Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hero or, an antichrist?

Its not everyday that you are referred to as both a hero and an Antichrist. I am comforted by the statement of Jesus: How I wish that you were hot or cold. I don't particularly feel like a hero, especially after I read the various comments which have been forwarded to me from literally, six continents

I believe the real heroes are the millions of brave men and women who's lives have been trampled upon, who have suffered emotional, psychological, spiritual, and physical abuse. Having had the privilege of listening to countless people over the years, I have always been amazed at the capacity that the human heart has to endure suffering. Not merely for a day, a week, a month or a year, but, for decades and in some cases for an entire lifetime. I have had the sad duty of officiating at funeral services for many who found the suffering to be--too much. I have sat with grieving parents, brothers and sisters, children of those who have lost someone they loved. These are the real heroes, the men and women and adolescents who against staggering odds wake up and face each day. Who try to carve out a little niche of love in a sometimes harsh world. Who form communities of acceptance and love in the face of ignorance and hate. 

And the Antichrist? He's the one that convinces people to hate in the name of God.


Unknown said...

To those who called you the Antichrist, I have some questions: Do you know that the job of judge of all creation is taken? Do you know that the LORD does not take kindly to others usurping his role?

To those who called you the Antichrist, I have some comments: If you condemn someone, especially as severely as you are condemning Fr. Farrow, then think twice before praying "forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us." Once you get start down this road of judgment, the Lord's prayer becomes a mirror of judgment.

Snooker said...

Hero... at least to me!
Thank you for what you are doing. You are showing the world that you have the strength needed to speak out for what is right, and the fortitude to stand up to the oppressors. Thank you again.

David@Montreal said...

Father Geoff, the last paragraph of this post was a real ah-ha moment for me personally and will inform something I am writing currently.

You, dear brother continue to be in my daily prayers and practice. As a gay Anglican, I confess to a slight 'slant' to my prayers- an unspoken hope that you might eventually find yourself within our Communion, where you are bound to be appreciated and supported for the Christ-bearer you are.

Confessing that, I am also very mindful how exhusting the formalities of your current status with the Curia must be, ad so I've also been praying you'll be given the strength to be confidently mindful, and be neither rushed nor rattled by the bureaucrats of the curia.

Though only a lay person, and a gay one at that- it is my sense that our dear Lord has never been closer to you than in the days since your speaking the truth in love to those in your charge. That limitless, unfailing 'love beyond our wildest imaging' is closer to you tha breath, dear brother, and we your brothers and sisters in blogdom are but reflections of that.
So be strong, dear brother in Christ. Never- and I mean never doubt the unconditionality of the Love which sustains us all.


barbarab said...

Father Geof,

That is the best definition of antichrist I have seen yet. Your ministry is an incredible blessing to those who you meet in person or touch from afar. Know that prayers and support are surrounding you from those six continents and the Lord of All.



Fr. Marty Kurylowicz said...

Pay no attention to either hero or antichrist. The line is thin between them. They are both distractions related to pride. People will love you one minute and hate you the next. This is Christ’s warning not mine. Your spiritual foundation is what has brought you to this moment and as you said you wished it were someone else. I think that is when you know it is from God, because it mirrors Mary’s response. That is truth but you did answer the call when it fell in your lap to do so. That is courage to pick it up, responding to Christ’s one and only commandment that he gave us all … love one another, as I have loved you. I know that you realize this because you could not have wrote the words expressing the core essence of life, which is real true love, pure and clear, which gives us the ability to recognize it in many others. Your humility is most sincere and encouraging. It has a binding force of making us all one and focused in love with you. That kind of love can only come from God. It must be the kind of binding love that keeps 3 separate, distinctly different and equal persons bond in only one God. It has the feel of Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross. And the opposite is the Antichrist because it separates us from each other and leaving us very much alone with only hatred.

KJ said...

I could not agree more. All have their part to contribute, each like a pebble creating ripples in a pond. And, for those yet to come, is any price too high?

Of course, when those of us in more "liberal" societies compare what we risk, including faith homes, to what others in more repressive societies put on the line, including their lives, our travails seem to pale in comparison.

Kennyyoli said...

Father Farrow
You are a hero. I am proud to say I know you, and I support your honesty and compassion. My wife and I (and our new daughter) wil keep you in our prayers.

Kenneth Hyatt
Visalia, CA

Java said...

This month the part of Antichrist will be played by Treasury Secretary Paulson.

In truth, though, I like your definition of Antichrist. I see that force all around me. But I also see the heroes who champion the love of Christ. Blessed be.

Tony Adams said...

You'll be cooling your heels in the principal's office for that last line!

Cat said...

Thanks for following your conscience. That's about the best we can give to each other. I'm a Unitarian and want to send you my support and respect. Cat

MartininBroda said...

