The National Catholic Review

What a beautiful Mass my husband and I attended in West Hollywood, while visiting my cousin and his partner. At a church with a vibrant outreach ministry in a mostly gay community, this Mass on a sunny Sunday has possibly saved my Catholic faith. As the mother of a lesbian daughter, I continually struggle with the perception and treatment of gays and lesbians by the Church. Deep down, I’ve wondered if I am called to worship God elsewhere. But I am comforted to know that there are places that really would welcome the return of the gay members of my family – my cousin and my daughter – who feel rejected by the Church in which they were raised. Not my parish. But this parish. There are Catholic communities where people take the Gospel message to heart, who neither judge nor condemn, but who love and minister to all God’s children. It is a revelation to see that such holy havens not only exist, but are thriving, in spite of those who wish they’d go away and hush up.

During Mass, a strong and lovely reverence radiated from the ushers, lectors, cantors, Eucharistic ministers, and parishioners, and I realized that if these men and women can be loyal to their Catholic faith, in the face of sometimes venomous rhetoric and outright discrimination, who am I to leave the Church over my feeble principles? If they can follow Christ and attempt to live the Gospel within the boundaries of a flawed human Church, so can I. I want to stay in the Church I call home. Not that I intend to keep silent; but I am humbled and heartened by the morning’s life lesson.

Valerie Schultz

Comments

JIM MCCREA | 3/29/2010 - 3:50pm
An experience comparable to Valerie's West Hollywood mass can also be found in San Francisco at Most Holy Redeemer parish in the heart of the Castro District.  It's my parish and I'm damned proud of it.
 
www.mhr.org
Anonymous | 3/29/2010 - 10:43am
My church welcomes all sinners to mass. All my church asks is that if you are tempted to sin that you resist it and if you stray, confess it and pray for strength to avoid and resist future sin. And even then, my church welcomes to mass those who even refuse to not sin - they are denied receiving the Eucharist - in hope that they will gather the strength to become repentant.

What my church does not do is say that sinning is ok. And as Catholics, we know that what is sin is not for us to choose (imagine what rules the sinners would choose for themselves). Having faith in the Holy Father in Rome is part of being Catholic. You don't like it, than you become a Lutheran (or whichever other Cafeteria Christian sect works with your sinfulness), but know that you are always welcomed by the Catholic church.

Fighting our sexual urges is a common theme in Catholic teaching. We all have that cross to bear, be it resisting sexual relations outside of marriage, resisting relations with others other than our spouses, resisting relations when a member of the clergy, or resisting relations with members of the same sex. If priests can vow to give up sex, married folk vow to resist sex outside of marriage, surely those who have attraction to the same sex can vow to give up sex with the same sex.

Jesus did not reject the cross regardless of how that might have made his worldly life easier. Neither should we; rather, we should carry our crosses and help others with theirs.
Margaret Nuzzolese | 3/29/2010 - 7:40am
This was so reassuring to hear! I am curious - as I look for hope in a church that could grow in this sort of spirit - what was it about the mass that made it so LGBTQ friendly, welcoming, and ''reverent''?
Terence Weldon | 3/29/2010 - 6:25am
The official Vatican belief is that hosexuality is somehow ''disordered'' and can lead to a turning away from God.  The reality is very different.  Many societies around the world and in history have taken the very opposite view that gay men and lesbians are more likely than other people to be distinctly drawn to spirituality and religious practice.  It is demonstrably true that gay men in Western countries are disproportionately represented in the spritual, artistic and caring professions - as priests, artists, nurses and teachers.
In my own life, I started out with a strong Catholic education and made every attempt to live fully in accordance with Church teaching on sexuality. During the subsequent souless marriage that ensued, my faith died and I came to verge on atheism.  Only after the collapse of the marriage, after facing my sexuality honestly and living openly as a gay man, did I find my way back into the church, and a deeper, richer experience of the faith than ever before, This was deepened even further since I became onvolved with the organization of the LGBT oriented Masses in Soho, London. (I have described my faith journey at http://queering-the-church.com/blog/?p=1088 )
It is not homosexual attraction that is disordered or leads us away from God, but the teaching and practice of the Church.  Services such as the one you describe deserve full and active support.