Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Soon to be Saint; the missionary to Mexico and California

Bl. Junipero Serra

 
Image of Bl. Junipero Serra

Facts

Feastday: July 1
Patron of Vocations
Birth: 1713
Death: 1784
Beatified By: Pope John Paul II

Miguel Jose Serra was born on the island of Majorca on November 24, 1713, and took the name of Junipero when in 1730, he entered the Franciscan Order. Ordained in 1737, he taught philosophy and theology at the University of Padua until 1749.
At the age of thirty-seven, he landed in Mexico City on January 1, 1750, and spent the rest of his life working for the conversion of the peoples of the New World.
In 1768, Father Serra took over the missions of the Jesuits (who had been wrongly expelled by the government)in the Mexican province of Lower California and Upper California (modern day California). An indefatigable worker, Serra was in large part responsible for the foundation and spread of the Church on the West Coast of the United States when it was still mission territory.
He founded twenty-one missions and converted thousands of Indians. The converts were taught sound methods of agriculture, cattle raising, and arts and crafts.
Junipero was a dedicated religious and missionary. He was imbued with a penitential spirit and practiced austerity in sleep, eating, and other activities. On August 28, 1784, worn out by his apostolic labors, Father Serra was called to his eternal rest. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988. His statue, representing the state of California, is in National Statuary Hall. His feast day is July 1.

Pray with the Pope throughout July

July prayer intentions of Pope Francis


  • Universal: That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.

  • Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.

A mentor and a friend; the Deacon Director throughout my formation; Rest in Peace

Jim Swiler

June 21, 1939 - June 26, 2015

Deacon Jim Swiler, peacefully passed away on June 26, 2015 at the age of 76 surrounded by his loving family. He was born on June 21, 1939 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Prior to his death, Deacon Jim resided in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Jim had a passion for radio broadcasting which led to a career spanning over twenty years. Deacon Jim served as the Chancellor for the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux for the past 7 years. Deacon Jim was the first Deacon Director for the Office of the Permanent Diaconate for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Louisiana, a position he held for over 35 years. He was the first Deacon to serve as President of the National Association of Deacon Directors and the first to serve as the Regional Representative for the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions. He was awarded the Monsignor William Philpin Award named in honor of the first National Director of the Permanent Diaconate for his work as an exemplary director. He was the first Deacon to receive this award. He was also the first Deacon to receive the Bart O’Leary award for vision and leadership in the restoration of the Permanent Diaconate and also received the Director’s Award. Deacon Jim served as a Consultant to the United States Catholic Conference and as an Advisor to the Permanent Diaconate in the Dioceses of Baton Rouge and Houma-Thibodaux. Deacon Jim taught Homiletics at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans and was also Archdiocesan Master of Ceremonies. In 1999, Deacon Jim was awarded the Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice Award and medal by his Holiness Father Pope John Paul II for his outstanding service to the church. The family will have visitation at St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral located at 721 Canal Blvd., Thibodaux, LA 70301 on Friday, July 3rd at 9:00 a.m. and a funeral mass celebrating the life of Deacon Jim Swiler at 12:00 p.m. A reception will follow in the Life Center following the mass. Deacon Jim is survived by his beloved wife of 51 years, Bonnie Falterman Swiler and children Kelley Schellstede, Melissa Brown, Matthew Swiler and Kathryn Burke and his seven beautiful grandchildren, Sven Schellstede, Ryan Brown, Austin Brown, Lauren Schellstede, Mackenzie Brown, Maddie Burke and Liam Burke. He is survived by his brother, William Swiler. He is also survived by his three Sons-in-Law, Hans Schellstede, Keith Brown and Solomon Burke. He was preceded in death by his beloved parents James Wagner and Mary Gladys Swiler. In lieu of flowers, donations to your favorite charity in his memory would be greatly appreciated. Our family would like to express our sincerest gratitude to the entire medical team at Thibodaux Regional Hospital and everyone in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the Diocese of Baton Rouge and the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. Deacon Jim touched countless lives and will be sorely missed. He will continue to love and serve the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being. Do it for the Lord. Col.3:23


>>Well done good and faithful servant

Monday, June 29, 2015

They gave their very lives for Christ & His Church

First Martyrs of the See of Rome
 
Image of First Martyrs of the See of Rome

Facts

Feastday: June 30
Death: 64

The holy men and women are also called the "Protomartyrs of Rome." They were accused of burning Rome by Nero , who burned Rome to cover his own crimes. Some martyrs were burned as living torches at evening banquets, some crucified, others were fed to wild animals. These martyrs died before Sts. Peter and Paul, and are called "disciples of the Apostles. . . whom the Holy Roman church sent to their Lord before the Apostles' death."

