REVELATION 7:2-4, 9-14
I, John, saw another angel come up from the East, holding the seal of the living God.
He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea, “Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put God’s seal on the foreheads of the faithful.”
I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal: 144,000 from every tribe of the children of Israel.
After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”
All the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They prostrated themselves before the throne, worshiped God, and exclaimed: “Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen!”
Then one of the elders spoke up and asked me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” I answered, “You are the one who knows.” Then the elder said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”
- How would you define a Saint? Is there a Saint who has been important to you in your life of faith? Who was that person, and why are they important?
- Who are LGBTQ/ally people that you look to as Saints? How do they nourish or inspire you?
- Have you ever asked a Saint to pray for you? Why or why not?
- The Saints include people who have committed nearly every sin, and yet God has worked through them to be bearers of Christ’s love in the world. Do you find it empowering or discouraging to think about Saints as flawed?
- In the Gospel (the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-12a), Jesus says, “Blessed are they who are persecuted.” Can you recall lives of Saints who were persecuted? How do their lives compare or contrast with those in the LGBTQ/ally community who may have been persecuted for standing up for Gospel truths?
Litany of LGBTQ/ally saints and martyrs
Everlasting God, we thank you for the lives of our LGBTQ and ally saints and martyrs. May they always inspire us to live with courage, hope, and loving hearts.
Saints of Stonewall, who performed the miracle of transforming self-hatred into pride, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, fearless warrior and gender-queer martyr, pray for us.
Saint Sergius and Saint Bacchus, male couple united in love and death, pray for us.
Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity, who shared a holy kiss before dying, patron saints of same-sex couples, pray for us.
Saint Mychal Judge, fire-brigade chaplain and first martyr of 9/11, recognized for your queer spirit, pray for us
Saint Brigid and Saint Darlughdach, women soulmates whose lives together were aflame with the Holy Spirit, pray for us.
Saint John, Beloved Disciple, apostle and evangelist who lay on Jesus‘ chest at the last supper, pray for us.
Saint Francis of Assisi, gender nonconformist who loved all creation without limits, pray for us.
Saint Desmond Tutu, South Africa’s strong LGBTQ ally who taught that racism and homophobia are connected, pray for us.
Saint Alan Turing, who ended war, saved millions and changed the world, pray for us.
Dame Julian of Norwich, who celebrated “Mother Jesus,” pray for us.
Saint David Kato, Ugandan activist and resilient martyr, pray for us.
Saint Marsha P. Johnson, Stonewall instigator, and revolutionary black trans activist, pray for us.
Saints Jonathan and David, Saints Ruth and Naomi, biblical images of same-gender love, pray for us
Saint Harvey Milk, martyred gay rights pioneer, pray for us.
Saint Matthew Shepard, crucified by hate-filled men, young forever, pray for us.
Pulse 49 Martyrs of Orlando, shielding those you loved with your own bodies, pray for us.
Martyrs of the UpStairs Lounge fire, whose memory burns in our hearts, pray for us.
All who have lived and died for love, peace and justice, pray for us.
Jesus, friend and liberator of outcasts, tortured and killed on the cross for loving beyond limits, pray for us.
Sally Gross (died February 14, 2014) was a South African anti-apartheid and intersex-activist. She was born into a Jewish family, classified as male, given a masculine name, and raised as a boy. The discrimination Gross faced during her life as an intersex individual led her to a lifetime of activism for more ethical treatment of the intersex community in South Africa.
Although Jewish, Gross was drawn to Catholicism and was baptized in early 1976. She became a novitiate in the Dominican Order in Oxford, England, and was later ordained a Catholic priest in 1987.
Gross ultimately identified as female. Because of this, her clerical status was stripped and her religious vows were annulled. Gross could no longer serve in the priesthood as a woman. (From Sally Gross | Profile, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network)
In this video for “It Gets Better South Africa,” Gross elaborates on what it means to be born intersex and offers words of encouragement for the intersex community.
The reading from the Book of Revelation ends with the words, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.” I believe Sally Gross stands present among these chosen ones.