Good morning from London!
A few days ago I participated in an afternoon divine mercy retreat in Tyburn convent. Upon arrival I noticed that there was just one other man and the rest of the participants were ladies who were all about my mum’s age.
Things got off to a dodgy start as I accidentally hit someone with the door who jokingly replied “it’s ok because you are good-looking” and seeing that she had a good sense of humour I smiled and said “let’s get married”!
Anyway her friend looked at me very sternly and said “she’s a married woman”!!!
Already the Lord was showing me how misunderstandings can cause enormous division even over the smallest of things.
Anyway as the day went on I prayed a lot for the ladies and of course more than one of them had already put a collar on me and ordained me a priest. They were so sweet and when they thought I was about 21 I loved them even more!
The priest was a polish priest from the divine mercy apostolate. He was young, good humoured and enthusiastic and honestly he did a great job.
During the mass he invited us all to pray out loud for our intentions and I felt Jesus prompting me to pray for the LGBT community.
I was a bit nervous. Some of these old ladies might be like vultures if I talk about gays out loud in Tyburn Convent close to where the martyrs died? And as usual I was alone and the “only gay in the village” that I knew of!
I said a prayer and went for it.
“Jesus, please bless all gay, lesbian and transgender people who may feel rejected and unloved and struggling to find their place in the church and society. Bless also their parents who may be worried and struggling too”.
The ground did not shake, the ceiling did not fall in, lightening did not fall from the sky and more significantly not a single head turned.
“There goes their hopes of me becoming a priest” I thought as I calmed myself!!
I guess over the years I’ve been often quite hurt by some of these older catholics who don’t always understand the gay issue so I offered the mass for them and for any healing I needed too.
After the mass the lady whom I’d hit with the door earlier in the day came to talk to me. She told me her testimony. She’d been a chronic alcoholic for years, she’d been put in hospital with the key thrown away after multiple nervous breakdowns and then she met Jesus through the legion of Mary and now to use her own words ” I’m so happy”!
I told her about my own breakdowns and about being catholic and gay and I could only feel love, mercy and acceptance from her.
She went on to tell me that the first time that she met a gay person was only recently when her nephew came with his partner. She said “I don’t have much understanding but as soon as I met them I knew I had to love them”.
She was so sweet and humble as she acknowledged that it’s an area where she hadn’t received much education or understanding and yet her heart told her that she was not to judge but to love.
And of course as Our Lady would have it, she is a big Medjugorje supporter and invited me to a Medjugorje prayer meeting held monthly in her church.
Last night I went to a special mass for gay Catholics after which an irish man spoke to me. Again of the same generation he went on to tell me that when he was young one would get immediately fired from a job for being gay even if they were single or whatnot.
Through these experiences I kept feeling Jesus whispering the word “understanding” in my ear and for us not to be too quick to say “she’s homophobic or he’s transphobic” because often people are only saying and doing what they heard or saw and have had nobody to really explain these issues to them from a catholic and pastoral perspective.
And so today I give thanks to these ladies who have hearts of gold and who pray unceasingly for us all. Sure they might say the wrong thing at times and get hold of the wrong end of the stick but yet their hearts are in the right place and all they really want is to see all young people love Jesus go to heaven!
So today let us pray for the gift of understanding regardless of whether we are old or young so that divisions and misunderstandings be broken down and that we can all come together and praise and worship Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life!
Blessings to all!