Sunday, June 25, 2017

Boots-on-the-ground reflections from today's San Francisco (LGBT) Pride event....



At the wholly unexpected prompting of the Holy Spirit, my friend Rob Marco flew across the country less than 24 hours ago to join one of my heroes, Joseph Sciambra, in his ministry to the LGBT community at the San Francisco Pride event, where around a million people gathered. As Rob sat at the airport ready to board his flight home just moments ago, he sent me his reflections, below.

God bless Rob, Susan, and Joseph for their love and courage. 



Rob, Susan, and Joseph


It has been a marathon day, and I'm pretty spent, but God is so good. A few reflections from SF Pride while it's fresh in my mind:

The first reflection is that everyone was pretty pleasant and free-spirited for the most part. There was not a lot of belligerence, no yelling, and minimal confrontation. These are not "bad people," but as I see it, they are lost, hurting people, and there are also other people just going along with the crowd. There were a lot of drugs in the air, you could smell it everywhere, so maybe people were just "happy"--I don't know.

Joseph [Sciambra] is very mild-mannered and polite, and admits that his presence there is a bit of a Johnny Appleseed operation. People didn't know what to make of us. I think they were so pleasant because there were many gay-affirming churches present at booths, and I guess they thought we were just members of another one of those churches, since we were wearing shirts that said, "Jesus loves gay men and women"--which is true, but hard to go into it on the street, the truth that Jesus everyone without exception, loves us so much he wants more for us than what we degrade ourselves to.


Many "gay-affirming" churches were represented at the event. 

It was boots-on-the-ground ministry and hard to connect one-on-one, so we gave out rosary bracelets and a card with Joseph's website in the hopes that they will visit the site at home after the parade, when things aren't so crazy. Joseph said his site gets about twenty times more traffic than normal in the days after Pride. I remember the first post I read when I found his website was "Hell is For Real" about his near-death experience. I think that's what struck me about the day, and what I made mention to Susan: this parade, this world...it's not reality. It's somebody's reality, but it's not what is really true and really real. It is as if there is a cliff behind the curtain, and nobody really sees it. For four hours, I wore a smile (a genuine one, mind you) and said more "God bless you's" than I could count. But on the inside, I was breaking up at the offenses against our Lord, the perversion. I offered up to the Lord the soreness, the sunburn, the hunger and thirst--in the hopes that he would pardon such offenses, an act of reparation that pales with what he endured on the Cross for us.

Something interesting to note as well: This really was a quasi-religious event, albeit not in the traditional sense. There was a procession of sorts, down Market Street. There were men in underwear dancing on platforms wearing angel wings. One man was dressed as the pope in mockery, blessing people...another dressed as Our Lady, a kind of blasphemous Madonna. Why would they do this? Like Satanists who do not have Black Masses at a Methodist church, or an Episcopal church, or a Baptist church...they mock the Catholic Church, and desecrate the Eucharist. And it was very similar here. Satan mocks, and he doesn't bother to mock the things that have no power.




But there was also a hunger here, a hunger for God and what is religious and even Catholic...but not on God's terms. It was a perverted substitution. There was also a legitimate sense of a craving for love and affirmation, but somewhere along the line a hurt, a trauma maybe came in and something must have failed along the way. Joseph has written about this. You wouldn't believe how many rosary bracelets we gave away; people wanted them, but in a way in which they did not understand. There was dancing and laughter and happiness, but it felt like a fa├žade, because, like Joseph, I know what's on the other side. It is easy, so easy, to go along with what is around you, when you are surrounded by it as the majority...and it's even seen as good. But it was like...I felt like I was in an alternative universe where everything was upside down. It didn't shake my faith, but it made me fearful of God's judgment. God has been so patient with us, and I think that time may be running out, and so I pray the rosary every day. And, if anything, flying out here has convinced me to start fasting and offering up sacrifices for conversions. Because there is really nothing we can do on our own, the force against us is too strong. We need God. NEED Him. And prayer is an indispensable weapon in this fight.

One thing that bothered me was seeing children at an event like this. I thought of my own children, and so many other children...toddlers, pre-teens, and adolescents...who are just being born into this confusion and won't know any different.

Joseph made an interesting point, too, that there were many corporate sponsors of the event, a lot of backing. It felt like Goliath, honestly...a powerful force to be reckoned with. I felt like a needle in a haystack. I had peace and an assurance of being on the 'wrong side of history,' because it was evident that this was the history of man, not God, for God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor 14:33). It made my heart heavy, but only because, as a Christian, I was finally entering into the fray; it was new to me personally, but not new to human history, for the world will hate us because it hated Him first (Jn 15:18), and we'd better get used to it if we want to be Christ's disciples.

