Ready…again

 

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I am ready to write again. You will likely read and notice a few differences though. For one thing I do not intend to cover up my weaknesses quite so much anymore. Do not get me wrong—God has done huge things in my life and I do not wish to in any way glorify my less-than-perfectness either. However, too often I have seen, and not just in others but in myself as well, the tendency to put my best foot forward and keep the other one hidden out of sight, so to speak.

I sin daily. Most if not all (actually all, whether intentionally, consciously or not) of you reading this do so as well. We also live in a day and age that is unprecedented in its ease to fall in various ways, in particular sexually. That particular discussion may make some of us uncomfortable—I know it does in my life. But I still fall in areas, and that is one of them. I have been celibate, in that I have not had nor have I sought person to person contact with another human, male or female, since 1999. That is nearly 17 years, and the last 10 as a Catholic Christian. So far so wonderful, right? Yes—and no.

Before you go congratulating me on such an accomplishment, I will openly say that my mind is at times a virtual cesspool. My computer too. Living alone with the WWW at my fingertips has some built in occasions of sin, and I cannot pretend I never have allowed myself to become trapped from time to time due to that combination. I have seen lately a multitude of articles by people who “used to” struggle in this area, and that is truly great and inspiring. I can take nothing away from that and am not attempting to do so. But what of those who have yet to overcome? Those who try all the techniques of prayer, fasting, daily Mass and rosary, and every other good idea on the lists of those who have “made it?” And still fall more than flat into the sewer after doing so?

And that is where I am at. Overcoming, and failing. Overcoming again, and then falling worse yet. Celibate but not chaste. Born again virgin but occasional internet whore. All of that can describe me and more. Not always but sometimes. In between such moments I do indeed seek God in the ways mentioned and have not given up hope. Not at all. But it can be deathly discouraging to be the one who does not quite seem to get over this area of what is a sometimes intense struggle. Reading of other’s victories can, at times, have the unwitting effect of tempting a person such as me to near despair. If I really wanted the victory, if I was truly consistent, if I honestly came to the “end of myself” (whatever or however that may look like) I would be able to write one of those victory articles too instead of one which sounds like I have given up on all that I hold sacred, which I nearly have at times, by the way. More than you the reader know. And not so long ago either.

But one thing keeps me going. What God has started within us, He does tend to finish. In fact He promises to do so. Every one of us are works in progress, even if that progress seemingly comes only in fits, starts, and restarts. And a lot of us fall into that category in one way or another, not necessarily in lustfulness but perhaps with gluttony, jealousy, or numerous other inner and outer wars. Traps exist for all of us, and for some they are lifelong struggles. Mine certainly has been longstanding to say the least.

Perhaps you are the person who watches the infomercial about the 300 LB woman who is now a sweet 120 and size 8. And, instead of being excited, you find yourself medicating your discouragement by going to the kitchen and getting some Ben and Jerry’s plus a spoon as you continue to watch the anorexic model on TV tell her tale. In my case perhaps it is a sense of utter loneliness that makes it easier to imagine being surrounded by beautiful and youthful folks who do not notice my many flaws. That is the power of pornography and cyber.

My point is this. Victory does not come in a one size fits all package. Some are delivered from certain of their sins instantly and never understand why that same deliverance does not occur with in the next person. Others fight a long battle but, once they are on the winning side for a few months or years, begin to lose compassion for those of us who keep messing up. And neither of those groups realize that very pride may lead them one day into something worse. I once knew of a young man who was instantly delivered from drug addiction, with no withdrawals of any kind. He fell in love with Jesus and his life was genuinely changed. I knew him personally and can attest to his sincerity. Yet, a few short years later he had an affair with a married woman from the church. The struggle within him was not gone but had only morphed into a new weakness. That story is scarily similar to many of us I think. The roots of our battles, the besetting ones at least, go deeply and at times lie dormant, waiting for the next way to become manifest. We do well to admit this to ourselves and others.

So yes, expect some honesty, some of it painful not just for you to read but me too, in what I pen going forward. When I posted on Face Book a few months ago that I had failed in chastity if not in person at least online, and that someone was possibly interested in quite literally exposing me due to what he rightly saw as my hypocrisy, I was overwhelmed with the response of probably friends, most Christian but even a few who were not, who gently supported me, as well as some who wrote me privately and admitted to their own struggles. Ironically a fellow Catholic writer was the only person who felt the need to tell me how deeply disappointed she was in me, and strangely that one response is the one I think about the most even still.  The lesson I would gently say to that person if she is reading this is that most of us know our failures already, and do not need them to be thrust at us, especially if we have confessed them to God and the world already. Yes there are consequences as she deftly pointed out to me and I am willing to pay them as God sees fit. I took time totally away from writing precisely due to this situation during all of Lent and used much of that time to do some serious reflecting so that I could come back fresh and new after Resurrection Sunday. Instead I skipped Mass on Easter and did it all over again after a beautiful Holy Week. And my first thought after yet another such major failure was to never write again but to go into permanent hiding. Not so however. Not with the God of second chances who we love and serve.

Today I have been to confession and, yet again, I have been forgiven. And my penance this evening was to sit silently in the church sanctuary before the Blessed Sacrament and let God speak to me. That was it. Not 50 decades of anything. Just let God be God in me.  In doing so, I came to believe that He does want me to write, and not just about this topic hopefully! But I have to do so with more humility and each time as a “wounded healer.” I do not have all of the answers yet, even for myself, and I will not guarantee to God or the reader that I will never slip into the abyss again either. But that was never my story anyway. Mine is one of Divine Mercy, and not only for the octave of Easter. God’s to me, and, very hopefully, mine to others who also are as flawed as I am. And that is many of us. Many of you.

