I do not say the above to brag, not in the least, but rather because I believe it has an urgently important message…the story of my friend Andres is compelling and sad, and beautiful, all at once. If someone you know struggles with SSA (same-sex attraction) or perhaps you do, there is huge hope. His story is worth a read, and I consider it a privilege to know this young man, and to write about him. God bless. And please share!
This has not been the easiest Father’s Day for me, having lost my dad from this world just over 2 months ago, and having no earthly descendants to celebrate it with me. Not exactly anyway. But far from the worst either.
In the last couple months as I have been healing from the events of this winter and spring, I wrote two articles in tribute to my father. One was in regards to my relationship with him and in particular in connection to SSA (same-sex attraction) issues, and I was privileged to have this article first posted in Public Discourse, an outreach and arm of the esteemed Witherspoon Institute, and, just today, in ChurchPOP, a Catholic collection of many different articles, news items, quizzes and other just-for-fun stuff. Read it in either place (if you haven’t already that is), but be sure to in any case peruse them both. There are tons of other articles in both sites that I am confident you will enjoy and be blessed with, and in order to be sure you do not miss out I am placing both links just below, which also list other articles I have written for each site:
The second article dealt with the death experience itself, and, while that may sound morbid to some of you, and I will never say it was not tough stuff, it was also unexpectedly beautiful. The other site I write for is Catholic Stand, and they recently published that particular tribute, as well as linking it to the Big Pulpit. Both are the brainchildren of one Tito Edwards, who does most of his great work through the National Catholic Register, the nation’s oldest Catholic news publication, and now owned by EWTN. Again the link below will come from my author page, as I had a number of other items on that page, but the one on “happy death” was my latest, and certainly a lasting tribute to the good man who was my earthly father.
My dad and me in December, 2014
Lastly, a FB (Facebook) friend shared with me some of the most touching words possible last night when we were chatting online. I have not met this young man as of yet but hope to in the future. His name is Andres, and he lives in Mexico. Here is what he said to me:
“Happy father’s day for you, I love you lots my brother and your baby is very proud of you… Your papa is holding him on his arms and he is very happy seeing him smile, as I smile for you.”
The backstory on that comment is this–My former wife Shirley and myself had 4 miscarriages in the early 1980s. We have therefore four “30-something” children in heaven. Andres, whose first language is Spanish, wrote this when my dad initially passed away, in fact on that very day. It is both simple and powerful:
Andres–“Now you have mama and papa praying for you in heaven.”
Me–“Yes I do. Amazing.”
Andres–“And now your papa met your son :)”
I have not met my unborn children, although I briefly held the first one for a few moments, as the amniotic sac had not broken. But this young man recalled me speaking of them and wanted me to know that they now had grandparents in heaven. Pretty amazing for a young man I have never met.
Finally last year I became a godfather for the Catholic baptism of John Paul Xavier Millegan, the youngest son of my friends Brantly and Krista Millegan. ChurchPOP, mentioned above, is Brantly’s brainchild. So, as I heard it said recently on the radio by a man in a similar situation, I have 5 children, and one I can hold. I am definitely a dad. And a proud one too. Although he is definitely “bigger and badder” now, here is pretty much my favorite picture so far of the recent one year old:
My godson John Paul Xavier Millegan
So yes, I am a father too. The links and pics prove it I think. And a very proud one at that!!! Happy Father’s Day to all men out there, whether you have co-created any children or not. It’s your day so enjoy it.
On this Solemn Feast of Corpus Christi (the Body and Blood of Christ), may I just say this about the Holy Eucharist, particularly to my precious Protestant Christian family and friends on this FB page and blog? When I was first coming back to the Catholic Church, I went to an all night prayer vigil in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I stayed for around an hour in silence before the altar, adoring with the faithful who had gathered that night. I had not yet worked through any particular theology about the Real Presence, but I knew I felt something I had not once recalled ever feeling or sensing during my most evangelistically fervent moments, and there were many over the years.