“To carve out a little niche of love in a sometimes harsh world” ... “acceptance and love in the face of ignorance and hate… the Antichrist? He's the one that convinces people to hate in the name of God.”

There are some sentences worth written on stone to make humanity a little bit better. Sorry for these inappropriate words: How could someone this noble man not love.


Hannah's Mom said...

Father, I have so much respect for what you have done. As a catholic myself I want you to please know that you alone have revived my faith because being a catholic means appreciating the natural gift we all have deep inside to accept and love no matter what. I'm not very good with words but you must know that you are a hero and you stand for what faith really is, love and the notion that we are all human and deserve to be happy and peaceful. Thank you so much, you made a huge difference in my life along with so many others. You have courage and you stand up for what is right. I really really admire you.

Kevin said...

Father Farrow: Thank you, thank you for speaking out. I've had discussions with a fellow Priest about this and I pointed out that whatever people think about marriage, one man one woman, two men, two women, the main problem is that the church is silent about gays. We NEVER hear about the many gifts we can bring and that the church needs to stop focusing so much on what they say is disordered and focus more on the many gifts that gay folks have. Let's face it, ours is a society that is obsessed with Sex and it effects every aspect of society. To the unhealthy ways that people express their sexual desires, to pornography and even to the church where the problem isn't two men loving each other, it's the sexual expression of it! You've opened a fllod gate that will make many people uncomfortable. It did me because it forced me to look at my owns sins and see why and where they come from, what is the root! That's the holy spirit working and it never feels good when God uses any situation so folks can look in themselves. Thank God for his Mercy, right. Without it, we'd all be screwed!

Anonymous said...

Hi Fr. Geoff,

I just saw Sontaya's update, which lead me to your blog. I am so glad you did what you did, and encourage you through your journey.

As a married woman with children, who had parents as part of the original members at Newman Center, and grew up attending every single Sunday mass, can I just say that I attribute my acceptance and support of gay marriage (and consequently your story) from the teachings I learned from Fr. Negro and Fr. Perry? If I took anything away from that place, it's the knowledge of loving and accepting people for who they are no matter what.

Simply put: We are called to love.

I would not say the Bishop's letter was written in the same light. He likened the California Prop. 8 battle to communist China, and Hitler for pete's sake. What a blatant comparison of apples to oranges.

As to the method by which you chose to deliver your message, I applaud you for getting Channel 30 involved. By having the media there, it left no questions unanswered. This was a news-worthy item as the message of the Bishop was directed at an entire diocese, not to mention the timeliness of Prop. 8 being on the Nov. ballot. If "after communion time" was to be used for his message, surely it is equally as acceptable to be used for yours. Your plight has the power to impact many people, and once again, I applaud your efforts.

When is the book coming out?

I am, however, worried about how this will essentially impact the future of Newman Center. Will there be some sort of uber-conservative backlash priest assigned to the flock, to force the pendulum to sway the opposite way? This is the house that Fr. Negro built. Isn't there anything to preserve that?

On another note:
There are many downfalls attached to the Church, and as a woman, I am mad over the inequality. I attended
a Lutheran church last Sunday, and for the first time, felt happy while looking at the pastor. He wore a wedding ring, and I knew that "he" could have also been a "she."

For the first time, I realized that I could have been the one raising the bread above my head saying "Jesus took the bread and blessed it. He broke the bread, and gave it to His disciples and said..." Who knows where I would have ended up, had I been born a male. (Gosh, I had it memorized by the time I was eight.)

Aside from this realization, I cried during the whole service, mostly for the feeling of freedom I felt when I looked at the pastor. Nothing kept him from marriage, but something kept me from the possibility of being a priest.

There are so many barriers in Catholicism, and you helped me realize that it doesn't have to be that way.

May you find the strength in God's love to continue, and here's to a successful Nov. 4th.

How can we contact you via email? I searched your blog, and must have missed it.

Марко Фризия said...

Thanks, Fr. Geoff, for being willing to risk it all to follow God, taking the right and just path. This took courage and much love. We support you, are praying for you, and send our love!

WifeandMom said...

Father Geoff,

I am a Newman Center parishioner. The ONE weekend my husband and I missed mass because of food poisoning was the weekend that would have been the most exciting to attend.

I have been very public with my friends and family that I am 1,000% in favor of same-sex marriages and will be voting NO on Prop 8. I am a straight woman with a husband, a 3 yr old, and another baby on the way.

I get so upset at the ridiculous commercials being played on TV in favor of Prop 8, that I often find myself screaming at the TV. My husband frequently says "Just imagine how much more upset you'd be if you were gay!"

I have a fundamental problem with people saying that this proposition isn't trying to discriminate against same sex couples, it's only meant to keep the definition of marriage as "between a man and a woman." How is not allowing people the same freedoms everyone else has NOT discrimination?

