Coming Out to Proclaim the Gospel of Jesus

John Michael Reyes

For Ash Wednesday and the Sundays of Lent, Bondings 2.0 is presenting spiritual reflections from a diverse group of students at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California,  who either identify as LGBTQ+ or who are involved with LGBTQ+ theological research and/or ministry.  Today’s post is from John Michael Reyes, who holds a Master of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University. His spiritual formation, community life and heart is with the Franciscan School of Theology (Berkeley), now located in Oceanside, CA.  He has served as a hospital chaplain, liturgist and currently works at Santa Clara University’s Campus Ministry focusing onSacramental Formation and Liturgy.  He is a native San Franciscan who enjoys working out at the nearest OrangeTheory Fitness and is a parishioner of Most Holy Redeemer Parish, San Francisco. John Michael is coordinating the liturgies at New Ways Ministry’s Eighth National Symposium, “Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss:  LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis,” April 28-30, 2017, in Chicago.  See the end of this post for more information on the event.

Scripture readings for the Third Sunday of Lent can be found by clicking here.

Have you ever been so embarrassed that it paralyzed you?

In my 29 years of living, I have been embarrassed by my actions many times, resulting in not being able to  “show face.”  I have made poor decisions that impacted the opinion of people I value.  My childhood was not fun: I dealt with challenges ranging from abuse to the repercussions of not fulfilling a parent’s dream that I pursue the medical or legal professions.  Later in life, an unhealthy environment led me to isolation and a diagnosis of depression. A suicide attempt shook all parts of my life. I was embarrassed to show myself at events.  I hid until the coast was clear to do the things I needed to do: to eat, to do laundry, among other mundane tasks. I was not doing myself any favors.  

“Jesus and the Woman at the Well” by He Qi

Today’s gospel– the Samaritan woman at the well encountering Jesus–made me remember this time of my life.  First of all, have you ever noticed that the story is dripping wet with details of her, yet we do not know her name?  This anonymity allows her to represent all of us; I felt like the Samaritan woman.  She snuck out when the coast was clear at off-peak times to the well. She snuck out so no one would see her–her wounds, her failure, her weakness, her humanity.  Just like the woman at the well with many husbands, I was held victim to these “husbands” of isolation and depression instead of seeking the one love, the one husband, who could free me: Jesus.

Despite trying to hide from others, the woman was noticed by someone:  Jesus. Her story was recognized and she was seen for who she was; she was able to “come out.”  This story highlights the desire for Jesus to come closer to us and allow us to be held close to His heart. It highlights a response to His action that we all could give: “I believe, with all my heart, that you, Jesus, are the way, the truth, and the life.”

When I work with those preparing for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, I always tell them that joining the Church is not solely a process of “becoming Catholic,” so as to be able to “check off a box” but a process of “coming out” and sharing with those in your world that you are on this faith journey to Jesus–that there is something about Him that captivates you, making Him irresistible to follow ever more closely.

Today’s gospel story is not so much about the woman believing in Christ but about the woman fulfilling her role in helping Jesus proclaim the gospel.  She reminds us that our baptism commits us to a life of discipleship.  These days, we might be “married” to the wrong love: drugs, alcohol, the thirst for power or money,  sex, or even control of the other.  Thus we can hear Jesus say, “the husband you have right now is not your own.”   It would help if we tried to answer the question: “How can we prioritize our lives so that Christ can be at the center?”

When we encounter the living Christ (in the sacraments or in our daily experiences) and we immerse ourselves in that encounter, we are bound to change.  And that change should hopefully bring us to discipleship.  Discipleship comes at a cost.  I am asked to be a better Christian, one who does not live on fear or anxiety.  A poor self-image–like the one held by the Samaritan woman or my younger self —does not reflect that I am a person loved by God.  A person who God loves is not alone and is not left without anything.

I’m still healing from my experiences.  The woman was free and told her people, “come and see someone who told me everything I did.”  I had people in my life that helped share my feelings and heal the chips on my shoulders.  They showed me the parts of myself that were hidden, that I myself had not admitted. This is another form of “coming out.”   

What are the things that you need to name freely for yourself and for Jesus?   Jesus does not want us to change our embarrassing pasts,  but to change our relationship with Him for the life of the world.  When the woman left that well, her outer appearance did not change: she was still a Samaritan, a woman, coming out to the well at an awkward time–and she still had her story.  But now, she was reoriented towards mission, whereas before she was simply scared and embarrassed.  