I won’t try to explain it but I will just say it was the most powerful moment I had ever felt with God in my life. Ever. I was speechless but that was okay, because no words could suffice anyway. I only knew one thing and that only–that Jesus was present that night in a way I had never recognized before, and, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, I saw and felt Him literally in the breaking of the Bread, or in this case the monstrance on the altar of that consecrated Host. I did not care if the bread-like Host was actually Jesus or if He was somehow just lurking, hidden behind or all around it. Nor did I attempt too hard to figure it out at that point. What I did know is that I was absolutely transfixed and being changed by Him. And that He was waiting for me there.
Later, going through RCIA, I worked through the Catholic understanding of the doctrine of Transubstantiation and dogma of the Real Presence, meaning that, after the words are spoken by the priest, “This is my Body” and “This Is my Blood,” the physical elements involved would become substantially the risen Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity. And, just as we are made up of chemicals, but yet are substantially humans in the image of God, no chemical change was needed for that to occur. That had always been my hang up. I knew that, even if taken to the finest laboratories in the world, the scientists who tested it would normally find flour, water, and fermented wine. But, just like us, and like Jesus in His earthly form, the soul, that which made Him who He was and is, and ours too, do not show in such tests. Nor do they need to.
In any case at that moment a decade ago I was content with the mystery that He was there, and powerfully so, somehow in a way I had been missing during my most charismatic moments over the last 35 years.
If you do not believe in this teaching, and I did not for a long time, here is my challenge for you today– go sit in front of a Monstrance or a Tabernacle (the box behind the altar which the remains of the Blessed Sacrament are kept) for an hour, and do it with an open heart. That is all. Whether it changes your theology or not, today or in the future, I believe you will know one thing at least–we as Catholic Christians are not “bread worshippers.” Worship the Christ in the bread, behind the bread, around the bread, whatever you must do, but worship Christ during that hour and focus on Him. I believe you will eventually find that it is simply somehow Jesus and you just may want more. And that is why we have the Feast of Corpus Christi. No other reason is needed or necessary.
If you want a fuller and more theologically astute explanation, and frankly I hope you do, please check out this fine link to the Catholic Encyclopedia article from New Advent. Do not just take my word or experience for it. Explore for yourself. You owe that much to the one who had given us His Body to eat and His blood to drink. (see John 6). It has never been “just a symbol.” Here is the link:
Blessed Corpus Christi to all!
Well here is the reason I have been needing to talk with you. Here goes: As you pointed out, I am a “real” Catholic. When I do into rooms such as online flirting rooms, I do not act like it. You said I do not need to apologize. But I do. I was, for a very long time, 35 years in fact, away from the Church. I did many things during those years that I am ashamed of. And I will not deny I have been tempted much lately. Using our Lord’s name in vain, using his gifts to us of body and soul for our own sake and not His, all of these things are wrong.
This is not meant as an excuse but I tend to do these things when I am tired, angry, under much pressure, not feeling good, and the like. My dad passed away 2 months ago and it has been a very tough time for me financially too. So it is easy during such times to want to escape, to go into a world of beautiful men (or women) or lustfulness, just in order to feel better for a short time. But I find it never works. In the end I am always sorry.
I went to a beautiful Confession today and a huge burden was lifted. But it left me with a problem too. I have a new friend, and that is you. I wish to talk to you, remain your friend, and get to know you as a person. But I want to do it in a pure and holy way and not in a sinful way. Can we do that? I hope so. But it will mean not talking when you are online taking off your clothes for me or for others. I will never judge you or your heart for your actions, that is not it at all. I am just trying to protect myself. So if we can limit our talks to email for now, and be good friends, but not sexual, I will gladly remain your friend and hope that you will also do so.
The bottom line is this, I like you very much. But I love God even more so. Even though I have acted like I did not. For that I do owe you this one last apology, and a commitment that it will not happen again. But being a genuine friend and brother to you, that I can do! And would like to if you would also. I hope to hear from you soon. And I thank you for being a kind and good person.
