Courtesy: BBC News Europe Online
Pope Francis has delivered a passionate plea for peace in his first Easter Sunday message since being elected.
Francis used his “Urbi et Orbi” address to call for peace in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and across the globe.
He singled out “dear Syria”, saying: “How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution is found?”
Easter is the most important festival in the Christian calendar and pilgrims have attended church across the world.
‘Divided by greed’
Pope Francis, formerly Buenos Aires Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was elected on 13 March, becoming the first non-European pope for almost 1,300 years.
He replaced Benedict XVI, who held the office for eight years and became the first pontiff in more than 700 years to resign, saying he no longer had the physical strength to continue.
In his Urbi et Orbi (To the city and the world) speech, Pope Francis began with a simple “Happy Easter!”
The 76-year-old Pope, who has begun his tenure by emphasising humility, went on: “Christ has risen! What a joy it is for me to announce this message… I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons.”
Later in his speech, Pope Francis said: “We ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace.”
The Pope then mentioned troubled regions of the world in turn
“Peace for the Middle East, and particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, who struggle to find the road of agreement, that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long.
“Peace in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort.”
For Africa, the Pope referred to Mali, Nigeria – “where attacks sadly continue” – the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
He added: “Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow.”
Pope Francis concluded by saying: “Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this 21st Century.”
BBC Rome correspondent, Alan Johnston, says the Pope has reinforced his image as a man of simple, down-to-earth tastes, not wearing the more ostentatious of papal costumes and, for the moment, not moving into the grandiose papal apartments.
One pilgrim in Rome on Sunday, Briton Tina Hughes, said that Francis represented a “new beginning”.
“I think he brings something special. He connects with people. I feel good about him,” she told Reuters.
In the days before Easter, the Pope had reached out to women and Muslims.
During a Holy Thursday Mass at a youth detention centre he washed and kissed the feet of 12 people, including two girls and two Muslims, and in a Good Friday procession referred to the “friendship of our Muslim brothers and sisters” in the Middle East.
But our correspondent says that, after Easter, the Pope will have to begin tackling the key issues facing the Catholic Church, such as reforming a Vatican bureaucracy riven by infighting and allegations of corruption, and tackling the issue of clerical sexual abuse.
Vatican watchers will also be keeping a keen eye on new appointments to key positions.
In his Easter homily, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, invited the Pope to visit.
The patriarch, the most senior Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, also urged the international community to take “concrete and effective decisions to find a balanced and just solution for the Palestinian cause, which lies at the heart of all the Middle East’s troubles”.
By Philip Pullella – Reuters
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis, leading the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics into Easter for the first time, on Saturday urged those who have strayed from the faith to allow God back into their lives.
Francis, who was elected on March 13, presided at a solemn Easter vigil Mass in St. Peter’ Basilica to usher the Catholic Church into the most important day of its liturgical calendar.
The immense basilica, the largest church in Christendom, was in the dark for the start of the service to signify the darkness in Jesus’ tomb before what Christians believe was his resurrection from the dead three days after his crucifixion.
Some 10,000 faithful lit candles as Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, walked up the main aisle, and then the basilica’s lights were turned on.
The 76-year-old Francis, wearing relatively plain white vestments – as opposed to the more elaborate robes preferred by his predecessor Benedict – delivered a simple homily recounting the Bible story of the women who went to Jesus’ tomb but were surprised to find it empty.
He urged his listeners not to be “afraid of God’s surprises,” never to lose confidence during the trials and tribulations of daily life, and, if they have strayed, to let God back into their lives.
“Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms,” he said, speaking in Italian.
“If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do,” he said.
Another difference between Francis and his predecessor is that Francis reads his homilies standing behind a lectern like an ordinary priest instead of while seated on a throne.
He is still living in the same Vatican guesthouse where he stayed during the conclave that elected him the first non-European pope in 1,300 years instead of moving into the spacious and regal papal apartments in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
Francis has also been inviting ordinary people to his morning Mass at the guesthouse, including Vatican street sweepers and gardeners and staff of the guest house.
During Saturday night’s service he presided at another Easter vigil tradition by baptizing four new adult members of the Church. They were from Italy, Albania, Russia and the United States.
Holy Saturday was the third of four hectic days leading up to Easter Sunday, the most important day in the Christian liturgical calendar.
On Easter Sunday he will celebrate another Mass and then deliver his first “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to tens of thousands of people in the square below.
The balcony is the same spot where he first appeared to the world as pope on the night of March 13 after his election.
Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!
Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!
Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!
My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.
Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.
It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our eternal Father!
This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.
This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.
This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!
This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.
This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.
What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.
O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!
Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!
Of this night scripture says:
“The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy.”
The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.
Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!
Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church’s solemn offering.
Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.
(For it is fed by the melting wax,
which the mother bee brought forth
to make this precious candle.)
Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!
May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Yes, that is a McDonald’s across the street from the Cathedral, as the building sits on Ste Catherine’s Street downtown. I took these shots on a vigil some time ago, because there is snow on the ground in the series. Blessedly, there was no snow, but it was chilly outside, and the flame was very big.
It was a glorious night. Many followers attended the service which ran two hours from start to finish. Tonight we hear the five great readings from Scripture from Genesis, a reading from St. John Chrysostom, Exodus, Homily on the Passover by Melito of Sardis, and once again from Exodus, and ending in the Gospel of Mark.
My friend and fellow Deacon Donald was there serving at the mass, he is to be ordained a priest this fall 2013.
From the darkness of the church, the paschal candle is carried into the church where it is proclaimed “Lumen Chrisi” Light of Christ. And we then light our candles one from another and candle light shines as the readings were done, and finally in a flurry of bells and organ and choir sing … Alleluia He is Risen.
A good night was had by all.
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and we shall gather at 6:15 for the tradition meeting for the month at St. Leon’s.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
The cross that sits atop Mount Royal during the “interregnum” or in between, is turned purple. And today we would see purple on vestments for Good Friday services.
This is the day that Christians mark the crucifixion and death of Jesus on the cross and the church is in mourning. Tony Campolo is oft to preach the message about it being “Friday … But Sunday is coming…”
Also to mention the words ” I Thirst …” one of the last seven statements Jesus makes from the cross before his death. The words in Hebrew I have tattooed on my right bicep. This meditation which has been spoken about in the memoirs of Mother Teresa focuses on Jesus and his thirst for our love and devotion.
Tonight’s topic from the book As Bill Sees It spoke about ” Providence.”
There is a question on the first blank page of my Big Book :
ARE WE GOING EASY ON THE GOD STUFF ???
At some point in our lives, one way or another, we come face to face with coming to believe in a power greater than ourselves. Many of us grew up in some form of religion, one way or another. The odds are high that we have all been introduced to God sometime in our lives.
For the person coming in for the first time, God is a dirty word, a repellant, something to be avoided at any cost ! One way or another we process steps 1,2,and 3. We come, we come to, and we come to believe.
And even today there are folks who still struggle with the notion of God. But even if they cannot locate God – there is a passion to stay sober – to live – a power that moves them forwards, one day at a time.
The reading talks about never pushing our own agenda on those who have not come to the point of recognizing God for themselves, but we should be kind and observant, but never egotistical to believe that we have “all the answers” for anyone else in the room.
For every person in the room, there is a concept of “something.” From the simple “group of drunks, good orderly direction, get out doors even.” God is cultivated in each life to their abilities and their belief system.
Providence … To be provided for …
Coming off my slip, I prayed to God. Specific prayers of need and desire.
1. For the hangover to mark the end
2. For a member to come into my life
3. To get me to a meeting
One, Two, Three … all three prayers came to pass in succession. I took my last drink. An alcoholic came into my life and brought me to my next first meeting.
In Hindsight, I had completed One, Two and Three before I hit my first meeting. I knew where God was, and I believed. I just needed to ” come to.”
It is providence for me to say that everything I need in my life has come from the rooms, one way or another. I’ve never had to go outside the rooms for anything. I always tell people that if there is something on your mind or a need you have, take it to a meeting.
God does provide.
Lots of friends and fellows tonight, great fellowship and a ride home from the meeting. All in gratitude.
Tomorrow is the great Easter Vigil.
More to come, stay tuned …
By Harriet Alexander, and agencies [The Telegraph]
6:39PM GMT 28 Mar 2013
While popes have for centuries washed the feet of the faithful on the day before Good Friday, never before had a pontiff washed the feet of a woman. That one of the female inmates at the prison in Rome was also a Serbian Muslim was also a break with tradition.
“There is no better way to show his service for the smallest, for the least fortunate,” said Gaetano Greco, a local chaplain.
Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 inmates aged 14 to 21, among them the two women, the second of whom was an Italian Catholic. Mr Greco said he hoped the ritual would be “a positive sign in their lives”.
Catholic traditionalists are likely to be riled by the inclusion of women in the ceremony because of the belief that all of Jesus’ disciples were male.
The pontiff, who has largely disregarded protocol since his election earlier this month, urged his fellow clerics before the ceremony to prioritise the poor.
“We need to go out to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters,” he said at a mass in St Peter’s Basilica.
“It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord.”
