This afternoon, supporters of gay Catholics gathered for a prayer vigil in front of the Archdiocese of Detroit’s chancery headquarters. They prayed to protest Archbishop Allen Vigneron’s comments last month that Catholics who support gay marriage or unions should not present themselves to receive communion.
About 25 people sang, “All are welcome in this place,” and marched with rainbow flags in front of the downtown chancery building, saying they had gay relatives and friends.
Artemae Anderson, 69, of Detroit said she attends mass regularly, receives communion and supports gay marriage. “It’s very hurtful,” Anderson said of Vigneron’s comments. “If we just follow the gospel message of Jesus, we’ll be OK.”
Jesus promises a yoke, but He makes the yoke easy to bear. That doesn’t mean we are allowed to do whatever we want to. It means that when we give up all these things that He asks us to give up, He turns that suffering into joy. To be a Christian is to suffer under the yoke, but there is redemption in suffering. There is joy in the Cross with Him, and this joy makes the burden light. To insist that there be no yoke is to reject that redemption and to reject along with it the true joy that comes in being united with Him in His Cross.
This is a reprint of an article first published on my main blog on December 1, 2012.
I happened across this enlightening quote by St. Catherine of Siena, a Dominican saint and mystic, from The Catholic Church and Homosexuality. I thought it would benefit you to read it. This makes perfect sense to those of us who know about natural law, but is utter foolishness to those who are perishing. I believe that as the Church understands mental disorder more, it will become more clear how weak Satan is in his attacks against the mind, whether in regard to same-sex attraction or something like Bipolar Disorder. Satan fools us into believing that we should be focused on the brain rather than on the heart, but even he is repulsed by an actual sin against nature, because his own angelic nature is, as in human nature, naturally repelled from such a thing, as Jesus explains.
St. Catherine of Siena is here relaying the words of Jesus Christ to all of us, and she was particularly addressing those clergymen of her time who were engaging in sins against nature. As you can see, it is natural for us to be nauseated. It is also because of the sort of sin this is that often the “light of understanding” has gone out of those who commit this sin, particularly if they sin repeatedly. St Paul speaks of God eventually turning them over to sin in the Letter to the Romans.
Again, these are the words of Jesus, according to St. Catherine of Siena.
“They not only fail from resisting this frailty [of fallen human nature] . . . but do even worse as they commit the cursed sin against nature. Like the blind and stupid, having dimmed the light of their understanding, they do not recognize the disease and misery in which they find themselves. For this not only causes Me nausea, but displeases even the demons themselves, whom these miserable creatures have chosen as their lords. For Me, this sin against nature is so abominable that, for it alone, five cities were submersed, by virtue of the judgment of My Divine Justice, which could no longer bear them. . . . It is disagreeable to the demons, not because evil displeases them and they find pleasure in good, but because their nature is angelic and thus is repulsed upon seeing such an enormous sin being committed. It is true that it is the demon who hits the sinner with the poisoned arrow of lust, but when a man carries out such a sinful act, the demon leaves.”
Certainly, we who have not turned ourselves over to darkness have much to suffer, particularly if even the demons are repulsed. This is why I want you so much to know about St. Gemma, one of our Passionist saints, as she can help you understand the truth of the love of Jesus in the Cross. THE ONE TRUE REALITY is JESUS’ LOVE, and His love is found in the CROSS.
“Very pleasing to Me, dearest daughter, is the willing desire to bear every pain and fatigue, even unto death, for the salvation of souls, for the more the soul endures, the more she shows that she loves Me; loving Me she comes to know more of My truth, and the more she knows, the more pain and intolerable grief she feels at the offenses committed against Me.
“You asked Me to sustain you, and to punish the faults of others in you, and you did not remark that you were really asking for love, light, and knowledge of the truth, since I have already told you that, by the increase of love, grows grief and pain, wherefore he that grows in love grows in grief.
“Therefore, I say to you all, that you should ask, and it will be given you, for I deny nothing to him who asks of Me in truth. Consider that the love of divine charity is so closely joined in the soul with perfect patience, that neither can leave the soul without the other. For this reason (if the soul elect to love Me) she should elect to endure pains for Me in whatever mode or circumstance I may send them to her. Patience cannot be proved in any other way than by suffering, and patience is united with love as has been said.
“Therefore bear yourselves with manly courage, for, unless you do so, you will not prove yourselves to be spouses of My Truth, and faithful children, nor of the company of those who relish the taste of My honor, and the salvation of souls.”
