Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Parent's Heartbreak

A friend of mine called last week and asked if we could get together to talk.  I could tell by her voice something was up.  We met, and I tried to gauge by her appearance what the reason was for the request.  After some small talk, she asked me how my Christmas was.  I told her it was low-key and quiet and I then I asked how hers was.  That's all that was needed to open the floodgates.

My friend is not Catholic, but she is a very faithful Christian who tries to abide by God's will in every facet of her life.  And it is knowing what God asks of us that has her distraught about the child who came home for Christmas and told her what no parent in their right mind wants to hear:  Her child is attracted to a member of the same sex and would soon be moving in with their "partner".

"I cannot stop crying", she told me.  I did what I usually do with someone who is inconsolable, and that was to just allow her to vent.  When it seemed like she had cried herself out for the time being, I asked her what she told her child in response to this revolting announcement.

"I told X that I will always love them and part of my love means that I'm not OK with this.  It's not God's will and I can't pretend it is."

I don't know what she's going through, so I can only imagine the gamut of emotions.  There is the despair of knowing that your child is engaged in a lifestyle that could send them to Hell.  There is the grief as you mourn for the child you thought you had.  There is the guilt, that somehow, something you did caused this.  There is the doubt, that you didn't do everything possible to steer the child in the right direction.

Hopefully, the realization will come that nothing my friend did contributed in any way to her child's choice.

There was another reason she wanted to talk to me specifically.  She knows I'm Catholic, and a few years ago, her child converted to our faith.  She wanted to know how a faithful Catholic could possibly reconcile their beliefs with the notion that there is no harm in homosexuality.  I wanted to tell my friend that no priest worth his salt would ever tell someone it was OK to be gay, but I know better. I know there are churches where priests look the other way when it comes to homosexuals.  I know there are churches where code words like "inclusion" and "diversity" signal that no one will be denied Holy Communion,  whether they're in a state of grace or not.  So the best I could tell her was that hopefully, her child belongs to an orthodox parish with a priest unafraid to speak of the evils of immorality. I suggested that she ask her child if they had spoken to a priest about their orientation.  It might backfire if the priest chosen isn't orthodox, but it might not. If her child is as devout a Catholic as they say they are, there's a chance the priest they encounter will be orthodox and courageous enough to steer them in the right direction.

My friend also agreed that she needs to talk to someone, but she was emphatic that it had to be a Christian counselor and not some humanist-type who would try to delude her into thinking there's nothing wrong with two people of the same sex lying down together like man and wife.

I assured my friend of my prayers.  I ask you to kindly remember this family as well, for as we heard the angel Gabriel tell Mary,  nothing will be impossible for God.

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