Saturday, September 19, 2015

Things began to change a long time ago ...

Maurice - E.M.Forster

George Merrill and Edward Carpenter 

Forster based his characters , Maurice and Scudder

on these two men who lived together for thirty years,

despite the British laws against homosexual relations.

Merrill was from a lower social class than Carpenter,

just as Scudder and Maurice.

E.M. Forster first wrote the novel in 1913.  The novel was only published in 1971.  The film debuted in 1987.

Now we are here - talking about this stuff in front of the Pope.

Strange stuff.

An intermediate - third way ...
Carpenter believed that at sometime in the future, gay people would be the cause of radical social change in the social conditions of man. Carpenter remarks in his work The Intermediate Sex:
"Eros is a great leveller. Perhaps the true Democracy rests, more firmly than anywhere else, on a sentiment which easily passes the bounds of class and caste, and unites in the closest affection the most estranged ranks of society. It is noticeable how often Uranians of good position and breeding are drawn to rougher types, as of manual workers, and frequently very permanent alliances grow up in this way, which although not publicly acknowledged have a decided influence on social institutions, customs and political tendencies."
Despite their unorthodox living arrangement, Carpenter and Merrill managed to escape scandal and arrest in the hostile social climate due to the seclusion afforded them in Millthorpe and Carpenter's notable literary diplomacy. In his writings Carpenter was keen to downplay the physical side of same-sex partnerships, emphasizing the emotional depth of such relationships. To bolster such a portrayal, Carpenter drew a great deal of inspiration from Plato's idealised view of same-sex love, popular with Victorian gay men, who used classical allusions to 'Greek Love' as a coded language to discuss their sexual orientation. Their remoteness from society allowed Carpenter to indulge in naturism which he believed was a symbol of a life at one with nature. - Source

There seems to be some notable parallels with contemporary gay movements.

Ed. Note: I posted this because it demonstrates for me, a pattern which is common among same-sex partnerships. It's a typical arrangement - I'm not denying affection is present - but oddly enough the one partner, younger, from a lower station, is taken in by an older partner who provides, and in the case of Tom Ford and Don Bachardy, mentors and elevates. I didn't take the time to include the likes of Ford and Buckley, Isherwood and Bachardy - yet these arrangements are the realization of Carpenter's hope that gay people would be the cause of radical social change. Gay-Catholics seem to be re-imagining the Uranian precedent as what could or should be accepted by the Church.  Some proposing that being gay is a gift from God, and on that account gay people have special gifts for the Church, and that gay people will renew the Church.  

I see legitimate cause for concern when so many argue for recognition of same sex partnerships, be they Side A or Side B - it's the wrong direction. That said, pastoral care isn't usually what same sex couples are looking for - if anything, they are looking for a change in doctrine - some call it a development in doctrine. My point here is to remind people of the history. As Forster, Isherwood and company demonstrate in their romances.  It just keeps reemerging in different guises... no pun intended, guys.

How many times do I have to tell you?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Now here's something I can really disagree with: Criticism of the Obama Papal Guest List.

"We need not respond to every 'seeming' outrage ..."
But we just did.

So who should he have invited?

Steven Colbert?  Haha!  Just kidding - can't stand the guy.  What?  He's so not funny.

As it is he will be surrounded by faithful Catholics, so who cares who will be at the White House?

Anyway, Elizabeth Scalia pretty much accuses (soon-to-be-Catholic-convert) President Obama of playing a dirty trick on Pope Francis and inviting Catholic dissenters and other religious riff-raff to the White House to greet the Pope.  "Packing the list with open dissenters to church teaching, though, is a purposeful, planned and deliberate rebuke to the church."

Elizabeth's op-ed calls out Obama and company for courting controversy, suggesting Obama is intent upon riling up Catholic conservatives?  Sounds like it to me:
But the game is not actually about challenging the pope: it’s about keeping the culture wars flaming and political divisions alive; it’s about manipulating the angry right into pitching a fit because the pope didn’t pivot away from Obama’s guests, shouting “Arrepentirse! Repent!”; it’s about cueing the angry left to cry, “Shame! See how these
hateful Christians shove one another!” while the press shuffles forward chanting that Francis is, “one of us; one of us!” - Obama's Game
You think?

