All of us have heard of Father Mychal Judge who has come to be one of the heroes of 9/11. As a Catholic priest, he helped to establish the Saint Francis AIDS Ministry in New York City and he gave of himself to others even when it ultimately cost him his life. As he died, he was serving not only God but others and he responded to Mayor Rudy Giuliani when the mayor requested that he pray for the people of New York. He responded with “I always do!” and those were the last words anyone heard him speak. He was the only priest to enter the World Trade Center and he did so in order to give absolution, aid and prayers to those trapped inside. It was there that he met his own death. He refused to evacuate the building when told to do so; his “boys”, the firefighters were working hard at saving lives and he was there with them.
In honor and commemoration of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Salvatore Sapienza gives us this beautiful little book of prayers for Father Mychal. Sapienza worked side by side with him when they created the Saint Francis AIDS Ministry and he felt that this was one way to honor his friend who died while trying to save the lives of others.
The book is about spirituality and it is composed of a series of prayers and meditations which are joined to events and actions that were part of Father Mychal’s life. Yes, it is religious to a degree but it can also be used for spiritual guidance and that is one of the wonderful things about it.
This is the third book of Sapienza’s that I have reviewed and I must say that with each book, for me, at least, the gap between my religion, Judaism, and his religion, Catholicism, narrows. It really is not about religion, it is about God and each of must find our own way to understand and deal with Him. I have total respect for Sapienza’s view and I know that he reciprocates that with me. The important thing is now how you believe or where you pray but that you believe and once we realize that the God of the Catholics and the God of the Jews and the God of the Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, etc is the same God we shall have more harmony. I work towards that as does Sapienza.
As I read his little book, I had one thought—these prayers are so Jewish. They, like Father Mychal share the “Universal Divine Wisdom” that all the religions of the world share. That was one the attributes that made Father Mychal so special—he shared that wisdom. Father Mychal was pastor to the marginalized, men and women like us who have had a hard time finding our place in organized religion and this might have been considered heretical by some. Father Mychal did what he felt he had to do and all of us are so much better because of it.
As I write this, I cannot help be reminded of the verses that the author uses from Isaiah 6:8
“Here I am Lord. It is I Lord.
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, where you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.”
This is a book of love and is a love tribute to a man who defined the word love. Let me add that the definition of Salvatore Sapienza is also love. I have never met Sal and I know him only through his writings, a few emails and some meager Facebook chat. Yet I know that he is the kind of friend that all of us dream of having. This book is proof of that. I love the little stories of Father Mychal’s life and how they explicate his faith and love. I do not know if Sal realizes it or not but as he put this book together, he also filled it with his love and as we read, we cannot help but feel it. For that, I say “Thank you” once again.
John McNeill has been a hero to the gay Catholic community for decades. A Jesuit priest for 40 years, McNeill was forced by the Vatican to leave the priesthood if he continued to minister to the gay and lesbian community. McNeill left religious life with no bank account, health insurance, etc., but he did not abandon his faith nor his dedication to serving the GLBT community.
Very excited and grateful that Michael Scully, the creator and webmaster of the definitive site devoted to Father Mychal Judge (see Saint Mychal Judge), has written such a wonderful review of my new book, Mychal's Prayer:
"This is a must-get book for those seriously interested in the life and spirituality of Father Mychal Judge. Written by a former monk who worked with Mychal, Mychal's Prayer is a series of prayers and meditations coupled with actual examples from Mychal's extraordinary life in the Holy Spirit. It points to ways we can also live more fully in the Holy Spirit according to the gifts God has given us. Mychal's Prayer will benefit all, but especially gay Catholics who struggle within the Church."
The Washington Blade reported today on a small Toledo church which has taken a big step toward sparking public debate with a billboard campaign that proclaims, “Being Gay is a Gift from God.”
From writer David Yonke's piece:
The digital billboard began displaying the slogan early Monday...The church's part-time pastor said the billboard message will be linked to a four-week sermon series.
“Members of the congregation have experienced places and times where being lesbian or gay was tolerated — kind of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell, I know God forgives you,’” he said. “We’re saying, ‘This is the way God created you. There’s nothing to forgive.’ “
“The church is incomplete without LGBT people in it, and we want the church to be complete.”
