The circumstances under which I went to Mass this morning were strange, as in, they weren’t my typical circumstances. Last night I had to stay up late at work due to an event on campus that could have reeked havoc in the hall. My boss told us that we could start our Friday late because of the extra time we put in. So instead of 6:45 I went to 9:00 Mass at a different parish and slept in. Before Mass I went to Confession and I was the only one who had made a Confession this morning.
Being the feast day of St. Cecilia who died a virgin and a martyr, the Monsignor’s homily was about celibacy, particularly in how it is a gift and how just as in Jesus’ day it was viewed as weird it is even moreso in this current age. It was nice since I’ve been discerning consecrated life. He compared the challenges of celibacy to marriage, emphasizing that both are equal but different. But the homily didn’t stop there.
Monsignor then went on to suddenly change topics to Catholics with same-sex attraction. He said that our vocation is probably the most difficult vocation in the Church because while he and married couples had the choice to make vows of celibacy or of marriage, our state is usually one that is not about choice. I don’t have a choice but to remain celibate in my sexuality. And that is fine, it does not diminish my freedom. But it is a difficult vocation because if there is one thing that world understands less than a celibate priest or nun it is the celibate homosexual. The world seethes at the thought that homosexuals should not act on their inclinations and the messages from the world are loud and clear: embrace your urges by acting on them.
Monsignor asked for all Catholics to pray for us who are in their midst even though they might not know who we are. There I was and nobody knew but Monsignor. I wondered if they were praying for me. Of course his homily was much more eloquent than I have conveyed here and by the end my eyes were warm and salty and I didn’t dare breathe because the dam might burst if I did.
It wasn’t out of self-righteousness that the homily meant so much to me, I don’t see my heavier cross as favor over others. It was because I felt in that moment that Monsignor had added to his homily just for me after speaking with him in the confessional. I will never know if his homily would have been different had I not gone to confession 20 minutes before. But I can tell you that never have I felt so encouraged and loved by a priest. And never have I felt more human than in those moments. I wish that one Rhianna LaValla could have been there.