As we move into a more secularised society in which the Church's message is less welcome it is worth reflecting on what the Church is saying to people who have sexual identity issues. Besides the obvious compassion the Church has on those who struggle with homosexuality (and sexuality in general), the Church presents to every age the same vision of redemption, of man placed into a wondrous relationship with God by virtue of his Baptism and the other Sacraments.
The message is not heard as loud or as often as it should be, perhaps, but the message for nearly 2,000 years remains the same. Our happiness is linked intrinsically to our relationship with God and our neighbour. The happiness we seek is blessedness - not mere contentment and security, nor the pursuit of pleasure. The Beatitudes laid out by Christ in His proclamation of the Kingdom of God upon the Mount are those teachings that will make us truly happy. They just so happen to overturn what the World says of how we can achieve happiness.
Happiness, or rather Blessedness, is Cruciform. It does not appear to us to be particularly appealing, yet it is, ultimately and in this life too what will make us truly happy. We try with God's grace to attain to this pattern of life. We fail, but we seek this happiness, the happiness of true lovers who, in forgetting our own needs and desires, forgetting self, find life in all its fullness in Christ.
As in every age, it doesn't appear to be a recipe for happiness - so much so that the World rejects it, but it is a positive, expansive, infinite vision of man, rather than a restrictive vision of man defined by his sexuality and orientation and his desires. Neither is this vision of holiness restricted by gender or class, ethnicity or disability. It is about man moving beyond his limited capabilities and personal desires and wants into the vast, unlimited ocean of God's love.
We see this Blessedness in the lives of the Saints, in Our Lady most especially who, as the Immaculate, was totally given over to God's will in her earthly life from the moment of the conception of her being and now reigns in Heaven with her Divine Son in the flesh. Consistently, down the ages the Church presents to Her members Her poor and tells us that if we desire happiness, if we desire Christ and Heaven, to lay down our lives, our desires, our worldly pursuits, things we find that don't make us happy but leave us unsatisfied, and to serve the poor in whom Christ Himself is served.
The Lord says much about His Cross. He tells us that it is this means of torture He will 'draw all men' to Himself. It is by means of the Cross that man will see the love his Creator has for him. It is by means of the Cross that man will see the true depth and meaning of love. It is by means of the Cross that man will lay down his life as his Brother and Saviour, Jesus, has laid down His Life for him. In every age, the Church calls us, as Her members, to lay our own needs and wants aside and to serve the poor with generous hearts. We are moving, in a more secular age, into an age in which human beings are disposable and discarded, unwanted and made scapegoats for society's and our pride, lust, vanity and greed. This age tells us to love self above all things and to always put ourselves first. This is not, as philosophers down the ages have told us, what will make us happy. Happiness is to be emptied of ourselves only to be filled with the love of Christ for men.
In every age Christ and His Church tell us that if we want to be happy and blessed, then we would do well to put aside our own desires, needs and wants and serve our neighbour's needs - especially the poor. Every age has shown us men and women, Saints, who have shown us the way in following Jesus faithfully. It may be that we do not follow the Lord as generously as His Blessed Saint Francis or Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, nor that we are showered with as much grace, but we would be foolish to fail to heed their pattern of life and see in it something of our truly desired happiness, our desired blessedness, that form of happiness that we truly desire, in this age and in all the ages, for evermore.
Finally, let us not be naive. Despite our own neuroses with our own sexuality, it must be said that the Government, the State and commercial interests, too, are far more interested in our sexual orientation and preferences even than we are. So much so, in fact, that the Government is offering same-sex marriage to a small community of people who so far show little interest in marriage as an institution.
We are being divided into neat sub-sections of society and are told regularly to form allegiances, political and social, along these lines. Catholic identity and, in particular, the Catholic truth that man finds happiness and satisfaction in God alone - the Catholic truth that only a relationship with Jesus Christ can grant us the happiness that we truly seek - this is certainly a threat to the Establishment and the established political, social, moral, cultural order of our day. Don't let any Government tell you what you are, for the State has no right to define you. You are made, crafted wonderfully by and for God. In God's eyes, you're not gay, straight, bi, trans or anything else. He has called you by your name. You are a child of God, not a child of the State, nor of the left or the right, nor of any socio-cultural category, for if Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, is for us, who can be against us and who could possibly prevail?
St Catherine of Siena told us that, "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire!" If we are what we are meant to be then we will set the World on fire with the love of God. Every government - every Government in history, without exception - fears that above all other things, for the making of Martyrs is always a work showing forth the power of God.
Any day now, the Bishops will rise up and in concert proclaim the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ fearlessly and when they do, the very walls of Parliament will shake. I guess the Te Deum is unsuitable for the month of November, but I thought it got across the message of the Church's true vision of man rather well.