Princess Diana’s Funeral Part 17: Earl Spencer’s Eulogy
“For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
I remember that night. It was a Sunday (August 31st 1997). I mean, it was late Saturday night going into Sunday morning, if memory serves. I was home, sitting in front of the television watching the late news when the report came across. I was stunned to say the least. For me, during those years, Diana was my champion, someone who knew me, who understood me, someone who would speak kindly of me, and those like me.
I got dressed and walked up to “Cheers” which was a bar around the corner from home that I used to party at over the years. I got into the DJ booth and we turned the SAT tv on to World News, the music stopped, drinks were dropped and everyone in the bar stood there watching the news as it came across live from World News Outlets like CNN and the BBC. The night never recovered.
My friend Annie, an ex-pat from the UK lived two doors down from me and we sat up all night watching the news. I had an outdoor area in front of my apartment where I set up a shrine to Diana – and everyone in my building stopped by the leave flowers and a candle.
I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.
Gustav Holst (1874-1934) – Cecil Spring-Rice (1859-1918)
We rose early on the morning of the funeral for Diana Princess of Wales. We wept and we sang sitting there in my apartment that morning. Diana, the People’s Princess will never be forgotten.
The sky was leaden as the sun set behind the dark clouds. It was the colors that attracted my camera. I just had to get the shot, before the light faded.
Prince Harry called Diana “our guardian, friend and protector”
BBC News Online
Prince Harry has told a service to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, that she was “the best mother in the world”.
Family and friends joined Princes William and Harry for the service at Guards’ Chapel near Buckingham Palace.
Harry told the congregation, which included the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles: “She made us and so many other people happy.”
The Bishop of London said it was now time to “let Diana rest in peace”.
The Right Reverend Dr Richard Chartres, said the princess’s memory should no longer be used to score points, and urged: “Let it end here.”
‘Love and gratitude’
Harry, who was 12 when his mother was killed, said her death was “indescribably shocking and sad”, and changed his life and that of his brother forever.
He added: “When she was alive we completely took for granted her unrivalled love of life, laughter, fun and folly.
“We both think of her every day. We speak about her and laugh together at all the memories.”
Prince William, who was 15 when Diana died, gave a reading from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians which asked for inner strength.
The Royal Family were cheered as they arrived at the chapel
Diana’s sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, also gave a reading.
The service included Diana’s favourite classical music by composers Rachmaninov and Mozart and four hymns, concluding with Diana’s favourite, I Vow To Thee, My Country.
The service also included two prayers written by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his predecessors Tony Blair and John Major were accompanied by their wives to the service.
The Duchess of Cornwall was invited to the hour-long memorial but decided not to attend, saying her presence would be a distraction.
Former members of the princess’s staff, all of the bridesmaids and page boys from her 1981 wedding, and over 110 representatives of charities and organisations with which she was associated were also on the guest list.
ORDER OF SERVICES
1100 – two-minute silence at Harrods
1200 – main memorial service at Guards’ Chapel, Wellington Barracks, London; service at the Kirk of St Nicholas Uniting, Aberdeen
1630 – memorial at Manchester cathedral
1715 – choral evensong at Bristol cathedral
1800 – prayers at Llandaff cathedral, Cardiff
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Earlier, Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi died in the crash alongside the princess, laid flowers at a shrine he has built at the London store and held a two-minute silence.
Other memorial services for the princess are being held at venues across the UK, including Manchester, Bristol, Aberdeen and Cardiff.
Hundreds of people attended the Manchester service, which began at 1630 BST. It included readings, a blessing, and music played at the princess’s funeral.
Admirers of the late princess have tied flowers and cards to the gates of Kensington Palace – her former London residence – as they did in 1997 after her death.
Members of the public have also left bouquets and gifts at Althorp, where Diana is buried, at the gate of Sandringham estate in Norfolk where she was born.
It was the first time Althorp had been opened on an anniversary of her death.
Althorp is the home of Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer.
He invited charity workers, members of organisations supported by Diana and limited numbers of members of the public into the estate.
When she was alive we completely took for granted her unrivalled love of life, laughter, fun and folly
Earl Spencer said: “This year, though, I wanted to invite, as my family’s guests, representatives of those charities and groups particularly associated with Diana.
“It seems a fitting way to remember her invaluable association with so many fine organisations.”
Several visitors had applied for tickets offered in a local newspaper.
Betty Clarke, 80, of Northampton, said: “She’s an icon and will never be forgotten. I was really glad to come and pay my respects.”
A service will be held at the nearby St Mary’s Church, in Great Brington, on Friday night to give members of the local community and staff at the Althorp estate a chance to reflect on Diana’s life.
Tributes to the late princess have also been left near the Eternal Flame monument by the tunnel in Paris where she was killed.
Princess Diana died, aged 36, along with her companion Dodi Al Fayed, 42, and chauffeur Henri Paul, when the Mercedes they were in crashed in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel on 31 August 1997.
The princess’s death provoked an unprecedented outpouring of national grief, with hundreds of thousands gathering to mourn outside Kensington Palace, where they left a sea of floral tributes.
Today was a busy and exciting day for students across Montreal, as I am sure, in many other cities across Canada. It is Frosh week here in Montreal. Students are moving into dorms and the stores all over the downtown core are busy.
We spent the afternoon shopping like mad women. I started at skool to buy textbooks which are never cheap, but this semester a few of my books I was able to buy used which saved me a chunk of cash.
Theo 204/AA Christian Ethics:
1. Living with Other People – Melchin
2. Reason Informed by Faith – Gula
3. Course Pack – not available yet
Reli 398P/AA Religions of Tibet:
1. Religions of Tibet – Samuel
2. Tibetan Civilization – Stein
3. Religions of Tibet in Practice – Lopez
Theo 206/A – XT Origins:
Texts not available yet…
I noticed that there were many Holocaust texts on the shelves so I found a new copy of “Night” by Elie Wiesel, Elie is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. I have wanted to read this text to put into my collection of Holocaust writings on my bookshelf, since I took Holocaust Studies last fall.
Hubby and I set out for a shopping trip to Alexis Nihon Plaza, which is pictured above, the mall is just up the street from home. I wanted to get some new clothes, since we’ve been wearing the same duds for months. I have to say that Zellers is a great store – which is where we get a lot of clothing for the year. $85.00 bought us 5 new shirts in assorted colors and prints, which was fine with me. We also needed folders, pens and paper.
Don’t you love – back to skool shopping?
We bought a new printer for our computer, The HP Desk Jet 4160 model. It is sleek and quiet and really nice. It has all these great printer capabilities with bells and whistles. It came with an extended warranty which was on sale, all in total the printer cost $70.00.
We have all that we need for skool now, hubby still needs to get some books, and next week classes begin. I have resigned from The Common Ground and shut down the blog, because I’m not going to deal with school girl drama. So that’s that for today. Maybe I will write some more later tonight, I haven’t done my reads yet today.
It seems that God has something in mind for me, I am not sure what that is, but Summer is over and life now changes with the seasons. The Fall is upon us and this is my season to prepare for the great silence. Over the next few months school will become the norm again, and as the leaves turn and fall – you will witness God in ways you might have never imagined.
Once again, I have been put between a rock and a hard place by another group of people who left me with secrets and riddles about my ability to lead. It seems that my credentials and abilities are in question, and once again, I am not going to deal with the bullshit games.
You either like me or you don’t – You either align with me or you don’t – it is very simple. Ministry is not about ego, secrets or personalities. I’ve never been an egomaniac, in fact I think I am pretty sober for the most part. But I will not be undermined after working all Summer to build a community. Now that community is, as far as I am concerned, without a leader. Because I am not going to deal with the drama.
Life is too short for drama and politics
They say when people have problems with you that it is their perception of you that is the problem and also that what people think of me is none of my business. I do not like change, but after much time spent in prayer and meditation, and proper consideration, I am rightfully ok with the way I feel. And isn’t life all about “Perceptions?”
I am now free to concentrate on my studies, and to offer my services to those who used to count me among the chosen few spiritual advisers. I remember that I am not perfect and surely I am not God.
Wanda Sykes on Gay Marriage
It seems recently that my traffic has been steady in numbers we have never seen as of late. It also seems that I have touched a few nerves with my Fuck You attitude. How can any Christian man or woman tell another Christian to “Fuck Off?” Well, I can and I often do.
I have to say that turning 40 has been a watershed for me as of late. I know myself and I know what I believe and what I understand and what I preach. There is a lot that I can talk about having lived 40 years of life, knowing full well the severity of sickness, the grace of education, the hell of addiction, and the blessing of sober time and the one thing that has saved me from utter death and destruction: My Faith.
There is something to be said for a man doomed to face a life of pain, sickness and eventually a miserable death to come out fourteen years later alive and all the better for the faith that sustained him. I have seen enough division in my life, enough hatred and enough pain to tell me that Christianity was the most damning religion in the Western hemisphere.
When I watched, witnessed and was one of those men who were damned by the Christian right as a sinner, I began to learn what I could about religion, which led me to the halls of higher learning to find out for myself what was truth and what was fiction. The bible, written by man, transcribed centuries ago, and we know as fact that sometimes that translation was determined by the one doing to work.
Do I believe the bible, yes I do, do I follow it to the letter of the law, no I don’t. But you must understand where I came from to understand why I stand by my position of my take on Christianity. I’ve had enough of what you all believe, and at 40 I can state without equivocation what I believe because I lived this experience. Christianity must change to acceptance and love. And that’s what I believe. I have invested enough time in study and I continue my studies to this day in Theology. There are too many divisions and I am trying to create a ministry of hope, acceptance and love.
There are so many things that separate us. Religion separates us, judgment separates us, scripture separates us, and social and religious gospel separates us. The first thought I have when I think of separation is labels. When I work with young people on their way OUT into the world, I caution them against labels, because wisdom tells us that labels not only identify us, they separate us as well.
Some may say I am morally reprehensible and that I am a sinner and that I have violated some religious or moral principle. And maybe I have, but I knew well before I “knew” that I was different. The whole notion of nature -vs- nurture idea. I was surrounded by things that informed the boy I would grow up to be and eventually, the man I would become.
I make no excuses for the life I have lived. And I believe, still to this day that if it were not for the profane men who cared for me when I most needed it, I would not be the faith filled man I am today, and of course I would be dead. If you look in the PAGES section of this blog, you will find The Sacred Path and also my writing on Man gives information but God gives Inspiration: Here is an excerpt of that writing. There are many dimensions to my Christian life, how I came to be, why I believe the way I do and how the man you read about here, came to be…
Man gives Information but God gives Inspiration…
I’ll tell you a story about God and why I believe the way I do. Many years ago, during the “sickest” period of my HIV diseased life, I happened upon a little television show that brought me hope during some of the darkest times of my life. I tell this story every so often to illustrate why I believe God speaks to us in certain terms. My home parish back in Miami is the most wonderfully blessed and sacred space that I have ever been in and had the privilege to grow up in as well.
