Thursday 23 April 2015

CASE STORY: A Gay Man's Story -- Overcoming Lust by Humility and God's Infinite Mercy

As human beings, we take lust for granted as something that simply is ingrained in our nature. It seems like a sleeping giant where during childhood years, there is very little malice in our hearts. In the Philippines it is all to common specially in rural areas to see children swimming in the nearby bond, river, lake, sea, or water falls without any clothes on. Adults do not mind, we consider it normal. But when puberty kicks in suddenly the changes in the body also trigger changes in the mind, and seemingly in the soul as well. It is all too evident that it is in this period that starts for many their life-long battle to put their sexual urges, desires, lustful thoughts at bay and within control of one's rationality. However, what happens when one just simply surrenders and gives in? What happens when one considers lust as simply inherent and therefore the only normal way to live is to simply give in to every sexual craving? After all this is what is often seen on television, movies, the internet, in every advertisements --Lust and Sex Sells.

There is this case that was brought to AMOE of a young adult male who was so immersed in the gay-lifestyle. His sexual awakening started with what would practically be common among teenagers at the age of 13, he was taught the "M" word by his peers. At first he was so filled with guilt for what he has done, until he was told by adults and peers that it was normal and nothing to worry about. Soon he explored various ways of doing it, becoming a thrill seeker when it comes to sex. There was no longer any qualm in his mind, no guilt. He then started to fuel his lust with porn especially through the internet. Still in his teen years, he experimented with same-sex genital relationships devoid of any human affection except just to satisfy cravings. He liked it and considered it simply as "playing". He became immersed into the life-style of going to places that gay men frequented for casual sexual encounters. He experimented also with alcohol and drugs to heighten the experience. And he seemed to be enjoying all of it. When he reached his twenties he had already so many sexual partners most of whom were simply one-night stands. He was never successful in monogamous and life-long partnerships or real friendships because the desire for something different, something more intense became the moving factor of his daily life. He allowed himself to be bought for sex, and he himself has bought men for sex. Love and Sex were equated, as one always requires the other for him. He explored the occult and satanic practices as these are based on giving free reign to the flesh. He went into satanic worship not so much as worshiping the devil but in the sensation that he gets from the orgies that accompany them. The desires of the flesh for him had no end, he lived for pleasure and pleasure alone.

Things turned sour when dreams became nightmares and nightmares turned into night terrors. The night terrors prevented him from sleeping because whenever he closed his eyes in the night he started to hear vile voices, and non-stop lustful images even when he sorely wanted to sleep. Even when there was no more energy in him the images and voices kept coming in. What made him terrified was the image and thought that the greatest pleasure was to be found in death. In his dreams he saw vivid images of hell and ghastly creatures doing unthinkable things to men and women who lived uncontrolled lustful passions. What he saw was the souls begging for mercy to stop the lascivious actions being done by their evil tormentors. But the demons would not stop. Then a ghoulish demon approached him and told him he will be next. And he would awaken terrified. This night terror would repeat itself over and over again every time he would close his eyes even during daytime, such that he would fear even closing his eyes. He wanted to pray but every time he would attempt to lustful thoughts would enter his head. He could not concentrate nor focus. He could not even enter and stay inside a church to pray because he sees around him images of lasciviousness. He will see a young man in church and his thoughts would already generate erotic thoughts. His body would come into a state of arousal that it was impossible to pray at all. The only way to get out of such a state was to get out of the church. But it would not be long that he would act out again his desires. There was simply no stopping him. He would even involve himself into dangerous actions and sexual encounters just to please the flesh. He was getting tired of it and his body sore. When he was most down and in despair, he cried to the Lord to have pity on him. But the Lord seemed to be quiet.

He attempted to enter an adoration chapel, but every time he would, he would be overcome by wanton desires again. He finally decided to fight this off and forced himself to stay in the adoration chapel first in as little as a few minutes gradually staying to 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes. Somehow by persevering and determination he could find peace in the chapel. But the moment he steps out he again would be attacked by intense feelings of lust. He thought that he needed help as this was affecting now his work, and life. It seems that he was no longer in control of himself when it comes to lustful feelings and thoughts. He was being forced fed with it and brought to places he has gone before and doing things he used to do but he was no longer having any enjoyment with it. He finally realized he was a slave to the flesh and whatever unclean spirit that generates it.

