Courage Reparational Group: 20th Anniversary
On September 8, 1992 (the day the Church commemorates the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary), I had a private meeting with John Cardinal O'Conner of New York. This meeting concerned a certain revelation I received in my heart while attending the 1st Anniversary of the Philadelphia Courage group. I had been working with Fr. John Harvey, our beloved Courage Founder, for ten years in the Courage Office in NYC. I felt that Jesus was inviting Courage members to a vocational call to enter more deeply into a life with Him! In the 1980s I had been on the front lines with Fr. Harvey witnessing to the Catholic Church's teaching that men and women with same-sex attractions can live chaste lives. We often battled many other groups, such as Dignity, which challenged the Church's teaching. Sadly, their membership sometimes included many of our own priests and nuns!
I myself had a conversion experience on Sept. 8, 1975, just as I was about to enter the "Gay" lifestyle. This experience flooded me with God's love and mercy and made me know without a doubt that Jesus understood my homo-emotional pain and struggle. He desired a connection with me! I knew that this desire of Jesus was meant not only for me, but also for all who were experiencing SSA! I was given a great grace and the responsibility to witness to this grace!
I became a part of a lay Catholic community called the Anawim Community which provided formation in the interior spiritual life. It was during this time that I was first exposed to the "Spirituality of Weakness" which came through the Anawim Founder, Fr. Francis Marino, SM (Society Of Mary). This "Spirituality of Weakness" was first defined by St. Therese of Liseux in her "Little Way," a book describing her own experience and knowledge of the Heart of God.
The truth that God loves us in our weakness -- in our struggle -- and that we do not have to deny our struggle, but rather that God, our loving Father, actually respects our struggle needs to be heard through faithful witnesses!! We do not have to be perfect for God to love us. He knows our human nature. Neither do we do have to feel shame about our homo-emotional conflicts or issues (our feelings and desires)!
The Courage Reparation Group was founded twenty years ago to make reparation for sins against human sexuality and to pray for the conversion of our brothers and sisters with whom we kneel in solidarity. We are one with them in our struggle, and we offer and unite our pain with the passion of Jesus and Mary. Just as the sword of suffering pierced Mary's heart, the sword shall also pierce our hearts so that many may experience Redemption!!
I believe that one day a Courage Religious Community will be born to give actual witness in the Church to this vocational call to chastity! The Courage Reparation Group was born (had its first meeting) on November 21, 1992, which is the Feast of Our Lady's Presentation in the Temple. This was Mary's consecration day to God the Father, and I knew by this feast day that God was giving Courage members equal footing with all His Elect! (Many religious take their first vows on this feast day.) Mary is presenting those who struggle with same-sex attractions to the Father as a fitting offering for the salvation of souls!
Over the past twenty years Jesus has taught me that we need to "love back" for souls. Rejection, abandonment, betrayal, misunderstanding, insults, humiliations, feelings of marginalization offered and united to the Passion of Jesus Christ can have great power through grace released into the world! Our lowliness -- keeping our heads down and not up in arrogance screaming for our rights -- can bring healing to the whole world.
We are living in an arrogant and ignorant society. Natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy serve to hopefully and mercifully wake us up to the vulnerability we should feel before the authority of God. God's agenda is that no one die but rather, that all live in the Spirit. The political agenda for "Gay" marriage is serious, and it shakes the foundation of God's wisdom and authority in the minds of many people. Jesus always loves the sinner but hates the sin. We need to stay on our knees with our heads down concerning this issue, but we need to stand up for Truth and fight the good fight!
God is not giving us a pass right now, as this past election has shown us. We all felt a kick in our stomach, but God wants it real in these times!! The Catholic Church was meant to be the "Beacon of Light in the Darkness." Likewise, we need to be that light in a crooked and perverse world. We need to fight the enemy -- the Evil One -- with reparational prayer and sacrifice, with the Rosary and Eucharistic Adoration as our weapons!! We need to "love back" for souls and not hate. It is easy to hate our enemies, but love is always stronger than hate, and it has great power to heal and unite!!
Jesus is inviting more and more Courage members to this "vocational call" through Courage Reparation, as well as through the online groups. (Two years ago CRG went Global through CRO!) I can't believe twenty years have gone by since that day I spent with Cardinal O'Connor, but I know they are all rooting for us -- Fr. Harvey, Cardinals Cooke and O'Connor, and all the Courage members who have gone before us!
We need to remember that what is flesh is flesh, but what is Spirit is Spirit (Jesus's phrase). We are physical, psychological, and spiritual beings, and we need to feed our souls, our inner person, or interior self, as much as our bodies and psyches. We are here to grow spiritually from the inside-out, so we need to embrace and accept chastity as a form of sobriety in our lives. We need to keep ourselves balanced in our relationships so we experience God and our true selves more and get away from our co-dependencies. (I am also a Catholic therapist and know from my own co-dependency, as well as from others', that it is toxic to the spiritual life!!)
This 20th Anniversary is a reminder to me of God's faithfulness and mercy throughout these years, that despite all of my own weaknesses, faults, falls, and unfaithfulness, Jesus has never left me or forsaken me. The Sacred Heart prayer teaches us to trust not in our own human nature, but to trust in God's goodness and mercy! Jesus has preserved this group and strenghthened it. He is still desiring us and including us in His call to be united with Him. We still and always will belong in the Family of God!!
Passion Of Jesus Comfort Us!!!!
The 20th Anniversary of the Courage Reparational Group