The Lenten Season’s call us to come out and deepen our conversion towards Jesus.  May we have the strength to take these steps so that we, like the villagers at the end of today’s gospel, can proclaim with our whole humanity – strengths and embarrassments – that Jesus is “truly the savior of the world.”

Reflection Questions:

What in your life still needs to come out? What in your life is in need of life-giving water?  Who are your “husbands”?  Who gets in the way of God, your one true love?

PS: In these next few Sundays of Lent, those who have been journeying in the Catechumenate process will be celebrating the Scrutiny Rites.  Please keep them, the Elect–those called by God for the Easter Sacraments–in your prayers that they too may experience life-giving water.

John Michael Reyes, March 19, 2017

New Ways Ministry’s Eighth National Symposium, Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis, is scheduled for April 28-30, 2017, Chicago, Illinois. Plenary speakers:  Lisa Fullam, Leslie Griffin, Rev. Bryan Massingale, Frank Mugisha. Prayer leaders:  Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Bishop John Stowe, OFM, Conv.  Pre-Symposium Retreat Leader:  Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS.  For more information and to register, visit www.Symposium2017.org.

Transfigured From a Life of Loneliness and Disconnection

For Ash Wednesday and the Sundays of Lent, Bondings 2.0 is presenting spiritual reflections from a diverse group of students at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California,  who either identify as LGBTQ+ or who are involved with LGBTQ+ theological research and/or ministry.  Today’s post is from Jude Rathgeb, who holds a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University.  His studies focused specifically on the biblical relationship between Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. He now enjoys life in San Francisco, where he pursues various avenues of theological discourse and reflection. 

Scripture readings for the Second Sunday of Lent can be found by clicking here.

I find it so important to be connected to myself.  Just the other night, I was with someone, a man, and wanted to express what, for so long, I have repressed inside of me.  That I like him.  That I want to touch him, hold him.  That I’m–.  But I couldn’t.  Because I’m a man, too.  I lay there, beside him, and couldn’t muster the longing necessary to be connected–as long as I felt disconnected from, of all people, myself.  

But where does this self-disconnection come from, I wondered?  This feeling of being lost, wandering, even alone.  Certainly, the season of Lent calls us to brave the desert before us, but the questions, at least for me, still remain:  Am I an abomination?  Do I have a “self”?  A real self, with real desires, with whom I can be connected?

Transfiguration by Aidan Hart

The questions themselves disturb me–I feel unsettled, even now, as I write.  Yet, today’s Gospel, according to Matthew, follows what Jesus proclaims earlier on in the same account:  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (Mt 5:17).  In the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration on the mountaintop, the disciples witness the glorified Jesus, as well as the miraculous appearance of Moses and Elijah.  If, as Jesus said, He has not come to abolish the law or the prophets, the appearance of these two Old Testament figures causes great concern for me.

In our Catholic tradition and in the tradition of our predecessors, the Hebrew people, Moses is the quintessential lawgiver.  In fact, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, known as the Torah, are what many Jewish and Christian peoples today consider the Law of God, communicated to Moses and thereby given to us.  For those unfamiliar with the particulars of this section of the Bible, one of these five books, the Book of Leviticus, is thoroughly prescriptive, with a long list of what to do, and, what not to do.  

In my own case, Leviticus often remains in my head whenever I attempt to make sense of myself, of who I really am.  Even on the night I described above, I remembered one prescription from Leviticus:  “You shall not lie with a man as with a woman.  It is an abomination” (Lev. 18:22). So, Moses’ appearance next to Jesus in the disciples’ vision is greatly troubling to me.  If Jesus has truly not come to abolish what Moses prescribes in the Book of Leviticus, am I doomed to perpetually consider myself, and my desires, abominable?

Similarly, the appearance of the prophet Elijah next to Jesus gives me pause.  The prophetic tradition speaks of prophets as those who would call for repentance from the people, a turning of their hearts back to God.  Oftentimes, this call is a blunt and blatant criticism of personal and collective waywardness.  It’s worth noting that Elijah is, perhaps, the most famous and powerful prophet of old.  Among other things, he is credited with summoning fire from the sky, raising the dead, and being so worthy of Heaven as to enter it alive!  If Elijah, in line with the prophetic tradition, holds those unfaithful to the Law accountable for their misgivings, then there’s no room for misunderstanding:  turn your heart, or fall prey to sin.  But, how can I, or anyone else for that matter, follow his example–especially when you’re gay?

