Monthly Archives: December 2011

Oh boy! Tomorrow morning (Tuesday, Dec. 6) I will be on the air in Fargo, North Dakota. Never been there, but I did see the movie, which was grim & bleak, just how I like ’em. I’m sure the same can not be said of the show.

I’ll be speaking with Roxane Salonen of Real Presence Radio, along with Fr. Jim Livingston, lead chaplain for Courage in the Twin Cities area.

The program starts at 10am EST, and my segment begins at 10:30. You can listen live by going here, and it looks like — though I’m not certain — the show will be available as a podcast after the fact, on the same site.

Pray for me!

** Update **

Roxane provides some further information in the combox below re: a second chance to catch the show and its availability as a podcast.

Lifted from a comment that appeared recently on “Light of Hope”:

I think it is really strange to create this boundary – that the “best” a gay Catholic can get is not-masturbating…

I think Catholicism teaches us to recognise the variety of goods that exist outside of the limited range of what is the best and truest (and unattainable).

I am confused that if orgasms occur “naturally” as part of our existence that wanting them, or producing them is not-right.

I’ll respond here. That’s whatcha get for commenting in a public forum, buddy! From the rooftops, then:

Dear Henry,

Oh, I think that’s a strange idea, too. The “best” a gay Catholic can get isn’t to be masturbation-free. The best he can get is to grow in holiness and maturity until he becomes a beacon of God’s love to everyone around him. Of course, that applies to everyone, not just gays.

Re: “unattainable”: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Not all at once, true, but the Church sets high standards for us, and is patient with us while we walk (or crawl) towards them. I’m glad she doesn’t say to us: “Well, that’s all right. I know celibacy is unattainable. Just do the best you can — I know you’re not grown-up enough for the real thing.”

Re: orgasm etc. — every pleasure is good. And every pleasure is meant for a particular context. It’s possible, of course, to get the pleasure without the proper context, but it’s a kind of stealing. Wanting something, even wanting it very badly, doesn’t make it right.

Re: “natural” — but all sorts of things are “natural,” aren’t they? In a sense, it’s “natural” for me to hate my neighbor, and profoundly unnatural to love him. (Especially before I’ve had my coffee.) You are a Catholic; you’ve heard of concupiscence.


So I come home from Kung Fu this afternoon and read this in my daily meditation: “Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for battle and my fingers for war.”

Being a Catholic is just so freaking cool.

Hello to all the new visitors from Young and Catholic and elsewhere! It’s wonderful to meet you, and thank you for the emails. Answers forthcoming as soon as may be.

Have you seen this man?

Charles de Foucauld

His name is Charles de Foucauld, and that is nearly all I know about him.1 Except what is visible in his face, which I will not try to put into words. My mother says that when she saw the picture some years ago, her first thought was: “How did they take a photograph of Jesus?”

It’s clearly Him. This is what Hopkins meant, or part of it, when he said

Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.2

This past week I’ve been enjoying the new translation of the Mass. One part stood out particularly: “Welcome them into the light of your face.” I love it. It makes me think of the blessing my father used to give us, the same one Aaron gave his sons:

May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
May the Lord life up his countenance upon you, and grant you peace.3

I’ve heard people wondering whether this is an apt translation — does God have a face? The answer, of course, is yes. God has a face because we have faces; or rather, we have faces because God has one.

When we’re comparing ourselves to God — the fact that we have faces, that we have desires, or that we hunger and thirst — it’s tempting to say: “Yes, that’s true of God, in a metaphorical sense.” The implication is that our faces and our desires are somehow more concrete than their correlatives in God. We, after all, are flesh and bone, and He is only spirit.

No, no, no! We are the ones who are metaphors. Flesh itself is a metaphor. Our faces are symbols of His. Like the prisoners in Plato’s cave, we’ve only ever seen shadows. And more often, shadows of shadows: how often have you met a man whose face burns as brightly as Charles de Foucauld’s? What would it take for your face to look like that?

And if the shadow of God’s face, God’s tenderness, God’s smile, looks like this, what will the reality be like?

1 Probably time to remedy that.
2 As kingfishers catch fire.
3 Numbers 6:24-27.