Hello there, reader.
I’m writing six months since I decided to respond to the call for conversion. It has been for the most part, a laborious journey. What I thought would be a simple spiritual enlightenment has turned out to be a daily struggle for holiness and an increasingly difficult battle against the old self. Little did I know that deciding to follow Christ and to return to my rich Catholic faith demanded so much self-denial and along the way, self-discovery!
If you are a new reader, you might wonder why I decided to change. I’ve written about it a bit here but for brevity’s sake, the affirmative response to the call for conversion came about after an interior struggle with same-sex attraction. The struggle came to its breaking point in February, when, as I found myself readying to turn my back against the homosexual lifestyle and attitudes I was a part of and espoused, I found myself developing an attraction towards a celibate (for apostolic reasons) colleague. The contradiction was too much to bear – imagine wanting to love Christ and then yearning for masculine approval which was never to happen, and which was never to be reciprocated by any human being. Rather than get angry at God for giving me such a cross, I turned deeper into a life of piety and charity.
It’s in this direction that my life has changed.
First, I now follow a plan of life. I have a set of norms I practice – prayers, spiritual reading, meditation, frequent confession and communion just to name a few. These spiritual endeavors have helped me to conquer sexual promiscuity, and have given me strength to be chaste for the last six months. Second, I see a spiritual director (priest) regularly. Whereas before I relied on sheer willpower to do the job (which actually always failed), I now turn to my director – and to countless mentors – to help guide me on my spiritual journey. These regular one-on-one sessions with men who are spiritually advanced help me deepen my dependence on God, and strengthen my resolve to please God by doing good and avoiding evil. Third, I’ve also taken steps externally to improve my overall conduct, attitude, and lifestyle. I’ve quit smoking. I’ve kept to a minimum my drinking. I now rise up early to pray and meditate. I now exercise. I’ve lessened time on the television. I do works of charity. I try to volunteer and be more cheerful in my workplace. I eat well. I take care of my appearance. I want to be a cheerful giver who looks the part, not someone who looks like his gloomy because of all the mortification he’s been doing.
This isn’t to say everything is peaceful now. Every day is a battle. Sometimes, I am too exhausted to do my norms. Sometimes, I rush through my prayers. I still get distracted during Mass. I struggle with critical and uncharitable thoughts. My room and workplace can use a bit more order and organization – and so can my time. There are still the occasional pangs – infatuations, affections, attractions, rejections, and humiliations. I am besieged by my scruples and setbacks. My hope in God’s mercy still needs a lot of purification. I also know that I can increase my devotion to Mary more. There is so much about my conduct that needs improvement too: a little more refinement, a little more silence. And there are many, many days wherein my spiritual life is dry and barren.
And yet, here I am, still trying to pray, still persevering in communion with God. I have had my moments of light and darkness, joy and sadness. I have been mocked and ridiculed by the world. But I still pray. That is all I can do now.
Whenever I am attacked by distractions, I pray. Whenever I feel discouraged, I pray. Whenever I feel tired, dazed, confused, I pray. Even when I am attacked by “feelings” for someone, I pray. I pray for the person. I pray for myself. And I pray for all those suffering, uniting my interior struggles with the crosses of others.
For the most part, I am just trying to discern what I should do next. I am very much leaning into the idea of celibacy too. I believe that is my vocation. But of course, this could change, depending on the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I know Christ is demanding more from me. It would be a shame to disappoint him. I never really thought I’d get this far. Of course, it’s hardly a distance compared to what so many people have traversed, travelled and even transcended. But I’m confident that I chose the right path.
Please continue praying for me as I carry on this journey. It’s true what those pro-LGBT rights people say, it does get better. It’s a real promise but the message, in my case, was brought by the true medium – Christ. In Him, things do get better. In fact, in him, my life, amidst all the trials, have been the best.