Milwaukee Inclusion Mass Welcomes LGBTQ People to Church — New Ways Ministry

Earlier this summer, Good Shepherd Catholic Church, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, held a Mass of Inclusion to welcome LGBTQ people to the church. Father Greg Greiten, an openly gay Catholic priest, presided at this first openly inviting LGBTQ mass in the Milwaukee area. Fr. Greg welcomed the congregation of about 60 people by saying, “I know…

via Milwaukee Inclusion Mass Welcomes LGBTQ People to Church — New Ways Ministry

It’s not so much an island as an Archipelago

This year for Long Beach Pride I had decided that it was time to “come-out” as Catholic.  After many many years of struggle to find my place in the Church, I think I’ve arrived at a kind of, not truce, but genuine place of Peace. I bought a t-shirt basically announcing such.  The response I got was amazingly heart-warming.  I had a number of people comment on the shirt, or begin conversations with me about their spiritual journey and how difficult its been to find others, to find their sense of place, particularly within the Catholic Church.  It has been true for me as well that I have often felt like I was living on an island off the coast of an even larger island. 

LGBT Cathlic

Here’s the Truth though.  We as members of the LGBT community have unique gifts that we bring, gifts that the Church needs, particularly at a time in its history when she is suffering assaults about relevancy in this day and age.  We have always played a strong creative role, bought color to whatever community we are a part of.  People need a Faith community, they need to know God more in their daily lives as the God of Love, of friendship.  The God that journeys with them where they are at.  I know I do.  If I didn’t have this, my life would be about trying to fill it with things that do not satisfy.  I encourage you, wherever you are at in your Spiritual journey, wether that means you are Catholic, Evangelical, Pagan/Wiccan, Jewish or something or nothing at all, find community.  Find that place you can give of yourself, through feeding the hungry, volunteering your time and skills.  You will find in return you will have an invisible support for those times when along the journey when you need it most. 

Exciting new things happening

So I have been a bit on the negligent side when it comes to posting and I feel that I owe everyone an explanation. My life like a lot of you has been in a state of flux since last October when I decided to leave my 9-5 to pursue writing and my Wellness Coaching Business. Things have worked out better than I expect but as is the case with all things, God had more in mind than I anticipated. It’s only now that I find my life reaching a place that doesn’t feel like I’m running crazy. The second thing also was that I had no idea what to blog about, sure I have lots of ideas, but ultimately I really had to get in touch with the direction, the mission if you will of what I want 13pastmidnight.com to be. After much prayer I’m pretty clear I want this site to be about and for those, that like me are a part of the LGBTQ community and also find themselves still drawn to Catholicism. I want to share those things, books, articles, meditations, ideas and software that are helpful to me and that you may find helpful as well. I very much would like to see you’re ideas, books etc that have helped you so that ultimately this site can be communal in nature. I welcome all Thoughts and Ideas as long as they come from a place of Love.

To this end, you will start to see new posts. I plan to post every Sunday following the Liturgical calendar with my thoughts from the readings that day. I also plan to start posting articles from other online Catholic publications that I find interesting and useful. Lastly, you’ll start to see software, gadgets and event listings. If you have any ideas about what you’d like to see, or if you’d like to post something yourself to the site, I’d love to talk with you. Do you have a poem you’d like to share or an article, idea, theological question you’d like to see explored? Please feel free to email me at ken@ken-saunders.com

A Short Introduction to Creation Sprirtuality

Original Blessing - Mathew Fox
Original Blessing

A brief introduction to Creation Spirituality
The simplest definition of Creation Spirituality is that it is both an ancient theological framework as well as a more contemporary spiritual movement in large part, thanks to Mathew Fox, although he would likely beg to differ. Its viewpoint is largely panentheistic. and as such is characterized by deep awe for natural life.

Creation Spirituality sees God from a much more mystical viewpoint and less from the more traditional, orthodox view of contemporary Christianity.

Diving into the meat of the matter. Creation Spirituality fundamentally relieves around the idea of “Orginal Blessing,” that is that creation itself is fundamentally good and worthy of both celebration and awe. It is from this that all other ideas within Creation Spirituality framework flow. In contrast the view of “Original sin” which became the dominant view of modern Christianity through Neoplatonist Saint Augustine.