Personally, I think Obama and troupe really believe these are people Pope Francis wants to hear from, as well as should hear from.  Obama has many Catholic friends who would have helped out with the guest list - many vying for the first places at table and front row seats in the audience.  Is he really trying to stick it to anyone?  Does it matter?  The Pope is going to be whisked all over the East Coast, meeting lots of people - is it all a set up?  On some level it is - the Pope is going to meet handpicked guests at every event.  It is what it is.   He'll also welcome people who weren't invited, I'm sure.

Did St. Matthew deliberately assemble only prostitutes and tax-collectors and sleazy politicos and sinners to dinner after Christ called him?  (Mt.9:10)  He must have been trying to provoke the Pharisees, huh?  Or did they just show up?

Just having fun here.  Elizabeth was too - I hope.  As she states at the end of her essay:
This manipulation is such a predictable (and really tiresome) game, it’s surprising how few people have fun with it, or simply laugh at it, which — in truth — is always the best response to stage managers and deluded illusionists. - Obama's Game

Bloggers are going to keep repeating stories like this for the next couple of weeks.

What?  She said to have fun with it.

Song for this post here.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Cardinal Schönborn - another look at what he said on stable gay relationships.

Isherwood and Auden - partners at one time.

Cardinal Schönborn gave an interview.

I wrote a post.

I insisted he didn't say what everyone thinks he said.

Turns out - I may have been wrong.

I was serious - it seemed to me he wasn't recommending stable gay unions/relationships - he was pretty much simply stating it was better than a promiscuous gay lifestyle.  Basing my opinion on the Catholic Herald article, I wrote: Pope Benedict could have said the same thing - recall his speaking of a homosexual prostitute using a condom out of a sort of charitable concern - a first assumption of responsibility? I think it is easy to understand Schönborn, Benedict and Francis - when we listen to their actual statements in context. It seems to me Schönborn makes himself clear when he insists pastoral care “cannot transform an irregular situation into a regular one”.

Perhaps I was commenting on a snippet, rather than the entire interview?  I'm not sure now.  Joe Sciambra didn't take the interview well, and strongly disagreed with what Cardinal Schönborn had to say on stable gay relationships.  Perhaps I am naive, but I still didn't get the impression the Cardinal was recommending such accommodations, but simply pointing out a situation he was familiar with socially, and suggesting there may be hope those involved could move closer towards accepting Catholic teaching.

That said, Gerard J.M. van den Aardweg has written a very good article on LifeSiteNews taking apart what he calls Cardinal Schönborn's naive pipedream on stability in gay relationships.  It lends credibility to Sciambra's post.  I have the greatest respect for van den Aardweg's work - in fact I've been looking for one of his books which I seemed to have misplaced.  He is correct - in my opinion - on the nature of so-called stable same sex relationships.  

"When more information became available, it invariably appeared that appearances are deceptive." - Gerard J.M.van den Aardweg

Idealists like Msgr. Schönborn live on a rosy cloud. Many gays are more realistic. They know well one of the pivotal facts of the practice of homosexuality: its intrinsic promiscuity. Prominent German gay activist, homosexuality researcher and professor of sociology Dannecker stated unequivocally that homosexual men have a “different” sexual nature, and this is a promiscuous one.9 An experienced gay man, after many “eternal” partnerships, commented, “Homosexual ties begin and end with sex. There is so little else to go on.”10 The well-known Catholic American publicist Andrew Sullivan, a practicing gay man, is a proponent of gay “marriage,” stipulating however, that this particular “marriage” contract has to be “open.” For it should reflect the “greater understanding for the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman.” - van den Aardweg

"People in monogamous relationships have to be willing to meet me a quarter of the way and acknowledge the drawbacks of monogamy around boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted.” - Dan Savage

I've written on this topic many times in the past.  One or other - or both together - of the partners will eventually be promiscuous in a long term relationship - unless both elect to live chastely and celibately and simply live as friends or brothers.  That's feasible.  Perhaps it is the type of situation the Cardinal refers to.  But it cannot be a marriage or union or simulation of marriage.  Again - that's another post and I've written about it many times in the past.

