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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Filled with the Spirit at Castro's Most Holy Redeemer

Have you had a tremendously positive gay spiritual/religious experience?

I did the other day when going to the 10am Mass at the Castro's Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in San Francisco, CA. I won't give a full recap, but let's just say I got goosebumps (in a very good way) when the choir led the church--one with a history of welcoming all, one with a history of burying many of their own as victims of AIDS, one where, when I was visiting, the congregation was gay and gray and everything en between. In this context, the traditional song that I've heard MANY times in my home church here in Napa took on a new, blessed, deeper significance, and the meaning came alive for me before my eyes.

I teared up as we all sang:

1. Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

2. Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

3. Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

4. Will you love the "you" you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you've found to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

5. Lord your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In Your company I'll go where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus I'll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

I'd guess the assembled parishioners were about 70% gay men in their 20s/30s/40s (many with babies, many as couples), 10% were little, old, ladies and their husbands, 20% were lesbians and others. This was all just what I observed from my pew and from the doughnut and coffee hour. But when we all sang it was a tremendous chorus (gay men's chorus?) that roared forth the Spirit into my heart.

My journey of figuring out how to be myself as a gay man and as a gay catholic and everything else I am has not been easy, and the Vatican and hierarchy's pronouncements against (usually) same-sex couples and homosexuality have not been kind. It is moments like these, where the Church (the assembled people of God) shines forth its true goodness and reminds me of why I stay Catholic.

Click here for a list of gay-friendly, Catholic parishes around the United States. The Fruit has also have covered some other LGBT welcoming churches here in Napa and nearby.

Please use the comments to share your spiritual experiences, positive or otherwise, or favorite gay-friendly spiritual centers.

1 comment:

  1. I found this the other day and posted it on my Facebook wall. It's the mission statement from Covenent Presbyterian Church in Napa:

    “Covenant Presbyterian Church is a fully welcoming church which invites all to life and leadership, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation or any other worldly condition. We pray, as those who follow Christ,
    for the capacity to envision life as it could be, and with the help of our loving God, to unite ourselves across our differences and to
    treat all with respect, dignity, love, compassion, understanding and justice.”

    Honestly, my favorite part is "...and any other worldly condition."