Tell Ruth the Truth

This is a moderated blog is a project of the Ruth Institute. Have a story to share? We're listening.


To this day, looking at the white collar that priests wear sometimes causes anxiety.

I was 15 years old when I experienced several months of sexual abuse at the hands of a parish priest while I worked weekends in the rectory. Although it's been close to 20 years since then and despite years of hard work in psychotherapy to address PTSD, I still suffer from occasional flashbacks. Thankfully, these have improved with time. For years, I suffered from anxiety attacks. I've been blessed to have held onto my faith and am still very much a practicing Catholic but, even so, sometimes walking into a church is physically and emotionally painful. Intimacy with my husband can be extremely difficult when the flashbacks hit or when the specific dates of particular attacks come around (I become very depressed on the anniversary of my rape in particular). To this day, looking at the white collar that priests wear sometimes causes anxiety.


In regards to Cardinal Mahony speaking at the LAREC, I am feeling a lot of anxiety surrounding that because I can only begin to imagine how I would feel if someone who supported or covered for my rapist was going to be a speaker at an event. I feel for the victims who were affected by the Cardinal's actions (or lack there-of). His public presence is nothing short of degrading and triggering for survivors. Cardinal Mahony's actions were criminal and he should be treated as such.

Every time the subject of clergy sex abuse comes up, I feel as though the wound is being ripped open all over again. While it is a part of my history and a part of who I am, I don't typically dwell on it 24/7. However, since the information regarding years of sexual abuse was released from Pennsylvania last summer, the issue has been on my mind almost constantly. This has made life extremely difficult as I am a wife and homeschooling mother of three. It's been years since I've had as many difficult days as I've had over the last several months. The wound has been opened and it hurts – me and my family. I am grateful that I have been able to speak out about what happened to me on several occasions over the years, and my primary goal has always been to offer hope and support to other survivors.

Being able to come forward about the abuse within a relatively short period of time (a year later) was truly a grace. It was upon the unexpected death of my oldest brother that I was sent reeling into a tailspin. My parents, who knew nothing at the time although they knew something was "off" with me, put me into grief therapy and it was there that I was finally able to embark on the road to healing. Telling my parents was like having a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, and knowing that I was (finally) not dealing with it alone was like no feeling I can fully describe. There are fewer things in life that feel more wonderful than knowing you are loved, supported and believed! Sadly, not everyone has had the same support as I have had.

Knowing that there has been so much cover-up of clergy sex abuse is extremely infuriating and so very hurtful to survivors. In 2002, the hierarchy had the opportunity to air all the junk when news of covered-up sex abuse broke in Boston. The release of the information was highlighted in the “Spotlight” movie released several years later. I never watched it as I knew it would be too triggering for me (I was baptized by Ronald Paquin and he spent time in the same jail as my rapist). However, the hierarchy could have aired all the junk from all those years. They failed to do that. Instead, too many leaders chose to remain silent and now an entire church is reeling as a result and survivors are, once again, being shown that their suffering means little to nothing to some of our supposed leaders.

My own case turned into a bit of a media frenzy because the other cases that came to light had been in the past. Mine had been recent. Thankfully, my rapist was dealt with appropriately – he was removed immediately after a complaint from an adult woman was made. I eventually chose to face Kelvin in court upon learning that he had had other victims (although I was the only known minor). What hit me really hard was learning that the pastor at the church where Kelvin had been stationed before he was transferred to my parish, had received a complaint from a woman claiming to have been raped by Kelvin. The pastor brought Kelvin into the same room as the woman and asked him if her allegations were true. Of course, Kelvin denied it. The pastor believed him. If that pastor had taken the appropriate action and reported Kelvin to the police and to the archdiocese, I might never have had to go through what I did.

I am having a really difficult time understanding why the LAREC organizers asked Cardinal Mahony to speak in the first place. I certainly hope that his years of covering sexual abuse is not a reflection of the LAREC and what they stand for. His behavior was criminal! As for Cardinal Mahony, he should be doing what he should have been doing all along – he should be putting survivors first. He can't change the past, but he can alleviate some of the pain that survivors like me feel when someone like him is being put into the limelight as if he is someone to be admired. Lives were ruined because of his lack of action. I can forgive but that does not alleviate the need for justice! Whether it's his own pride that's causing him to not back down from this speaking engagement or some other reason, I don't know. I do know that he is, once again, failing in his role as a shepherd. How many souls have been led down the path to hell because of his lack of leadership and his lack of action? How many more people must suffer? He is not the kind of person who should be speaking at a religious education conference. Religious education strives to put children and family first, something Cardinal Mahony clearly understands nothing about. If that meant anything to him, he would have protected those victims. He would have taken appropriate action and reported those priests. He would have put a stop to the abuse, not allowed it to continue. If Cardinal Mahony is the best the LAREC can come up with for a speaker, then they need to do some serious soul-searching and one has to wonder at the kind of religious education programs they are providing. As a parent, I would not entrust my children's religious education to the hands of an organization that invites a speaker who has covered for the sex abuse of children. If the LAREC wants to be seen as a trust-worthy organization, an organization that truly cares for the physical and spiritual safety of children, they need to disinvite Cardinal Mahony.

