Bunch of Nice Words about Love?
by Mario Gerada
"Dear children, I am coming to you in this your time, to direct the call to eternity to you. This is the call of love. I call you to love, because only through love will you come to know the love of God. Many think that they have faith in God and that they know his laws. They try to live according to them, but they do not do what is the most important; they do not love Him. My children, pray and fast. This is the way which will help you to open yourselves and to love. Only through the love of God is eternity gained. I am with you. I will lead you with the motherly love. Thank you for having responded."
Our Lady added:
"My children, priests' hands are blessed hands of my Son, respect them.
Message given on the 2nd of October, 2006, to Mirjana
Is Christianity a bunch of nice words about love?
A few years back I left the Catholic Church and Jesus. Approximately this was a break of six years, I then returned or rather, was brought back. In all honesty internally I am often leaving Him and returning to Him over and over again. The problem is that as a gay man I do not really find myself within the Catholic Church notwithstanding the fact that I know I am dearly loved by Jesus, His mother and all of heaven, notwithstanding the fact that I have religious people around me who minister to me in loving ways, other lay people who genuinely love me and others who try to. I still feel that I cannot find my place within this Church.
My own relationship with the Church is as ambiguous as my own relationship with Jesus. I love Christ and believe in Him and in all that He says. I also love the Church and believe in all the goodness that is found in her messages and actions. And yet I still don’t feel at home. Hence the questioning and debate starts, usually uncomfortable ones and the journey slows down. An annoyance both for those around me and myself. My intellect becomes a nuisance rather than a gift. My circumstances, like those of many others like me or in similar/parallel situations, do not help, or they do. I tend to be one of those very stubborn sheep. And a pink one too.
Regularly and periodically I go through a spiritual, existential, life, religious, crisis. Probably like many of you reading this article. It is that moment were it all goes black, when nothing makes more sense, where everything is questionable. And yet when the night is over or rather it is less painful, it seems that there are a thousand fruits to be picked up, a thousand lessons to be learnt. It is time for growth again. When you look back on it, it all makes sense.
In one of my recent desperate dark moments I said, ‘Christianity is just a bunch of nice words about love.’ That’s were the title came from. At first I thought that I had just uttered a blasphemy however I kept on thinking about it. I must admit that I need to re-adjust that statement. Of course, Catholic faith is not the way I have just described it. The words and life of Christ are definitely not a bunch of nice words about love. As a practicing Roman Catholic, I know that this is so untrue, and yet as a gay man I also feel that partially this statement holds some truth. I often feel caught in an in-between. A position which I must admit often drives me to insanity on a religious, spiritual and human Level.
On the one hand I hear the Church speaking of love towards all human beings and the dignity of each and every person. I also see this translated into action from the Church to bring humanity to its fullness. Yet on the other hand she still uses such painful tones when talking about the homosexual person, a term that she keeps on using whilst refusing to use the word gay for example, for its political connotations of course, and so it hurts.
In my frequent debates I sometimes manage to step closer to understand the Church’s position and to understand that the Church herself is bound with Christ’s teaching on sexuality and marriage. What I don’t understand is the overtone on sex and the lack of talk about love towards gay people, a deficiency in trying to reach out to the gay community, a real embrace, the lack of real concrete love-action towards the gay community, no matter who or what we are. For me, love means concrete action which is translated into an open dialogue between the Church and the gay community just to mention one example. It is about ministries that reach out to the gay community, which minister to LGBT people too, as another example. I fear this is seriously lacking and this is the point from which I cry out- ‘IT”S ALL A BUNCH OF NICE WORDS ABOUT LOVE!’.
On the other hand as a practicing Catholic, my own accusation points towards me too. As a Catholic person I too fall into the trap of being one who simply preaches a bunch of nice words and lacks concrete love action towards others, LGBT and straight people alike.
The Difficulty in Our Religion
Christian people in some way or another, wanting it or not, represent Jesus Christ and His gospel [perfect love] on a personal level, on a community level and on an institutional level. Jesus is of course the God-Man who is the living-pure-love. Him, the one who was ready to endure the crucifixion for truth and our salvation. I must admit that the gospel, as much as it is beautiful, is also very hard to live. In many ways, I myself fall short of it. Unfortunately we also fall short of His messages, on an individual level, on a community level and on an institutional level.
A dear friend of mine, when discussion Catholicism told me, ‘Mario the Church thought me too well!’. A statement which kept lingering in my mind, and kept me wondering. In many ways it is so true. We are preaching and representing something so beautiful and yet our actions [for many of us] are so much far away from what the radical gospel calls for.