This is a question I have often asked myself, including on the night I described.  And,  it’s a question I always ask Jesus.  Why is it imperative that I receive an answer?  Because, I love Him.  More than anything.  I don’t want to be anything abominable to Him–I just want to be loved.  So, as part of this reflection, and during this most sacred season of Lent, I’ll ask Him again, right now:

“Jesus, am I really an abomination?”

Just then, as soon as I asked, Jesus was transfigured before me. His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light.  I was too astounded, too ashamed, too afraid, to look at Him, so I fell prostrate.  “Rise, and do not be afraid,” He said to me.  And when I raised my eyes, I saw no one else but Jesus alone.

I saw no one else but Jesus alone.  Moses was not there to judge me for breaking the Law; Moses was never there to judge me.  Elijah was not there to criticize me for being unfaithful; Elijah was never there to criticize me.  I know this because I saw Jesus, transfigured before me, a Jesus who, indeed, had not come to abolish the law or the prophets, but to fulfill them by being Love.

All I want is to feel connected to myself, not in spite of my homosexuality, but because of it. When Jesus was transfigured, I saw myself:  my true self.  And yours.  And, more than that, He was shining bright, just like the sun, the warmth of His light, and all of His desire, deeply caressing the skin of my smiling cheeks.

Beloved.

Jude Rathgeb, March 12, 2017

Allowing Lent to Disrupt Our Lives and Renew the World

Sarah Gregory

For Ash Wednesday and the Sundays of Lent, Bondings 2.0 is presenting spiritual reflections from a diverse group of students at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California,  who either identify as LGBTQ+ or who are involved with LGBTQ+ theological research and/or ministry.  Today’s post is from Sarah Gregory, a queer Catholic school soccer mom with punk tendencies. She lives in San Francisco with her son (when he’s home from college), two cats, and mountains of books as she prepares for her Ph.D. comp exams. She works in the Silicon Valley and practices the fine art of living with liminality and cognitive dissonance. She prefers Lent over Advent, all in all.

Scripture readings for the First Sunday of Lent can be  found by clicking here.

Shortly after I began graduate studies in theology in Berkeley, a friend joked that I apparently planned to become a “professional Catholic.” I’m as aware of the liturgical calendar as I am the workweek calendar that governs my real professional life, and Lent often evokes feelings of nervousness and dread, a spiritual “annual review” of sorts. I never manage to pray quite enough, and my almsgiving often doesn’t meet my own standards of stewardship of the resources that are at my disposal. Fasting can be a chore – how to choose something to give up that would make me be mindful, but not inconvenience me too much or be too uncomfortable. I’m not looking for a promotion, God, just a decent review and continued employment for the year to come, thanks.

Jesus’ fasting and temptation in the desert, which is the gospel for this First Sunday of Lent, reminds me that I’m not the only one who might be happy to let these weeks pass without interrupting my peace. We’re told that Jesus himself fasted for forty days and forty nights, and although the gospel’s author says he was hungry afterward, I’m guessing that our Lord and Savior could’ve done with a meal far sooner than that. Fully human as well as fully divine, that lengthy fast must’ve been grueling. We’re told he made it through the ordeal nonetheless, only to be tempted by the Evil One, offering him an easy out. “You’ve disrupted your life enough, Jesus. I know you’re hungry. Turn those stones to bread, if you really are the son of God!” But no – Jesus stuck it out. Surely I can try to do the same.

A priest friend pushed me to go beyond the typical stuff for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Don’t take it as a time to kick off a diet or to randomly fill up a little donation bowl and call it good, he said. Let Lent disrupt your life. Case in point: this generally quiet and reserved man of the cloth took salsa dancing lessons one Lent, forcing him to get out of his head and into a social, embodied existence. I suspect he’d have rather spent the weeks in a cave with his books and a quiet Friday afternoon at the movies, but Lent was a chance to disrupt the comfort of that isolation. For a few years, the Church itself provided some Lenten accompaniment, as I confronted questions of whether my queer, out, soccer mom self belonged here at all. Two years ago, the Lenten question was whether teachers at my child’s school would be forced to sign contracts that violated their personal lives. In those years, simply sticking it out was all that I could do.

