Today’s reflection is by Bondings 2.0 contributor Yunuen Trujillo, whose bio can be found by clicking here.
Today’s liturgical readings for the Feast of Corpus Christi can be found here.
A few weeks ago, I returned to my home parish to participate in the first Mass of a good friend who had just been ordained a transitional deacon. I hadn’t been to that parish at least since before the pandemic. From the moment I parked in the parking lot I felt a sense of peace. “I’m home,” my heart sang.
This parish was the first place where I felt truly part of the Body of Christ, my birthplace to the faith. In this parish, I spent years in young adult ministry, sang at hundreds of Masses, made friends, laughed, cried, opened up in prayer, and grew in my faith. After I came out, the not-so-progressive community continued welcoming me, even as I started wearing a rainbow ribbon to every Mass whenever I served as a lector or Eucharistic minister. The community knew me and cared for me; being gay was seemingly a non-issue.
Right at the start of the pandemic, however, I had a bit a “dark night of the soul” episode. Discouraged by some challenges in LGBTQ Ministry, I welcomed a break from serving in the parish when the pandemic started. Later on, I married and moved to a faraway city, and I had not returned until my friend’s Mass.
When it came time to take Communion, I walked in line to receive, wearing my rainbow ribbon, now happily married. “Will my friend deny me the Eucharist? Will he hesitate? Are seminarians being trained to fight the culture wars in the Communion line?”
“The body of Christ,” he said, as he raised his head and cracked a smile when he realized it was me. “Amen,” I responded, and I sighed in relief.
Jesus said to them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” (Jn 6:53-54)
Today, we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, exalting the Real Presence of Jesus’ Body and Blood in the Eucharist. Celebrations such as today can bring some level of anxiety to LGBTQ Catholics and others who have been told they should exclude themselves from partaking in the Eucharist simply because of a particular marital status, or the lack of it. At the end of the day, however, the decision to receive is a matter of the communicant’s conscience.
Are you one with Christ? Are you in a state of grace? This question should be answered by each individual. No group of people should believe that the answer is always “yes” or “no” simply based on one aspect of the self. An examination of conscience should include all aspects of our lives.
For anyone who doesn’t know how to answer those two questions, or who does not feel at peace with the answers, I recommend finding a good spiritual director or a confessor who will provide a pastoral approach and can guide you in your discernment process. We shouldn’t have to jump loops and hoops to find an answer. I find Pope Francis’ guidance in the Joy of the Gospel to be very helpful: “The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” (no. 47).
As followers of Jesus, we are all trying to be better. We all have challenges and shortcomings, but we also have virtues and God-given gifts. Our sexuality is a gift as God made us perfectly who we are. In order to answer those questions then, we must look beyond the gay/straight and dominant gender paradigms.
The feast of Corpus Christi is also a moment to reflect on the Mystical Body of Christ. By virtue of our baptism, we are all part of a mystical union into a spiritual Body of Christ. This day can be a time to reflect on our engagement in this Body:
Do you feel like you are part of this Body?
Do you feel welcome at your parish and part of the community?
Is there a more welcoming parish you can attend in your area?
How can you create more welcoming spaces for others?
There’s a lot of work to do in LGTBQ ministry, but we are all Jesus’ hands, feet, and beating heart, moving this Body of Christ that is the church in a more welcoming direction.
If you are looking for a welcoming community, consult New Ways Ministry’s list of LGBTQ-friendly parishes and faith communities, available here. To learn about how to make your parish more welcoming, visit the “Next Steps” program by clicking here.
—Yunuen Trujillo (she/her), June 11, 2023