I was extremely privileged to have this article used in one of my favorite online journals, Public Discourse. If you are not familiar with them, they are an outreach of The Witherspoon Institute, and an outreach of my good friend Ryan T Anderson, PhD, who has been on every media venue from CNN to FOX to NBC and who has written for National Review, as well as The Heritage Foundation, plus who co-authored the book What is Marriage? Man & Woman: A Defense with Sherif Girgis and… Robert P George. And the list goes on, with yet another book coming out this summer. Why did I do this article and why now? Simply put, it is a tribute to my recently late father, Donald Leroy Evans, and a tribute to traditional marriage, quite frankly something that is becoming an endangered species in the United States as well as the world in our society today. Some of you will likely disagree with my conclusions regarding the future of marriage, but I think we all can agree that real love and acceptance is what every person, whether actively LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), or those such as myself with SSA (same-sex attraction), but who have chosen not to act upon those desires at this time in my life, both want and need. And we desire it most from our family and particularly our parents. My dad gifted me with that. Profoundly. And, in doing so, gave me a sense of manhood that no other human, living or dead, could have done. Please read, enjoy, and know that what I share here is deeply personal and from my heart. God bless!
I am not sure it’s ever going to “get better” for me. I am going on 60 years of age this coming December, and I find myself still filled at times with rage and a deep sense of aloneness within my life as it stands currently. The reason I say so is that I seem to not quite fit the mold, either from a Church or secular standpoint, on an issue near and dear to me. That issue is homosexuality.
The short story is that I, after 35 years of being away from Rome, returned to the Catholic Church in 2005, exactly one decade ago this coming fall, and unlike what some may have believed or assumed, had previously embraced a celibate lifestyle a few years previous to that time. Since the story of my return is in print elsewhere, I will simply link to it both here and at the end of this article.
I do not, nor will I ever, regret my decision to come back to Catholicism. At moments, however, I have struggled with what I believe are very inconsistent attitudes towards issues on my levels, and in particular with issues that have affected me personally, such as the topic at hand and my place in the Church as an aging (not aged!) man with SSA (same-sex attractions).
Much of my blog and other writings have been devoted to this issue and its impact in my life, and as we begin what is likely the final sprint towards legalized same-sex marriages nationwide, I think it is the right and proper time for me to share my views more fully and articulate my understanding of a topic I have studied from many perspectives.
Many people think that there are only two possible answers to this ever-thornier question—one is either to be “for” or “against” gay marriage on a legal level. Those against it will not even refer to it, on a civil level, as a “marriage,” even though the Church has clearly done so with other irregular living situations such as those married outside the Church or even, in some cases, those who may be co-habitating without a legal license issued by the state. Those for it often come from the opposite extreme, stating that any full equality of SSA/LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) persons must necessarily include the legal right to marry, to adopt children, and to collect governmental benefits such as Social Security when the time comes.
I think that both sides have some merit, and that each side has some peril. I believe so because I am of the opinion, after having often gone all over the map in order to reconcile my beliefs and Church teaching, that there is another answer we may not be considering, and which I, although a non-official theologian, believe is most likely the healthiest approach, as well as the rarest.
I will state here that I support Church teaching as written in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (called going forward in the article the CCC), and do so without reserve. In case you are not aware of that teaching, which is basically 3 short articles in a book of over 2800 basic theological tenets of the Faith, I am reprinting it below for easy reference:
Chastity and homosexuality
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. (2333)
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (2347)
In the above doctrinal statement, a number of points are often glossed over or simply re-interpreted, again by both opposing sides, and I wish to make mention of some of these in this article. The first is the term “intrinsically disordered,” from section 2357, referring specifically to sexual acts between those of the same gender, in the traditional sense of the word. The actively LGBT community leadership tends to hate this terminology, but what has been often overlooked by the traditional Catholic and other Christians who use it as a battering ram against SSA/gay persons is why it is so very upsetting to those of us with this characteristic, condition, orientation, or whatever term you wish to use.