So I am back. Humbled. Maybe even a bit humiliated. But real. And working on the underlying issues that make certain sins so attractive to me. God willing, perhaps I can help some of you do the same even while you help me too. Then perhaps the ugly sins I have committed can be somehow used for something good. And so can yours as well, if we just do not ever, ever give up. Blessed Easter.

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Change Afoot…

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Nativity of St Mary Catholic Church, near Waseca, MN–just over 60 years ago I was baptized here. The building does not remain but the memories do.

 

 

It has been quite some time since I posted here. I want all readers to know I have not forgotten any of you, nor am I planning to do so.

Due to personal reasons I am going to take some time away from writing, but will leave this site up and running for any who wish to read or reference articles from the past several years. My plan, of course subject to God’s plan first and foremost, is to begin again during late spring or early summer of 2016.

I would ask for prayers from any who are reading this, and humbly thank you for doing so. I remain a committed Roman Catholic Christian. God bless.

My latest…and one of my best…from “Catholic Stand”

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! 

http://www.catholicstand.com/sex-attraction-courage-live/

I AM A FATHER TOO…And I have the links and pics to prove it:)

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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:

ChurchPOP–http://www.churchpop.com/author/richard-gerard-evans/

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.

Catholic Stand–http://www.catholicstand.com/author/richard-evans/

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                                      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:

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                                      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.

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WHY CORPUS CHRISTI–A personal perspective

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.” 2014-10_scranton-christ-the-king_13Here is the link:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05573a.htm

Blessed Corpus Christi to all!

A Confession…And A Challenge

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FIRST an explanation–I am sharing this difficult post because I know I am not the only one out there who has gone where “no man should go” on the Internet. Actually that includes the women too, but it is even more a men’s problem and so I address it as such.
In the last months I have “discovered” a different kind of chat room online. In the past, when I have visited sexual sites, which I have from time to time even as a Catholic Christian, it has primarily been to view pictures or videos, or, at times, as the name indicates, just “chat,” usually through text or instant messaging. But recently I have stumbled upon sites that are actual live cameras. You can speak to the performers as well as watch them. And here is what I have discovered:
1)  Most of those who perform are from incredibly poor nations.
2)  Many of them are doing this, not because they wish to but because they have sick or needy family members or are desperate for money or work in order to support themselves.
3)  A lot of them are really nice people. A number aren’t.
4)  The site owners sponsoring such sites take generally 2/3 or more of any money the performer earns, even if it is done from their own camera and home. Many of those owners are rich and getting richer in the process. And the entertainers remain sometimes near penniless.
5)  It is far more addicting to speak to “real” humans than to look at even the most well-filmed videos who cannot interact with those of us who struggle in such areas.
Now none of that should come as a surprise to us who, from this affluent nation, think we are living in “poverty” when we do not have the money to order our favorite pizza or have our weekly steak dinner and wine on occasion. Desperate people, such as the performers above mentioned, do desperate things, and then doing those things simply makes them more desperate. One, a young man from Russia who I befriended offsite for a bit, once told me he had no reason to live. Pretty sad for a person who has enviable good looks and a boatload of charm when needed.
My latest excursions into this world have, ironically, come at a time when it seems God has been the most real to me and given me new and greater opportunities to share my conversion story. That too should not be a surprise, as satan would like nothing more than to derail us or cause our words for God to seem as lies.
And that brings me the reason for this post–there is a particular person of late who I have spoken with online, one I met in one such room, who is also a Catholic Christian from the Philippines and who I have corresponded with outside of the chat room on a friendship level. Tonight, after a very good Confession this morning, I wrote him the following (slightly edited for length and detail) just to let him know that those chats cannot continue. It was not easy for me to do. I have been celibate, at least on a face to face ‘real time” basis, for the last 16 years, and realized around a decade ago that this was God’s calling for me on a lifetime level, although I have at times and on occasion admittedly questioned that. But I remain convinced that  it is, and I am okay with that. Usually. Celibacy does not mean blindness or lack of need for companionship though. And sometimes we go for that comradeship  in the wrong places or at the wrong times, even as Christians. I will just speak for myself and say I do anyway. Now you know.
I do not yet know what his reaction will be when he reads what I wrote–I hope it will be positive and understanding. But it may not be. And, if not, I want to be sure in either case that I have done all I can for his soul and mine too. We are, after all, our brother’s keepers, and I have not done so well in this case, as well as in a few others. So once, for all, I would simply say I am very sorry–and having received God’s forgiveness, I ask for the same from any who I have hurt by my incredible weakness which I allow to rule me from time to time. Please read on, and when you are done, say a prayer for him, and one for me too. Thanks and God bless. Here is the message I sent to him:

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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.

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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.‏

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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.‏

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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.

There you have it. And now the challenge–do you too need to go to a potentially embarrassing Confession? If you do, I can only suggest to go for it without further delay or excuse. And, if in the process, you find there are some you need to mend fences with along the way, do that as well. Whether they respect  you or not afterwards, you will be at peace. Totally. And no one can ever “blackmail” you either, whether emotionally or otherwise. And that  too is a great feeling.

From Public Discourse–“There Must be a Reason”

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/05/15022/

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!