Dec 16, 2009


This may be my last post for several weeks (We'll see.) I head for London this Friday, December 18th, to celebrate Christmas with my Lesbian friends and to attempt (once again) to conceive a child with them. I wish everyone a joyous Noel, a happy Hanukkah, during this festive season. Let us rejoice in the power of the Holy Spirit who chose a lowly unmarried Jewish woman on the margins to carry into the world the Jewish prophet and Divine Master, Jeshua.

Thanks once again to the wonderful Jesus in Love blog for this contemporary Christmas image.

Dec 15, 2009


Quite a shocking image sent to me today (for my birthday-yesterday!) by a good lesbian friend of mine. (The artist is David LaChapelle, the painting is called Eden, and it can be found at the website, Homotrophy.)
Thank you, Becky. (apologies for the full frontal nudity, but there are times when it makes a point). I would only suggest one alteration. I doubt if many of the fiercest opponents of gay persons within the church hierarchy would be reaching out lasciviously to the  Venus De Milo (or is that avariciously?). Michelangelo's David would be more appropriate and offer a stronger image of hypocrisy.


I have written extensively on the Teology of Fallibility. We need fallible leaders in order to mature spiritually and learn to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us from within our experiences. Through the failures of church hierarchiacal authorities, the Church is being transformed into the Church of the Holy Spirit. This is God’s doing and no human political force can stop it.

 This is a wonderful, wise comment (posted in response to an article by Terry Weldon at Queering the church) on our present spiritual state in the Catholic Church. Immediately after the death of Pope John Paul I some thirty years ago, I felt this good man was taken from us because it was not the intention of the Holy Spirit for us to have a peaceful and balanced renewal of the institution from the top, but rather,  through trial and suffering, to wean us away from our childlike dependency upon the institution and force us to 'grow up,' and in the words of John McNeill above, "learn to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us from within out experiences." Through one disastrous, fallible decision after another from church leaders, we have been shown the limitations of authority and led out into the desert wilderness to encounter the Pillar of Fire in the depths of our own spiritual experience. The Church is born through suffering.

Dec 14, 2009


This is Reema Zaman, probably the most gifted young actress (or 'actor,' if you prefer) it has been my privilege to work with in thirty years as a theater director. Reema always had "star quality," and I had no doubt she would become something extraordinary in her life, even going 'all the way' and becoming a movie star - though I wished something more ennobling for her. She has now opened her own website, entitled Urban Prayers, in which she sends out three beautiful spiritual meditations each week. Her thoughts are filled with love and devotion for the Divine Mother and are heavily influenced by Kahlil Gibran (Reema is from Bangladesh, but now lives in New York city.). While Reema is just beginning this new path in her life, I am filled with fatherly pride that she is on her way to becoming a spiritual teacher, sharing her love and wisdom with the world. She has clearly found an ennobling path, and I send her all my love and blessings. Please check out her site:

Verse 6

from the Tao Te Ching, written circa 6th century BC by Lao Tzu, or "Old Master", a record-keeper during the Zhou Dynasty.

The Tao is called the Great Mother: empty yet inexhaustible, it gives birth to infinite worlds.

It is always present within you.You can use it in any way you want.

The Verse on Magnificence

written circa Holiday Season, 2009, New York City, sent from a homebound flight between Phoenix, Arizona, and New York. The morning sky glows with the fire-lust of Something Happening.

I have a confession to make: I. Want. A. Lot. From. Life.

I believe in having ridiculously high standards. Big hopes, passionate dreams and huge goals, for the the world at large, for my loved ones, and most importantly, for myself. I try to have the courage and humility each day to truly look into myself to see if I am living, loving, giving and working to my full capacity. It is not a matter of answering "yes" or "no" - its a matter of staying the course. Of staying true to the quest. And the quest, is a Big One.

Because . . Why not? The Tao, the Great Mother, the Love, resides in all of us. It is a Love that nourishes infinite possibilities. Why not set high standards and dream huge dreams, and then, truly, avidly pursue in achieving those goals? Why not? We have been given the most amazing, sacred precious resource: the human spirit. Coupled with the fact that we have golly-gee-whiz, also a human body . . We are limitless.

Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is the concept of Bigness. Fit. Size. And yes, in terms of dreams, goals and action: Size Does Matter. More often than not, when we are faced with an obstacle or failure we accuse ourselves of not being enough for the situation at hand. "I wasn't good enough." I didn't work hard enough. I wasn't intelligent, beautiful, motivated, cordial, sophisticated, witty, or strong enough to succeed. Sometimes, this is true. And sometimes the crickets-chirping-in-the-night debilitating voice of Not Enough does not hold true.

Perhaps, the situation was not enough for you. Perhaps, you simply were too big for the situation, job, other person. You did not fit, because your power, strength, personal kaleidoscope of nuances and intricacies simply could not be contained within the lines of the situation. You were, are, too big for the challenge. Thus, the "challenge" ceases to remain so, and is simply, a suffocating hindrance to the incredible potential of You.

We have all engaged in this self-deprecating tug-of-war. We squirm and plead and belittle ourselves, trying on different costumes, voices, personalities, skins, just so we can fit into the idea of what or who we "should" be. And sometimes, its simply a matter of nope, this situation was not big enough for you. You will not be able to squeeze into this mold, regardless of how hard you push, how much you try to force yourself into the confines, you will not be able to stay within these lines. Your colors will spill over. Your colors will fly, leap, catapult, skyrocket over and beyond these feeble lines, and to try to stay within them is not only futile, but an offense to your birthright of living to your fullest. It is not simply even a matter of not fitting, but searching for something entirely different. Your destiny lies elsewhere - your destiny, my love, is Big.

