by Mario Gerada
‘In You all find their home’
Ps 87: 7
to Saint Faustina:
“Why are You sad today, Jesus? Tell me, who is the cause of Your sadness? And Jesus answered me, Chosen souls who do not have My spirit, who live according to the letter [cf. 2 Cor. 3:6] and have placed the letter above My spirit, above the spirit of love.
I have founded My whole law on love, and yet I do not see love, even in religious orders. This is why sadness fills My Heart.”
Divine Mercy in My Soul,
Diary, Sister M. Faustina Kowalska, [p. 520]
‘He has given us the competence to be ministers of a new covenant, a covenant which is not of written letters, but of the Spirit; for the written letters kill, but the Spirit gives life.’
2 Cor. 3: 6
Christian discourse sometimes uses words which tend to be understood differently by different people. The flesh-and-blood person is sometimes lost in the interpretation, misinterpretation and debates of such words and biblical verses, especially for those of us gay. Frequently, I read beautiful excerpts, books or articles written by Catholic/Christian people, the clergy or the Pope himself, but often I stop and wonder why such beautiful words are not translated into concrete love-action for us LGBT people? I wonder and often feel lost. In this article I seek to ponder the issues of Obedience, Chastity and Poverty. These, I believe do lead us to the summits of Love, to Jesus Christ but can the LGBT community live up to them? Can the heterosexual world live up to them? Again…I wonder!
What does Obedience mean? To me it means living obediently to God. Accepting that it is His will for me to live as a gay man…His gift. It means understanding Him, as the one who healed me on every level, psychological, emotional, physical and spiritual when prayed over and other experiences, and yet He never touched my gay-feelings. There must be a message there for me! Accepting God’s will to be born in a Roman Catholic family and having chosen this faith as an adult.
Obedience: embracing these two realities- a combination that often brings pain, frustration and torment. Obedience: experiencing the love of Jesus Christ and accepting to remain belonging to Mother Church even though her messages about me hurt the core of my being. Obedience: obediently responding to the loving promptings of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, our Father and our Lady, whilst trying to remain faithful to the Church (whose messages are sometimes confusing and conflicting with regards to me as a gay man and the LGBT community). Accepting to live in all of this confusion.
Poverty to me means living in a society and religion where I am often considered a second class citizen, having to live (especially in my adolescent years) with people around me who think of me as dirty, immoral, intrinsically evil, rejected by God, or only accepted by God on condition that I hide my sexual orientation. Having to live with the reality that in many countries people like myself are persecuted, murdered, abused, tortured and killed. It also means having to live with the idea that it is thanks to gay men and women like myself that today I can live freely in society and that the Church and Civil authorities did nothing for a long time to protect people like myself.
Poverty is having had to experience serious bullying at school because of my sexual orientation, and having first hand experience of the meaning of the word ridicule. Poverty means having met people, including religious people that perceived such abuse as a natural consequence to my sexual orientation and hence I am the one to blame. Forced to believe for many years that such abuse is normal and natural, it meant that it was me who had to learn how to deal with it and toughen up! Poverty to me also meant experiencing outright unacceptance by some of my friends’ parents, who refused to love me because of my sexual orientation, who told their children not to be seen in public with me, not to spend time with me, not to befriend me… all because of my sexual orientation. Poverty to me has also meant seriously considered suicide as the only way out in my adolescent years. Poverty was also about meeting religious people who not only failed to help me, but created further confusion, pain and fear in the formative years of my adolescence.
is living in a community were people at times look at me bewildered, perplexed-
looks that make me feel odd. Poverty is being forced to endure mocking glances
because of the way I gesticulate when I talk, when I move, when I express
myself. Poverty to me means living with this mockery and ridicule, mockery
and ridicule all too easily read in other people’s eyes.
Poverty: having to live with my own reality of bringing confusion into some people’s lives; confusion amongst believers for being a believer and yet an activist, amongst the activists for being an activist and yet a believer.
But poverty is also the freedom that it brings, the love of those who surround me, those whose love for me is real, those who cherish me and care for me, both lay and religious. Poverty is the freedom of being, the freedom of facing reality, mine and that of others. Poverty is about having to live with the crude reality of love and hate, care and rejection, gentleness and harshness of humanity- of this world we are living in, temporarily.
