It’s been a week since my article was published, and I’ve been incredibly pleased by the emails and contacts I’ve received since it went live. A couple people had told me to prepare for negative backlash, and I can honestly say there’s been none of that. To the contrary, everything I have heard from everyone taking time to reply has been positive. The job now is to figure out next step(s) to keep some form of dialogue going.
I was fortunate to have an opportunity to speak to a number of parents in Westchester County, NY last Saturday, I’m always told my story gives parents hope, since I left, and a couple decades later, came back to the Church. That’s a message I am always glad to share, though I don’t know how typical my story is in that regard. I’ve got another speaking engagement for priests and other religious on the calendar for this summer. Getting the message out is vital to the Church in modern times – I’m convinced that, to date, we’re losing the battle (and losing it badly), and we need, as a group of Catholics, to be both more visible and more vocal.
I’m also trying to ponder a next step. The America experience, from start to finish, was about a 6 month process. I’d like to write again, but I’m not sure I care for being an exclusively SSA =-defined writer. I hope to pick up a few more speaking engagements, because I believe it is something I do well.
This is all stuff to ponder this spring. And I’ll ponder it while taking some beautiful walks, like I did today. This is a part of my hometown. I’m truly blessed to live here.
I mentioned mentioned about how my last few years have brought me into contact with the good CFR brothers and the Sisters of Life. Here’s one of many reasons I love the Sisters.
Sister Mary Karen and I met the first winter I was a part of Courage, when I attended a retreat at the Sisters’ retreat house in Connecticut. For some reason (the red hair, most likely), she took me into her heart, and I took her to mine. She’s been a source of laughsand encouragement, and an impetus to search how to better serve God ever since.
She was excited for me when I told her about the article being published – I wish I had mentioned in greater detail how the Sisters helped me in my re-conversion to Catholicism. I probably should have mentioned that the copy of “Confessions” that is so close to my heart came from their library.
i received this email from Sister tonight:
“Just had a beautiful moment of quiet and took advantage of the moment and read your article. All I can say is “Bravo!” Really, eloquent and tweetable. There is a sense of peace in what you write that the truth has given to your words. It will reach many people.
Proud of you!”
I am at peace today. Somewhere in the last couple years, I reached that peace. It was the peace I constantly sought as a child. It was the peace I mistakenly thought was provided by alcohol. It is a peace that invades my mind, and stirs my soul.
It’s the peace that comes with self-acceptance.
Thanks, Sister Mary Karen, for your part in getting me there.
(That’s her on the far right)
Along my journey, I’ve been blessed to encounter many religious – I have tremendous respect for these men and women who have chosen a life of service. To surrender all in the name of God and others is so stunningly self-sacrificing, I find inspiration in their good words and deeds.
i was educated by IHM nuns, and served as an altar boy to diocesan priests, but I never knew about orders and specific charisms until my Courage Days. And in learning of their missions, I’ve been uniquely inspired by the Sisters of Life and the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (the CFRs).
ill say more about the good Sisters some day soon. I wanted to share a video that Brother Mark-Mary, a CFR whom I have gotten to know (and think very highly of) posted this week. Brother Mark is doing a series for Ascension Press, and this, his latest in the series, was very inspiring.
There are two cities where I’ve been blessed to sit along a river on a sunny day, with a beautiful breeze, listening to jazz being played on a saxophone by a lone gentleman in a pork pie hat.
It’s little surprise that they are my two favorite cities in the entire United States.
Friday I received confirmation that my article is going to be published online by America this coming week. A six month project is coming to an end, and now it’s time to prepare for any ramifications or repercussions. The nice thing is knowing that 1) I accomplished what I set out to do, in telling my experience, and hopefully providing a window of hope for someone else, and 2) what comes in the aftermath is beyond my control.
I do hope there is an opportunity to continue dialogue. I feel that we drop what we think are big ideas on people, and then they just linger. Of course, it could be sheer ego that makes me think that anything I have experience with is “big idea”.
I take a lot of comfort knowing that I stepped up for something I believe in. While I have some fear of going public, I rest comfortably knowing I said something that mattered, and someone gave me a fairly large canvas for expressing my feelings on a topic. I’m excited. I’m also glad i am out of town for most of next week.
I think one of the two biggest problem many of my friends and I have had with the Fr. James Martin “Building A Bridge” approach to uniting the seeming schism between the Catholic Church and the gay community has been the fact that Catholic teaching on sexuality has gone undiscussed in Fr. Martin’s writings and promotional appearances. It’s led to a fair amount of confusion on authentic teaching, falsely empowered ministries that definitely propose a new way of thinking about sexual activity in the context of active Catholic participation, and from a personal perspective, angered some of us that embrace the Catholic approach and wonder why it goes unmentioned. That’s why I took great comfort in an article posted by America Magazine last evening, authored by Fr. Martin, where he makes clear what exactly the teaching is – and even better, that the teaching is no different than what is expected of every Catholic man and woman, which is the point I have been waiting to see in print for some time.
Now, if we could only get him to say a nice word or two about Courage…
I’m in the middle of a “game” on FB where you name 7 albums that were influential at some time in your life and remain a key part of your music tastes currently. My choice for today was the U2 classic “War” – it was the very first CD I ever bought (purchased right alongside the first CD player I ever owned).
“War” is one of those albums that stirs up a lot of memories of people that I knew at one point in my life, and no longer do. I remember walking alongside Cathy W on LBI listening to it. I remember smoking pot with Rick C and talking abut how it was the greatest 80s rock album ever released. I remember seeing the tour (at the Tower Theater), just before U2 completely blew up, and abandoned small venues for places like JFK Stadium.
“War” seemed to be a statement about the emotional costs of violence (“October”, the album before, was a much more spiritual reflection of hope”) – songs like “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, “Seconds” and “New Years Day” felt like an uprising was in the works (or at least being encouraged from the sidelines).
But my favorite song on “War” is “Two Hearts Beat As One”, a love song that sounds like it is coming from someone who has been touched by madness. The repeated lines ” I can’t stop the dance/Maybe this is my last chance” make love sound unobtainable outside of desperation. It’s a stark plea, but one that has always struck me as coming from someone who is desperate that his apparent last shot be with meaning and purpose. That’s a lot to think about.