One of our all-time favorite sentences:
"Why did this happen to me?"
Perhaps, try this:
"Why did this happen for me?"

The first sentence is a very common one. A seemingly mundane, tiny, needling, plaintive, woeful call into the universe, heard and spoken numerous times by all of us. But like any supposedly harmless Little Thing, if repeated often enough, can have a debilitating effect on our spirit over time. By changing that one little word from "to" into "for" we reclaim our power of Action. We engage in forward movement, we activate awareness in our destiny, and we stand up for our right to choose Living over stagnancy. We keep the momentum going. And in that forward movement, we are limitless. Already, in that simple action of choosing an active, vibrant word, full of delicious possibilities, we are pursuing our destiny. We are exploring new paths, we are experimenting with ways to use this supposed obstacle and see it instead as a happy accident. For there are no such things as coincidences, and in that same vein, there are no such things as arbitrary setbacks. The Universe has a incredibly intricate sense of humor. Most of the time, at the precise moment a challenge occurs, we are not aware of the joke, but by remaining humble, open to change, and keeping true to our quest, little signs and tiny miracles will reveal themselves in due time.

I love us. I really, truly do. We are so incredibly adept at manipulating our big brains into thinking little thoughts sometimes. Us human beings are so good at convincing ourselves to live small, dream rarely, take it slow, be hesitant, and proceed with caution. But you know what else we are really truly good at? Being adventurous. Taking risks. Our ability to be creative, to make art, invent new technologies every single day, to debate, to experiment, brainstorm, attempt, fail, fall, attempt again, fail and fall again, and then, sometimes, succeed, that is the very membrane of our delicious humanity. Believing that size doesmatter, and being ridiculously passionate about your calling, your work, your loved ones and the world around you is yours to choose as your destiny, by the simple virtue of being human. Choosing to live only by high standards is a wonderfully unique, human characteristic, and to exercise this trait is simply deciding to live in accordance with our birthright of Immeasurable Possibilities.

Oh, the Tao just texted: "Ps. You all are incredibly amazing." Thought I'd pass that along. Thank you, Mama. I realized a hop-skip-jump ago that if I tried to live in any other manner, I would slowly but inevitably chip away at my soul. If I didn't allow myself to live passionately and recognize that to pursue huge dreams made logical, practical sense to my genetic make-up, I would slowly but certainly become very mean, very boring, very bland, and a foul smell would very well rise from my pores, otherwise known as the Putrid Stench of Life Un-Lived. And so, as a humanitarian effort to remain 1) Alive, 2) Happy, and 3) Not a despicable burden to you all, I made the commitment to never, ever settle for anything less than Big.

And so,
Dear Mother: Please give me the continued courage, humility, gratitude, strength and softness to search for and achieve the Amazing from myself, seek and find incredible nuances and unique poetry in others that I may remain forever humble and inspired, and together, may we live in our full potential. And in our collective commitment to living life in openness, passion, and strength, may we discover and perhaps even achieve the limitless, beautiful, powerful changes for our world. And in that momentum, may we live our path of Love.


Dec 13, 2009


Another powerful post at Enlightened Catholicism on the abuse crisis in the church has left me somewhat speechless. Tom Doyle's reflection on the actions needed to be taken to rescue the church from the catastrophe of the crisis was written sixteen months ago, after Benedict's trip for World Youth Day in Australia. Colleen Kochivar-Baker follows the article with her usual trenchant commentary.

Passages which most effected me:

Tom Doyle
People are sick to death of the highly nuanced statements that keep coming out of the public relations departments of the Church because they are not only empty. They are dishonest and an insult to the intelligence and integrity of decent and honest men and women. (This is pretty much how I felt in reaction to the Vatican's recent very indirect statement in regards to Uganda.)

We can also continue to hope that lay Catholics, who persist in looking at the hierarchical system through rose-colored glasses, will start to grow up, get past their denial and see reality for what it is. The recent popes and the hierarchy have enabled the most horrendous spiritual and emotional destruction of vulnerable people in a thousand years. Thus far they are doing precious little to make it right.

Those who continue to bow and scrape at the medieval ecclesiastical court are not faithful Catholics but enablers of evil. The heresy here is that the pope and the bishops seem to have no real clue that the plunder of the bodies and souls of the vulnerable…..boys, girls, men and women is evil that is perpetrated by clerics and religious men and women whose lives are supposed to combat evil rather than cause it.

(Does anything more need to be said? This is the crux of the problem right here?)

Colleen Kochivar-Baker

How long Oh Lord before we Catholics admit that the clerical system is the evil which enables and promotes abuse and teaches laity to be perpetual children in relationship to the clergy? How long before our 'leadership' understands they are not managing and spinning problems, they are the problem? How many more exposures of systemic cover ups will we need before we deal with the truth? 

How Long, Oh Lord, how long?

My own feeling, which may seem pessimistic to some, but not to me, is that the Spirit is simply moving us away from dependence on these large institutional religious structures. We are being forced into the catacombs and onto the desert margins where the wild Spirit blows, and from this marginalization will come the radical restructuring of the tradition, burned free of it's deadened, ossified structures. Spiritual seekers will simply begin looking elsewhere for their spiritual transformation, in smaller, independent religious communities whose primary obligation at this point in history is to offer a light in the wilderness....except it isn't a wilderness at the moment. There is an extraordinary explosion of spiritual consciousness taking place at the moment, much of it chaotic, much of it highly creative, and quite a bit of it deeply inspiring. But it is not taking place, for the most part, within the major religious institutions of conservative Christianity, which have more or less lost their way. So be it.


