For those who understand Courage and its relationship with SSA persons seeking Chastity, it is fairly obvious that the group experience is core to the movement. One to one counseling is extremely helpful as is reading appropriate literature on the subject. Personal private prayer is essential as is one’s own dedicated determination. Nothing, however, can replace the group experience which has proven to be the single most factor, under God, in achieving sexual sobriety and sanity.
The many studies done on group experience correlate highly with Courage experience since its founding under Fr. Harvey. There is a power in groups which cannot be found in individual striving. The Courage group process which emphasizes individual self searching before other members (with the same basic problem of Same Sex attraction) opens up a myriad of healing in accord with traditional Catholic teaching. There is no one person (priest moderators included) who can truly move these pained persons to wholeness as can the total impact of the group. In the group experience, SSA members can hear that this is a problem common to all the members. The relief felt when a member discovers that he is not alone is huge. The sense of aloneness one might feel with his unnatural drives to same sex is dissipated. Self disclosure of one member encourages self disclosure in another member. When each member hears of the struggles of others, he is strengthened with even the slightest articulation of another’s growth. He finds that there is hope for chastity and peace of mind. He senses that it is possible to achieve chastity when previously he had heard only of the impossibility of living out Christ’s will.
It is not uncommon to hear members state that they feel stronger being in the group. They say that before they joined the group they had been discouraged or confused, but now feel clarified and optimistic. They have said many times that the presence of the Holy Spirit is palpable; that such Presence assures then that they are not asked to struggle alone –but to struggle with God’s powerful help. These groups are not for discussion or social encounters. All members know that they are on Holy Ground during the group sessions. This is why discussions about matters not germane to SSA and the Catholic position are not encouraged nor tolerated. There is no “cross talk” in these groups. Only a single individual publicly articulating his personal struggle with SSA has the “stage”. He is given total and respectful attention which is why he begins to gain some sense of confidence about himself and his own value under God. He is allowed and expected to talk about himself—not others. He is encouraged to express verbally his deep feelings and to make sense of them in the Catholic manner. There is limited chance for a member to fake his own viewpoint or escape confronting himself. And a further finding is that faithful attendance at group meetings gets one to a point where he believes that “a week without a meeting makes one weak.”
Since each meetings opens with the reading of the Five Goals of Courage, no one is under any misconception why he is there. Specifically everyone is reminded that this particular meeting is to help persons suffering from SSA who wish to achieve the Chastity so required by The Lord. Any other reason is a waste of everyone’s time. These are not cruising, social or discussion groups. Courage groups are strictly spiritual aids to help persons who wish to achieve chastity. The group norm is that every one present shares the common goal. To break with or escape from the demonic grip of homosexual behavior.
It is this clear dimension in the search for chastity, under enlightened executive leadership and God’s Grace, which makes the Courage movement so successful. This perception of the Courage movement is valued and approved by the highest of our Catholic leaders, including Pope John Paul II. So today when spiritual directors speak of chastity and SSA, they often refer troubled souls to Courage. Such trust should be rewarded as it usually is.