My final reflection is that the scene was just saturated with sex. It's like you get numb to it. And that's not how God intended sex to be. There was no modesty at all, and I'm not talking in a prissy kind of way. I wasn't scandalized by it per se, but it's just...if people knew the power and holiness of sex as God intended it.... I don't know. It's like a secret, but one that God wants us to know. There was a part of the parade where people would engage in all kinds of perversions, and Joseph said in the past he has gone over and prayed over that area, you know outstretching his hand and all. And people would react violently, kind of in the way demonics would react to being exorcised....

Joseph praying in front of the "Fetish Zone."

I can't help but think the Church has let people down. I'm not talking about the Catechism or the Holy Spirit's assurance that the gates of Hell will not prevail against Her. I'm talking about waffling and wavering in practice. The temptation to be liked is so strong, and I'm sure those in ministry and pastoring have made the mistake of capitulating so as not to be hated. Well guess what? If you're not hated for your faith, it should give you pause. Because we are past time for dialogue and understanding. You'd better pick sides and get on your knees when you see what we are up against, and the way Satan has his way in the world. Now, I'm late to this fight, so maybe I'm just as much to blame. But the narrow path is becoming more clear to me as the only way to be saved. It should have been clear from the start.

I'm tired and sunburned, hungry and thirsty, and I thank God and give Him praise for the opportunity to offer up these pittances and to taste some of the derision and sorrow He experienced as He hung for us, men of the mob who favored Barabbas over the very Son of God. I don't know why He called me fly out here from Philadelphia. I hope maybe we touched one person. God bless Joseph for his endurance and compassion and commitment to Truth in a way that is not always understood or accepted as normative, and for loving and ministering to people to whom most of us would not minister. What a blessing to go into the trenches with him, even if just for a day. And thank you, thank you, thank you for all your prayers; they sustained us for sure.





22 comments:

  1. God bless Joseph's ministry, and God bless Rob and Susan for assisting him.

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  2. ����. Thank God for people like him! Wow! I don't think I could do it. Prayers!

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  3. Thank you for being there, and for this "report". God bless you!

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  4. Thank you, Rob, for listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit...and doing as He requested. I'm sure our Lord is pleased with your efforts. Thank you for this beautiful summary. God bless you.

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  5. Wonderful article!
    Fresh.
    Authentic.
    Optimistic.
    Hopeful.
    Confident.
    Humble.
    The soul of service shines through! :-)

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  6. Inspiring.Thank you.I hope and pray next year your example,your sacrifice will bear fruits and ten,twenty more will join Joseph.

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  7. Like John the Baptist, the three of you were voices crying out in the "wilderness" of pain and suffering. :*(

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  8. thank you for posting this Leila, what a beautiful and powerful ministry of encounter. Sharing with my readers.

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  9. "It's somebody's reality, but it's not what is really true and really real. It is as if there is a cliff behind the curtain, and nobody really sees it." Powerful writing, and a clear way to explain spiritual blindness. You can also wonder what calamities the Lord protects us from as believers.

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  10. God truly anointed you to go and feed His sheep with Joseph. What a witness to a His love, even if the crowd did not fully understand your mission. You showed up and God will do the rest. God hless you and thank you. You are a witness to me!

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  11. As an Episcopalian, I wonder if you would be willing to clarify your comments about the Episcopal church, "Like Satanists who do not have Black Masses at a Methodist church, or an Episcopal church, or a Baptist church...they mock the Catholic Church, and desecrate the Eucharist."

    I was not sure from your sentence whether you are comparing the Episcopal, Methodist, and Baptist churches to Satan. I am also wondering whether you might say more about what you consider to be our desecration of the Eucharist. Thank you.

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    1. He's referring to the Catholic Church having Divine authority, which is why we also have the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. He's not saying that our separated brethren are like Satan, but that they do not have Divine Authority and thus, do not possess all the spiritual weapons and power to fight evil in souls, such as the sacraments. Satan mocks the Catholic faith because he knows it's fully empowered by Christ.

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  12. Hi Liz,

    My apologies if that was confusing; what you write is not what I was getting at. My reference was to something I have heard from a former Satanist who participated in Black Masses, but who had a vision of Our Lady and came back to the Catholic Church (check out his website at www.allsaintsministry.org, I think he has a youtube video describing the experience). It is that the power of Christ truly present--body, blood, soul, and divinity--in the Eucharist is realized by such occult groups, similar to the way demons recognized Jesus as the Christ in scripture. And so at their ceremonies they will take a consecrated host and defile it. So the 'they' refers to Satanists, NOT those Christian churches. Sorry if that was not clear.

