My Love for Pauline

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This is my aunt, Pauline Hawkins Bruce, my father’s one and only sister (he had six brothers).  Pauline was one of the best and largest influences on me when I was growing up.  She was a teacher – a great teacher.  Over a career of more than 40 years, she taught Latin, English, and French to high school students in Rappahannock and Fauquier County high schools in Virginia.  Her passion, and the subject for which she was trained, was Latin.  She passed her love of Latin on to me.  She had studied Latin all 4 years in High School and for 4 more years in college.  She had an amazing enthusiasm for the language that I caught even before I took my first Latin class as a High School Freshman.  I was away from home after my first year of high school, and I had to keep in touch with my family by letter.  Pauline and I would write to one another in Latin. . .  her Latin elegant, mine pedantic at first and more like hers later on.  I studied Latin also for 8 years, winning a New York State Latin competition in my senior year of High School.  Pauline couldn’t have been prouder of me if I had won an Olympic gold medal!  She was an amazing woman and a teacher without many equals.

Last week, my brother sent me the following tribute to Pauline, written by a former Latin student who studied with Pauline at Fauquier County High School in Warrenton, Virginia.  This man’s tribute says it all.

Paulina!  non scholae sed vitae discimus (we do not learn for school but for life).

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The Geezer Wonders if God Hates Him

The Geezer Wonders if God Hates Him

Does God hate? The Westboro Baptists would have me think that God does hate, and that, specifically, God hates me, a “fag.” The gay issue aside, I’m just not sure that God hates at all.

“God is love, “ St. John tells us. God’s very essence is love. Can such an essence coexist with hate? I spent my adoration prayer time at our Adoration Chapel this morning thinking about God, God’s love, and the possibility of God’s hatred.

I have forgotten what theologians teach about this question. Based on Sacred Scripture, they probably admit the attribute of hatred to God’s nature. I’ve long ago stopped depending on theologians, however, for my sole understanding of God. I believe God wants me to come to know God through my personal relationship with the God whose most intimate revelation is to the soul who seeks God and seeks to adore and worship God.

I believe in sin. I believe in Satan. These beliefs, along with the Genesis account of the creation of free will in human beings, make me see evil, or sin, as a person’s choice of evil over good, of the basic sin of idolatry in which a human being puts God second to something that is not in God’s will for us.

I believe that a person who chooses something else—anything else—before God is choosing to reject the will of God and the love God has for those who live in God’s will. The result of that idolatry is separation from God. The separation occurs not because of God’s lack of love, God’s wish for separation, or God’s hatred, but because of the idolater’s choice, the idolater’s rejection of the love of God. God’s love persists, perfect and unending, but, as in an unrequited human love, the love relationship is broken by the idolater’s choice not to return to God the love that is God’s due.

I believe God’s love for each of God’s creatures is constant and unchanging. I don’t believe that God hates anything that God has made. . . God looked on God’s creation and saw that it was good. If there is no love connecting a human being to God, it isn’t God who has changed, but us. God is love. God cannot hate what God has made. The Westboro Baptists have it wrong.

Pax et bonum.

Ed

The Geezer Prays for Christopher

The Geezer Thins about Christopher

This is Christopher. He has leukemia. He has been treated for this for several years. He’s had chemo and other “interventions,” but the disease persists. His current problem is a spleen inflamed by the disease. This inflamed spleen is intensely painful. Christopher says that this pain is about the worst that he has experienced. His doctors are putting him in the hospital so that they can give him stronger pain medication intravenously.

He’s younger than I am. . . but then so is just about everybody. He’s had a life full of ups and downs. He’s gay. And, to me, beautiful.

I ask God to ease his pain, to fill him with peace, and to bring him back to a semblance of normal life. Christopher—the Christ bearer—is a gentle, loving, and giving man. I want God to touch him in a powerful way tonight.

Pax et bonum.

Ed

The Geezer Tries to Understand the Modern World

The Geezer Tries to Understand the Modern World

I just read some of the “Manifesto” of Elliot Roger, the 22–year–old man who killed six people in Santa Barbara. His killing rampage was evil; he wasn’t.

