Hudson Byblow shares creative insights about faith, relationships and living as a single Catholic, topics he’ll undoubtedly touch on in his talk at the National Catholic Singles Conference!
You give talks about how mathematics played a key role in your return to the Catholic faith. Can you give an example of one way we can use math to help bring others to Christ?
The idea of math often sends people running, so my hope is to draw people to what is beyond the math, which is truth itself. I think this is important these days because more people are relying on “their own” truth while neglecting to accept that there are actual truths out there that we not only are able to discover, but which we will inevitably be subject to. Banana trees don’t produce apples, and goldfish don’t own pet people. One day we are born, and one day we die. It is little examples like this that I hope can draw people to understand how there is a truth “out there” (within our whole universe) that we can conform our lives to because, ultimately, we can’t outrun it.
What connections do you see between math and the Theology of the Body?
Well, if math is true and God is truth, then it follows that they are compatible. Math, representative of the principle of non-contradiction, always points to truth. The principle of non-contradiction demands that we clarify language whenever we need to differentiate circumstances. For example, that principle helps us understand that the attractions/inclinations that people don’t specifically choose to experience are distinct from how people do specifically choose to self-identify and possibly define themselves. It helps us understand why chastity is not the same as abstinence or celibacy, although they are all related. It helps us understand that perceived identity may not equate to created identity. It goes much further than that too! For example, it helps us understand more about the differences between angelic persons and human persons – which is important because that may influence our prayer lives! In short, math, as authored by God, helps us express truths within our universe (both visible and invisible). If a person truly pursues deepening clarification based on the principle of non-contradiction (which is what math reflects), then a person will arrive at the greatest set of truths: God is real, God is true, and God is love (and that out of love, he is also just).
You speak about the joyful pursuit of virtue. Is there joy in pursuing the virtue of chastity? How do we find it?
In the days before I tasted the joy, I could never have described it. It was only through a retrospective lens that I could appreciate it and even recognize it. I am finding more strength in pursuing this virtue, as it pertains to self-mastery (which is not the same as white-knuckled abstinence). This is the case because I am able to now offer my heart to the Lord as a gift. And it always feels good to give a gift that matters. My heart (and my sexuality) are important gifts, so to give them allows me to experience even a greater joy. As for how we find it, I think the best way would be to spend some quiet time with Jesus and be honest with yourself about whether you want to let him into the fullness of your heart. Gradually, in doing that we come to “find” chastity more and more, but what I really mean by “find” is that we come to find joy in practicing it more and more. It doesn’t mean no sex, it means holy sex. And that means sex that is aligned with the order of creation and the nature of how God created us as males and females, within the context of a marriage. That is also how I can also best respect the art of the divine artist – by respecting His art.
Do you think the Church’s teachings on sexuality are liberating? Can you give an example?
Totally! I used to be enslaved by my intemperate desires of the flesh. I am not anymore. It’s really as simple as that. The world fed me this idea about what it means to be a man, and all it led to was using people and being miserable. Why would I settle for that? I knew in my heart that I was made for more, and I have tasted the freedom of no longer being stuck in the rut of the hook-up culture, or within any of its other lies (and there are many). Also, through Christ, I came to know that I am enough. This world counters that, breaking people down, so they have to run to some form of medicating escape mechanism. I was there. That’s no way to live!
What is one thing singles can do now to prepare for the “forever love” of marriage?
Start to prepare for your future spouse today. However, also recognize that practicing spiritual fatherhood and motherhood will make someone a good earthly father or mother, while being a good earthly father or mother won’t necessarily make someone a good spiritual father or mother. In other words, strive for spiritual fatherhood and motherhood first. In that, everyone wins, whether you get married to a person, or the Church, or remain single as a non-religious.
Also, what comes to mind are the words from a good friend when sharing how he was arguing with his wife. He said it was basically as though God placed this thought onto his heart: “Is what I am doing helping my wife get to heaven?” I have never forgotten those words. Note, however, that I am single, and have done many things wrong in relationships, so I am not asserting any authority aside from what I have seen to help people grow in holy fatherhood and motherhood. The issue is that we have to re-learn what it means to be holy. And it doesn’t have to do with behaviors but rather the disposition of our heart and the degree to which we are fully open to dying to self (and fully abandoning ourselves to the Lord). It is this state of heart that drives desires and behaviors. In addition to all of this, I think we need to let go of things that are holding us back and dive into the scariest forest that we could ever think of running towards – with good, sound spiritual guidance of course.
Are you single? What most inspires your faith and brings you joy in your state in life?
As of writing this, I am single. And I have quite a bit of “practice” at it, but for several of those years it was to engage in particular ministry work with the blessing of my bishop. With that circumstance transforming, the Lord has opened doors for me, and the idea of marriage is now becoming a reality. Whether it occurs or not has a lot to do with whether I pursue a person’s heart, and I recognize that sitting around probably won’t give me the results I am looking for. Ultimately, however, my desire is to serve the Lord, in whatever state I am in the moment. What inspires my faith the most is knowing wholeheartedly of the love and joy that I am to experience in heaven. I won’t get into detail, but when the Lord touches your heart in a certain way, and when His Mother Mary does the same, you know there is no greater joy than to one day be in heaven. And it’s a joy that I hope every person gets to experience. In saying that, my greatest joy is in being a connector to help people build the faith in whatever state of life they are in. It’s service in a small way, but with amazing fruits.