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."