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January 2024

St. Frances de Sales in the Church of the Sacred Heart in Rome 

Message from Our Associate Director

Dear friends,

Today marks the feast of St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church and spiritual father of our founder, Father John Harvey, OSFS. He is known as the Doctor of Love because he spent his life practically laying out the implication of the phrase, “God is love,” from the first letter of John. The fruit of his focus on love of God and love of neighbor caused over 50,000 angry fallen-away Catholics to be led back to the faith primarily by his labor. And the Salesians have grown to become the largest religious order in the Catholic Church. 


The first of his two most famous works is An Introduction to the Devout Life (free e-book), which he saw as a beginner's treatise concerning growth in the spiritual life. It focused on how living as beloved children of God and sharing that love with others, according to our station in life, is the proper way to answer the universal call to holiness, a doctrine that would not be clearly defined until almost 500 years later. His Treatise on the Love of God (free e-book) was written for those more advanced in the spiritual life and focuses on Francis’ science of the love of God and the application of these basic principles in one's life. Even though it is for the advanced, it is written in a way that reading through it a few times should allow even those of us who struggle with theological language to come to understanding. In fact, St. Francis de Sales is the only Doctor of the Church for whom it has been said that his writing is so clear and filled with love, that if one reads it, they cannot come away in error, but only with increased love of God and understanding of the truth. 


Salesian spirituality is an all-embracing and practical spirituality that attempts to aid the individual in embracing his station in life in response to the universal call to holiness or as de Sales says, to “bloom where you are planted.” For this reason, I believe that Father John Harvey was already prepared for the work of Courage by his spiritual formation as an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, and Salesian spirituality has been a boon to the Courage apostolate, even if we were unaware of it. Let me share some of Francis de Sales' spiritual maxims, and perhaps you might see how his spirituality has given birth to our apostolate.


  • God has testified that you are good, worthy of divine love and mercy...[and]...profound respect. 
  • Despite your weakness and sinfulness, God loves you so much that He sent His only Son to become human. 
  • Acknowledge your sins and failings, learn from them, but do not dwell on them. 
  • Relationships are essential to living a fully human, that is, a holy life.
  • Living each moment to the fullest with an eye to loving God must lead you to show compassion for others. 
  • The challenge of each moment is discerning God's will, that is, the particular, unique way that God may be calling you to love Him, yourself, and others. 
  • God seldom requires you to perform great or extraordinary feats, but He always challenges you to perform everyday actions with extraordinary attention and enthusiasm. 
  • The "little virtues" of patience, humility, gentleness, simplicity, honesty, and hospitality are powerful means for growing holy. 
  • Freedom is one of the most precious and powerful gifts that God gives you. 
  • Let your passion be disciplined. Let your discipline be passionate. 
  • Keep things in perspective.


Alternatively, if you want to better understand what formed the heart of the Courage apostolate, you might take a look at the episode on Saint Francis de Sales from EWTN On Demand's Doctors of the Church series.

God bless,

Father Colin Blatchford

Associate Director

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Our executive director transition webpage

Contents

News

  • Mark Your Calendar for Our 2024 Conference! 
  • Pope Francis Offers Reflection on Lust vs. Chastity
  • Monthly Prayer Intentions for Courage and EnCourage
  • New Chapters and Other Ways to Stay Connected

General Resources

  • Ignatian Discernment with Mary 
  • Faith and Reason Confirm Truth About Human Nature

Courage

  • Why is the Church Against Same-Sex Relationships?
  • Life With Christ After Leaving an LGBTQ Identity
  • Why Would God Lead Us "Into the Snare"? 

EnCourage

  • "Prayer for a Parent with a Pierced and Restless Heart"
  • Lots More Practical Wisdom from Francis de Sales

For Spanish Speaking Members and Friends

  • Spanish Online Formation Session for Laity and Religious 
  • January Newsletter in Spanish 

Pastoral Resources

  • Make Plans Now to Attend the 2024 Clergy Study Day
  • Heartfelt Plea to Church Leaders and Those in Ministry

Events

News

Mark Your Calendar for Our 2024 Conference! 

Pope Francis Offers Reflection on Lust vs. Chastity

During his February 17 general audience, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the vices and virtues, this time focusing on lust as opposed to authentic chaste love. Here are some highlights: 


[Chastity is] not to be confused with sexual abstinence — chastity is something different from sexual abstinence — but rather must be connected with the will never to possess the other. To love is to respect the other, to seek his or her happiness... .


Winning the battle against lust, against the "objectification" of the other, can be a lifelong endeavor. But the prize of this battle is the most important of all, because it is preserving that beauty that God wrote into His creation when He imagined love between man and woman, which is not for the purpose of using one another, but of loving one another.” 

