Is church imposing “burdensome moral restrictions” on people who have same-sex orientation? Get the facts straight, right here
Over the years, I have had very fine students in my classroom who have a same-sex orientation, and, of course, as a Deacon of the Church, I know a number of practicing Catholics with a same-sex orientation. It is important to note right away that many people with same-sex orientation do not live a sexually active lifestyle. Many have been down that road and have found it wanting (i.e. not all that it was cracked up to be). Many are committed to the virtue of chastity—a part of the virtue of temperance. In other words, many same-sex Catholics have come to realize what many heterosexual couples have yet to realize, namely, that happiness does not come from an intimate sexual relationship. Rather, happiness comes from a profound relationship with God, and a moral life consistent with such a relationship. Unless a person has had a genuine encounter with the Lord, much of the Church’s moral teachings will appear to be little more than burdensome impositions, that is, unnecessary restrictions on our own happiness.
What is interesting is that a number of Catholics with same-sex orientation have explicitly pointed out that the unwillingness to be direct, that is, the unwillingness to come out and teach the basic principles of Catholic sexual teaching, has actually done a great disservice to them. Had clergy, catechists and teachers been more responsible and shown greater solicitude for the faithful in teaching about sexual ethics and the nature of marriage, they (clergy, catechists, and teachers) might have saved them (Catholics with same-sex orientation) from a great deal of pain and wasted years. In other words, the picture that is often painted by media and popular culture is that persons with same-sex orientation are all on one side, and the Church with its “burdensome moral restrictions” is on the other. Such a picture is just not true to the facts. There are many Catholics with same-sex orientation who are well aware of the difference between pleasure and joy, chastely living very devout lives centered around the Eucharist, taking their inspiration from those priests and Sisters who are faithfully living their vows of chastity or promises of celibacy.
Sexual morality cannot be understood outside of an understanding of the nature of marriage. I teach Marriage Preparation for the Archdiocese, and I can say with relative certainty that the majority of couples getting married today are not entirely clear on what it is they are doing when they choose to marry. In other words, they are not entirely clear on what marriage really is and how it relates to sexual expression. This is understandable because we live in a culture that has really lost a sense of the true nature of marriage. There are number of factors that might explain this, beginning with the Sexual Revolution of the 60s; the introduction of no-fault divorce in the late ‘60s; the introduction of Common Law “marriage” (a couple cohabitates for a period of time and is then treated by the state as if they were married); the separation of sex from the idea of children (a separation made possible by the production and distribution of modern contraceptives, etc.).
But marriage has always been understood as an institution. It is more than a friendship—our friendships are private, they are not institutions. Marriage is an organization that exists for the public welfare (institution). Just as a cell is the basic unit of a living organism, marriage is the fundamental unit of society. Marriage is a unique phenomenon.
In short, it is a joining of two into one flesh, one body. It is a complete (total) and mutual giving of the self to another, and since “you are your body”, to give yourself is to give your body. Because it is a complete and total self-giving, it is irrevocable—I cannot revoke what I give if I no longer hang on to a part of what I am giving. If it is mutual, the two have given themselves over to one another such that her body belongs to him and his body belongs to her. They have become a one flesh union. The natural expression of this union is the act of sexual intercourse (the marital act). In this act, male and female become “reproductively one organism” (a male is reproductively incomplete, and so too a female. But in the marital act, the two become reproductively one body). In the sexual act, the two become a one flesh union, which is what marriage is. And so, the sexual act is an expression and celebration of conjugal love (married love). There is a two-fold goodness to the sexual act; it serves two purposes: 1) to express and celebrate married love, and 2) the procreation of new life.
That is why one of the impediments that renders a marriage invalid (non-existing) is impotence, which implies the inability to actually perform the sexual act (the inability to consummate the marriage). Infertility is not an impediment to marriage; it is not necessary to actually have children in order to be validly married, but the openness to children is a necessary condition for a valid marriage, and so the deliberate intention not to have children renders a marriage invalid (non-existing). Other impediments that render a marriage invalid are coercion, fraud (he’s not the person you were led to believe he was), leaving an opening for divorce (the intention must be until “death do us part”), psychological immaturity (the moral and psychological conditions to actually be married are just not there in at least one of them—this is a serious problem among many people today, for the culture in which we live is not conducive to producing morally mature adults).
