Spiritual and Emotional Growth: Nine Spiritual Truths
2. You Don’t Have To Go It Alone
As North Americans, we think we have to be rugged individualists, but that’s just our foolish pride. Solo faith quickly gets bogged down and led astray. Relationships with other believers are necessary for this journey with Christ. Jesus said, "Where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst." (Matthew 18:20). Find people with whom you can talk and whose faith you respect. Tell your stories back and forth to one another often. Stay in touch. Build strong bonds. Be there for one another, especially with your prayers, when temptations or troubles come. And come they definitely will, so get allies. That’s how the great victories are won. It’s called Church.
3. Troubles Are a Gift...If You Pray
The Mass says, "It is right always and everywhere to give Him thanks and praise." What?! Always? Even for our troubles? Yes, it’s true: every problem is a gift because it’s an opportunity for growth. That’s why God allows us to face pain, so He can shape us. Don’t run away. Go right to Him when life hits you with troubles. If you’re angry, tell Him. He wants the real you; but then, "ask and you will receive" (Matthew 7:7) the help you need. And tell your spiritual allies, especially your mentor. God works through your mentor too. And the tougher the struggle you’re facing, the more Christ will help you, and the more you’ll learn and grow.
4. The Goal of the Journey Is Not Heterosexuality But Growth
Some who follow Christ experience a decrease in homosexual attractions. Some don’t. But all are given the freedom not to act on those feelings. With that gift of chastity comes a tremendous increase of inner peace and self confidence. And many other gifts of growth follow after that: a more honest prayer life, a new appreciation for the teaching voice of Christ through the Bible and through the Church, healing of past hurts and pain, a new appreciation for yourself. "I came that you might have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). In time, He may foster a new interest in the opposite sex. How far we go in that direction depends on our goals and His plan for our lives. As good as it is, the gift of heterosexual recovery is not the greatest gift. Faithfully following Christ and living in union with His Church, even in the midst of temptations, brings us a peace that passes all understanding. This peace of living in true union with Christ is the greatest gift we can receive.
5. Go to Confession...Again!
People stay away from this sacrament in droves. Why? Some, because no one ever taught them the value of regular confessions. Others, because they’re afraid to admit, even to themselves, what they’ve done wrong. "If we say we have no sin in us, we’re deceiving ourselves, but if we acknowledge our sins, He can be trusted to cleanse us." (1 John 1:8-9) The Sacrament of Reconciliation does more than forgive our sins. It pulls them out by the roots. In confession, Jesus heals not just the pain of our guilt, but the hurt and confusion that tempted us in the first place. It’s the sacrament of peace. We come away from that encounter with the priest who speaks for God, feeling light and free and peaceful... for a while. But soon we need to go again, because progress is never in a straight line. The Church knows we grow not just by our successes but by our failures, and we need to keep getting up and getting back in the fight. By doing so, we will gradually grow a new heart.
6. Don’t Be Lazy
It is easier not to grow, not to face problems, not to pray, not to go to Mass, not to reach out -- even though we know these things are the keys to our happiness. "Fight the good fight of faith." (1 Timothy 6:12) You have to be a fighter to live your faith. The spiritual journey is a battle, with enemies at each level. At every step, forces inside and around you will try to get you to drop out. These forces are real and daunting. You’re not exempt from this struggle just because you’re walking with Christ. But be like David, and God will help you take down your Goliaths.
7. The Eucharist is Your Strength
Take your place at the Church’s family table every week, or more often if you can, and let Christ strengthen you. Give Him any decisions you face, any people you’re worried about, apologies, thanks, everything! He wants all of it, so lay it all out before Him, and He will talk back to you through scripture, through the priest, through everything that goes on at Church. If you truly open your heart to Him, He can and will fill you up with whatever you need. "I myself am the living bread" (John 6:51). You’ll find He is truly present in Holy Communion, and He’ll give you a clear mind, a calm heart, solid answers, a better attitude, whatever you need. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13). You’ll come out of Mass stronger.
8. You Have a Mission
You were born for a purpose. You have a job to do for God. Even the problems you have, you have for a reason. You can do good things, even great things, while you’re here. Not just in spite of your problems, but because of what they are teaching you. Not just in the future, but today and every day. The Church’s mission is truth, and from the beginning, the world has always told us lies, like: "It’s OK to ignore God and God’s laws." Speak the truth you’ve been given. People need it. Stick up for your faith. People caught in the world’s lies need the Church’s wisdom. "Pray for me that I may open my mouth boldly." (Ephesians 6:20). Ask God for the right situation, the right words, and then be bolder than Hell about what you know deep in your heart. Don’t be concerned about ridicule. Jesus said to expect it. Take your stand firmly in the truth, as Jesus did.
9. Mary Loves You and She’s Here With Us
Everything Courage does for youth is consecrated to Mary, Queen of Peace. She has a gift of power to crush evil, which is depicted in some statues as a snake being crushed under her foot. The Rosary is a great weapon she has given to all. Use it when you fear any kind of defeat. And use it to fight for people you love who are in danger. Jesus said to the disciple John and to all of us, "Here is your mother" (John 19:27). And she’s not just a great soul in Heaven. Like Jesus, she speaks and acts on earth: for instance at Fatima, where she urged sexual purity and praying the Rosary. But why turn to Mary when we have Jesus? Because everyone needs a mother, and Jesus gave her to us from the cross. Let her love you and help you. Pray the Rosary with her. and you’ll see a big difference in everything you do.
"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 resolutely approach Christian perfection." The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2359
Spiritual and Emotional Growth
People who struggle with homosexuality often struggle alone. Courage offers hope and fellowship for those who wish to be faithful to the guidance of the Church in dealing with their homosexual feelings. The Church says to all who will listen: Be chaste, be heroic, live the life of sexual self-control. But the voices of temptation are very strong. Many people run with their impulses, taking a path which leads to disappointment and even death. They call that freedom, but end up slaves to their desires. Courage members find that winning the battle with temptation is the beginning of true freedom and true happiness.
If you are a person who struggles with same-sex attractions, Courage recommends a spiritual journey in response to your situation. This article offers a road map for that journey. Nine spiritual truths, which others have road-tested and found helpful, are presented to guide and encourage your progress. These Nine Truths can be read all at once, but they are designed to be used one at a time in nine conversations with a Courage group or mentor.
Each of the ideas in this section is a spiritual springboard intended to prompt a discussion to help you and your mentor to build up the foundations of a sturdy spiritual life.
1. Christianity is Coming to Christ, Not Just Avoiding Sin
Walking with Jesus involves developing a strong prayer life. That means not just a few prayers at bedtime or at Church, but a gutsy and real relationship where you tell Him everything you feel, ask for everything you need, and welcome Him as your best Friend and biggest influence. Jesus opened His mission on earth by saying, "I have come to set captives free." (Luke 4:18). He can free us from the iron grip of our sins if we let Him, but He won’t force His way into our life. It’s up to us to invite Him to walk with us. Then He sets us free -- truly and joyously free -- not all at once, but one step at a time.
Courage International, Inc.
All rights reserved.