On Remaining Catholic, Ctd
Dreher follows up on his former post and wants to know why gay Catholics remain in the church:
I could be wrong, but I very much doubt Andrew Sullivan ever has to hear a word spoken against homosexuality at his parish in Washington, DC. If he did, it's not hard to find parishes that don't hassle him about it, and to live one's life as an openly gay Catholic without having any kind of in-your-face conflict. In most ways dealing with the church's hard teachings (hard for our culture to take, I mean), most American Catholic parishes are functionally AWOL. It's Moralistic Therapeutic Deism all the way down.
Rod is right that most priests do not want to use the Mass a means to directly hurt or abuse or berate gay parishioners. And he's right that rhetorical fulminations against gay people are very rare in my experience in the Catholic church. But he's wrong that many of us who stay try to make an issue of it in the services we attend or even harangue fellow Catholics. I sure don't. I wore an ACT-UP t-shirt to communion once, but that was the limit of my daring. I am not a gay Catholic at Mass. I am a Catholic. The issue of eros is trivial in the face of consecration, prayer and meditation.
I write about it because I feel a need to bear witness as a gay Christian in a painful time, but mainly because I want to argue for a civil change in civil society. But it is in no ways central to my faith. It is peripheral to the Gospels, is unmentioned in the mass, and I try to focus on the liturgy and prayer and to take in as much of the sermon as is safe for my intellectual composure.
And this is not strange or, I suspect, rare for gay and non-gay Catholics alike.
We all have aspects of ourselves that the church considers inadequate or wrong. They come as a package. In my own accounting of my sins, sex does not feature much at all. Sometimes I seek a space in St Francis' chapel, a saint I have long loved. And I try to listen to God, and pray the Lord's prayer and meditate for a while to center myself before or after mass. I go much less frequently than I used to, which is the main expression of my alienation, I suppose. In the summers I barely go at all. For me the dunes are the sacraments and the water and air the incense, and the reeds the vestments, and the tides a remembrance of the change that persists. I grew up in a rural woodland and always associated it with religion and the presence of God.
So my faith life is less formal than before, less regimented, as I try to find ways of bring it more fully alive. I write these things in case people might think that the life of a gay Catholic is somehow tortured and deeply conflicted. it is conflicted, but from those conflicts can come a deeper appreciation of the truth we seek and the charity we try (and fail) to live up to.
But it also true that absence from the sacrament of communion is for me an unbearable thing after too long. Perhaps this answers something unanswerable and helps explain how many of us actually do try to live faith rather than merely assert it.