I have heard said to others, and also to me at times, that I have the “SSA disorder.” To which I would blithely say bleh. Not so. I have several disorders, in the modern and non-theological sense of the term, such as poor eyesight, diabetes, and some chronic upper GI/gastric issues. However I am currently working 2 jobs, one which is in frontline customer service, something long proven to be one of the most stress-inducing careers that exist, and have done so in one capacity or another for over one quarter of a century now. I am a regular part of my church parish, and involved in community outreach such as block leader in my urban residential area, as well as assisting in some small way at least in dealing with several personal family crises such as my dad’s illness. I was married for 13 years and managed, certainly with the help of God’s grace, to re-establish a friendly relationship with my former spouse. I wear glasses and take my insulin, and have lost 15 lbs. in the last 2 years.
The implication that, because I am attracted romantically to men and have been aware of this since before puberty, which is nearly a half century ago at this writing, and have yet been celibate for the last 15 years speaks more of a strength God has given to me, not a weakness. And this is by no means meant to be bragging, since I have certainly failed God in many, many ways, including such things as thought life and custody of the eyes, but rather to point out that I am not some wild young buck looking for a quick hook-up. In short my SSA is not a disorder for me, at least not in the mental health context which is implied by misusing the term as I have unfortunately seen it used by ignorant but hopefully well-meaning believers in the same Lord Jesus Christ who I do.
So where is the “intrinsic disorder” then? I have always loved time travel stories, and for this one you will need to move backwards to the 13th century, and to one St Thomas Aquinas. Much of the writings of this “angelic Doctor” of the Church refer to disorder coming from the original fall of humanity. Since his writings predate Dr Freud by somewhere near 700 years, he was clearly not referring to psychoses. He was talking about the human weaknesses we all share through original sin, and our tendency towards making that sin personal. For some that might be lusting after the opposite sex (the popularity of the “50 Shades” series and movie would be a prime example for women, as well as the Playboy mentality for men which predated this by over 60 years), and for some of us, and as CCC article 2357 rightly explains as well, due to a “psychological genesis (which) remains largely unexplained,” a romantic desire for those of our own gender. One is not worse than the other nor better. But I think it is safe to say that, in the original Eden, there was no confusion of gender. In that sense, and in that sense only, I accept and own the feelings I have in that area as disordered. Another topic for another time is why we with SSA feel as we do, and the CCC again wisely presents it as “largely unexplained.”
Aside from a very few very conservative psychologists and MDs, most would agree that the jury is out as to whether the cause is physical (which by the way is not limited to genetic issues), environmental, or a combination of both factors. What is known, however is that it is not, in and of itself, a form of mental illness, does not cause child molestation, and that there are SSA or actively LGBT persons in every walk of life, whether highly educated attorneys, those in active ministry including priests, and the whole gamut otherwise. We really are “everywhere,” and you rub shoulders with us every day, whether at the supermarket or your parish congregation. And very likely in your own family. A great video, even if you disagree with some parts of the theology regarding this, is called The Bible Tells Me So, which follows several families who have dealt heroically and lovingly with this in their own lives. And before you assume it is only some Nazi/Communist propaganda, at least one of the major families in question are clear that they do not accept their daughter’s lesbian relationship. But they accept her, as well as her partner, and that brings me to the heart of why I write this.
For a long time I vacillated on my views regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage. My next sentence may lose some of my audience but I hope not. I believe, at this time in our history, the legalization of such relationships, whether one calls them “marriage” or sin, or both perhaps, is a social risk we must face and, while not embracing it, accept as part of the social landscape we live in. Why do I think so? As stated above, I believe in Church teaching first and foremost. But part of that teaching, from CCC section 2358, states the following: “They (homosexual persons) must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” Pretty much anyone from my generation, if intellectually honest, can attest to the fact that the above attitude from the Church as well as society in general is in fact rather recent. If I had told anyone in my small rural Minnesota town that I liked men, I would have been, even as a celibate, most likely dismissed from my parish community, made fun of mercilessly, possibly beaten or even killed, and no one from the Vatican to the local police would have frankly given a damn. Most of us stayed in the closet for a long time for a reason. When we today hear of people coming out publicly, (we forget or else never knew) how completely rare that would have been in the 1950s and 60s. It started to occur in the 1970s somewhat, but before that time there was simply no one to turn to with such an announcement. No one. Not friends, not family. And certainly not one’s church for God’s sake literally.
