Wednesday, December 26, 2012

1000+ Posts

I realized this evening that, when I hit the 'publish' button, I will have published 1009 blog posts since September 1st, 2004. Anne Hall created this blog for me so that I wouldn't have to send group emails; ever at the vanguard of technology, she realized that the blog might be well suited as an online journal that would enable me to share my journey with others.

As I scroll through the photos and posts, it's amazing how much has changed in eight years. Guys I entered with have left, men I admired have died, and many others have entered my life. When I entered at the age of 24, I thought I had everything figured out. Today, at 33, I realize how little I know and I am often overwhelmed when I think about how many things I have yet to learn.

Looking toward 2013, my singular hope - in addition to growing in grace and virtue - is to continue to grow in boldness. I am acutely aware of being a public presence, one of many faces of the Church, yet I cannot help but to feel that I've been derelict in my duty when I have remained silent on issues I felt drawn to write about. Often my silence is due to fear: fear of being though poorly of by fellow Catholics, fear of causing a stir among the faithful, fear of doing something that annoys fellow Jesuits or clergy. The common theme, though, is fear and it is my hope and prayer that, in 2013, I grow in in a sense of holy boldness in speaking the truth whenever, and wherever, I encounter it...regardless the cost.

This year, I realized that my favorite metaphor for my vocation is that of a "feis musician." My job as a musician for Irish dancers calls for me to disappear, to fade into the background so that the dancers can do what they are called to do upon the stage. Thus, I am at my best when I am most invisible, when I dissolve into the music that I play and enable the dancers to become what they are called to be. There is, of course, a seduction to make each performance an opportunity to show off and demonstrate to others how good at music I am...but I know, deep down, that I'm at my best when I am in the background.

I thank my readers who have written and commented and I hope that I continue to give you things to think about. Nothing would be more gratifying than to know that my words have helped people to think more clearly, to pray a little more faithfully, to trust more deeply. I'm not writing to win an award but, truly, to help others by sharing things that go on within me. Readers may not agree with everything I say but, I can assure you, I only write what I actually think and feel. Of course, this can change over the course of months or years, but I do my best to be honest.

Be assured of my prayers as we continue to dwell in the Christmas season and celebrate "God with us."  We believe in a God who loved us enough to take a role in our story, becoming flesh to show us how flesh should be. We are, all of us, learning slowly how to take up our own roles in this drama and it is my honor to play a part in this production for those who read what little I have to say. 

7 comments:

naturgesetz said...

Your metaphor for your vocation seems paradoxical, especially in light of your earlier words about growing in boldness. Perhaps it is reconciled in the example of my patron saint, who said, "He must increase, and I must decrease," but did not shrink from speaking boldly to those who came to hear him. As long as your ministry — words included — are proclaiming him, I guess it's possible to be a bold feis musician.

God bless you.

Ryan G. Duns, SJ said...

Internally I noted the paradox but resolve it in the way you observed: it's not by going silent but by proclaiming the one One I'm about, or the Tune I'm trying to play, that I become most fully who I am.

Fred said...

I, for one, would love to see an open and honest discussion of homosexuality on this blog.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Fred, why don't you lead off the discussion?

Fred said...

Anon,

OK, I'm Fred. I'm Catholic. I'm gay.
It would be wonderful if gay Catholics -- lay, religious and ordained cold speak openly from our (their) experiences about this and not alway pretend we're talking about "other people" when we speak of gay Catholics.

naturgesetz said...

Fred — It's Mr. Duns' blog, and he can let this go as long as he wants, but here's my two cents worth.

If you go to my blog, you see that I identify as "homosexual." There's a range of meanings in that term and "gay," so I think it important to specify that I mean same-sex attracted and celibate.

I think I understand the value of speaking about real people and their actual experiences, rather than abstractions and hypotheticals all the time. But there are a couple of difficulties when it comes to religious and clergy speaking about their experiences.

For one thing, as I understand it, bishops and religious superiors tend to discourage their clergy and religious from openly proclaiming their orientation. There may be several reasons: potential harm to their ministry through adverse reactions from homophobic laity; potential rash judgments about their conduct; potential misrepresentation or pressure for support from activists opposed to Church teachings; potential divisiveness if they actually oppose Church teachings.

The other difficulty is related to the final item above. If a cleric/religious wants to be faithful to his obligation to proclaim what the Church teaches but finds that he has issues with some element of teaching on this topic, he would put himself in an awkward position by basically inviting people to ask how he feels about it. He may find it more prudent and more honorable to try to keep his personal opinions out of the discussion.

In some ways, this is unfortunate. I think the witness of faithful, celibate clergy and religious could be very helpful to young people who are discovering their own homosexual orientation. It would tell them that God does not reject them, and the Church does not reject them. It would tell them that it is not necessary to engage in sexual behavior just because one has sexual appetites. It could open a valuable discussion on intimacy within chaste friendships. And it could help promote acceptance of homosexuals with respect, sensitivity, and compassion among straight Catholics. So it's unfortunate that there are reasons for clergy and religious to stay in the closet — the more so because those few who do come out seem to be the ones who want to challenge Church teaching.

fordham ram said...

It is unfortunate that society defines us by our sexual orientation. I don't think the Hound of Heaven does so.....it is an aspect of our personhood, but does not define us.