Member Testimony: Allen

“My name is Allen and ___________”
I am a Catholic. When asked if I am a Catholic, I answer “VERY!”
To borrow a term used by the elder brethren, I am an observant Catholic.

Courage is a Catholic Apostolate to and for persons who suffer from attraction to a person of the same gender. My name is Allen and I am a Catholic who suffers from attraction to persons of the same gender.

When Courage was formed in 1980 the early members prayed and decided to adapt the 12 steps of A A to the Problem of dealing with attraction to the same gender. Coincidently I also apply the 12 steps to my life. I am VERY Catholic and I am VERY anonymous. I have found that whatever “little old problem” to which I apply the 12 steps in fellowship with others also choosing to “work the program in fellowship” becomes gradually less of a problem.

I begin each month with a Novena to the Holy Ghost. In the Prayer For the Seven Gifts Of The Holy Spirit are the words:

“O Lord Jesus Christ Who,
Before ascending into heaven
Promised to send the Holy Spirit
To finish your work
In the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples,
Grant the same Holy Spirit to me,
That He may perfect in my soul
The work of Your grace and Your love.
Grant me:….
The Spirit of Counsel
That I may bear my cross with You
And that I may overcome with courage
All the obstacles
That oppose my salvation….”

That is what I have prayed for and continue to pray for. And that is what I have received-the gift of courage and eventually the gift of Courage.

As of this writing I have reached the age of 68. I was born on May 18, 1944. On that date in history May 18, 1944 marks the day when the Nazi army was driven out of Monte Cassino in Italy by the Polish II Corps of the allied forces. I am part of the Pius XII generation. Confessed and Communicated at the age of 7 and Confirmed at the age of 9, whilst knelling at a Communion rail. I am a genuine bead-rattling, mackerel-snapping, Baltimore catechized, Bible-reading, pew-sitting Papist Pilgrim. As a Catholic I have in my life been blessed by receiving graces from the Seven Sacraments (“outward signs instituted by Christ to give grace”). Many years ago, when I was trying to put Humpty Dumpty together again, I decided to “let God guide me to what I need and when”. Shortly thereafter I noticed a sign outside a church which read “The Spirit knows the journey and forever leads the way”. And He does so lead me. Eventually I was led to Courage, “a singular flounder” washed up on your shore. Further graces and healing has been given to me in and through Courage.

We begin each meeting with the Sign of the Cross. We are a fellowship of men and women who are committed Catholics-committed to the teachings of Holy Mother Church, committed to our own healing and committed to be there to help others who may suffer from an attraction to a person or persons of the same gender.

It has long been my experience that I do not recover alone. In Scripture one reads “Woe to the man who travels alone, for if he should fall, who will help him up?” In 1995 I was blessed to go on pilgrimage to Rome with the choir of my then parish. In the Sistine Chapel I stood looking at the truly God inspired painting of the Last Judgment by Michelangelo. As I studied the painting I became aware of the truth that “no one gets to Heaven alone, no one recovers alone”. Those going up are aware of and helping others-one person is leaning over, reaching out to help steady another, who is slipping off, just hanging onto the Rosary that someone else is holding out to help another. On the other side those going or being drawn down are so self-absorbed that they seem oblivious to their own situation or that of others.

It has also long been my awareness that “if God has allowed a wounding, God allows for the healing”. (And God does allow the wounding) “If God has allowed the wounding, God allows for the healing-but not only allows for the healing, but is lovingly moving through the events of the day to bring about the healing!”

I first heard of Courage in 2006. I was getting ready for work, turned on the TV to check the weather, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but the last 10 minutes of a rebroadcast of a May 16, 1990 interview of Mother Angelica on EWTN talking to Father John Harvey. I sent for a copy of the program, contacted www.couragerc,net , sent in an inquiry, joined Courage on Line (COL), later joined CRO, a reparation prayer group, was blessed to be able to attend the Courage Conference in 2011, later drove to another Diocese to attend my first meeting, was blessed in 2012 to attend the Courage Retreat in January, and the Conference this past July. I met a fellow member at the Retreat, by April, with our Chaplain, we restarted a meeting in our Archdiocese, in July someone else joined us, and in September another, so that now we are four.

The book Alcoholics Anonymous, generally referred to as “the Big Book” was written and published in 1939. Some early members tried to describe their recovery from what was considered the hopeless condition of alcoholism in an attempt to carry their message of recovery to those who still suffer, their stories before and after, the release of several of them of the obsession and compulsion of alcoholism and of a daily reprieve. I have read, studied and applied the “suggested” 12 steps and the principles of the “program” and of the fellowship. Now when it comes to AA I am one of those on the outside looking in. I personally have not had to deal with alcohol, drugs, gambling or smoking. (“What else is there?” someone once asked me.) There have been over 400 groups dealing with all kinds of “issues” which have written to AA asking permission to adapt the 12 steps to their particular “problem”. Courage is one such group. Some groups have adapted the 12 steps more efficaciously than others. Courage is one group which has done so very effectively. Recently someone posted on COL a link to a song which includes the words “heal the wound, but leave the scar” (“just to show how merciful you are”). For a long time in recovery I would sometime say “Deep the wound, long the healing”. When I heard the song being sung I came to the realization that I, at long last, no longer experience a slow healing wound, but a scar for which to be grateful. I sometime tell persons about my healing and say “I walk around like Lazarus!”-raised from the dead-blessed, grateful, and wondering “what do I do now?” Lately I have been going for days without same-sex attraction bothering me. Occasionally the problem seems to come roaring back. If and when I slip, I get up and head for Confession. One of the parishes I live near has Confession available one-half hour before every Mass. For me a Sacrament is an encounter with Christ. I was touched recently when, after listening to my confession, the priest said, “Oh, do not be alone-we are here for you!”

And that thought I would like to leave with you-whomsoever you are. One does not have to roam about in outer darkness alone. “We are here for you”-whether in Courage on Line, at a Courage Retreat, at the Courage Sports Camp, at the Courage Conference, and, perhaps, at a Courage meeting. Know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

I will close with a prayer written in letters by Saint Thomas More, a fellow member of the Mystical Body of Christ, who also lived in dark times: “Pray for me, as I will for thee, that we may merrily meet in Heaven”.

I might add, that, God willing, we may meet each other in Courage.
Thank you,

(I do not recover alone)