The Cardinal is criticized for holding out a false hope to people who believe they can have a sort of gay-Josephite marriage.  If he is doing that, I hope he will see it more realistically.  However, I tell guys who have lived together for years that they can come back to the Church - especially now they are old and no longer sexually active.  I admit I was naive about such situations however.

It turns out their relationships were often 'open' - they 'consented' to extra affairs, sharing partners, call-boys, and so on.  (Apparently consent is something of a doctrine for people in same sex relationships, or at least a free pass to promiscuity.)  They use medications like Viagra and pornography to stimulate their sexual relationship.  In other words - they are not at all interested in giving up sinful sexual activity, much less recognize the enabling, co-dependent element in their relationship.  Are there rare instances of genuine fidelity between so-called monogamous partners?  Maybe.  People make such claims - I'm dubious.  Just as I'm dubious regarding a person coming out publicly and identifying as gay while claiming to be a virgin.  It can happen, I suppose.

Msgr. Schönborn’s naive idealization of gay relationships is at the same time highly irresponsible. - Van den Aardweg

I have to agree - if we are really talking the idealization of gay relationships.  I certainly do not want to contradict a Cardinal or accuse him of being in error or irresponsible, but I do agree something is off with that interpretation.  The consolation one seeks in an irregular, illicit, and immoral relationship is deceptive.  In cases where the partners/friends do not repent and reform their lives, their life becomes at best an imitation game, to some extent.  I often think of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor as a sort of parody of sterile married life and/or the purported monogamous gay relationships I've encountered over the years.  Tasteful clothes, chic houses, endless travels and dinner and cocktail parties, pets as children, social engagements and names on donor's lists, theater and museum patronages, gallery openings, endless activities and piles of possessions - yet a certain emptiness haunts them.

I suppose now that same sex couples can adopt children, there is an altered dimension to their lives, a deeper sense of responsibility and reason for commitment.  Recently I was reading how life has changed for designer Tom Ford, now that he's a father and is getting older... he been noting the change, naturally.  Perhaps they can do better these days when gay civil marriages are legal, and open adoption or selective IVF with willing surrogates is more available - and there's no religion too.  Yet I wonder how - without God?

Buckley and Ford - going on 30 years.

I'm someone who likes being part of a couple 
and always wanted that and always sought that, 
and it would probably be true for me 
whether I was gay or straight. 
Richard and I are bound together, 
and I think that's what that recognition is 
when you look someone in the eyes 
and you feel like you've known them forever. 
It is a kind of coming home. - Tom Ford

Feast of the Sacred Stigmata of Our Holy Father St. Francis of Assisi

Lord Jesus Christ,who reproduced in the flesh of the most blessed Francis, the sacred marks of your own sufferings, so that in a world grown cold our hearts might be filled with burning love of you, graciously enable us by his merits and prayers to bear the cross without faltering and to bring forth worthy fruits of penitence: You who are God, living and reigning with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy Father Francis pray for us, that we may persevere in the true faith and in doing penance, for otherwise no one can be saved.

"Love has wonderful power to sharpen the imagination, so that it may penetrate even to the exterior. Yet the love which was within St. Francis of Assisi simply could not produce the openings in the flesh on the exterior. That is why the burning seraphim, coming to its help, darted at the saint rays of such penetrating light that it actually pierced the flesh with the exterior wounds of the Crucified which love had interiorly imprinted upon the soul." (Treatise On the Love of God, St. Francis de Sales.)

+In memoriam, Fr. George Sandor, OFM Conv.+ 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Pope Francis Invites 18 Married Couples to Attend October's Synod of Bishops on the family.

That's extraordinary - no actually, last year's synod was...