Marriage as understood by the Judeo-Christian tradition is an objective institution with a determinate nature. It is not a social construct, as the postmodernist claims it is. And because marriage is a joining of two into one body, one flesh, it can only be achieved between a man and a woman. It is not possible for two people of the same sex to actually become one body in the act of sexual union; in other words, it is not possible to consummate a marriage if the two are of the same sex.
Sexual ethics—for us, at least—always starts from an understanding of the marital context. Pre-marital sex is fundamentally an instance of lying with one’s body—for the two are expressing and celebrating a marriage that isn’t there. But the sexual act between a genuinely married couple is a holy act; it is a grace-meriting act. Outside of that context, the sexual act is usually and for the most part a matter of procuring sexual pleasure. To have sex with another person not as an expression of a complete and total giving of the self in marriage, but merely as a means to sexual pleasure, is to use other as a means to an end; and using another as a means to an end is always a violation of a basic moral precept to treat others as ends in themselves, never as a means to an end.
There is far more to this philosophical/theological understanding of marriage and the meaning of the sexual act than can be adequately expressed in an article of this size, but for a large percentage of the population, sex is no longer really anything that has a great deal of significance. It is often not much more meaningful than having a martini or heading out to the Dairy Queen for a sundae, something you can do with almost anyone. But the Church’s determination to protect the nature and sacredness of the sexual act and the true significance of marriage is rooted in her conviction that marriage/family is the fundamental unit of society, and anything that harms that unit harms the civil community as a whole.
And so, the Church calls those persons with a same-sex orientation to a life of chastity. Now this may sound cruel to some, but it might very well be the case that it is the opposite approach that is actually cruel. Moreover, clerical celibacy is probably more important today than it ever was. A good-looking priest or Sister who has taken a vow of chastity or promise of celibacy, and radiates joy, gives very powerful testimony that happiness (or joy) does not come from an intimate sexual relationship; but rather, happiness is found in Christ. It’s even difficult to get married couples to see this. They often believe that their happiness will be found in one another. But Saint Augustine said it long ago, on the first page of his Confessions: “Oh Lord, You created us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You”. In other words, God created you for Himself, not for another. Complete happiness cannot ever be found in another human being, but only in God. If God calls a man to married life, He is calling him to love his wife for her sake, not for his own sake or his own happiness. He is calling this man to love God by loving this woman for her sake and for God’s sake. Unfortunately, many people “reveal their hand” by the words they speak, saying such things as “he fills a void within me”, or “I just didn’t feel fulfilled anymore, so I left her”, as if marriage is about “my fulfillment”.
There is a tremendously rich heritage in this area of sexual ethics and the nature of marriage in the history of the Church, which has undergone tremendous development in the 20th century (i.e., the Theology of the Body), and when we teach this to our students, they really do react positively. And this is true also of those students who have same-sex attraction. Many of them discern the truth in these teachings and are grateful to receive them. Unfortunately, many clergy are afraid to teach it, and many educators are just not familiar with it.
The fact of the matter is, we all have our own struggles. Whatever road the Lord calls us to walk, there will be sacrifices we will have to make, battles against ourselves and our own unique proclivities that we will have to engage in, but our eternal happiness is precisely at the end of that road. More importantly, “the road to heaven is heavenly”; conversely, “the road to hell is hellish”. When people come to chart out their own unique battlefield and specific road that the Lord is calling them to follow, with all the sacrifices they will be required to make, they begin to experience a joy that they didn’t think was possible. Most people are under the illusion that I will only be happy when I get to do what I want to do; they often go down that road and discover that they are not happy at all, much to their dismay. But when they finally begin to do what the Lord is calling them to do, they discover something that they had no idea they would find, namely, a deep sense of fulfillment.
Deacon Doug McManaman is a retired teacher of religion and philosophy in Southern Ontario. He lectures on Catholic education at Niagara University. His ministry as a deacon is to those who suffer from mental illness.
