I've never seen the US Catholic show 'Life on the Rock' before. The opening music sounds like a rip-off of music from that terribly irritating the hit US sitcom, 'Friends'. That said, this is an excellent interview with a Catholic woman who identified as lesbian, but is now married with six children! Still, that isn't what is really interesting about the interview. What is interesting is Michelle's candour about her struggles, which she suggests are ongoing, with same sex attraction. She certainly speaks about the issue of sexuality with more eloquence than I could. It is very refreshing to find a Catholic spokesperson on this issue - someone who is open, honest and human about the issue, yet who does not deny Catholic Truth. From my personal experiences I can say I agree with pretty much all she says on the topic. She bears an excellent witness to the Faith.
I don't know about you but I cannot abide those individuals, who are usually Protestants, who get up and tell people that they are 'ex-gays' or something, as if sexuality is like a career in the army - something you can just leave behind. Having said that, I have heard that experience in Her Majesty's Forces never leaves you. It might in fact be an adequate simile. She condemns Protestant notions that sexuality can be magically healed, as if God just zaps people with 100,000,000 watts of Grace when they realise they are homosexual and even takes a sceptical view at counselling methods. Personally, I can't stand people who make money out of listening to you while going "Hmm...and how did that feel?"
Michelle manages to communicate Catholic Truth while reaffirming that sexual temptation is an issue for everybody - not just for gays and lesbians. She also makes a good point regarding where the Church may have failed over the past generation in communicating the Gospel, in as much as some in the 'gay community' could feel rightly affronted as being called out as great sinners, while abortion, fornication and widespread contraception use has been commonplace for even communicating Catholics - that this is something that has hampered the Church's ability to communicate the Gospel to the 'gay community'.
Many things about this interview impressed me about Michelle. She manages to communicate that whether we are straight or gay, life is an upward climb with Our Lord up Calvary and that self-sacrifice, whether it takes place in marriage or in celibate life, is the royal road to the Resurrection that we must make. She acknowledges our propensity to fall under the Cross, encourages us to get back up again and pick up our Cross once more. We very much desire to have a share in Our Lord's Resurrection and in His Glory, but are we willing to have a share in His humiliation, His suffering and Cross? It is quite a long interview, but her thoughts on 'authentic sexuality', the process of acceptance of self and of Christ and the Church's Teaching, her conversion, devotion to Our Blessed Lady, the limitations of same sex relationships and the reality of married life are like a breath of fresh air in a World in which all we can hear on this issue is a cacophany of liars.
You can tell in the interview she feels uncomfortable about the interview, she is being candid - it is a little bit 'Oprah' - but at the same time she is making herself vulnerable with her honesty and through that bears witness to the power of God. Concerning whether gays/lesbians can marry (people of the opposite sex), she offers the most important piece of advice she can give: Seek God's will, seek God's face. Put your hand in God's hand and God will lead you where He wills. Marriage should not become an idol - it is something we should do because God in His wisdom desires us to live that particular vocation. I identify very much with her story and I have no doubt that it can work out the same way for men with same sex attraction as it worked out for Michelle and doubtless other women with the same condition. Catholic 'success stories' are about human fragility and God's mighty power working through 'broken reeds'. Protestant 'success stories' are usually just shams, lacking in humanity, integrity and honesty.
When it comes to the issue of homosexuality, it strikes me that there are two kinds of Protestantism infecting the Church. One is the kind that denies the Church's Teaching. It is marked by dissent from the Magisterium, tearing at the 'seamless garment' of the Church. It posits that happiness as a gay man is in 'living out' one's sexual desires and that self-denial ruins us. The other kind is puritan, a Protestantism that posits that the gay man has to deny not just himself, but his own human nature. It becomes pharisaical, obsessed with outer purity, rather than with the inner purity of a heart that desires to draw close to God. Pope Benedict XVI addresses the subject in Jesus of Nazareth Part II. When is Part III coming out? That's the question! God alone knows is the answer!
'Faith cleanses the heart. It is the result of God's initiative toward man. It is not simply a choice men make for themselves. Faith comes about because men are touched deep within by God's spirit, who opens and purifies their heart.'
'It all depends on our "I" being absorbed into his ("it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me" - Gal. 2:20). This is why the second constantly recurring key word in Augustine's exegesis of the Sermon on the Mount is misericordia - mercy. We must let ourselves be immersed in the Lord's mercy, the our "hearts", too, will discover the right path. The new commandment is not simply a new and higher demand; it is linked to the newness of Jesus Christ - to growing immersion in him.'
Discussing St Peter's triple denial and desire to defend Our Lord with the sword, the Holy Father says...
'The two exchanges are essentially about the same thing: not telling God what to do, but learning to accept him as he reveals himself to us; not seeking to exalt ourselves to God's level, but in humble service letting ourselves be slowly refashioned into God's true image.'
The Holy Father is a man with the highest Office in the World. He is a man like us in all things including sin. He knows that we all have struggles and temptations and weaknesses and as Pope his Cross is very, very heavy. That said, the Holy Father is indeed holy because he keeps reaffirming to us that the Christian Faith is about God condescending to man, descending to man, in order to take man up to God with Him. It is not about man ascending to God through his achievements and moral efforts. Likewise, purity is a gift of God Who alone is Pure. Nobody can steal the treasures of Heaven, where 'moth and rust doth not corrupt'. It is a gift that God alone can give. That said, if we don't ask, we don't get.