The good thing about this parish is that they stuck behind me in prayer and support when the greater church at large was raging against the homosexual community. The Pastor of the parish was a sainted man – well – he IS a sainted man included with him are the men who ministered with him to more than 25,000 families and even more today.
The priests in that parish told me that as long as I showed up for mass and prayed that I would get everything that I needed. I went to mass weekly, I even started making mass daily which meant I got on the road at 6:30 to make the trek to the church via a train, 2 buses and a 45 minute walk from the through-way to the church which was across the street from the high school I graduated from.
I went to mass every Sunday night and I was an altar person and a Eucharistic minister. I had my assigned hour every week praying before the Blessed Sacrament. We had a sacrament chapel in the church that was open 24 hours a day around the clock there was always someone praying before the “Blessed Sacrament.”
Over those years I went to mass our parish was the proving ground for new priests that were ordained. This is where I met my greatest mentor and my greatest critic. One Sunday I was standing in the church during the processional and a man came in on crutches to say mass. I knew then that God had spoken to me that night. I vowed never to back down from a challenge and I also vowed that unless I was dying that I would never complain about my lot ever again.
Fr. J had MS and was crippled, yet he suited up and he showed up and he said mass and the next day on that Monday morning I showed up for a morning mass and asked Fr. J to be my spiritual director. This journey lasted a few years. We talked and we prayed, I had reading to do each week and we discussed my progress along the way. I don’t have that kind of direction these days; it is hard to nail down holy men to a scheduled meeting. Anyways, I digress…
After Sunday Mass I would rush home for a little show I like to call my saving grace in very dark times. It was a little show of little acclaim, but it meant a great deal to me. Get ready for it, here it comes, a little show called “Touched by an Angel.” I longed to hear those words spoken every week in any circumstances – I knew that God was in my house each week saying words of hope in the form of angelic messages from Tess, Monica, Raphael, and Andrew.
“I’m an angel sent by God to tell you that God loves you and that he hears you!” No matter what the problem or the sickness or the tragedy there was always hope and a lesson from the almighty about social issues and problems in society. If a little show like this could move someone like to me Hope and to rely on the Lord, then it mattered to many more people than me.
I believe that angels walk the earth and that God makes his presence known in ways we might not always see the forest for the trees. I know it may be hokey and simple, and TV is just TV, it has no value to life, I beg to differ. When I had no one to talk to or was alone for long periods of time, it gave me great comfort to know that at least God was listening to my prayers and that my prayers mattered.
I made some mistakes and I walked off the path because of my stupidity – and God, I think forgave me for that after all the faith I put in him, and I learned that lesson the hard way and that is enough of that thought.
I have a little “Touched by an Angel” calendar of quotes from the show that sit on my bedside table and I look at it every night. And thanks to the age of VCR’s and Syndication, I can get a double dose of T.B.A.A. every day here in Montreal. Everyone has an angel, because God loves us unconditionally, no matter what color our skin is, no matter who we are, or what ever life we live. God sees sin and pain and He sees just how the world is running, and it is up to us to make a difference, to bring hope to those who need it, to bring love to those who desire it, to bring comfort to the sick and to love each and every person in our lives. I have tried to uphold those tenets in my life, I believe in God because he believes in me.
I did not need a church to teach me about God’s love, because I knew that God loved me every morning that I woke up and I was still breathing. I have left the path on numerous occasions in my life, and I’ve been on a really good streak for the last seven years and I intend on keeping on. I listen to God, and I search for him and it is rarely that I don’t get a daily reminder that HE is watching over me, in one way or another.
I have a great posse of readers whom I love dearly for their support. I try to lead by example and I hope I have done well. I take time each morning and each night to “remember my spirit.” I am good to myself. And I am good to others as well. If you want to feel good about yourself, go out and do something for someone else without any expectations.
I get that opportunity each and every week on Tuesday’s to give back to my community, at my home group of AA. Ms. Nikki and I set up the meeting each and every week, and it has been that way every Tuesday now for the last four-plus years now I’ve been sober. Each chair I set down during setup is a prayer I offer for one particular person, so I meditate on each and every member that attends our meeting each week, and for every empty chair I pray for the one who will come and maybe sit in that chair. You just have to be there to understand this ritual.
Do I hear God, yes I do.
Do I listen for God, yes I do.
Do I talk to God, of course I do.
I love walking or hiking up the mountain because I hear God’s voice in the trees as the breeze blows through. I hear God every time the church bells ring. From where I live 17 stories above the city we are surrounded by fantastical, sacred churches. And each day those church bells ring at certain hours they call me to stop – get quiet – and I say a short prayer as the bells ring. At my home group in Westmount, they have mass each evening and at 6 p.m. they ring the Angelus bells, like clockwork. We set up and finish before six so that when the bells ring I can stand outside and say my Angelus prayers.
If we don’t take time out of our busy day to remember God and to connect to God, then what are we doing with our days? Where do we find inspiration and energy? How do we maintain a level of serenity to help us through the business of the day? Starting each day on ones knees before God is the way I start my day and doing a gratitude list at the end of the day is also a great way to end ones day. Remembering gratitude keeps me grounded and mindful of all that I have and all that I learned on that given day. Then I come here and I share it with my readers.
- Naked and Sacred –
As a young child I have fond memories of old churches and polished pews and candles flickering in dark corners of the building, statues of saintly persons who looked out over the congregational spaces and the dark corner grotto’s making sure we knew that they were watching over us and praying in tandem with the many who came to find peace, solace and faith within those walls.
I remember that day that my Memere took me to that grand church all alone, just her and I and God. It was an afternoon event; she brought me here for mass on a regular basis. These were the days of the old missal books and rosaries, women wearing lace over their faces, it was an ethnic parish church attended by many from ethnic communities all around.
On that day she took me to the church, she had a purpose. I remember this as if it was yesterday because, in my minds eye, this was very important to her. We went to light some candles and leave our offering in that little tin box attached to the candle display, we sat in quiet supplication and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and we lingered to hear the voice of God speak to us. I am sure that Memere and God had brokered an agreement over me.
After a while she got up from her place and she gathered me to herself and we walked to the edge of the banister that protected the main altar from people walking up on the dais. The banister was open, as if to welcome us to step up there – so with great pride Memere walked me ahead of her until I was standing on the dais before God. I must admit there were no words that were spoken to me; this is where the agreement must have been made. Memere looked up that the altar, then at her favourite statue and then beckoned God to look down upon us and take us into His arms and protect us. In that moment I believe I had been “consecrated” to Christ and to God and the Blessed Mother, not to mention Marguerite D’ Youville. (This will be explained later in the timeline)
Memere had a “tight” relationship with God. Her homes were shrines to the family that had gone before us, to the saints who protected us, and the God who gave us life. I always felt naked before God in her house. As if God sat with us daily and saw us for whom we really were simple God fearing folk. I never for one moment feared God. There was nothing I could not say to Him nor ask of Him, but I also knew that there were things one just did not ask of God, because greed and excess were not part of Memere’s lexicon.
I learned to pray the rosary as a young boy, we went to mass frequently. I don’t know if my mother and father were aware that I had so much “sacred time” in my early life. I am sure she knew that if I was with Memere that I would go where she went and I would love her for taking me and I would love the adventure of going to see God all the time.
The church of old is not the church of now, unless of course you live in Montreal and have living “great” relatives who live in a convent not far from home.
Being the first of two children in a family firmly grounded in the late 1960’s brought a lot of opportunities to me as that first child. I had three years on my brother. Three years are a big deal. I had the adoration of the matriarch’s of the family; I had three years of unadulterated wisdom taught to me over time. My time was my own; there was no one to deflect that attention away from me, which endeared me to the hearts of the women of the family. But secrets existed, secrets that would one day turn my life upside down.
My father was an abusive man; he came back from Viet Nam with major issues. I was born out of the man who came back from war, damaged and lost. He took a wife of Canadian blood, gave her an ultimatum and got her pregnant. I was there at the wedding, my mother carrying me in her womb, walked down the aisle that day and agreed to bear his children and live by his rules and regulations. My father, the racist, bigot that he was wanted to force a continental divide to rise from the ground to separate that which made my mother who she was and force her to become the woman he required.
That divide never rose, and my father’s resentment of the maternal “nursery” that I entered as a child began. I guess this is why I am so maternal, because all the men in the family were war shaken and damaged. They worked all the time in business, in the fields and in factories. It was up to the women to rear the children into the people we were to become. My father’s resentment of my presence was well known. Later in my life I would be told of the fact that my father wanted to kill me, that I was a mistake and should never have been born. He tried many times to snuff my light out as quick as he could. The one thing that he did not expect was the backlash that came in the form of vociferous rebukes by the matriarch’s of the family, hence my “consecration to God.” If I was consecrated to the Almighty, then my father’s plan for ending my life would never come to fruition.
I remember being chased through houses by drunk men in my life, I remember my grandmothers standing in doorways between me huddling beneath a bed, hiding for my life, and my drunk and angry father fighting with them to let him “do it already!” He wanted nothing more than to wipe me off the face of the earth. The women of my family tell me that he fought often with them to abuse me and to hurt me and eventually to kill me.
They were not going to let that happen, my mother was powerless to try and stop him, why, they had an agreement, and she was his bitch, and she did what he said without argument! That was his way unto this very day.
When I was born he gave me my name. I was given to the earth as the man he loved from the war, who died in the war, so every time he looked at me or said my name or heard my name called, the memory of “one dead soldier” would rise to the fore. What kind of man places that kind of sadistic torture on himself? Was he hoping to exorcise that memory from his brain by personal reprogramming? I think there was more to this story than met the eye. Yes, there was, it took me decades to divine the truth from those who knew, and in hindsight I was able to complete the puzzle.
At age 30 I changed that name and exorcised it from my life, it was the final conflict that separated me from my parents. Being gay – HIV Positive and changing my name was three strikes, I was now damned to live without parents. He made damn sure of that.
Needless to say, faith was a priority; God would protect and save me. My grandmothers agreement with God was non negotiable with any one else. Not that my father knew she had this deal on the table. Women are tricky characters you know! When Memere beckoned upon those she regarded as spiritually powerful, hell hath no fury like the wrath of an angry saint and my grandmother generating the turbine of retribution with her dedicated prayers.
Who was God? And why should I care? Because it was beaten into me that I was a mistake and should never have been born, for 18 years my father made it his life’s work to destroy me mentally and emotionally. Later on in my 30’s the revelation of my sexual abuse at my father’s hands would rise from my sobering mind. And you think HE had issues? I went to church, as a young boy. I would complete all my sacraments in the order of succession. I would be in communion with the church I would pray my rosary and my novenas. God was present in my daily life. I was always naked when I was sacred. There was nothing I held back from God, because my relationship with God was between him and me. To stand before God is to be naked in his sight. How much more sacred could it be?
