Only recently have I begun to listen to popular Christian music. As a Catholic, I’d always thought it was a “Protestant thing,” listened to by Evangelicals and Southern Baptists, not by Catholics or other mainstream Christians. We, I thought, so rightly kept our religiously-themed music in church, “where it belongs.”
My prejudice, and my practice, changed recently when a new friend introduced me to a few popular Christian songs.
This one — “Fear Is a Liar” by Zach Williams — is particularly powerful. The music video is poignant, depicting the depths of despair and hopelessness that can sometimes befall us in this life. And, I suspect, there are aspects that every one of us can relate to, perhaps all too personally. If you ever find yourself feeling like any of the three persons depicted — or feeling “not good enough … not right … not strong enough … not worthy … not loved … not beautiful” or think you are “troubled” and will “forever be alone” — I pray you will remember that these are lies, they are not true. And because we often need to be reminded of what we sometimes forget ourselves, I pray that a timely text, a caring gesture, or the touch of a loved one will remind you that you are deeply valued and unconditionally loved.
I am no poet. But there was a period of time several decades ago when — impelled by what forces I know not — I wrote a poem. One poem. I’ve not shared it before, but it seems to fit on this Easter Sunday. Here it is.
How I wish words would poetically pour
forth, that my pen with beauty and
power and clarity of thought would paint
the blank paper with unforgettable
images that express what I think and
How I wish that I could find within myself
that well which artists find
and drop their buckets in
so not only they may drink from what they draw,
but also the thirst of others is in some
How I desire to be called “creative” and
seen as a man with a heart as
well as head;
as a man who not only
sees the stars and speculates on what possibilities
they contain, but also
sees the stars and wonders in awe-filled silence
at that Hand which gave them life
— and him as well.
And yet I am content.
I am at peace with me.
It is as if the words of the sixth day
are forever resounding within my heart.
I am not the brightest blossom of creation, but
am its most beautiful bud — never fully flowered —
becoming more beautiful each moment, more graced
today than yesterday,
and tomorrow more…….
I have a work colleague who occasionally makes good-natured comments about how I want the world to be “fair,” while asserting that the world “isn’t fair.” This often comes on the heels of me pointing out ways in which the various “systems” we are a part of do not live up to their self-professed ideals or principles of operation. I respond that I fully understand the difference between “what is” and its distance from “what could be.” But, I ask, should the acknowledgment of this reality prevent us from working toward a better reality for ourselves and our world?
As we begin this Holy Week, today’s words from Isaiah (ch 42) strike home:
“I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.”
In today’s meditation entitled “A Toxic Image of God,” Franciscan Father Richard Rohr makes the comment that, “it’s much easier to organize people around fear and hatred than around love.”
That seems to be the most effective strategy these days in American politics. And it’s certainly what’s happening in Florida now. The so-called “Pastor Protection Act” has advanced in the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 7-3. The proposed law is very brief. And while I”m no lawyer, it seems to me, the only thing this bill does is provide a forum to advance and promote public disdain for LGBT persons. If you doubt that, then watch what this so-called “pastor” has to say. Citing a tragic homicide, he basically claims that gay people are killers and do not deserve legal protection of their rights. Yes, “it’s much easier to organize people around fear and hatred than around love.” I wonder what Jesus would say about this man’s testimony??
To those who say that same-sex attraction is “unnatural” or is contrary to “biblical teaching,” remember that even before there was the written Word in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, there was and is the Word of God written in Creation.
LGBT people know in the core of our being that we are beloved sons and daughters of God. We know that our love is just as natural, just as God-given as the love of our straight brothers and sisters. It is this knowledge — borne of profound self-awareness and a respect for our own Nature as created by God — that tells us that the Church’s theology of human sexuality is limited and incomplete.
I generally don’t like to criticize other bloggers, but when a gay-friendly Catholic parish has been wrongly accused of anti-LGBT behavior, I think it is important to set the record straight (so to speak). Such is the case with a blog post by John Becker, who writes at The Bilerico Project. I often find Mr. Becker’s commentaries challenging and thought-provoking, but in a recent post, he oversteps the mark by making a claim that needs to be corrected.
I lived in Sandusky for seven years as a youngster. Sandusky Central Catholic High School (formerly St. Mary’s Central Catholic High School) is associated with St. Mary’s Parish, while we attended Sts. Peter and Paul. Although my ties to Sandusky are from long ago, I still have family connections there. This action — as every other action in which a faithful LGBT Catholic loses his or her job for being honest and true to themselves as God created them — makes me so very sad. I pray the students, other teachers, and families of SCCHS speak out loudly and clearly in support of Brian Panetta.
Yet another LGBT church employee has been forced out of a job, this time in Ohio where Brian Panetta resigned from Sandusky Catholic High School (near Cleveland) upon announcing his engagement to his partner, Nathan David.
Panetta received a January 3rd letter from administrators of Sandusky Central, where he has worked since 2009, terminating his employment because of violations of the Catholic Church’s teachings as the reason for his termination. Panetta had previously suggested to administrators that he resign at the academic year’s end to avoid conflicts over his upcoming same-gender marriage. The Sandusky Register offers further details, including comments from the music teacher:
“On Thursday, however, Panetta met with school administrators, a priest and representatives from the Catholic Diocese of Toledo, who offered more information and agreed he could resign instead of having a termination on his record, he said.
” ‘I’m satisfied with their explanation, and right now…