This morning my good friends, Becky and Alicia, together with Becky's mom, who is visiting from the US, came over to my apartment to celebrate an informal lesbian, feminist Eucharist, before the four of us would head over to the Four Seasons for their spectacular Sunday champagne brunch. Alicia works in another international school here and Becky works for the film industry as a casting agent, looking for suitable young actors for the many foreign films that are shot in Prague - and this is how we met. Though Becky would 'bristle' to hear me refer to her in this manner, she definitely has the 'feminist' touch. She's been in my apartment before on a number of occasions and is familiar with my small altar placed against the living room wall. However, I also have a built-in mahogany shelf that runs across the front of the room in front of the four plate glass windows that overlook the Vltava River, the famous Moldau of Smetana. This morning Becky suggested we celebrate the Eucharist on this beautiful shelf overlooking the river, since the Eucharist is all about 'communing with the divine feminine throughout the cosmos.' Very Teilhardian, Becky. And so the four of us sat on chairs and stools by the window, gazing out at the gently flowing, dark green waters of the Vltava, while we celebrated our Eucharistic communion with one another and with the divine feminine. We make up our own prayers, following the rough outline of the Catholic liturgy, but all references to Father and Lord are replaced with Divine Mother and Goddess.

Out of respect for Becky's and Alicia's 'feminist' leanings, I composed the following "Our Father.'

Most Holy Mother of the Cosmos, give us today the liberating grace to recognize your presence within all living things. Give us today the joyful awareness of our union with You, in whom we live and move and have our being. We are all one in your loving, maternal embrace. May your will flow through our lives unimpeded by ego. May you give us the sustenance we need to sustain our lives, so we may better witness to your Presence as the Unity that lies behind all forms. May we forgive one another as you have eternally forgiven each one of us. May we recognize our need for forgiveness for all the harm we have caused our fellow creatures and the Cosmos itself. O Mother of the Universe, Divine Womb of Fecundity and Creativity, Source of all Goodness and all Joy, grant us peace and the grace to recognize your loving presence within every trial, within every test. Give us the grace to accept   the heartaches of life, knowing they are the most tender signs of your loving, maternal embrace, purifying us of ego and removing the obstacles that impede our unity.  Give us, as well, the taste of your passionate outrage, empower us to stand up for truth and justice, resisting all the forces that  seek to destroy your most holy unity.  Most Holy Mother, lead us through the time of trial, and in the image of your Son Jesus, bring us to the morning joy of Resurrection when we will all be one family in your loving, maternal Divine Heart.

This was such a tender, moving experience of community this morning, with four very different human beings from different walks of life. Alicia was raised a Methodist, Becky a Catholic, but she was 'almost abused' as a young girl by her pastor, who groped her one morning in the sacristy. He patted her right buttock, then laughed and trying to cover his shame and make a joke of it, said, "Ooops, better not miss the other one," and squeezed her left buttock as well. Becky says, "I was fourteen years old, just getting to terms with my new body, still confused as hell, and it was the last thing I needed. I didn't go home and weep.  I just felt really pissed off. This was the same creepy man who fulminated from the pulpit about sexually indecent films and the moral decay of society. This was the same slimy character who went into my brother's eighth grade class and fumed and sputtered about the evils of self abuse, when he was probably abusing himself like hell every time he passed a pubescent girl." Strong words. Becky said she ceased to be a Catholic from that day onwards, but continued to join her parents at Sunday liturgies until she left home for college.  "Then I was really free and I went wild." But something about her childhood past and her memories of the tender Madonna and her realization that "Jesus wasn't really like that," brought her back to a form of communion with her Catholic, Christian past.

And what about Becky's mom? A devout, faithful, church-going Catholic, a Eucharistic minister, member of the altar society, lector at Mass at her parish of Our Lady of Sorrows, who also understands that Jesus is very different from most 'leaders' we have in the church today. "But that's why we can't abandon it and walk away. We are the church, not 'those guys.'" A peaceful woman, gracious and whimsical (I only met her this morning for the first time), with a delightful sense of humor about church problems, and a refreshingly healthy attitude about all of the scandals, Mrs. Teale has no problem sitting down with her daughter and her partner and this eccentric gay man and sharing the table of the Lord on the edge of the Vltava River. She received the 'elements' with as much reverence and devotion as I'm sure she expresses in her home parish back in California. And suddenly I realized, it doesn't really matter, all of the scandals and the bigotry from leaders at the top, when women of this caliber in the church feel we shouldn't pay these leaders too much attention, they're not really that important anyway, and giving them attention only legitimizes them, when they are in fact illegitimate. Of course, in the short term, when we think of Uganda and anti-gay political movements and sexual abuse, it matters a great deal in the immediate present. But ultimately, in the long view, that is not the church, and through the grace of the life giving Spirit we as church will survive. While she didn't say this in so many words, this was the attitude I picked up from Mrs. Teale. We are the Church, so let's get on with it. This is My Body, this is My Blood.

Four of us very different people sitting by the Vltava breaking bread together in memory of our crucified Master.  How fitting. The Vltava originates in northwestern Bohemia as two small springs — one cold water and one warm water spring — which then merge together. And here we were, with our very different Christian backgrounds, merging together as one in the heart of the Divine Feminine in freedom, peace and joy.

