Just Dates January

 

Reflections for the 12 Days of Christmas

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During the 2017 Christmas Season I have published my series of reflections originally posted in 2012 . I hope you enjoy them and invite your response. Come back each of the 12 Days to read a new post.

First Day of Christmas

Second Day of Christmas: St Stephen

Third Day of Christmas

Fourth Day of Christmas

Fifth Day of Christmas

Sixth Day of Christmas

Seventh Day of Christmas

Eighth Day of Christmas

Ninth Day of Christmas

Tenth Day of Christmas

Eleventh Day of Christmas

Twelfth Day of Christmas

 

 

Celebrating Our Faith In Same Sex Commitment

On the day that the Australian Parliament passed legislation allowing for same sex marriage it is worth remembering and celebrating the diversity of queer friendships that punctuate our religious history and heritage.

D1015D04-814F-4258-8962-2C14224CCCF8To honour this day I publish two of my fave icons of Saints Perpetua and Felicity next to Saints Sergius and Bacchus. These ancient martyrs have been revered and honoured for their witness to same sex affection, commitment and devotion.

My thanks to FB friend Paul Halsall who in 1997 published a comprehensive Calendar of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Saints

We who are people of faith celebrating our diverse sexuality can look back to a rich history of mentors and witnesses to the grace of love among our LGBTIQ ancestors.

On this historic day let us unite in prayerful thanks for this legislation and invite our Church to begin a new journey of affirmation of our love and commitment.

 

Maqnmmet Alisher (Sharma) Memorial

We gathered in sadness.
We gathered in grief.
We gathered in our cultural diversity
We gathered to mourn the death of Manmeet Alishar.
We gathered to light candles in the darkness of unanswered questions
We gathered to comfort each other in the midst of distress.
We gathered with our bus drivers and cab drivers to acknowledge their service and great spirit.
We gathered with First Nations Peoples for a smoking ceremony to cleanse the place of an unspeakable act.
We gathered because we are human.

As a community photographer I look for ways to share my images with those who appear in my lens. This often happens at exhibitions, publication and through my online albums.

One year after we mourned this tragedy I have been honoured to have one of my works selected by Brisbane City Council as part of the memorial plaque to the late Mameet Alisher (Sharma) in Moorooka.

I covered the original memorial service after Manmmet’s tragic death and my reflections and images were included on the SBS Punjabi website.

The public display of my work in this setting is an honour and a witness to my commitment to cultural diversity and friendship with the Punjabi community

 

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Ramadan Reflection

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My best wishes and solidarity to my Muslim friends during this holy time of Ramadan.

May we who are not Muslim fast from prejudice, misinformation and ignorance about our sisters and brothers of Islam.

May we who are not Muslim be generous in our willingness to understand this faith and welcome this community into our neighbourhoods.

May we who are not Muslim take time to reflect, pray and be still with the wonder of faith that calls all people to peace, collaboration, respect and love.

 

Worth reading

Franciscan Message for the Month of Ramadan

Christian-Muslim Relations

Pope to Muslims for end of Ramadan: Promoting Mutual Respect through Education (2013)

Mary, Queen of Queers, Pray for us

As a young boy I have a vivid memory of the first Marian Procession I attended at the local convent of Stella Maris in North Geelong. The candlelight movement of women in dark habits singing the Lourdes Hymn took me into a world where heaven touched earth and all tears were wiped away.

In my mother’s kitchen a small Icon of Our Lady of the Way sat alongside the detergent just above the sink where our daily dishes were washed. My grandmother was a member of the Legion of Mary and walked the streets of her neighbourhood to join  families who prayed the rosary as the Fatima Statue moved from house to house. Each rosary with finish with a rousing chorus of Hail Queen of Heaven that echoed down the street

Whoopi Golberg brought a new generation of people the spirit of Marian Hynms and devotion spiced up and inviting with a freshness and adventure that reflected the reality of the young woman of Palestine more faithfully than the Living Parish Hymnal.

