My Relationships/Teen Relationships Learning I Was Made for Love by Avera Maria Santo When I was in high school, I came face to face with — what was then — my worst nightmare: I was romantically and sexually attracted to other women. This was something that terrified me, something that I kept silent for quite a while. The worst part was that I didn’t know hardly anything about it. I went to Catholic school from pre-k all the way through 12th grade and yet I heard very little, if anything, about homosexuality, especially in light of my Catholic faith. This caused a great deal of turmoil in my life; I had no idea what to make of what I was feeling, I had no idea how to cope with my attractions in a healthy manner, and I had no idea how to bring the subject up to anyone. As time went on, I became more and more desperate. Desperate for meaning, desperate for truth, desperate for love. I think above all, I just wanted someone to tell me that they loved me, a message made very evident in a book I recently read, Made for Love, by Fr. Mike Schmitz. Made For Real Love When it comes to any type of disordered sexual desire — be it a homosexual desire or desire for pornography, masturbation, sex outside of marriage, etc. — there always seems to be a misconception of what love is that accompanies the desire. If the human person is “made for love,” then this is a major issue that we need to sort out! In his book, Fr. Mike Schmitz breaks down, in great detail, what it means to be human — a body and soul composite being — and how this reality affects our relationship with our creator and the world around us. Additionally, he dives into the importance of what we do with our bodies in light of their union with our souls, and how our actions affect not only us, but others as well. In this explanation, in all its truth, goodness, and beauty, we can discover what love truly is and how we can partake in it. Love Never Equates to Use In high school, my desire for “love” was driven by a desire to feel whole, to feel a completeness that I believed stemmed from being in a romantic relationship. Since then, I’ve learned that the desire for wholeness is a desire for God, a desire that only He can satisfy. However, what I didn’t realize was that I was really using other people to try and make myself feel whole, which is not true love at all! In order to truly love, one has to be willing to give of oneself. I was taking — taking the way another person made me feel to cover the gaping hole in my heart that only God can fill. If I’d understood the truth about what it means to be created for communion with my creator and learned more about who He was, and thus more about who I am and who my neighbor is because of Him, I might have recognized that my desire for love couldn’t be satisfied by using other people. People aren’t made to be seen as anything other than people, deserving of love and respect. But in my frantic search for immediate gratification, I missed that. No one deserves to be used. However, I honestly don’t believe that when these intense feelings arise, the majority of us immediately think, “Yes! I’m going to use this person in order to make myself feel better!” I’m willing to bet that most of the time, we see this person and think, “They make me feel good. Maybe this is a chance at love.” It’s an imperfect response to an authentic desire for something only our heavenly Father can give us: the infinite love He designed us for, the infinite love He Himself is. In order to truly love others, we have to understand the human person and its purpose. In his book, Fr. Mike points out that “if we can’t state what a thing is, then there is no way to know how to treat it” (14). If we don’t know what the human person is, as well as what it exists for, how can we ever hope to know how to treat our brothers and sisters? When we come to understand the purpose of humanity — the design and destiny of each individual given to us by our creator — everything else falls into place. We learn how to treat each other, we learn what it takes to love another person, despite what we may want or feel. These are by far the biggest takeaways I’ve had from this book. Made for Love is both a resounding song of compassion, as well as a demanding call to conversion. Being someone who lives every day with same-sex attractions, it’s given me a new, deeper, and richer view of my attractions, and I know it can do the same for others like me. There are so many questions about homosexuality in the Church today, especially among young people, but I think that Fr. Mike has shed a profound light on many of those questions, and provided answers that can heal the hearts of many. The love of Christ radiates off of every page, and I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to encounter Christ in the midst of an issue that seems so godless and dismal.