My parent’s went to church off and on. After my brother was born in 1970, my mother found out she was RH positive and a tubiligation was ordered by her OB because she might not live through another pregnancy, and so it was done. This act of “birth control” forced an issue that divides the church and her people to this day. A woman’s right to decide proper birth control and the church’s position that if one impedes the ability of a woman to conceive then you are outside the rule of mother church.
My parents were dealt a swift blow by the parish priest where they were married. That priest, by order of Holy Mother Church, was bound to defend the party line of those times; he excommunicated them both from the church – which meant that they could no longer receive the sacraments. I have to assume my mother was crushed and my father couldn’t give a damn.
Years would pass, life would go on, God still existed in my life, and we, as a family went to church, I remember that much. It came to pass in my years as a pre-teen that we moved to the third home of transition, when I was in grade six. This afforded my parents entry into suburbia. It was a very big step up from where we had been socially and economically. We had made it into the “big time.” My father was proud of this accomplishment. I remember the day we saw the house, we all loved it, and it was sacred. It was in the right place, for the right money and had just the right charm to allow my parents to afford it.
St. Richard’s parish was less than a mile away; schools were “in the neighbourhood” and all was well. My father’s drinking began in earnest so did his abuse, not only of me, but my brother and mother. My mother sought out the parish priest whom would play a large part in my later seminary formation at a later date. They began the process of becoming redeemed in the church; this process took almost 4 years, after decades of living in sin.
My father’s parents were cursed in the years when I was in grade seven and eight. The curse first took my grandmother with a stroke; I was taken from school at age thirteen and flown 1500 miles to her bedside where my father expected that I would be the one to bring her back across the divide. Since I was his first born son, and had the connection I did with her that seeing me would ignite the fire that went out in her brain. I failed to re-ignite the flame. I don’t think my father ever forgave me for my failure to heal his mother. A year later my grandfather was hit with a stroke one year to the day of my grandmother, but he was no favourite of mine, and I did nothing to help him. He abused us all, and for that abuse, death was right punishment.
At age 15, I entered High School. This was a very important period for me. I met a circle of friends that would impact the rest of my life. St. Louis Parish was one block from the High School which I was attending. The youth minister on duty at that time used to open his office at lunch and that is where people would gather to pray, to meet and talk and to learn about God. Who knew it would lead me where it did.
It was in my grade ten year that I would make my confirmation. In order to make that confirmation, my parent’s needed to step up their game in attaining absolution from the church for their “faux pas” with the church over birth control. The Pastor of the parish spoke to them, and gave them counsel and I remember that day he told those, in his Irish Brogue, “the hell with that priest and his excommunication.” I remember my mother doing the happy dance the day that God re-entered our home. He never left, I mean he was in my room, I wasn’t quite sure of any other room in the house up until that point, but for my parents that was the biggest coup of their lives.
When I was home alone on many an occasion, I prayed and I listened to music and in my sacred space within my room I would become naked and sacred. I believed that God was with me, and he protected me, because I really needed it. My father had once again stepped up his attacks, and they were getting even more brutal. My friends all came from broken homes, parent’s divorced, splitting up or on the way there… I was a misfit like all of them. These were the years I spent more time out of my own house than in it. I just could not cope with the ritual mental, emotional and physical abuse.
Where was God when it hurt?
High school was hit and misses, God was here and he was not. I followed him and I cursed him through both sides of my mouth. I was becoming addicted to alcohol; I was starting to slip in school. My relationship with my parents was strained and the priests and ministers of the church had to do something lest they loose me to the statistics of teen tragedy.
I was given chores at church. Any free time was spent working on cleaning the church and keeping the sacristy in tip top shape. I had access to areas of “church” that not many had. In those years the rectory was on site and I spent a lot of time in that rectory doing chores and loving every moment of that time.
Those priests kept me from self destruction. My consecration to God had begun once again. I guess once you are given to God, you don’t have to ask again. Hindsight shows me that I was being groomed for greater things. What my father “beat” out of me, the church replaced in me. What my father on earth took – my heavenly father gave back ten fold. I was in the right place at the right time, when the priests of the parish began to entertain me with seminary speak, serving the church and the greater good. Was I good enough to wear a robe to preach to the masses, to herd a flock?
From the age of ten through out my later life, I was aware of my sexuality. In that I mean I knew how it worked. I knew the finer details of sex and sexual variations. My parents lived a double life, which I was privy to. Knowing the secret sex lives of my parents was an addiction. I couldn’t get enough. Why was I like this? Where did this all begin? I can’t say, and I really don’t want to know when it all began.
I had had relationships in my teen years with others, WHAT I was – was not an issue at any time during my formative years, although I heard the word queer and faggot come out of my parent’s mouths frequently. Our family had been introduced to “homosexuals” when we made that third and final move by friends my parent had and we blessed to have.
I did not identify myself in any “other” term than heterosexual well through my high school years. I dated girls, I had relationships, and I went to prom. I never questioned who I was openly, but between God and myself there was a lot of discussion and praying. Masturbation became a sacred activity, because it happened when God and I were alone. I wanted that sacred experience – to feel that divine communion with the God of my understanding, I wanted to feel sublime love in sacred terms. I’ve never had sex with a woman; I never had sexual inclinations towards the girls I dated in school. I was chaste in that way, but I was profane when left to my own devices.
After completing high school I attended one year of junior college and I failed miserably. I had no tools; I had no knowledge about the “world at large.” My parents never taught me about “transition.” This is the KEY moment in a young person’s life. I know that now, and I teach that to my boys and my fellows. That was when the priests of our parish suggested that I consider the seminary. It was a possible and real option. I got the necessary letters of recommendation and filed my application with the diocese. I was put through my paces and psychological testing, and I passed the boards with a clean sweep.
At this point of my life, my grandparents were getting old. My father’s parents did not know who they were cursed by strokes, Memere was living in a retirement home 1500 miles away, but she saw me enter seminary. When Memere consecrated me to God on that day many years ago in that church came full circle the day I moved into my room at the seminary. All her prayers and novenas were now fulfilled. I was safe for eternity.
I loved God with all my heart and all my soul and all my being. It was unlike any feeling I had every felt before. I remember moving in that day and walking with my parents around the grounds. My mother was so proud, my father had no choice, and he was hell bent on my destruction, my mother on my survival. The battle of the wills was raging on in front of my very eyes. God would win that days cavalry charge. We said goodbye and my mother cried as I walked them to their car and they drove off.
It took a few days to get used to being in the seminary. I sought quiet spaces to commune with God. I went to the chapel whenever I could. There were chapels located on the upper floors of the residence hall where we could pray and have mass said for us. It was the closest to the sacred nakedness I longed for, that I would get that year. God was all powerful and loving. I was there to do one thing, find the way to Him, to serve him to love him in the most sublime way.
The Eucharist became the ritual that would bring me closer to God. I sang my heart out; I prayed until the beads ripped through my hands, I walked in circles until there were ruts in my gardens. (I was a seminary gardener) during that years. It was in this year that things became clear to me. I started to hear God’s voice. I was just a boy in a big world. I was unprepared for the drama of living with others in such tight quarters. My every decision was scrutinized. My every prayer was spell checked. My intentions and motives were questioned. My classmates became my judges but I observed them as well.
My quest to find God was not the same quest that my fellows were on. It had seemed that “identity” was the issue on the table. Many of my peers had figured out their identity and were comfortable in their own skins to “practice their ways.” I had not come to this stage in my life yet. What did I know about identity? I was just this boy in a seminary trying to find my way in a world that was not kind to me. Sex was the first topic of discussion at each and every spiritual direction session I attended that year. It was one of the only lies I told to the man who was interested in my sexual proclivities. What did my masturbation have to do with the attainment of holiness? What I did alone with my God was my business and no one else’s.
I saw injustice in the church; I witnessed people being removed from service because of judgment. I witnessed the church move gay priests and some with illness to our grounds to live and work with us; they were taken from their parishes as a punishment for an unholy lifestyle. Homosexuality was right there in front of me. Grown gay men of the cloth living in community with me, and from my mouth to God’s ears, these men had more sacred reverence for God than any heterosexual holy man in residence with us at that time. I highly respected some of these men. They showed me real faith and real love for God. They gave me more in that year than others. They did not judge me nor force me to be anything but myself. It was the institution that forced choices of identity and allegiance. I was not ready to “identify” nor was I going to pledge “allegiance” to the rector of the seminary or to mother church.
What I do know is this, that I knew then who God was for the age that I was and I was ready to sacrifice my life for that God, but I was hell bent on denying the pressures of the institution to turn a blind eye to blatant abuses of power and human dignity and respect. I had no desire of entering or pledging for the “boys club” it was beneath me. I was better than that and I wasn’t going to compromise my walk with Christ to be like them.
After a year in seminary I was told that my invitation to return the following year had been rescinded. That maybe seminary was not “the place for me.” That maybe becoming a priest was not my “calling.” Who were they to judge with blinder on their eyes? What did they really know about my relationship to God, not that any of them really wanted to know? I walked away from the church and from God.
I moved back home for a short time. That did not last very long. I got a job and traveled the world. I met His Holiness John Paul II twice in the space of 2 years. Once in the states the second time at the Vatican. He was a sainted man; he was a star in my eyes. What I did not know then would not hurt me until decades later.
In my 19th year of life I took a trip to visit family that summer, this was the first time I gave into my sexual desires for another man. It was a one night event under the influence of alcohol, but it made its mark and stuck for good. I knew what sacred felt like when I felt penetration for the first time.
It was a moment I can still recall in vivid detail. It was then I realized what sacred penetration felt like. I buried that secret deep in my heart and never shared that intimate “detail” with anyone for almost two years. I was forced out of my house by my father once again. He was still hell bent on my total annihilation.
I was “Outed” by my best friend on a cruise when I was twenty one. We never spoke again after that. I moved away to be gay, to have my coming out experience. God was no where to be found in my lexicon. He was there; I just refused to allow him into my life, because the church had shit on my spiritual journey. That I took as a clear affront by God so I retaliated.
I got drunk. I stayed inebriated for years after that.
Until that day in 1994 when the news of my impending death made me re-evaluate my relationship with God. The rest they say is history…
I hope you enjoyed this retrospective of my Christian Life, one day I will end up in one of Butler’s books… ha ha ha ha … The rest of these stories can be found in PAGES on the sidebar.
2008 Men On A Mission Calendar – Version 2
Originally Found at: The Ministry of Pleasure…
Get your calender and Information: Mormons Exposed
There is great ministry testimonies on the site under “Meet the Missionaries.” When I studied the Mormons in my “Death and Dying” Course many years ago, “Mission” was very important to each young person. Aside from the eye candy, I think that there is also a learning dimension to this site, if you look for it.
“Brandon’s mission took him to Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world. He witnessed people dying on a daily basis from disease and saw firsthand how HIV has ravaged Africa. Brandon did his best to affect change by teaching English, rebuilding homes and giving medical care and love to orphans as well as assisting men and women to develop job skills and find work. In addition, Brandon focused on the religious aspects of his mission by helping to build chapels and baptizing 69 converts.
