Saturday, December 13, 2014

In a French Monastery

A former porn star repents and seeks healing in the house of God. To quote:
Through these trials in which God places the spirit and the senses, the soul in bitterness acquires virtues, strength, and perfection, for virtue is made perfect in weakness [2 Cor. 12:9] and refined through the endurance of suffering.” ~ St. John of the Cross
In the strangest twists of God’s plan for me, less than a year after making my last appearance in porn, I found myself hidden away from the world behind the massive stone walls of a French Benedictine Monastery: Fontgombault in the tiny Loire Valley town of Fontgombault. For, after being vomited forth from the filth and deprivation of gay San Francisco, I went on a trip of exile – to anywhere Holy; anywhere I would feel protected. But, before I left, I was increasingly lethargic, constantly dizzy, and nauseous. For a while, I thought perhaps I had picked up a flu, but it wouldn’t go away. In the back of my head, I started thinking: AIDS! Since getting out of San Francisco, I hadn’t taken an HIV test, and the previous one had now been about two years in the past. I didn’t want to know. I thought I could just fade away. Only, I was feeling increasingly unsafe, even at the religious community I was staying with in Pennsylvania: I thought that the demons from California had followed me. On a sort of whim, I got the HIV test, and tried to forget about it. Feeling trapped, one night, I got onto a plane and flew to France. By the time I got to the secluded Abbey, many miles away from Paris, it was dark and the monks were locking up; I begged them to let me stay – somewhat annoyed, but incredibly patient, they let me in. 
During the next few weeks, I spent a lot of time in my small cell, the only piece of furnishing being a single bed – made of wood and stretched rope; I slept beautifully in the seemingly uncomfortable conditions – being sheltered by an impenetrable shield of Faith generated by the constantly praying monks. Despite the rest, my health continued to deteriorate. In meditation, I wrestled with God, I was grateful to Him for saving me, only to simultaneously blame Him for making me sick – or, even worse, condemning me to death. In the midst of all this half-hearted thanksgiving and incessant whining, I heard nothing back. Everything was silent. In the morning, I heard the massive church bells ringing to wake the monks, but, I believed that they did not ring for me. I sat bewildered in the pews, watching the shadowy black-robed figures kneel and pray before an ancient statue of the Madonna: their radiantly peaceful faces illuminated by the light of glowing candles. I thought, why did God love them, and not me? (Read more.)

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