Although Creation Spirituality has been around for literally thousands of years, it has only recently reentered popular culture as I mentioned before by Fr. (Former) Mathew Fox, he originally framed it inside of a primarily Judeo-Christian framework. In truth, Creation Spirituality is NOT explicitly Christian or Jewish but fits more in a deeply non-denominational framework.

On a personal level, I have at my deepest core always identified as Pagan at least since my earliest sense of my spirituality. I have also identified as Catholic and had struggled for the longest time with integrating those two aspects of Truth into my life. I discovered Creation Spirituality with the publication of Original Blessing back in the late ’80s, I had an aha moment because Creation spirituality meshed both aspects of what resonates as Truth for me, the Pagan and the Catholic. For me, Creation Spirituality is the bridge that brings the two together. I personally find it to be the best theological approach towards nature-based spirituality which marries ancient Truths and the earliest ideas in Christian frameworks today.

It will not surprise anyone to hear that Fr Fox was repeatedly silenced and eventually kicked out of the Dominican order on orders from the Vatican in the early 90s.

The modern Roman Church continues to see Creation Spirituality as a threat to its inherent call for mindless obedience to Dogma and Obedience. The official Western traditions, particularly in the America’s brings Hope to those of us that see the transformative power of Creation Spirituality. There is slow and steady progress within Catholicism that leads me to see a future for Christianity were inclusiveness, and true Joy leads to Healing on an individual and Global scale.

The Uncertainty of Faith

Last night wasn’t a good night.  We’d left the bedroom window open, fan on full blast to cool off the room.  At some point in the evening, the first Santa Ana’s start blowing. Somehow I had ignored the Government high wind weather warning blaring on my iPhone.  Sometime around 3am Mr. Fancypants started barking alerting us to what sounded like a Tsunami happening outside our bedroom window.  Lonnie even woke, mumbling out something about closing the window.  I somehow managed to roll my half-shut eyes at the idea of getting up.  I was still not fully awake from a somewhat disturbing dream.  I recall it involved frogs and other amphibians in a mishmash of Halloween images.  Mr. Pants was insistent, as he often is about such things.  There was something not right happening and he was going to keep guard even if we weren’t going to pay attention to him.  Lonnie rolled out of our bed to close the window, which now struck me as the logical thing to do, why I hadn’t thought of it earlier? peculiar.  Fancy calmed a bit and settled down on top of the covers spooning with my hips as he likes to do when he feels safe.  He sighed and settled into sleep.  Lonnie returned to bed and returned to noiseless slumber.  I, on the other hand, remained in and out of sleep, thoughts turning in my now overly agitated mind. Of course just as I finally manage to shake the thoughts, Lonnies’ alarm blares in the background.  It’s 6:15am, I’ll have to get up soon at least that’s what the years of working a 9 to 5 are telling me, Pavlovian response indeed!

My iWatch blares a text message about an online personal development course I’m doing. The two other participants are having a conversation. “So are we doing the DH training this morning. I bolt out of bed, “Oh shit did I forget?”, I don’t remember it being on the calendar.  Lonnies asks me too many questions, what’s wrong, I’m not awake to answer, coffee hasn’t happened yet.  I have enough juice to get to the machine to press the brew button.  Thank God, he got it ready for me the night before.  One scoop of dry dog food, refill the water bowl, open the back porch door.  I immediately close the back door, the winds fierce angry and hot. Santa Ana’s are called the Devil winds for a reason. Fancypants incidentally backs away from the back door as soon as I open it not even curious to go outside to pee.  I log onto the Zoom room, no one’s there.  I tap out a quick iMessage, “I’m here, where is everyone”.  No response.  Coffee is brewed, sugar-free hazelnut, heavy cream, I feel better already.  The Morning ritual is complete and the gods are happy.