Submitted by "Eugenia".


Ex-Gay Rescued by the Power of the Cross

Brother Christopher Sale shares his powerful testimony with ChurchMilitant.com.

ChurchMilitant.com interviewed Br. Christopher Sale, a man who spent decades in the homosexual lifestyle and was rescued from that way of life through the grace of the sacraments and a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and healed of all disordered attractions. He spoke with ChurchMilitant.com about the harm caused by current Church-run LGBT ministries that give the message that same-sex attracted men have no choice but to suffer from disordered desires the rest of their lives.

CM: How long were you involved in the gay lifestyle?

Br. Christopher Sale: I was in the gay lifestyle for 43 years. I came out as gay when I was 22 years old. I began a relationship that lasted 25 years. After 25 years I decided to become single and venture out to see what I had missed out on in my younger years. By 2008, I ended up with AIDS and a drug addiction. Throughout my years in the gay lifestyle I knew how badly I was offending God, yet I felt I had no control over my behavior. I was totally wrong.

CM: How did you get out of the lifestyle?


 

Br. Christopher Sale: I truly believe that it was contracting Aids and having a drug addiction (that rock-bottom moment) when I knew that without God I would have never been able to leave this sinful lifestyle. Many would find this extremely sadistic, but contracting AIDS turned out to be a gift from God. Had it not been for AIDS I would most likely still be in that deplorable lifestyle. I have said many times that AIDS has been my stigmata. It was God telling me: "It is finished; now you will come back to Me and begin saving souls." I believe God has given me the courage to use my story to save others. I believe that although persecuted for speaking the truth, God has called me to be a victim for souls.

Keep reading and watch the video.



A Survivor of Clergy Sex Abuse Speaks Out

This was posted on Facebook at Faith Restored. It is reprinted here with the author's permission.

Fair warning: this post is going to be a lot longer than usual. I would like to share with you the letter I wrote to Pope Francis and the bishops and I couldn't figure out a different way to do it other than good 'ol copy & paste. I tried to make a video but it's taking forever to upload so in the meantime... if it decides to cooperate, I will try to post it later.

This was a difficult decision for me as it is very personal and I do understand that not everyone is going to agree with my opinions and points of view. That's ok - I answer to Our Lord and I simply wrote what was in my heart and on my mind when writing this last month. There are so many things I wish I had included but it's long enough as it is and I'm not sure enough words can ever fully express what I've gone through nor can words ever fully express my anger and confusion over the corruption within the church. Whether this actually gets read before all the bishops or not, I believe that all survivors deserve to have a voice.

Please pray for church leaders and anyone affected by abuse as the summit begins today. God bless you all!


Your Holiness,

Out of love for my beloved Church and for my fellow survivors of clerical abuse, I humbly ask to speak frankly to you and your brethren.

I was fifteen years old when I was raped by the Rev. Kelvin Iguabita, a recently ordained priest who was stationed at our parish in Massachusetts. Working a few hours every week in the parish rectory, for months I endured sexual abuse by this man. I was raped. I was so innocent and naive and in such shock that I could hardly wrap my brain around what was going on. I vividly recall looking at a small statue of the Blessed Mother and repeating over and over, “Make it stop. Make it stop.” After that particular incident, Kelvin began calling me by the sick nickname he had chosen for me. “You little thing.” He would even call me this in front of my family who, of course, knew nothing. It was repulsive.

Words cannot describe the harsh reality of what my life became during those many months. Inside, I suffered in a deep pit of fear, shame, and confusion. The priesthood, a position I had always held so dear, became to me a repulsive institution. I came to fear the white collar. I doubted God's presence and felt abandoned. At my lowest point, I contemplated taking God's most precious gift – my life.

The unexpected death of my oldest brother, Matthew (age 22), a year later from an undetected heart condition sent me into a downward spiral causing my concerned parents to put me into grief therapy. It was there that I was finally able to begin my release from the chains that had held me captive and, by the grace of God, to slowly begin healing.