In the meantime, Flo's Family will be speaking at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia when the Pope visits.  That will be interesting.

I'm thrilled there are so many dysfunctional families invited - if only my mom could be alive to see this.  She was married and divorced and remarried to my dad and lived an incredibly unhappy life.  Although she died reconciled to the Church.  She refused to seek an annulment, though her former seminarian brothers insisted she had perfect grounds to do so.  Instead she suffered and made life miserable for those close to her.

That said, the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia will be hosting Ron Belgau -
the only openly gay person invited to speak at the World Meeting.  I think he will be attending with his mother.  That should be interesting.

I couldn't imagine attending an event like that with my mother.  I shudder just thinking about it.

“This is a very, very large issue to try to tackle in one hour long panel discussion,” Belgau said with a laugh, and a bit of understatement, during a phone interview from his home in Washington state.
Belgau, a writer and lecturer, will be presenting, together with his mother, a panel on “Homosexuality in the Family,” one of dozens of workshops and panels — most focused on safer and more orthodox topics — that will draw some 18,000 attendees and volunteers to the four-day event. (The papal visit itself is expected to draw as many as 1.5 million pilgrims and tourists to the city.)
Belgau admitted that “there’s a lot of pressure” in trying to address the many aspects of such a contentious issue, but he says that he is determined that his remarks not be “a speech just to Catholics who agree with me.”
That shouldn’t be a problem, given that Catholics on both right and left have frequently criticized him.
Many liberals are uncomfortable with Belgau’s commitment to being celibate, which he sees as the ideal for gays who, like himself, follow a “traditional Christian sexual ethic” that says homosexual activity is sinful. - Huffpo

Nothing wrong with that.

I especially love this gem from Belgau's interview:
There are “certain people who say we shouldn’t talk about this but who almost can’t stop” talking about it, Belgau said. They insist on giving their own views on homosexuality, he said, “but then if I try to talk about my own experience they say, ‘We shouldn’t be talking about this.’” - ibid

So true - and ironic.


I'd love to see some really dysfunctional families speak at the World Meeting, as well as at the synod.  It could be a hoot.  Totally unscripted, sort of like some Catholic bloggers spewing the F-word right and left, calling out the Sodomites in their families, complaining they aren't welcome because they don't feel welcome, and they want their trans-son-daughter to be able to use whatever bathroom he-she wants to use.  Gay guys with their fashionable mothers, who are only too happy to have a Rick Castle type guy as their son - they go to bars together and dress to kill for Mass on Sundays.  It could be a movie.

As it is, I highly doubt that the people who really need it will be at either event.

Good news: Hotel rooms are going cheap in Philadelphia.


Song for this post here.

Our Lady of Sorrows

"God's Word cut deeply into Mary's life:
it cut away all the ordinary hopes 
a young woman might have for her future, 
for her family life, for her child.
Yet she accepted with a courageous consent
that anticipates and mirrors the obedience of her Son
'even unto death on a cross.'" 
Meditation - Magnificat

How ordinary was the Blessed Virgin?

Once, while painting Our Lady of Perpetual Help, commissioned by a church near St. Cloud, Minnesota, it seemed to me I 'heard' an interior voice say something like: 'Though I am depicted in glory as Queen, my life on earth was very ordinary and hidden.  People must know that.'  Thus, the little meditation from Magnificat cited above resonated with me today.

My post on Sunday - 'I didn't feel welcome at Mass' was meant to be satirical - yet that title attracted quite a few hits.  How special we must think we are - huh?  How funny we worry so much about fitting in, being accepted, being welcomed.  I wonder how well we do, accepting, welcoming others?

Our Lady lived 'alone' for so many years.  No one knew.  (Legend says she died at 72 years.)

She understands the forsaken, the outcast.  She understands the poor, the lonely.  The homeless, the abandoned.  Just as she understands those who don't fit in, those who are single - who have no husband, no wife ... those who live alone - even in the company of friends or family who can't really know the depths of our soul, the solitude of living alone.  Those who assume they know and therefore judge - I wonder if they can understand solitude, the solitude of the soul, the solitude of Mary?

