By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK
The pattern is well established: a talented, wealthy, successful, famous, and usually beautiful public figure reveals his or her same-sex attraction and everyone gets in line to “canonize” and congratulate this person for heroic honesty and integrity. The glamorization of this endless parade of self-congratulatory egomaniacs is nearly limitless. It can provide somewhat amusing entertainment as a kind of modern circus, but there the diversion ends. The results for young people and families of this kind of exhibitionism can be devastating.
For our young people just starting out in life, acting out and speaking out on their feelings which can very well be transitory and very likely can change, following the examples they see lionized in the media, can be dangerous and result in suicide. The increasing prevalence of and unprecedented access to mass media through social networks encourage instant gratification and blur lines between private and public spheres.
A priest contacted me recently to say that a woman told him that her adolescent daughter confessed that she has same-sex attraction and that the mother was going to bring her daughter to speak with him. “I have heard from others that this is an increasingly common situation — of adolescent girls with these feelings,” he wrote. I responded that this is very dangerous because young people do not understand that their feelings can change and deepen in new ways as they mature. They are surrounded by a culture that teaches they must act on and pursue now everything they feel now. Temporary situations and problems become permanent problems and dilemmas as a result.
We can counsel young people to keep these matters private, but the culture discourages that.
The currently ambiguous lines between what should remain private for one’s personal protection and what can be shared, sometimes only in an unworthy desire for popularity, make parenting today largely an uncharted and often intimidating terrain.
How do we establish the proper lines between what can and should remain private and what is safely shared? A regular practice of the Sacrament of Confession is necessary. The confessional is the safe zone where we can share our doubts, fears, and sins as we otherwise practice staying in silence about them.
Through this, the Lord has authority to help us with His counsel and grace to work problems out in His time and according to His will. Not everything about which we are in doubt is sinful, but certainly can be dangerous if a temptation. Avoiding people, places, and things that serve as occasions of sin requires reflection and prayer. Exposing them to the light of day in the confessional can help us to do this more effectively.
Spiritual direction is also a confidential means of reflection when someone is confused and in need of companionship through advice and objective observation. Regular conversation and prayer with a director is another means of acting on one’s experiences, but in a safe and prudent environment. Many things that are human pass as we journey in faith to the One who never passes away. All of our human experiences must be held up through faith to the light of God in Christ which never passes away in order to be truly understood.
On February 11 we celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Although St. Bernadette, the seer at the famous grotto, certainly serves well as a model for one who lives the faith through great difficulty, it was Mary’s example, guidance, and love that inspired the French girl.
Our Lady became the greatest saint because she remained faithful to our heavenly Father despite the many things she did not understand while answering His call to the greatest motherhood, the motherhood of Jesus Christ. When confused about herself and God’s will for her, Mary remained in silence, “reflecting upon all these things in her heart,” as the evangelist Luke writes. Her life was far from perfect in an earthly sense, and yet, by staying in silence for the sake of communion with God in prayerful love, she arrived at great peace and grace through Jesus Christ her Son until the day when she was assumed body and soul into Heaven.
Mary always serves as our model in the pilgrimage of faith, where we seek to follow Christ in and above all things.
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(Follow Fr. Cusick on Facebook at Reverendo Padre-Kevin Michael Cusick and on Twitter @MCITLFrAphorism.)