After learning that my rapist had other female victims, I made the difficult decision to face him in court - one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Just weeks after my high school graduation, I spent three grueling hours testifying and being cross-examined on the stand. My family and I were subjected to harsh judgments and ridicule. Recounting the events of those months of sexual abuse in the rectory and in the church in front of my rapist was the worst form of public humiliation I have ever endured. The news articles that followed added to my pain and humiliation. After a two-week trial, Kelvin was found guilty and sentenced to 8-10 years in prison. He was defrocked and upon release was deported to his native Colombia.

Close to twenty years later, I am finally able to look back and recognize that God never abandoned me. Rather, he was closest to me in the midst of my suffering. Being able to find the beauty and deeper meaning in suffering is truly a gift and I am glad to say I can finally pray for Kelvin. I forgave him long ago but the scars that he left will always remain. Several other women have privately contacted me over the years to share their stories of sexual abuse and rape by him.

Along with four other abuse survivors, I was given the opportunity to meet with Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 during his visit to Washington, DC in the United States. When my moment to speak with him came, I could think of nothing profound to say. However, I was overcome by a deluge of tears. Those tears spoke volumes. The Holy Spirit used the most innocent form of expression to speak of my pain and the pain of all survivors. I left that meeting feeling more hope than I had in a very long time and since then I have felt a burning desire in my heart to reach out to others who have also been hurt. I wish to offer them the same hope I received and to show others that with faith there is always hope. Praise be to God I found a wonderful and holy man to spend my life with. We have been married for ten years and we have been blessed with three beautiful children. Our Catholic faith is at the core of our family life which is part of the reason we have chosen to homeschool.

Sadly, my trust in priests and in the church hierarchy was yet again shaken (if not more so) with the release of information from Pennsylvania last summer. Since then, the wound has been opened again and again and I have heard report after report of sexual misconduct by clergymen and also of the men who have covered for their sins. In 2002, you were given an opportunity to clean house when news of the sexual abuse scandal broke in Boston, Massachusetts. You failed. It would have been better if all the information you had was released and dealt with all at once – every complaint and every file released to law enforcement and dealt with swiftly. While there have been new measures made to buckle down on this issue, sexual abuse within the church is not a dead issue. It is not just something that happened long ago. I am proof of that. And many of the issues leading to this crisis remain, including the culture of silence and secrecy.

Decades of silence have passed. Lives have been hurt, lives have been ruined and many souls have been lost. I thank Almighty God that I have found strength and hope through my faith. However, my story is just one of many, and sadly, not everyone has had the same support. All survivors deserve to be heard. The silence from some of you has been deafening. The cries of the innocent rise up and grow louder and harder to ignore. The time for silence is over.

While it is impossible to blame any one factor for the sex abuse crisis, this much is clear: evil was allowed to infiltrate the church. Too many clergymen have chosen the devil's path by choosing to protect the wolves instead of the sheep. Too many among you have put your relationship with your brothers before your relationship with God. Too many of you have been won over by the world and fallen away from the true teachings of Jesus. Not one of you is above the law – the laws of the land nor the laws of God. Sin is sin and yet it would seem so often that good is seen as bad and bad is seen as good.

We are all sinners. Mercy and forgiveness are precious gifts! However, the Almighty is also a just judge and demands repentance. I wonder how many souls have been led down the path to hell because of your bad example and corruption. Bishops, take heed! You are the shepherds! The devil attacks you knowing that, if you stray, many of those entrusted to your care will follow. Each and every one of you will have to stand before God someday and face judgment. You know well the verse from Matthew chapter 16, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!”

The current situation in the church is not a rabbit hole. It is a crisis and it needs to be swiftly dealt with. There can be mercy, yes, but there must also be transparency and justice!

When will you admit that homosexuality is a very big factor in this crisis? For how much longer will you deny the existence of a lavender mafia? Our Lord wants his House cleaned! Yet, you turn away from his urging over and over again. This is a time for acknowledgment of wrong-doing and a time for action. This is a time for all of us, faithful clergy and laity alike, to put on the full armor of God and fight to rebuild our church.

I am deeply grateful for those among you who have publicly denounced the actions of the corrupt and striven to take action. Thank you to those of you who are tirelessly fighting alongside the faithful. Thank you to those of you who have sought to shepherd us and to guide us by your own good example.

I do not envy the grave responsibility that lies before you. You have the responsibility to root out the evil corrupting the church. You have the responsibility to rebuild the Catholic Church. There can be no excuses, especially now. The scab on this painful wound will only continue to be ripped off again and again if you do not fight for real change. More and more souls will be lost if your poor leadership continues.