Brandon is appearing in the calendar because he would like to help create a more positive view of returning missionaries among non-church members. Echoing the sentiments of many of the other models, Brandon says, “We are down to earth just like everyone else. We live to do good things, but we make mistakes as well. We aren’t perfect going out there and we aren’t perfect coming back.”
Cue the music – start the fog machine – blue light GOBO slow pans across the floor through dimly lit space, and the first beat comes…
I am alone, it is early, the bar is not yet open, but I am there alone. Just me, the music and the spirit of God. Well, what little spirit of God there was at that time of my life. It is mid-summer in Ft. Lauderdale. I have just told Todd that I was going to die…
Over the next few weeks, the teaching would begin. The team rose to the call, one of the boys was sick and was left on the side of the road with nothing but what little dignity was left in his soul. All I needed would be provided come hell or high water. Wild Horses would never stop the charge for life. We were all sick, we were all dying. Save for two people in the entire organization. My champions would save me, if I wanted it or not. Death was not an option and I would either get it or I would die…
So it began…
At that time, the temple of sin was alive and things happened so quickly that if you blinked you would miss it. The temple was filled with every earthly delight, Bosch would have been pleased with our Garden of Earthly desires, carnal, profane and truly sinful. I loved every minute of it.
The rule was set…
You have a life, outside the temple. When you come to work, you leave your baggage at the door, do not bring it in here. No exceptions. Come to work, and you will serve me your Master and do whatever you are told without question without complaint, is that clear!
I took that time of my life as sacred and profane, but that is another story. You can read about the Sacred and the Profane over there in Pages… This is another thread to a long running story of how this boy was made a man, a saved man, a profane man, and in the same vein Sacred. You never know where your lessons are going to come from, and you are grateful for the wisdom and time people took out of their lives to care for you and teach you lessons that nobody else was going to teach you. So pay attention Little One.
This is your life we are talking about…
The gobos are tracking across the floor slowly through smoke and mirrors as the music plays just for you. I learned very early on, in that space that music would identify particular moods, paint particular pictures. Farkle and I had a ritual. He IS the only one left from the fray of men who lived and died from the temple of sin. We began each shift in our own way, begging god another night, another day, another minute. I was surrounded with warriors fighting their own significant battles with AIDS. I was not hit by the KS demon. I was not plagued by things I saw and witnessed, thank the creator. It was ugly. It was brutal and it was most importantly the fight of the century for all of us. Many men went to their deaths in our arms. We bathed them, clothed them and in the end we buried them.
When I got sober there was a man with AIDS named Larry, he was a drunk like me. But he was unique. He sat with a bottle on the table and a loaded revolver to shoot himself. He carried that gun with him and showed it to every one of us, and he told us relentlessly that he was going to kill himself. He got sober with the rest of us. Over the years following his spiritual awakening, he did something that no one else thought to do.
People with AIDS were being left in the streets. Mortuaries would not process sick people, they would not touch a body that had been infected with AIDS. Families would not bury their children. We did that. Larry opened his services to the community and he became another champion of the cause. I knew him. He eventually got rid of the gun, so I heard.
For a few minutes during transition, I would warm up the smoker, fire up the turntable and start the computer so that I could worship my God to the music of my soul. I did that every night. I worshiped whatever was going to save me.
I was servant to the men. I was servant to my Master. I was a slave for God, be he dressed or undressed. You never saw God until you witnessed true beauty of the soul in all its carnality. There is something sacredly profane about this part of my life. What went on inside the temple stayed in the temple. Many months would pass and I battled my demons of alcoholism before I finally fell into the pit of death, and there happen to be somebody watching from the sidelines.
Danny saved me that night. He was the man who cradled me in his arms, oxygen mask on my face and had called the paramedics to try and revive me. Danny took me home that night, and did not leave my apartment for a week. He fed me, bathed me and cared for me, under that watchful eye of my Master Todd. When the word was spoken, action was taken, and hell hath no fury if you did not jump when told to. Todd was very protective over his boys and men. Especially me…
We were reminded that Todd had lost love to AIDS. Bob was buried across the street in the cemetery that faced our building. It was hard – it was painful, and it was sacred. Kevin and Larry did things for me that no man ever did for me in the real world. We were the three musketeers. We were the team to beat in bar management and service. We ran a tight ship and we were accountable, respectable and reliable. We proved a mighty force against the odds we all faced.
Let’s get it on…
Shift was begun at eight. The wells were filled the beer was stocked and the ice bins were full. Put your money in the drawer and let’s get the music thumping. Like clockwork at the strike of eight bells the first note hit the turntables. They were lined up around the building. Cars were parked all over the place. The temple worship had begun. Heaven was found amid the souls of suffering men who knew they were all marked for death, but for tonight, whatever you desired was fulfilled. You could drown away your sorrow and dip into the well of living water if you wished as well. You have never lived until you party like your dying with crowds of undulating flesh as far as they eye can see. The ghosts of those men now inhabit the fantasies and dreams I have still to this day.
One by one, two by two, they died in our arms. We held them until they took their last breaths. Memorialized in the careful and blood soaked threads of quilts, as the years went by, they started collecting by the dozen, then by the hundreds. If you’ve ever seen the entire quilt unfurled, all the men who were part of my life in those first years of my epidemic life, they are all together in death, as they were in life. Memorialized until the end of time. And we remember each of their names.
So many young boys torn from life before they knew what hit them. Men who infected them had died as well. Many of my friends were taken on trips that were detrimental to them, and just robbed them of life that was still left to live.
Todd saw to it that I would never go there…
You come to work, dress as you will, you obey me and do not waver from my eye, for I know your carnal desires and you are too young to tempt the devil with his dance. Because I surely did not know what could befall me if the right charmer enticed me into his web of desire, and they all knew I was fair bait. But in order to dine from my buffet, you needed explicit permission of my Master, who never allowed any man to defile me like many had been. I was off limits. I never crossed the line provided because that meant disrespect and I could never bear to break my Master’s heart with disobedience.
I loved Him, and He loved me – I had many problems. I was depressed and angry and resentful. I had the scars of traumatic visions of my dead lovers corpse in my head, and the words of his mother still ring in my ear today “I hope that every night until you die, that you see the corpse of my dead son in your field of vision.” That curse still lives with me and will go with me to the grave. Five day old corpses are not pretty. I had to identify the remains when all was said and done. Save that he was wearing jewelry that I could identify and part of him was still recognizable – God forgive me…
I remember that day, it was early afternoon the morgue called me from work to come and do the deed. I drove in and looked upon him in that room, I wept tears that burned into my soul forever. I just could not imagine – the pain was so hard to bear. I drove over to the bar. Bill was working behind the bar. I drank until I could not stand up on my own. I drank for a week, straight…
Todd and Bill needed to find me a solution and quick, because I was on the outs.
I started suicide therapy in a group setting that lasted 32 weeks. Nothing like rehashing death week after week, until the pain was purged from your soul, but is it ever? Months went by until I got my news.
But they cared for me in all my brokenness. A young angel would earn his wings back. Come hell or high water. In the end, when all was said and done, at the end of the day I survived, but so many did not. And each night I offer them prayers in hope that when I meet my death that all of them will be waiting for me in the Temple Of Earthly Desire in the promised land of the Kingdom of God, where the sacred and profane are mingled with the blood of the Almighty and the blood of my friends who have gone before me, on that day we will be cleansed of our sins.
And forgiven by God…
Goodnight angels of men
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
I make no bones about WHO I am, I make no bones about WHAT I am. I will not argue about sin or homosexuality again. I should have never engaged you in the first place, that was stupid on my part, but enough is enough. If you don’t agree with me then please, by all means, get the fuck out, I invite you never to come to this blog again.
I invite you, the Evangelical Christian, to choke on the scripture you read and I invite you to call God on the phone and ask him personally what He thinks of me, and I invite the first person who gets access to God to come and share with me what Almighty God has said to him or her about me. There is plenty of writing in my pages for you to consume, think about and understand about what makes me who I am and what I believe and how men of faith supported me when many of YOU condemned me. Who was right, and who was wrong? I am still here and my faith is all I have and that alone sustains and keeps me.
We shall agree to disagree on Sin and Homosexuality. Because until God drops out of his heaven to tells me to come home or stop, I will live my life, as I have lived my life, as it has been for years. I will stay sober, I will stay clean, I will continue my Theological Studies and I will be respected for WHO I am and not discriminated based on WHAT I am.
I have meditated on yesterdays writing, and So I publish an abbreviated portion of that post for you all to read. Summer is at an end. And I am going to re-group and pull back my commitment to work with others, based on recent goings on. I am not pleased, but I will deal with it, like any sober member would. I stick to my base. I pray and meditate and I remember that I cannot help everyone, lest I loose myself in the process.
I’ve decided to add more academic courses to my schedule and that schedule is as follows:
- Theology 206 Origins of Christianity – Mon-Wed 10:15 to 11:30 a.m.
- Theology 204 Introduction to XT Ethics – Wed 6:00 – 8:15 p.m.
Fr. Ray La Fontaine
- Religion 398P (Special Study) Religions of Tibet – Thursday 6:00-8:15 p.m. Marc Des Jardins
I thought that I would add another class to my schedule because it is a special study section in the Department of Religion, and add to that Marc Des Jardins has spent time in the field during his Summers and I happen to like him as a professor, and I look forward to this class. I am taking care of me now.
What is said, has been said. What is done, is done. What is in the past is in the past. I have made my decisions, and thus my post written last night. Suffer the little children, they now rest in the hands of God. I am not going to suffer any longer.
When I stay in my day and put the principles of AA into practice, I know that I am not alone in sobriety. This second chance at sobriety gives me insight/hindsight into the first attempt which failed. The first time I was living life – yet I was going to meetings. Both were mutually exclusive. With learning to live with AIDS back then, as life taught me, I did not incorporate the two worlds well enough.
This time around I did the right thing. I invested in my sobriety much more. I engaged the program like never before. When I came to Montreal, I had to invest time and life into staying sober because here you had to travel nightly to different places for a meeting. There aren’t many multiple meetings in the same location every night. They don’t exist except for two meetings, 7 a.m. Wood and 5 o’clock shadows.
I found a home group and I invested in that group. An investment that I honor today. When I got sober in Montreal, people invested in me, took care of me and gave me right guidance. Today I give back to that meeting. I invest my life around my sobriety. Life is worked around my home group and other meetings.
I do nothing during the hours I attend meetings. I do not usually make any decisions without first passing my ideas past another drunk. So it goes. Because I am invested in my sobriety, I usually stay ahead of the wave. And I have a bank of time and knowledge to draw upon when I need it.
I work with others and I invest in new comers. But I do not force my way into their lives, I have learned that force feeding an infant is pointless because they will only choke and throw up on you. I choose my battles wisely in sobriety. I hand off my number and my counsel wisely. And I sure as shit do not waste my time with people who don’t want it.