Dec 12, 2009


In light of the terrible developments in Uganda and the Vatican's own scandalous response, which redefines the terms 'tepidity', 'duplicity,' and 'cowardice,' and raises them to new heights of human mendacity, (see William Lindsey's blog, On Bilgrimage for some particularly brilliant commentary-and for a more tempered view than my own), I thought I would offer this passage for meditation taken from the diaries of Etty Hillesum, the remarkable Jewish woman who died in Auschwitz at the age of twenty nine. Etty underwent a remarkable spiritual transformation in the final years of her life, reaching a level of interior peace and divine union (in the face of great evil and human suffering) which we are accustomed to seeing only in the greatest saints. In fact, one of the qualifications for canonization in the Roman Catholic tradition is the evidence of 'heroic suffering,' borne with patience, equanimity and joy. (Of course, one should add the virtues of prophetic outrage and resistance to evil to the list, and the ability to harmonize these virtues with the one's own interior peace and joy, but prophecy generally makes religious systems uncomfortable, whereas patience and equanimity, especially coupled with respectful obedience, do not.)

Dear God these are anxious times. Tonight for the first time I lay in the dark with burning eyes as scene after scene of human suffering passed before me. I shall promise You one thing, God, just one very small thing: I shall never burden my today with cares about my tomorrow, although that takes some practice. Each day is sufficient to itself. I shall try to help You, God, to stop my strength ebbing away, though I cannot vouch for it in advance. But one thing is becoming increasingly clear to me: that You cannot help us, that we must help You to help ourselves. And that is all that really matters: that we safeguard that little piece of You, God, in ourselves. And perhaps in others as well. Alas, there doesn't seem to be much You Yourself can do about our circumstances, about our lives. Neither do I hold you responsible. You cannot help us, but we must help You and defend Your dwelling place inside us to the last. There are, it is true, some who, even at this late stage, are putting their vacuum cleaners and silver forks and spoons in safe keeping, instead of guarding You, dear God. And there are those who want to put their bodies in safe keeping, but who are nothing more now than a shelter for a thousand fears and bitter feelings. And they say, "I shan't let them get me into their clutches." But they forget that no one is in their clutches who is in Your Arms....And the funny thing is I don't feel I'm in their clutches anyway, whether I stay or am sent away. I don't feel in anybody's clutches; I feel safe in God's arms, and no matter whether I am sitting at this beloved old desk now, or in a bare room in the Jewish district or perhaps in a labour camp under SS guards in a month's time - I shall always feel safe in God's arms. They may well succeed in breaking me physically, but no more than that. I may face cruelty and deprivation the likes of which I cannot imagine in even my wildest fantasies. Yet all this is as nothing to the immeasurable expanse of my faith in God and my inner receptiveness.  

I shall always be able to stand on my own two feet even when they are planted on the hardest soil of the harshest reality. And my acceptance is not indifference or helplessness. I feel deep moral indignation at a regime that treats human beings in such a way. But events have become too overwhelming and too demonic to be stemmed with personal resentment and bitterness. These responses strike me as being utterly childish and unequal to the fateful course of events.

It is not as if I want to fall into the arms of destruction with a resigned smile-far from it. I am only bowing to the inevitable and even as I do I am sustained by the certain knowledge that ultimately they cannot rob us of anything that matters.

Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.

I read these passages this morning while celebrating the Eucharist in solitude on behalf of all the people of Uganda, but most especially our Christian/Catholic gay sisters and brothers in that troubled country who must be feeling particularly dispirited and alone at this point in history, in light of the response from Vatican leaders which is really an endorsement of anti-gay violence in disguise. The devil, they say, is the master of deceit and we have just witnessed an example of duplicity of a very high order, though that shouldn't render us incapable of gratitude for very small advances. As William Lindsay says, 

I am grateful for this tiny glimmer of sound moral insight. I am unhappy, though, that the leader of the Catholic church, whose voice could—and should—count when egregious human rights violations are occurring anywhere in the world, has boxed himself into a corner of silence. We’re talking, after all, about a situation in which people had begun to deliberate seriously about instituting the death penalty against those born gay or lesbian!

This is why I was particularly struck by Etty's use of the word demonic in the above passage. Though there seems to be some degree of 'rollback' from the more extremist view of justifying executions of gay persons, one can sense, I think, that this is more a tactical retreat for the moment, rather than a final victory. Dark forces are at work, and they will continue to weave their tangled webs for some time to come. And these demonic forces are at work at the highest levels of the church, and, no, I don't think this is too extreme a word to describe them. We are witnessing some very grave distortions that defy rational explanation, and these moral distortions go deep, very deep, into the psyches of some very dangerous and troubled men. However, to confront them and resist them, we must be grounded in our own interior faith and strengthened by our own spiritual resources of peace and joy which flow from our union with the Beloved within. Only then, can we face these dark forces with equanimity and joy and recognize them for what they are - the dust in the wind from dead men's bones. For all of their power to harm, ultimately they have no reality.

Holiness is the process whereby God changes our attitudes toward our trials and tribulations.  Father Thomas Keating~The Human Condition: Contemplation and Transformation.

Dec 9, 2009


In a previous post of October 6th, entitled Emmaus Walk, I spoke of a highly personal development in my own life regarding the Eucharist, which I would like to repeat  here.

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,  a spiritual theologian, I also discussed it with two Jesuit theologians, one of whom, a liturgist,  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.

Here we are two months later, and when I ascended the three flights of stairs to my tiny flat on Masarykovo Nabrezi on the Vltava River in Prague, and felt the customary warmth and joy that always greets me at the front door, I felt it was time to continue the reflection. I have kept 'the Eucharist' reserved in my home now for twenty two years, and my close friend, John McConville, one of our original community of four and now a practicing psychotherapist in San Francisco, does the same. I put the word 'Eucharist' in quotations marks, simply out of respect for those who might find this testimony a little too extraordinary, since we are dealing with the most sacred mystery in the Catholic celebration of life and the sacred, a mystery so rooted in tradition that one should not tamper with it irresponsibly. So out of respect for those who might find this experience incomprehensible, let me say this story will only take on meaning and significance when it is joined with hundreds of other similar stories across the world, when those stories are collated, and then subjected to proper theological reflection. This process will, of course, take many, many years and will not be completed in my life time. For the moment, I can only testify to my own personal, spiritual experience, since that is what I feel called to do.