Transparency about reporting is vital if any change is to take place. All priests and bishops must report sexual offenses against children and adults immediately to local law enforcement. Abusers must be tried and, if found guilty by a jury of their peers, punished to the fullest extent of the law. Anyone who has willfully covered for his brother deserves to be removed from the clerical state and given jail time. Any member of the clergy who is practicing homosexuality or advocating for it needs to be removed. Even in the midst of this crisis which has been linked to homosexuality time and time again, I hear of clergymen publicly advocating for the homosexual lifestyle and aligning themselves with the LGBTQ community. Why is this allowed to continue? Yes, we are all to be accepted into the church as sinners but we also need to resolve to not sin again (to the best of our ability). It is ludicrous and diabolical to think that Jesus would invite people to receive Holy Communion knowingly in the state of mortal sin! We are called to love our brothers and sisters. We are not called to love their sin. Most LGBTQ groups don't want a bridge to become true followers of Christ. Rather, they want full acceptance of their sin and to be allowed to continue living their disordered lifestyles. I cannot judge the soul of another, but as a confirmed Catholic I do have the duty to show someone who may be ignorant of their sin the truth and encourage them to closer unity with God and his church. Why are priests who publicly support and advocate for the LGBTQ lifestyle allowed to remain in the priesthood?

This crisis is not just about removing sexual predators and corrupt individuals from the priesthood. This crisis is, first and foremost, a result of our shepherds turning away from God. Somewhere along the way in the United States, a liberal, socialist mindset was allowed to seep in. The words of Bella Dodd, a prominent leader of the Communist party in America, come to mind. “In the 1930's, we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the priesthood from within. Right now they are in the highest places in the church. They are working to bring about change in order that the Catholic Church would not be effective against communism. You will not recognize the Catholic Church.” These are indeed sobering words to ponder and one has to wonder if part of our suffering is being caused by those eleven hundred men who spread the error of their ways.

We have lost our focus as a church. We can no longer answer the question, “Who are we as a church?” Even within local churches in my own city, I hear varying beliefs among the laity and even among priests! The traditional family, the core of Catholic life and of society, is in shatters. I know many Catholics who are in favor of abortion, the homosexual lifestyle and gay “marriage.” Why is there such disunity among Catholics? Why are even some priests publicly endorsing political candidates who are not pro-life? Why were there priests publicly denouncing the group of boys from Covington Catholic at the recent Washington, DC March for Life before all the information was even released proving their innocence, and yet many of these same priests were silent on the recent murderous RHA legislation signed into law in New York by Governor Cuomo who claims to be Catholic? Why do so many of you allow yourselves to be bullied by the mainstream media into saying and doing what the modern-day world considers right? Why are priests silent about politicians who support abortion and yet quick to crucify individuals who are opposed to illegal immigration which is an ongoing debate in the United States? Why are priests so silent on family issues and artificial birth control? My own parents who taught Natural Family Planning at a Pre-Cana class years ago were escorted out of a church by a priest and a nun and asked to never return. These are not the leaders we need to help rebuild the church!

Why are the voices of some good, holy clergymen forced into silence? Brave men who choose to go against the grain and publicly speak out against the filth within the church are often silenced. They are persecuted for telling the truth while others flaunt their liberal, socialist propaganda and build their flock around twisted church teaching. There is no room for “cafeteria Catholicism.”

Our church needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. Dear bishops, get back to the business of working to save souls. You have within your hands the power to create real change! You have the power to offer hope! You have within your hands the ability to turn this church back over to Our Lord! Who among you will be the first to step up? Who among you is not afraid to be mocked as Jesus was? Who among you is willing to go against your fellow brethren who have failed? Who among you has the courage to listen to the Holy Spirit?

In spite of the deep flaws that continue to come to light, I choose to hold onto hope. I forgive those who have failed and please know of my continual prayers and sufferings offered for you. My faith is what gives me hope and it is my faith that shines forth a glimmering light through the darkness that I have endured. The church needs to be purged so that it can experience renewal and God's light and grace once again.

Perhaps my words and the pleadings of so many others will fall on deaf ears. I pray they do not! Please. I beg of you, do not fail in the task that has been set before you.

With Love for Christ and the Church,

Faith Hakesley

(I included this photo with the letter)

 



I was a victim of the Sexual Revolution as an LGBT lifestyle refugee.