Chastity is often automatically rejected by many. Chastity is usually understood as the abstinence from sex outside of marriage and the appropriate sexual conduct within marriage. Chastity actually means much more than that.
It is about loving each and every human being; of one’s own sex and of one’s own opposite sex. It is about not using or abusing other human beings sexually, psychologically, emotionally and/or spiritually. It is about giving up on dominating others by controlling their thoughts and minds. Chastity is refraining from trying to manipulate others for one’s own benefit. Chastity is about stopping our lust for power - over other people’s bodies, minds, lives and souls. Chastity is about approaching each and every creature with love in one’s heart, free from lust [desire] for power, control, dominion– often but not exclusively expressed in sex. Chastity is about cherishing our own free will and approaching each and every human being out of respect for his or her own free will.
Chastity is about having one’s own heart free from the desire to dominate others; sexually, spiritually, religiously, psychologically or emotionally- a lust behind which lies hidden our craving to become gods, to be worshipped like gods.
means approaching the body of Christ with reverence through the bodies of
those around us- male, female, heterosexual, homosexual, transgender, black,
white, disabled, non-disabled, adult, youth, child, etc.
It is about looking at the real Body of Christ as Man-God with His own character, personality, emotions, thoughts, desires, free will and dreams, and not as an extension of our own self, of our own power.
Sexual morality vs. sexual immorality…
Is the issue of sexual morality vs. sexual immorality resolved by the division between those who are sexually active within or outside of marriage? At face value, the Catholic answer may appear to be a ‘yes’, but it also needs to be one that says ‘lets have a closer look’. Rape within marriages, violence and sexual immorality are also found within heterosexual marriages. Love-making may also be found outside of marriage too. Here I do not want to debate the truth about sex within or outside of marriage! However I do want to point out that not all heterosexual marriages are as glamorous and holy as conservative Catholics want us to believe. Marriage between heterosexual men and heterosexual women was surely God’s plan but we also know about the reality of such marriages where abuse is present, where children are abused, abandoned or forgotten in orphanages for example, and where hate rather than love reign within wedlock.
The dark side of heterosexual marriage is not to prove that God’s plan is not right for us. No, I am not trying to say that. What I am trying to say is that, notwithstanding marriages not according to God’s plan for us, we do not doom such people/marriage- we try to help them out. We also do not reject marriage but still present it as an ideal, as God’s plan for His people. Gay marriages may not be God’s plan for most of humanity, but for those who are gay/couples, what is a life giving God given solution? An option which is a concrete and real experience of love, human and Divine?
The Joy of Returning Back Home
Hope, Faith, Life, Freedom, Peace and Love are few of the gifts that our Lord Jesus Christ gives. The gap between the ideal and people’s lives is often a huge and dark reality. We need to look at this reality and try to bring the ideal into practical and reachable steps, for people to be able to reach the ideal presented. It is useless to present a beautiful ideal, as a far out and unreachable goal. As a social worker who worked in child protection and drug addiction amongst others, as a gay man and as a practicing Roman Catholic I often find myself lost amidst ideals, people’s realities and the huge gaps in between.
It is my impression that often those who are very Catholic tend to gaze a bit too much at the ideal. I often find their talk a bit too airy fairy, often cut off from the crude reality that is around us. On the other hand, those who look more at the crudeness of life and its drab tend to forget to glimpse at the guiding stars. Forgetting about the loving Father who art in heaven and who is so willing to give us our daily bread, such attitude can lead us to despair. I believe that these opposing polarities create a vacuum in which most of humanity is today lost.
A Christianity which is not rooted on earth, hence lacking concrete and real love-action is like tasteless salt- useless! Merely gazing at the stars leads us nowhere. On the other hand, those who keep on feeding and fail to look at the stars may end up lost within those same struggles and injustices they are fighting against. The risk is to forget that we are all in need of help, guidance and food- Him!
‘Your eyes could see my embryo.
In your book all my days were inscribed,
every one that was fixed is there.’
Ps 139: 16
‘But look, I am going to seduce her
and lead her into the desert
and speak to her heart.’
Hos 2: 14
‘But the hour is coming-
indeed is already here-
when true worshippers
will worship the Father
in spirit and truth:
that is the kind of worshipper
the Father seeks.
God is spirit,
and those who worship
must worship in spirit and truth.’
Jn 4: 23-24
© 2006 Mario Gerada
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