Monday, August 11, 2014

Another Gratitude Story for You: Response of Steve's Aunts Who Are Nuns to Our Wedding

Here's another gratitude story for you, to accompany the photos of our wedding celebration that I uploaded last evening:

After Steve and I married in May, he called his two aunts who are Benedictine nuns to share the news with them. They were overjoyed. Both immediately said, "This will mean you'll have access to the same privileges and protections heterosexual couples have." They talked about the importance of the tax privileges married couples enjoy, of the legal protections so important to a couple when one spouse is in the hospital or incapacitated, of decisions about healthcare and the disposition of joint estates.

There was not a word of censure. 

This is obviously why many high-ranking prelates (of the men variety, the only flavor allowed in my church) fear American religious women and want to put them back into "their place." 

The behavior exhibited by many religious women to their brothers and sisters who are gay puts many high-ranking prelates (of the men variety, the only flavor allowed in my church) to shame. It puts them out on Front Street and illustrates how far from Jesus and the gospels is their own behavior towards those who are gay.

And then in a few days, we got a card from Steve's aunts and a nun-friend of theirs. Each had enclosed $20.

These are women who own nothing. They are poor women who have taken a vow of poverty. They do not have money lying around to enclose in congratulation cards. 

We were deeply touched by their gift to us, and as I told them in my thank-you card to them, it helped defray the costs of the celebration we had planned for our wedding.

Not long after Steve and I married, his gay brother in Minnesota married his longtime partner. We couldn't go to the wedding, because we hadn't gotten notice of it in time to clear our schedules to travel.

Steve's youngest brother Skyped the event to us, so we were "there" in that sense, and were very happy to share in it via the magic of the interwebs. This brother was the only one of Steve's siblings who attended the wedding. The other four siblings who live in northern Minnesota and who are über-Catholic boycotted it.

Because what would Jesus do?

We had heard from Steve's mother that she had made plans to attend, despite the boycott of half of her children — the church-going ones (well, one of those four is not technically Catholic, but is part of the schismatic Pius X group). The boycott of four of her children made it logistically difficult for her to get there, though, since she's up in years and needed a ride.

One of the friends of her gay son who was marrying offered to drive her to the wedding, but when the moment of decision came, she didn't take the offer and didn't attend. She told us afterwards that she had been having serious neck pain, and we are sure that's the case, though we suspect no little of the pain in her neck is being placed there by several children who are pains in the neck for her.

Because what would Jesus do?

I don't say any of this to carp and criticize. I have deep sympathy for Steve's mother, caught as she is between four children who don't toe what her other four children define as the true, right, only, just, unwavering Catholic line. What strikes me, though, as I think about these events is the witness to the good news of Jesus Christ offered by those two aunts of Steve who have vowed themselves to live a communal life of prayer as they walk in the footsteps of Chris, and who have been about that life for over 50 years now, both of them.

They didn't attend the wedding of Steve's brother, because both have had very serious health challenges in recent months. But they were delighted at this wedding and our wedding, because they saw both events increasing their nephews' (and nephews' spouses' ) chances to live fully human lives in the same way that heterosexually married couples can live fully human lives — without artificial barriers and impediments thrown up in their faces as they try to carry on those fully human lives.

Personally, I have no doubt what Jesus would do about any of this.

The graphic: a fragment of a mural depicting the wedding feast at Cana, at which Mary sees that the wine is running out and appeals to her son to see that more wine is supplied. The mural is in Tsalenjikha cathedral, Georgia, and the photo, by Réunion des Musées Nationaux, is available for sharing at Wikimedia Commons.

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