A beautiful perspective from a proud man who identifies as both Catholic and gay

Catholic, Gay, and Feeling Just Fine

 

 





 

 
by   
Gay Catholic
I have heard a lot about how mean the Church is, and how bigoted, because she opposes gay marriage. How badly she misunderstands gay people, and how hostile she is towards us. My gut reaction to such things is: Are you freaking kidding me? Are we even talking about the same Church?
When I go to Confession, I sometimes mention the fact that I’m gay, to give the priest some context. I’ve always gotten one of two responses: either compassion, encouragement, and admiration, because the celibate life is difficult and profoundly counter-cultural; or nothing at all, not even a ripple, as if I had confessed eating too much on Thanksgiving.
Of the two responses, my ego prefers the first—who doesn’t like thinking of themselves as some kind of hero? — but the second might make more sense. Being gay doesn’t mean I’m special or extraordinary. It just means that my life is not always easy. (Surprise!) And as my friend J. said when I told him recently about my homosexuality, “I guess if it wasn’t that, it would have been something else.” Meaning that nobody lives without a burden of one kind or another. As Rabbi Abraham Heschel said: “The man who has not suffered, what can he possibly know, anyway?”
Where are all these bigoted Catholics I keep hearing about? When I told my family a year ago, not one of them responded with anything but love and understanding. Nobody acted like I had a disease. Nobody started treating me differently or looking at me funny. The same is true of every one of the Catholic friends that I’ve told. They love me for who I am.
Actually, the only time I get shock or disgust or disbelief, the only time I’ve noticed people treating me differently after I tell them, is when I tell someone who supports the gay lifestyle: "Celibacy?! You must be some kind of freak."
Hooray for tolerance of different viewpoints. I’m grateful to gay activists for some things—making people more aware of the prevalence of homosexuality, making homophobia less socially acceptable—but they also make it more difficult for me to be understood, to be accepted for who I am and what I believe. If I want open-mindedness, acceptance, and understanding, I look to Catholics.
Is it hard to be gay and Catholic? Yes, because like everybody, I sometimes want things that are not good for me. The Church doesn’t let me have those things, not because she’s mean, but because she’s a good mother. If my son or daughter wanted to eat sand I’d tell them: that’s not what eating is for; it won’t nourish you; it will hurt you. Maybe my daughter has some kind of condition that makes her like sand better than food, but I still wouldn’t let her eat it. Actually, if she was young or stubborn enough, I might not be able to reason with her—I might just have to make a rule against eating sand. Even if she thought I was mean.
So the Church doesn’t oppose gay marriage because it’s wrong; she opposes it because it’s impossible, just as impossible as living on sand. The Church believes, and I believe, in a universe that means something, and in a God who made the universe — made men and women, designed sex and marriage from the ground up. In that universe, gay marriage doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the picture, and we’re not about to throw out the rest of the picture.
If you don’t believe in these things, if you believe that men and women and sex and marriage are pretty much whatever we say they are, then okay: we don’t have much left to talk about. That’s not the world I live in.
So, yes, it’s hard to be gay and Catholic—it’s hard to be anything and Catholic—because I don’t always get to do what I want. Show me a religion where you always get to do what you want and I’ll show you a pretty shabby, lazy religion. Something not worth living or dying for, or even getting up in the morning for. That might be the kind of world John Lennon wanted, but John Lennon was kind of an idiot.
Would I trade in my Catholicism for a worldview where I get to marry a man? Would I trade in the Eucharist and the Mass and the rest of it? Being a Catholic means believing in a God who literally waits in the chapel for me, hoping I’ll stop by just for ten minutes so he can pour out love and healing on my heart. Which is worth more — all this, or getting to have sex with who I want? I wish everybody, straight or gay, had as beautiful a life as I have.
I know this isn’t a satisfactory answer. I don’t think any words could be. I try to make my life a satisfactory answer, to this question and to others: What are people for? What is love, and what does it look like? How do we get past our own selfishness so we can love God and our neighbors and ourselves?
It’s a work in progress.


Originally appeared at the Little Catholic Bubble. Used with author's permission.

