Tuesday, July 14, 2009


My story I believe is quite interesting.  I am actually a convert to the Catholic Church, entering on Holy Saturday, 2000 at St. John's in Indianapolis.  I had learned about the Catholic Faith six years prior to my entering the Church.

The Catholic Church has been a life saver for me!  Once introduced to the Catholic Faith I latched on to praying the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) each day even though I wasn't a member of the Church.  I felt as though praying the Divine Office would help me feel close to the Body of Christ.

Studying the Catholic Faith for many years prior to my entering the Church helped me to make an informed decision as to why I wanted to enter.  I knew of the Church's teaching regarding homosexuals and at first I was really taken aback by it.  I simply did not understand why the Church would think such things about homosexuals. 

Even though I intellectually understood what the Church was saying about homosexuality I never really dealt with it after becoming Catholic because I had always had the dream of becoming a Benedictine Monk, something I did three years into my being a Catholic.  Ironically enough, I wanted to be a monk before I knew I had to enter the Catholic Church.

My time in the monastery was wonderful.  Difficult but wonderful.  It was a time that helped me learn more about myself and my faith.  It gave me a deeper reverence for the Eucharist along with the inner structure and workings of the Church. 

But there came a time while I was in the monastery that I had a deep desire which turned into a deep yearning to be with someone.  This had very little to do with sex and more with intimacy and companionship.  Celibacy was not a problem for me.  It was the lack of companionship that I suffered from.

And so, one September morning I came to realize that monastic life was not my vocation, but the married life was.  Leaving the monastery was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  I loved it there but I also realized that it wasn't my vocation.  God was not calling me there!

When I left the monastery I was very excited about the prospects of having someone else in my life.  I was not so much eager to be with someone soon after leaving.  It was more of an idealism I had had.  You see, I had never before been in love and that was something I wanted in my life.

It took almost two years after leaving the monastery that I found someone or rather God drew us together I believe.  Tyson is his name and he is the most wonderful man I have ever know - a gift from the hands of God. 

When we first met and started dating it was a whirl wind.  Everything seemed to simply fall in place with him and it seemed to go by so quickly.  But then came an enormous weight upon my shoulders and conscience that I have never before experienced.  It was the nagging feeling that I no longer was welcome in the Church I loved so dearly.  It wasn't anything specific nor did any priest, religious or lay person ever do or say anything to me regarding my being Catholic and gay (with a boyfriend now). 

What did bother me was all the statements made by the Church regarding homosexuals and all that I have read in the past regarding this topic.  I had been very faithful to the Church ever since entering her.  I had always loved and revered her and would defend her to the death, but now I was experiencing a crisis of conscience and the delima of falling in love with my boyfriend or "choosing" to be in good standing with the Church.  Feeling as tough I had to choose destroyed a little part of me for sometime.  I didn't want to choose, and the ironic thing is that I choose to be Catholic but didn't choose to be gay.  I wasn't about to leave the Church and nor could I "choose" to no longer be gay.  What must I do?

The right thing to have done I believe would have been to turn to Christ and the sacraments all the more in my time of suffering.  Those moments could become redemptive through my sufferings if only I had united them to Christ's.  But I didn't do that.  I did the typical thing of not wanting to go to Mass, wanting to be upset with the Church and ultimately becoming mad at God.  My spiritual life suffered the most in these times of suffering.

But the beauty of it all is that God would not let me go.  Throughout the struggles I had with the Church's teaching on homosexuals my boyfriend stood by my side and supported me all the way.  He didn't really understand because he wasn't Catholic at the time.  There were many instances where God intervened in my life for the few months that I suffered with this.  Most importantly, he helped me to realize the depth of beauty, mercy and love offered in the sacraments.  In and through them he helped me to realize why I first became Catholic: because of the passionate and loving response I saw from God in the sacraments.

I also began to realize that a God who IS love cannot condemn me for something I never chose.  He cannot or will not condemn me because I have fallen in love with someone who simply happens to be another guy.  Once I realized that the flood gates of grace opened up for me.  I went back to Mass even sometimes daily when I could and took my boyfriend with me.  To my great surprise he decided to go through the RCIA process and became Catholic himself on Easter Saturday, 2008. 

I feel as though my suffering through all that I have with my Catholic Faith and my homosexuality has lead me to love the Church all the more.  She needs people such as myself and my boyfriend - faithful Catholics who show to others through silent witness that gay men and women can live and love as true and faitful Catholics.  I have become a better person and a better Catholic because of my boyfriend.  I hope that I in some way have been able to do the same for him.  Now we together need to do the same for the Church both locally and universally.  We are called upon to give witness that love and faith can subsist within a committed relationship that happens to be gay.

I believe that my becoming and staying Catholic is a gift from God.  We cannot choose our families and even when there is great discrimination and pain we cannot uproot ourselves and leave.  I believe that Christ established the Church and it is up to us to not only continue remaining in it when it gets difficult but to offer our sufferings in union with Christ's, "for the sake of his body, the Church" (Col. 1:24).

-- Ryan Guthrie

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