May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ Be Ever in Our Hearts
Regular readers know that I am a Passionist. What is that exactly? The article on the Passionists at Wikipedia is brief but generally accurate. You can find out more at the website and blog of the Passionist Nuns of St. Joseph Monastery, to which I am attached as an oblate associate. Essentially, my relationship with them is that I love them and they love me. There really isn’t any more to it than that. I am not under any obedience to them. I just love them…but…it is true love, not because it is my love, but because it is my love with the love of Jesus poured out to us. This is the love which is found when we offer ourselves for others. My relationship with the Passionist Nuns is one of redemptive suffering. I offer all of my sufferings for their intentions, whatever they may be. In return, they pray for me and for my family.
There is no greater gift than love, and there is no greater love than the love of Christ in His Cross. Jesus said:
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. — John 15:13
My first duty is to my family, especially to my children, but my truest friends are the Passionist Nuns even though they are cloistered and I never speak to them unless it is absolutely necessary. (Unfortunately, due to Bipolar Disorder, my brain sometimes tells me it’s absolutely necessary when it really is not.) We are friends to each other only much as we are Christ to each other, and in my relationship with the Passionist Nuns, which is quite different from that of other friends, Christ is there in fullness.
Since I converted to Catholicism, one of the greatest agonies for me, apart from my physical and mental disorders, has been finding out that so many people do not really know the depth of what happened on the Cross. Even among those who are Catholic, there is very little understanding of redemptive suffering, that our sufferings have value when they are offered in union with the sufferings of our Lord on the Cross. All Christians know that redemption is through the Cross and that the Cross is the source of all graces. All Christians know, even protestants who believe in Sola Fide, that if you truly love Jesus, you will do God’s will. All Christians know, too, that we all fail at this every day, but that Jesus is still there for us in His Cross of redemption. How this becomes manifest to us is where we disagree, but that is because of human error, not God’s error.
How sad it is that even though we all believe these things, we are divided, Catholic and protestant. What separates us, I think, has to do mostly with a lack of understanding about the Incarnation….that we are all PHYSICALLY connected to each other, because the world (including our flesh) was created through Jesus. Our flesh exists because of His Flesh. We are created in His image. We all belong to Him completely. This is why it was possible for Him to save us when He Himself suffered death on the Cross. Because God is not bound by time (only we are), we all were hanging with Him on the Cross. His Sacrifice was the Gift of Himself, and the only way we will not be saved is if we deny this gift of salvation by rejecting the will of God in our lives. We do this when we refuse to take up the cross in our own lives and follow Him.
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. — Luke 14:27
Bearing your cross is doing the will of the Father, as Jesus did in His Agony in the Garden, but it is also understanding that we are not God. We are His creation, made to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him. We do not have His power. As Mother Teresa said, we are to be as pencils in His hand. Grace comes from His Sacrifice. We Catholics seek to be like our Blessed Mother, sitting patiently at the Foot of the Cross.
Because my flesh (and yours) was hanging with Jesus on the Cross, my sufferings (and yours) endured in doing the will of God are, thanks to His Sacrifice, redemptive. (Click here for Scripture readings on redemptive suffering.) Graces flow from the Cross of Jesus when we offer our sufferings with Him and in accordance with the will of the Father. When we do God’s will, even though it hurts to do so, graces flow and help us to become the people He has created every human being to be – saints. The more we do this, the more we understand how great is His love for us, and the more we see the Cross as joy…as St. Gemma did.
Personally, I have a major problem with free will, due to my Bipolar Disorder. (I am also on the autism spectrum.) In Proverbs, we read that “a righteous man falls seven times,” and Jesus says to forgive “seventy times seven.” That’s 490 times. I mess up way more than that every day. Thankfully, I don’t have to be concerned about whether the things that I am offering my sufferings for are good things, because I have the Passionist Nuns. I offer my sufferings for their intentions, because mine can be so screwy, in the context of my brain. In this way, the intention of my heart is good, even if my brain might not have all the pistons running well. Sometimes, I do ask things of God — most usually when people ask me for prayers. Because my brain is messed up, my prayers for others are almost always the same, that they may come to a greater understanding of God’s will, and that God’s will, whatever it may be, will be manifest in their lives. In this way, I know that I’m not asking for something pointless or wrong. In the end, no matter what we may face in life, God’s will is all that matters.
I am grateful to Leila Miller, my former spiritual director, for being the first person to tell me about redemptive suffering. I had been catechized upon my conversion by a very faithful (and thorough) priest, but even so, I had already been a Catholic for six years before I heard the term “redemptive suffering” from her. What a shame it is to have gone so long without this understanding, but now, I have my life’s calling, to suffer for the Passionists, which brings graces to them, and to be grateful for the graces I receive through their prayers for me.