After decades of yearning for happiness and joy, I came to see that I had been wrong, mistaken and even victimized. I take full responsibility for my choices. Through the media and some of those in academia, I didn’t believe that I had choices. I wanted happiness, enlightenment. I wanted to rise above what my Catholic parents wanted for me: family, children, a loving husband. I rejected all of that as bondage, as slavery to a man, to an old outdated ideal. I wanted nothing to do with having children and was outspoken about pro-choice/abortion issues. My choices included serial lesbian monogamy and the gay bar/nightlife scene. At the same time, I was succeeding in college with many lesbian professors. I honestly believed that my guaranteed happiness and fulfillment would come from academic degrees, occupational power, and the ‘pride’ and enlightenment that the homosexual agenda promised.


I had many monogamous relationships with women. One after the other, sometimes not a month in between. I moved in, tried to make a home, a life, with many, ending shortly thereafter in heartbreak and sadness. I fell into the depth of sadness and despair, contemplating suicide many times. My emotional wounds were almost insurmountable. The cycle of bliss with a new sexual partner that promised love and a future only ended in devastation.

After decades of persisting that this would make me happy, a woman and I bought a home together and adopted children (at her urging).

That’s when GOD took a hold of me. As I looked into the loving eyes of my young children--these beautiful gifts from God--I could not, I would not, bring them to the door of a GODLESS existence of the homosexual agenda.

On the floor of my living room, I screamed, crying to God. I was so lost and confused. Shortly thereafter, I reverted back to my Catholic faith. I repented of my sins and went to confession. I dedicated my life to Christ and to my children. I am nurturing my own soul and theirs as a proud Christian. I am happier than I ever dreamed! I am content as never before. I am not lonely, I am loved deeply. I am happy.

Submitted by AV.


My life went off the rails because of the sexual revolution.

Did the "sexual revolution" adversely affect me? You bet it did. My parents emigrated from Ireland to NYC in 1958. They were "old school" when it came to matters regarding sex, which was basically never discussed, and was otherwise "dirty".

I came of age as the sexual revolution was ramping up. Even though I went to a Catholic grade school, and was surrounded by people who were mostly Catholic, the old faith was falling away fast. My parents’ generation was blind-sided by this, and rendered mostly impotent to do anything about it. I never stood a chance.


The first woman I had a relationship with had already have five (five!) previous sexual partners. Her parents went to church every week, too. This did not sit well with me, and I did not even understand why, at the time, it bothered me so. It took me years to get over it. But we stayed together and got married. Mistakes, on so many levels. But I was young and stupid and immature. And the sexual component was powerful. There was a lot of pre-martial sex and contraception. That these things were not aligned with Church teaching was not even entering my mind, I am so sorry to report.

This kind of thing was pervasive in the culture to the point where it seemed all too normal. You were, in fact, considered not normal if you were not "getting it on" in as little as three dates. In my own workplace, full of modern and hip twenty-somethings at that time, it was a regular practice to go out, on weeknights, to dance clubs, and such. I invited my then wife to come along, she wanted nothing to do with it. I went anyway. She caught a whiff of my impropriety and ended the marriage in shockingly rapid fashion. Her agenda to procreate was in jeopardy, and she was having none of it.

The woman I ended up with after getting that divorce herself, of course, had prior sexual partners. But worse, had an abortion when she was 17. This really sent me in a tailspin. It caused much friction in that relationship. Of course, I was continuing to be happy by engaging in extra-marital sex with this person. This tortured relationship would go on for 8 years before it mercifully ended (with her infidelity).

I was set on a lost path at that point, one I never wanted to be on. I would enter every relationship I took on with the "long haul" in mind, even if my partners in each case were not necessarily of the same mind. In the worst case, one young lady who was reaching the age of no longer being able to get pregnant safely, did get pregnant. Despite her professing that she would never have an abortion, she did. There is not much help for the men of post-abortion trauma. That relationship ended and she wanted no part of reconciling this tragedy. I carry the weight to this day, and will to my grave.

Some years after that, I got involved with a woman who was not happy with her marriage, even as she was trying to get pregnant via IVF (you can't make this stuff up)! She came after me in a big way, and eventually I relented. This was as close as I would come to a family of my own. I ended up loving that child, but when her mother’s hormones settled down, she was done with me, even as she lived under my roof and had an engagement ring on her finger. I was crushed.

All I can say is that my life went off the rails in a big way because of the "sexual revolution". The old ways were the right ways. Young people, please, don't ruin your life. God Bless you.

Submitted by JN.