In response to the question, "Is it the 'same' Eucharist we experience in formal Eucharistic celebrations with 'properly' ordained ministers and the 'same Eucharist' we find reserved in Churches,  the 'same Eucharistic presence' which has moved so many mystics and contemplatives in the history of the church, I  must honestly say, "I don't know." I can only testify to my interior, subjective experience and reply, "It feels, in the most intimate and sacred depths of my soul, to be exactly the same, and it is without a doubt, the greatest gift of my entire spiritual life." When I discussed the issue with the 3 theologians at JSTB, they were very warmly supportive, my spiritual director especially, since she knew of women's communities experiencing very much the same thing. The liturgist simply said that we four gay men had been called to minister to one another and had been empowered in the Spirit to do so. That was the source of our 'priesthood,' for which our own blessing of the laying on of hands was enough. Since that time, we four have split up to three different continents, and the fourth now stands before the face of the Lord Jesus and has no need of this unique charismatic form of communion.

I have continued the practice of celebrating the Eucharist in my own home, an experience I must reserve for another post to describe, because of it's intimate nature. At this moment, I simply want to describe what it feels like to have the 'Eucharist presence' in the home and what this effect has had on my own spiritual life and my understanding of the face of the church of the future.

Twenty two years ago, within the first week of this transformation, with the 'Eucharist' reserved in my living room on a small altar on the mantelpiece, I was overwhelmed with spiritual consolation and would remain in prayer for an hour or more during the day, basking in the extraordinary radiance and peace emerging from the pix and which  flooded my whole apartment. I kept candles lit whenever I was home. One day a good friend of mind stopped by to see me. He was a young Japanese graduate student at UC Berkeley, named Hiroki, which means "abundant joy," and whom I had met at a weekly meditation I attended for gay men in the Bay Area. Hiroki was very psychically gifted, as became apparent during out meditation sessions, when he would frequently receive remarkable insights into our own characters and our own pasts. He perfectly described my Italian mother as a 'woman under five feet tall' (correct) and my father as having only one lung (the other lost to TB many years earlier.) On this particular day, I opened the door to my apartment, which was at the far end of the flat with a long hall leading from it to the living room. Hiroki, full of joy, entered and gave me a wonderful embrace, and then said, "Oh, what is that wonderful peace that is filling your apartment?" Without waiting for an answer, he went bounding down the hallway faster than I could keep up with him. When I finally reached him in the living room, he was standing reverently before the Eucharistic altar, hands clasped in prayer, and asked again, "Oh what is that wonderful peace. It is so tangible and real." This was an extraordinary confirmatory sign for me, since Hiroki had next to no understanding of Christianity, other than the figure on the Cross, and certainly no understanding or foreknowledge of the Christian Eucharist, a lack which I then proceeded to make up for him.

During this same time period, I had a good Lutheran friend who was the organist at her Church for Sunday services. Every Sunday she went through the same frustrating experience. She would play the organ during the Communion service for the sake of everyone's devotion, then come downstairs herself to receive, only to discover that all of the elements had already been consumed and the minister had closed up shop, so to speak, having completely forgotten all about her. "One day, I got so mad that I went home and 'communioned' myself, " she later told me, and the experience was so wonderful  for her, so filled with peace and joy and consolation, that she said she now wanted 'to do it all the time.' When I suggested to her the Catholic custom of reserving the Eucharist in a small pix and reserving it in her home, she began the same custom and reported similiar feelings of warmth and peace and intimacy.

As with all things in the spiritual life, the original charismatic intensity waned and life returned somewhat to normal, with occasional moments of transcendent brilliance, warmth and presence emanating from the  Pix and flooding my home with light. However, in twenty-two years, I have never lost the 'sense' of presence and connection, even in the darkest moments of trial. The room and the house are simply not the same with the 'Eucharist' in residence, and it has been an extraordinary comfort and support to my own life of celibacy and solitude. I take it with me when I travel on vacations and so does my friend, John. For myself, the Pix is placed in a central position of honor with a candle burning when I am present in the hotel room. John himself has moved far beyond Catholicism, and is now deeply influenced by Buddhism and (coincidentally, Colleen, if you are reading this) Navajo spirituality, while still feeling his intimate connection with the Risen Lord. And so he places the Pix slightly to the side on his makeshift altar, to reflect his own shifting allegiances,  with other sacred artifacts from Native American spirituality accompanying it. But he has said that when he comes home or back to his hotel room, the "Eucharist' in its small container stands out for him like a 'glowing coal.' Occasionally I will forget to take the small pix with me on trips, as happened last weekend on a trip to Dresden to the opera. When I returned to my hotel room after the performance, it felt empty and void in contrast. It's simply not 'the same' without the Eucharistic presence in the room.

