Tuesday, October 6, 2009

EMMAUS WALK


 Inspired by a recent posting by Terence Weldon at Queering the Church

As South African experience and others have shown, it is not possible to sustain power  indefinitely without the consent of the governed or ruthless physical force. The hierarchy currently has substantial consent, but no means of physical coercion. We can force them to change, simply by removing our consent and co-operation.


I am reading more and more reports of groups and congregations who are simply regarding the Vatican and its decrees with the Ignatian detachment recommended by James Alison, and starting the Emmaus walk described by Michael B Kelly back to Jerusalem, carrying prophetic witness of the risen Lord to the religious authorities who have forgotten it. Some examples of these are the congregations like that of the Spirit of St Stephen’s, who have responded to diocesan attempts to muzzle them by walking away from their control, or the womenpriests movement, who have responded to Vatican intransigence and refusal to even discuss ordination, by moving ahead alone. There are many others.
(thanks to Terry Weldon)



For twenty two years, I have been journeying on my own personal Emmaus Walk,  celebrating the Eucharist within a small community of gay persons who are disaffected from the Church, and occasionally in solitude on my own (in mystical communion with the whole church), though neither my friends nor myself have been 'officially ordained.' Twenty-two years ago in San Francisco, I underwent a transformative experience late one evening before the crucifix in the sanctuary of the church of Saint Antony of Padua which changed both my whole life and my understanding of priesthood and Eucharist. Because of it's personal nature, I don't feel inclined to describe it in detail at this time. However, my spiritual director at the time, a nun and a professor at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley,  described it as a 'charismatic ordination in the  Spirit'. The experience would not have been complete, however, without the joyful confirmation and celebration of four very close gay Catholic friends. We gathered together to  lay hands upon one another, to break bread together on the Road to Emmaus, and we experienced our own gay Pentecost, our spirits burning with tongues of fire. Four months later, Cardinal Ratzinger issued his now infamous open letter on homosexuality, a clear sign to me that I was to let go of all aspirations for the formal priesthood because I was forced to ask myself- to quote Father Jeff Farrow from his posting today - "At what point do you cease to be an agent for healing and growth and become an accomplice of injustice?” That point was reached for me twenty two years ago and I have never looked back. The Eucharist has been at the center of my spiritual life, though I rarely attend formal celebrations of the Eucharist in Catholic communities (Pope Benedict's recent Mass at Stara Boleslav being one of the rare exceptions, an occasion of great grace for me). My own vocation is to remain on the periphery, just outside the door, ever wandering on the Road to Emmaus, while searching for the lights of Gheel, longing for safe harbor and a church all gay and lesbian people can call home.



Because of the highly personal nature of this disclosure, I prefer to limit my comments for today, except to say that besides discussing this with my spiritual director, I also discussed it with two Jesuit theologians, one of whom responded by taking out of his desk the accouterments  for the liturgy and celebrating the Eucharist with me. It has been a joyful, painful, mysterious journey of twenty-two years since that moment and there have been many developments and many graces. The full significance of this sense of 'calling' is still unclear to me and it would not be appropriate to ask for understanding or acceptance of a path that is seemingly so 'heterodox'  where the sacred mystery of the Eucharist is concerned. I continue to journey in faith, confident in the Risen Lord that the way will become clear.

Saint Anthony, the patron of lost causes, holding the light as he peers over the abyss.

7 comments:

Terence Weldon said...

Jayden, thank you for this.

I want time to think before commetning further on his - but it is important.

colkoch said...

Jayden, I too have had a very similar experience and understanding about one's personal Eucharistic celebration, and like you have had to rely on that message and not formal participation in a parish Eucharist celebration.

For me it was a very profound moment when I realized Jesus meant it when He said to EVERYONE present at the Last Supper, "do this in memory of Me." So I do.

Jayden Cameron said...

Thanks you so much, Colleen, for this comment. It is consoling to know one is not alone, though I do know of other persons feeling called in the spirit to 'do this in memory of me' without formal ordination. Something very important is happening here.
Terence, I look forward to your response.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Great post, Jayden. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences so eloquently.

Peace,

Michael

William D. Lindsey said...

Jayden, this is such a powerful statement! I've done a quick reading, and now want to go back and read to take in everything you say. You're pointing to directions and possibilities I haven't seen for my own spiritual experience--which gives me hope.

Every door any one of us opens is an opening for anyone else to walk through.

William D. Lindsey said...

P.S. I continue to be bowled over by the pieces you find to illustrate your postings.

Jayden Cameron said...

Thanks to you all for the kind support. This was not an easy disclosure to make. I was simply waiting for the 'right' moment, which Terence supplied. I hope to write more in the near future.