The Sunday Project
To My Queer Catholic Younger Self: Have Faith in Tomorrow!
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time |
O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and thou wilt not hear? Or cry to thee "Violence!" and thou wilt not save? Why dost thou make me see wrongs and look upon trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. And the LORD answered me: "Write the vision; make it plain upon tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its time; it hastens to the end -- it will not lie. If it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. Behold, he whose soul is not upright in him shall fail, but the righteous shall live by his faith.
Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control. Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel in the power of God, Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" And the Lord said, "If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, 'Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you. "Will any one of you, who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and sit down at table'? Will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink'? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'"
Dear younger self,
I want to let you know that I heard you, I saw you crying, and I watched you praying, for I was there too. I get it. Being queer has never been easy in our society, but being both Catholic and queer surely is an existential crisis. There were times when you felt: “I’d better off not being born after all.” In a world where LGBTQ teens get bullied for being who they are, even to the point of attempting suicidal thoughts and actions; where queer people are beaten to death for being who they are; and where you can be fired from your position for being who you are, it is just difficult to continue being yourself.
Even so, what hurt the most is the Catholic Church, your own people, rejecting you and branding your self-being a disorder that needs to be eradicated. Your pain, I feel it.
“How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not intervene.” (Habakkuk 1:2)
My dear younger self, while I can’t give you a clear solution to the struggle that is yours, mine, ours, and many others, I could only offer this advice for you: Have Faith! Your faith in God allows you to see beyond time and space, a glimpse of a society where you can love your partner of the same sex without being an outcast, a parish where many queer couples feel welcome while attending Sunday Mass, a Church where your sexuality is not scorned but cherished and celebrated, and so much more. Faith in the Lord’s justice and mercy creates such beautiful vision that will come to stay.
“For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.” (Habakkuk 2:3)
My dear younger self, if you ask me if this vision has already existed when I write you this, I must say that it has not. We are still far from this wonderful society: many LGBTQ lives are still in danger from both physical and mental violence, the Church hasn’t changed her hurtful stance regarding LGBTQ members, and elsewhere there are queer and allied Catholics being ostracized and reprimanded for staying true to themselves or for speaking against the inequality mindset of the hierarchical Church, which has only served to harm too many too much for too long.
Nevertheless, inspired by the vision, there are many small yet prominent changes happening in our society and our Church. LGBTQ discrimination has been criticized and outlawed in many cities, states, and countries, and more and more queer Catholics have come out into warm acceptance from their family and their parishes. The world is truly a better place to live in now.
Still, there are things that need to be done, because God doesn’t just offer us a solution. He promises us the very vision our faith in Him has created, a vision of the perfect world. This vision, thus, is up to our own daily actions guided by our faith in Him.
“For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
My dear younger self, I, for once, did not have the faith I needed to overcome these adversities, so I ran and hid myself, praying that one day I will be free from this all, one way or another. Of course, how could God answer my prayers when I don’t believe in His promise? Ironically, because God didn’t answer my shallow prayers, I asked Him to increase my faith so that He could finally accept my petitions. Little did I know that faith was the answer to my problem all along, and with faith came love for myself as a queer Catholic and hope for a future where there’s no distinction between queer and non-queer, only people. More importantly, faith stirs up a power in me. When I realize that, the question becomes this: what kind of power my faith has instilled in me? In other words, what could I do with faith now that I have it?
“When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” (Luke 17:10)
My dear younger self, what could you infer from Jesus’s words above? The two words that strike out to me are ‘unprofitable servants,’ and that are essentially the power of faith: selfless service. The vision created by faith would never come true unless there is necessary humble service that expects nothing in return. Our LGBTQ movement would never gain any traction if not for the countless efforts and sacrifices from many generations of queer folks, all hoping for that wonderful world to happen.
Surprisingly, service, in turn, nourishes and polishes faith, thus making faith stronger and fuller. It’s no wonder that many LGBTQ people and allies work tirelessly for our cause until they can’t any longer, even though the awaiting perfect society is still far away from their sight. It is because the beautiful world of God’s promise is vividly right before their eyes, thanks to their constantly flourished faith in Him.
Therefore, my dear younger self, I urge you to have faith, find faith, and pray for faith from God; then, let your faith lead you in your service, and let your service be the nourishment of your faith. Don’t be discouraged if your faith is ridiculed or your service seems vain. With faith as your guide, your service will be full of God’s blessing, no matter what you do, no matter where you go. With service as your tool, your faith will become a channel to God’s grace, waiting to discover the world through you. Our society, our Church, and our world, are still imperfect, and there could be many more years longer for a true significant change to happen. Yet, strangely enough, you will find that the vision of a wonderful tomorrow where you can be fully yourself seems to exist already when you have faith in God and His promise.
Dear younger self, you can still choose to scoop up in the four-wall room you have been in and dream about the day you can’t be bothered anymore, or you can look for your faith and ask this: “How does my faith lead me in service?”
Your older self