A response from my Mentor, “We hadn’t put it on the calendar, will reschedule.  I’m thankful and feel guilty at the same time. I love this training, but the early mornings tests my ability to focus.  I’m halfway through my first cup of coffee.  I’m now able to process, Todoist is open, I’m plugging in my day.  All those things that will make me feel accomplished as I get to check them off as done, karma points received.

Lonnie futz’s around the kitchen making his Keto coffee, putting his lunch together.  I barely notice. I’m lost in what I’m doing. He announces, “I gotta get to work” it’s his way of telling me, I still find it adorable because in my head I wonder if he thinks I have any doubt about what he’s doing.  It’s almost as if he’s announcing he’s going out to slay a dragon and save the Kingdom.  That is how I see it and now I’m guessing you’re finding it funny too.  I kiss him good-bye.  He says goodbye to Mr. Pants.  He leaves, its quiet, 3/4 of the way through coffee number one.

Ok time to be productive.  I have a paid article I’m supposed to write.  I start writing and find a million reasons to get distracted.  I refocus by brewing coffee number 2.  I read my mail, nothing important.  I read the news, looking for inspiration for Technical articles, a few ideas well up, I record them.

It’s 8:45am I get my delivery order for the day.  It’s a good one, one delivery.  It’s a big order and a good payment.  In between the writing and my other online businesses, I do corporate food delivery. It pays really well, I enjoy it immensely.  I get a call from one of my business partners. We start talking about her business.  We talk about my business.  The call ends abruptly when she realizes she misses an important call. I go back to my writing.

Around the end of coffee number two, I get ready to pick up and deliver the food.  It’s for a doctor like most of them are. I’ve already walked Mr. Pants, we avoid the falling Sweet Gum Balls.  They are like projectiles blown about by the angry winds.

sweet gum balls

 

Dressed, say goodbye to the Pants.  The pickup was easy, delivery even easier.  I’m heading home, It’s 11;45am. Mass is at 12:10pm, “You can get home, change and make it in time” I think to myself.  Part of this new journey was to be able to attend daily Mass.  A mini-debate happens in my head that I don’t feel like I’m a part of.  The going to Mass side wins out.  I’m sure it was because today more than any other day feels and smells like Fall for the first time.  It was because I believe that what I don’t know isn’t as important as what I do.  I vacillate between wanting to be open, inclusive driven by a Faith that recognizes everyone where they are at, Loving them where they are at and the one that still lives in a more conservative world.  The irony is, of course, I don’t live in that world.  I’ve yet to reconcile myself completely to who I am and what I actually Believe with what the Church teaches.

This conflict of Faith ebbs and flows throughout the year. As I get older, the Spirit of Truth.  The Spirit of Love has mellowed my desire for black and white.  He has allowed me to see Him in the in-between spaces where all the grey lives.  My life right now has taken a turn for the good.  I’m following what I believe I’ve been called to do.   Whatever side of the Glass you’re seeing “All That Is” just recognize He is looking back, He Loves you and calls you to be all that you can be and that’s all that matters.

It’s evening, the winds have calmed down.  Lonnies back home, Mr. Pants is happy as a clam. He has me, Pappa and Daddy Lonnie home.  I open the porch door, he ventures out to inspect his territory. All is good, he heads in curling up on the couch between us happy as a clam and in my mind more confident of Life than I imagine I’ve ever been. Animals and children see God so much more clearly than adults.

Mr. Pants
Mr. Pants outdoors after the winds

 

The pupation of my career

It’s been a long time coming.  There have certainly been signs that the end and the beginning were arriving soon.  I’ve been working in the Tech field now for over half of my life in one role or another. There have been so many new and interesting adventures over the years. It all started for me back in 1982.  This was the year the Commodore 64 came out and for whatever reason I wanted it more than anything in the world. Interestingly the Apple IIe came out six years earlier, in 1976. It was good marketting on Commodore’s part, the 64 was for those of us in the middle class.  Apple espcially in the beginning were aiming for people from places with names like Katonah and Bedford Hills were money wasn’t an issue.  I begged my mom for the 64 that Christmas, it was the only thing I wanted. “What are you going to do with it?” I recall be asked. “I’m going to make games and program it.”  Well Christmas came and besides the multitudneous number of gifts under the tree, my mom was and still is not one for small Christmas’s, was my beloved Commodore 64. I was in Love.

