My life thus far…

Ever since I graduated with my university degree life has turned out to be a hard, bitter reality, the turbulence from which my soul cannot seem to escape these days. There is a deep yearning, a longing, an existential angst that incessantly bothers me during every waking hour.

Why am I lost? How have I strayed thus far?

It’s been months since I’ve been to Holy Mass. I am no longer involved with Regina Mundi’s youth group (not voluntarily, but more so due to the fact that the fellow youth leaders seem to have excluded me from their mailing list sans explanation…how very Christian of them!). Just today I was talking with a co-worker about how I’m not even sure Jesus existed historically speaking. After all, if he was a real man, why are there so many versions of the story of his life? We see the canonical gospels alongside the Gnostic and other “heretical” writings about Jesus Christ…and then centuries later we see certain perversions of Holy Writ such as The Book of Mormon and the mistranslation used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. If Jesus did walk the earth and healed others and came to be our salvation, I certainly have trouble believing it now.

As of yesterday I am no longer in debt. With an original estimated amortisation period of 120 months I’ve paid back my student loans in a mere eight! It is a good feeling to have and I look forward to actually enjoying some of my income. But that doesn’t mean much to me right now.

At times I ponder why I feel so isolated, so disconnected from my fellow man. At work I often encounter newcomers to Canada as well as your typical blue-collar working man. Yet I cannot converse with these people or feel like we share the same values. I have no inclinations to cause others pain or speak using innumerable vulgarities. I know next to nothing about worldly materialistic things like cars or trips. I thought our globalised world was supposed to be one in which basic human values could be shared and recognized. If anything, I still feel separate.

Methinks this is because for the past couple of years I was so bent on becoming a monastic, he who is detached/separated from the world but connected to the world through prayer. How could such a worldview inculcate worldly values in a man?

This feeling of being out of touch with the world, along with certain self-accusations of living life inauthentically, is not the only thing that bothers me currently; it is the affections that I feel toward someone that cause me great duress as well. If I had never been promoted at work I would never have had the chance to speak to him. But, alas, it is too late to regret such a decision to enter into the abysses of the human heart.

We now speak regularly whenever we see each other at work and sometimes I even drive him home. He is a tall, dark, handsome lad two years my senior. I’ll admit it irks me whenever he calls me “buddy,” but part of me faints in hopes that such a moniker might mean something more to him…that he might regard me with the same longing with which I regard him. That by using such a term of endearment that he might simply be masking his mad, hot love for me! Part of me, however, soberly observes that he tends to err on the side of being friendly like most people, and that perhaps he is merely being civil and courteous in our interactions. Within the past couple of days he even lent me some movies on DVD, most of which are the kind red-blooded heterosexual males adore. Film noir at its worst.

Every time I see him thoughts flood my mind about the nature of our relationship. Is he a potential lover? Is he even inclined to practise the Love that dare not speak Its name? Of course, tragically, like most gay men I hope that he is a closet-case. In that matter for now I am unsure, just as I am unsure about where I want to live two years from now, or what sort of job I want to look for, or what I want to do with my life.

When I was still a practicing Catholic I never felt such uncertainty. Everything was laid out–the Catechism, Scripture and Magisterial pronouncements were my road map to holiness and perfection. I was supposed to devote my whole life to God’s work. I even spent a week in California with some Norbertine canons regular and was about to embark to England to spend a month with the Carthusians.

Only God knows what happens next in this story. For now all I can do is stumble through the darkness, groping for some sense of peace and sense.

“You’re more than just a sexual orientation”

During the youth rally I just attended in Midland, Ont., we young people were giving the opportunity to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation outdoors. There was no confessional or screen behind which to hide. Imagine a row of about 15 chairs set up, with the line extending beyond that for about 30 or 40 people. The turnout for the sacrament was inspiring and amazing. I guess young Catholics today are just as concerned about remaining in a state of grace as ever.

When my turn came, I walked over to a picnic table where a priest was patiently waiting for me. This was in plain sight of everyone in line, so I gulped, crossed myself, and made sure I didn’t speak too loudly lest someone hear all my peccadilloes.