Last weekend in mass, we were read a letter from the Bishop that I found myself becoming more and more angry about with each passing phrase. I've been Catholic all of my life, but I'm ashamed at the way this issue is being portrayed.

Whatever happened to separation of church and state? As I see it, our government only uses the separation of church and state when it's convenient for them to do so.

I think that you can be a member of an organized religion (any organized religion) and yet not agree with every single thing that the church thinks. After all, isn't it our duty to think for ourselves and not be brainwashed by the teachings of the religious hierarchy?

I think for myself 100% of the time. I do pray about things that I feel conflicted about, but the issue of same-sex marriage doesn't fall into that category for me. It's a simple HUMAN RIGHTS issue, and I wish more people would open their eyes and realize that this could be the beginning of the end if this Proposition passes.

If the vote of YES on Prop 8 wins, what's next? Will it be "No interracial marriages?" or "No marriages if you were born in another country?" Where will our government draw the line? The simple fact is that the government should have no business in our bedrooms or in our marriages.

Father Geoff, I consider you a HERO for bringing this issue to light and having the courage to stand your ground. I pray that you will have a safe and happy future, and that the issue of same sex marriages will no longer be a fight.

Jill Valero
Newman Center Parishioner

shade said...

Fr. Geoff,

You are a man of courage who did what few do..."Greater love than this no man has..." So many gay brothers and sisters sentenced to lead half a are part of the Light that has given us are in my heart....


Anonymous said...

It's great that you've stood up and declared your opinion, and while some may try to paint you as the Antichrist, you're pretty damn far from it. I'd say spreading a message of love is about as far from the Antichrist as you can be, like you said.

I'm proud to know that you're from the Valley and from Visalia, even if the majority of people are too blinded by god-knows-what to say that.

Also, evidently, you've got an article in the Times-Delta, if you didn't know that already.

David@Montreal said...

Kevin wrote
'Let's face it, ours is a society that is obsessed with Sex and it effects every aspect of society. To the unhealthy ways that people express their sexual desires,'

Kevin, I was deeply touched by your post, as I was by the passionate love and honesty of the sister who followed you, and who shared her experience last Sunday of a Lutheran liturgy.

I would suggest that there is a piece missing from your word's quoted above, and they would reflect the role organized religions have played in our collective alienation from our physical presence. Writers much more articulate than I have written of the tie-in between body alienation and the fear of death being essential to maintain the illusion of power of vested interests within 'religion' the business.

It is my understanding that this in part is what makes the faith lives of healed and healing LGBT folks prophetic within the current life of the Church. Once again our precious Lord is using 'the least of these' in the ever on-going work of healing our fractured understanding of ourselves, our relationship with God and each other. That those 'least of these' happens at this time to be my LGBT people speaks volumes of God's unfailing passion for all of Creation.

As the book of Genesis reminds us over and over again, God saw His Creation and it was good.

just a thought, and thanks brother Geoff for making this exchange possible


Anonymous said...

The whole debate reminds me of the words my sister spoke when she left the Catholic Church: "When they substitute the Rule of Love for the Love of Rules, I'll go back to them." Sometimes I think that the Holy Catholic is the conclusive proof of God's non-existence, or at best His impotence: if He was real, or if He was capable of doing anything, surely a thunderbolt would have flattened the Vatican by now, as retribution for the things it keeps doing in His name. Fight on, Father Farrow; for what it's worth, I respect and admire you. But I suspect you'll be fighting a losing battle. Another kind, caring man crushed by an unkind, uncaring organization. - As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, Church without end; oh, man.

Julie said...

Father Farrow,

A number of my friends have forwarded your story to me in various forms (from news reports to links to your blog). I am a former Roman Catholic and was a member of St. Paul's Newman Center in Fresno while I was in college there in the early 90's. I am now an Episcopal priest (well, actually I am a transitional deacon and will be ordained to the priesthood in January).

I just wanted you to know that I am praying for you. It is incredibly difficult to speak the truth as you have done so. The personal cost to you will be great - but Jesus didn't promise us that this would be easy or that we would always be comfortable and safe. In fact, I often think that quite the opposite is true. As I read the lectionary readings for this week and particularly the gospel from Matthew 22:15-22, I was reflecting on how the world still tries to trap us: do we speak the truth of God's abundant love for all people, or do we tell people what they want to hear, that some people are better than others.

You have stepped out of the noise and confusion and spoken the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ died and risen for all of us. Hallelujah! I think we could use a little more of that around here, frankly. I pray that you will feel God's presence near as this turmoil surrounds you.

God Bless.


Anonymous said...

Father Geoff,
All my prayers and support to you. People like me have strayed from the church because there are fewer and fewer people like you present within it. You are a hero.

Matt said...