Finding Wholeness in my Identity as a Daughter of the King

I have been healing from the effects of the sexual revolution for about 30 years now. If you had told me as a 24-year-old that my life would be marked by emotional and spiritual wholeness, that I’d one day celebrate 28 years of marriage and three beautiful daughters, I would have thought you cruel for holding out that kind of promise.

My life up to that point had been overwhelmed by the choices my parents made, which wounded me (divorce, father’s addictions and abandonment, mother’s horrible live-in boyfriend), as well as the destructive choices I started making for myself as a teenager (sexual promiscuity and regular drug/alcohol use). The more I engaged in these behaviors, the worse I felt, and the guilt drove me into evermore destructive choices. My broken family had no religious, moral, or parental guidelines to put limits on my behavior. My mom was completely wrecked by a horrible relationship with a man who I would later find out was a predator. At the tender age of 18 he proposed to me one day during a lunch, complete with a ring and his plan that I would have his babies, but my mom would raise them. This was the man who I had lived in the same house with since 5th grade, and tried to see as a father figure, even though he was never interested in being a father to either my brother or me. It was just one more big crack in my already terribly damaged self-image as a young woman.


I would go on to have lots more hook-ups and drunken, drug filled nights as I moved into my 20’s. But I was getting desperate to understand why I was even on the earth. What purpose could my crappy life even have, and how could I ever hope to be different? I read self-help books thinking that was my answer. It didn’t take long to understand that reading about what was wrong was much easier than fixing it. Those books became a trap for me because I could understand the problems, but knew I was powerless, no matter how many times I determined to start fresh, to get out of the pit I was in.

I was only sure of a few things at that point. I wanted more than anything just to have a family of my own, but I was also committed to never doing to my children what was done to me. It felt like a no-win trap, because I knew in my morally bankrupt lifestyle I would never be a good wife or mother, nor would I ever find a spouse the way I was living. By my early twenties I had become convinced nothing about my life would ever be different, and I would be stuck and alone.

But a kind Christian man would come along in my mother’s life and fall in love with her, though she wasn’t a believer. My brother and I thought she was so desperate for a man that she was willing to settle for a “Bible thumper”! It soon became obvious that he wasn’t like anyone we’d met before. He shared his faith with me, and told me for the very first time in my life that I had a Father in heaven who knew me, loved me, and had a plan for my life. As I listened I was undone. Was it true that the God of the universe really knew me, and not just knew me, but loved me, even the way I was? The offer of salvation, the need to repent of my sins, being washed clean from the stain of sin, and knowing Jesus would be with me always was an offer I could not refuse. (My mom accepted Jesus as well.)

Healing came slowly but steadily as I pressed into living life with Jesus, taking in His Word, surrounding myself with healthy Christian community in a church committed to making mature disciples of Christ. Learning to practice healing prayer where I brought the pain of the past to the cross and Jesus exchanged it for truth and wholeness was, and still is, how I live free in Christ Jesus. The Lord has given me so much more than I could have ever hoped or imagined in this life, the most precious being a deep knowing that I belong to Him.

Submitted by S.


I need to get better for my kids' sakes.

My father was incredibly emotionally and physically abusive. Although there was never any sexual abusive per se, he certainly denigrated me as a male. He was a hard man, and I was always a sensitive boy. I'm still a sensitive, empathetic man. I have never been a flaming gay guy, but as much as I hate it, I have struggled with Same Sex Attraction my whole life.

I have been divorced twice now. I would very much liked to have had some EFFECTIVE counseling in late adolescence or early adulthood. However, I grew up in a small town, and there was always such shame about "gay people" that I would never have dared discuss it with anyone.

Now that I've been divorced twice and have young children, I consider it my responsibility to get whole so that I can be a good example to my children. Although I may never be very open about the details with my children when they are adults, I will encourage them to read, learn and do whatever it takes to be emotionally healthy. I have been having Subconscious Reparative Therapy, which is helping. I think I am almost there. However, even if a healthy relationship presented itself, I don't think it would be fair to my children to have another relationship, at least until after they're grown.

I accept that I will probably be alone for the rest of my life. I accept this with a stoic lack of self-pity and with dignity. Having said that, I want better for my children. My whole purpose in life is to coach my children in a direction they need to go so they will grow up to be healthy, well-balanced adults. If that means my children will need some counselings and therapy, so be it. I will do whatever it takes for them to be more successful than I have been in my personal life. Sexual sin is wrong. Certain things that happened to me weren't my fault, but it's my responsibility to get better for my sake and for my children's sake.

Submitted by PJ.