It is a waste of my time, talent and knowledge to try and work with someone who doesn’t want to get sober. That’s why I don’t have sponsees at the moment. I work best in the field where everyone has access before, during and after a meeting. I go to a handful of meetings and I serve others. I never say no to sobriety, because you must give it away to keep it.
With that said I have made a decision.
I can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. I can lead a horse to water, but I cannot make it drink. I can lead by example, but faced with current situations, I should have taken a more cautious approach. I was put into a no win situation. There are just some things I know in sobriety that translate into the world I live in like ENABLING.
Abuse is unacceptable. Lying is unacceptable. Pushing someones buttons to see how far they will lurch is unacceptable. If we allow people, children, and spouses to run rough shot through our lives with no concrete action of circumstances, then we end up being victims of the situation we participated in.
If we enable a child to run riot through the house and we enable a child to be disrespectful and ignorant, then we have failed them as parents. If we enable a spouse to abuse us, and we don’t extricate ourselves from bad situations, then we suffer the consequences of our choices and indecision to act wisely.
If a wife allows her husband to abuse her, and she does nothing, then she suffers. If a partner allows their significant other to abuse drugs and alcohol or us and does nothing then we call that enabling them. We also call that insanity.
I cannot help anyone out of a hole if I am in their with them.
I was invited to invest time, talent and experience into a project this summer, that has disastrously backfired. So I am going to apply the rules of sober engagement to this situation. In order to keep me level headed. I gave freely of what I had, and I invested hours, days, weeks and months into working with others, and what did that get me?
Lies, Deceit, Abuse and Disrespect.
I was asked to take on a challenge that has occupied me for some time. And I gladly did it, in the hope that I would affect change, what did that get me? Heartache. If we allow children to run riot through our lives and abuse us and disrespect us, verbally, physically and emotionally, then we have failed at good parenting. We have failed to be good stewards of our children.
If we enable our children to run riot and we enable them to continue disrespectful behavior then that child will grow up into a disrespectful and abusive adult. If we cannot step up and demand that things change and set the rule of law in our home, thereby allowing children to abuse us, then why bother being a parent in the first place?
If we spend countless hours teaching our children right from wrong, good from bad, acceptable from unacceptable, and we spend hours trying to figure out their motivations for lying, cheating and deceiving and we fail to stop that behavior, then we have failed to be good examples. If our children learn that they can run riot and be disrespectful and ignorant and petulant, and we do nothing, but sit and let them run riot, it is our own fault.
Brilliant gifted children who know the law, know the truth and know that there are consequences for bad behavior yet STILL they push us up against the wall and test our resolve to be good parents, role models and authoritarians, they have failed at learning where they fit into the family dynamic. I can only lead by example.
Alas, I have failed to be a good example.
Like new comers in the room, they think they know it all, yet they stumble. And it sometimes takes years to teach them the same lessons we learned ourselves. And with those lessons we offer them “quickie passes” to avoid the pitfalls, yet many choose to take the long and hard road instead of the learned road. That is why I stay away from newbies because they are usually fucked in the head for the first few months of sobriety.
I allow them to see me exist, participate and share experience, strength and hope with others, in the hope that they will want what I have and in time, they may accept me into their lives and at that point they choose to engage, I did not force them to engage.
Henceforth, I am not wasting another moment working with others, who disrespect me, do not listen to me nor want to change their lives for the better, even if they are challenged. My investment of time and talent came at a personal price, my sanity.
And my sanity is worth more than I get paid for.
When you want my help – you let me know, and only when you want to change. Because I am not wasting any more time, placating you or enabling you either. Kelly never called me back. So I guess I am not that important.
by The Associated Press
(Chicago, Illinois) The Episcopal diocese of Chicago included an openly lesbian priest among five nominees for bishop Tuesday, as fellow Anglicans demand that the church bar gay bishops.
Rev. Tracey Lind, dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, who has a female partner, will be on the Nov. 10 ballot.
If she wins, she would be the second bishop living with a same-sex partner in the Episcopal Church. New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who has a male partner, was consecrated in 2003, pushing the world Anglican communion to the brink of schism.
The Episcopal Church is the Anglican body in the U.S.
Next month, U.S. Episcopal bishops will meet to decide whether they should agree to Anglican demands that they unequivocally pledge by Sept. 30 not to consecrate another openly gay bishop. If the bishops say no, the church could lose its full membership in the 77 million-member communion.
The other candidates for Chicago bishop are Rev. Jane Gould, rector of St. Stephen’s Memorial Episcopal Church in Lynn, Mass.; Rev. Jeffrey Lee, rector of St. Thomas Church in Medina, Wash.; Rev. Margaret Rose, director of national Episcopal women’s ministries; and Rev. Timothy Safford, rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia.
Chicago Bishop William Persell plans to resign after his successor is consecrated.
I have much to say, but it being a full moon, I shall keep my counsel.
The draft is written, but I need to meditate on it for a while.
Once you speak the words you cannot take them back.
So I will hold my tongue for now.
Good Orderly Direction
God Adores You
Face Everything and Recover
Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired
God Grant me Serenity!!!
Home Group Tonight
You never know what you’re going to get at Came to Believe. Tonight the room was packed. With new and young faces. People that I know, people I call my friends. And hey I am a homosexual with non-judgmental friends, who knew!
But it isn’t about me is it?
We are there to stay sober and clean.
one of my angels chaired the meeting, which was really cool, because I really like Mike and he is one of those special people in recovery. We fly by the seat of our pants at the Monday night meeting which is always exciting. I heard this young man speak, his name was Owen. He was glowing with the light of God. It emanated from him throughout the room, I wanted to inhabit his light. I needed that energy. I wanted that energy to fill me up.
What Owen spoke about for fifteen minutes was just what I needed to hear. His gratitude, his love his energy and steadfastness for the program was amazing. I wanted so bad to get that feeling once again. Was I that grateful at five months of sobriety? Was I that illuminated and blessed? I don’t remember – that was so long ago.
At the end of the meeting I spoke to Mike and Owen and I said to him, “you know if we could bottle and sell this little gift of grateful blessing, we could make a mint! Go home and write this feeling down. Remember it, and inhabit it as long as you can, because one day you might need to draw on this bank of goodness and light, when things may get dark and you forget how grateful you are tonight.”
I know that when I walk into a room, all labels of difference drop away and the commonality of one sober member talking to another takes precedence. Pity the man and woman who do not know this feeling. Those who will never know what it means to be united in a life and death struggle for life, that is recovery.
I am grateful to be alive, sober and clean.
That I can pray with my friends at a meeting and know that God hears my prayers just as he hears everyone else’s, that God knows my heart and that is good enough for me. I don’t need to justify or defend my homosexuality before any of you, because unless you are part of my daily life, I really don’t give a shit what you think of me or my brand of Christianity.
When all is said and done on that last day, It will be God and myself and I know I live a good Christian life and God will judge me, not man, not YOU nor anyone else who reads my blog. I am really happy that I have hit a meeting tonight, that I don’t have to drink or drug and that I am forgiven… seventy times seven…
Those who know me love and respect me because of WHO I am, not for what I am and what I do for my community at large. That I am trustworthy and kind, I forgive and I serve my God with complete abandon. That I love unconditionally, and that I am good. People respect me because I am respectable. People love me because I am loveable. My husband married me because I was worthy of his love under God and before friend and family. God blessed us and continues to bless us every good day that passes.
Deuteronomy Chapter 6:-
Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one:
And you shall love your neighbor as yourself…
I was invited to a special unveiling of an exhibition at The Christ Church Cathedral today of art and information about The Primates World Relief and Development Fund. Directed at prevention and education about AIDS. A subject close to my heart, in fact, part of it as well. Below are photographs of the art on display for the next two weeks at the Cathedral.
Our Bishop, Barry B. Clarke, was on hand to open the exhibition and the chair of the Theology Department at Concordia University was there as well. They are looking for a few volunteers to show up and participate in the exhibition, if you have a spare hour or two, they could use your support.
It’s time to open our hands, hearts and minds to HIV and AIDS and respond with action, love and knowledge.
It’s time to stop the stigma and discrimination and act on God’s call to love one another, restore right relationships and ensure the dignity of every human being.
It’s time to break the silence and inaction and face a world with AIDS more holistically, more authentically and more compassionately.
It’s time to embrace all brothers and sisters as children of God without prejudice, judgment or fear.
This is the Altar piece from St, Michael’s Mission – artwork done by many artists. They represent different liturgical and seasonal scenes. The central panel is called “the life bearers,” to the left, “The Tree of Life,” and to the right, “beyond, what I see.”
The creator of this altar piece followed one of the artists home and this segment of photos is called “On the way home.” From St. Michael’s Mission.
What We Do
Development, Relief and Justice
PWRDF works in partnership with organizations in Canada and throughout the world to support people-centred development that improves the quality of daily life for vulnerable populations, promotes self-reliance, and addresses root causes of poverty and injustice. PWRDF is active in approximately 30 countries, and also accompanies Uprooted People – including victims of disasters, refugees, internally displaced people, and migrant workers. PWRDF partners are drawn from Anglican churches, ecumenical organizations and community-based groups. Partners address the root causes of problems and accompany communities as they move beyond survival into sustainable development.
JetBlue and a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official, identified as “Inspector Harris,” would not let Raed Jarrar board his flight at John F. Kennedy Airport until he agreed to cover his t-shirt, which read “We Will Not Be Silent” in English and Arabic script. Harris told Jarrar that it is impermissible to wear an Arabic shirt to an airport and equated it to a “person wearing a t-shirt at a bank stating, ‘I am a robber.’” The American Civil Liberties Union and New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the TSA official and JetBlue Airways.
“It is a dangerous and slippery slope when we allow our government to take away a person’s rights because of his speech or ethnic background,” said Reginald Shuford, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program. “Racial profiling is illegal and ineffective and has no place in a democratic society.”
I’ve had this blogger on my read list for some time, along with Baghdad Burning, since the war in Iraq began. I happened upon Raed’s blog today and saw this latest entry and I thought I’d share it with you, since it is relevant and appropriate. You can click on the link above and find out more.
I needed a day off. I needed to regenerate because I was tired. Too many thoughts going on in my head, baggage that is not mine, responsibility that has been thrust upon me as of late, friends in difficulty, what’s on television. Disaster, mine collapses, hurricanes, fires and floods. It’s the god damned Armageddon!
Icheb is our guide.
It seems that some of my blogging brothers are creating drama for one of my friends, who happens to be dealing with a medical situation that I am all too familiar with. And I tell them now, this too shall pass. The internet is fickle and people will find something else to focus on eventually. Just remember that when you write, you are responsible for what you write. The truth or lies, the facts or the fiction. You are also responsible for the reactions because of what you write. We call that publishing responsibility. YOU are RESPONSIBLE for what you write, every word, every feeling every opinion. So beware what you write.