I myself tend to judge practicing Catholics especially the traditional ones too quickly. It is lack of love towards the traditional Church and it is sinful too. However we are also sinful on a community level, on an institutional level and on a national level. We tend to forget about these sins and the impact they have on other people within our communities, societies and other nations. How painfully true the statement ‘we are a Church of saints and sinners’ is.
I sometimes am angry at the Church, religious people and myself. My problem is that I expect a lot, from everyone and myself, because we know how we Christians should behave. The fact is we are usually so far away from it. Like many others I too dream of a Church/society who is able to show the Love that Christ has for each and every one of us in concrete and practical ways - no matter who or what we are. I also dream of a Church who is active on all fronts; where discrimination, injustice, violation of human rights are to name a few. I too dream of Church who teaches us prayer life – no matter who or what we are. A Church that welcomes us all home in real and true ways and not only on paper. I do desire a Church that can offer a concrete experience of love, human and Divine.
At this stage however I need to mention that I actually encountered this kind of Church on various occasions, trips and pilgrimages. But how I wish that this experience is available for all straight, LGBT or whatever – no matter who or what we are, an experience that it is enduring. Jesus/Church to me means inclusive, radical love. It is a difficult and painful task.
Why Catholic, why gay?
Often I am asked how does it feel to be an openly gay man and openly practicing Roman Catholic. During talks (that I sometimes give), people tell me that it was their first time to meet a gay man who is also a practicing catholic. They are usually pleasantly surprised. I must admit that the tension between the two is not always easy to handle. Of course I am not the only gay Catholic/Christian person around. But for many years we were comfortable with the ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell’ position. I do believe it is time to take more of an adult position in all of this debate. It is time for sincerity, time for dialogue, time for mutual understanding, time for seeking the rainbow coloured path to God, time for real love towards each other as the Gospel calls us to do –no matter who or what we are.
Christ meek and humble?
This brings me to another question. Was Jesus Christ a conformist? Was He always obedient to authorities of His own time? Was He always meek and humble? Did Jesus actually raise controversial and uncomfortable issues in comfortable circles? Would He raise the gay issue in today’s Church?
Too often we hear about Jesus- the meek and humble one. Often when in Catholic groups, retreats or mass we are told that we should be like Christ, fully obedient, meek and humble. Like Christ on His way to the Cross. Part of me honestly accepts this side of Christ who was totally obedient to the Father, however another side of me reminds me of another side of Christ, the side which actually led to His elimination, or rather attempt at which failed big time. I believe we need to speak more about this other side of Christ, and try to understand how it applies to us in the here-and-now. I am talking about the Christ who called the religious powerful of His own time, hypocrites, white-washed tombs just for a start. A Christ which calls for justice, mercy and love and confronts the earthly-powerful of His own time. As a reminder:
‘For I tell you, if your uprightness does not surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of Heaven.’
Mt 5: 20
‘He answered, ‘And why do you break away from the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?’
Mt 15: 3
How rightly Isaiah prophesied about you when he said:
This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me. Their reverence of me is worthless; the lessons they teach are nothing but human commandments.’
Mt 15: 7-9
‘In his teaching he said, ‘Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted respectfully in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets; these are the men who devour the property of widows and for show offer long prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.’
Mk 12: 38-40
‘The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and jeered at him, He said to them, “You are the very ones who pass yourselves off as upright in people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed in human eyes is loathsome in the sight of God.”’
Lk 16: 14-15
Somehow this side of Christ gives me hope. I believe that in the context of the LGBT story it has a lot of meaning. This is the Christ who is obedient to the Father and yet challenging the powerful, be they the Civil-Powerful or the Ecclesiastical Powerful- this is also an act of love. I believe that the silent love of Jesus’ Eucharistic presence should be the loudest voice for us LGBT.
Conclusion - The Promise
‘You will be a crown of splendour in Yahweh’s hand, a princely diadem in the hand of your God. No more will you be known as ‘Foresaken’ or your country be known as ‘Desolation’; instead, you will be called ‘My Delight is in her’ and your country ‘The Wedded’; for Yahweh will take delight in you and your country will have its wedding. Like a young man marrying a virgin, your rebuilder will wed you, and as the bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so will your God rejoice in you.’
Is 62: 3-5
‘But the Israelites will become as numerous as the sands of the sea, which cannot be measured or counted. In the very place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be told they are ‘Children of the living God’.
Hos 1: 10
‘But look, I am going to seduce her and lead her into the desert and speak to her heart. There I shall give her back her vineyards, and make the Vale of Achor a gateway of hope. There she will respond as when she was young, as on the day when she came up from Egypt.’
Hos 2: 14-15
© 2007 Mario Gerada
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