Thank you to this small church for taking such a big stand. Yes, Gay is a Gift
“The Gift of Gay”: Father Matthew Kelty, the last confessor to Thomas Merton, died a few weeks ago a the age of 96. In his 1994 book, My Song of Mercy, Father Matthew came out of the closet at the age of 90, arguing that being gay was a gift – one that aided him in his spiritual path.
"There are none more called to it, more capable of it, more created for it, than the people we call gay...Bless them!" Father Kelty wrote in the chapter entitled “The Gift of Gay.”
Religion Dispatches wrote in his obituary:
Father Matthew Kelty decided, in anticipation of his ninetieth year, to uncloset his monastic self, and thus to attempt to describe what gifts gay and lesbian Christians have to contribute to the complex tapestry of Christian communion. He did so because he had come to feel a responsibility to those “least among us” who were not moving on a path toward acceptance in as straight a line as many in the late ’60s and early ’70s had hoped.
Kelty wrote, "I may as well make it clear: …[this] is why so many heterosexuals abandon celibacy after a decade or two: they cannot handle it: they need an external woman to awaken the inner one, especially in our culture...The meeting of the bride within is not had merely for the asking. Her hand must be won; love of her must be proven. Heroic effort is taken as a matter of course… Notwithstanding many find her, and these are the people who have truly lived. It is these who know God and who will see his face because they know what love is."
Thank you, Father Kelty, for reminding us that Gay is a Gift.
Wanted to let you know about a great new radio show on Hay House Radio hosted by Karen McCrocklin. It starts on March 16, 9 am - 10 am (PST) and the topic is Gay Is a Gift!
Karen says: "Welcome to a new dialogue about what it means to be LGBT! Learn to live your best gay life by connecting with life-changing concepts and practices that will alter the way you look at the world and the way the world looks at you. Being LGBT is not a challenge to overcome, but an opportunity to practice our higher purpose as healers and teachers. Join me for a dialogue about celebrating diversity and overcoming fear of acceptance."
I love the logo Karen created (above). It reminds me that I did not choose to be gay. I was chosen!
Karen McCrocklin has been an LGBT activist for over 25 years and has served on the national and regional governing boards of over a dozen LGBT organizations. In her work as a filmmaker, writer and speaker, Karen’s unique and authentic voice has helped shape the collective dialogue about what it means to be LGBT in America. In her long career as a community advocate, she has hosted radio programming, written columns and articles for major LGBT magazines and websites and produced dozens of fund-raising and social events.
I hope to be on Karen's show in the near future, talking about my book Gay is a Gift, available now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Congrats, Karen, and thanks to you and Hay House for spreading the good word about Gay is a Gift.
Join me at Liberation 2011: Nothin' Broken Here! An LGBT Spiritual Experience from April 7 - 10, 2011 at Unity Village, MO.
To think that you’re anything less than perfect is to believe in a limited God. If you’ve ever been told or believed that your sexuality is holding you back from opportunities in life, it’s time for Liberation!
Presenter Mark Anthony Lord is an internationally acknowledged gay spiritual leader dedicated to healing the world of homophobia. A fun, humorous, authentic and intuitive teacher, he empowers you to discover your own insights and remember that God is within you—and is always accessible.
Teaming up for the workshop is acclaimed musician and Tony award-winner Levi Kreis, an openly gay artist whose soulful sound and meaningful lyrics about acceptance, surrender and faith have won him fans worldwide.
In this nurturing, safe environment, you’ll be liberated to ask the deeper questions that reveal and allow genuine transformation.
Liberation 2011 is about:
Healing the shame and pain of growing up in a homophobic society. Discovering your Divine Purpose and Perfection in being gay. Fulfilling your dreams and living the life you’ve imagined. Building intimate friendships established in love, power and authenticity. Revealing the perfection of God within you, exactly as you are.
To register or learn more HERE, where your can also read an excerpt from my book Gay is a Gift, which is on sale at the Unity Village bookstore, online retailers and a bookstore near you. Hope to see you at the retreat.
Wanted to let you know about Project Service LA, a beautiful LGBTQI spiritual community taking shape in L.A. Whether you call it God, Buddha, Krishna, Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, The Great I AM, Spirit, Energy, or simply LOVE, you are most welcomed, & deeply valued at Project: Service L.A. Learn more:
I am happy to make the acquaintance of John Bittinger Klomp, a gay artist in Florida, whose art is influenced by the ocean, sky, saltwater marshes, and the light at Florida beach resorts. Visit his blog and explore his stunning work.