I spent countless hours learning to program that 6502 chipset.  Skipping forward many years and many computers later.  Another passion of mine, Astrology found its way into a marriage with my beloved Commodore 64.  About the same time, Compuserve and a new Service called Quantum Link, what everyone now knows at America Online had just made there way into the American market.  It was literally the Big Bang of the Internet. Back then modems were a new thing and expensive.  Telecom companys charged by the minute, ask my mom she’ll vouch for me on this.  I did get a modem and was on both Compuserve and Quantum link. This was a new and amazing way for me to actually talk with others about all of the things that I love, Astrology, computers and in hushed tones there were LBGT chat rooms were I could talk with other like myself.  I formed some wonderful friendships online to the point that I made my first cross country in 1987, to Southern California.  It was here in Southern California that I landed my first I.T. position. I was working a temporary assignment as a file clerk and offered to fix the computers whenever they needed it. It progress from there, I changed my resume and the rest is now history.  I’ve had the oppurtunity for work for big names like Microsoft, Amazon, IBM and RealNetworks, remember them?

So here I am now twenty plus years later. I’ve been happy as a clam mostly.  During this time I’ve developed new interests, writing, blogging, marketing and ecommerce.  This has brought me to were I was at career-wise, the tipping point.  I had said I was happy but the truth is there has a been a growing frustration. I’ve  an ever increasing feeling that I can be doing something else more fufilling than fixes other peoples machines, the corporate grind, the nine to five.  It’s been a slow draining alomost vampiric like process on my soul.  I found whenever I was writing articles or blog posts I felt alive. The same was true when I was building out my Shopify store, Playbears.com, go check it out for some cute things.  The problem was I didn’t have the time to really grow any one of these things, my Shopify store, my freelance writing, the blogs or my Wellness business, which seriously if we haven’t talked about it, we should. I AM in the business of helping you get better safer products into your life, your home all while saving you money and time in the procuess.  Something had to be done, I wasn’t sleeping and wasn’t growing any of my businesses very succesfully nor was I doing my regular nine to five much justice either.  It was a constant daily reminder that I’m not doing what makes me alive. But what about the money?  I’m the primary breadwinner in our family, I couldn’t just leave could I?  After much discussion and planning I made the decesion to leave behind the career that has carried me through almost three decades of adulthood.  It was an easy choice and a hard one leaving the devil you know for the one you don’t is always a risky choice.  Risky choices are not something I’ve ever shyed away from in my life.  On October 1st I went to work knowing this was my Fourth of July from the I.T. industry.  I gave notice today is my last day, thanks for the oppurtuinity.  It was quick, precise, painless. I offered to stay the whole day knowing that wasn’t likely.  In the I.T. and most corporate jobs if you give notice your immediately given a box and a goodbye. I had anticipated this and had removed all my things over the previous week.  I walked out the door at 10 a.m happier than I’ve been in awhile, this pupa has burst forth from his chrysalis.  The excitement for the future is what I get to wake up to, new challenges abound.

My days are now filled with a variety of things, writing, looking for writing gigs, a part-time job to keep the money coming in inbetween the writing.  I will end this post with a piece of a conversation Bill Moyers and Joseph Cambell, noted Mytholigist had.

BILL MOYERS: Do you ever have the sense of… being helped by hidden hands?

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time – namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.

The Church needs a Mea Culpa moment.

After the recent Pennsylvania report that has come out once again a gaping wound has been opened for all to see.  I have a few thoughts about this and the reactions from both inside the Church and outside.  I’m horrified not only that Priests, Bishops, and others would sexually abuse children but that the Church would knowingly allow it and just shuffle them around to repeat their sickening behavior.  It further boils my blood that the Church is supposed to be the moral compass for its members, how can the Church be trusted to provide any moral teaching when the very people espousing the teachings are living a morally bankrupt life themselves.  I’m mad, I’m mad as hell about this and deeply pained that the Church I Love has yet to take responsibility, has yet to have a Mea Culpa moment.  Still, there is a shifting of blame to individuals but only when there is incontrovertible evidence She cannot deny.

