“Queer Worship”: How Do We Do It?*

This post has moved to my new domain at http://queering-the-church.com/blog

This Joyful Season of Lent

At Mass this morning, these words from the preface leapt out at me – words I do not usually associate with Lent:

Each year you give us this joyful season

when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery

with mind and heart renewed.

This is entirely correct of course. Lent is indeed a time of solemnity, a time for austerity and preparation,, but that is the key. Above all, it is a time of preparation for that great season of Easter, and its culmination in the resurrection, which is what the Christian religion is all about.


This perspective gives added meaning to the standard formula which opens the preface, as it does with only minor variations for every Mass:

Father, all-powerful and ever-loving God,

we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fishing for Souls: 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 7th February.

Isaiah 6:1-8

Psalm 137: 1-5, 7-8

1 Corinthians 15: 1-11

Luke 15: 1-11

What does “apostle” mean to you?  For many people, there is an assumption that it ahs something to do with being of the elect, one of “the twelve”, or the inner circle.  But the word itself has nothing to do with this- and Scripture itself is not at all clear that there were just twelve apostles:  where the word is used, it refers in different contexts to different groups.  At times it is indeed used to refer to the twelve- at other times it is used interchangeably with “disciples”, to refer to a wider body of followers (and at least one woman, Junia, is described as an apostle).

The word itself simply means one who is sent – derived from “apostello” – I  send.  Today’s readings from Isaiah and from Luke remind us that in this sense we are all apostles. Isaiah tells how, seeing himself as unworthy, as a wretch, he nevertheless heard the Lord asking “Whom shall I send?”, to which he answered (to his own surprise, I suspect), “Here I am, end me.” Simon, on the lake shore after the miracle of the fishing boats, is overwhelmed by his own unworthiness, and pleads with the Lord to be left alone in his sinfulness. But the Lord will have none of it, and assures him that henceforth, he will be a fisher of men.


"Fishers for Souls", Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne (c. 1589, Delft – 1662, The Hague)

Now, being chosen does not mean that Isaiah and Simon were mistaken in their earlier self-assessments.  They believed they were wretched sinners – and so they were, just as we all are. Read the rest of this entry »

Queer in Faith: Some Links

I can say clearly that with Hans Kung I am no longer a Roman Catholic — I am a universal Christian catholic in union with the Holy Spirit. I belong to that union of believers who practice the way of Jesus or Nazareth.

Tom McMahon, San Jose, Ca. (15/09/09)

Tom-McMahon at 24 Tom McMahon entered a minor seminary aged just 13. At the time this picture was taken:

“I am 24 years old when this picture was taken, ripe for ordination after 12 years of monastic life in St. Patrick’s Seminary, Menlo Park, CA. I am as innocent sexually as the day I virginally entered seminary at age 13, pre-puberty. I excelled at sports burning up my newly-discovered testosterone and girls were out of bounds; 60 years later I meet old friends at clerical funerals and some say “you were the catcher on the baseball team when I was in seminary”. Would that I be remembered for more than that six decades later. The boy who entered seminary at 13 was still alive in me when I was ordained at age 25. An innocent boy, even if he wears a Roman collar …..”

Many years later, feeling dehumanised (his word) by the experience of compulsory celibacy, he followed so many other priests out of the presbytery and into marriage. Now over 80, he writes a moving series of reflections on the history of priesthood and his experience of it. Informed by his training in psychology, he uses the series title “The Psychology of Priesthood.” The quotation introducing this post comes at the end of part 11, the one beneath the picture comes from the latest post, part 16.) Unlike Tom, I have never been a priest, although the Christian Brothers once tried to persuade me to enter the minor seminary at a ridiculously young age. (I am eternally grateful that my father would not hear of it). Like Tom, I am a cradle Catholic, and continue to call myself catholic, worshipping in two Catholic parishes, and actively involved in the Soho Masses. I recognise and value the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, but do not accept that teaching authority equates with legislative authority. While I dissent on some specific matters, this is a right protected by standard teaching. I insist on my inclusion by virtue of baptism and participation in the Catholic communion, but also because “catholic” at its most basic level simply means “universal”. While I will not walk away to join another denomination, I feel less and less committed to the “Roman” as opposed to the “catholic” church. As I have been writing here over the months, I have frequently referred to and recommended other lesbian and gay Catholic bloggers. However, I have become increasingly convinced that if we as a group are to make headway in our search for justice, we need to recognise that there are others with whom we should be making alliances: women in the Catholic Church, the global church in their struggles, and other queer Christians. In this spirit, I have been restructuring my web links in the side bar (which were long overdue for a tidy up), removing the distinction between Catholic and other Christian that I misguidedly imposed in the beginning. I have also added some links from other traditions, and hope to add still more. For now, I would like to introduce you (briefly) to some sites that I have found particularly interesting, for one reason or another. (All of these are by or about lesbian, gay or transgender people, but not all have this as their main focus). Read the rest of this entry »

A Healing Church

(This comes as a guest post from Irene, a dear friend who is a committed regular at the Soho Masses – travelling long distance to get there.  This is her account of a recent experience attending Mass, on the night when Mass was followed by a musical concert presentd by our own “Schola Assumptionis”):


A few weeks ago a tendon in my left leg became taut and painful to match the one in the right leg that has been damaged. After walking for hours around London I arrived at church early so I could take the weight off my feet before going up to mass. Lying on the chairs was such a relief. I didn’t manage to stand through all the appropriate parts of the service but the pain was less when I was chatting downstairs over tea before the concert. After the concert I helped distribute the wine and walking to Bistro 1 afterwards, I noticed I had no more pain in my leg – and I have had none since. I must have had a spontaneous healing during mass. I am delighted.

Some of you may know that I work as a healer. Once healing was part of the Christian and Jewish ministry but the Enlightenment put a stop to that! Witchcraft!! Healers, however,  have kept going, secretly though, as it is a gift and one which works. In Sarajevo, where there is no NHS  to limit people’s minds, people are open to it and have amazing reactions.Openness to holistic medicine has made it more acceptable but when I talk about it to Christians they are more than a bit suspicious. Now, something has happened to me during Mass, a total spontaneous healing, something totally unexpected and which has never happened during my healing and meditation sessions. Why? A stronger presence of God? I don’t know. I do know that I am no longer in pain and I am absolutely delighted.

(And we are delighted with you, Irene.  Thank you for sharing this.  And may I remind the rest of you, that I am always open to posting guest contributions from any other readers who have something to say.)

QTC at Pride

Here I am in front of our Trafalgar Square stall after the London Pride march last week.  (I’m on the left, with a goofy grin and holding a bright yellow copy of Martin Pendergast’s gay catholic reading list).

me at pride stall 2009

And from last year, along with our Joe Stanley, chair of our Soho Masses Pastoral Council.   This was also at our Trafalgar Square stall, after the march- (which is why I was thirsty).

me at pride 2008

Soho Masses: A Visitor’s View

I have written often enough about the Soho Masses.  For an independent perspective, you may wish to read the report of Sarah Whitmore, the American journalism student who visited and interviewed me a fortnight ago.  Sarah writes:

“LONDON — As the church bells chime 5 o’clock, the organ prelude begins. Late-comers hurry to take their seats. The congregation is mostly single men, with some couples and even a handful of families—all with the shared goal of unhindered worship.

Our Lady of the Assumption & St. Gregory’s Catholic Church capitalizes on the oxymoronic by offering mass for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community the first and third Sunday of each month.”

But also: Read the rest of this entry »

Faith at London Pride

4th July – and in London, the parade was for Gay Pride. These pictures, taken by Martin Pendergast, show the participation by some Catholics in the march and Trafalgar Square celebrations, as well as how we marked the occasion at the Soho Mass next day (our Pride Mass is always a highlight of the year.) I still plan to share further words and pictures of the rest of the march and festivities, especially of the many other faith-based participants. These will follow later.

PProudly Gay, Proudly Catholic: London Pride, 2009

Proudly Gay, Proudly Catholic: London Pride, 2009

Our Information Stand at Trafalgar Square

Our Information Stand at Trafalgar Square

Pride Mass

Pride Mass

Rainbow Flag for Pride Mass

Rainbow Flag for Pride Mass

A Rainbow Cake After Pride Mass

A Rainbow Cake After Pride Mass


Jeremiah’s Return

Over at Gospel for Gays, Jeremiah has written of his own return to the Catholic Church.  After being driven away originally in anger a the Canadian Bishops over their opposition to gay marriage he returned eventually after a discussion with a local pastor. Much of his experience resonates with mine:  the emphasis on the local parish (I and many others have never encountered any hostility in local parishes);  and his belief in dealing with the official church by living in constant conversation with the Holy Spirit. Extracted from “My Return”:

But do you ever really quit the church?  In my case, probably not.   Read the rest of this entry »

6 Month Review: Thanks to All

It is now 6 months since I lunched “Queering the Church”, six months which have been enriching and rewarding.  It is time to step back and reflect on the ups and downs, to give thanks, and to redirect where necessary. Heartfelt thanks are due to my friend Rob Alexander for encouragement and contributions, and to fellow bloggers at The Wild Reed, Nihil Obstat, Ad Dominum,  Bilgrimage, JS O’Leary, and  Creative Advance for encouragement and links.   Thanks too, to everyone who has posted a comment of any kind.  “Censor Librorum” once described commenters as “angels who sat on her shoulder”. So it is:  else there is a real danger, in a phrase used by Bilgrimage, of feeling that one is “talking into a vacuum”.

My chief satisfaction has been in seeing that somewhere out there, there are people who find something of value here.  The total page loads now exceed 5000 from over 3000  individual visitors. many of these are surfing tourists, just passing through:  but at least 600 of you have returned for repeated  looks, some of you very frequently indeed. This is gratifying.

My second satisfaction is that  maintaining and developing this site keeps me constantly challenged, grappling with the issues, reading, and thinking, thus constantly feeding my own growth and development as a gay Catholic.  Again, for this I am grateful.

The main area where I need to improve, I think, is in filling the gaps.  In launching the site, I envisaged two major aims:  to comment on current events or issues that caught my attention, and also to provide a  comprehensive resource base for the LGBT Catholic community.  This is reflected in the design, with a front page that is essentially comment, and back pages for the resource base.  In practice, I have provided far more of the first, and somewhat neglected the back page resources (especially Scripture and Spirituality). To correct the balance, I have started paying more attention to internal links and site navigation (see my new Site Map page), and aim to spend more time on adding fresh material to these pages as well.

Finally, my one big dissapointment, which I discussed yesterday.  I would dearly love to have not just your comments, but also your own contributions.  Let this grow, in time, into a genuine community voice. Until then, thank you all once again for your support, in whatever form you have given it.

Nevertheless, I thank you all again for your support thus far, in whatever form you have given it.