He approached AMOE for help. And the lay-volunteer who took his case interviewed him. During the interview, the young man started to have convulsions and tremors, then entered into a trance-like state. A prayer of liberation done by the priest in the office brought him back to his senses. It became clear then that the person is being attacked by an unclean spirit because of his desire to be rid of the vice of lust. The lay-volunteer recommended to him that he undergo a deep conversion and change in life if he really would like to be healed. He had to renounce all the evil things he has done, and make an integral a confession as much as possible. He needed to mortify his senses, do penance, to fast, and pray. He needed to meditate on God's words, attend Holy Mass, and receive holy communion daily. There can never be any reason whatsoever to excuse himself from not doing the spiritual assignments. No headache, no nausea, should prevent him from doing them.

It was to be expected that the spiritual assignments would be a difficult hill-climb for the young man. But he had to undergo this to show the sincerity of his intent. The only way to overcome vice is through the practice of virtue. And since he was deeply enmeshed in "unchastity", developing the contrary virtue will indeed be very radical. And since it was clear that an unclean spirit is preventing him from undergoing this conversion, he had to develop the will to humble himself before God and ask for help to be rid of this evil. At this point it was clear to AMOE that we are dealing with OBSESSION in this case. The attacks are mostly attacks in the mind, compulsive and obsessive behavior attached to lust. Perhaps the evil one did not see the need to vexed the young man or to possess him as the sinful behavior in itself placed him within the dominion of evil. The unrepented sins, all of them grave ranging from sexual sins to sexual perversity aggravated by substance abuse and idolatrous worship, can already lead to eternal damnation. But the mercy of God was truly extended to him as his recognition of his sinfulness came early in his adult life. Had it come in midlife or senior years, the attack would be more than obsession.

The young man however did not complain of the assignments given him. In fact, he had done more. He was so intent of changing the direction of his life that he had humbled himself before God in true repentance and sorrow for living a life unworthy of the grace given him in baptism. Indeed this was the prodigal son story all over again. He stopped altogether his gay lifestyle and cut all ties with spiritually dangerous friends, acquaintances, places, and occasions. He made it a point to dress properly and modestly. He frequented the sacraments of the eucharist and reconciliation. He has prepared himself to receive as well the sacrament of confirmation. He likewise reconciled himself with his family which he estranged from himself as they would not approve of his life-style. He fed his soul with spiritual readings and familiarized himself with the teachings of the Catholic Church especially regarding homosexuality, same-sex attraction, and homosexual behavior. He accepted those teachings and began patterning his life according to those teachings. Moreover, he developed a devotion to Our Lady and her rosary and begged her to help him, to put him under her mantle of maternal love and protection as he totally surrenders himself to God.

Perhaps it was because of this sincere conversion of heart and life that when the day came for me to pray-over him, there were no fireworks at all. At a certain point during the prayers, copious tears just flowed from his closed eyes. After the pray-over which lasted for more than an hour, I asked the young man what he remembered. He said he was aware of the prayers I was saying until he started to see gruesome images of his previous deeds, as if his whole life was shown to him. He then saw faces of people, men whom he remembered to have been his sexual partners. Afterwards, they transformed into hideous looking creatures. He understood them to be demons at that moment and his was terrified. Because every time he would have relations with them it seemed that they were carrying a part of his soul with them to hell. He saw his soul in taters and being shredded into pieces. Then at one point he saw these repulsive creatures come together to become one big dreadful demon. This demon then forces itself to him in a carnal relation while at the same time eating him alive. He begged for mercy to Our Blessed Lady to help him as he has no one to turn to.

The miracle of healing and spiritual liberation came when a bright light, brighter than anything else came out of nowhere. He described the light as soothing, warm, and brings with it a serene feeling of being truly loved. His feeling of terror now was transformed into joy and gratitude. The demon vanished in great fear when the light came. In the light was a very beautiful woman full of love and kindness. He knew that it was Our Lady. She came to save him from the clutches of the Evil One.

While recounting this story, the young man was still crying. He could not help himself. There was so much wonderful emotion in him he could not control it. He said, how a big fool he was from looking at love in the wrong places and not finding it substituted something a lot less. And by doing so, he gave the devil dominion over his life.  Why did he not see it before? He blinded himself with carnal pleasure, he said to himself. Now he could see how spiritually depraved he was. How wonderful and merciful God is to him? How privileged he was that the Mother of the Lord came to rescue him when he was at that point of being dragged down to hell alive.

I told him to consecrate himself right there and there to Our Blessed Lady. I gave him a prayer of consecration, he went down on his knees and prayed with fervor. He was still crying doing this and in every verse, I heard him say: "Thank you Lord. Thank you Mother Mary."

He left the adoration chapel a new person. He learned his lesson about sin, about death, about the devil. Never again he said would he allow himself to be deceived by them. He saw God's mercy and how immense it is, that he a miserable sinner was saved by Him. He promised himself that he would never throw away grace again but rather treasure it forever.