Coming to terms with same-sex attraction isn’t always easy; in my case, it was a long-drawn-out tortured affair. By the time I’d finished university in 1983; I’d had enough of this titanic inner struggle and finally forced myself to come ‘out of the closet’.
A sympathetic sister was the first person to hear my confession; the remainder of the people in my little world at that time followed not long after.
In those days, SSA activity was very much a closeted affair and life for this tiny population operated mostly on the peripheries. In common with many SSA men, I plunged headlong into a lifestyle of wanton hedonism and licentious living.
It didn’t however, take long for me to realise that this lifestyle choice was a sure pathway to unfulfillment.
A pleasure-based way of living mainly served to allow the passions of lust and greed to rise to dominance and then bully and enslave me.
I was beginning to realise the truth in the saying that ‘Eros is a cruel master!’ I became someone who was more motivated by taking than giving; I was beginning to reap the negativity I’d been sowing in emptiness and loneliness.
A critical point was reached in 2014 in coming to realise I could no longer tolerate the pointless and empty lifestyle I’d adopted, grounded in selfish pleasure-seeking. My life had become empty and unfulfilling.
Moreover, an on-going range of increasingly serious sexual health and dependency issues was life’s way of showing me there can be no pleasure without consequence. A friend of mine had been gently trying to encourage me to more actively seek out the truth which would help bring my lifestyle into line with what I instinctively knew to be true.
After a period of intense personal struggle, I finally persuaded myself to book a place on a retreat based on the acclaimed and life-changing ‘Spiritual Exercises’ of Saint Ignatius in August 2014. This timely and providential intervention served to completely turn my life around from a meaningless self-centred way of living to a Christ-focused pathway of meaning and fulfilment.
The Gospel had set me free from a life of sexual slavery and granted me the grace to follow the golden pathway of chaste living, ‘the lily of the virtues’ according to Saint Francis de Sales. My full conversion had come after more than 30 years of impure and unchaste living.
The teaching of Christ helped me clearly see the many dangers inherent in allowing the passions to dominate, lust especially;
then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
I have no doubt that the faithful prayers of my mother down through the years had played a significant role in aiding my conversion too.
With the Holy Spirit in charge, I was filled with God’s miracle working grace. My life is now thankfully focused on doing God’s loving and saving will rather than my own.
This puts me firmly in control of my unruly passions which are now correctly channelled and regulated in the service of God and love for my neighbour.
My new re-created life of love for Jesus has replaced the old destructive model based on insatiable lust. This has served to change the whole dynamic of my existence. A living relationship with Jesus fills me with a great love for his bride, the Church. This love is further nourished by daily contact with Christ through prayer – ‘without me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5)
As a result of this living relationship with Christ, a new apostolate has been birthed in my life. I am now a man on a mission, ‘Kingdom of God’ mission. I am filled with a great love for my neighbour inspired by my love for Jesus who encourages us to serve those who are in need as a result of being the victims of material and spiritual poverty.
This is why I am now driven to help shelter the homeless and feed the hungry in my parish neighbourhood; this is why I spend time helping young people learn the faith through catechesis; this is why I’m motivated to spend time sharing the story of my journey from darkness to light with others who are sexually oppressed.
Life today is fulfilled, meaningful and chaste; full of purpose, direction and joy. My heart is no longer restless because it rests in the divine (Saint Augustine) and I am full of hope that the life I now lead will bring comfort to me on my death bed rather than the affliction my previous life would have wrought at this crucial moment. Most importantly, I now stand a chance of being able to stand before Jesus on judgement day in the knowledge that I did my best, even though whatever I do is far from perfect.
Praise the Lord indeed!
You can read John Cassidy’s blog here: www.lovegodbetransformed.com, or you can contact him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org