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Affection for Sin Presents Serious Danger

The Flight of Lot and His Family from Sodom, by Jacob Jordaens. Image Credit.

This article originally appeared on the St. Paul Center Blog.

I loved studying the teachings of the greatest Doctors of the Church in the area of spirituality. It took me a long time from starting with John of the Cross and working through all six of the Doctors I present in The Fulfillment of All Desire but I can’t tell you how helpful their wisdom has been for my own life and what a valuable resource this book has been for tens of thousands of its readers (and listeners!). I think God gave me the grace to be able to present their teachings in a clear, understandable, orderly way, providing an amazing road map for all of us as we continue on the spiritual journey. Let me, in this short blog, share just one of the many amazing and helpful insights that have meant a lot to many people, including myself. Francis de Sales provides important insight into something he calls “affection for sin.”                     

One of Francis’ most helpful insights is his teaching on the affection for sin. He points out that oftentimes we might turn away from serious sins in our life and try hard not to commit them, but still nurture affection for such sin, which greatly slows down our spiritual progress and disposes us to future falls.

He points out that although the Israelites left Egypt in effect, many did not leave it in affection. They complained to Moses that that greatly missed the leeks, garlic, and melons they had back in Egypt. They had physically left Egypt but the affection for Egypt was still in their hearts and slowed them down greatly on their journey to the Promised Land. The same can be true for many of us. We leave sin in effect, but reluctantly, and look back at it fondly, as did Lot’s wife when she looked back on the doomed city of Sodom.

Continue reading here.

Experiencing the Lord’s Goodness in Cameroon

Cameroonian lay leaders gathered outside to pray with each other in small groups as a part of their Unbound ministry training.

This article originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ November 2019 newsletter.

“Now to Him who by means of His power working in us is able to do more than we can ever ask, or even think—to God be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever!” (Eph 3:20-21)

“God is good—all the time!”

“And all the time—God is very, very good, and that is His nature. Wow!”

This Cameroonian adaptation to an oft-used phrase capsulizes our mission experience. God is very, very good—we all experienced the “Wow!” of the Lord’s goodness and healing power.

The purpose of this mission was to provide Unbound teaching and training for seminarians, priests, sisters, and lay leaders. Unbound is a method of deliverance healing that utilizes the five keys of repentance and faith, forgiveness, renunciation, authority, and the Father’s blessing. We were invited and hosted by Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, CMF, formator and superior of the Claretian seminary in Yaoundé. You can read more about Fr. Jude, and his recent experience of being kidnapped and tortured, here. Remy Takam served as our translator. Remy is on staff with Catholic Christian Outreach in Ottawa, Canada; is involved in the Charismatic Renewal; and is very familiar with Unbound. He was a great addition to our team. We experienced the grace and blessing of the Lord for our entire mission.

Approximately sixty people attended our first training session. The majority were Claretian seminarians, from nine different African countries. Most were somewhat bilingual (French and English), though the majority spoke and understood French better than English. Eight sisters, from two different religious communities, had traveled far to be present. Five or six priests also attended.

Miriam Wright, a Renewal Ministries’ board member, and I alternated teaching the kerygma and the concepts of Unbound, and leading prayer ministry. The people were open and receptive. Miriam confirmed that my teaching and discernment were “spot on,” and I felt the same way about her. I experienced God at work through me as I led “activation ministry”—speaking prophetically of how God was at work in people’s lives. We thank God!

Our second training involved about 125 people, mostly lay Claretians and a few clergy. Though we had a shorter time with them, we again took time to not just teach the concepts, but also to teach how to pray with people through the Five Keys. I was amazed at the testimonies of healing, forgiveness, and newfound freedom. Participants were empowered to go forth using the Unbound method in their own lives and ministry.

Bishop Sosthène Bayemi, the national coordinator and episcopal moderator of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Cameroon, joined us for Mass and dinner. He is very pastoral, inspirational, wise, caring, and supportive.

Political Unrest

We heard many stories of the violence and unrest in the Anglophone areas of Cameroon, both from the conference participants and from my missionary friends. It is so sad. There is no doubt that the ministry Unbound provides is both timely and impactful in this situation of war and trauma. There is great need for healing and forgiveness, and of course, of the proclamation of the Gospel, now more than ever.

Fr. Jude seemed very pleased with the fruit of our training. His personal experience of healing and renewal convinced him all the more of the value of Unbound formation.

Reflections from Miriam Wright

We, the team, offered our loaves and fishes and the Lord multiplied the impact. They key question we asked was not “what can we offer” but “what is needed.” The Lord closed the gap.

One memory that will stay with me is of a seminarian who felt he had lost his vocation. He shared a little of the struggle with me during a break. After teaching about the Father’s Blessing, I asked him to come forward to receive a blessing, as a demonstration for the group. The Lord moved powerfully in his heart as he received the blessing. In an email he sent after the event, he said:

“My faith has been restored. I feel the joy of my calling once again, a joy long lost. I must confess that not only did I feel an extra force of grace flowing in me when you prayed with your hands over me, I also was moved to tears when I reviewed the video for the very first time.”

He will be ordained to the diaconate in Rome this June. This one young man’s experience would have justified the whole trip!

Also, I was deeply moved by Fr. Jude’s faith, love, and the power of the Holy Spirit moving through him. He is a mighty man of God! So often we hear about those who are persecuted for the faith, or who suffer the ravages of war, violence, and injustice. When I recall Fr. Jude’s face, and his story, I see the love and mercy of God shining brightly through him. He is a living example of how God turns all things to the good for those who love Him and are called according to his purpose. God be praised!

In Rwanda, Unbound is one of the vehicles that is now bringing healing after the atrocities of the genocide. My hope and prayer is that Unbound will be one of the tools in Cameroon that will help diffuse the situation and help to turn the tide from anger, violence, and unforgiveness to communication, collaboration, and mercy.

Come Holy Spirit!

Cameroonian Priest Finds Healing After Kidnapping

Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, CMF, is pictured at left with Country Coordinator Peter Newburn, translator Remy Takam, and Renewal Ministries’ Board Member Miriam Wright.

This article originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ November 2019 newsletter.

By Heather Schultz

When Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, CMF, invited Renewal Ministries’ Country Coordinator Peter Newburn and Board Member Miriam Wright to do Unbound ministry and training in Cameroon, he did not know how their ministry would transform his own life. Unbound is a method of deliverance healing that utilizes the five keys of repentance and faith, forgiveness, renunciation, authority, and the Father’s blessing. Fr. Jude extended the invitation to Renewal Ministries in August of 2018, and that November, he was the victim of a kidnapping, along with two other Claretians and their driver. His story is below.

Discovering Unbound

Fr. Jude met Peter Newburn in 2015, when Peter and his family were serving as missionaries in Cameroon. They became friends, and even saw each other in the US during one of Fr. Jude’s travels. Fr. Jude had been introduced to the book Unbound, and he “read it from cover to cover.” Peter—who Fr. Jude said introduced Unbound to Cameroontold Fr. Jude that Unbound is the method of deliverance used by Renewal Ministries. He also helped Fr. Jude get in contact with the book’s author, Neal Lozano. Through that connection, the Claretians were able to help make a low-cost edition of Unbound available in Cameroon.

“I understood it to be a very great healing process that we could apply in our situation in Cameroon,” said Fr. Jude. “It is important, because the five keys are so easy, clear, and great to follow. Within one week or less, you can be drilled through the Five Keys, which is an effective means for personal healing and has the capacity to help others. Unbound exposed me to my vices, helped me to come out of them, and I thought it would be an effective tool to help others.” Fr. Jude added that his experience with Unbound since his kidnapping is a great testament to its ability to help other people in his country as well.

Political Unrest and Personal Trauma

According to Peter Newburn, “about twenty percent of Cameroon is English-speaking, and for the past two-and-a-half years, there has been an increasing clamoring for independence. Leaders of the insurgence, called the ‘Amba Boys,’ have promoted chaos and instability in hopes of garnering change. The predominately French-speaking government has responded forcefully, at times with indiscriminate violence. Many people have been killed.”

It was in this political climate that Fr. Jude and his companions were kidnapped. At the time, they were travelling to a Claretian parish in an Anglophone area of Cameroon to provide basic food, medication, supplies, and moral support to the parishioners and priest, who were hiding in the bush due to the unrest.

“I was so surprised,” said Fr. Jude. “When they kidnapped us, they said, ‘The Church needs to speak. It has not made a good statement about the Cameroonian president.’ They wanted to speak to the pope. However, since we lived on the other side of Cameroon, they also thought we were government spies.”

Fr. Jude shared the details of his captivity:

“From Nov. 23-29, we were kidnapped. We were tortured. They used very bad words and insults. They thought we were military people. They used machetes to cut our bodies, legs, and beat us. The used the under part of their guns to beat us on every part of our bodies. They made us look at the sun continuously for three hours. They made us go without clothes.

“The first thing I experienced was that, humanly speaking, I was afraid of dying. I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, we’re not going to survive.’ I was crying. It was really hard. We said, ‘Oh, God! When Paul and Silas were captured, they prayed, and You rescued them.’

“Any time we wanted to pray, they let us. The more we prayed, the more the days went on, the greater we were tortured. Finally, God heard our prayer, and one day, we were set free.

“There were so many praying for us and looking for us. One day, our captors just took us out and told us, ‘We are going to keep your driver, and you need to go and bring us money.’ They asked us for a ransom for the driver. As priests, our policy is that we don’t pay ransoms. But we got support from friends, because we couldn’t leave the driver there. He was in captivity for two more weeks, and then he was released. They suspected the driver was a military man, so they kept on torturing him until one of them identified him and said that he was not military.”

After their release, Fr. Jude, his fellow Claretians, and the driver were all hospitalized and received psychotherapy to help them recover from the trauma of the kidnapping and torture. They also received letters and emails from Pope Francis, who had been informed of their situation by the Claretian general superior in Rome. The pope “expressed his closeness to us in this situation,” said Fr. Jude, who added that this “feeling of closeness of the pope” was a great help after the kidnapping.

Faith and Healing

Unbound ministry also played a significant role in Fr. Jude’s healing. He believes the fact that the Unbound ministry was scheduled before his kidnapping—and then took place shortly afterward, when he could most benefit from it—shows that “God was with us, and God had a plan for it.”

When asked how the kidnapping affected his faith, Fr. Jude answered:

“All of the events that have happened since the kidnapping show that God allowed it for a purpose. During the Unbound prayer, someone shared with me the revelation that God had a plan for me. Everyone said, ‘God kept you there for a purpose.’ For me, it has been a faith-growing experience. I’ve got to understand that before every Easter Sunday, there is a Good Friday. My faith hasn’t just grown; I’ve gone through a leap of faith.

“God arranged the events so that everything fell within that period. The kidnapping experience was not just physical. They also used fetishes—magical things—within the camp, things like witchcraft, as a way of protecting themselves against the military bullets. They believed that would make the bullets not touch them. Additionally, these people took a lot of drugs. We needed physical, psychological, and spiritual freedom.

“Peter Newburn and Miriam Wright took me through the Five Keys of Unbound and prayed with me. God kept revealing there is a plan.

“As we went through the Five Keys, we were able to forgive. I thought I had forgiven, but any time I heard that one of my captors had died, I was thankful. With Unbound, I was able to more fully forgive. I found freedom from the kidnapping and other things from my whole life—situations in which I needed to forgive people, to accept Christ, and accept the freedom He offers.”

While Miriam was praying with Fr. Jude, she had a vision of Jesus being stripped naked (which is another suffering that Fr. Jude and his companions went through), with the very cloak of Jesus being given to Fr. Jude. In fact, he was named superior of the Claretians of Cameroon.

He explained, “I never expected that. I thought, ‘Should I accept? Should I refuse?’ Many people had prayed for me and told me, ‘Your kidnapping is preparing you for something.’ And with Miriam’s vision, I know it is from God. I’m convinced God gave me this responsibility. It’s very challenging, but I’m not afraid, because God will never give you something you can’t carry. He will give me all the support needed. One of my supports is the Unbound training through Miriam and Peter.”

Bearing Fruit

Fr. Jude saw his own suffering bear fruit in his role as superior, when two Claretians were kidnapped in August. He said his experiences helped him know what to do, and how to best help the men once they were rescued.

“God sent me there to get experience to be able to help others,” he added.

Now, since the training with Peter and Miriam, Fr. Jude said that he has many people asking for more of Unbound: “They say we need more—come again! So we want to offer it as many times as possible, to everybody possible. It’s a great innovation, and we want more of Unbound. We want more Christ! We want to be liberated! Please come again! We need a lot of prayer for Cameroon, that peace and justice will have reign, so we can enjoy the benefits of living in a peaceful and just country.”

“I think we were blessed,” concluded Fr. Jude. “I am so grateful to Unbound. I wish to talk to those reading: Do not be discouraged when you go through suffering, especially when you go through persecution for the sake of Christ, as the Beatitudes tell us. We were persecuted for giving food to the hungry. At times, I felt like God was far away, but my experience shows that God is never far from us. My faith is strengthened. I have found freedom in Christ. God is never far from us. He is ready to free us in every situation.”

Pastoral Letter to Parents Regarding Gender Theory

Image Credit (Image used with modifications)

This letter was recently distributed to members of St. Mary Catholic Church in Pinckney, Michigan.

In light of recent concerns that have come to me regarding the issue of modern gender theory, I write this letter as a means of helping you form and guide your children as you navigate changing cultural attitudes and norms pertaining to gender identity. This new gender theory denies the nature of God’s created order inasmuch as it denies that God has created us male and female. Instead, it proposes that gender is fluid and changeable and is determined by the choice of the individual rather than by biology. In other words, if, for example, your child was born as a biological male, it may be that he is actually a girl who is only physically male. As such, you won’t know his true gender until he is old enough to psychologically identify as a male or female. This theory will further tell you that your role as a parent is not to impose a gender on your child, but to allow him the freedom to explore either gender and choose for himself which is his true self. The same goes in the case of a child who is biologically female; should she choose a different gender than her biological sex, you, the parent are told that you ought to support her choice of a new identity as a boy. This new way of looking at gender can present itself to your family in many forms, from TV shows, to children’s clothing lines, to public school curricula, and so forth. This has caused confusion for some and questions for many regarding the legitimate role of parents and what they should teach their kids about their sexual and gender identity. I wish to reaffirm to you the eternal truth that God has intentionally created each child; each of us are a gift from God. This is true also of sexuality: “Male and female He created them” (Gn 1:27). God has entrusted you with a sacred task of affirming, nurturing, protecting, and educating your child in his or her sexual identity as God has created them.

The Vatican has recently released a document entitled Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education[i], addressing the issues stemming from the new gender theory. It was released to assist those involved in the education and formation of young people, especially parents and teachers. This document states that the new gender theory attempts to “cancel out the differences between men and women, presenting them instead as merely the product of historical and cultural conditioning.”[ii] The text then quotes Pope Francis, who states that modern gender theory directly opposes God’s design for our sexuality:

“[Modern gender theory] denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family. This ideology leads to educational programs and legislative enactments that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female. Consequently, human identity becomes the choice of the individual, one which can also change over time.”[iii]

The Vatican has called this an “educational crisis,” in that curricula are being developed that supposedly present a “neutral conception of the person and of life,”[iv] devoid of sexual difference. Gender theory, rather than portraying a neutral conception of the person, has put forth an “anthropology which is opposed to faith and right reason.”[v]

One way that the proponents of gender theory propose this “neutral conception of the person” is by telling parents that they should not affirm the sexual identity of their children. To do so, the thinking goes, would be to impose upon them a sexual identity that they ought to be free to determine for themselves. One instance of this thinking comes to us from the French-Canadian singer, Celine Dion, who has launched a new gender-neutral clothing line for infants and children by the name of Celinununu. The commercial launching this line of clothing depicts Miss Dion breaking into a hospital nursery where babies are dressed by gender in pink or blue; Miss Dion then sprinkles black glitter onto the children and the babies suddenly appear in gender-neutral black and white clothing. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here.

The clothing line touts that “fashion has the power to shape people’s minds.”[vi] Their company’s mission is to “inspire your children to be free and find their own individuality through clothes.” According to their website, they have created a “clothing brand that breeds equality and freedom of spirit, serving as a platform for a new humanistic education. Celinununu liberates children from the traditional roles of boy/girl.”[vii]

The efforts of Celine Dion and those at Celinununu are by no means arising out of a vacuum. The overnight cultural acceptance of gender theory has become somewhat of a movement, with many facets and many different incarnations. There is the American Library Association’s embracing of “Drag Queen Story Hours” for children. There is the ability, in the Canadian province of Ontario at least, to choose a non-binary option on birth certificates. There is the emergence of pediatric gender clinics, which often encourage patients to “transition” after a single visit.[viii]  One local incarnation of this movement is the reading of I Am Jazz in the classroom. For those who don’t know, I Am Jazz is a TLC show about a girl that was born inside a boy’s body. The program was recently turned into a children’s book and has been read in the classroom to area kids as young as pre-K. While some have not opposed this being read to children in the name of teaching kids how to love and respect others, it is becoming clear that this is not simply about teaching tolerance. This is not only about the loving acceptance of someone who is experiencing gender dysphoria; it is also a concerted effort to undermine the sexual identity of children and popularize transgenderism. Should your children lovingly accept everyone in their school and learn how to honor and respect them? Yes. Is that what is really going on here? No. At least not entirely.

The problematic nature of gender theory is also seen in the medical practices that arise from it. Doctors are prescribing powerful hormone blocking drugs for twelve-year-olds in order to prevent puberty from occurring naturally.[ix] This is being done despite the fact that most children who express gender dysphoria will grow out of it. The social commentator, Ryan T. Anderson, has pointed out the incredible dissonance in his best-selling book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment:

“There is no acknowledgement that the vast majority of children with gender dysphoria—eighty to ninety-five percent—naturally grow out of it, if they aren’t encouraged to transition . . . blocking puberty may interfere with the developmental mechanisms that help children accept their bodies, or that virtually none of the children put on puberty blockers grow out of their gender dysphoria.”[x]

Considering this fact, it would seem highly irresponsible to begin interventions involving hormones. Yet this is pushed as a solution, often with the claim that it will reduce the risk of suicide for the young person who is experiencing gender dysphoria. This does not really seem to address the risk of suicide, since the suicide rate for those who have undergone gender reassignment surgery is nineteen times higher than the general population.[xi] This doesn’t mean that the reassignment surgery is the cause of such a high rate, but simply that the surgery does not seem to lower the risk.

This is very sad in itself, and it ought to give us pause when we think about the way that we treat those of our friends, family, co-workers, or anyone in our lives who is experiencing that identity struggle. It ought to move us to a deep compassion for them and reflect on the way in which Jesus desires to love them through us. Just because someone has gone through a reassignment surgery, does that mean that they are less precious in God’s eyes? Does that mean that they are no longer made in His image and likeness? Does that mean that they are somehow unlovable? No. I hope you know those are lies. And while you may agree with my point here on a surface level, have you allowed the truth of their goodness to change your heart and actions to be those of love and compassion? Words don’t bring healing if they are only virtue signaling or lip service, and sooner or later people know whether they are truly loved as they are. It is true that this authentic love does not amount to a mindless approval of someone’s wrong course of action. You’ve heard me say many times that real love desires to be rooted in the truth, because real love always desires what is truly good for the beloved. We must also remember that to authentically love someone always involves a genuine delight in them, and a very basic acknowledgement of their goodness in the eyes of God; this is still true even if someone is embracing something they shouldn’t. These heartbreaking statistics regarding suicide should stir up in us a desire to love and protect those who experience gender dysphoria; to affirm their goodness, and to encourage them in the truth of their identity.

We should also be moved with a desire to protect our children from confusion about their own identities. Given the fact that the vast majority of children who express interest in a cross-gender identity will eventually come to embrace their biological identity, we should not be seeking to undermine their biological identity. Most children who experience confusion in this regard can be spared a great deal of confusion and pain if we simply affirm the God-given goodness of their sexual identity. I believe that if we thoughtfully consider what is going on with gender theory, we will reject it, and rightfully so.

There are many problems with the gender theory. In the first place, we don’t simply determine our own identity by choice. Each one of us was born either as a biological male or a biological female. This is true also of those termed “intersexed”, who all still possess either XX or XY chromosomes. Each one of us were created by God as a male or a female, and our bodies are a gift from Him. We should receive the body as such; we should accept ourselves the way we were created. We also ought to be loved and affirmed by others as we have been created.

This affirmation is particularly important, because a human being is a body-soul composite.  As a body-soul composite, it is impossible to separate my body from myself. It is wrong to suggest that my body is not me. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following concerning the matter:

“The human body shares in the dignity of the image of God: it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Holy Spirit, and, as such, we may not despise (our) bodily life. Rather (we) are obliged to regard (the) body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it on the last day.”[xii]

In short, this means that 1) God made you very good, and 2) you includes your body. You, the parent, have a right and a responsibility to teach your children how to love, honor and respect others, including those who are experiencing gender dysphoria. You also have the job of teaching your child the truth of who they are.

But the statement that we don’t simply determine our own identity by choice applies beyond the biological level. Each one of us receives our own identity through the love and affirmation of others. A child discovers that she is lovable because her parents lavish loving attention upon her. A child knows that God has created him “very good” because his parents delight in him. The affirmation of what God has created is essential to childhood development.

“Affirmation is not something we do but something we are. The root of the word ‘affirmation’ is ‘firm’. We cannot become our true selves until another person affirms us. We become our true selves when we see our goodness reflected back to us in the eyes of another person who loves us.”[xiii]

This affirmation is important to the arena of a child’s psychosexual development, without which, a child could face a lot of confusion.

For Walt Heyer, a former self-identified “transgender woman”, it is important for parents to know the role that affirmation plays in their development. Walt, born a male, struggled with the gender issue for forty years, and spent eight as a self-described “woman” before de-transitioning. As Walt speaks about the moment his gender struggle began at the age of four, he mentions that his grandmother would encourage him in wearing dresses and affirm him in being a girl. Walt states, without qualification, that affirming a boy as being a girl is not truly affirmation; “In the very same moment that you are affirming that person, you are telling them there is something wrong with them. It’s not affirming a child. It’s causing them to be depressed and anxious about who they are.” After forty years of dealing personally with the transgender issue, Walt understands that, “there is absolutely nothing good with affirming someone in a cross-gender identity, because it will destroy their life.” I encourage you to learn more by hearing about his story here.

Healthy affirmation is an important aspect of your role as a parent. The way in which a girl is delighted in as a daughter helps to establish her identity as such. The way in which a young man is affirmed as a son helps to establish him as such. This affirmation of the sexual identity of your child is a blessing to them. This blessing is very important for them to receive both from their same-sex parent and their opposite-sex parent. The affirmation of a child in their sexual identity helps them to establish a secure identity as a young man or a young woman, and it allows them to experience the joy of being delighted in as they were created. This is what our children truly desire; boys want to know that they have what it takes to become men. We should affirm them in their ability to do so. Girls want to know that their strength, compassion, and beauty blesses those around them. We should affirm this blessing of their femininity. This need not lead us to shallow stereotypes unless we desire to impose them ourselves. In fact, over-restrictive stereotypes can undermine affirmation and cause confusion. When we offer healthy affirmation to children and young people, it is an affirmation of what God has done:

“You formed my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works. My very self you know. My bones are not hidden from you” (Ps 139).

God the Father has declared that He has created you and me and each person “very good” (Gn 1:31). We are invited to receive our own selves as sacred gift. It should be obvious that absolute self-determination of the new gender theory stands in opposition to all that God has revealed to us in His Word. As such, gender theory must be rejected by all Catholics, and especially by parents.

At the same time, we must acknowledge there are also some adults who experience gender dysphoria, and we ought to strive to know how to love them well and affirm them in the truth of how God created them, just as we would for any other person. It is true that we should not affirm anyone in a cross-gender identity, but it we can be present to them in love as a friend. It is also true that someone experiencing gender dysphoria should not be blamed for their identity struggle. Bear in mind as well, that those who are struggling with this issue are not necessarily the ones who want this to be in the forefront of the minds of children. To forget this simple fact could lead to the scapegoating that has plagued our culture relentlessly. Each person who has experienced gender dysphoria is infinitely loved and desired by the God of the universe, who created them “very good.” We must participate with Him in affirming their goodness as being made in His image and likeness. They have an equal human dignity to you and me. Lest this be forgotten, I ask that we all spend some time praying with Matthew 25:31-46 with a special attention to whether we are treating everyone as we would treat Jesus.

Jesus also warns us not to be a stumbling block for children. He tells us that if we bring confusion to children and cause them to sin, it would be better for us if a millstone were hung around our neck and we were thrown into the sea. This is found in Matthew 18:6-7. We should spend some time praying through this with a special attention to whether we are acting out of a desire for the true good of children or whether we are acting out of a desire to win the approval of the world. If we desire the approval of the world, we will become a stumbling block for some of Jesus’ little ones.

To close, I would like to share with you a few resources on this topic. First, I highly encourage you to read and reflect on the Vatican document, Male and Female He Created Them. This ought to form our understanding of the human person and help to root us in the truth of who we are as God’s children. If you wish to delve more fully into the topic of gender dysphoria as a whole, I recommend Ryan T. Anderson’s aforementioned book. This book touches on many things that I cannot address in this brief letter. One of the most important resources that I have come across in recent years, though, is not something that deals directly with gender dysphoria or struggles with sexual identity in particular, but something that deals with inner healing in general. Even if we do not struggle profoundly with our sexual identity, we all, in some form, struggle with identity wounds that can affect any arena of life. It is important for us to remember that we believe in a God who is a Healer. We believe in a God who restores the broken chapters of our lives. Jesus Christ, the Divine Physician, desires permission to heal these broken places. It is for this reason that I am continually telling you about the ministry of Dr. Bob Schuchts and the John Paul II Healing Center as well as his book, Be Healed. This book and his ministry have blessed many people with an array of different interior wounds, enabling them to experience the loving gaze of God the Father.

You who are parents are given the sacred task of caring for God’s children, of revealing Him to them, and of revealing to them their own blessedness as sons and daughters. Know of my constant prayers for you in this task. Do not be afraid to speak the truth of your child’s blessedness as your son or your daughter and that their masculinity and femininity are beautiful God-given gifts.

In Christ,

Fr. Dan Kogut

 

Endnotes

[i] Congregation for Catholic Education (2019, February 2). “Male and Female He Created Them”: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_20190202_maschio-e-femmina_en.pdf

[ii] ibid, 1

[iii] ibid

[iv] ibid

[v] ibid

[vi] Celinununu.com

[vii] ibid

[viii] Ryan T. Anderson, “When Harry Became Sally”, (Encounter Books, New York, 2019), 132-133.

[ix] Ibid, 121

[x] Ibid, 119

[xi] Ibid, 103

[xii] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 363

[xiii] Dennis Linn, Shelia Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn, S.J., “Belonging: Bonds of Healing and Recovery,” (Paulist Press, NY, 1992), 89-90.

The Spirit Comes

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By Jack Flanagan

Cyril of Jerusalem had many wonderful things to tell the early Church about the Holy Spirit.  Here is a sampling:

  • The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance.  He is not felt as a burden for he is light, very light.
  • The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console.
  • The Spirit comes to enlighten the mind first of the one who receives Him and then, through Him, the minds of others as well.
  • The Spirit comes to make one man a teacher of divine truth, inspire another to prophesy, give another the power to cast out devils, enable another to interpret the Holy Scriptures.
  • The Spirit comes to strengthen one man’s self-control, show another how to help the poor, teach another to fast and to lead a life of asceticism, make another oblivious to the needs of the body, train another for martyrdom. His action is different in different people, but the Spirit himself is always the same.
  • The Spirit comes, according to St. Cyril, as a light that “floods the soul of the man counted worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit and enables him to see things beyond the range of human vision, things hitherto undreamed of.”

Thanks be to God for the marvelous gift of the Holy Spirit! I share these words that we might deeply desire more of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Let’s humbly ask for more of the Spirit’s transforming action  Let’s begin now, inviting the Spirit to flood our hearts and minds, the Church and the whole world, so that all may be made new in God’s life and love.