What happens when a Protestant Pastor finds a great treasure in the Catholic Church? Becoming a Catholic was not easy for me. Like many converts, I had my share of misconceptions, and obstacles. My biggest obstacle was that my faith/ church perspective was also my career. At 20, I entered into full-time ministry as a Youth Pastor. Throughout my 22 year career in ministry, I have performed many roles—Senior Pastor, Teaching Pastor, Worship Leader, Missions Coordinator etc. My faith was my life, and the idea of leaving it all behind to become a Catholic was something that I wrestled with. I never would have thought it could happen. I had no Catholics in my family. Growing up as the son of a United Methodist pastor, my only exposure to the Catholic faith was from people who hated the Catholic faith. When I met my wife, I asked her if she went to church. She replied, “I’m a Catholic but I don’t go to church”, so I took her to my church and she loved it! We were married in the United Methodist church where I worked; and never looked back. Until… Caught Unawares Like many others who ultimately convert, my first experience with a Catholic who actually practiced his faith proved to be life changing. His name is Devin Schadt. He was a graphic designer. I hired him to create a logo for our youth ministry which led to some interesting conversations about faith, church and eventually his Catholic faith. My first impression of him was that he loved Jesus and had a vibrant faith. This seemed very strange to me, because as I sat in his dining room, I was intrigued by the icons, paintings and other “Catholic looking” stuff he had in his house. Who does that? I had to press him on this. I had never heard a Catholic talk about Jesus in the way Devin did. I had assumed that he just hadn't read the Bible enough to see that his Catholic faith contradicted the Scriptures. I was licking my chops at the idea of sharing some verses with him and explaining the Gospel. I was certain that after a few minutes of this, he would be ready to become a “real” Christian, pray the sinner’s prayer, and become a Protestant like me. I asked him, “Devin, when were you saved?” I wanted to see how a Catholic would answer this question. I did not expect much. I was so wrong. Not only did Devin have an answer to that question, but he had his own questions for me. Questions that I was not at all prepared for. For example, “Keith, where did your Bible come from?” “Why are there so many Protestant denominations?” “How do we know who is accurately teaching the truth of Christianity when there are so many differences between Protestant denominations?” And so many more! I had never heard any of these ideas before, but although I was intrigued, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the possibility that the Catholic Church could be the one true Church founded by Christ. Even the idea that there was one true Church founded by Christ was a new idea to me. I had always believed that what mattered was a person’s faith and belief in the scriptures, not any connection to an institution. Devin was helping me to see that the Bible itself shows that Jesus not only founded a Church, but that it still existed today through the authority of the apostles as they had handed down the faith. However, this was not something I could easily accept. When God Called Me Devin and I would go on to have many conversations over the years. We would take a pilgrimage to Rome and Medjugorje together. We would argue passionately. During this time, my ministry and my family were growing. I loved my role in my church. God was moving and things were great. Although there were many things Devin had showed me that challenged my Protestant thinking, I was still too afraid to seriously entertain the idea of converting. However, there was one night in particular where God called me out. I was at a church camp and one of my friends was leading the youth in a communion service. It was nothing new to me, but as he worked his way through the service and held up the bread and juice and said “this represents Jesus”, I knew that this was not what Jesus said, and I also knew this was not what the Christian Church believed for 1500 years. It was as if God was calling to me “Come home and I’ll show you more...” I broke down and left the room. I called Devin and confessed to him that I was feeling called to become a Catholic. I was terrified that he would rub it in my face that he was right (only because that is what I would have done), but he did not. He simply said he was there to help. I wish that this was the part of my story where I converted, but it is not. I was too afraid. I bailed because I could not wrap my mind around how this could work. What would I do for a job? What would my family think? How could I explain this? All of these questions overpowered the leading I felt and I put this whole Catholic thing behind me for many years. It’s one of the biggest regrets of my life. More than 10 years later, eventually God’s call home would become something I could no longer ignore. I had been the “Pastor to Youth and Mission” at a United Methodist Church for a couple years when a good friend of mine named Greg invited my wife and me to attend a screening of “Apparition Hill”. This movie was a documentary that followed seven strangers on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. I had not thought about that trip in quite a while, but when Greg called I thought I’d better go, since he was the one who originally took me on that trip all those years ago. The movie brought so many things back into my mind and had me in tears a few times. This film was clearly used by our Blessed Mother to reach out to me. Worst Part I had been in a bit of a storm in my church. Although my local church was great, our denomination was a mess. It had become clear to me that without an authoritative voice to not only interpret Scripture, but even history, chaos and schism were inevitable. For the United Methodists, the cultural issues of the day surrounding Marriage and Scripture were unraveling what was once a strong denomination. I found myself at odds with many people who wanted the church to change with the times. It did not seem to bother them that the scriptures clearly defined things like marriage and human sexuality. “That’s just one interpretation”. “The church has had