Last night, my husband and I had the privilege of hearing a story about God's extraordinary intervention of grace. We attended a local Theology on Tap gathering to which a speaker was invited to share his very personal story of healing and redemption from the loss of innocence in childhood all the way up through his very active participation in the homosexual lifestyle.
His journey began as a young child, searching for love and acceptance, only be met with fear and violence in his household. His stepfather and older brother viciously abused him all throughout his developmental years, and his escape from this situation only took him further into a life of abuse by his own addictions. He entered the social scene in New York at the hight of the homosexual surge in the seventies. By the time he left New York, about ninety percent of his friends had died because of the AIDS epidemic.
This humble man recounted instances in his life where he had known the hand of God was leading him out of the darkness and into the light. His conviction that he was miraculously preserved from AIDS and completely healed of Hepatitis-B in order to spend the rest of his life "making up for what I did." He credited the prompting of his conversion of heart to Mother Angelica, who spoke the truth with love through his television set.
After stealing time away from his partner to watch Mother Angelica, this man named Paul went to his first confession in 35 years. He knew he had to take steps to heal and overcome his addiction so deeply ingrained, so he reached out to Courage, the apostolate that helps people with same-sex attraction live chastely, according to the teachings of the Church that are founded upon principles of natural law.
One of the challenges Paul encountered on his road to recovery was the hardship of having to drive many miles into another diocese to attend Courage meetings, as his own bishop was not supportive of his request to establish a group within his own diocese. He appreciated the clear teaching about chaste living, not wanting to be patronized by a softening of the Church teaching which had been encapsulated by the strength and no-nonsense style of Mother Angelica, whom he had come to cherish.
I think there are many things that we can take away from Paul's testimony. One is that love crosses seemingly insurmountable obstacles to bring people back from the brink of self-destruction. We should not lose hope for our loved ones who have been seduced by the darkness of the culture. Secondly, our modern inclination to make truth more palatable by chipping away at it in the interest of "pastoral sensitivity" is misguided. Mother Angelica was famous for telling it like it is, but there was never any doubt that she loved her viewers with an insurmountable love, one that reached right through the television set and set their hearts on fire.
Since Paul's conversion, and through his affiliation with Courage, he has generously and bravely agreed to share his story of God's love and redemption in his life with a wider audience. His testimony, along with the testimonies of two other courageous souls who struggled with same-sex attraction is available to view on Vimeo.
Please join me in praying for them. Their witness to seeking holiness will undoubtedly touch hearts, but it will also pierce the consciences of those who will not want to let go of their addictions without a violent fight. God bless and protect these brave men and women who sacrifice and risk everything to testify to the truth.