Michael’s Story: Demonic Attack

It was one of my all-time favorite photos. I was laying on the floor playing with two of my children. My then 2-year-old daughter laid on my back, and my son was next to us. Everyone was looking up at the camera, smiling. But today, when I looked at this photo on the bulletin board in the kitchen, my face had a large “X” carved across it, likely by one of my children.

When my wife of more than 20 years decided to divorce me, I was the last to know. She cleaned out our bank accounts to hire a lawyer. She informed our three children. She published the divorce suit in the newspaper. Then she strode into my office one afternoon and looked at me with raging hatred. “I want a divorce,” she declared.

For the next hour,


I was subjected to a verbal blistering. Her complaints against me as a husband and father came fast and furious. In all, she spit out more than 40 “indictments” of my person. The only thing worse than being alone, she said, was being in a room with me. I was a weak person. She was sick of propping me up. She wished she’d never married me. I was an embarrassment. She belittled me without mercy. When she finished, my entire existence had been condemned.

Life as I knew it died that day. As a lifelong sufferer of depression, I was not remotely equipped to deal with it. After my wife had taken our two daughters and moved out, I stood in the bathroom, looking in the mirror. I hated myself. I must be to blame for this. I wanted God’s comfort, but the house seemed totally empty. I was so alone. He wasn’t there. I picked up an X-acto blade and started carving into my chest. I wanted to punish myself for my biggest failure. Blood was running down everywhere. I never felt so abandoned. For a moment, I thought of Jesus on the Cross. I felt ashamed of what I’d done. Then the tears came. They still flow.

God was there on that horrible day, even if he was hidden. Otherwise, I would not be here to write this. I still had more to suffer; sadness I’d never even imagined. My wife’s attacks continued, via email, on the phone, and in person. I was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward for a week. The nurses were shocked when my wife called, telling them she was waiting when I got out with divorce papers in hand. Furthermore, she planned to try to strip me of all custody rights.

When I returned home, my wife had taken down all the crucifixes, religious art, and sacramentals like holy water and piled them on my desk. That’s when I saw the hand of evil behind this attack. I was savaged for my Catholic faith. She told me I was a religious nut for having holy water. “Who does that?” she sneered. Somebody tore my wife down and put up a demon.

My attempts to establish a new life and still be a good father have taken many years. The divorce court allowed me just four days a month with my children. I was garnished for more than 40 percent of wages. When I was unemployed, the court took the majority of my state aid and gave it to my wife, who earned $100,000 a year. I ended up homeless, living out of my car.

If you tallied the cost of this divorce, the monetary figure was high, but the emotional toll was devastating. My son was out on his own and seems to have escaped unscathed. My daughters had serious medical issues, two suicide attempts, a sexual assault, and a lot of anger. I could not be there for them because my wife and a court said so. I turned to prayer to make reparations and ask God to heal the children, to call their hearts back to the faith. I pray to St. Michael for protection. I know Jesus can bring good from this. By offering up my sufferings, I can help. Lord Jesus, help me suffer well.


​I was lied to about successful, educated women “having it all"

I was lied to about successful, educated women “having it all,” including marriage and children. I was lied to about the impact of the contraceptive mentality on women, men, and their relationship.

Brought up Catholic, sex was meant for marriage. But in my late teens I was persuaded to embark on intimate caressing by my  boyfriend. I eventually broke up with him. But my confused feelings were left in my body and mind, a powerful bodily desire… for motherhood? The sexual revolution does not tell women about it.

I met my husband a few years later. We got married in the Catholic Church, but we received no help to embark on our marital relationship in chastity, no warning of the dangers of contraception or on work and motherhood. It took a few years for us to decide to have our first child. Deciding on full-time motherhood, after a time of struggle with work and my inner pain of wanting to be with my baby, dropped me off somewhere incomprehensible: I had been educated to be liberated and independent, and I found myself wanting to be with my baby but a bored housewife with no exposure to my career or mental stimulation and dependent on my husband. I felt tricked. But what was the solution?

 


 

When I had a second baby I felt the same emotions: still bored but still happy to be with them. Along all those years I said that “society” had tricked me, while at the back of my mind was the question: Why is John Paul II opposed to contraception? I think this internal questioning eventually allowed the coin to drop in me.

I had been separated from the Church, and through circumstances I ended up on a retreat. There I experienced the great love by God, who in a mysterious loving way, opened my eyes to my marriage and our fertility. I resolved on stopping contraception. The connection between what I now call the Sexual Revolutionary ideology and the problems I faced in my life happened by the grace of God in this retreat.