Francis, the first leader of the Catholic Church from Latin America, led a mass with a mixed group of young offenders at the Casal del Marmo prison outside of Rome.
The 76-year-old, who was archbishop of Buenos Aires until chosen as pope, has already made a name for himself as a champion of the disadvantaged. In his homeland of Argentina he was known for his strong social advocacy, working in slums and shunning the lavish lifestyle adopted by some senior clerics. He lived in a small flat near the cathedral, flew to the Rome conclave in economy class, and chose to travel with his fellow cardinals by minibus rather than in the papal limousine.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio – as Pope Francis was previously known – had already washed and kissed the feet of women in past ceremonies in Argentinian jails, hospitals and old people’s homes, including pregnant mothers and AIDS patients.
Before performing the traditional feet washing, in his first general audience on Wednesday, Francis called on the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to reach out to “lost sheep” over the coming days.
“Holy Week challenges us to step outside ourselves so as to attend to the needs of others: those who long for a sympathetic ear, those in need of comfort or help,” Francis told thousands of faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square.
On Good Friday, Francis will recite the Passion of Christ – the story of the last hours of Jesus’s life – in St Peter’s Basilica, before presiding over the Via Crucis ceremony by the Colosseum, where thousands of Christians are believed to have been martyred in Roman times.
While last year his predecessor, 85-year-old Pope Benedict, presided over celebrations from under a canopy next to the Colosseum, Francis is expected to take part in the procession and even carry the wooden cross on his shoulder for part of the way.
On Saturday, the pontiff will take part in an evening Easter vigil in St Peter’s Basilica, and on Easter Sunday the he will celebrate Easter mass in front of tens of thousands of pilgrims in St Peter’s Square and then pronounce the traditional “Urbi et Orbi” blessing to Rome and the world.
Also on Thursday, the Pope made his first appointment of a bishop, naming Mario Poli, 66, to succeed him as archbishop of Buenos Aires and the top churchman in Argentina.
Francis also put his first people on the path to sainthood, unveiling a list of 63 people including victims of the Spanish Civil War, Nazism and Communism. The largest number are considered martyrs of faith killed during the 1931-45 conflict in Spain.
“He is experimenting with this type of living arrangement, which is simple,” but allows him “to live in community with others,” both the permanent residents — priests and bishops who work at the Vatican — as well as guests coming to the Vatican for meetings and conferences, Lombardi said Tuesday.
The spokesman said Pope Francis has moved out of the room he drew by lot before the conclave and into Suite 201, a room that has slightly more elegant furnishings and a larger living room where he can receive guests.
The Domus Sanctae Marthae, the official name of the guesthouse, was built in 1996 specifically to house cardinals during a conclave.
Celebrating Mass on Tuesday with the residents and guests, Pope Francis told them he intended to stay, Lombardi said. The permanent residents, who had to move out during the conclave, had just returned to their old rooms.
Pope Francis has been there since his election March 13, taking his meals in the common dining room downstairs and celebrating a 7 a.m. Mass with Vatican employees in the main chapel of the residence.
He will be the first pope in 110 years not to live in the papal apartments on the third floor of the Apostolic Palace.
In 1903, St. Pius X became the first pope to live in the apartments overlooking St. Peter’s Square. The apartments were completely remodeled by Pope Paul VI in 1964 and have undergone smaller modifications by each pope since, according to “Mondo Vaticano,” a Vatican-published mini-encyclopedia about Vatican buildings, offices and tradition.
The large living room or salon of the apartment is located directly above the papal library where official audiences with visiting bishops and heads of state are held.
Pope Francis will continue to use the library for official audiences and to recite the Angelus prayer on Sundays and holy days from the apartment window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, Lombardi said.
The apartments contain a chapel, an office for the pope and a separate office for his secretaries, the pope’s bedroom, a dining room, kitchen and rooms for two secretaries and for the household staff.
When Pope Francis returned to the guesthouse after his election, Lombardi had said the move was intended to be short-term while a few small work projects were completed in the papal apartments. He said Tuesday that all the work had been completed, but at least for the foreseeable future, Pope Francis would not move in.
The Domus Sanctae Marthae, named after St. Martha, is a five-story building on the edge of Vatican City.
While offering relative comfort, the residence is not a luxury hotel. The building has 105 two-room suites and 26 singles; about half of the rooms are occupied by the permanent residents. Each suite has a sitting room with a desk, three chairs, a cabinet and large closet; a bedroom with dresser, night table and clothes stand; and a private bathroom with a shower.
The rooms all have telephones and access to an international satellite television system.