The most popular Marian prayer in Catholicism has been the Litany of Loreto. Its invocations of Mary under Biblical and popular titles has  made it a feature of Catholic Spirituality in chant and languages As well as the litany I have invoked the custom of decorating statues in popular culture with flowers and rosaries,  and even money.

As an older Queer Catholic I continue the venerationof  Mary in  the Litany to which I have added invocations from my life and experience. I also continue the  custom of bringing elements of my life such as the rainbow colours to decorate and honour the place of mary in my spirituality.

In this month of May  we invoke Mary Queen of Queers, Pray For Us.

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Reclaiming May in Catholicism

serversmallAs a young boy I was fully inducted into my privileged state  in the Catholic Church. I was a altar server which meant I had access to the sacred in ways that my revered grandmother would never know.I was taught the ritual language of Latin and dressed in robes that marked me off from others in the Church.

The elite male caste of clericalism is one that can easily trap a young boy with religious interest,imagination and dreams of adventure. Although I had my share of comic book heroes, some of whom were military monsters, I also read of the martyrs and wonder workers of my faith tradition who ranged from the hard working to the eccentric. Few of these stories were of women whether  in comic books or biographies of saints.

I spent a number of years as a young adult within this culture of male clericalism. I learnt much from this  experience. My choices meant that I lived in a  multicultural religious community of men. This nurtured a  new appreciation of cultural diversity that has stayed with me since.It also gave me insights into masculinity that have led me to a new understanding of my sexuality as a gay man.

My passion for social justice led me to an awareness that at the core of my life was a deep injustice both personal and systemic. It was an injustice deeply rooted in  the very culture I had taken on board as my  source of meaning and fulfillment.

Patriarchy is the elephant in the room of Catholicism and much of Christianity.In my younger days I took it for granted that males had rights and privileges.When I was a young altar boy there was one Sunday in the year when girls took centre stage in the Church.

The annual crowning of Our Lady’s statue was a high  religious festival in May. It involved  flowers, lyrical songs and young girls dressed in white strewing rose petals on the nave of the Church, There was even a “WHS” factor ignored at the time, when one  special girl in full white wedding gear had to climb a ladder to place a wreath of flowers on the head of the statue. Many observers would see the day as a bit of Goddess worship Catholic style where women had their  15 minutes of religious fame. But after all the processing and drama of the crowning we went back to hearing a male priest tell of the glory of Mary.

In  2012  the NCR  published one of the best pieces of writing I have ever read by Sr Joan Chittester : Silence about the global treatment of women is disquieting. Chittester concludes this item with this call:

From where I stand, it seems to me that male “protection,” paternalism and patriarchal theology are not to be trusted anymore because the actions it spawns in both men and women have limited the full humanity of women everywhere, and on purpose.


Isn’t it time for us all to really be converted, to say the real Truth about women from our pulpits, from our preachers, from our patriarchs, until both they and we finally believe it ourselves? Then surely the actions that make it real will follow.

I am all for keeping May as a month of “woman awareness”. I believe we should rediscover the mythology and person of Mary of Nazareth in our day. My preferred text for such an approach is Marina Warner’s “Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and Cult of the Virgin Mary“. It speaks with far more religious and feminine insight the Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary.

I have  my own Marian Shrine in the back garden. “Our Lady of the Milk Crate” is a local devotion inspired by the appearances of Mary at Coogee Beach. Readers may be surprised to know that the Virgin Mary had made an earlier visit to Coogee in 1911 to a young woman, Eileen O’Connor who founded Australia’s Brown Nurses.


On a practical and pastoral response perhaps our Churches could begin by recognizing May as Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month with the same enthusiasm that goes into devotions to the Fatima visions.

My many women friends continue to challenge me into the full maturity of my masculinity. I recall with gratitude the women of global influence I have been privileged to meet or know online and through their writings. I honour the work of Dorothy Day, Jean Houston, Helen Prejean, Pauline Coll, Julia Cameron. Marina Warner, Janet McKenzie,   Mirium Therese WinterOdetta, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Maureen Watson, Oodgeroo  Noonuccal  Mirium Rose Ungunmerr Baumann and so many more.