“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them. For the things which are done by them in secret it is a shame even to speak of. But all things when they are reproved, are made manifest by the light.”
He had said, “you are light.” Now the light reproves by exposing the things which take place in the darkness. So that if you, says he, are virtuous, and conspicuous, the wicked will be unable to lie hidden. For just as when a candle is set, all are brought to light, and the thief cannot enter; so if your light shine, the wicked being discovered shall be caught. So then it is our duty to expose them. How then does our Lord say, “Judge not, that you be not judged?” Matthew 7:1-3 Paul did not say “judge,” he said “reprove,” that is, correct. And the words, “Judge not, that you be not judged,” He spoke with reference to very small errors. Indeed, He added, “Why do you behold the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in your own eye?” But what Paul is saying is of this sort. As a wound, so long as it is imbedded and concealed outwardly, and runs beneath the surface, receives no attention, so also sin, as long as it is concealed, being as it were in darkness, is daringly committed in full security; but as soon as “it is made manifest,” becomes “light;” not indeed the sin itself, (for how could that be?) but the sinner. For when he has been brought out to light, when he has been admonished, when he has repented, when he has obtained pardon, have you not cleared away all his darkness? Have you not then healed his wound? Have you not called his unfruitfulness into fruit? Either this is his meaning, or else what I said above, that your life “being manifest, is light.” For no one hides an irreproachable life; whereas things which are hidden, are hidden by darkness covering them. ~ St. John Chrysostom, Homily 18 on Ephesians
The part I love most about St. John Chrysostom’s commentary on St. Paul’s “Letter” is the image of the candle. As a young kid, like many confused gay boys, I idolized Marilyn Monroe, and adored the song “Candle in the Wind” dedicated to her by Elton John. In the late-1980s, I walked silently holding a flickering candle during the annual AIDS March in San Francisco. Later, in 1994, I lit a cheap store-bought glass votive at the fresh grave of a friend who died from AIDS; it was one of those cold and miserably damp mid-winter days in South San Francisco – a blast of wind drove up the side of the cemetery hill and quickly blew out the little flame; I whimpered and walked away.
In the gay world, the candle became cold and lifeless – a reminder of death and despair. I will never forget walking with my candle towards City Hall during the 1991 AIDS Vigil and seeing in front of me countless faces illuminated in yellow – I wondered what was beyond all this darkness. I had been gay for only a few years, and for only a few seconds, thought about leaving. But, that was an impossibility: here is where my friends were, my work, my life. Where could I go? Back home, during a quick visit, my parents semi-ambushed me with a Catholic priest who privately told me to temper my lifestyle a bit, otherwise I was doing fine. Hence, I staid. And, I walked slowly and steadily deeper and deeper into the black night of confusion and desperation. Stopped by God only at the very gates of hell.
Author’s note: My prayer – that every gay man and woman will have a candle of Love and Truth in their life. And, what is that candle? The candle is you: in the form of a Faithful, courageous, and fearless Catholic. Like my former self, far too many homosexuals trapped in the life have a plethora of straight friends and family members who give them unconditional love, never judge them, or question their initial entrance into the lifestyle; instead, they cooperate in a strange practice of “coming-out;” gushing and heralding loudly the gay person’s boundless bravery. After the hugs and kisses – none of those well-wishers follow that soul into the darkness of sexual perversity that awaits them; at 18, on my first day in the Castro, I was set upon by numerous men promising to “make a man out of me;” a new buddy my age, a rather naive Mid-Westerner, after a few months in San Francisco, was HIV+ and died the following year; in the 1990s, I only wore black – as a funeral seemed a daily occurrence; since then, little has changed – while gay men account for about only 2% of the US population, they make up well over half of all HIV infections; young gay men are most affected, with 93% of all infections in the age group 13-19 years resulting from homosexual sex.