I realize that this makes my life much different from the lives of most people these days. I am offering everything for whatever some nuns in a monastery, whom I rarely speak to, think is best…but it is the Gospel, to understand what Jesus has done for all of us on the Cross, and to understand our role in the words “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Jesus desires our love, not just for Himself, but for each other. The love He returns to us is indescribably beautiful.
Today is the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter Apostle. (Readings here.)
All Catholics are being called to give up our Pope for Lent. Regardless of what any of us may think about the situation, the Holy Spirit is at work here. God has decided this. Of this, there can be no doubt. Things could change at any time, but God is in all of it.
Some of the things I have said about the Holy Father’s resignation have been hard for some to hear. (Read here and here.) You shouldn’t be disturbed by it. Don’t put much stock into what I think and say. I don’t. I am not God. What matters is what God is saying to all of us in this. I remain convinced that Pope Benedict is doing what God is asking him to do, and in this, I trust that he is making a holy decision. Still, I have been a Christian long enough to know that things are not always truly and fully as they may appear to be to us, who are mere humans. God’s ways really are mysterious. I could tell you many personal stories that have proven this to me, as I’m sure any faithful Christian could. We trust, we hope, we pray, but we also can ask questions and express concerns. When we ask questions and express concerns, we are doing God’s work just as surely as the Holy Father is, as we are all one Body in Christ. What I am convinced of is that the Church will continue to stand as she has for over two thousand years, regardless of what any mere human being may do, because God is in charge here.
Many are giving up, for Lent, the use of social media, overindulgence in things that are bad for our physical health, use of swear words, etc., but for many others, it is God who decides what we shall give up, just as He has decided that Catholics will give up our Pope. So it is with my family now, as we are going through a test of fire. At least two of my close Catholic friends, are also going through a test of fire this Lent that was chosen not by them, but by God Himself. Such things used to leave me in a sense of awe, that God acts in ways that make His presence in our lives far more convincing than even the presence of people in our lives. We know He is with us, because He has spoken in these ways that call us to do His will, especially now at Lent.
LifeNews has posted a vintage video interview with Mother Teresa. In the video, she is asked a couple of pointed questions about the proper role of women in the Church, abortion and birth control, and about whether it is true, as some pastors said at the time, that God made the AIDS virus to “punish” homosexual behavior. Interviewer Russ Barber also asked her advice to John Cardinal O’Connor who was, at the time of this interview, the new Cardinal of New York. Her answers are rather remarkable. Watch the video at LifeNews. I’ve posted her remarks in reply to these questions below.
Russ Barber: Mother Teresa told the conference on the women’s role in the Church that it is noteworthy that God had selected as the Mother of Jesus, Mary, an obedient, non-doubting woman. I asked her afterwards if dissident women asking for changes in the Church, including the ordination to the priesthood might also be responding to an authentic call from God.
Mother Teresa: I don’t think our Lord has chosen a woman to be a priest because nobody could have been a better priest than Our Lady, and yet, she remained only the handmaid of the Lord. We have a special role in the Church.
Russ Barber: Mother Teresa, what should be the role of women in the Church?
Mother Teresa: To be a woman. To be a mother, to be a wife or to be a consecrated virgin.
Russ Barber: Your opposition to abortion is world-renowned. What would you say to the critics of the Catholic Church who would suggest that Church teaching, opposing abortion and birth control, is contributing to the world population crisis and world famine and disease?
Mother Teresa: Abortion is not serving the difficulty of population. Abortion is creating evil because if a mother can kill her own child, what’s left, for other people to kill each other. But killing life and killing the image of God can never be, doesn’t matter who you are or what you are, it’s an evil. That’s why abortion has become the greatest destroyer of peace today.
Russ Barber: As you know, we have a new Cardinal here in New York. From your many years of experience, would you have any advice for John Cardinal O’Connor?
Mother Teresa:Be only all for Jesus through Mary.
Russ Barber: There is a worldwide epidemic of something called AIDS, Aquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, which is a disease which is largely associated with the homosexual community. Some religion leaders have suggested that AIDS is a disease sent by God as punishment for a sinful lifestyle. Is it?
Mother Teresa: This is the first time I hear of it. I have not, but….
Russ Barber:Well, let me rephrase the question this way, then. Is it conceivable that God might bring a form of disease to a lifestyle…
Mother Teresa: Yes, God may allow it to happen. God will not make it, but God will allow it to happen, like the floods of the Old Testament, really. It’s to open the eyes of the people, and very often, through suffering like this, people begin to realize that it’s not alright what they are doing and it brings them to need to say sorry to God and to say sorry to each other.