Many have left the Church over this and sadly many more will continue to leave. This too is deeply painful, how can change happen if you do not stay and be the Change that must happen for the Bride of Christ to be all that she must be.   If the Church and Her teachings are true (and I believe they are) How can people as deeply angry and pained as they find a way to leave?  How can you leave if the singular most important teaching that Jesus is Truly Bodily Present in the Holy Eucharist?  is True?!  What comes to mind is once again Simon Peters response to Jesus, “To Whom shall we go?”.  I was raised to Believe that the Roman Catholic Church possesses the fullness of Truth and that all others, by comparison, are but dim reflections.  So I find myself in an awkward place, aligned with my Brothers and Sisters who long for the Change, who long for and must demand (quite frankly) for that Mea Culpa without reservation.  She must declare herself guilty of betraying the Trust and Faith that has been placed in Her.  It is my opinion that it will be only then that Trust can be regained, Forgiveness offered (to the Church) and Healing begins.  You cannot heal without first acknowledging you are in need of healing.

My last thought. I’ve done a lot of reading recently about this and one of the things I keep reading from those inside the Body of the Church some of whom complain that there is too much attention being focussed on the Catholic Church. So what! It’s not the attention being focussed on the Church that’s the problem, it is the acts that were done and covered up that are the problem. The Church is not the victim here, She is the perpetrator and the one in need of forgiveness and Penance.  The Sooner she realizes this the sooner, forgiveness, healing, and growth will happen.

A Confession before Mass

I have a confession.  Not anything lascivious or immoral. I have every good intention to go to Mass on Sundays, but I don’t. It’s not because I don’t enjoy the Mass, I do, very much.  Maybe I should start with all of the things I love about the Mass.  I love the flow of the Mass, the reliability of knowing where in the celebration we are, the responses back and forth between priest and the people of God.  I Love receiving Communion where it is both a shared experience reminding us we are all One Body of Christ and where it is also the most deeply intimate moment with Our Lord.  Here’s a few things that keep me from  Mass, in some cases laziness and this ones on me.  There is no way to make this look pretty.  Lately however it’s a two fold thing, it’s the priests and where I’m at on a Spiritual level.  It was not that long ago the church I attend had (two) amazing dynamic priests.  Their homilies  were on point and useful, not the far too common bland and wordy retelling of the readings without any meat to bring into our daily lives.  When the priests offered Mass you could sense, you could tell they were in the moment, in the words and prayers they were uttering on the congregations behalf.  This changed late Spring a year ago, one of the priests was reassigned to a different, though somewhat local parish and the other inexplicably took a personal leave of absence (that is a whole different post).  The second reason is that while I love all of the things I had mentioned at the beginning, I get fatigued with not feeling truly a part of the community I worship with,.  I get fatigued with not being able to truly share my life and my marriage with my congregation.  I guess it boils down to this sense that I am a discordant cog in an otherwise beautiful wheel.  I stay because it is the only way to bring about the Change I Hope and believe will come.

There is a spirit of change blowing

[contentcards url=”https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/05/opinion/pope-francis-catholic-church-lgbt.html”]

There is a Spirit of change happening in the Church. One of the reasons I started this blog was because as a gay Catholic I’ve always felt bit double minded, like so many of my brothers and sisters who have heard all of the very loud voices from within the Church telling me how much we’re NOT welcome but that still small voice in our heads would say “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of Eternal life” John 6:68 .  I have fortunately always been a bit deaf to the opinions of others.  One of my good friends and I got into a conversation years ago at one of our weekly after-work get togethers (for cocktails) on the Seattle waterfront. It radically altered my thinking about the Church. She said “Be the Change You want to See”. It made all the sense in the world to me and has stuck with me ever since.  This blog was started with this idea in mind and has recently relaunched.  I am hoping that it can become a place for those of us that still identify as Roman Catholic and Gay can form a community to share our experiences and ideas and get news. If you haven’t already please signup and of course follow on the usual suspects. Thanks and Blessings – Ken