Building a Bridge
By James Martin, SJ
“The latest book by Jesuit priest Rev. James Martin focuses on what its subtitle proclaims: ‘how the Catholic Church and the LGBT community can enter into a relationship of respect, compassion and sensitivity.’ The book is an ideal starting point for parishioners, catechist and formators who may be unfamiliar with the concerns facing LGBT Catholics and their families and friends, or for those who are quite familiar but uncertain about how to respond. Fr. Martin aims to turn down the heat in the culture wars. He turns to a key phrase from the Catechism of the Catholic Church – that LGBT people ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity,’ and asks what it means to do so. With supportive prodding and provocative questioning, he encourages all parties to approach relationships with open minds, ears and hearts.” – Chuck Small, the Community of St. Francis of Assisi.
As an RCIA team member and Catechist at St. Francis of Assisi and formator for our fraternity, I was looking for a way to expand my knowledge and sensitivity of the Catholic LGBT community. While this is not a Franciscan book per se, it is “drenched” in Franciscan Spirituality. It deals with a society deemed marginalized group of people who have not been treated as full members of the human race, even by the Church. Remember that it was our Seraphic Father, Francis, who taught us to see the face of God in all people of this earth.
“Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” is a saying attributed to St. Francis. An interpretation of this saying would be for Christians to demonstrate the Gospel in their everyday life through actions and if necessary, use words. At the end of every Mass, the priest states, “The Mass has ended, go in peace to love and serve the Lord”. We have not only received the body and blood of Christ, but we have also received The Word. The priest’s instructions to us are to go and spread the Gospel. Through out the Bible, the word, “Go” is used, not merely as a command to leave, but usually it is association with taking some type of action. Thus, it becomes an action verb. To Go and do Something. Not only as Catholic Christians, but as Secular Franciscans, we are commanded to leave the Mass and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through actions and words.