Over the last few days I have written a great deal about God’s Warriors and I have to say that I have reached new highs in traffic that this blog has ever seen. I taped the first segment of Judaism from Wednesday night. The more I think about it, in watching the documentary again, I find myself wanting to learn more about the conflict. Something to bring up in my theology classes in the coming months. I am still a strong Christian Zionist.
Last night I watched a two hour documentary about “Surviving Katrina” on the Discovery Channel. I remember we sat here that week and watched on live television the march of hurricane Katrina over New Orleans. We lived it here as they lived it there, minus the direct one on one experience. It was hell. Discovery took the time to explain the minutiae of what happened, even to employ “brownie” to explain his role in the failure of all levels of government to adequately take responsibility and care for those in New Orleans and in other hurricane affected areas. I was mortified to say the least.
Of Special Remembrance: August 24th, Friday, was the one year anniversary of the death of the sainted woman, my great aunt Sister Georgette Cote. There was no call from the mother house, no memorial mass, one year on. I knew the date was coming and I did my best to ignore it because that meant I’d have to write about one truly painful time in my life, since coming to Montreal:
August 24 2006 – Blog Entry
At 11:30 a.m. this morning, Sister Georgette Cote peacefully met the Lord and entered into her heavenly inheritance.
I had literally just went to take a nap, and the phone rang, it was the hospital.
She waited for me to leave.
Blessed be the Lord our God
Eternal Rest grant her and may perpetual light shine upon her.
Blessed be Marguerite D’Youville.
I had spent the previous 18 hours with her in the ICU ward of the General up the hill. It was me, sister Agathe and sister Monique that last night of her life. The buzzing and whistling of the machines were upsetting her with that huge oxygen mask on her face, she just wanted everything off. So it went. They hooked up the Morphine drip and the clock started ticking.
By midnight the sisters thought that they should get back to the Mother House, so it was just the two of us. I sat reading the Tibetan Book of the dead, while the single nurse came and went without a word. It was dark, quiet and morbid. I had walked home to shower and change out and get some food before the last conversation at 3 a.m. when her surgeon came in to check on her, a very sainted woman, strong of character and voice. You will be ok Ms. Cote. I am here with you. Sister Georgette was fading, her hands waving in front of her face. The surgeon left after bidding us a good night.
Sister Georgette has said to get to devil away from her and to find a priest – well it was 3 a.m. in the morning, who was I going to call then? So I grabbed my rosary and I began to recite prayers over her. She said that “I was a good boy and that God would bless me” then she closed her eyes, and that was the last thing she said. That would be our very last conversation.
As the sun rose – we had a great view out th windows to the South Shore and the Victoria Bridge. She was gone, mentally and emotionally. The male nurse that came on shift started to clean her up and bathe her and change her dressing gown. It was around 9 in the morning. The two sisters had come back from the mother house and around 10 am I set off for home to rest.
I got home and changed out. Had a bite to eat and crawled into bed. While I was lying there, I could smell her and it waifed through my room. A few minutes later the phone rang – it was the hospital, Sister Georgette was dead. She waited for me to leave. It has been a year. I miss her more than most will know.
When I entered the world of mentoring and the foster parent program I nested. I learned that I was exceptionally maternal in my motivations, yet I kept very manly counsel. I found myself channeling my father at times. I have few rules. Do not lie to me, Do not steal from me or anyone else. If you need something you ask and if I can help you I will. All of my boys know the ground rules. The ground rules are set in stone. If I catch you in a lie or you manipulate me into a position then you have lost my support and your right to be trusted.
He lies to us and he cheats and he is dishonest. He manipulates us and forces us to the wall with his tests to see how far we will go to punish him and stop his manic anger tantrums.
I am not going to have any of this. As of late, I take this boy to bed with me and I ruminate in my head at night, because I want to be a good example. Now I am parent and I am setting the law of the land. And this child has cheated, lied and manipulated. This is a waste of my time. His behavior is unacceptable. If he thinks he is going to push me to anger myself, then he is getting nothing from me until he learns that there are rules in my house and failure to follow these rules will be met with swift execution of consequences.
I have accepted this “location” because mom has failed to exact rules and regulations on her son so I have to step in and set the rules down and play daddy. While the biological father, who has NO RIGHTS, who gave up his parental rights long ago works behind the scenes to manipulate him and he works against everything that we (mom and I) have been working for. And for what? Jesus H. Christ…
Now I have contracted for daily visits with the “wild child” and I have a schedule book to make sure I can fit him into my schedule when school starts. If he thinks I am going to put up with his bullshit – he can think again. I must be patient and understand that he is not like all other normal kids. I get that. And I am patient and kind, but what do I have to do to get him to understand that this is NOT a game.
I am not in this to play games.
Fuck with me and you will learn what it feels like to get on my bad side. And I promise you that I am not fucking around here. Do Not Test me young man because if you do, You will Loose, I promise you, there will be certain consequences for pushing me to the limit of my patience. I am not going to be taking extra baggage to bed with me at night and I surely am not going to waste my time working with kids who do not listen or cannot learn.
You know what I am talking about and you sure as shit know when you are manipulating us and when you LIE to us as well. We know where the money is coming from, and if this happens again, we will bring the law down and you won’t be able to access the daddy bank again. You are smarter than you look, and you know I mean business. I sure as shit am not going to waste my time and talent trying to help you – while you back-stab us and continue to push us to the brink of insanity. I am not going to have this, PERIOD!!!
I am starting to get resentful and angry because you fuck with me, You will not fuck with me. If I am in the role of parent, then you will see what it means to suffer consequences for your behavior.
Jesus, the drama… end of rant…
It seems that Mother Teresa has brought traffic to this blog that has never been seen before, more than the God’s Warriors traffic. If you look in the PAGES section of this blog you will find that I have written much on the topic of Mother Teresa. I believe that every Christian goes through the Dark Night, and at some point questions, “what the hell am I doing here, and why do I waste my time? (Read above)
Is there a God and if there is He needs to make himself present to me before I loose my mind! It is interesting to see how traffic changes every twenty four hours. I mean it is great that traffic has doubled in recent days. That means that religious writing has changed again. That what I do here is important to many readers and I thank you for stopping by. No one I know has written one word on any topic that I have addressed from my blog list in recent days.
Yet there are blogs that have stopped by that I have never seen before, and I get closer to the Top List blogs. Those who are really knowledgeable about world events, they are critical of writers and they know things that I don’t which is in itself very educational because I know there is a slant in cable news reporting, but what I did not know from this writer – “Right Truth,” helped to inform me to a level I had not been aware of.
As a writer, I am responsible for what I write, and I accept that. I took a step to write about topics that I am educated about, and others come by to read and they impart certain knowledge that I did not have before. Which raises the bar for me as a writer. The more I study and the more I write the higher up the level of professional blogging I rise to. It’s all about being informed and educated on the topics we write about and it is up to us to take the time to read other bloggers points of view so that we can more roundly write on what we are writing about. The article at Right Truth, linked above is very informative. Take some time to visit that blog because they are a great Blog and the writing is incredible.
Well, that is a lot of writing for today, So I am going to close and bid you all a good night.
In dozens of letters spanning 66 years, Mother Teresa described the “emptiness” she felt and confessed her struggles with faith and the existence of heaven in pages she had planned to have destroyed.
A decade after her death, they have been published in the book “Come By My Light” as part of the petition for her sainthood.
“The lives of the saints are personal, but they are not private,” said The Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, who is publishing the letters. “The documents are really are quite valuable in that they speak of her own holiness and the value … to people who can relate to what she was going through.”
They offer surprising revelations, including one instance in which she writes, “no faith — no love — no zeal — [The saving of] souls holds no attraction — Heaven means nothing … it has been like this more or less from the time I started ‘the work.’”
Her work began when she heard God tell her to open a mission in Calcutta. The book includes her Jan. 13, 1947 letter in which she wrote to the Archbishop of Calcutta to request permission to found her own order, the Missionaries of Charity.
Several years later, she composed a letter as an exercise from her spiritual adviser to express her devotion to Jesus and passionately wrote, “I want to satiate your thirst with every single drop of blood that you can find in me. Don’t allow me to do you wrong in any way.”
To millions her work still shines as the example of Christlike devotion. It brought her the Nobel Peace Prize and beatification by Pope John Paul. But once she began her work in India she never heard God’s voice again. Nine years after she founded her mission in Calcutta she wrote, “What do I labour for? If there be no God — there can be no soul — if there is no Soul then Jesus — You also are not true.”
“Even the sisters around her had no idea of the length and the depth,” Kolodiejchuk said.
Faith vs. Benevolence
As many Catholics learn how long she suffered this crisis of faith, they are even more awed by her deeds.
“Unlike the other saints, who might have been going through their day with a lot of consolation from their prayer, Mother Teresa was running on empty and doing all these wonderful works,” said Father James Martin.
But while the faithful see her struggle as inspirational, some atheists are taking it as confirmation of their own rational doubts and proof that the faithless can display enormous benevolence.
“Of course nonbelievers all over the world display compassion,” said Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. “She was forced to go through the motions and admitted her own hypocrisy.”
Ten years after her death, her Missionaries of Charity claims to have over a million volunteers comforting the sick and orphaned in 40 countries. This book is certain to stir those who pray the Vatican will canonize the nun from the slums. If it does, Mother Teresa may just be the patron saint of skeptics.
By DAVID VAN BIEMA
Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear. to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979
On Dec. 11, 1979, Mother Teresa, the “Saint of the Gutters,” went to. Dressed in her signature blue-bordered sari and shod in sandals despite below-zero temperatures, the former Agnes Bojaxhiu received that ultimate worldly accolade, the Nobel Peace Prize. In her acceptance lecture, Teresa, whose had grown from a one-woman folly in in 1948 into a global beacon of self-abnegating care, delivered the kind of message the world had come to expect from her.
“It is not enough for us to say, ‘I love God, but I do not love my neighbor,’” she said, since in dying on the Cross, God had “[made] himself the hungry one – the naked one – the homeless one.” Jesus’ hunger, she said, is what “you and I must find” and alleviate. She condemned abortion and bemoaned youthful drug addiction in the West. Finally, she suggested that the upcomingholiday should remind the world “that radiating joy is real” because Christ is everywhere – “Christ in our hearts, Christ in the poor we meet, Christ in the smile we give and in the smile that we receive.”
Yet less than three months earlier, in a letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, that is only now being made public, she wrote with weary familiarity of a different Christ, an absent one. “Jesus has a very special love for you,” she assured Van der Peet. “[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, – Listen and do not hear – the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me – that I let Him have [a] free hand.”
The two statements, 11 weeks apart, are extravagantly dissonant. The first is typical of the woman the world thought it knew. The second sounds as though it had wandered in from some 1950s existentialist drama.
