Pt. II: Something brilliant happened in my church today. Something unexpectedly cathartic, freeing, and re-assuring. Throughout the years, my church has mostly avoided discussing controversial topics such as gay marriage and abortion [pretty much the only possible controversies the church needs to face]. That’s what I liked about it and still do. Out of all the Catholic masses I’ve attended in the history of my life, I’ve never experienced forceful condemnation for anything. As a gay church goer, I never had to hear “if you’re gay, you’re going to hell” or “Being gay is a sin,” and I am thankful for that. I’m thankful that the people in my church have enough grace to let the audience have a place to worship and pray and not have to be subjected to powerful political brainwashing. My church always focuses on the faith aspect, having it and living it. It stays black and white, pure and simple, which lets us all have our own minds outside of the church; It was always more focused on the message of the readings and praying for others and ourselves. During the homilies, the priests and speakers would connect the gospel readings to our present day– equating the values and lessons learned from the Bible and applying it to our lives for the moment and how to best live our lives moving forward.
But earlier today, for the first time ever, my personal favorite priest and speaker, Father Bausch, actually said the words “lesbian, gay, and transgender.” [I do wish he said bisexual.] It was like a Lady Gaga “Born This Way” moment for me. To hear those words in my church, where I go for communal worship, was a blessing. His whole homily was about addressing how to live on with Catholic faith in an ever changing world, a more secular world, a world that acknowledges that not all Americans are Christian, a world that has begun to acknowledge LGBT individuals as equals in society. Fr. Bausch, said “let’s get right to the nitty gritty.” Let’s get our hands dirty. I was nervous about what he would say. I was waiting to hear contempt and condemnation for this new queer and sinful generation. But it never came. Instead, he listed strong, encouraging statistics about Catholic families and their views on marriage, family, and homosexuality. Concerning our growingly secular society, he said that Catholics worry about passing on their faith to their children and grandchildren. How could they when they don’t go to church? What happens when my son brings his girlfriend home and they want a bedroom of their own? He discussed the effects of capitalist lifestyles. He mentioned divorce, reminding us that our church teaches he who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery on his first wife. And she who divorces her husband and marries another commits adultery on her ex husband. I was glad that he discussed divorce because it’s an issue that LGBT supporters bring up to Christians who think gay marriage is immoral. Kim Davis, who refuses to issue marriage licenses (breaking the law in the process) to same sex couples, has been married four times. To all the Christians who disagree with gays getting married, if you ever get divorced and re-married, I probably won’t judge you, but know that if I do, you judged me first.
For the sake of accuracy, I won’t list the exact statistics, because I don’t remember them. But he did say that many “Catholics view the traditional marriage of a man and a woman to make for the ‘ideal family’ but that ‘other families’ are fine too. Single parent families, divorced families, infertile families, and gay parent families.” Those are actually his paraphrased words and he had no qualms in saying so. He began closing by saying the church has always transitioned along with the times.
“We’re living in unusual times, with an unusual pope, one who has ambiguous views on gay marriage, in a society that is more secular and Christian suppressed, and we have to deal with this.” Christian suppressed, meaning socially religiously suppressed, which is a good thing since Americans are made up of more than just Christians. We are also Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhiest, Atheist, and so on. He said, “the Vatican Senate has formed to this new pope and the new world that we live in, a society with lesbian, gay, and transgender realities.” He hopes the Senate will be able to reach out to us no matter who we are. To hear those words come out of his mouth without a tone of disdain gave me so much hope for my place in the church. I hope to always have my faith, but being supported in my church would mean a great deal. Everyone knows the views of the Catholic church are very archaic, but the anointing of the wildly refreshing Pope Francis has been a welcome disruption for the entire world. Pope Francis not only met with the infamous Kim Davis, but also his gay ex student and his partner. The Catholic church is extremely slow when it comes to transitioning on any kind of issue, but to hear those words reflecting the deeper importance of Fr. Bausch’s homily today has rejuvenated me and my faith. His homily may have been one little pebble step in the right direction, but it’s still one step in the right direction and I’ll take it. Thank you Father Bausch.
Pt. I: Last Sunday, I was with my family and a million other people in Phildelphia to have mass with Pope Francis. It was an unbelievable day and sort of felt like how I imagine the end of the world to feel. Endless crowds of people with their families, waiting in line, the city a mess, and stores abandoned. As we waited in line to enter the public square where mass would be held, there was a particular looking man, dressed in a suit and wearing unfamiliar pins, standing in the middle of the crowd carrying a clipboard. He was asking for signatures for Catholics to be able to teach marriage in schools as defined by a man and a woman. I was instantly disappointed. But immediately after he said what the petition was for, a woman said, “I can’t sign that. I disagree. I think everyone should have the right to be married.” And another woman, who was standing right in front of the man, whom I was standing next to for hours, also immediately reacted. “Love is love. I believe in that. We have different ways to think and I respect yours, and I just need you to respect mine.” The man was spitting the regular Catholic rhetoric: “There’s one human nature, even from a biological standpoint. God created one man, one woman. That’s the true nature. That’s the one truth.” He’s wrong though. God has actually created billions of people throughout history, millions of which were LGBT 🙂 Thank you to those women who spoke up for me and all LGBT! With Pope Francis, these women, and Fr. Bausch’s homily today, my faith in the Catholic community is slowly restoring.
Now I leave you all with my favorite worship song of the moment.
I will call upon your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine.
Beautiful photo by: https://instagram.com/p/0_kewVmZsO/?taken-by=godsfingerprints