Posted in category "Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way"
St. Aelred (1110-1167 A.D.) was gay.
When he was 24, he entered the Cistercian monastery of Rievaulx in the north of England. In 1147 be became abbott and guided the community of 300 monks until his death.
Aelred was one of the most influential men in his time. He counseled other abbots and bishops and corresponded frequently with kings and popes. He kept up a close friendship with King David I of Scotland, and acted as an advisor to King Henry II of England.
His literary output had a remarkable influence on the development of Christian spirituality. Major works include “Spiritual Friendship” and “Mirror of Charity.”
Aelred’s erotic attraction to men remained a dominant force throughout his life. However, unlike many other saints, he did not adopt an anti-physical attitude after he became a monk.
According to Walter Daniel, the biographer who lived under his rule for 17 years, Aelred allowed his monks to hold hands and approved other natural signs of affection between them. While most abbots harshly reprimanded any physical contacts, he placed great emphasis on the need for close same-sex interpersonal relationships.
Aelred fell in love with two fellow Cistercians. He described the second monk as “the refuge of my spirit, the sweet solace of my griefs, whose heart of love received me when fatigued from labors, whose counsel refreshed me when plunged in sadness…I deemed my heart in a fashion his, and his mine…We had but one mind and one soul…”
He incorporated his personal experience of gay love to write some of the best Medieval treatises on Christian friendship and the love of God. Aelred did not repress his homosexual feelings but integrated them into his monastic discipline and spiritual reflections.
“It is a great consolation in this life,” he wrote, “to have someone to whom you can be united in the most intimate embrace of the most sacred love…with whom you can rest, just the two of you, in the sleep of peace, away from the noise of the world, in the kiss of unity, with the sweetness of the Holy Spirit flowing over you…”
A controversial play that depicts Jesus being seduced by Judas and conducting a gay marriage for two apostles has been condemned by church leaders ahead of its opening in Sydney.
The Anglican Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, expressed his outrage at the plot of “Corpus Christi” on Sunday, calling the play “historical nonsense.”
“It is deliberately, not innocently, offensive and they’re obviously having a laugh about it,” he told the Sun-Herald newspaper. “I wouldn’t want to go and see it. Life’s too short.”
Set to open on February 7 as part of Sydney’s annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival, “Corpus Christi” depicts Jesus and his followers as gay, and ends with Jesus being crucified.
Despite critical acclaim, the play provoked protests and bomb threats when it was performed in the United States.
Playwright Terrence McNally received a death edict, or fatwa, from a UK-based Islamic group, which declared it blasphemous when the play ran in London in 1999.
McNally, who is gay, has said he wrote the piece to explore parallels between Christ’s persecution and the rejection he faced as a young gay man growing up in Texas.
Sydney Mardi Gras organizers describe it on the festival Web site as “a play that speaks out against inhumanity by providing a witty, contemporary interpretation of Jesus’ life.” Director Leigh Romney, who is staging the work in Australia, rejected accusations the play mocks Christ.
Rowney said that as a Christian himself, he was keen to provoke debate. “I wanted this play in the hands of a Christian person like myself to give it dignity but still open it up to answering questions about Christianity as a faith system,” Rowney said.
We had a wonderful break in Arizona. We went to a new place-Sedona-and hiked along Apache and soldiers’ trails in Coconino National Forest. We thrilled in the beautiful vistas of red canyons and mist.
We also went to an old place-Tucson-and visited our favorites including the Redemptorist Renewal Center. My road back to Catholicism was strengthened by a retreat at Picture Rocks in 1985.
We walked the path among the Stations of the Cross in the desert close by the hermitages. At the beginning of the trail was a small station sheltering palm-sized pamphlets-“Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled.” The first page had a hand-written note: “Jesus Cares. Pray Hard Don’t give up.”
As I opened it, I decided to use whatever I opened to as my mantra this year. I read – “Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9
I will be starting a new blog on Catholicism and the environment in the next few days.
“Green Canticle” will report and comment on how Catholics around the world are making the protection of their environment a part of the practice of their faith.
The inspiration for the name came from a few sources: St. Augustine – “To sing is to pray twice;” and the “Canticle of the Sun” by St. Francis of Assisi. This prayer, a paean to all creation, is one of the loveliest prayers anywhere to be found.
Green is the liturgical color of life and renewal. It is also the color of the environmental movement.
Somehow, and so right, images from a favorite song since high school – Scarborough Fair/Canticle by Simon and Garfunkel – made their appearance in the final design.