We complain so much and so continuously.  We complain we are so lonely.  We complain no one knows the sacrifices we make.  We complain nobody knows us.  We complain ...

We think Our Lady had a wonderful life because she is God's mother.  We think she was so exalted on earth - but she wasn't.  She suffered.  Though sinless, she suffered - 'even unto death ...'  Hence the name, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Solitude.  She is attentive to our cries in this our exile, in this vale of tears.

"Come all you who pass by the way, look and see, whether there is any suffering like my suffering." -Lam 1:12

It seems to me Our Lady wouldn't have complained like that however ... not while she was on earth.  Those sacred words are the Word of God - the words of her sweet Spouse, the Holy Spirit - calling us to look upon her and understand if possible, to console if possible, to at least try and make reparation - if possible... but more importantly, to turn to her when all of that, and everything else seems impossible.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Happy Birthday Pier Vittorio Tondelli

Pier Vittorio Tondelli was born sixty years ago on September 14, 1955.  

I think he is an important example for Catholics who struggle with same sex attraction and chastity. Tondelli repented and was reconciled to the Church not long before his death.
“Tondelli was fascinated with the works of Jewish mysticism, the Imitation of Christ, and the mystics like St. Teresa of Avila. “I love to look through them, to find and read stories, and the idea of holiness,” he wrote.
In 1989, the Italian writer said, “Everyone that has been raised in the bosom of a religion has his own religiosity. I have always tried to seek out not so much a discussion about the Catholic faith, but rather to express my own religiosity—without a doubt in the bosom of Christianity—which seeks out or questions its own positions, especially in confrontation with other authors.”
Speaking about chastity after his conversion, Tondelli called it “a mystic virtue for those who have chosen it and perhaps the most superhuman use of sexuality.”” - Catholic News Agency

Pier Vittorio Tondelli died December 16, 1991.

He's not a saint, nor is he a candidate for sainthood.  So I pray for the repose of his soul.

I like him as a model for gay Catholics.  He comes from an Italian Catholic background of course - and I suspect he always considered himself a Catholic.  Known as a controversial Italian homosexual writer, who died in 1991 due to complications of AIDS, Tondelli had been reconciled with the Church some time before he finally succumbed to the disease. He died a Catholic. I mention Tondelli today, as a sort of patron saint for those who struggle with the issues of homosexuality and Catholic teaching.

I also find it helpful to know that Pier Vittorio enjoyed reading the mystics before his conversion. Many saints read the lives and writings of the saints before their own conversions, - two that come to mind immediately, Ignatius of Loyola and Edith Stein - what they read led them to the truth.  He may have developed an idiosyncratic spirituality for himself, in and through his fascination with the saints, mysticism, and holiness.  He retained a Christian base or foundation in his spirituality, evidently avoiding New Age influences and so on.   

"In 1989, the Italian writer said, 'Everyone that has been raised in the bosom of a religion has his own religiosity. I have always tried to seek out not so much a discussion about the Catholic faith, but rather to express my own religiosity—without a doubt in the bosom of Christianity—which seeks out or questions its own positions, especially in confrontation with other authors.'”

Pier Vittorio Tondelli came to understand chastity as a “a mystic virtue for those who have chosen it and perhaps the most superhuman use of sexuality.”

It seems to me that celibacy is more a condition of single life for the layman. All are called to chastity - according to one's state in life. In contemporary understanding, chaste single life equals celibacy. Of course, religious life does too - yet ordinarily, religious do not make a vow to be celibate, but to be chaste. To love God with their entire being, otherwise vowed celibacy doesn't mean a great deal.  

Though a lay person is chaste and celibate, he may also have attachments, particular friendships, interests, and so on.  Though he is vigilant about sinful affections and unlawful attachments, he is not a religious or monastic whose vocation demands a deeper detachment from persons and secular interests.  Actual sins against chastity are sins for both the religious and the single layman, no doubt about that - yet the layman is not bound to an exclusive vow of chastity in the same manner a religious is.  A layman has a more extended, involved social role than a vowed religious, so to speak.  For instance, a single layman may have a concern about appearance, fashion, looking his best, and so on, whereas a monk is free of such concerns - or probably should be.

