Hail Mary and Bounce Your Eyes, Pt. 1

Catholic guys, pfff

In the fall of 2013 I began as a junior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Between the busyness of upper-division Spanish courses and a part-time job, I did my best to get involved with the Catholic Student Association (CSA) at the parish on campus. While I was not even out to myself at this point in my life, there was something about me that put me at a distance from my fellow students there. For some, I was too Catholic, too focused on the rich tradition of the faith (one of the key reasons I had become Catholic in the first place).

Yet, for others, particularly my male peers in the CSA, I was not quite the ‘right’ kind of Catholic. My voice was higher than theirs, I hated sports (I still do), and I did not struggle with lusting about boobs. While I did go through a very harsh pro-life phase (my apologies to literally everyone), I never cared if women at Mass showed cleavage or if I was not traditionally masculine (I mean, do any of y’all actually enjoy lukewarm Budweiser and being afraid of your emotions? Like, seriously??). The more devout men I met there often spoke of ‘bouncing their eyes’, which, to those not familiar with purity culture, deals with immediately averting your gaze from anything that might encourage lustful thoughts. Knowingly or not, I had been bouncing my eyes for years, just not from women.

Nevertheless, the priests were amazing there- Fr. C. offered me such welcome; later, when I had come out and was struggling to determine if God still wanted me, I remember being assured that nothing could ever change God’s love for me. It was, by all accounts, an odd place to grow into my faith.

Tantum Ergo Sacramentum

During that first year at UT, I attended a three-day movement styled retreat called ‘Awakening’ that was a turning point in my faith. The second night, we were supposed to have Eucharistic adoration, yet, after we knelt down on the floor, we soon realized that this would be no ordinary adoration. We sang for twenty or thirty minutes, and it felt as if I were singing to Jesus directly.

Then, Fr. R, our other priest, took the monstrance from the altar and brought it around to each of us, knelt down, and lifted the Eucharist, encased in golden sunbeams, up to our face. The only thing I could see was the Eucharist – Jesus brought down to us under the guise of bread. And I heard within myself in that moment of intense closeness with the God of the universe and of my heart a question that would change my whole life’s trajectory.


“Logan, will you step out of the boat and walk with me?”

Damn.

(Continues in Pt. 2)

(Photos in this post are in the public domain)

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