I am so proud of you! Your courage is really being heard throughout the United States (including here in Georgia). You are in my [Episcopalian} prayers! The Lord Be WIth You!

Anonymous said...

And the Antichrist? He's the one that convinces people to hate in the name of God.

True words. I've come to feel that some people worship themselves instead of God.

Anonymous said...

Voting will be over in a couple of weeks and we shall then know how Prop 8 did. Father Geoff, you are doing your part to fight against this insidious discrimination. From all of us, thank you very much.


Kevin said...

For David: Thanks for the comment about my post. Like I said, FR farrow has opened the flood gates and with all this dialogue going on real healing can take place. When I pray for those who don't understand and who just don't get it, the Lord always says the same thing, "Kev, forgive them and allow them permission to be human!"
I think what the holy spirit is teaching me is that all of us, even the church, won't be perfect on this side of the grave. Why more gay Priests don't do what FR Geoff did, who knows? When we can really say that we forgive those hurtful things that the church says and that we understand why they say it, then that is a real sign of inner healing and this is what I believe Fr Farrow has started by speaking out. Like that one post said, "The our Father" is a powerful prayer, so powerful we don't really think about what we are saying to God in that prayer!

Madison Jr. said...

I heard your interview on NPR. Hero, without a doubt, Hero.

Lisa said...

Definitely a hero, at least in my opinion. My sister, who is Catholic, and I have often talked about how difficult it can be to live within the church's guidelines, when they go against what she feels strongly about on a personal level. It's why I have lost faith in "organized religion", although I have not lost my faith in God. I hope that you have the help of friends and family in what has to be a difficult time. Thank you and good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

You spoke from your heart what so many of us sit in the pews weekly and SO wish we would hear in our parishes. What a welcome breath of honesty, spirituality, acceptance and love for all humankind. Signed, Catholic Straight Married Mom-of-Two in Clovis; and fully opposed to the Catholic Church's folly into divisionary politics, pure and simple.

Anonymous said...

You spoke from your heart what so many of us sit in the pews and wish we would hear. What a welcome breath of honesty, acceptance, spirituality and love for all humankind. Signed, Catholic Straight Married Mom-of-Two in Clovis; and fully opposed to the Catholic Church's folly into divisionary politics, pure and simple.

Maryfafito said...

Ever since I heard about your sermon I have been waiting for my Monsignor to do the same. Sadly today the opposite happened.
I felt so sad while I listened to the sermon by our deacon. I usually feel inspired and take something away from the sermon but today I just hoped my children weren't comprehending what was being said.
After the sermon it was hard to sing. I felt like an outsider, like an enemy within.
As mass continued I prayed and realized that this is just the opinion right now in the church and that this fear/injustice does not really reflect the true message of Jesus and His church.
Thank You for speaking up. I feel very proud that a Catholic priest spoke up publicly. That it was one of us who stood up with so much to lose.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I found your website Fr. Farrow. I lost my comment last Friday I tried to send due to technical difficulty on the web. I was supposed to be writing my last paper due the next morning at the Diocese right then but I found your site and writing and thankfully wanted to tell you that my husband and I are praying for you, will always be your friends, will always love you, and admire your courage to follow your convictions even to the point of terrible self sacrifice. That is our pastor!!!( I did finish that paper in the wee hours so I made up for lost time. I have been so worried that you might not hear from many of us Visalia flockees and felt isolated and sad). I have been convinced you are the best homilist on the face of the planet since I met you in 1993. You were the gentle welcoming back Shepherd that thru your Masses and homilies I returned to the Catholic church after a seven year absence from it.You also entrusted us with jobs we were honored to do. My husband helped more than I. He always thought, and still thinks of himself as the little church mouse, more or less. Much more so than me.I am more of and easily startled timid hummingbird. He and I tag- teamed teaching for the church though until this last confirmation class ended. That was fun as as a couple we are so much opposites from each other. I think I have given you enough hints as who we are that are concerned you are alright, but how about just one more? We need to take you out to dinner sometime again, or have you over to our place, remember, we are your family- just ask the waitress :). God bless you, you are in our daily prayers, and never far from our thoughts. Keep in touch, you have my husband's cell number. May God keep you safe always, you are much loved by all...Especially us Father "Raphael"...

Anonymous said...

You are a real inspiration to all those parishioners at the Fresno Newman Center who feel trapped in a Catholic institution that has been unwilling to step outside its dogmatic principles. I am a recovering Catholic who had lost my faith in my church because of the hypocrisy that is all too apparent. I wich I had a chance to converse with you about my views. Your critics today have forgotten that Christ was unwelcome by the clerics of his time. I am very proud to have been one of your parishioners!

Anonymous said...

You may not think of yourself as a hero, but you have inspired me tonight. You have sacrificed everything to stand up for what you believe in knowing full well what it would cost you. That, to me, is a hero.