In saying all of this I am not “supporting” gay marriage. I am not suggesting that one must accept everything in the so-called “gay agenda” proposed by some LGBT leaders. But I am saying something more nuanced. I believe that the “marriage equality” movement is filled with messy litigation and at times justified fears in greater society. I am not wishing for a return to polygamy, such as the territory of Utah once allowed before becoming part of the Union, and I do not wish to see business persons violate their consciences. But, more than that, I do not wish to go back to the time when I as a person with SSA must be silent about it, or be afraid as someone approaching my senior years to walk down the street. And, at this point, that is what is likely to happen if our nation and the world forbid such unions. Just a few weeks ago a person in the Middle East was thrown off a building for being homosexual. If that were an isolated incident it might be one thing, but this is a common occurrence in many nations still. That should matter to us as Christians. Yet I hear almost no outrage about it among the more orthodox-leaning Catholic or evangelical Christians. I wonder why? We rightly are outraged, and even in some cases ready to go to war, when we hear of such horrific events as the 21 Christians beheaded by ISIS. But I wonder who would go to war for a gay person? Not many even in our supposedly enlightened age.
I do not believe churches must administer Holy Communion or give leadership positions to openly (and actively) gay members. Nor do I think, quite frankly, that the entire marriage equality movement is without its faults. But I think it is time that the Church recognize her part in causing this entire movement to occur. Usually, and definitely in this case, when a movement based upon those who (rightly or wrongly) believe that they are disenfranchised, it is for a reason. And I do not have time in this one article to name all of those reasons but within the LGBT community there are many, some which I did briefly touch on here and a host of others.
I think it is time to stop fighting, no matter your view, and to find genuine and creative ways to work together, legally and otherwise. This does not mean to stop evangelizing or working for the good of traditional marriage. Not at all. It simply means that the future is not coming. It is here. And souls are at stake on both sides.
 Catholic Church. (2000). Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd Ed., p. 566). Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference.
Today (1-9-15) would be my mother’s 93rd birthday, and after her passing in 1991, we came across some poetry she had written. Particularly after my last posting, I wanted to share this one about her journey back to the Roman Catholic Church:
This morning I knelt
As my soul sought release,
I heard Jesus’ voice
In the words of the priest
How I longed to go back
To the Church I had known,
Within her still walls
To kneel and atone
I thought I could leave her
My Mother disclaim,
Forget that she loved me
And called me by name
Oh the scenes I remember
Within Her sweet fold,
The farewells to loved ones
The memories I hold
The times that I knelt
At the altar and prayed,
The joy of Communion
The vows that I made
I ne’er could forget her
The Church of my youth,
Too long have I loved her
Her beauty and Truth
Though far did I wander
From her in my pride,
In longing, my spirit
With her did abide
This morning I knelt
To pray and atone,
My heart filled with joy
At last I was Home!
Written By Mary Elizabeth Evans
This is the Nativity of St Mary Catholic Church, in rural Waseca, MN. My mother was baptized and received the Sacraments of Initiation (First Communion and Confirmation) here, and I too was baptized here on December 31, 1955 on a cold MN winter morning just over 56 years ago. The building later became a historical landmark, and then was inexplicably torn down a number of years ago. After I returned to the Church in 2006, I visited the spot where it stood with my godmother Mary Burns and two of my sisters. Many others in my family were baptized, married, and buried through the ministry of St Mary’s. This picture is courtesy of the Waseca Historical Society.
January 1st, 2015 – Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (catholicjules.net)
- “Rome Sweet Home” and fifteen other new e-books from Ignatius Press (insightscoop.typepad.com)
- ¡ Viva Cristo Rey !: Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J. NEVER TAKE OUR LIVES FOR GRANTED – Happy Thanksgiving to all my wonderful family and friends!!! (catholicboyrichard.wordpress.com)