I suppose I will have to confess some sins to the reader of this post if I am to continue writing. It had to do with a violation of the Sixth Commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” or in Latin, “Non mœchaberis.” Once I finished, the priest told me to pray for all the people that I love. This, I was told, was going to help me realize that I love more than one person, that I’m not just a narrow sexual orientation.

It’s with these words that I’ve struggled for some time now. What exactly do Catholics mean when they tell homosexuals that they are more than their sexual orientation?

I do realize they are trying to promote a holistic view of the human person. A human being is not just his sexuality, or his intellect, or his skin colour, etc. He is a creation, body, soul, mind and spirit, endowed with dignity, trying to get in touch with his Creator, i.e. God.

But to say that men who struggle with same-sex attractions are more than their sexuality seems a bit dismissive to me. It is as if this priest was telling me to forget completely about this struggle with my attraction to men. But without a proper sense of sexuality in his life, how is a gay man supposed to live completely a life in Christ? Without that sexual component in his life, it would seem that the Roman Catholic Church is telling all gay men that they must live a life of chaste celibacy with no other alternatives (though some debate whether or not you can stop having same-sex attractions).

This upsets me, but it is something about which I continually pray and hope to understand more clearly. It just irks me that heterosexual people have the option of expressing themselves in a sexual relationship within the context of marriage, yet for homosexual people our sexuality is a cross to be bore silently.


This past weekend I just attended a great youth rally up by the Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, Ont. It’s the birthplace of Canadian Catholicism, where the first Jesuits set up camp and evangelized to the natives.

The first thing I noticed was the peaceful atmosphere surrounding the shrine grounds. Not a single car horn could be heard, and lots of beautiful trees surrounded us. It was definitely the ideal setting to deepen one’s prayer life.

The second thing that struck me was the historical significance of this site. Almost 400 years ago, the famous Jesuit St. Jean de Brébeuf and his companions arrived here in order to spread the Good News. Part of Brébeuf’s skull is even housed in an ornate reliquary in the shrine! While kneeling before such a memento Dei, I definitely felt a bit closer to my forefathers in the faith, those who have gone before me and who I hope will greet me in the life to come.

Besides some fun activities (think “The Amazing Race” meets church picnic, with inflatable obstacle courses and sumo wrestling suits included) we had a catechesis session with Auxiliary Bishop Gerard Bergie from the diocese of Hamilton about the “dictatorship of relativism” as B16 put it.

But the thing that struck me the most was the behaviour of young people at Mass. We are an amalgamation of all the different views in Catholic circles. There were the traditionalists, who kneeled on a prie-dieu before the tabernacle to pray and received communion in the mouth, and then there were the more “spirit of the Second Vatican Council” types who just plopped down in their pews and talked while waiting for Mass to begin.

I would consider our youth group a middle ground between the two. Our group was probably one of the only ones who genuflected before sitting down in our pews, and we also sat down after Mass to say some prayers of thanksgiving while everyone else hurried out of the church.

One thing that upset me was the lack of respect shown during Mass. I do realize we were roughing it in tents outdoors, that most of us were wearing t-shirts and shorts, and that it was a sticky, humid weekend, but I was shocked to see some girls wearing shorts that would never be worn in any Catholic school, let alone any other one, to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I believe ALL schools have a rule for girls that says shorts and skirts would extend below their fingertips when their hands are placed at their sides. But despite that wardrobe mishap, the Mass was beautifully sung by the band St. Jude United. I give them props for helping us to get into more of a worshipful mood with their singing all weekend.

Please pray that the spirit of modesty might prevail over fleshy fashion in our world.  +

What Not to Wear

A sign posted in front of a church really opened my eyes. I wish I had taken a picture of it. Basically it was a sign about what’s suitable to wear at Mass. It had pictures of shorts, tank tops, miniskirts, etc. with red prohibition signs laid on top of these offensive clothing items. The sign asked those attending Mass to respect this solemn occasion by dressing modestly and not slovenly.