His long essay is more an apologia pro vita sua than it is a terrorist “Manifesto.” His life as he describes it seems to have been normal for his age and for this country. His parents were able to give him just about any material thing he wanted. Although he repeatedly refers to himself as “ugly,” he seems to have been a fairly good–looking young man. He lived the good life in Southern California. He didn’t live in East LA. He didn’t have to worry about money or a job or a car or gas to put in his car. Compared to the great majority of men his age throughout the world, he was fortunate.

Some comments about his horrible murder of six young and innocent people refer to him as “crazy” or “schizophrenic,” or just mentally ill. He may have been severely emotionally disturbed, but I would be surprised if he could be classified as mentally ill.

He hated himself. He projected a prodigiously inflated self–image that he obviously used to hide the deeply vulnerable lack of self esteem that drove him. Despite all the material things his parents could and did give him, his life was empty, lonely, and sad. His preoccupation with sex, in my view, was just the focus of his pervasive sense of not belonging, not being accepted, not being loved. Despite the horror of what he did, I feel sorry for him and I pray for the peaceful repose of his soul — that God will show him mercy as he goes before God in judgment.

These are the random thoughts I had while reading (scanning, really) his “Manifesto”:

— We don’t raise our sons to have the ability to ask for love in healthy ways. Boys are raised to a standard of self–sufficiency that is inhumane and impossible to attain.

— Our society makes sexual activity the hallmark of a fulfilled and healthy emotional life. I am not a prude, and I am not an advocate of across–the–board “chastity except in marriage.” I know from personal experience, however, how good people often view a person who is not sexually active. In my case, a good friend of mine told me once that, because I wasn’t having sex when sex was available to me, I probably would be happier being dead. He told me that with love. . . really!

— Guns, especially hand guns, are a black mark on the conscience of this country. A Franciscan friar who is a priest, wrote today that a good Catholic cannot in conscience be pro–life while having is her/his purse or wallet an NRA membership card. Amen, Father Dan. Read Father’s blog at http://datinggod.org/2014/05/26/craven-politicians-and-the-nra/

— Shrinks and social workers have their function. A good shrink was an amazing help to me in the years after my later–than–late coming out. But these people can’t fill the emptiness that modern life, in and of itself, produces. Saint Augustine famously wrote, “Fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te.” (“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”) I really and deeply believe that St. Augustine, in this brief statement, names the source of our modern discontent. Had Elliott Roger taken these words to heart, his life, and our world, would have been much happier.

The Gay Geezer Fails

The Gay Geezer Fails

I was getting dressed to go to church for confession last night when I chickened out. The thought of going back over 36 years of my life scares the spit out of me. Maybe I should see a shrink who is also a priest. I never have any trouble telling my secrets to s shrink.

Pax et bonum.

Ashamedly,

Ed

Long Time, No See

Long Time, No See

I am a rabid fan of Pope Francis. I believe he is a pope who gets it. I was with him from his first Angelus talk, the Sunday after his election, when he spoke about the infinite mercy of God. He’s risen higher in my esteem almost every day since then. I know he hasn’t changed Church teaching about gay people, but he has made me believe again that the Church has room for my gay self. I know he won’t ordain women, but I believe he will, and has already to some extent, include women in the governance of the Church. He is a humble, honest, and loving human being who is making needed changes in the culture of the Catholic Church, and in its practical (pastoral) theology. Such a change from the “intrinsically disordered” Ratzinger! Such a change from the finger-wagging JPII! Thank God for Pope Francis!

Last week, in selected parishes throughout the world, the Church had a marathon confession offering: certain parishes in every diocese stayed open for 24 hours to hear confessions in an attempt to bring people back to this less-than-popular sacrament. St. Peter’s in Rome kicked off this marathon by having a Liturgy of the Word followed by confessions. Pope Francis celebrated the Liturgy of the Word, then went out into the Basilica to hear confessions. His master of ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini, showed the Pope to his confessional. The Pope, instead of sitting down in his confessional, went across the way to another priest in another confessional, knelt down, and made his confession while the cameras whirred. Amazing, this man!

