The Courage & Encourage Apostolate is a ministry for those who are struggling with same gender attraction. Members of the group meet to support each other in their common journey of faith. The Courage Apostolate, in particular, is a peer support group of people seeking the grace to live a life in the spirit of the Risen Lord.
Thank you to one of the members of the Courage group for sharing a reflection and personal faith witness in light of the recent political challenges faced by Alberta Catholic schools:
"With all the talk and controversy in the media over the last couple of months pertaining to the rights of the people in the LBGTQ community at schools, and in public, I have been asked to share from my personal experience of living with same-sex-attraction.
I left the Catholic faith in early adulthood because I wanted to find love, and a true relationship for me. I was looking to find the love that would help me see my true identity. After hitting rock bottom because I was not encountering the reciprocal love that I desired in my relationships, I entered a period a silence, interiorly, and in my life. I had lots of time to think, and I felt God was calling me back to my roots, the roots of my faith.
When I lived the homosexual lifestyle, I thought I felt a sense of community, but I later came to the conclusion that it was only a façade. That particular community lived only for itself, with all of its physical pleasure. I needed something beyond the physical to sustain me in life.
When I came back to the Church, I actually encountered love and truth within the parish community. I came to realize the gift and vitality of living a life of chastity. Chastity, for me, means living Jesus' message of love. He calls everyone to live chaste lives, whether you're a single person, a priest, a consecrated religious, or married. In today's day and age it is rather difficult to remain chaste because we live in such a sexualized, sensual, and individualistic society that is based on the ideology that happiness is attained through self-gratification. Jesus counteracts this false notion by inviting us to leave behind our former selves, and to seek and build His Kingdom of love.
In discovering my place in Christ's church, I found my self-identity. I'm part of a larger community, the Church, where each of its members lives with all kinds of struggles. In moments of loneliness and isolation, I have come to realize that the church community can, and does, help me to feel like I really belong.
I am a member of the Courage apostolate and partake in support and fellowship in the Courage group. My close friends support me on my journey, and I seek spiritual guidance so I don't feel like I'm alone. My inner communication with Jesus through prayer is important because He helps me remember that He is the one who will love me always and forever, unconditionally.
All people live with some sort of struggle that challenges their ability to love and be loved. The struggle can show itself as anger, greed, gossip, excessive drinking, etc. When we act on these struggles, it goes against Jesus' message for us to love one another. When I stray from what Jesus teaches about human sexuality, I end up objectifying the people I desire. This usually leads to loneliness and isolation. I will be happy for one moment, but unhappy the next. However, when I try to see others of the same sex that I am attracted to through Jesus' eyes, I realize that He will continue to give me the strength to strive to live a chaste life. He helps me to see more of the person, rather than focus only on my sexual desires towards that person. It is not easy, but knowing that I am not alone gives me strength to live Christ's call to chastity.
As God's people, within our Catholic faith, we gain a new perspective of ourselves and our role in His kingdom of love when we come to Him with our struggles. Whether we are struggling with gender identity dysphoria or same-sex attraction, Jesus reveals our calling to us within the context of our Catholic faith by giving us the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to live it."
Throughout life, many people experience trials and sorrow, often losing sight of the bigger picture. God has a plan for each one of us, though when life becomes rough with pot holes and uneven roads, we tend to think ourselves useless, falling into a sense of hopelessness, believing that things will never improve. This notion takes its toll on our concept of self-worth and validity as a child of God. Does God really love me? How can this happen to me? Why am I going through this? What purpose does this serve?
This beautiful passage below, from the book, "Seeing Yourself Through God's Eyes" by Marie Paul Curley, FSP, truly reminds us to ponder the concept of identity.
"Our essential identity - that we are human beings lovingly created in the image of God - never changes. Our choices and actions don't change this core identity, but can express, strengthen, and develop it. When we begin to trust in God's love for us, we can also trust the results of our efforts to his loving care, knowing that God's plan for us is better than anything we could come up with. We no longer need to be caught in a frantic, restless need to prove our self-worth, but can act out of a sense of security and peace."
- Marie Paul Curley, FSP
Copyright © Daughters of St. Paul, Toronto and Boston. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Courage & Encourage Apostolate Resources
Here is a link where you can download the pamphlet Sexuality at the Catholic Church:
For general information on pornography, and for those on the journey to recovery from addiction to pornography, download these helpful resources below.
In addition to individual counselling, these support groups very often conduct their sessions with the assistance of the 12 step format developed by Alcoholics Anonymous.
The 12 steps can aid any individuals spiritual growth, whether or not there are issues of addiction in that persons life. At Courage groups, the 12 steps are presented in the context of solid Catholic spirituality. When appropriate individuals are referred to Catholic therapists.
Each year, usually during the summer months, Courage holds an International Conference where hundreds of men and women gather to pray, study and support each other.
Individual Chapters of COURAGE will also sponsor DAYS OF RECOLLECTION at different times of the year to assist the members of our support groups.
Encourage is a support ministry that is dedicated to the spiritual needs of parents, siblings, children and other relatives and friends of persons who have same-sex attraction.
Many of us either know someone or are close to someone with a homosexual or same sex attraction. Encourage is a support ministry within the Catholic Church, which assists people who are not same sex attracted themselves however either have children, friends or family members who have identified themselves as struggling with this issue.
Encourage offers faithful witness to Catholic teaching on sexual morality while meeting the needs of its members with charity and compassion and cultivating a supportive accepting environment in which the more immediate goals of fostering personal chastity and sexual abstinence can be valued.
"You are always my child;
nothing can ever change that,
you are also a child of God, gifted and
called for a purpose in God's design."
- "Always our Children" USCCB