A while ago I attended a film debut hosted by “Catholics for Marriage Equality MN.” They created a series of five vignettes of faith, family and marriage from the perspective of the GLBT community and supportive family members.
I walked away from the event wondering how, in fact, these individuals could possibly make the claim that they were Catholic. Any Catholic with very basic catechesis (Catholic religious education) would know that the Eucharist is the heart and soul of our faith. Attending Mass and participating in the Eucharist is paramount to being Catholic. The sacraments bring our faith alive and allow us to experience the Lord personally. Yet by my count, barely half of the individuals featured in the vignettes said that they regularly attend Catholic Mass. It left me wondering: what constitutes being Catholic? Is being baptized and confirmed in a Catholic Church really enough to be called Catholic today?
I ponder this because, as someone who has struggled with same-sex attractions and had identified myself as a lesbian for 18 years, I had thought that being Catholic wasn’t an option for me. I didn’t resent this. I believed that if I was a lesbian and the Lord had created me this way, He would provide me a place to worship Him, to honor Him, to serve Him and to advance His Kingdom.
I searched for that place for years and no matter what church or faith I sought and tried to call home, it simply wasn’t home. I didn’t find it. I didn’t take my faith to a Saturday afternoon Quaker meeting and call myself Catholic. I would have said, “I’m a Quaker.” And, I didn’t stop by a church from time to time and say I was practicing my Catholic faith.
Eventually, after 18 years of trying to find the Lord I decided to make my way back to the Catholic Church. I stopped trying to fit God into my life and decided to try to fit my life into His.
I am back to my roots and am home. I have a peace in my life today that really does surpass all understanding. I attend Mass regularly, frequent the sacrament of reconciliation, attend adoration and nurture my Catholic faith—these are just a few things I would say that identify me as a practicing Catholic. At the bare minimum, I honor the Lord’s Day.
That said, “Catholics for Marriage Equality MN” does not speak for me in regard to marriage “equality.” As a practicing Catholic, I understand, know and believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. Professing a Catholic lifestyle in a same-sex relationship is simply incongruent.
I have joyful, faithful single Catholic friends, men and women, who have never had same-sex attraction and live a life of chastity. My struggle with same-sex attraction isn’t any different than their struggle with trying to live a holy, single, chaste life to honor God. I am called to live the same life as they are. Does that mean I might not get married? Yep, it does. But you know, they might not get married either.