It’s been 36 years since I went to confession. I do not like this Sacrament. I have had many unpleasant experiences in the box, and I decided when I was 31 that I didn’t need to put myself through that torture. So I haven’t. For a l o n g time. My last confession was before my wedding to Beni, in September, 1978.

Pope Francis speaks often about the experience of God’s mercy and forgiveness in the confessional, how good it is for our souls to have the assurance of God’s love that comes from the Sacrament. He has said that the confessional isn’t a torture chamber but a chamber of mercy, love, and unity. He promises us that the confessor will be gentle, understanding, and kind.

I hope to take Pope Francis up on this point tonight. If my courage holds, I want to go to confession and end this 36-year period of estrangement.

I’ll write here tomorrow. I’ll admit to going or to chickening out. If I go, I’ll report on the results.

We’ll see what happens.

Can one go to confession on-line?????????????

Pax et bonum.

Ed

What God Hath Joined Together

I wrote this last week. I didn’t post it because I thought it might offend some people who have time to waste and waste it on what I write here (see my post on being “Wishy–Washy”). I have edited it to remove most of what I wrote about my Mom because some people might construe what I wrote about her as denigrating, and I would never want to be seen as posting anything negative about her. So, here it is, almost all of it.

Fundamentalist Christians, especially including fundamentalist Catholics like Ratzinger and JP2, almost ruined my life. They did it by referring over and over again to homosexuality as, among other things, an “intrinsically disordered” state and an “abomination.” I love my Catholic faith. I have loved it at least since I was 3 years old. It has given me most of what is best in my life. Its challenges, ideals, heroes, art, music, and traditions are the things that have enriched, elevated, and given sense to my life. I almost threw all that good stuff away because of these so–called believers in Jesus who not only condemn the sin but enjoy condemning the sinner. I do not accept the interpretation of Sacred Scripture that tells me who I am is God’s mistake. I do not accept the Christians who believe they can say horrible things publicly about gay people without consequence. I do not believe that having to respect gay people is being “politically correct.” I do not accept that any believer in Jesus Christ has the right, under the rubric of “religious freedom,” to condemn me or any other LGBT person.

The same people who despise me see nothing wrong with full acceptance of divorce among Christian couples or the acceptance of those Christians who are divorced. This acceptance is given in direct disobedience to a very specific teaching of Jesus in Matthew 19/1–8:

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. 2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Jesus never spoke about gay people or gay sex. Never. He did, however, very clearly speak about the morality of divorce. Most Christian Churches, including most fundamentalist sects, accept the fact of divorce and welcome divorced people into their fellowship, even allowing divorced people (mostly divorced men) to be ordained.

So here I am, having absorbed the hatred of me and my sexuality, angry at that hatred, believing that Sacred Scripture simply does not address the modern understanding of gay people and gay sexuality, having to put up with this basic moral inconsistency, in some cases hypocrisy, from people who believe that Scripture condemns gay people and gay sex.

I raised this inconsistency of acceptance a few years back with a good friend of mine who was a fundamentalist Baptist (unerring truth of every word of Scripture, creationism, total lack of acceptance of gay sexuality). He also was divorced and remarried. His answer was to give me a copy of a book popular, apparently, among divorced fundamentalists, Hard Sayings of Jesus by F. F. Bruce (IVP Academic, 1983). I would love to be able to write a new chapter for that book about Jesus’s hard words about homosexuality. The problem, of course, is that Jesus didn’t have any hard words for gay people or gay sex; he had no words of any kind on those issues.

I believe in divorce. My parents never divorced through 35 years of misery that harmed all four of us in our family. My mother, God rest her, thought about it constantly but was steered away from the idea by priests whom she consulted, by the belief of her family, and by economic concerns. She, my brother, and I would have been better off had she divorced my father early in their marriage. My father would have been miserable either way—he was miserable in his marriage and he would have been miserable divorced—so I don’t include him in my “what–if” equation.

I am thankful to God that God has allowed me to keep my faith. My prayer always is that the harsh people who believe in God and God’s Son will admit to the fallibility of their understanding and belief and end their persecution of LGBT people, especially young LGBT people.