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My parents have always been religious fanatics, and being Catholics implies that we can worship the Priest, and yet, it would be counted as righteousness. If there be a day I fail to attend mass or kiss the sacred holy foot of the Virgin Mary, my father will force my indulgence into self-flagellation. To him, the flesh has to be subdued through pain and punishment.
In such a strict and religious home, my sexuality lay hidden like a beer on hibernation. I dare not speak to the wall of it, less they hear. My lips never betrayed me during Saturday confessions, because that will be the beginning of an apocalypse.
During Absolution by our parish priest, I will lay my sins silently at the feet of Virgin Mary, asking for this carnal feeling to be rolled away like the rock on Jesus’s tomb. This I do without the hearing of another mortal ear. My so-called sin, if made known, will certainly shake the very foundations of the church and worse, cost my father his position as Knight.
I can’t even imagine what would happen if my sexuality creeps out of the closet. But here is an idea, an Exorcist would be called to evict the demon of gay to hell. After the exorcism, I will be forced to enroll in a conversion therapy program where all manner of horror will be carried out.
Conversion therapy is a nightmare. One of the processes of conversion is the use of electric shock therapy, known to be strong enough to break even the spirit, and forcing the sin into repression.
I did Confirmation at the age of 12, an act whereby the Priest gives us the strength to resist sin. I remember that day as if it was yesterday.
“Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
He has said to me as he dips his right thumb in holy oil and anoints my forehead. I could remember the look on my mother’s face like I have been given a free ticket to heaven. I felt elated. I felt a burden leave my shoulders. I remember looking through the crowds, to see if a cute boy can still attract me. Then it came as a blow. I was still in the grasp of this strong capital sin and might indulge if an opportunity surface. I remember walking home, with my head hung in shame. I was beyond redemption.
All the Priest in our parish were wrinkled older men who have vowed never to deconsecrate the body through sins of the flesh. Even if they wanted, it would have been a disgusting sight. Though I’ve heard rumors about homosexuality within the priesthood community, they were merely unconfirmed.
My Dad is a member of the Knighthood, and from a tender age, he made sure I was always around the altar. This he made possible by convincing Father John, our oldest Priest, to make me an Altar Boy.
During Blessed Sacrament, I will carry the chalice like an angel, walking gently like the true direct son of God as the orchestra make the atmosphere heavenly. This is usually the moment when I feel holy despite my capital and sodomic sin.
Father John has always been a family friend. Thanks to my Dad’s large donations to the church. Every Tuesday evening, he would come around and get entertained with a bowl of chicken soup. They will sit in the sitting room, discussing the church and the happenings around the world.
I was in my room one Tuesday evening when I overhead Father John and my Dad discussing same-sex relationship for the first time in my life. I left my door ajar, peeping attentively with my heart pounding like a mortar.
“Father, how can the Pope make such a declaration, to recommend an abominable sin proper to souls we were entrusted with saving?” My father has asked Father John.
Father John took a deep breath, sat back at his chair, and let out a deep sigh.
“These are signs of the last days. Remember, the love of sin will wax strong. It is no respecter of person, not even the Catholic Pope,” Father John had replied. He continued.
“Those who partake in such a sodomic sin shall have their lot in the burning…”
I couldn’t allow him to finish that last part as I shut my door in anger. How can an all-loving and perfect God create an imperfect human and also doom his soul in hell for his imperfection?
Leviticus didn’t only make mention of stoning men laying with men to death. It also talked about putting stubborn children to death. It also spoke about not wearing two different fabrics. It also talked about not eating creatures without a split hoof, or those that chew no cud. Why have they forsaken those and focus on men who do nothing but love?
A few months later, Father John retired from his holy call due to his old age. It was as if a burden was lifted. I will no longer be subjected to those demoralizing moments. No more, “The spirit will strengthen you to overcome earthly sins.” No more nights where he will sit with my Dad in the verandah and talk about how gays will burn in hell. No more!
Finally, I felt free. But what I never anticipated was he who was to replace him. It was the devil himself, sent directly from the deepest part of hell to doom my soul. But little did I know that this devil was to be my savior. The greatest irony of all times.
I was in my room one hot afternoon, listening to the jazz blasting through my stereo when my mom came in.
“Stephen, come and meet the new priest,” she has said, very excitedly.
I wasn’t particularly happy about the news, but I prayed he never become a family friend like Father John. I won’t mind being tormented with Leviticus 20:13 every Sunday in church. But coming to my home with such destructive and demoralizing message is more than torment.