it wrong all these years and we will fix it”. “God doesn’t hate. He/she loves everybody so you can’t judge anyone”. These were just some of statements I wrestled against all the while knowing that I really did not have a leg to stand on without some kind of external God-given authority to tell me otherwise. During one of my conversations with a very liberal pastor friend, she said to me, “Keith if you believe all that Church authority stuff, why aren’t you a Catholic?” Great question! I had begun to reopen that idea. It seemed that the more I thought about everything Devin and I had argued about, the more it made perfect sense. I was in a different place. I had learned that not listening to God is the worst thing you can do. I still had objections. I still had issues, but I had begun to feel a new sense of calling and a new presence in my life. It took me a while to put my finger on it, but it all became clear to me as I was preparing to preach a sermon on the Annunciation. (It was Advent—so we could talk about Mary.) As I worked on this message in my office, I became overcome with emotion. The more I thought about Mary, the more I became aware of not only how amazing she was, but how connected to the Holy Spirit she continues to be. I felt her presence. When I preached that sermon, I could feel the Holy Spirit moving. I talked about how Mary was the “New Eve” and the “New Ark of the Covenant.” I talked about how amazing she must have been for the angel, Gabriel to greet her “Hail, full of grace”. The people were so intrigued by this. One man came forward afterwards in tears, saying he had never heard anything like that before. There is so much more I could say about this, but the bottom line is: My doctrinal objections were solved not by arguments, but by The Blessed Mother capturing my heart. However, I still had the issue of what my life would look like if I converted. My dad had told me once, “Keith you can’t just quit your job and become Catholic, there needs to be a way”. He meant that I needed to know how I would feed my family. What would I do for a job? What about my ministry? A Step of Faith The answers to those questions would not be revealed to me for some time, but one night as I prayed before a crucifix, I said to Jesus, “Lord, I am ready to become Catholic, but I need you to make a way.” With as much clarity as I have ever had from God, Jesus spoke to me from the crucifix. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. You don’t need Me to make a way, you just need ME”. I knew what this meant. I had just received my blessing during the Mass (because I could not receive the Eucharist). Jesus was showing me that He was not only truly present in the Eucharist, but also that my primary need was not for God to make things easy or fully revealed, but rather to take a step of faith like I had never taken before. He was showing me that what I truly needed was not control, or assurance. What I needed was Him. I was realizing that even if I lost everything I have in this world, but gained Jesus, I had won! I had to get to the place where I did not need it all to work out perfectly in order to convert. I had to be willing to sacrifice it all for Jesus. Once I was able to take that step, it all became clear. There was no looking back. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44) After all these years, I was finally ready to buy the field. I am so happy I did. Since becoming a Catholic, things have not been easy. I have lost friends, money, security, stability and more. But what I have gained has been more valuable than I could ever have asked for. The blessings I have received are incomparable with what I sacrificed. God has been true to his word. I know that no matter what happens in this life, I will never leave the Church. When you follow the call of God, it does not mean life will become easy, but it does become more meaningful. I am so grateful for the grace he has given to me, and I can only dream, about where this journey will take me from here.
Are Angels real? Get to know the truth here... We often come across Angels as messengers of God in the Scripture. The Catholic Church recognizes the names of only three Angels, all of whom belong to the Choir of Archangels. Each year the Church celebrates the feast of these Archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael on September 29th. Saint Michael the Archangel means, “Who is like God.” He is the patron of soldiers, police officers and firefighters. Traditionally, Michael has been referred to as the Guardian Angel of the people of Israel and he is now revered as the Guardian Angel of the Church. In the Book of Revelation, Michael is the angel who led the forces of Heaven to defeat Lucifer/Satan when he rebelled against God. We learn from Scripture and Tradition that Saint Michael has four main responsibilities: to combat Satan; to escort the faithful to Heaven at their hour of death; to be a champion of all Christians and the Church; and to call men and women from life on Earth to their Heavenly judgment. Saint Gabriel the Archangel means, “God is My Strength”. Gabriel is God’s Holy Messenger. He appeared to the Prophet Daniel to explain a vision from God. He appeared to the priest Zacharias to announce that he would have a son, John the Baptist, and he appeared to the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation. Catholic tradition indicates that Gabriel was the angel who appeared to Saint Joseph in his dreams. God entrusted Gabriel with delivering the most important message of our Catholic faith to the Virgin Mary. He is the patron saint of messengers, telecommunications workers and postal workers. Saint Raphael the Archangel means, “God heals.” In the Old Testament book of Tobit, Raphael is credited with driving the evil spirit from Sarah and restoring Tobit’s vision, allowing him to see the light of Heaven and for receiving all good things through His intercession. Raphael is the patron saint of travelers, the blind, bodily ills, happy meetings, nurses, physicians and medical workers. Angels all around us “Make yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit; for without being seen, they are present with you.” Saint Francis de Sales. Have you experienced angels protecting you from apparent dangers? Sometimes a person knows deep down that Someone had come to their