If a friend comes to you and confesses that they are same-sex attracted, as a Catholic, how do you respond? How do you speak to your friend with words of understanding but encourage them to follow God's calling for them? OSV talked with Bob Cavera, who, along with his wife, Susan Cavera, began a local chapter of EnCourage in the Diocese of Lansing, Mich., in 1996. Courage is a Catholic ministry for same-sex attracted persons that advocates living by Church's teaching on homosexuality. EnCourage -- a ministry within Courage -- is devoted to the spiritual needs of parents, siblings, children, and other relatives and friends of persons who have same-sex attractions. In their years of ministry, the Caveras have developed the Four P's as a guide for helping you and your loved one to cope.

1. Pray: Fall on your knees and pray. The most important thing you can do is find a connection with God and pray for the person with same-sex attraction. Pray for the wisdom and patience to speak to your loved one and look for ways to deepen your own prayer life so that you might draw closer to the source of hope and grace.

2. Prepare: Educate yourself about the truth of same-sex attraction. Embrace the Church's teaching on SSA and seek out other resources that help to discern the good advice from the bad. Look for conferences or local EnCourage meetings, read books or watch DVDs to keep yourself informed.

3. Persevere: Persevere in prayer and in the face of disappointments and discouragement. It is vital to stay connected to your SSA loved one without enabling the behavior. Embrace them. Tell them you love them by holding and touching them and resist being critical or condemning so as not to slam a door on communication. But continue to assert the truth.

4. Proclaim: Proclaim the truth. Don't just sit by; become proactive. Join an EnCourage group or start one in your diocese. Share the truth in love. Be wary of groups that identify themselves as Catholic and share love but not the truth. The result is that they mislead. Jesus is love and he is truth. You cannot proclaim his love without also proclaiming his truth.

Stephanie Kornexl is an OSV intern. For more information visit couragerc.net/index.htm on the Web.