We now come to September 27th, the eve of Pope Benedict's Mass outside of Prague at the symbolic town of Stara Boleslav. I had gone to the small hamlet on this eve to join in the celebrations, and it was a wild party indeed with lots of good Czech beer being consumed by all, including some very jolly nuns, and lots of hot sausages to go along with the foamy beer. I had first paid my visit to the Church of the Assumption, which houses the sacred icon of the Virgin, called the Paladium, and which is considered the special protectoress of the Czech lands. As with so many of these sacred icons of the Virgin, this one gives off a palpable sense of warmth and presence the moment you walk into the Church. Having paid my respects, I then went to join the party and had some lively conversations with some very sweet and cheeky Czech nuns, not at all surprised at my preference for Hans Kung over the present pontiff (though one did wag her finger at me!). Two hours later, it was time for the solemn ceremony of exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and I went back up the hill and climbed the steps to the Church of the Assumption. Having already been inside two hours ago and having already experienced the grace of the sacred icon, I thought I knew what to expect. But when I opened the door and went inside, I was 'hit' with a blast of such overpowering intensity I had to grasp onto the large marble holy water font to keep myself steady. The church was packed, filled to the brim with devout Catholics, most of them I would say under the age of 30 and many of them in their teens. There were backpacks all over the rear of the church so you had to step over them, clusters of young people squatting and sitting cross legged on the floor and up and down all three aisles. The sense of sacred presence emanating from the monstrance and bathing the entire congregation was the most intense I have ever experienced in all my life. It was shocking. I'm not really interested in constructing theories for an explanation, the cumulative devotion of so many on the eve of such a significant event, the overflowing gift of the Spirit affirming the extraordinary gift which the Catholic tradition cherishes so carefully, a combination of the two? It doesn't matter which explanation you try to come up with, the experience was overwhelming. I sat down in a pew and remained there for the next two hours, lost in the silence of the moment.

The next day was almost anti-climactic, but was great fun all the same. I joined the throng of 50,000 and  felt it was a day to forget our differences and I was as excited as all of my students, who were shouting gleefully "Here he comes, there he is," as Pope Benedict in white proceeded up the dusty pathways in his little white Pope Mobile, looking not so much like a rock star as a Sunday golfer out for a game. It was rather quaint and charming, and almost helped me to forget the harm this man has done to the church and is continuing to do. But for the moment, he was simply the symbol of all we love and cherish about the Catholic experience, of everything that joins us together in Christ, however poorly the man himself serves this divine mystery.

The return home, however, is what is significant for this reflection. I came out of the elevator with my bags and approached my front door and felt the same sense of 'quickening of the heart' I always do, because I had not taken the Eucharist with me on this trip, since I slept in my car (and wasn't even sure I would do that). The sacred element was still inside my apartment. When I opened the door, however, I was greeted with such a blast of radiance I almost thought I had forgotten and left the heat on. Just as there are those moments in all our lives when the Beloved seems to awaken within and one's soul is flooded with joy, this was a moment when the 'Eucharistic presence' in my apartment was manifesting itself with an extraordinarily intense radiance. It was so far beyond the usual intensity that I walked in and sank down in the chair before the altar with both bags on either side of me and remained in that position with the front door open for some minutes - until the landlady's cat came in and mewed plaintively. That gave me the presence of mind to get up and close the door, (with the cat settled comfortably on my sofa) and I returned to the altar, lit four candles, and remained sunk in prayer for the next half hour.  It was the most extraordinary manifestation of Eucharistic presence I had experienced since the first charismatic outpouring of some twenty-two years ago. Its significance seemed obvious. I was being shown by the Beloved that his Eucharistic presence in my apartment (and in John's and in Lynn's and in all the other maverick Christian's homes who are  practicing the same custom worldwide) is 'the same' divine presence that is encountered in any Eucharistic celebration and in any tabernacle in any Catholic church worldwide, and it is 'the same' sacred radiance that manifested itself so powerfully in the Church of the Assumption in Stara Boleslav.

And of course, the conclusion I draw from this experience (which I will reflect on at greater length at a later time) - at this extraordinary turning point in history, the Eucharist is being freed from the tyranny of ecclesiastical control. It is not inextricably and necessarily tied to 'authentically ordained' ministers by Bishops in a dubious line of succession. We are free at last, though it may take many years for the full significance of the experience to  reach maturity and acceptance and theological justification. Disaffected, gay, straight, women and trans, the future of the Church has arrived and it is us.

 Other posts I've made on the Eucharistic revolution.

Eucharist in the Home

Gay Eucharist

A Way Out

Solution to Crisis

Dec 7, 2009


Recent losses in California, Maine and New York have left gay activist leaders arguing about what exactly went wrong. Those battles have, however, made clear the identity of an aggressive enemy of the gay community, the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church.

Now is the time for Catholic women, married men, gay men, and all their Catholic friends and relatives to band together and to end this nonsense. You have the ability to gain your rights if you will realize that these bishops no longer speak for God in this matter. They have gone astray and are misleading you. In your hearts you know this to be true.

The Roman Catholic Church in America is at a crossroads. There will soon be either a healthy enlightenment or a rapid withering. Catholic women, married men and gay men who understand that their bishops are speaking for the Pope rather than for Jesus Christ in this matter will save their Church if they act together. Christmas Eve is the perfect time to start. 

We should be alarmed because infectious and cancerous ideologies have arisen countless times in human history. These attempts at utopia have inflicted incalculable human suffering and cost innumerable innocent human lives. At the beginning of the 21st century religious fundamentalism has imposed itself in various nations. We need to WAKE-UP and realize that we are not merely fighting for our civil rights, we are fighting for our lives. We need to understand that anti-LGBT language of Rick Warren, Cardinal Barragan, and the signatories of the "Manhattan Declaration" does not merely end with the denial of the right to civil marriage for same sex couples. Its logical conclusion are draconian laws like those passed in Uganda.