The disruption that Lent brings is inevitable; the only question to be answered is whether I will remember what Jesus said when he was tempted: “One does not live by bread alone.” One doesn’t take the easy path through Lent, even when that path presents itself as a nice escape route. I need to keep my eyes open for what Jesus is trying to teach me this year, how my life is to be disrupted, and how I will be called to respond.

The social and political climate, both in the United States and around the globe, seems to have been tailor-made to deliver a hefty dose of disruption this Lent. Indeed, in an address to a gathering of the World Meeting of Popular Movements last month, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego called on those gathered – whether Catholic, of other faiths, or of no faith tradition at all – to disrupt the injustice that is sweeping the US and the world:

“We must disrupt those who would seek to send troops into our streets to deport the undocumented, to rip mothers and fathers from their families. We must disrupt those who portray refugees as enemies rather than our brothers and sisters in terrible need. We must disrupt those who train us to see Muslim men, women and children as forces of fear rather than as children of God. We must disrupt those who seek to rob our medical care, especially from the poor.

And then Bishop McElroy gave us another task: we are also to be rebuilders. He said:

“We are called to rebuild our nation which does pay $15 an hour in wages, and provides decent housing, clothing and food for those who are poorest.”

Lent this year is a call to all of us to let our lives be disrupted – in Jesus’ name. Rather than simply going to daily Mass a bit more often, I might take that hour to volunteer with a local group that helps day laborers find secure work. Rather than give up some food, how can I abstain from focusing solely on my personal concerns, and recognize that I have social capital that can benefit those who fear for their very lives if I offer it to advocate for them, at their direction? What resources do I have that others need to use to recover from the inequities they’ve faced? Can I share with them without feeling like I should be able to control how that money is used? What will be the cost of this discipleship?

This Lent, more than others, feels like a grand societal reckoning, one suited more for theology of the streets than of the books. It’s the theology of getting our hands dirty in service and putting our comfort at risk to bring about God’s vision for all of us, made together in God’s image and likeness. Regardless of who we love, how we define ourselves, the color of our skin, the language we speak, what papers we carry, or how we or our ancestors arrived in the country, we must all stand together now. These are the words from the mouth of God that we are to live by: loving our neighbor as we do ourselves.

–Sarah Gregory, Graduate Theological Union, March 5, 2017

New Ways Ministry’s Eighth National Symposium, Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis, is scheduled for April 28-30, 2017, Chicago, Illinois. Plenary speakers:  Lisa Fullam, Leslie Griffin, Rev. Bryan Massingale, Frank Mugisha. Prayer leaders:  Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Bishop John Stowe, OFM, Conv.  Pre-Symposium Retreat Leader:  Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS.  For more information and to register, visit www.Symposium2017.org.

 

From Ashes, We Will Rise

ish-ruiz
Ish Ruiz

For Ash Wednesday and the Sundays of Lent, Bondings 2.0 is presenting spiritual reflections from a diverse group of students at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California,  who either identify as LGBTQ+ or who are involved with LGBTQ+ theological research and/or ministry.  Today’s post is from Ish Ruiz,  a Ph.D. student at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. His academic interests explore the intersection between social ethics, human rights, education, and marginalized groups such as LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, women, and religious minorities. A lifelong Catholic, Ish is dedicated to living out his faith through the practice of justice: he passionately envisions a Church that is open and inclusive to all.

The Ash Wednesday phrase “you are dust and to dust you shall return” has always felt a bit incomplete to me. When I reflect on this humbling reminder of the frailty of life, I am reminded that journeys do not end with a return to dust. In fact, we have all witnessed marginalized communities rise up from the ashes of injustice and oppression. Our country has seen the deaths of queer people, black people, immigrants, and countless others transformed into seeds that sow new life. The same dynamic happens with many marginalized communities and their journeys as the beloved children of God–journeys that are often marked by moments of despair and instances of hope.

The Israelites’ journey to Zion was not quick or easy. It was filled with a desert of trials. There were dark moments and they came to experience death in many forms. Nonetheless, they also experienced the constant assurance that they were the Chosen People of a God that would never abandon them.

