate Fr. Jim's compassion with your intolerance.
Anonymous | 11/1/2010 - 8:36pm
Deleting commentary with which you disagree merely solidifies the demise of intellectual rigor at this once revered publications and confirms America Magazine as lightweight. It further cements in this reader's mind the notion that the men at "In All Things" have an agenda.
Anonymous | 10/29/2010 - 2:14pm
This prayer is dangerously close to the mantra of Moral Therapeutic Deism:

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20050418/moralistic-therapeutic-deism-the-new-american-religion/
Marie Rehbein | 11/5/2010 - 11:07am
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Maria, I believe that it is possible that you, out of love for yourself, berate yourself about the sins you acknowledge and that, therefore, you are loving your neighbor as yourself when you go on about the sinfulness of homosexual acts.  However, if you were truly busy with loving the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, you would not let this kind of thing take up your time.

It might be more loving to simply talk about the sinfulness of sex outside of marriage without focusing on this sin when it is being committed by homosexuals - if you must condemn it at all.
Anonymous | 11/4/2010 - 11:26pm
Jesus' great commandment? If you love me, you will keep my commandments. I say this with true charity in my heart: review the Catechism. Read Hardon SJ. Unfortunately, many people live in darkness, without a full understanding of the deposit of the Faith, because so many have been misled by errant priests. I was among their number. God bless.
Anonymous | 11/6/2010 - 2:01pm
You are incorrect in your assumptions, Ms. Rehbien, about my sin. That said, it is the Roman Catholic Church that condemns homosexuality. You need to take up your argument with the Church, not I.
Marie Rehbein | 11/4/2010 - 1:13pm
Maria,

The only thing I notice is that Fr. Jim and others are extending God's mercy to their fellow human beings. 

I'm not sure how you see homosexual activity as being destructive to the foundations of human society.  It has been part of human society since the first recorded history.  In our society, in particular, most sexual activity is conducted in private, which leads to it having even less impact.

I'm sorry, but I still hold that one of the Demonic Kingdom's most obvious characteristics would have to be intolerance and condemnation of one's fellow human beings, particularly if this is based on what one perceives to be their greater sinfulness.

I think, also, that you are providing the object lesson that the way the Catholic Church words its understanding of homosexuality contradicts that area of its teaching which echoes Jesus's Great Commandment.
Marie Rehbein | 11/7/2010 - 6:17pm
Maria,

The Catholic Church's Catechism does not condemn homosexuality.  It condemns homosexual acts, just like it condemns fornication.  Homosexual is a state of being that is not condemned.

Whatever your sin may be, I am sure the intensity of your concern about avoiding sin will mitigate against it.