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.
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.
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.
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
In the time since I wrote exploring my Catholic roots. I have returned to the Catholic Church. It has been an interesting process for me as a gay man married to another gay man. As a natural born hedge witch, it has been interesting on another level as well. How do you make the various parts of who you are or at least who you see yourself as being, sing together so that you become the very best you, you can be?
The first question was and to a certain extant remains the primary. How does a gay married man integrate into an institution that says in its teachings and practises that I am “intrinsically disordered”? For myself the struggle continues. I personally believe that I am called to be the agent of change I wish to see in the Church. For Catholics the Church is two things. It is her members and it is the organization with all of its many rules and rites. It is the latter that at this point in history and place that doesn’t recognize the hand of God in my relationship or in my marriages sanctity. More Catholics than ever believe that the Church should recognize and to an extant celebrate GLBT marriages. I’m ok with were the Church is at because, she is working her way towards a more perfect union with Christ. She has at times taught as part of the catechism certain things that she later changed directions on through the eternal workings of the Holy Spirit. I have Fr. John J O’Neil to thank for helping me to work things through.
As to the whole question of how does a natural born Hedge witch return to Catholicism. This answer for me lives in the last paragraph, the Holy Sprirt. I have found in my return a richness and deepness that was not there before. i see in the Rites and Sacraments a lot of what I saw as truth as a Hedge witch. It reminds me of Romans chapter 1, which incidentally is usually used as an anti-gay reference but which is a call and an appeal to Pagans at the time to See the God who made All things that S(He) is much much bigger the Creation.
The rituals in paganism and the Sacraments in Catholicism at least from these eyes are very similar. The Church in Vatican II declared that the Church is the more perfect vehicle of God on Earth and to that I agree. She is not perfect at this time, she is working her way towards that. Other religions, beliefs and ideas contain Truth and should be celebrated to the extent that they draw everyone Closer to God, who is always yearning for us to be close. There has always been a deep yearning for closeness to God since I can remember and this journey has led me along many paths, it continues to do so. I’m grateful to God for S(He) for all of my experiences, the pleasant and not so pleasant ones alike as they have all led to a more closer union with Him.