Together they suggest a startling portrait in self-contradiction – that one of the great human icons of the past 100 years, whose remarkable deeds seemed inextricably connected to her closeness to God and who was routinely observed in silent and seemingly peaceful prayer by her associates as well as the television camera, was living out a very different spiritual reality privately, an arid landscape from which the deity had disappeared.
And in fact, that appears to be the case. A new, innocuously titled book, (Doubleday), consisting primarily of correspondence between Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years, provides the spiritual counterpoint to a life known mostly through its works. : Come Be My Light
The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever – or, as the book’s compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, “neither in her heart or in the eucharist.”
That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in, and – except for a five-week break in 1959 – never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain.
In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the “dryness,” “darkness,” “loneliness” and “torture” she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. “The smile,” she writes, is “a mask” or “a cloak that covers everything.”
Similarly, she wonders whether she is engaged in verbal deception. “I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God – tender, personal love,” she remarks to an adviser. “If you were [there], you would have said, ‘What hypocrisy.’” Says the Rev. America and the author of My Life with the Saints, a book that dealt with far briefer reports in 2003 of Teresa’s doubts: “I’ve never read a saint’s life where the saint has such an intense spiritual darkness., an editor at the Jesuit magazine
No one knew she was that tormented.” Recalls Kolodiejchuk, Come Be My Light’s editor: “I read one letter to the Sisters [of Teresa's Missionaries of Charity], and their mouths just dropped open. It will give a whole new dimension to the way people understand her.”
The book is hardly the work of some antireligious investigative reporter who Dumpster-dived for Teresa’s correspondence. Kolodiejchuk, a seniormember, is her postulator, responsible for petitioning for her sainthood and collecting the supporting materials. (Thus far she has been beatified; the next step is canonization.) The letters in the book were gathered as part of that process.
The church anticipates spiritually fallow periods. Indeed, the Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross in the 16th century coined the term the “dark night” of the soul to describe a characteristic stage in the growth of some spiritual masters. Teresa’s may be the most extensive such case on record. (The “dark night” of the 18th century mystic St. Paul of the Cross lasted 45 years; he ultimately recovered.)
Yet Kolodiejchuk sees it incontext, as darkness within faith. Teresa found ways, starting in the early 1960s, to live with it and abandoned neither her belief nor her work. Kolodiejchuk produced the book as proof of the faith-filled perseverance that he sees as her most spiritually heroic act.
Two very different Catholics predict that the book will be a landmark. The Rev. Matthew Lamb, chairman of the theology department at the conservative Ave Maria University in Come Be My Light will eventually rank with St. Augustine’s Confessions and ‘s The Seven Storey Mountain as an autobiography of spiritual ascent. Martin of America, a much more liberal institution, calls the book “a new ministry for , a written ministry of her interior life,” and says, “It may be remembered as just as important as her ministry to the poor. It would be a ministry to people who had experienced some doubt, some absence of God in their lives. And you know who that is? Everybody. Atheists, doubters, seekers, believers, everyone.”, thinks
Not all atheists and doubters will agree. Both Kolodiejchuk and Martin assume that Teresa’s inability to perceive Christ in her life did not mean he wasn’t there. In fact, they see his absence as part of the divine gift that enabled her to do great work. But to the U.S.’s increasingly assertive cadre of atheists, that argument will seem absurd. They will see the book’s Teresa more like the woman in the archetypal country-and-western song who holds a torch for her husband 30 years after he left to buy a pack of cigarettes and never returned.
Says The Missionary Position, a scathing polemic on Teresa, and more recently of the atheist manifesto God Is Not Great: “She was no more exempt from the realization that religion is a human fabrication than any other person, and that her attempted cure was more and more professions of faith could only have deepened the pit that she had dug for herself.” Meanwhile, some familiar with the smiling mother’s extraordinary drive may diagnose her condition less as a gift of God than as a subconscious attempt at the most radical kind of humility: she punished herself with a crippling failure to counterbalance her great successes., author of
Come Be My Light is that rare thing, a posthumous autobiography that could cause a wholesale reconsideration of a major public figure – one way or another. It raises questions about God and faith, the engine behind great achievement, and the persistence of love, divine and human. That it does so not in any organized, intentional form but as a hodgepodge of desperate notes not intended for daylight should leave readers only more convinced that it is authentic – and that they are, somewhat shockingly, touching the true inner life of a modern saint.
Prequel: Near Ecstatic Communion
[Jesus:] Wilt thou refuse to do this for me? … You have become my Spouse for my love – you have come to
[Teresa:] Jesus, my own Jesus – I am only Thine – I am so stupid – I do not know what to say but do with me whatever You wish – as You wish – as long as you wish. [But] why can’t I be a perfect Nun – here – why can’t I be like everybody else. for Me. The thirst you had for souls brought you so far – Are you afraid to take one more step for Your Spouse – for me – for souls? Is your generosity grown cold? Am I a second to you?
[Jesus:] I want Indian Nuns, , who would be my fire of love amongst the poor, the sick, the dying and the little children … You are I know the most incapable person – weak and sinful but just because you are that – I want to use You for My glory. Wilt thou refuse?
- in a prayer dialogue recounted to Archbishop Ferdinand Perier, January 1947
On Sept. 10, 1946, after 17 years as a teacher inwith the Loreto Sisters (an uncloistered, education-oriented community based in ), Mother Mary Teresa, 36, took the 400-mile (645-km) train trip to Darjeeling. She had been working herself sick, and her superiors ordered her to relax during her annual retreat in the Himalayan foothills. On the ride out, she reported, Christ spoke to her. He called her to abandon teaching and work instead in “the slums” of the city, dealing directly with “the poorest of the poor” – the sick, the dying, beggars and street children.
“Come, Come, carry Me into the holes of the poor,” he told her. “Come be My light.” The goal was to be both material and evangelistic – as Kolodiejchuk puts it, “to help them live their lives with dignity [and so] encounter God’s infinite love, and having come to know Him, to love and serve Him in return.”
It was wildly audacious – an unfunded, single-handed crusade (Teresa stipulated that she and her nuns would share their beneficiaries’ poverty and started out alone) to provide individualized service to the poorest in a poor city made desperate by riots. The local Archbishop, Ferdinand PÉrier, was initially skeptical. But her letters to him, preserved, illustrate two linked characteristics – extreme tenacity and a profound personal bond to Christ. When PÉrier hesitated, Teresa, while calling herself a “little nothing,” bombarded him with notes suggesting that he refer the question to an escalating list of authorities – the local apostolic delegation, her Mother General, the Pope.
And when she felt all else had failed, she revealed the spiritual topper: a dramatic (melodramatic, really) dialogue with a “Voice” she eventually revealed to be Christ’s. It ended with Jesus’ emphatic reiteration of his call to her: “You are I know the most incapable person – weak and sinful but just because you are that – I want to use You for My glory. Wilt thou refuse?”
had visions, including one of herself conversing with Christ on the Cross. Her confessor, Father Celeste Van Exem, was convinced that her mystical experiences were genuine. “[Her] union with Our Lord has been continual and so deep and violent that rapture does not seem very far,” he commented. Teresa later wrote simply, “Jesus gave Himself to me.”
Then on Jan. 6, 1948, PÉrier, after consulting the, finally gave permission for Teresa to embark on her second calling. And Jesus took himself away again.
Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love – and now become as the most hated one – the one – You have thrown away as unwanted – unloved. I call, I cling, I want – and there is no One to answer – no One on Whom I can cling – no, No One. – Alone … Where is my Faith – even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness – My God – how painful is this unknown pain – I have no Faith – I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart – & make me suffer untold agony.
So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them – because of the blasphemy – If there be God – please forgive me – When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven – there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. – I am told God loves me – and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?
- addressed to Jesus, at the suggestion of a confessor, undated
In the first half of 1948, Teresa took a basic medical course before launching herself alone onto the streets of. She wrote, “My soul at present is in perfect peace and joy.” Kolodiejchuk includes her moving description of her first day on the job: “The old man lying on the street – not wanted – all alone just sick and dying – I gave him carborsone and water to drink and the old Man – was so strangely grateful …
Then we went to Taltala Bazaar, and there was a very poor woman dying I think of starvation more than TB … I gave her something which will help her to sleep. – I wonder how long she will last.” But two months later, shortly after her major triumph of locating a space for her headquarters, Kolodiejchuk’s files find her troubled. “What tortures of loneliness,” she wrote. “I wonder how long will my heart suffer this?”
This complaint could be understood as an initial response to solitude and hardship were it not for subsequent letters. The more success Teresa had – and half a year later so many young women had joined her society that she needed to move again – the worse she felt. In March 1953, she wrote PÉrier, “Please pray specially for me that I may not spoil His work and that Our Lord may show Himself – for there is such terrible darkness within me, as if everything was dead. It has been like this more or less from the time I started ‘the work.’”
PÉrier may have missed the note of desperation. “God guides you, dear Mother,” he answered avuncularly. “You are not so much in the dark as you think … You have exterior facts enough to see that God blesses your work … Feelings are not required and often may be misleading.” And yet feelings – or rather, their lack – became her life’s secret torment. How can you assume the lover’s ardor when he no longer grants you his voice, his touch, his very presence?
The problem was exacerbated by an inhibition to even describe it. Teresa reported on several occasions inviting a confessor to visit and then being unable to speak. Eventually, one thought to ask her to write the problem down, and she complied. “The more I want him – the less I am wanted,” she wrote PÉrier in 1955. A year later she sounded desolate: “Such deep longing for God – and … repulsed – empty – no faith – no love – no zeal. – [The saving of] Souls holds no attraction – Heaven means nothing – pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything.”
At the suggestion of a confessor, she wrote the agonized plea that begins this section, in which she explored the theological worst-possible-case implications of her dilemma. That letter and another one from 1959 (“What do I labour for? If there be no God – there can be no soul – if there is no Soul then Jesus – You also are not true”) are the only two that sound any note of doubt of God’s existence. But she frequently bemoaned an inability to pray: “I utter words of Community prayers – and try my utmost to get out of every word the sweetness it has to give – But my prayer of union is not there any longer – I no longer pray.”
As theflourished and gradually gained the attention of her church and the world at large, Teresa progressed from confessor to confessor the way some patients move through their psychoanalysts. Van Exem gave way to PÉrier, who gave way in 1959 to the Rev. (later Cardinal) Lawrence Picachy, who was succeeded by the Rev. Joseph Neuner in 1961. By the 1980s the chain included figures such as Bishop William Curlin of Charlotte, N.C.
For these confessors, she developed a kind of shorthand of pain, referring almost casually to “my darkness” and to Jesus as “the Absent One.” There was one respite. In October 1958,died, and requiem Masses were celebrated around the Catholic world. Teresa prayed to the deceased Pope for a “proof that God is pleased with the Society.” And “then and there,” she rejoiced, “disappeared the long darkness … that strange suffering of 10 years.”