Is the same true of our marginalized communities? Are LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, homeless people, and other disenfranchised groups aware that they a part of the Chosen People of God? Do they hear from us a message of love that affirms them as the “beloved of God”? Or are we a voice that brings death? Are we the ones that turn human life into ash? Or do we help them rise from the ashes to new life?

Last week I learned a great lesson from the LGBTQ+ community about what it means to journey from ashes to new life.  I had the chance to attend the San Francisco premiere of ABC-TV’s new mini-series When We Rise (a fitting title), which portrays the lives of several key figures in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. This intersectional history series captures the reality of this community’s heartfelt quest for justice. Their trials and victories are a testament to the journey of all of God’s beloved Chosen People.

When the LGBTQ+ community experiences discrimination from law enforcement, the assassination of heroic political figures, indifference in the face of an epidemic that takes away their loved ones, threats to many of their legal rights, rejection from many religious groups, a devastating massacre in a gay club in Orlando, and countless other threats to their dignity, they rise from the ashes and their hearts pulse together as one.

When they see the suffering of their fellow human beings who are Muslim, immigrant, female, poor, homeless, or marginalized in other ways, they rise from the ashes with them and remind them of their dignity.  These communities are the Chosen People of God – the “new “Israelites” – and we, as a Church, have much to learn from their journey as a people.

Seeking justice for all of God’s people is essential for a life lived in accordance with the Gospel. All humans deserve respect: we are all united in our common human journey. When we become indifferent to the cries of LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, racial minorities, women, and others in need, we become less human and we move farther away from the Gospel. We send a message that “ashes” are the end of the journey. We tell people: “The Resurrection of Christ is not for you.”

In a recent doctoral dissertation by Kevin Stockbridge, the term “Easter People” is used to refer to the journey of queer people who have become agents of social transformation through their witness. Their experiences of oppression-turned-into-love are a call for all to work together to experience new life. Everyone is asked to follow the footsteps of the risen Christ. We are all rising from the ashes as a human family – we are called to do it together so that everybody regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, ability, and background is able to embrace the Resurrection of Christ as their own.

May this Lenten season help us renew our commitment to creating a world where love and justice rise from the ashes of hate and oppression. May it also be a time of reflection and gratitude for those whose have turned to ash so that the rest of us can continue to build the Kingdom of God. May this Lenten journey bring us closer together, reminding us that we are all together in this one struggle that unites the human race – a struggle to rise together from ashes. May this Lenten journey help us all become an “Easter people.”

We ask this through Christ, our brother. Amen.

–Ish Ruiz,  Graduate Theological Union, March 1, 2017

New Ways Ministry’s Eighth National Symposium, Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis, is scheduled for April 28-30, 2017, Chicago, Illinois. Plenary speakers:  Lisa Fullam, Leslie Griffin, Rev. Bryan Massingale, Frank Mugisha. Prayer leaders:  Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Bishop John Stowe, OFM, Conv.  Pre-Symposium Retreat Leader:  Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS.  For more information and to register, visit www.Symposium2017.org.

Reflect on Lent By Reading ‘Scripture and Story’ from LGBTQ Catholics

Today’s post is from guest blogger Jeff Vomund, who is Chair of the Liturgy Committee at Dignity/Washington.

I have heard the song “Lift Every Voice (and Sing),” known as the Black American National Anthem, sung hundreds of times over the course of my life.  (If you’ve never heard it, click here to listen to a moving a cappella version.) The hymn mixes James Weldon Johnson’s stark poetry with his brother John’s determined score.  Never has its title and first line felt so viscerally true to me as it has in our increasingly post-fact and post-truth world. The importance of each and “every voice” rings truer than ever.

dw-coverAnd while many voices have been raised recently in some form of protest, building bridges between people is also a vital concern for every voice.  Creating community has been a driving motive behind Dignity/Washington’s Lenten project:  Scripture and Story:  Lent through an LGBTQ Lens.  Dignity/Washington is a community of LGBTQ Catholics in Washington D.C., as well as friends and allies from across the spectrum of the Christian faith.  Scripture and Story is a book of daily reflections for Lent.  It contains a short reflection based on the daily readings for each of the 47 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.  These reflections are not just a commentary on the Scriptures but they also relate the lived experiences of the LGBTQ people of faith who authored them.