On the side of a hill in the deep forest green
Parsley sage rosemary and thyme
Tell her to find me an acre of land
On the side of a hill a sprinkling of leaves
Shortly before we left for on vacation we received a notice from NFWFW that the renowned Scottish singer, Jean Redpath, would be performing at Poquatuck Hall in Orient later this month.
I really hope she sings, “Songs of the Seals.” Not only does it fit so well with our area, it will really set the mood for my upcoming trip to Ireland.
A sea maid sings on yonder reef
The spell bound seals draw near
A lilt that lures beyond belief
Mortals enchanted hear
Coir an oir an oir an oir o
Coir an oir an oir an eer o
Coir an oir an oir an ee lalyuran
Coir an oir an oir an eer o
The wandering ploughman halts his plough
The maid her milking stays
And sheep on hillside, bird on bough
Pause and listen in amaze
Was it a dream? Were all asleep?
Or did she cease her lay?
For the seals with a splash dive into the deep
And the world goes on again
Yet lingers the refrain
There is a rock shop in the southwest U.S. that features a small museum in the back. The room is a collection of an amateur archaeologist’s personal finds and treasures.
It is just as good as any city museum, even better, in bringing us face-to-face with unrefined history. I appreciate the service the owner/collector provides. We experience history that hasn’t been made pretty. We see it as it was gathered up from the earth, and moved from one place of safe-keeping to another.
I believe these items surface because they have a something they want to tell us.
His cabinet of curiosities offers usual dusty artifacts: bones, fossils, and Clovis points; but it also has human witnesses to history – the murdered – a conquistador’s head still holding an axe blade, a dead Viking chief with a similar wound, a head from a bog body, a shrunken head, a Roman gladiator’s skull, and best of all, but not shown, the preserved body of Fr. Urbain Grandier.
How on earth did a priest who was burned at the stake on August 18, 1634 in Loudun, France wind up in a rock shop in the American southwest? Well, he was sold by a museum that had his body when they closed. How the museum got the body is anybody’s guess.
Even after 350 years the body of Fr. Urbain Grandier can tell us a lot about when lust, sexual frustration, personalities, opportunity and church politics converge.
Fr. Grandier, a good-looking man, had an eye for the ladies. He was also involved in politics, and crossed bitter and scathing words with Cardinal Richelieu, a cunning and powerful prelate. Richelieu waited years to get him, but the opportunity finally presented itself in the form of Jeanne des Anges, an Ursuline superior who became obsessed with the priest after hearing about his sexual exploits. It is unknown why Fr. Grandier declined to become the spiritual director of her convent.
It is claimed that Jeanne, enraged by his rejection, instead invited Canon Mignon, an enemy of Grandier, to become the director. Jeanne then accused Grandier of using black magic to seduce her. The other nuns gradually began to make similar accusations.
Although he was acquited by one eccelsiastical court, Cardinal Richelieu prevailed behind the scenes and Grandier was eventually convicted of socery, heresy and sentenced to be burned alive. Even under extreme torture he never confessed and maintained his innocence.
The curator in the desert museum told me you the mark of Fr. Grandier’s cap on his head could still be seen-the fire was kept low to really tortment him. Also, the customary garrotte to relieve suffering prior to death by fire had been prepared in such a way this mercy could not be shown – he roasted to death slowly.
Fr. Grandier’s body provides a chilling insight into history – and the character of Cardinal Richelieu.
The Ursuline nun who started it all with her sexual frenzy died in 1665 at the age of 60. She maintained her saintliness to the end.
An unexpected thing happened during our vacation in Arizona.
During a visit last week to a state park in southern Arizona, I asked a park ranger if I could change our reservations and go on an earlier tour. She said it wouldn’t be a problem. And then she asked if I would keep her in my prayers.
I was a little startled-it’s not the kind of request you expect to hear going in to a state park, but I told her I would. I wondered where that came from…and thought she might have seen the small crucifix I wear. Or, it was something else entirely.
The next day we traveled to Tubac and Tumacacari. St. Ann’s is a very peaceful adobe church in Tubac. Its foundations lie over the site of an earlier church – Santa Gertrudis – which was built by soldier and explorer Capt. Juan Bautista de Anza II around 1770.
We sat for awhile in the church. It was adobe and wood, and reminded me how tied spirituality and religion are to the land. I saw a small statute of the Blessed Mother with a row of votive candles. I lit one and said a prayer for the ranger, in a sacred place in the foothills of the desert they both care for and protect.
The end of the year always finds me in a pensive mood. As I bask in the light of the Christmas tree, those I have lost come to mind as well as happy memories.
Sitting by the tree I started pulling together some thoughts on the subject of reconciliation. I see reconciliation as different from forgiveness; and also different from renewing a relationship.
Unfortunately, I have run out of time to think and write about this topic. We leave for Arizona early Friday morning. A blog on reconciliation will have to wait until I get back from vacation on Jan. 14.
Lucky for me, I will have plenty of time in prayful places to reflect. When we’re in Sedona we plan to go to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. In Tucson I will be happy to return to the Benedictine Monastery of Perpetual Adoration, and also Picture Rocks Retreat.
Is there a connection between Lyme disease and Plum Island?
If you take a compass and put the point on Plum Island and spin the pencil in a circle, the circle will encompass the areas worst hit by Lyme disease: the Connecticut coast and Eastern Long Island. Birds and deer could have easily traveled from Plum Island to infect the mainland.
I bet a lot of people don’t know one of the founding fathers of Plum Island was ex-Nazi scientist Dr. Erich Traub. As lab chief of Insel Riems-a secret Nazi biological warfare laboratory on an island in the Baltic Sea-Traub worked directly for Adolf Hitler’s second-in-command, SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler, on live germ trials. He packaged a hoof-and-mouth disease virus, which was dropped from a Luftwaffe bomber onto cattle and reindeer in occupied Russia.
In the early 1950s Dr. Traub was recruited to provide expertise to our military and the USDA on animal viruses. Based on his experience in Insel Riems, he helped set up the germ laborary on Plum Island.
Attorney John Loftus was hired in 1979 by the Office of Special Investigations, a unit set up by the Justice Department to expose Nazi war crimes and unearth Nazi criminals hiding in the U.S. Given top-secret clearance to review files that had been sealed for 35 years Loftus found a lot of information on America’s postwar Nazi recruiting.
He eventually published a book, The Belarus Secret. In the preface of the book, Loftus laid out a striking piece of information:
“Even more disturbing are the records of Nazi germ warfare scientists who came to America. They experimented with poison ticks dropped from planes to spread rare diseases. I have received some information suggested the U.S. tested some of these poison ticks on Plum Island’s artillery range off the coast of Connecticut during the early 1950s…Most of the germ warfare records have been shredded, but there is a top secret U.S. document confirming that ‘clandestine attacks on crops and animals’ took place at this time.”
So, in my Lyme-infected brain, let me see if I understand this correctly…hmmm…our government turned over the keys to a germ laboratory to a scientist who less than ten years before worked directly for Heinrich Himmler on germ warfare?
I can see some dope in the State Department saying, “Well, gosh, of course he’s all right. He said the Pledge of Allegiance!”
This story sounds like a gay modern day morality play…
Former hedge fund manager and CNBC commentator Seth Tobias died after allegedly drowning in the pool at his Jupiter, Florida home. His nude body was discovered by his wife, Filomena. Soon after his widow had the pool totally cleaned and resurfaced. They had been married or only a year or two at the time of his death.
Tobias’ wife has been accused of his murder, and now the New York Times (12/4/07)is revealing more. Evidently Seth Tobias led a secret gay life.
The Times is reporting that Tobias was known to frequent a gay bar called Cupids in West Palm Beach. That’s where, according to the Times, he met a go-go dancer named Tiger who “is blond and covered with tattoos that look like stripes.” He also appeared in a movie, “Dreams Cum True.”
His secret life was evidently filled with drugs and gay sex.
Now the big question is…did his wife found about his secret life and kill him or did he piss off the wrong gay guy or drug dealer?
Tobias’ brothers claim Mrs. Tobias drugged her husband and lured him into the pool. Bill Ash, a former assistant to Mr. Tobias, said he had told the police that Mrs. Tobias confessed to him that she had cajoled her husband into the water while he was on a cocaine binge with a promise of sex with a male go-go dancer known as Tiger.
On December 23 PageSix.com quoted Lexx Parker, 24, who claimed Tobias paid him for sex numerous times over an 18 month period. The porn star from Memphis, Tenn., said he met Tobias 3½ years ago at Micky’s, a gay bar in West Hollywood. “Seth knew I was a hustler and knew how much I charged…I did what I got paid to do…I was very well taken care of,” Parker said.
He told PageSix.com Tobias enjoyed watching gay porn while they had sex, particularly films starring Parker. “Seth was a really good guy, a great guy. I had a lot of fun.”