Hey, I have a friend who was raised lds and has recently come out of the closet and I was just wondering how you stay strong in your faith? Or just any general advice on how to help him remember that his heavenly father loves him?
I’ve answered some other asks before about general advice and stuff living as a gay Mormon; take a gander here, here, or here.
It took me what was more or less a spiritual club over the head to finally realize the sheer magnitude of Heavenly Father’s love for me personally. That being said, there’s a lot of power in the simple truths of the gospel. We are all children of God. As He is perfect and is our Father, it follows that He is a perfect Father, and so can’t do anything but love us. His love is not contingent on our personal righteousness, nor on our attractions. His love is eternal and perfect.
Jesus Christ is no different in that regard. He experienced not only all of our sins, but also all of our heartache, pain, torment, temptation, and misery. He knows keenly what we feel. As the scriptures say, we are engraven upon His hands and feet. He took all of that on Himself out of that love for us. And because of that, He knows perfectly how to comfort us.
Sometimes we may feel unworthy, or lost, or broken. Maybe we are. But that will not and cannot stop Heavenly Father from loving us.
I know a lot of this sounds all over the place, and everything else probably sounds like it might have been ripped from a lesson manual (I would know, being a teacher for Elders’ Quorum and Sunday School), but it really is true. The best way to know for yourself, though, is through personal prayer. I don’t mean the trite kind we often find ourselves repeating just so we can say that we’ve prayed. I mean the kind of prayer that feels like you’re having a conversation with Heavenly Father. Unload. Vent. Ask questions. But then listen. That’s when you really feel the Spirit and start getting answers, and really getting closer to Heavenly Father and feeling that infinite love.
Something wonderful is happening. But I need grace and healing in my heart in order to receive what God is giving me. Please pray for me. I am on the verge of something, I know it, and I know the Devil will try to stick his foot in the door of my heart and fill me with anxiety and doubt.
I’m sorry for being vague, but all this has come together in my prayer in the last 20 minutes. I need process this and test it. Nevertheless, it is here. One thing God has said to me is, “All your asking has led to this.”
So please, even if its just 1 quick little prayer, pray for me to have healing of my wounded heart, peace, courage, hope, and joy.
Christ promises in today’s Gospel that those who follow him, who remain close to him, do not lose out but rather gain everything because they enjoy his friendship and love. Today’s saint, Philip Neri, who was born 500 years ago in 1515 in Florence, exemplifies this. His love for God spilled out into such visible joy and cheerfulness that he is called ‘the humourous saint’. But how did he gain such joy and love for God? Through prayer and relying on the Holy Spirit. For he said: “The Holy Spirit is the master of prayer, and causes us to abide in continual peace and cheerfulness, which is a foretaste of Paradise.”
So, appropriately, on Pentecost day in 1544 St Philip was praying alone in the catacombs in Rome when something extraordinary happened: the Holy Spirit descended as a ball of fire and filled his heart – literally! Indeed, divine charity so enlarged his heart that two of his ribs were broken by this mystical phenomenon, as was discovered through an autopsy after his death in 1595.
St Philip’s experience vividly illustrates an essential truth, which is that we grow in love for God through prayer because in prayer the Spirit brings us close to God; we grow in friendship with Christ. The effect of this friendship, of charity, as St Thomas says, is joy. Thus Pope Francis also said in Evangelii Gaudium, “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew”.
So, although St Philip’s experience in the catacomb was extraordinary, his teaching and example applies to us all: the Holy Spirit leads us in prayer so that we can be filled with God’s love. However, in order to do this, notice that St Philip goes off to spend time alone in the catacombs. Hence, as today’s Gospel says, there needs to be a voluntary renunciation of certain things and even of people for the sake of gaining Christ; sacrifice is a mark of love. For all of us this will mean, at least, giving up time we would otherwise spend with friends and family or networking online or engaged in other transient pleasures in order to come close to Christ in prayer. As St Philip said: “The true preparation for prayer consists in the exercise of mortification; for he who wishes to give himself up to prayer without mortification, is like a bird wishing to fly before it is fledged”. So, sacrifices must be made in order to pray; if we are to encounter Christ and know his love for us.
However the Gospel points to an even more radical sacrifice such as Peter and the apostles undertook in order to follow Christ. In this Year of Consecrated Life, then, we should consider the gift of our whole selves through the consecrated life; through the gift of celibacy, and joining a religious community, such as St Philip did when he became a priest and then formed his Congregation of the Oratory – the Oratorians.
Recently, I’ve noticed a number of publications talking about how celibacy is “forced” upon us by the Church. But this is nonsense. Celibacy is freely given out of love for Christ and stems from a desire to be more available for him and for the service of the Gospel. Otherwise it is a joyless, grudging, grumpy non-gift. Sirach’s advice is pertinent here: “With every gift show a cheerful face, and dedicate your tithe with gladness. Give to the Most High as he has given, and as generously as your hand has found” (Sir 35:9f).
So, in order to cheerfully give of ourselves, we must first discover God’s goodness through prayer; we make the necessary sacrifices – of time, effort, other pleasures and good things – so that we can spend time with Christ, come close to him, and so, grow in friendship and in love for him. As the Holy Father said, then, “joy flow[s] from the infinite love of God, who has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ”.
St Philip Neri’s life exemplifies this. His joy and practical humour and friendship with people from all walks of life were so deeply attractive that he drew many lapsed Romans back to Jesus. Hence he’s known as an “apostle of Rome”. So, today, let us follow his inspiring words and example. He said: “Nothing helps a man more than prayer”. And in this time after Pentecost, let us ask the Holy Spirit, the “master of prayer” to come and lead us deeper in prayer and in greater love for God.