Nevertheless, just like love, chastity is misunderstood and 'not loved' in our culture. It's not a curse. Tondelli suggests it is chosen - on some level that is true, since we have free will - we can eat of the tree of forbidden fruit, or not. Yet more deeply, it is a grace, a gift, a valuable pearl, that one needs to sell everything to obtain. Like love, it requires sacrifice.

Some of the Catholic thinkers in the Spiritual Friendship movement may find in Tondelli a kindred spirit.  Other gay Catholics who strive to live a chaste, faithful life may as well.  The spiritual life is a journey - perseverance bears fruits of the spirit.  Sanctity is won slowly, by long labor.

“If a Christian wants to move forward on the road of Christian life he must fall, just as Jesus fell. It is the way of humility, yes, it also means he must take humiliation upon himself just as Jesus did”. - Pope Francis

Exaltation of the Cross

Here's something: A Word of Caution ...

Francesca Woodman

... For the Spiritual Friends.

I think this is dialogue.  I also think we're learning something important from these exchanges.  As St. Paul said: "There have to be factions among you in order that also those who are approved among you may become known." - 1 Corinthians 11: 17-26  It's all good.

Rachel Lu responds to Melinda Selmys and 'the Spiritual Friends'.  It is very good.

I like what one Crisis commenter said:
Once you remove the erotic element from this disordered desire you no longer have homosexuality.

Works for me.

And people can do that.

I might have more to say - or maybe not.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

If every economic migrant family in Germany took in one war refugee - just imagine ...

Open your arms!

"Why can't you share your bed? The most loving thing to do is to share your bed with someone." - Michael Jackson

Wahhabi and Salafi and Sunni and Shiite in one bed.


Song for this post here.

I didn't feel welcome at Mass.

I felt out of place.  What?

I wonder if I should start a movement?

I think I better show up when the Pope arrives, just to let him know that I didn't feel welcome.  I felt out of place.  I didn't feel the mercy.

The homily was a fund raiser - sorta.

I know - you gotta do it.

I'm thinking new priests need a little time before becoming a pastor.

I know, I'm a bad man...  inconsistent.

You never know where I'm coming from.

Oh! Oh!

Then a family sang a song for the Fall Festival at the end of Mass, and, and, and ...

I try to offer it up, but ...

I didn't feel welcome.


That isn't exactly what Schönborn said...

"Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna said a stable gay relationship is better than a temporary one."

Not exactly.

After the headline, this is what the Catholic Herald records the Cardinal as saying:
Cardinal Schönborn spoke in the interview about a gay friend of his who, after many temporary relationships, is now in a stable relationship. “It’s an improvement,” he said. They share “a life, they share their joys and sufferings, they help one another. It must be recognised that this person took an important step for his own good and the good of others, even though it certainly is not a situation the Church can consider ‘regular’.”
The Church’s negative “judgment about homosexual acts is necessary”, he said, “but the Church should not look in the bedroom first, but in the dining room! It must accompany people.”
Pastoral accompaniment “cannot transform an irregular situation into a regular one”, he said, “but there do exist paths for healing, for learning,” for moving gradually closer to a situation in compliance with Church teaching.
“We are not at risk of diluting the clarity [of Church teaching] while walking with people because we are called to walk in the faith,” he said. No synod member wants to change Church teaching. - Catholic Herald

Pope Benedict could have said the same thing - recall his speaking of a homosexual prostitute using a condom out of a sort of charitable concern - a first assumption of responsibility?*  I think it is easy to understand Schönborn, Benedict and Francis - when we listen to their actual statements in context. It seems to me Schönborn makes himself clear when he insists pastoral care “cannot transform an irregular situation into a regular one”.

 See.  Don't listen to the pundits.

*"There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility," Benedict said. - Source