Under “Welcome” I’ve explained the purpose of this site, and the methodology I’m following in writing these bi-monthly reflections on the Gospel. So here, the question is not about the site – it’s about me, Jeremiah Bartram.
Who am I?
That’s a lifelong question. The simple answer is the best one: I am a Catholic layman who happens to be gay.
I’m not a theologian, and cannot boast of any special training in scripture studies. My reflections are based on experience. That’s what gives them any value they may have.
They are rooted in prayer – and again, I’m no expert. But God blesses me with the rich and healing silence of his presence, day and night, in prayer, teaching my unruly heart to listen, giving me guidance and courage. That’s a beginning.
For many, the notion of a gay Catholic is contradictory. Not for me.
Gay and Catholic, Catholic and gay: these are the two inseparable facts of my nature, the bedrock of my life. Together they form “the place of encounter”, where the God who made me in his image meets with me and works with me to fulfill his purpose.
“The place of encounter”: that was Moses’ name for the tent where he met and communed with the living God; holy ground. Each of us has such an interior space, if we honor it with the silence it requires.
My own story
Elsewhere on this site I’ve invited people to post their stories – or portions of them – with a limit of 250 words per post. Here’s mine.
Some people don’t know they’re gay until an incident blows open a door in mid life. Not me. I knew I was gay when I was twelve, although we didn’t use that word in those days. So did my parents, who sent me to a shrink to chase the demon away, without ever saying why I had to go and stare in silence at his Argyle socks while he questioned me about mum and dad. He concluded that I was not “disturbed”, to the relief of my mother and my own disappointment: I guess I hoped that someone, even so alien an inquisitor, might pierce my defences and speak the truth and make me feel less alone.
I married in a desperate attempt to be “normal”, only later learning that everyone – my former wife, her parents, her sister, my own parents, and I myself – knew and denied the truth of my sexuality. That was some strange wedding.
Two months before the marriage, I became a Catholic after God touched me one wet night in the little garden behind my student flat. The marriage collapsed and I lost my children – not irrevocably, my daughter and I are close now. But at the time it seemed irrevocable.
I’d quit the church in the last angry years of that marriage, blaming a silent God for all my troubles. He drew me back. I feel particularly blessed right now. I’ve been through a lot of tough times, lonely times, anxious times; I’ve known rejection and hurt by those I’ve loved most; but all that stuff, all that fuel for fury is way back in a past that I no longer need, and now, frequently, I experience a deep joy that certainly does not come from me, or from this world.
I live alone, and have no partner. I’m not sure I understand why that is, and I pray about it.
Oops. Almost three hundred words.