Earlier this month, Bondings 2.0 asked our readers to share the LGBTQ-related spiritual practices and resources they have found helpful during the coronavirus pandemic.
Today’s post highlights some readers’ submissions for new forms of living faith and of being church, published not only to benefit this blog community, but as a gift to the wider Catholic Church which needs the gifts, opportunities, wisdom, and vocations of its LGBTQ members.
Some readers shared about the spiritual side of advocating for LGBTQ equality in the church as springtime tries to bloom. Brian McNeill, Minneapolis, Minnesota, wrote:
“In February, 2020, the bishops of Minnesota promulgated a new policy for Catholic schools and religious education that prohibits trans children, adolescents, and adults from doing any kind of public gender transitioning. In Dignity/Twin Cites, we have been working on mounting a formal reply to the bishops’ document, and we have two completed. Now we are trying to set up a meeting with the archbishop to address his new policy enforcing intolerance. When I tire of being the David to their Goliath, and while sheltering in place to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, my seedlings help steady me, despite the four inches of snow that fell yesterday, on Easter.” (see Brian’s photo)
Other readers have turned to the church’s more traditional forms of prayer, though sometimes with a modern twist. Elizabeth Edmunds, Nottingham, England, said that a “virtual concelebrated mass with an LGBT supportive priest” helped her. She provided a photo of the altar she set up at home to participate in the virtual liturgy. Bondings 2.0 previously reported on Fr. James Alison’s new project, “Praying Eucharistically,” to encourage wider celebration of the Eucharist while people are socially distanced. To learn more, click here.
One LGBTQ anonymous reader described lectio divina, in which Scripture is read contemplatively, as “a process where I learn what God is saying to me!”
In a similar contemplative vein, Ron Zeilinger, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, named the Liturgy of the Hours, the psalter-based prayers said throughout the day by monastics and others, as meaningful. He stated:
“I have found that praying the church’s universal prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours, has not only put some structure to an otherwise free-ranging day (not not that it’s a bad thing some days), but the psalms give a lot of comfort and connection to God’s presence in my life. And, because it is the official prayer of the universal church, I feel connected–even though socially isolated right now–to all my brothers and sisters in the global community.”
Nancy Marsh, St. Louis, MO, offered centering prayer, a meditative exercise, as one practice, coupled with the spirituality of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph which focuses on a deepening communion with God and with others so that ‘all may be one.’ Another anonymous reader wrote, “Silence. Silent meditation, silent reflection, shutting the news, my housemates, my phone out for a little while each day. It helps.”
One anonymous reader named the Daily Faith Sharing that Fr. James Martin, SJ, leads on Facebook to reflect on the day’s Gospel reading, commenting that Martin’s discussion “on the discipleship of women was so beautiful, and so helpful.” To join in, visit Fr. Martin’s Facebook page here. Robert Lord-Schell, Philadelphia, wrote that the Jesuit priest’s book on LGBT issues in the Catholic Church, titled Building a Bridge, had been a helpful tool for reflection.
Reflecting on words of wisdom and inspriattion have been fruitful for some readers. An anonymous reader submitted the work of celebrated lesbian poet Mary Oliver, in particular two poems, “Moments” and “Roses,” from the collection Felicity (Penguin, 2015). Here is latter:
Everyone now and again wonders about
those questions that have no ready
answers: first cause, God’s existence,
what happens when the curtain goes
down and nothing stops it, not kissing,
not going to the mall, not the Super
“Wild roses,” I said to them one morning.
“Do you have the answers? And if you do,
would you tell me?”
The roses laughed softly. “Forgive us,”
they said. “But as you can see, we are
just now entirely busy being roses.”
Frank Testin, Toronto, submitted video reflections by the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, which are available here. For spiritual authors a bit earlier in history, one reader shared that “diving into the works” of Ss. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross was “really rewarding!”
Music has also been particularly meaningful in this time. RJ Abada, Philippines, raised up the spiritual music of transgender artists Tona Brown and Reverend Yolanda. Dominic Hearne, Sydney, said a de-stressor for “times of unique pain” was the album, The World of Psalms, which can be found on YouTube by clicking here.
Finally, some readers wrote in about LGBTQ saints and holy people. John Montague, Toronto, named Fr. John McNeill and his efforts leading retreats for gay men in the 1980s. Montague wrote of McNeill: “He was the first priest who said that God loved me.”
In the end, however and with whomever we pray, it is the message of God’s unconditional and unending love for each of us which hopefully shines through. Thank you to Bondings 2.0 readers for your submissions that we may help one another weather these difficult times.
Have an additional spiritual practice or resource that has been particularly meaningful during the COVID-19 pandemic? Leave it in the ‘Comments’ section below to have it archived on this post.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, April 22, 2020