You can download a free PDF of the entire booklet by clicking here:  You can order hard copies, while supplies last, by emailing jeffvomund@gmail.com.

This project began as a service to Dignity/Washington members as a way to show how unique yet universal each person’s “journey through the desert” is.  However, in a world where vocal volume can be equated with truth, we wanted to share our own quiet encouragement to community with others, too.  It seems more important than ever to lift up the voices of any who have been outcast or oppressed.  This imperative is not true just for the discrimination waged against LGBTQ people by Church leaders. We seek to join a chorus of voices that want to make their presence known to a world in which members of a minority can feel invisible and unimportant.

In no way do we denigrate the faith experiences of those in the majority.  Just the opposite.  If you look at the reflections of these 47 brave authors, the most obvious characteristic is the universality of all faith experience.  We LGBTQ-identifying Catholics have, in so many ways, a journey that looks like any other believer:  the struggle to understand God’s call; the desire to love deeply and have meaning; the call to follow Jesus’ example of compassion.

At some point, we are all in the desert, seeking the freedom of a Promised Land that we worry might never be ours.  This is true, even as we rejoice when we catch glimpses of that land “across the Jordan” from where safety and peace beckon us.  Yet while our journeys traverse a universal arc, we also look through a particular lens–the lens of having to live with being told that even though “God is love,” our love is wrong.  That mixed message has driven most LGBTQ-identifying folk to the brink of non-belief.  But for these writers, who have stayed the course, surviving the crucible of Church and sex has made them that much more invested in their journey through the desert.  

Yet while our journeys traverse a universal arc, we also look through a particular lens–the lens of having to live with being told that even though “God is love,” our love is wrong.  That mixed message has driven most LGBTQ-identifying folk to the brink of non-belief.  But for these writers, who have stayed the course, surviving the crucible of Church and sex has made them that much more invested in their journey through the desert.  Paradoxically, that which the Church identifies as disorder has shown itself to be just a different way that God has “ordered our steps” as we travel to the Promised Land for which all creation groans.

That symbiosis between our faith and our sexuality is what we most wanted to share with those believers and fellow travelers outside of our community.  We offer it, not because our community or any of the individual authors believe we have reached this land of “milk and honey,” but because we are still on that journey. The more people who walk together, the further everyone can go.  We offer our voices of faith in the hope that it will encourage other people to share their own stories.  We are more convinced than ever that sharing our stories (and listening to others) matters deeply for our world.  And we have never been more convicted that for every voice to be lifted each person must add their own–no matter how imperfect–to the chorus.

Jeff Vomund, Dignity/ Washington, February 26, 2017

New Ways Ministry’s Eighth National Symposium, Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis, is scheduled for April 28-30, 2017, Chicago, Illinois. Plenary speakers:  Lisa Fullam, Leslie Griffin, Rev. Bryan Massingale, Frank Mugisha. Prayer leaders:  Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Bishop John Stowe, OFM, Conv.  Pre-Symposium Retreat Leader:  Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS.  For more information and to register, visit www.Symposium2017.org.

Easter Sunday: Resurrection and God’s Faithfulness

“Glory of Christ–Easter Day 2008” by Stephen Whatley (21st century)

The resurrection does not solve our problems about dying and death. It is not the happy ending to our life’s struggle, nor is it the big surprise that God has kept in store for us.

No, the resurrection is the expression of God’s faithfulness….

The resurrection is God’s way of revealing to us that nothing that belongs to God will ever go to waste.

What belongs to God will never get lost.

–Henri Nouwen, Our Greatest Gift

Holy Saturday: From All I Am to All I Have Not Yet Become

“Body of Christ” by Annibale Carraci (16th century)

Letting Go

By Edwina Gateley

It is time to go.
I can smell it.
Breathe it
Touch it.
And something in me
Trembles.
I will not cry.
Only sit bewildered.
Brave and helpless
That it is time.
Time to go.
Time to step out
Of the world
I shaped and watched
Become.
Time to let go
Of the status and
The admiration.
Time to go.
To turn my back
On a life that throbs
With my vigor
And a spirit
That soared
Through my tears.
Time to go
From all I am
To all I have
Not yet become.