Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Members of Courage - An Apostolate

When I learned that yesterday was the feast of the Archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel, I felt compelled to let them influence today’s post. I couldn’t write directly about them, of course, so I reflected on what virtues they represented. What came to mind was courage. Think about it, if you had to battle demons by sword or even by mere words, wouldn't you be shaking in your Allstar Chucks? Courage is the virtue of a warrior, but it’s also the virtue needed to live righteously when all sides, even our insides, hound us to live against God. The resulting post may be going outside my normal format, but it’s as true if not truer to the blog’s mission than any post I’ve written; namely, that the coolest Catholics are the ones who live so courageously.

Which brings us to the organization Courage, a Catholic apostolate that serves as a support group for men and women with same-sex attraction. Endorsed by the Holy See, the apostolate’s goals are centered around living out the Church’s teaching on chastity, living a devout existence through service, prayer, and attending mass, and being mindful that chaste friendships are “not only possible but necessary in a chaste Christian life.”

Courage was started in 1980 by Fr. John Harvey in the archdiocese of New York with the help of Rev. Benedict Groeschel. The two worked under the direction and encouragement of Cardinal Cooke, who had seen the need of putting into action what the Church was teaching that same-sex inclinations do not separate you from God’s love. Notice the use of SSA rather than “homosexual” or “gay”?

Not directly affiliated with Courage, but relevant

Simply put, the Church does not reduce us to an identity of sexual attraction. Instead we are children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends—and followers of Christ. Fr. Check, the executive director of Courage, helpfully stated in an interview last year with the National Catholic Register that “Courage doesn’t approach the question of homosexuality as a cultural challenge or as part of the cultural debate, even with regard to defending the institution of marriage. That’s done by other arms of the Church, and rightly so. Courage approaches the question of homosexuality as a lived reality in the lives of individual persons.”

And what is that reality? It’s surely one of confusion, with a good measure of loneliness and isolation thrown in. The latter two, you might recognize, are the very essence of Hell, a state in which we’re isolated from God’s love. Therefore (and the following is all my personal conjecture), the struggle to live chastely with SSA is not just overcoming a disordered tendency, of which SSA may be only one of a billion different kinds, but a struggle against our worst fear: Hell itself. In conclusion, this is a salute to all those who are joined by the archangels in putting the fears of Hell far below the power of God’s love.

More on Courage: