Thank you very much for your prayers, party people. The friends I mentioned in this post have had a wonderful turn of good fortune, in the form of a job that the guy of the pair actually looks forward to doing, and that will furnish him with paychecks, complete with numbers on them that indicate money.
The said guy, whom I will refer to for the purposes of this post as Ceolfrith, is one of my oldest friends: we've known each other for about fifteen years, which is as long as I've known anyone outside my family, and watching him grow as a person and as a Christian has really been something, as has his generosity and affection to me personally. I can't be sure whether this is in spite of or because of the fact that we could hardly be any more unlike one another -- Ceolfrith is an extreme extravert, an engineer, a computer guy, decisive, and amazingly persistent -- but, whatever the cause, thank God he decided that we were friends, because it's worked like the dickens. He's struggled (as a straight dude) with some of the same difficulties over sex that I have, and last month he sent me a series of texts that I found helpful and touching*:
So feeling lonely is of course completely legitimate. But my brain likes to give me unhealthy solutions to painful stuff. So I try looking for where I'm being lied to that makes the bad solution look good. So that starts with what the loneliness means to you. E.g.: I'm lonely (true) which is painful (true) and then the lies start: that pain will kill me ... I have the right to find any available solution to that pain, my solutions will fix the pain/source thereof. But the truth is that I can't 'fix' pain (at least this kind), it's part of being human. The best I can do is share my pain with people who love me and can understand it. Part of the addictive mindset is needing a solution for things that don't 'solve.' ... Also my main internal lie is that I am lonely because I'm too broken to be loved. For me the implied rejection by everyone involved in feeling lonely is the hardest. 'If I were loved I wouldn't feel this way. Therefore I must not be truly loved. I guess no one truly loves me because I'm not good enough to earn it.' And that way I can hate myself for feeling lonely. Tadaaa!*No homo.
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I don't believe I have mentioned it here on Mudblood Catholic before, though I have twitted about it somewhat; but, I am working on a novel, and have nearly finished! It's a mid-Victorian Catholic vampire gothic fantasy novel of manners, like all the kids are into these days, and is titled Death's Dream Kingdom. I'm currently polishing the final draft in the hope of making it as good as I can and removing any howlers, and I hope to publish it (most likely via Amazon) this summer. Prayers welcome, and maybe I'll give patrons a sneak peek; who knows?
(You. You all know. I'm going to give patrons a sneak peek. That is a thing that will happen.)
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Lent kind of rushed by this year, didn't it? The day after tomorrow is already Palm Sunday. I am planning to take the Triduum, at least, offline, which of course means that I won't be updating the blog or approving comments, but I'll take care of the backlog (if any) when I get back on.
This Lent hasn't exactly gone well for me; generally I have little to no trouble fulfilling my chosen penance, but this year I'm sure I've missed it about a third of the time. I guess that means I picked a good one? I don't know.
Nonetheless, for the past few days -- since Annunciation, on Wednesday -- I have been feeling stupid happy. I'm sure it's partly the Zoloft, but there's something else, too. My awkward fight with God seems marginally to have improved (regarding which, again, thank you for your prayers, and please continue them!): I haven't by any means gotten morally better, and I haven't gone to Confession nearly so often as I have decided to go to Confession.
What if there's a bear in there? With a gun?
Yet, for whatever reason, I just feel more willing and able to talk to Him. And a little less resistant to hearing Him talk to me, though whether I'll listen remains an open question.
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The last month or so, I've had the pleasure of having some conversations with a few Protestant pastors -- one who used to be the youth pastor at my old church, two others who were friends of friends and asked for a little sampling of us. I found both conversations extremely encouraging and refreshing. What stood out to me about both of them -- and which I am cautiously optimistic is a growing trend among Christians -- was that they made a point of talking to gay Christians about the experience of being a gay Christian; rather than deciding in advance that they knew what was necessary and then, however politely, even however compassionately, trying to stuff us into a pre-created mould.
To cure the gay. It can't fail.
Some people in the LGBT community would dismiss this as too little, too late; and I'm the first to concede (or rather, insist) that it should have been the churches' original response to the gay rights movement, rather than emerging forty years after Stonewall. But I believe firmly that it is every individual person who matters; it is in individuals, not in trends, that we encounter the image of almighty God. And if this shift helped only one individual person by making the church a safe place for them to be authentic, it would be worth the trouble.
It remains to be seen how far the shift will go, and in what circles. But I am hopeful. Christian history has its share of awfulness; but it also has its share of us getting it right eventually.
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Relief of the Lord meeting the Virgin with His cross, Church of Our Lady, Geneva.
My parish has been conducting the Stations of the Cross (in the traditional form, rather than the more specifically Scriptural form promulgated by St John Paul II) every Friday throughout Lent. Reflections differ; one that I particularly like is the allegorization of the Song of Solomon, applying its language to the Passion. This form of devotion, using the language of eroticism, strikes a lot of people as weird; it has, however, a very ancient pedigree, going back not only to the Mediaeval mystics (notably St Bernard of Clarivaux), but even to the New Testament itself, and indeed to the Old, where God is described as a Bridegroom, and first Israel and then the Church as His Bride. And it is fitting, too, to remember that the pain of the Passion was endured for the passion of His love for us.
The following are some possible meditations for each Station, adapted from the Song of Solomon.
I. Jesus is condemned to death
My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
II. Jesus takes up His Cross
Who is this that cometh up out of the wilderness, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?
III. Jesus falls the first time
The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills; my beloved is like a roe or a young hart.
IV. Jesus meets His Mother
Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him on the day of his espousals, and on the day of the gladness of his heart.
V. Jesus is helped by Simon of Cyrene
Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it.
VI. Jesus' face is wiped by Veronica
Thine head upon thee is like Mount Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple; the king is held captive in thy tresses.
VII. Jesus falls the second time
My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
VIII. Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem
Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine.
IX. Jesus falls the third time
Until the day break and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense.
X. Jesus is stripped
The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me: the keepers of the walls took my veil away from me.
XI. Jesus is nailed to the Cross
I am black but lovely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the curtains of Solomon.
XII. Jesus dies
My beloved is white and red, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, and his locks are black as a raven. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters.
XIII. Jesus' body is taken down from the Cross
I opened to my beloved, but he had withdrawn himself, and was gone; I called him, but he gave me no answer.
XIV. Jesus is laid in the tomb
I sleep, but my heart is awake: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.