Unfortunately, five weeks later she reported being “in the tunnel” once more. And although, as we shall see, she found a way to accept the absence, it never lifted again. Five years after her Nobel, a Jesuit priest in theprovince noted that “Mother came … to speak about the excruciating night in her soul. It was not a passing phase but had gone on for years.” A 1995 letter discussed her “spiritual dryness.” She died in 1997.
Tell me, Father, why is there so much pain and darkness in my soul?
- to the Rev. Lawrence Picachy, August 1959
Why did Teresa’s communication with Jesus, so vivid and nourishing in the months before the founding of the Missionaries, evaporate so suddenly? Interestingly, secular and religious explanations travel for a while on parallel tracks. Both understand (although only one celebrates) that identification with Christ’s extended suffering on the Cross, undertaken to redeem humanity, is a key aspect of Catholic spirituality.
Teresa told her nuns that physical poverty ensured empathy in “giving themselves” to the suffering poor and established a stronger bond with Christ’s redemptive agony. She wrote in 1951 that the Passion was the only aspect of Jesus’ life that she was interested in sharing: “I want to … drink ONLY [her emphasis] from His chalice of pain.” And so she did, although by all indications not in a way she had expected.
Kolodiejchuk finds divine purpose in the fact that Teresa’s spiritual spigot went dry just as she prevailed over her church’s perceived hesitations and saw a successful way to realize Jesus’ call for her. “She was a very strong personality,” he suggests. “And a strong personality needs stronger purification” as an antidote to pride. As proof that it worked, he cites her written comment after receiving an important prize in thein the 1960s: “This means nothing to me, because I don’t have Him.”
And yet “the question is, Who determined the abandonment she experienced?” says Dr. Richard Gottlieb, a teacher at thePsychoanalytic Society & Institute who has written about the church and who was provided a copy of the book by TIME. “Could she have imposed it on herself?” Psychologists have long recognized that people of a certain personality type are conflicted about their high achievement and find ways to punish themselves.
Gottlieb notes that Teresa’s ambitions for her ministry were tremendous. Both he and Kolodiejchuk are fascinated by her statement, “I want to love Jesus as he has never been loved before.” Remarks the priest: “That’s a kind of daring thing to say.” Yet her letters are full of inner conflict about her accomplishments. Rather than simply giving all credit to God, Gottlieb observes, she agonizes incessantly that “any taking credit for her accomplishments – if only internally – is sinful” and hence, perhaps, requires a price to be paid.
A mild secular analog, he says, might be an executive who commits a horrific social gaffe at the instant of a crucial promotion. For Teresa, “an occasion for a modicum of joy initiated a significant quantity of misery,” and her subsequent successes led her to perpetuate it.
Gottlieb also suggests that starting her ministry “may have marked a turning point in her relationship with Jesus,” whose urgent claims she was finally in a position to fulfill. Being the active party, he speculates, might have scared her, and in the end, the only way to accomplish great things might have been in the permanent and less risky role of the spurned yet faithful lover.
The atheist position is simpler. In 1948, Hitchens ventures, Teresa finally woke up, although she could not admit it. He likens her to die-hard Western communists late in the cold war: “There was a huge amount of cognitive dissonance,” he says. “They thought, ‘Jesus, theis a failure, [but] I’m not supposed to think that. It means my life is meaningless.’ They carried on somehow, but the mainspring was gone. And I think once the mainspring is gone, it cannot be repaired.” That, he says, was Teresa.
Most religious readers will reject that explanation, along with any that makes her the author of her own misery – or even defines it as true misery. Martin, responding to the torch-song image of Teresa, counterproposes her as the heroically constant spouse. “Let’s say you’re married and you fall in love and you believe with all your heart that marriage is a sacrament.
And your wife, God forbid, gets a stroke and she’s comatose. And you will never experience her love again. It’s like loving and caring for a person for 50 years and once in a while you complain to your spiritual director, but you know on the deepest level that she loves you even though she’s silent and that what you’re doing makes sense.knew that what she was doing made sense.”
I can’t express in words – the gratitude I owe you for your kindness to me – for the first time in … years – I have come to love the darkness – for I believe now that it is part of a very, very small part of Jesus’ darkness & pain on earth. You have taught me to accept it [as] a ‘spiritual side of your work’ as you wrote – Today really I felt a deep joy – that Jesus can’t go anymore through the agony – but that He wants to go through it in me.
- to Neuner, Circa 1961
There are two responses to trauma: to hold onto it in all its vividness and remain its captive, or without necessarily “conquering” it, to gradually integrate it into the day-by-day. After more than a decade of open-wound agony, Teresa seems to have begun regaining her spiritual equilibrium with the help of a particularly perceptive adviser. The Rev. Joseph Neuner, whom she met in the late 1950s and confided in somewhat later, was already a well-known theologian, and when she turned to him with her “darkness,” he seems to have told her the three things she needed to hear: that there was no human remedy for it (that is, she should not feel responsible for affecting it); that feeling Jesus is not the only proof of his being there, and her very craving for God was a “sure sign” of his “hidden presence” in her life; and that the absence was in fact part of the “spiritual side” of her work for Jesus.
This counsel clearly granted Teresa a tremendous sense of release. For all that she had expected and even craved to share in Christ’s Passion, she had not anticipated that she might recapitulate the particular moment on the Cross when he asks, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
The idea that rather than a nihilistic vacuum, his felt absence might be the ordeal she had prayed for, that her perseverance in its face might echo his faith unto death on the Cross, that it might indeed be a grace, enhancing the efficacy of her calling, made sense of her pain. Neuner would later write, “It was the redeeming experience of her life when she realized that the night of her heart was the special share she had in Jesus’ passion.” And she thanked Neuner profusely: “I can’t express in words – the gratitude I owe you for your kindness to me – for the first time in … years – I have come to love the darkness. “
Not that it didn’t continue to torment her. Years later, describing the joy in Jesus experienced by some of her nuns, she observed dryly to Neuner, “I just have the joy of having nothing – not even the reality of the Presence of God [in the Eucharist].” She described her soul as like an “ice block.” Yet she recognized Neuner’s key distinction, writing, “I accept not in my feelings – but with my will, the Will of God – I accept His will.” Although she still occasionally worried that she might “turn a Judas to Jesus in this painful darkness,” with the passage of years the absence morphed from a potential wrecking ball into a kind of ragged cornerstone. Says Gottlieb, the psychoanalyst:
“What is remarkable is that she integrated it in a way that enabled her to make it the organizing center of her personality, the beacon for her ongoing spiritual life.” Certainly, she understood it as essential enough to project it into her afterlife. “If I ever become a Saint – I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’ I will continually be absent from Heaven – to [light] the light of those in darkness on earth,” she wrote in 1962.
Theologically, this is a bit odd since most orthodox Christianity defines heaven as God’s eternal presence and doesn’t really provide for regular no-shows at the heavenly feast. But it is, Kolodiejchuk suggests, her most moving statement, since the sacrifice involved is infinite. “When she wrote, ‘I am willing to suffer … for all eternity, if this [is] possible,’” he says, “I said, Wow.”
He contends that the letters reveal her as holier than anyone knew. However formidable her efforts on Christ’s behalf, it is even more astounding to realize that she achieved them when he was not available to her – a bit like a person who believes she can’t walk winning the Olympic 100 meters. Kolodiejchuk goes even further.
Catholic theologians recognize two types of “dark night”: the first is purgative, cleansing the contemplative for a “final union” with Christ; the second is “reparative,” and continues after such a union, so that he or she may participate in a state of purity even closer to that of Jesus and Mary, who suffered for human salvation despite being without sin. By the end, writes Kolodiejchuk, “by all indications this was the case with.” That puts her in rarefied company.
A New Ministry
If this brings You glory – if souls are brought to you – with joy I accept all to the end of my life.
- to Jesus, undated
But for most people, Teresa’s ranking among Catholic saints may be less important than a more general implication of Come Be My Light: that if she could carry on for a half-century without God in her head or heart, then perhaps people not quite as saintly can cope with less extreme versions of the same problem. One powerful instance of this may have occurred very early on.
In 1968, British writer-turned-filmmaker Malcolm Muggeridge visited Teresa. Muggeridge had been an outspoken agnostic, but by the time he arrived with a film crew inhe was in full spiritual-search mode. Beyond impressing him with her work and her holiness, she wrote a letter to him in 1970 that addressed his doubts full-bore. “Your longing for God is so deep and yet He keeps Himself away from you,” she wrote. “He must be forcing Himself to do so – because he loves you so much – the personal love Christ has for you is infinite – The Small difficulty you have re His Church is finite – Overcome the finite with the infinite.” Muggeridge apparently did.
He became an outspoken Christian apologist and converted to Catholicism in 1982. His 1969 film, Something Beautiful for God, supported by a 1971 book of the same title, made Teresa an international sensation.
At the time, Muggeridge was something of a unique case. A child of privilege who became a minor celebrity, he was hardly Teresa’s target audience. Now, with the publication of Come Be My Light, we can all play Muggeridge. Kolodiejchuk thinks the book may act as an antidote to a cultural problem. “
The tendency in our spiritual life but also in our more general attitude toward love is that our feelings are all that is going on,” he says. “And so to us the totality of love is what we feel. But to really love someone requires commitment, fidelity and vulnerability.wasn’t ‘feeling’ Christ’s love, and she could have shut down. But she was up at 4:30 every morning for Jesus, and still writing to him, ‘Your happiness is all I want.’ That’s a powerful example even if you are not talking in exclusively religious terms.”
America’s Martin wants to talk precisely in religious terms. “Everything she’s experiencing,” he says, “is what average believers experience in their spiritual lives writ large. I have known scores of people who have felt abandoned by God and had doubts about God’s existence. And this book expresses that in such a stunning way but shows her full of complete trust at the same time.” He takes a breath.
“Who would have thought that the person who was considered the most faithful woman in the world struggled like that with her faith?” he asks. “And who would have thought that the one thought to be the most ardent of believers could be a saint to the skeptics?” Martin has long used Teresa as an example to parishioners of self-emptying love. Now, he says, he will use her extraordinary faith in the face of overwhelming silence to illustrate how doubt is a natural part of everyone’s life, be it an average believer’s or a world-famous saint’s.
Into the Light of Day
Please destroy any letters or anything I have written.
- to Picachy, April 1959
Consistent with her ongoing fight against pride, Teresa’s rationale for suppressing her personal correspondence was “I want the work to remain only His.” If the letters became public, she explained to Picachy, “people will think more of me – less of Jesus.”
The particularly holy are no less prone than the rest of us to misjudge the workings of history – or, if you will, of God’s providence. Teresa considered the perceived absence of God in her life as her most shameful secret but eventually learned that it could be seen as a gift abetting her calling. If her worries about publicizing it also turn out to be misplaced – if a book of hasty, troubled notes turns out to ease the spiritual road of thousands of fellow believers, there would be no shame in having been wrong – but happily, even wonderfully wrong – twice.
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
Mark 5: 24- 34
A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”