aid. Many of us have probably realized that angels have protected and helped them at times. One of my experiences of angels assisting me is etched forever in my memory. When my mom was being treated for cancer, we had to make a 240 miles round trip to the nearest cancer treatment center. On the way home one day, as we drove along a secondary highway, my car began to lose power while the engine started to bang and make all kinds of noise indicating that the car was about to die on the spot. My mom was exhausted and feeling ill, so I knew that it could be disastrous if we stalled on the side of the road in the heat of the summer. I began to pray desperately, asking the holy angels to come to our assistance, to keep the engine going until we arrived home. After chugging disjointedly along for about a mile or two, all of a sudden the engine started to smooth out, gain power and ran smoothly all the way home. We were thanking God for sending us angels to assist us. The next day, I brought my car into the mechanic shop to have it checked out. To my pleasant surprise the mechanic could not find a single issue with the engine. I felt thankful and amazed that our very own angel mechanic had fixed the car so that it ran even better than before. “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.” Psalm 35:7 From the moment God created me, He assigned me a guardian angel. “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” (CCC 336) Our human lives are surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. Our guardian angel’s task is to get us to Heaven. We will never know, this side of Heaven, how many times we were protected from dangers by angels or how often they helped us avoid a fall into serious sin. “The angels work together for the benefit of us all.”— Saint Thomas Aquinas. No wonder the Catholic Church has set apart October 2nd as a feast day to remember the Guardian Angels. Many Saints were privileged to see their angel. Saint Joan of Arc (1412-1431) was a young woman who was called by Saint Michael the Archangel and other saints to lead and inspire the French forces in numerous military battles against the English during the Hundred Year War. God used this courageous woman to do battle on His behalf. Pope Leo XIII who reigned during the latter half of the 19th Century, had a vision of Satan and composed the following Prayer to Saint Michael which is recited after Mass in many Churches today: “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in the hour of battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.” When we sing praises to God we are singing with the Angels. At every Mass, we are swept right up into Heaven. "The Mass as Heaven on earth …is a mysterious participation in the Heavenly liturgy. We do go to Heaven when we go to Mass, and this is true of every Mass we attend.” Dr. Scott Hahn. Heavenly King, You have given us archangels to assist us during our pilgrimage on earth. Saint Michael is our protector; I ask him to come to my aid, fight for all my loved ones, and protect us from danger. Saint Gabriel is a messenger of the Good News; I ask him to help me clearly hear Your voice and to teach me the truth. Saint Raphael is the healing angel; I ask him to take my need for healing and that of everyone I know, lift it up to Your throne of grace and deliver us back to the gift of recovery. Help us, O Lord, to realize more fully the reality of archangels and their desire to serve us. Holy angels, pray for us. Amen.
Every moment of searching is a moment of encounter. Look out…for those life-changing moments Pope Francis opens his first encyclical with this line: “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” Then he boldly invites “all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting Him encounter them. . .” “Encounter,” a keyword of Pope Francis, came to me as the Lord’s answer to a theme for my upcoming retreat. I realized that I needed to develop this quality in my own life—striving to really listen deeply to Jesus in my prayer, and then to the people He sends. Carried Away Our society does not cultivate real encounter. Absorption in screen-based activities and trivial conversations and activities impedes our interactions. We often judge by externals without taking time to see the person within. During my five-day retreat, I chose a Joyful Mystery as the focus of each day. While I took my morning jog, I contemplated each mystery and renamed them: 1. The Encounter of the Archangel Gabriel with Mary. 2. The Encounter of Mary with Elizabeth, and of Jesus and John. 3. The First Face-to-Face Encounter of Jesus with Mary and Joseph. 4. The Encounter of Simeon, then Anna, with Jesus when He was Presented in the Temple. 5. Mary and Joseph’s Encounter after Losing and Finding Jesus. When my mind roamed, I would draw my attention back to the key encounter. Within My Soul Occasionally, when I catch myself praying the psalms, prayers and readings from the breviary without fully engaging, I try to re-frame it as an encounter with the Father, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, with Mary, or with the saints. Sometimes, a strong distraction carries me away. For example, if I think about a person who has hurt me, and let that resentment intrude, I need to encounter the Lord’s healing. Often enough what bothers us about someone else is actually reflecting something about ourselves. So we are to ask ourselves: “What does my anger or resentment about this person tell me about myself? Relishing Friendship In my perpetual efforts to clean up and get organized, I have found it helpful to ask: “Is this book, paper, CD, photo, really something very helpful, or have I just carried it around without using it beneficially? If I have not had an encounter with it, can I give it up, throw it out, or do something better with it?” My daily prayer is to really encounter Jesus deeply, then to go out to encounter others in whom he truly is present. As Pope Francis says, we must “be sustained by our own constantly renewed experience of relishing Christ’s friendship and His message, . . .convinced from personal experience that it is not the same thing to have known Jesus as not to have known Him. . . We pray that Our Lady will help us do as she did: “Mary, help us to say our own ‘Yes’ to proclaiming the Good News, and to encountering God in service of others.”
