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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
A really moving article from @TheSeaLesbian who if you’re not following you should. Empathy is really the healing sauce in all of this. It is a gateway to Trust and Understanding and more importantly faciliates conversation.
— The Seattle Lesbian (@TheSeaLesbian) October 27, 2017
I’d be remiss if I didn’t post a link to my YouTube channel proposal video. I posted the video of my proposal to Lonnie awhile back and just kind of left it at that. Well about a few months ago I decided to check in on it see if anyone had viewed it. I do like to watch it now and again. It almost always makes me cry happy tears, reminding me of why I love my SnuggleButt husband so very very much even when he’s being annoying from time to time (as we all are). Well, long story short the blessed video has garnered over 50,000 views. I’m like #WOW. The thing for me is that there were some very sweet and lovely messages from guys that had seen our propsal video and it has inspried them they too will find their own love one day and that sort of thing. So here it is, please enjoy, feel free to comment and share with your own Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites.
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.