The building also has a large meeting room and a variety of small sitting rooms. In addition to the dining room and the main chapel, it also has four private chapels, located at the end of hallways on the third and fifth floors of each of the building’s two wings.
One on One
This photo, a very sacred photo of a charm that we, as young people were given on our first high school retreat, called the One on One. Over that weekend, back in tenth grade, we were introduced to a spiritual relationship with Jesus. And we came to know God and Jesus and we were called to commit to a life of Christian service to one another. How I wish I knew then, what I do today about religion, faith and God. It would have been much easier. The large cross is Jesus and the smaller cross is us.
This was our Jesus …
We had our mountain top experience, then we had to come back into the world and be Christians. And that was a task that I was woefully unprepared for. Which is probably why I chose the path I took when I moved here. Today I know my Jesus and I know my God. I also know who God is and who God isn’t.
Funny that …
*** *** *** ***
The weekend is almost over. And things are happening. The weather is beginning to warm up a bit. The snow is melting. Walking through Westmount this evening I saw snow piles that reached about 10 feet in some places. At the church the snow is melting off the lawn and grass is starting to peak out from underneath.
I was out early for set up, and that went quickly, have tunes will travel. We sat a fair number of folks tonight. And we continued reading through the steps. Last week we finished Step five, so tonight’s reading covered Six and Seven.
The reading there are only one paragraph covering Six and Seven, and moved right along to Eight and Nine. We have heard to night about the book titled “Drop the Rock” which covers in detail steps six and seven.
We also heard from one of our men that shadows of step three can be found in step six, if you have read the book. Once we write our inventory and speak it to another, we get ready, “To have God remove all these defects of character” and then humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.
And moving right along to steps eight and nine, made a list and began to make amends. This is a big chunk of work to do, with very little reading from the book. The text moves rather quickly over these steps. And once we complete five we look back at our list and think about, ponder and name our character defects and shortcomings.
I heard an old timer woman say that it took years for her to cultivate her spiritual tool box to work on defects and shortcomings. My sponsor told me when I worked through my steps this last time was that defects and shortcomings never really go away.
But I have a choice to act out or act upon, and return to self will, (which runs riot if we allow it), It is a daily step work that is required. And thought this is daunting at the start, the longer we stay sober the more investment we can make into step work.
We’ve heard that step work is a daily regimen, that if we are diligent, we never really stop working our steps, because in any situation (out there) we can fall back into old habits and reactions. So that’s why we have meetings. To show up and recharge to be able to go out into the world and do the right thing.
Most of our folks tonight are amid their steps. Lots of beginners at the head of the bunch on Steps one, two and three. A good bunch working step four. Some doing their fifths soon, and some working on six and seven.
The discussion did not move past seven, it seemed the spirit in the room focused on what was necessary, which in turn really helped some of our guests feel better about step work.
Do we take time each day to say our prayers and reflect on what needs to be lit and what needs to be worked on? One day at a time, is daunting when applied to steps, and it struck me when it was spoken tonight, that if we don’t do what we need to do on any given day, we will sink into self and quite possibly drink again.
While I was sitting there listening, the shares came around to me quickly tonight and I didn’t have a lot of time to formulate what I wanted to say, but the first thing that came to mind was a memory of my youth.
I was a raging alcoholic who lied, cheated and schemed to get what I wanted and I really didn’t think twice about it, the lies and deceit just came. And I am of wont to tell myself that I was young and inexperienced. I didn’t know what responsibility meant, and I didn’t. I just could not work out how to live on my own for the first time, pay bills, pay for a car, pay rent, buy food, and still have money to drink with. And in my adolescent brain – because I surely was not a responsible adult yet, I tried every trick in the book to maintain my addiction.
The older I got, I perfected the art of drinking. But I fell into the trap of dishonesty and irresponsibility several times over. It took me a long time to grow up. There is a passage in the Big book that tells part of my story to a tee.
Once upon a time, I had a good job. People liked me. I had a roof over my head, and a good woman who took me in after family fell apart. And I screwed her over big time. At the time, this is prior to my first sobriety. I was drinking away my rent money, and one night I returned home from a party night, still reeling from the drink, and my lady friend had her son there waiting for me, with locks changed and told me that I could not get in until I paid my rent.
She as getting sober at the time. I did not know this for many years later when we crossed paths eventually at a meeting. I was the alcoholic running roughshod through her life, I hurt her – in the end I spent the next week borrowing clothes to go to work finally getting paid – I paid my back rent and she asked me to leave.
That turned out to be another adventure in insanity. The theme of geographic was still in play. So was my alcoholism. I would not get sober for a number of years just yet.
