Rousing Her Radiance: Day 19
Updated: Oct 30
Guidance and Goals #1
“The moral life as John Paul II understood it is a drama: a drama lived in the gap between the person I am and the person I ought to be. Each of us lives in that gap every day; growth in the virtues, supported by God’s grace, is the means by which we ‘close’ the gap…The alternative is life in the sandbox of my willfulness, my ‘self’ being only a bundle of desires.”-George Weigel
Pope Francis gave us ‘accompaniment’ as a guide for our care of persons: come alongside of the sufferer and walk with him without judgment toward…well, not always clear. For those facing sexual identity questions (everyone these days), that could mean guidance without a goal.
Don’t get me wrong. Like any seasoned caregiver, I love accompaniment. It is thoroughly biblical and the heart of Christian healing. ‘Parakaleo’ (Greek for ‘to come alongside of’) is the word most employed in the New Testament for pastoral ‘help’; it comes from ‘Paraclete,’ the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:16).
I love that. Our daily prayer: ‘As You, Holy Spirit, accompany us at every moment, show us how we are to accompany others…’
We come as a quiet gift to another, accepting the whole of his or her broken beauty. We serve by caring and listening. We cannot speak a word from God without listening with the ears of God. Clinicians call this ‘therapeutic alliance.’ Without creating a safe space in relationship with another, no meaningful transactions are possible.
As Christians, we have a goal to which we guide the relationship. As John Paul II describes, every person lives in a dramatic tension between where she finds herself and where she wants to be. The fractured self can aspire to wholeness, the true self in communion with Jesus. Good caregivers envision that self and its aspirations. We do this through accompaniment.
I have a wonderful friend whom I have known for years now. A lapsed Catholic, he has been in a ‘gay’ relationship for decades. He appears disinterested in my faith. I am very interested in his. I don’t say much about that. I just love him. I am incredulous that he knows my story and on occasion seeks me out. He is looking for something of Jesus and I may be his only link at this time. I am accompanying him to Jesus and his true self, the one best known by His Creator-Redeemer.
His ‘gay’-identified self doesn’t limit my love for him. It focuses my care. I can disagree with his anthropology while upholding God’s: my friend remains a man gifted to dignify others with his sexual humanity. With better accompaniment, he would have been a great father and husband. Regardless, he is deeply loved by Jesus. I want to reveal that.
Back to Francis’ goal in accompanying those with sexual identity confusion. Not clear.
The pope clearly blessed his friend, activist Juan Carlos Cruz, as a man whom God made ‘gay’ (See Rousing Her Radiance blog day 16). What? That pronouncement is monumental. It raises big questions. Is Juan merely the sum of his disordered desires? Isn’t he first and foremost a man, a son of the Father, and a gift to others, including women? By naming and blessing him as ‘gay’ (invoking God’s name as the author), Francis can only accompany Cruz to become his best ‘gay’ self.
Is Francis indicating to us that he and friends have a new paradigm? Is the synod mobilizing to embrace LGBTQ+ ‘categorizing’ as just another variant alongside male/female relating? Is this the Church of the future, accepting members who self-name according to new social constructs rather than according to the Church’s understanding of God’s will for our sexual humanity?
Is Francis shifting the goal posts of our sexual humanity? We have reason to pray for the pope and his synodal friends.
‘We pray, O God for clarity in accompaniment. As we guide others, give us clear goals as to who this one is in the drama between the fractured and whole self. Give us clarity to see the real man or woman, and courage to summon that self. Guide us, Holy Spirit, as we come alongside our loved ones.’
‘Father, we thank You for Jesus who established the Church on a Rock against which hell will not prevail (Matt 16:18). We pray for every Christian leader to build on Her firm foundation of sexual clarity and integrity. Father, unmask the deceiver and divider of Christians and unite us in one Spirit. As weak members of Christ, we ask for truth to guide our pursuit of sexual wholeness, for grace to sustain it, and for spiritual power to transform us. May we reflect the chaste radiance of Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18) as we “shine like stars in the universe, holding out the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16) to a lost and hurting world.’