I walked to the sitting room, and what I saw made my heart sank. Never in my life have I seen a priest so young and an encompassing beauty. He has to be a Nephilim, a fallen angel, camouflaging like a priest to dwell in the midst of God’s children. He has to because he was too perfect to be human.
He had the perfect nose and succulent lips. His eyes were black and so defined, with a well-shaved eyebrow that looked like an art masterpiece, giving him this alluring look that was hard to resist. Within a split of a second, everything around me froze in admiration.
“This is Father James, our new parish priest,” My Dad had said from his couch, bringing me back to reality.
“Good… good afternoon, father James.” I had stuttered, bowing awkwardly in respect. I couldn’t look him in the eye. His eyes were piercing, tormenting, making me shy and nervous. I fear that by looking at him, my hidden feelings will burst through the closet and put me in trouble.
“Bless you,” He had replied, making a sign of the cross in the air.
“If not that you are my only son, it would have gladdened my heart to see you become a priest someday” My father chipped in as a wave of unholy anger swelled up inside of me.
“One must not be a priest to serve the purpose of God, Sir Hilary. With one’s heart on God, and provisions of the holy spirit, one can be with God, at all times.” The handsome Priest said as I smiled like one who just won a lottery.
Because of my family’s previous relationship with Father John, the new Priest decided to take over his legacy by visiting every Sunday, after mass. That tiny crush began to metamorphose into something gigantic. Perhaps it was never a small crush, but it was growing at a tremendous pace.
One Sunday, after Eucharist, Father James gave me the leftover uneven bread and wine.
“It seems you have the greater portion of the body and blood of Christ,” he said laughing. I smiled shyly at his comment as I gulp down the wine at once.
Gradually, our soul began to bond. We were spending more time together in his quarters, studying the Bible and arguing about conspiracy theories, the Bermuda triangle, Illuminati, and even Game of Thrones. We had so much in common, except my hidden sexuality of course. He was too perfect to share that commonness.
This newfound relationship with the new Priest made my father proud. He now raises his head higher during mass. Who wouldn’t? Your son is an altar boy, has a tight relationship with the parish priest, never misses confession, nor has he been found doing something odd or unholy.
One Saturday morning during devotion, my father prayed.
“Let us give thanks to God for helping Stephen get closer to the vineyard of God”.
I laughed mischievously inside of me. If only he knew about my lust for the new Priest. If only he knew, he would never let me step foot in church again.
Father James wasn’t like other priests I have known. I was brought up thinking that Priest should not wear jean shorts. I was brought up, to believe that Priest should never laugh openly in public, or have a close friend. They are expected to be on a robe, walking delicately on earth like angels no matter the emergency.
But James defiled all that. He wore Shorts during his visits. He always laughs so hard that he almost cries. He doesn’t walk gently as priests do, nor does he smell holy. His fragrance gave off a vibe of lust, or perhaps my mind was playing its tricks. But when he prays, you know it was indeed from the depth of his core.
I was falling in love with his smiles in every contact. I had once jerked off, thinking about his exposed laps whenever he wore those shorts. But I felt guilty afterward. I shouldn’t do this. He is a priest, a servant of God.
I began to spend more time in his quarters than I have ever done since my childhood as a Catholic, and he was always excited to receive me. We would play jazz music together, watch his galleries and talk about books, like the “The Lost Symbol” by Dan Brown.
Sometimes, I will cook for him, wash his robes, and after; we would play a game of chess. This relationship soon took the turn of pillow fights. We were both free and open to each other. Our meeting was like one designed by fate. I have never been happier in my life. My mother sensed it and thought I have fallen in love with a girl, not knowing that it was indeed our parish priest
For the first time in my life, I wanted to confess my sexuality to a priest. To James. He has proven to be open-minded to some extent. I don’t know where the confidence came from, but I knew he would never expose me to my father, would he?
I had a plan; I would come clean during the next confession.
The next day was Saturday, confession day and knowing that I’m taking a step out from the closet scared me. Will this change anything? Would my relationship with Father James be the same again?
As I walk to the confessional, to lay my mortal sodomic sins before Father James, I couldn’t help but notice how sweaty I became and how hard my heart was pounding. I opened the door, sat down in silence as he waits for my confession.
“I… I.. I have sinned, father.”
“I have sinned,” I said again.
“Lay them and be free my son,” he replied from his compartment.