 

True love does not possess, it gives itself; serving is better than conquering. Because if there is no love, life is sad, it is sad loneliness.

Read the text of Pope Francis's general audience

Watch the Holy Father's address starting at 8:47 

Read Catholic News Agency story about audience 

Monthly Prayer Intentions for Courage and EnCourage

We would like to announce a new opportunity for our members to join together in prayer each month for a specific intention related to our apostolate. We invite you to consider praying in a special way for these intentions at your local Courage and EnCourage chapter meetings.


January intention: For a greater trust in God's plan 


February intention: For a greater purity of heart  

See complete list of monthly prayer intentions for 2024

New Chapters and Other Ways to Stay Connected

NEW ENCOURAGE CHAPTER:


MORE SUPPORT:

Courage & EnCourage

around the world

General Resources

Ignatian Discernment with Mary 

Here’s a resource that members were talking about in one of our chat groups. (Join the conversation!) Father Josemaria Barbin, F.I., offers a very accessible introduction to Saint Ignatius of Loyola's 14 Rules for the Discernment of Spirits. Ignatius compiled these guidelines to help the Christian disciple to become aware of and to understand the different movements within the soul, so as to be able to choose to act well, by either receiving that which is from the "good spirit" or rejecting that which is from the "bad spirit." Father Josemaria's approach is unique in that he emphasizes the role Our Lady plays in guiding us. 

Watch "Mary and Discernment of Spirits"

More on Ignatian discernment in Fr. Timothy Gallagher's books and podcasts

Faith and Reason Confirm Truth About Human Nature

In The Catholic Thing, Monsignor Robert Batule, of the Diocese of Rockville Center, reflected on the timeless wisdom of Persona Humana, a document issued by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1975, known in English as “Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics.” The document is more relevant than ever as it observes that "There are many people today who, being confronted with widespread opinions opposed to the teaching which they received from the Church, have come to wonder what must still hold as true." Monsignor Batule notes that when it comes to the consideration of the morality of homosexual behavior, Persona Humana draws on both faith and reason to acknowledge "the universality of human nature."


Though some of our language has changed since the writing of Persona Humana (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church on homosexuality), it was a prophetic document foreseeing many of the challenges we are facing today, and it spoke to the core issue we are dealing with –– an inability to look to our nature. The Church's two millennia of teaching continues to rest on a solid foundation. 

Read Msgr. Batule's "The Wisdom of Persona Humana

Read Persona Humana (On Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics)

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Courage

Why is the Church Against Same-Sex Relationships?

God has a better plan for us to find our real purpose in life 

The most popular short video on FOCUS's (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) entire YouTube channel is a clip from Father Philip Bochanski's talk at their SEEK23 conference on why the Church tells us that same-sex romantic/sexual relationships are not what God wants for us. It's not because the Church hates or wants to discriminate against anyone. This brief video is part of Father's beautiful presentation on God's plan and purpose for people who experience same-sex attractions (and for everyone else, too) — to give and receive authentic love. 

Watch Fr. Bochanski's short video

Watch full-length talk: "Same Sex Attraction and Finding Purpose" 

Visit our YouTube channel for lots of helpful content like this video,

especially in the playlists Living With Courage, Young Adults,

and Catholicism and Same-Sex Attraction

Subscribe, like, and share to spread the word.

Life With Christ After Leaving an LGBTQ Identity

Chris Stefanick recently had a powerful discussion on his show with Kim Zember, a woman who lives with the experience of same-sex attractions. Here's what he says in his show notes: 


This was quite possibly one of the most profound and impactful conversations I’ve had in my entire life! …


So often, people within the church tend to pick two sides of the LGBTQ issue. They ignore the person feeling these attractions, or they condone and celebrate the lifestyle. The problem with these options are, neither one views the whole person as a child of God.


Kim and I talk about her journey, how she realized she was attracted to women, when she realized that the LGBTQ community was hurting her more than helping her, and the people who loved her along the way. She also gives practical tips for how to walk with someone on this journey … .


Watch Chris and Kim's powerful discussion 

Why Would God Lead Us "Into the Snare"? 

Courage member, Garrett Johnson wrote a post for Courage's Upper Room blog. It begins: 


Psalm 66 “…You led us, God, into the snare…”

 

What? Why would God lead us into a snare? That sounds cruel! Not like the behavior of a supposedly loving, concerned Father. I’m not sure I can love a God who would do such a thing. I need an explanation. Please help me understand, Lord. …


Continue reading "Into the Snare"

EnCourage

"Prayer for a Parent with a Pierced and Restless Heart" 

Dr. E. Wesley Ely is a member of the Catholic Medical Association and a contributing editor to their journal, The Linacre Quarterly. He wrote a profoundly beautiful parent's prayer which was published in the journal. Remarkably, one of the few places you can easily access this prayer is in the National Library of Medicine's online catalog of medical journal articles. Dr. Ely's prayer begins: 


Dear Lord,


When my heart is trampled and tired because my child has committed or suffered sinful things, help me to embrace my role as an earthly parent without growing weary.