For generations, in Catholic churches across the country, LGBT youth are told they should be ashamed of who they are and that they should lead loveless lives as social and religious abominations.   The emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse inflicted on them by Catholic priests and our church hierarchy is in reality as damaging as the physical or sexual child abuse anyone would quickly condemn.  Yet to this abuse, few raise their voices and say "ENOUGH!"  

It is shameful that in many Catholic churches, this abuse is being supported by men,  who are gay themselves, leading  closeted lives of self-persecution and quiet desperation.

Even more shameful, is that many of these priests, while remaining silent, actually lead duplicitous lives rich with romantic and sexual relationships -- both homosexual and heterosexual.

This hypocrisy must end.


Reading through the education pack for Polly Teale's remarkable play, Bronte, which explores the inner lives and conflicts of these three tragic figures, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, I came across this passage:

Today it is difficult for us to imagine a world where women were not allowed to enter a library, where women had to publish under men's names, where women had no part in public life. And yet 150 years is not so long ago. Their struggles are not so distant. We are fascinated by the Brontes because they broke the mould (against all odds). They broke it and yet they were made by it. They were every inch the product of their time, even in their attempts to free themselves. Jane Eyre is believed to be the second-most read book in the English language (after the Bible). Wuthering Heights remains one of the great literary creations of all time and is still a bestseller. So why, 150 years later, are we still drawn to these stories, these characters?

150 years from now (less, let us hope) the human community will look back on our times and be appalled that certain civil governments denied the basic human right to two human beings of the same sex to form a legal bond together in order to provide structure and support for their deeply human wish to live their lives together in peace and harmony. This deprivation, in hindsight, will look as shocking and absurd as denying women the simple right of entering a library. Our human fellows will also be appalled at the terrible costs, the tragic lives lost, the equally tragic lives lived in deprivation and suffering, and wonder at the human race's continued capacity for bigotry, ignorance and hate. The Bronte's in their tragic isolation, deprived of the ordinary normal joys of human love because of the Victorian restrictions on womanhood, are forerunners of our own struggles for gay equality and simple justice. Each of the sisters dealt with her isolation in her own unique way. Emily became a recluse, living in communion with nature, and "withdrew from society spending much of her time alone on the moors...untouched by social restraints or expectations." Charlotte longed for fame and recognition. Anne became a social activist and used her writings "to expose injustice and bring about reform." Charlotte's outrage at her brother's degenerate behavior "was in part a way of dealing with her own bitter frustrations. Lonely and unloved, she was forced to look on as her brother satisfied his appetites."

How unbearably sad, yet through their rich inner lives, the mystery of their deprivation was transformed into overpowering forms of art that illuminated the follies and injustices, the blindness and stupidity,  of the oppressive structures of culture and religion that so painfully circumscribed their lives. How much of our future liberation as  Catholic gay and lesbian persons rest upon the shoulders of writers and activists today who are transforming our own deprivation into art - but at what human costs. The 'inner joy' of uniting with the Crucified in his prophetic, marginal status can sometimes be only a dimly felt presence in the soul, while fires and storms rage overhead. Sometimes the gift of being both Catholic and gay can be a heavy burden to bear, moving us to cry out, "How long, O Lord, how long?" Or like St. Teresa of Avila, we may express our deprivation in more witty terms by exclaiming, "Lord, if this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few." In the end, however, truth and justice will prevail because of the heroic 'redemptive sacrifice' of so many gay and lesbian witnesses today, becoming through their suffering and purification (to paraphrase an old Tibetan Buddhist saying) 'centers of boundless compassion flooding itself upon the world."

Dec 5, 2009

QUOTE OF THE DAY from Colleen Kochivar-Baker

Gays have a great deal to offer the Church precisely because we have a motivation for seeking the commonalities between ourselves and others. Some of us also seem to have a need to treasure the differences and avoid being subsumed by a particular cultural millieu. It's truly a gift.

A very moving statement, especially in these times when so many in official positions in the church seek to build up walls separating us from one another, while at the time enforcing and imposing a totalizing ideological system upon the remaining loyal faithful. These are hard times for all gay and lesbian persons connected to the Church, and personally I am in deep mourning for the profound moral failure of the institution that birthed my own spiritual awakening. Without the Church I would not have met the mystical Christ, and now, ironically,  because of the Church's failure to mirror the mystical Christ,  I feel more closely united to the Crucified Christ on the hill of the skull, Gulgalta,  outside the city gates, - exiled, separated, ignored, despised, yet more fully alive in the Spirit than I could ever be inside the Church door. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for this great gift, may all of us gay and lesbian persons be worthy of it and may we have the strength to honor it by standing up for truth and justice in the face of such grave moral evil now being perpetuated by the new crucifiers of Christ in purple and scarlet. Christ Jesus has called us into exile to unite with him on Gulgalta, but the dawn of a new day is upon us. And may that glorious day arrive soon when He will come again and the dead will rise and the blind will see and the oppressed will weep no more. Marana tha, Come Lord Jesus, Come.

In practical terms, what are we then to do? Colleen has made another significant statement at William Lindsey's great blog, Bilgrimage,  to this effect which I feel capsulizes the situation very succinctly.

I believe the response for us at this present time is to let those individuals and institutions wall themselves off while the rest of us move into the future. If this means uniting to create a new form for Catholicism then that's what we do. In the meantime we have to fight the politics tooth and nail because if we don't we betray our own spiritual beliefs and our own relationship with Jesus.