The ironic thing was I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt as I read this sign. Maybe the sign has a point. Maybe we ought to dress up a bit more. Though Christ’s first followers certainly weren’t dandies, and though Christ loves us even if we’re in our skivvies, I do think there is some value to wearing a nice shirt and some pants to worship our Lord. It shows Him we care.

Let’s take a walk

The title of this post is what my pastor said to me when I met with him this morning. The topic of our conversation? The priesthood.

I had expected an intense, long sit-down in the rectory, but instead Fr. __ decided it would be best to take a walk to the nearest Tim Horton’s chain and grab a coffee, or in my case, a hot chocolate (I’m not much of a coffee drinker).

I’m kind of relieved we had this talk. Finally. It’s about time! But I have to admit I’ve always been sheepish around him. He’s a sportsy kinda guy. He goes to football games, actually watched the World Cup games, and watches hockey almost as religiously as he says Mass.

I, on the other hand, love Lady Gaga, read about art, listen to baroque music, play the flute, and love singing and dancing. Now can you understand my hesitance to approach this parish priest to talk about whether I’d be a suitable candidate to go to the seminary?

We started with some small-chat: what I’m studying in university, my family, how long I’ve been at the parish, etc. But then we moved onto talking about what it’s like to live celibately, the fact that secular priests are allowed to own things, like cottages and Rolls Royces. Overall I’d say I felt like I knew the guy a bit better. Fr. ___ is a very great and simple man. In comparison, I don’t quite fit in with him.

But I think talking with him has made me realize the need to reach out to other people. After all, it’s often through other people that Christ speaks to us the most clearly. Though I’m still waiting for an apparition of Our Lady to tell me to go to the seminary, I think getting to know more people in the community and befriending more Catholics will help me decide if this is the kind of life I could envision myself taking on, a life of prayer, self-sacrifice, and most of all, service. Ad majorem Dei gloriam +.

Youth group

I was perusing my Facebook updates listings, one of the seemingly only ways I can keep track of what everyone’s up to these days, when I noticed there were photos from my parish’s youth group. But there was something wrong with these photos that were just posted 17 minutes ago–I was missing from them!

I blinked in wonder. Then I clicked on the photo album. There were pictures of everyone playing soccer, everyone else in the Passion play, everyone else standing under the tree. Part of me felt a bit sad that I wasn’t in any of these pictures.

Was I invited to these events but couldn’t come because of prior obligations? Perhaps. Maybe I was working those nights. Or maybe these are excuses I’m using to justify the fact that I felt left out.

Just recently I’ve come to the conclusion that I may have an acute case of SAD. No, not Season Affective Disorder, but Social Anxiety Disorder. Often people with SAD have trouble forming close relationships, and they find social situations draining or stressful.

I think everyone feels a bit nervous when meeting someone new the first time, but I know for a fact I have SAD. There’s my nervous giggle, and the inevitable sweat beading down my forehead as I engage someone new in conversation. I generally don’t feel at ease giving a class presentation or doing anything remotely social.

My shyness can even be traced back to when I was a kid. But why these youth group photos struck me so much confounds me still. Maybe it’s because I was hoping to make some friends who would share similar values. And for someone who’s considering becoming a priest, that can be VERY difficult.

Parish crush

For all you church-goers out there, have you ever had a crush on a fellow parishioner (or maybe even a member of the clergy) and became paralyzed with fear? Why am I thinking this at church? Oh dear, I’m SO going to Hell for this thought. Jesus, please forgive me, but ___ is just sooo cute!

That’s exactly the thought I had today. I won’t say his name for confidentiality’s sake, but whenever I see him I just become nervous. And he’s just so laid-back and cool about everything…and he has the jawline of an Adonis!

OK, OK, this blog is not meant to be an online textual ejaculation of my hormonal yearnings, but it’s just not fair. I recently gave him my number, and he texted me with a wink emoticon ;)  …needless to say, it drove me nuts lol.

Thing is, he’s most likely straight. And Mass is REALLY not the place to be thinking about such things.

And so I remain a J. Alfred Prufrock, unable to act on my desires. The flames of passion might eventually be extinguished. Maybe I’ll follow this entry with one about lust, and the different ways saints have gone about overcoming this type of sin.