Yet, despite the gravity of the present, and the inherent dangers of the future, many with close friends and family members who are gay – choose to believe the lie, or to stay quiet. For the most part, they remain blissfully ignorant as they fear the truth; or, they deny the truth in order to remain within the circle of friendship and dysfunction. In silence and capitulation, the ties with the homosexual person are preserved, and the dysfunctional family continues to gather and celebrate various holidays and special occasions while the façade of normality perpetuates and bolsters the continuing entrapment within homosexuality. For, by collaborating and remaining dreamily complicit, you are making it extremely easy of the homosexual to stay in the lifestyle; in effect, you are contributing to the darkness; as the Light of Christ remains hidden from view.
Therefore, let your candle burn brightly. Then, just how does one accomplish this? Like all great works of Mercy, this much be approached following the Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord: Of these Gifts, in relation to becoming a light for the homosexual, the most important are: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, and Fortitude. First, educate yourself: read and understand “The Catechism of the Catholic Church” with regards to homosexuality; read the several “Letters” and “Pronouncements” from the Holy See on this issue; and read the works of Fr. John Harvey, the founder of Courage; Accept what you have studied in your heart and disregard the lies of the present culture – everything from the theory of gays being “born this way” to the myth of homosexual monogamy; Now, we can discern or judge between what is wrong and right according to the teachings of Christ as passed on by His Holy Church; The Divine plan for those suffering from same-sex attraction will be clearly evident to you; With courage we no longer have fear; we can pass on to others the Wisdom and Understanding that God Graced us with. Only, combined with these Gifts must be The Virtues (or Cardinal Virtues) of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude
In all things, be prudent: never broach the subject of homosexuality with the afflicted person at a social gathering; unless, initiated by the person. At these events, be diligent and set up a future meeting that will be more intimate and more private. If they accept – approach them with love and kindness: say that you care for them, want the best for them, but are also genuinely worried and scared for their safety. Right away, this puts you on their side. Here, different tactics must be taken with different people: with the lapsed or former Catholic, a more direct approach is possible; for a mustard seed of Catholicism is worth more than a pound of something from another denomination; with other Christians, or those of no faith – a slower, gentler approach is best. First, tell them that God loves them – as they are, right now; it’s been my experience that most homosexuals have never heard this before. Then, ask them if they are happy. You may be surprised by the answer you get, as my experience has also overwhelming shown that the majority of people in the gay lifestyle often feign a blank sort of giddy happiness that thinly covers over a hard truth of genuine dissatisfaction and insecurity. During the conversation: bring up the subject of other family members, who you may or may not also be related to. With men, try to swerve the discussion towards their father; with women, their mother. This process may take several meetings; but, you will gain the person’s trust over time.
Finally, you will call upon all the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and The Virtues to share the Good News. And, here, your candle will burn brightly; but, in order to do this – you must look closely at your own life, for you must be beyond reproach. This does not mean that your life has been a complete hagiography, you may have been severely compromised by sin, but the important things is that you currently are fully reconciled with the Church. With this in mind, explain to the person the workings of the Lord in your own life: how difficult and how rewarding it is conforming one’s will to the Will of God. Have some material for them at the ready: again, all of the books by Fr. John Harvey are a necessity; also the shorter, but equally profound “The Courage to Be Chaste” by Fr. Benedict Groeschel. In the majority of cases – this will be your last meeting. Often, the gay person will deliver an ultimatum: accept me for who I am or I will have nothing to do with you. At that point, take them at their word and say goodbye. Tell them that they are loved, that the door is always open, but that you can not stand by and watch as they destroy themselves.
Now, you have set your candle on the windowsill; it will burn as a beacon to those looking for it. Your relative or friend may never turn around again to see it; they may die; but, you did what God commanded you to do: you witnessed the Truth – with kindness and fidelity. The other people in a gay man or woman’s circle of friends and relatives will continue to collaborate; slowly, because of their close association with an active homosexual, what little faith they may have will drift away – they will lash out at others, including you, and point to their love for that gay man or woman as proof that the Church is wrong. You will be banished; and, yes, hated. Only, anything is possible with God, and miracles happen every day – one moment may come, when that seemingly fulfilled gay relative will call you up, or e-mail you, or text you; because you were the singular human being in their lives that once told them the Truth.