My wedding to Regina last month was a truly blessed occasion in every way! I cannot say how joyous I am, about that day in particular, but more so about the Sacrament we entered into on that day. I hope to soon write a post about our wedding and our honeymoon (a road trip pilgrimage to various holy sites in the Eastern half of the U.S.).
Before then, though, I would like to share something that has come up a little more recently regarding the wedding Mass itself. The priest who officiated delivered a powerful, beautiful, edifying, and uncompromising homily. It was the type of homily that, if we had more of over the past several decades, society never would have been able to sink so low. He was very clear in speaking the truth about marriage and the dangers posed by the same-sex “marriage” legislation in our nation. This very much upset certain family members (there were homosexual(s) in attendance), and we were made aware of this via email three weeks after the wedding.
In today’s Gospel reading, Our Lord tells us “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household … will be divided …”
I post this today to encourage you all to be witnesses in the world, and even in your own families. We must never pursue division, for in itself it is a bad thing, but we must be willing to accept it if it comes as a result of us sharing the truth in charity. Remember, never fear the truth, but also always favor gentleness and meekness, so that when we are persecuted, it is truly for the sake of righteousness, and not because there actually was something in our approach, itself worthy of reproach.
Here is my (anonymized) response to the concerned relative that I sent out via email a couple days ago – I always like to use occasions like this as an opportunity to provide a brief introduction to the Theology of the Body, and I encourage you all to do the same! This particular email was sent to a non-Christian, so I could not appeal to Scripture or Church teaching (which I would were I addressing this to a Christian or a Catholic, respectively)
Thank you for reaching out to me and letting me know how you felt about what was said in the homily of my wedding Mass. Please know that I am always open to hearing about such things, even if they are hard to say. I hope that all of my family members always consider me approachable on anything.
I understand that you and others felt hurt by the chosen words of Father during the homily. You are absolutely right that this was not my intention (thank you for recognizing that before I even had to say so); it is never my intention that anyone be hurt, especially not anyone in my own family. Please know that as I was up there before the altar, I was praying with all of my heart for those in my family who I feared would indeed feel hurt.
How I wish we could live in a world where hurt was not necessary, or that when it was necessary, it could be I who had to endure it instead of those dear to me. We all believe things that hurt others (merely in the act of our believing of them), and then even more hurt ensues when we vocalize these beliefs. We have to be prudent about when to speak, but we cannot always be silent. I am so glad that, over the years, there have been occasions where family members have said things that hurt at the time, but helped me after the fact to grow overall.
In that regard, I do not deem my own wedding to be a time when silence was called for; a time when we were gathering together to celebrate the holiness of matrimony to be a time when the foundational truths of marriage remain unstated lest someone feel hurt.
And since we have now arrived at the crux of the matter – the foundational truths of marriage-, please allow me to explain my beliefs, lest the popular portrayal of them leave you tempted to see me as hateful or bigoted. See that in what follows, I am not appealing to the authority of the Church or even of the Bible; but merely to what our Creator has written directly in all of our bodies and souls.
Though reductionistic modern thought sometimes insists people to regard sex as a mere chromosomal quality or difference in a few organs, anyone with wisdom knows better. What strikes you first whenever you see a person, and what you remember the longest, is that person’s sex. After humanity itself, sex is one’s most essential attribute; for it is not merely a trait – it is not something about a person like height or skin color – but rather it is who that person is. Try as you might, you cannot change your sex; you have it from the moment of your conception and you maintain it for all time and eternity. One can no more change from a man into a woman than he can change from a man into a dog. Language itself is and always has been well aware of this. It is demeaning to refer to a person as “it,” and grammatically incorrect to refer to a person as “they.” You have to refer to a person as a “he” or a “she.” There is no other way, and there ought not be any other way.
After recognizing the unsurpassably fundamental nature of sex, we have to ask “what does this truth mean? what does it teach us about how we are to live and believe?” – for God teaches not primarily through Scripture or the Church, but primarily through our very design. As soon as we have the honesty to ask this question, the answer becomes obvious: neither the male body nor the female body makes any sense in isolation. Each is expressly designed to be given to the other. Therefore this meaning of sexuality that we now seek is the gift of self. A man or a woman is made, from the very beginning, to be a gift to another. Only in becoming this gift is he or she fulfilling the meaning of his or her being and existence.
Sexual intimacy is the greatest physical mode of expression of this gift of self. We can make a sort of gift of ourselves to many others of either sex in many ways; but when it comes to sexual intimacy – the ultimate physical gift of self in its entirety – there is one place alone in which it is properly expressed and, in that place, made beautiful and honorable; namely, in the marriage of a man and a woman. To give the gift of self in the form of sexual intimacy, in any other fashion, is a lie against the very nature of the gift (and remember that this applies to any use whatsoever of sexual intimacy outside of this setting; not merely to homosexual acts); akin to wrapping up rotting trash to put under the Christmas tree just because you enjoy watching the children unwrapping gifts. We know what the culmination of that lie would be; the children devastated and the parents’ utter loss of the very enjoyment they were pursuing in their deceitful gift giving. The culmination of lying with the very gift of self that is sexuality is like that, but far darker and more destructive.
As we all know, a lie is an intrinsically disordered thing; it is an act that is never good or beautiful because it is never true. I sympathize with people who have dispositions towards certain types of lies; I respect their dignity and I love them. But I can never participate in what I know full well to be a lie; not by praise, and not even by silence. For me to do so would not be love; it would be hatred. For me to support, or even for me to fail to oppose, any legislation aimed at institutionalizing, encouraging, or confirming any one of those lies would be also be hateful.
That all being said, Father’s words during his homily are not the words I would have chosen were I to address a person who is proudly living the gay lifestyle (I am sure they are also not the words with which he would intentionally address a gay person; please keep in mind that he was speaking to a congregation of 300 people, the vast majority of whom were devout Catholics. I know him well and he is extremely compassionate to all.). Given that opportunity, I would say:
“You are an especially beloved child of God. Were you the only person on this Earth that could be saved, just as you are now, He still would have come down from heaven and given up His life for you. Not only that, but nothing you have done or will do can lessen this love. Even now you are not far away from Him; you need not undergo a long and arduous process of self-reform before approaching and being accepted by Him; you need only turn to Him. It is as easy as saying, with your heart, ‘Jesus, I am sorry. Help me.’ All He needs is your desire for Him – even if at this moment your desire for Him is more in the form of merely feeling a distaste for those specific aspects of your lifestyle that displease Him and an admission that you ought to be rid of them. Do not let yourself or anyone else tell you that you are “dirty” to Him; on the contrary, you are more precious than the entire universe, and if you only appeal to His mercy, then He would never and can never reject you.”
I cannot apologize for the substance of what Father said; I will always stand by it even with my very life. But I hope what I said here has cleared up any worries you may have had about my approach to homosexual persons, and helped you to understand more why I believe what I do. If at times my behavior appears strange or my motives unclear, know this: there are really only two things I care about, and I strive to bring every single thought, word, and deed of my life in conformity with them: to know, love, and serve a certain Man who walked the Earth 2,000 years ago, and to bring others to do the same, for I know with the certainty of Faith that we will all see Him the moment after we die.
With much love and prayers always,
In Christ, through Mary,