Help me to love the unending vocation of parenthood, while at the same time recognizing my limitations and relinquishing the outcome to You, my child's True and Heavenly Father.


See "Prayer for a parent with a pierced and restless heart"

Lots More Practical Wisdom from Francis de Sales

Perplexity of Heart Which Loves Without Knowing Whether It Is Loved

In the EnCourage chat group (join today!), members have been talking about drawing inspiration from the wisdom of St. Francis de Sales, just as Father Blatchford encouraged us to do in his opening message in this newsletter. They appreciated an audio reading of Francis' reflection on "Perplexity of the Heart Which Loves Without Knowing Whether it Is Loved," which is on the subject of spiritual desolation. This reflection is part of a playlist of readings from a book called Consoling Thoughts on Trials of an Interior Life which is, in turn, a part of a four-part series of books which contain a compilation of even more of Francis' Consoling Thoughts. St. Francis de Sales certainly has given us a treasury of spiritual gems to mine! 

Listen to "Perplexity of the Heart Which Loves …"

Free online version of book (text of audio reading starts on page 120)

For Spanish Speaking Members and Friends

Spanish Online Formation Session for Laity and Religious 

To echo the invitation of the Catholic Church to accept “with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” our brothers and sisters who experience same-sex attractions (CCC 2358), Courage Internacional will offer in Spanish, for a fourth consecutive year, an online formation session aimed at the laity and religious. The event will be on Saturday, February 17, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (Mexico City time). 

  

This formation session will address topics such as the meaning of the human person, our intrinsic dignity as beloved children of God, and how our brothers and sisters who experience same-sex attractions live out these realities concretely in the Courage apostolate. In addition, some guidance will be offered on the reception and pastoral care of people experiencing same-sex attractions, in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church. 

  

For more information or to register, please email Courage Internacional at: oficina@couragerc.org.

January Newsletter in Spanish 

Read January newsletter in Spanish

Subscribe to the Spanish-language newsletter

Courage Internacional website in Spanish

RECURSOS EN ESPAÑOL

Couragerc.org/español | Contáctanos

Para suscribirse al boletín en español | Archivo

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Pastoral Resources

Make Plans Now to Attend the 2024 Clergy Study Day

Consider staying for the Courage & EnCourage Conference July 25-28

Heartfelt Plea to Church Leaders and Those in Ministry

In her interview with Chris Stefanick, Kim Zember speaks with passion directly to Church leaders who hold back on the fullness of truth out of a misplaced compassion.


It breaks my heart because it's holding back fullness for people. … I experienced that first hand. I experienced leadership [from a Catholic priest], I experienced counsel [from a Catholic therapist] that led me into something that they thought would make me happy, but didn't align with what God says, and so it didn't lead to the ultimate freedom and happiness and joy that he has for me.


Listen to Kim Zember's counsel for Church leaders

Truth & Love, an initiative of Courage International, is a multifaceted Catholic resource for anyone seeking the tools to support men and women who experience same-sex attractions.

Website

Resources

Conference videos

Blog

Events

2024 EVENTS

Dawn of Mercy 10-Week Healing Group for Women

Online 

Begins the week of February 4, 2024

Hosted by our friends at Dawn of Mercy.

For women who have experienced sexual assault. 

General information | Information and registration

Courage Women's Retreat 

Pittsburgh area in Pennsylvania

March 14-17, 2024

More information and registration: couragewomensretreat@gmail.com

Courage Men's Sports Camp XXIV

May 23-26, 2024

Southeastern Pennsylvania

General information and testimonies 

More information: cmacsportscamp@gmail.com

Clergy Study Day

University of St. Mary of the Lake Conference Center

Mundelein, Illinois

July 24, 2024

Watch for details in events section of website.

Courage & EnCourage Annual Conference

University of St. Mary of the Lake Conference Center

Mundelein, Illinois

July 25–28, 2024

Watch for details in events section of website.

Watch our Events Calendar regularly for updates.


NOTE TO CHAPLAINS: You are encouraged and more than welcome to participate in all Courage & EnCourage events. Please feel free to reach out to the event organizer to see how you can be involved.

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Disclaimer: Courage does not necessarily fully endorse all of the ideas included in resources that are not produced by Courage, but we still like to share items that we and our members have found to have considerable helpful content.

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