Let those who need the walls remain shut up within them. Those of us who value life must follow the Spirit since the Spirit favors the living, not the dead. It is time to free the Eucharist and the priesthood from ecclesiastical control so the community called church can be reborn from the Great Dark in the power and breath of the Spirit. These are days of suffering, but they are also days of great joy as we witness the birthing of a new day.
(To be continued)

Dec 4, 2009

Dec 3, 2009


Yes, we are fighting for the right of civil marriage, but it is far more than that. We are also fighting so that the next generation does not have to grow up in shame and live in fear.
Father Geoff Farrow

Dec 2, 2009



We must be prepared to accept our exile state both within society and within the Church. We must grieve and gradually let go of the desire to "belong" to all the institutions of this world. We must deepen our spiritual roots and our realisation that, in direct proportion to our exile state in this world, we belong in a deeper and more cosmic level to a community bound together by God's Love and God's Mercy. 
John J. McNeill

I've quoted this great passage before on this blog, but unfortunately I've lost the reference. However, it well sums up my own spiritual attitude to the exile state of being gay and catholic in these troubled times for the church. I've lived on the periphery of the official Church for over twenty years because that is where I felt Christ was calling me and where I encountered His Spirit, filling me with joy and peace. This is not to say I haven't felt wounded and rejected, but these emotions are secondary to  the joy of identifying with the Crucified Christ and the peace that has come from following this path of exile. If anything, I feel enormous relief at being freed from the oppressive atmosphere of a homophobic religion and given the spiritual space to grow as a self-respecting gay man. Thank you, Lord, for all of your blessings. I am so happy to be right where I am. Would I like to receive acceptance and affirmation from the Mother Church of my birth, do I long for her embrace, her love, her approval? Yes, of course, on some level of being, but it's not a great priority for me personally. It is however, a vital priority for millions of young gay and lesbian persons who can still be profoundly damaged by the negative attitudes and thunderous pronouncements of an uninformed and bigoted religious authority. This priority places a burden of conscience on those of us older gay persons who have come to terms with our exiled state - a call to witness to the joy and affirmation we receive from the Mystical Christ in exile and the great icon of the Divine Feminine, the "Blessed Mother,' an affirmation of our 'gayness' that leads us to the heights of the Spirit, that graces us to grow in holiness, and teaches us that we can only grow in truth and love by accepting our gay sexual nature and loving it as good. This is what a Gay Catholic is called to do, above all, witness to the call to holiness that we receive as sexually potent gay human beings and demonstrate it's infinite possibilities. "By their fruits you shall know them," and that is the test of our own gay vocation. Self acceptance and love of our sexual orientation, affirmation of our right to responsible sexual expression, leads not to a closure of the spirit in darkness and confusion, but to an opening of the spirit in peace and joy and love. That peace and joy above all are the signs of contradiction we have to offer to a disbelieving church. We can, we must, be gay and holy, we can do no other.  

Since I'm beginning a series of reflections here on "What is a Gay Catholic to do," which will have to be continued at a later date, I'll end with this personal disclosure.

Forty years ago (has it really been that long)?, I was preparing to take my vows in the Jesuit Novitiate of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Montecito, California. Kneeling before the Crucifix in the chapel one day in May (before we went north for our one month summer vacation), I underwent a profound "encounter" with the Crucified Lord, in which I felt him tell me that at some point in the future I would be called in the spirit to a "decision of conscience that would bring me into conflict with the highest authorities in the Church." I was profoundly shocked by this experience and very disoriented, but the sense of interior spiritual fulfillment and peace was too real to deny. However, being very young and imaginative, I assumed it would be a Hans Kung sort of affair, in which I would publish a book and be denounced by the Vatican and there would be the flashing of many cameras and I would be famous and in the center of world attention (I exaggerate, of course). Being a pious and obedient novice, I wrote up a description of the experience and gave it to my novice master, Father John McAnulty, S.J. The poor man, he took one look at the material and turned pale (he was a very decent, kindly, deeply spiritual man) and said, "Oh I can see real problems with this. I will have to send it to the provincial for his opinions." I was shaken, but interiorly comforted by the sense that "all was well," as indeed turned out to be the case, but not as I expected.  When we returned from our month long vacation in the Redwood Forests of Los Gatos,  a very saddened Father McAnulty had to inform me that I had been dismissed from the Society of Jesus with these kind words from the Provincial, "Tell him we feel he should search for his vocation elsewhere." In forty years, I have never felt any animosity or bitterness towards him. How could any responsible Provincial approve for vows a novice who was already anticipating breaking the vow of obedience, and in a religious order that values that virtue higher than any. A good priest theologian friend of mine, teaching at Loyola Unversity, Los Angeles said, "Why in god's name did you give it to your novice master? Couldn't you have kept it under wraps until after your vows?" I replied, trying to act more worldly-wise and untroubled than I really was by the affair, "Well, no, this was all a part of my journey, you see," as indeed it was, because two years later I was following my heart and inner call to Thailand. By a circuitous journey (to complicated to explain in this brief reflection) five years later I would be re-admitted into the Society by the very understanding Provincial of the China Province, (with jurisdictional oversight for the Thailand mission) who didn't take youthful dreams of disobedience all that seriously.

The point of this self-disclosure - the decision of conscience which would "bring me into conflict with the highest authorities of the church" would be a quiet, interior affair without fanfare, fuss or cameras flashing. Cardinal Raztinger would release his infamous Halloween letter on Homosexuality in 1986 while I was studying for an M. Div degree at the Jesuit School of Theology and I knew at once that this was the moment I had been waiting for (and which had been anticipated again in 1976 during the installation mass for Pope John Paul I and which I've spoken of earlier on this blog, "Papa Luciani and I"). I was being called into exile, and I've never looked back since. Though there has been heartache and pain and a sense of rejection and loss, the joy has been overwhelming and the fulfillment profound. I wouldn't have had it any other way. 
(to be continued)