Pope Francis preaches and presents the pallium on the Feast of Sts. Peter & Paul

HOLY MASS AND BLESSING OF THE SACRED PALLIUM
FOR THE NEW METROPOLITAN ARCHBISHOPS
ON THE SOLEMNITY OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL, APOSTLES

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
Vatican Basilica
Monday, 29 June 2015



The reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, speaks to us of the first Christian community besieged by persecution. A community harshly persecuted by Herod who “laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the Church… proceeded to arrest Peter also… and when he had seized him he put him in prison” (12:1-4).
However, I do not wish to dwell on these atrocious, inhuman and incomprehensible persecutions, sadly still present in many parts of the world today, often under the silent gaze of all. I would like instead to pay homage today to the courage of the Apostles and that of the first Christian community. This courage carried forward the work of evangelisation, free of fear of death and martyrdom, within the social context of a pagan empire; their Christian life is for us, the Christians of today, a powerful call to prayer, to faith and to witness.
A call to prayer: the first community was a Church at prayer: “Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church” (Acts 12:5). And if we think of Rome, the catacombs were not places to escape to from persecution but rather, they were places of prayer, for sanctifying the Lord’s day and for raising up, from the heart of the earth, adoration to God who never forgets his sons and daughters.
The community of Peter and Paul teaches us that the Church at prayer is a Church on her feet, strong, moving forward! Indeed, a Christian who prays is a Christian who is protected, guarded and sustained, and above all, who is never alone.
The first reading continues: “Sentries before the door were guarding the prison; and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side… And the chains fell off his hands” (12:6-7).
Let us think about how many times the Lord has heard our prayer and sent us an angel? An angel who unexpectedly comes to pull us out of a difficult situation? Who comes to snatch us from the hands of death and from the evil one; who points out the wrong path; who rekindles in us the flame of hope; who gives us tender comfort; who consoles our broken hearts; who awakens us from our slumber to the world; or who simply tells us, “You are not alone”.
How many angels he places on our path, and yet when we are overwhelmed by fear, unbelief or even euphoria, we leave them outside the door, just as happened to Peter when he knocked on the door of the house and the “maid named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the door” (12:13-14).
No Christian community can go forward without being supported by persistent prayer! Prayer is the encounter with God, with God who never lets us down; with God who is faithful to his word; with God who does not abandon his children. Jesus asked himself: “And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?” (Lk 18:7). In prayer, believers express their faith and their trust, and God reveals his closeness, also by giving us the angels, his messengers.
A call to faith: in the second reading Saint Paul writes to Timothy: “But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully… So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly Kingdom” (2 Tim 4:17-18). God does not take his children out of the world or away from evil but he does grant them strength to prevail. Only the one who believes can truly say: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want” (Ps 23:1).
How many forces in the course of history have tried, and still do, to destroy the Church, from without as well as within, but they themselves are destroyed and the Church remains alive and fruitful! She remains inexplicably solid, so that, as Saint Paul says, she may acclaim: “To him be glory for ever and ever” (2 Tim 4:18).
Everything passes, only God remains. Indeed, kingdoms, peoples, cultures, nations, ideologies, powers have passed, but the Church, founded on Christ, notwithstanding the many storms and our many sins, remains ever faithful to the deposit of faith shown in service; for the Church does not belong to Popes, bishops, priests, nor the lay faithful; the Church in every moment belongs solely to Christ. Only the one who lives in Christ promotes and defends the Church by holiness of life, after the example of Peter and Paul.
In the name of Christ, believers have raised the dead; they have healed the sick; they have loved their persecutors; they have shown how there is no power capable of defeating the one who has the power of faith!
A call to witness: Peter and Paul, like all the Apostles of Christ who in their earthly life sowed the seeds of the Church by their blood, drank the Lord’s cup, and became friends of God.
Paul writes in a moving way to Timothy: “My son, I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tim 4: 6-8).
A Church or a Christian who does not give witness is sterile; like a dead person who thinks they are alive; like a dried up tree that produces no fruit; an empty well that offers no water! The Church has overcome evil thanks to the courageous, concrete and humble witness of her children. She has conquered evil thanks to proclaiming with conviction: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (cf. Mt 16:13-18).
Dear Archbishops who today receive the Pallium, it is a sign which represents the sheep that the shepherd carries on his shoulders as Christ the Good Shepherd does, and it is therefore a symbol of your pastoral mission. The Pallium is “a liturgical sign of communion that unites the See of Peter and his Successor to the Metropolitans, and through them to the other Bishops of the world” (Benedict XVI, Angelus of 29 June 2005).
Today, by these Palliums, I wish to entrust you with this call to prayer, to faith and to witness.
The Church wants you to be men of prayer, masters of prayer; that you may teach the people entrusted to your care that liberation from all forms of imprisonment is uniquely God’s work and the fruit of prayer; that God sends his angel at the opportune time in order to save us from the many forms of slavery and countless chains of worldliness. For those most in need, may you also be angels and messengers of charity!
The Church desires you to be men of faith, masters of faith, who can teach the faithful to not be frightened of the many Herods who inflict on them persecution with every kind of cross. No Herod is able to banish the light of hope, of faith, or of charity in the one who believes in Christ!
The Church wants you to be men of witness. Saint Francis used to tell his brothers: “Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words!” (cf. Franciscan sources, 43). There is no witness without a coherent lifestyle! Today there is no great need for masters, but for courageous witnesses, who are convinced and convincing; witnesses who are not ashamed of the Name of Christ and of His Cross; not before the roaring lions, nor before the powers of this world. And this follows the example of Peter and Paul and so many other witnesses along the course of the Church’s history, witnesses who, yet belonging to different Christian confessions, have contributed to demonstrating and bringing growth to the one Body of Christ. I am pleased to emphasize this, and am always pleased to do so, in the presence of the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, sent by my beloved brother Bartholomew I.
This is not so straightforward: because the most effective and authentic witness is one that does not contradict, by behaviour and lifestyle, what is preached with the word and taught to others!
Teach prayer by praying, announce the faith by believing; offer witness by living!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Feast Day of Saints Peter & Paul