I was determined to overcome the ill effects of what I now call the Sexual Revolution. So I told my husband. It then became clear that we were experiencing life in different ways, which had been hidden all those years of contracepting. The difficulties in our relationship were hidden. Contraception was a barrier for our inner depths. When a few years later he had a conversion, a better understanding started growing between us and about our dealings with our children. A few years later we had our third child. It was interesting how not contracepting had changed our attitude to parenthood, and the dealing with this child was much easier between us.

All those years on and now we are “dating” again. Now it is easier, as God seems to step in. We are now where we could have been all those years if we had not been left in the grip of the sexual revolution.

I feel hurt that no one told us about the dangers of the contraceptive mentality. I feel hurt that we did not know what a woman experiences in motherhood and how important it is for the children to be well looked after. I feel graced that we have seen it.

The positive change that I am most passionate about is to educate men and women, starting young, about relationships and sexuality and about the dangerous lies of the contraceptive mentality. What I ardently desire is for our children not to be victims, like we have been, and for my husband and myself to continue our love in this new awareness.

The actions I have taken and I am taking to help others have been in: 1-Talking to people: with my husband, our children, their friends, people we know, and with the pastoral sections in the schools of our children, about the dangers of the contraceptive mentality, which underlies the sexual revolution. 2- I am very interested in uncovering the link between contraceptive mentality and abortion. 3- I help in prolife groups.

 

Submitted by CS.

He told my husband that since he wasn't happy he could leave.

We were the happy couple, married in our parish almost 30 years ago. After the marriage, my spouse apologized for pressuring before marriage to unchastity. That had been my first mistake--believing the lie that in a serious relationship (we were nearly engaged after all) having sex occasionally was ok. It wasn't. It bothered my conscience deeply and I felt used.

Once married we used Natural Family Planning. In the first year, we conceived. With bills to pay, crying every day, I left my child to go to work. Eventually my husband did quite well financially, so I quit to raise our children. My youngest was born in a traumatic delivery, which led me to fear having more children. I then made mistake number two--taking the pill. I knew it was wrong, but I justified it in "my case." God would understand, but I'm ashamed that I didn't confess it. I didn't understand the WHY of what the church taught. My mother had worked full time, and the message growing up was to put career and financial security as the top priority. Having a large family was seen as irresponsible.

After a decade of marriage, one day I walked in and caught my husband masturbating. Was he watching porn on his computer? He said that every man does it. It hurt deeply. He met someone, a porn model. He told me that he didn't want to be married to me anymore. He claimed that he had never loved me and we were not compatible.


We saw a priest who failed us. He told my husband that since he wasn't happy he could leave. I felt so abandoned. I considered leaving the church. My husband continued to be distant, cold towards me. I considered suicide.

Alone one night, I heard a quiet voice telling me that I was not alone--God was there. During this time our oldest, who was in high school, became involved in a same sex relationship. I cried all the time. No one could tell me how to deal with this. The ministry in my archdiocese turned out to be gay-affirming. I left the first meeting in tears. Their message, to affirm, I couldn't do. At my new parish the priest told me about Courage.

I couldn't in good conscience start dating, as I was still a married woman, regardless of what my husband chose to do. He had  broken his promise; I didn't want to give my children that example. I focused on my two teenagers. They needed a responsible parent. I was forced to go back to work. I remember crying on Christmas Eve as the utility man came to shut off our utilities again. That same Christmas my estranged husband bought our daughters designer handbags. I felt ashamed that I had failed my children. One day I came home and caught my youngest daughter, 18, with her boyfriend. I yelled at him and asked him point blank if he was prepared to support a child.

Soon it will be 10 years since that day when my husband shattered our family. Along the path of tears I gained a deeper faith. I learned to trust God in ways I never had. I discovered how very much He had always been there with me, protected, and guided me. I am a different person than I was on that first day when I thought my heart would explode from pain. I left my old parish because the memories hurt too much and because the failure of the pastor left me feeling abandoned. I found a new parish where they actually preach the true Catholic faith. I became involved in parish life and began formation as a secular Carmelite. I began to educate myself through the Courage apostolate. I began an EnCourage chapter in my area, providing hope and truth for parents.

Three years ago my husband filed for divorce. I miss the man he used to be. I now see a man without inner peace, and my heart hurts for him. He is cohabiting with a woman 10 years younger than I. My oldest is cohabiting in a same sex relationship. I understand now about redemptive suffering. God really is close to the broken-hearted, abandoned spouse. He always provided for me. And I really feel that I have been blessed with the better part. I am His, and that is where I want to stay.

Submitted by M. M.