    This is kind of an aside to what I was writing in what you reference, though. At the risk of writing in pejoratively, the Catholic Church, as believed by Catholics, has the fullness of Truth. That is why priests specifically are able to exercise demons by the rite of exorcism, because that authority rests apostolically. That is just one example, the Eucharist another, why the Catholic Church is not just one denomination among many.

    My mother is Episcopalian, btw, and I was baptized in that Church. But by God's grace, I was led to the Catholic Church because I was led to follow Truth. And that was where I ended up. Thanks be to God!

    God bless you.

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    1. Hi Leila and Rob,

      Thank you for your replies and clarification.

      I would encourage you to be more careful about possible misunderstanding when writing about Satanists and Protestants in the same sentence. Your language was confusing and could really hinder your ability to build rapport with Protestants who might be considering conversation to the Roman Catholic church.

      I believe that one of the gifts of the diversity of Christianity is that each denomination has something to offer to others in terms of a fuller knowledge of God, or even worship resources. Leila, I noticed that in your conversation story you mention several hymns, which are also some of my favorites, including "The Church's One Foundation" and "Holy, Holy, Holy." Did you know that both of them were written by Anglicans? We all have something to offer one another.

      May God bless both of you and your families.

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    2. Hi Liz! Thank you so much for your respectful comment, and while I appreciate the spirit, I do have to reiterate that nothing that Rob or I said here is in error. And the Catholic Church is not just "another denomination"… It is the Church that Christ founded, and there is no Eucharist elsewhere, aside from the Orthodox churches.

      Yes, those old hymns are beautiful and they are doctrinally sound! We can agree on any areas where the ancient Faith is preserved, but unfortunately in today's Episcopalianism, there's not much left in common. :(. Did you read the link on my reversion story that is my friend Kim's reversion story? She was an Episcopalian, and even tried to get back there in her desperate quest to stay out of the Catholic Church.

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    3. Here's the link:

      http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2013/01/from-radical-feminist-to-devout-catholic.html

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    4. Also, Christ did not intend for His Church to be doctrinally "diverse"... that division/diversity is a result of sin and rebellion. The night he was betrayed, Jesus prayed to God the Father that all may be one. Not a oneness of mere "fellowship," but a oneness like the Holy Trinity. So powerful!

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  13. Thank you for that clarification, Rob!

    Yes, Satanists don't seek out the communion wafers or hosts at the Methodist, Baptist, or Episcopal churches (etc)… They seek out consecrated Hosts at Catholic Churches in order to desecrate the Eucharist in their Black Masses. They know where the Real Presence is, and with respect, only Catholics and the Orthodox have valid ordinations through apostolic succession, thus the ability to validly and truly consecrate the Eucharist.

    Thank you for your respectful question!

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  14. Wow! Personally, I had not yet heard of your ministry but, man, if it is made up if people like you, answering the call of the Holy Spirit & responding as you did (do :) then, THIS is a ministry I can support thru prayer & encouragement! (Hopefully, financially too at some point.) The need is SO GREAT & so many of us Catholic Christians don't even know where or how to begin to minister to our brothers & sisters in this area. I am so touched by your "report" of the day & agreed with everything you said, especially about the young people. When we desensitize ourselves, especially the children, to the disorder & perversion of this lifestyle we can't help but raise up generations that are further & further from God! It was evident with the Woman's March as well. Everything about that day was in direct contradiction to the roles of grace, femininity, motherhood, friend, wife & lover (to our MALE husbands) that God has called us to. This "thinking" can so easily take up residence in our hearts & minds, yet, it takes multiple times the effort to undo it, than to adopt it in the first place. Especially in the young who (rightfully) tie themselves to the things that are taught to them during the formative years. (Even more so why it is important to instill faith & Church & values to children! So their foundation is on solid ground.) May God continue to bless you & your group & to bring you more faithful servants so that your work may continue to bless those in desperate need! ��

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  15. Hi Liz,

    I'm replying to your second comment here since Leila prefers that we don't use the thread option on here ;-)

    I just wanted to clarify that Catholicism is actually not a denomination of Christianity; it's the original Church founded by Christ through His apostles. While they may be some partial truths contained in the various Protestant denominations (which broke off from Catholicism beginning with the Reformation), ultimately, it is only in the Catholic Church where you will find the fullness and complete truth revealed by Christ. What it comes down to is the principle of non-contradiction (two conflicting statements cannot both be true) - Catholicism cannot be true for some people but not for others - it's either true for all people (regardless of whether people accept it or not) or it is false for all people.

    I hope that makes sense! God bless :)

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  16. Thank you for sharing/posting. It sounds like quite the experience.

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