STS. PETER AND PAUL
MONDAY, JUNE 29, 2015
On June 29 the Church celebrates the feast day of Sts. Peter & Paul. As early as the year 258, there is evidence of an already lengthy tradition of celebrating the solemnities of both Saint Peter and Saint Paul on the same day. Together, the two saints are the founders of the See of Rome, through their preaching, ministry and martyrdom there.
Peter, who was named Simon, was a fisherman of Galilee and was introduced to the Lord Jesus by his brother Andrew, also a fisherman. Jesus gave him the name Cephas (Petrus in Latin), which means ‘Rock,’ because he was to become the rock upon which Christ would build His Church.
Peter was a bold follower of the Lord. He was the first to recognize that Jesus was “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” and eagerly pledged his fidelity until death. In his boldness, he also made many mistakes, however, such as losing faith when walking on water with Christ and betraying the Lord on the night of His passion.
Yet despite his human weaknesses, Peter was chosen to shepherd God's flock. The Acts of the Apostles illustrates his role as head of the Church after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. Peter led the Apostles as the first Pope and ensured that the disciples kept the true faith.
St. Peter spent his last years in Rome, leading the Church through persecution and eventually being martyred in the year 64. He was crucified upside-down at his own request, because he claimed he was not worthy to die as his Lord.
He was buried on Vatican hill, and St. Peter's Basilica is built over his tomb.
St. Paul was the Apostle of the Gentiles. His letters are included in the writings of the New Testament, and through them we learn much about his life and the faith of the early Church.
Before receiving the name Paul, he was Saul, a Jewish pharisee who zealously persecuted Christians in Jerusalem. Scripture records that Saul was present at the martyrdom of St. Stephen.
Saul's conversion took place as he was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christian community there. As he was traveling along the road, he was suddenly surrounded by a great light from heaven. He was blinded and fell off his horse. He then heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He answered: “Who are you, Lord?” Christ said: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”
Saul continued to Damascus, where he was baptized and his sight was restored. He took the name Paul and spent the remainder of his life preaching the Gospel tirelessly to the Gentiles of the Mediterranean world.
Paul was imprisoned and taken to Rome, where he was beheaded in the year 67.
He is buried in Rome in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
In a sermon in the year 395, St. Augustine of Hippo said of Sts. Peter and Paul: “Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one; and even though they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, and Paul followed. And so we celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostles' blood. Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labors, their sufferings, their preaching, and their confession of faith.”

THIS is the teaching of the Catholic Church; this is what Catholics are obligated to believe

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church...

 Chastity and homosexuality

 2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 traditio...n has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

 2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.


 2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

New Orleans Saints TE on the Supreme Court and Marriage and Love!

Benjamin Watson Just Smacked The Supreme Court With The One Thing About Marriage They Don’t Realize


Benjamin Watson just wrote this on his Facebook page regarding the Supreme Court ruling on Gay Marriage:

The pressure of conformity is overwhelming at times. In light of the recent court interpretation of the constitution, the pressure is more intense than ever. Compassion, an important virtue, for our fellow man compels us to consider the feelings, plight, and desires of others in controversial times. Like a deceptive undertow along the seashore, though, emotions can sometimes carry us away, appealing to our human longing to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. A movement, a cause, or a certain political position, give us a chance to make our mark, to make our difference and to be noticed among the generation. With emotions and tempers flaring, venom and accusations in the air, and the battle lines being drawn more clearly each passing moment, I find it of utmost importance, now more than ever, to return to truth.
Throughout this process, the years long debate to redefine marriage, I regret that I have had more disdain for those who engage in a same sex attraction lifestyle than I have had for those who engage in a number of other outright violations of the Word of God like drunkenness, idolatry, or adultery (1 Corinthians 6). It is a constant battle to extend the same grace to those I struggle to understand as to those who’s sin strongholds I can identify with. It is NOT my job to hate, disparage, or condemn anyone. I lack a hell to send anyone to, or an achieved righteousness by my own merit from which I can justifiably fire accusatory arrows at anyone. It IS my job, however, to hold truth in its proper place and to call myself and others to the standards set forth in God’s word, the only absolute in a world of opinion.
Benjamin Watson Just Smacked The Supreme Court With The One Thing About Marriage They Don’t Realize
Relative morality is as capricious as the wind, leaving each generation to do what is right in their own eyes, while unknowingly undermining the exact concept of “right” that they are so desperately trying to attain. Instead of shooting for the mark, we lower it, doing what is good for “us” at the time, effectually creating our own truth, which when taken to its logical conclusion is always problematic.
We, as a nation, have continued our course into dangerous waters, shaking our fist and becoming our own gods. This individual Supreme Court ruling is not the cause, but simply evidence of how far we’ve gradually drifted. The moral decay of America is not unlike moral decay in my own life, as I continually battle against self rule. It’s a gradual decline. The tire usually doesn’t spontaneously blow out. No, it’s an aggravating slow leak, that needs constant refilling of air, until eventually, busyness takes precedence and the now unattended to tire is completely flat. Life’s proverbial morality tire responds in much the same way. It’s neglecting to read and respect the Bible. It’s listening to or watching things that aren’t uplifting. It’s allowing myself a second look. It’s removing prayer from schools and our homes.
It’s legalizing the murder of babies in the womb. It’s glorifying promiscuity and reducing sex to a simple physical animalistic act. It’s objectifying woman and praising the “playa”. It’s condoning divorce. It’s standing by in silence. It’s ignoring the promptings of the Spirit. It’s Christians, myself included, not living like Christians.
Attempting to normalize illegitimate behavior by law does not make it acceptable. Moral law transcends, civil law and will continue to do so in all realms, not just sexuality. Before God, my lustful heart, pride, and selfishness, are not acceptable no matter how I or anyone else try to rationalize it. The manifestations of my sin nature, the carnal desires and appetites of the flesh, although binding and seemingly inescapable are not subsequently acceptable to act on, even though they seem to be natural or biological urges.
Love truly IS the greatest gift of all. It never fails and covers a multitude of sins. Ultimately Love DOES Win. But Love wins us with compassion, not endorsement. Love wins us with sacrifice, not self gain. Love wins with understanding, not compromise. Love wins with brokenness over sin, not jealous anger because “we lost.” Love wins with adherence to truth no matter the cost because love cares about the well being and not necessarily the HAPPINESS of its subjects.
Above all else we must love or neighbors as ourselves, yet we can not fully do this unless we love God first. (Mark 13:30,31)
It is only through knowing God, loving him with our heart, mind and soul, and seeing His great acts of love for us that we understand the fullness of what love really is.
Today, I am not disappointed because of the possible restrictions on religious exercise, the inevitable categorization of biblical teaching as hate speech and pastors as bigots, the shift in American culture, its implications and the judicial and legislative process that has brought us to this point. I am, however, saddened because of the corporate celebration and glorification of sin which renders us separated from our Creator, exposed to the natural consequences of our actions and in desperate need of a spiritual renewal and revival.
Though, I’ve had acquaintances from time to time, I do not have many friends who openly identify as gay. Last year an NFL player, told the world he was in a relationship with another man. While the television display was less than tasteful, after hearing his story, I experienced much internal conflict with my feelings on the subject in light of my convictions. Ironically we played his team in the preseason and I encountered him again at an awards show the next year. In putting a face with a name, assigning tangible humanity to this controversial and difficult issue my heart in some small way understood the struggle for those who care deeply about their friends and family who have chosen this lifestyle. I realized my shortcomings in this area, understanding that these relational and romantic bonds, although different from mine, are just as strong. I was wrong and was compelled to grow in my compassion and love for these individuals.
In spite of how we feel, though, God created one man and one woman, joining them together as an earthly picture of Christ and his bride, the church. Though we fall short, THIS is marriage, and there is no alternative. While man governs the practice of this institution it is and will forever be divine in origin. The challenge is to never compromise the truth but to speak the truth in love and compassion understanding that we all stand before a just God in need of his grace and forgiveness. It is not a time to be frustrated about the outcome, as if we can control a world that God gave free will, but to instead celebrate the fact that He is still on the throne, that the Gospel always will be our saving grace, and that because of His mercy, Love Wins