I was terrified and frozen with fear, unable to move or make a noise. It was a cold and eerie night. I was peacefully sleeping in bed when suddenly an enormous, grey wolf climbed in through the bedroom window. It bounded swiftly across the floor and hid under my bed, pushing its snout through my mattress. I could really feel the snout of the wolf pressing right at the small of my back. I was terrified, frozen with fear, unable to move or make a noise. As time passed by nothing happened, and I thought to myself, “I have got to do something!” As a child I knew that the best thing I could do was to call for Mom. And so I tried to call her, but all that came out from my mouth was a small, feeble voice. Mom couldn’t hear me, but the wolf didn’t move either. I felt a little bolder and braver now, so I tried again, “Mom!” It still wasn’t loud enough for my Mom to hear, but the wolf still didn’t move either. So I took a deeper breath and screamed as loud as I could, “MOM!” Rescue Mission Soon I could hear my Mom rushing up the stairs, followed by the heavy thuds of my Dad. They burst into the room shouting, “David, David what’s the matter?” My voice was still trembling as I murmured in a low voice “There’s a wolf under my bed”. My Dad was startled and tried to assure me that we had no wolves in this country, but I quickly narrated how a big grey wolf had climbed in through the window and scampered under my bed. I concluded by whimpering “I can feel the snout of the wolf still pressing at the small of my back”. My Dad took control of the situation while my Mom stood perplexed. He declared, “I am going to count up to 3. On the count of 3, roll off the bed and I will grab the wolf.” My Mom gasped, but I agreed. On the count of 3, I just rolled off my bed. My Dad didn’t move nor did the wolf. We got down on all fours and peered under the bed. There was no wolf in sight. We searched under the doorway, and every nook and corner but there was no wolf anywhere. Bewildered, I looked back to the bed and suddenly noticed a small button turned on its side, right at the place where I had been lying. A tremendous realization struck me…I had been lying on my bed, frozen with fear, unable to move or make a noise…terrified of a button! The memory of this incident from my childhood is deeply etched into my mind. As I got older and wiser, I came to realize that most of the things that frighten me were, in reality, mere buttons, just like that mighty wolf who had been lying in wait to pounce on me. And I am definitely not scared of buttons. Take a Look Throughout the Bible, there is one message that is emphasized over and over again. “Do not be afraid.” Surely it raises a question. Why don’t we need to be afraid? All around us, terrifying scenarios are building up, and it seems right to be afraid. But God says, “Do not be afraid.” Does that mean you are doing something wrong when you are afraid? No. It simply encourages you not to let fear inhibit or stop you from being the person you were created to be. Fear is a natural human response. It focuses our body and our mind on situations requiring our urgent attention. So, the fear that invades my mind when I am aware of a wolf under my bed is good and even healthy. But when that fear is based on something that isn’t true, then it can have a really negative impact. We can get stuck in that situation, unable to move or respond. So when we are frightened, we should stop and take a second look. We ought to pray about it, listen, reflect and think, “Is this something I need to be afraid of?” Maybe I can just push it aside. Maybe it is like my wolf, in which case I need to ask for help to transform my flawed perception of a terrifying wolf into a harmless button. So why don’t we need to be afraid? The simple answer is: we are God’s children. No matter how bad the situation you are in, God holds you in His strong arms. He speaks to you today. Listen to Him saying, “Be not afraid” and seek His strength. Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us so much. You know everything about us—all our strengths, weaknesses, and all the things that terrify us. Lord, help us to experience Your Peaceful Presence surrounding us, giving us strength to face our fears. When we feel trapped by anxiety, grant us the grace to overcome our panic and escape the bondage of fear. We ask this in Jesus' Name, Amen.
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