There are clear character defects there. Things I did, things I said, things I didn’t say but should have, and one great big amend I had to make to my friend. By that time I was a couple years sober the first time – but I was coasting on meetings. I wasn’t rooted in the book, I wasn’t working like we work today.
And that turned out to be my own undoing. Because I went out.
And boy did my character defects rise up and bite me in the ass. My next geographic turned me loose into the lives of others, and onto drugs in a way that killed me inside. Stuck in a no win scenario, I had to play the game close and tight. Another undoing. Any addict will tell you that anything goes when you need a fix. Thank God when I walked away from that life, it was over for good.
At the end of my drinking, it was just me. And myself and I. I had a studio, work and a roof over my head. But I was barely surviving. In the end I got sober and pulled another geographic. Where I am now. And since I came here sober, I left my past far far away. All those defects stayed with them there, so I thought.
Once again in sobriety, I thought I was entitled. That God owed me and that I should have all that I wanted now. I guess you call that self centered, and selfish.
Here is where the lesson of one day at a time began to play in my life. Even before I started working my steps, my glaring defects were on display for everyone else to see and the one thing they kept telling me was “keep coming back, stay in your day, one day at a time.”
I’ve had the odd ego attack in sobriety. I have said things that I was not proud of, in sobriety. But that was a long time ago. And I am a few more year sober now, and I look back and see where self will ruled the day. I sank my anchor in a safe harbor for a long time, and I coasted.
And now we are in shake up mode, and we are amid the steps, and reading them now brings to mind the more work that still needs to be done on a daily basis. I often like to think that this is the way things go …
You work your steps, write them out, say your prayers and then God gives you some time to work them out in your life. I have found in the past that I would learn a concept and then get to try my hand at making it work. And life and responsibility grew the longer I stayed sober.
I’ve become sober, accountable, reliable. I get to work my issues out in the face of my peers. And they reflect back to me what still needs to be done. We are constantly recovering… One day at a time. One moment at a time. One experience at a time. One person at a time.
Progress not perfection.
Once again we saw tonight what happens when you stop going to meetings and take back your will … Member going back out to drink. For weeks now we have been hearing the warnings. I don’t think folks are paying attention. Yet !!!
We are given a daily reprieve based on our spiritual condition. Because we have a malady of body, mind and spirit. And if we don’t feed our body right, and feed our mind positively, and feed our spirits Spiritually, we will never be whole.
Jane Fonda says that we are not meant to be perfect, we are meant to be whole.
I want to be whole. I want to walk through that arch at some point, free from the bondage of self and my alcoholism. It is coming, soon, very soon …
Pray for us.
Holy Week has begun, will you be participating in the services of your choice of faith? How will you feed your spirit over the next week? And what will you do to prepare for the coming of Christ from the cross ???
More to come, stay tuned.
1. Jesus enters Jerusalem. The crowd of disciples accompanies him in festive mood, their garments are stretched out before him, there is talk of the miracles he has accomplished, and loud praises are heard: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Lk 19:38).
Crowds, celebrating, praise, blessing, peace: joy fills the air. Jesus has awakened great hopes, especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world. He understands human sufferings, he has shown the face of God’s mercy, and he has bent down to heal body and soul.
This is Jesus. This is his heart which looks to all of us, to our sicknesses, to our sins. The love of Jesus is great. And thus he enters Jerusalem, with this love, and looks at us. It is a beautiful scene, full of light – the light of the love of Jesus, the love of his heart – of joy, of celebration.
At the beginning of Mass, we too repeated it. We waved our palms, our olive branches. We too welcomed Jesus; we too expressed our joy at accompanying him, at knowing him to be close, present in us and among us as a friend, a brother, and also as a King: that is, a shining beacon for our lives.
Jesus is God, but he lowered himself to walk with us. He is our friend, our brother. He illumines our path here. And in this way we have welcomed him today. And here the first word that I wish to say to you: joy! Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad!
Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy born of having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus, in our midst; it is born from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them!
And in this moment the enemy, the devil, comes, often disguised as an angel, and slyly speaks his word to us. Do not listen to him! Let us follow Jesus! We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world. Please do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Do not let hope be stolen! The hope that Jesus gives us.
2. The second word. Why does Jesus enter Jerusalem? Or better: how does Jesus enter Jerusalem? The crowds acclaim him as King. And he does not deny it, he does not tell them to be silent (cf. Lk 19:39-40). But what kind of a King is Jesus? Let us take a look at him: he is riding on a donkey, he is not accompanied by a court, he is not surrounded by an army as a symbol of power.
He is received by humble people, simple folk who have the sense to see something more in Jesus; they have that sense of the faith which says: here is the Saviour. Jesus does not enter the Holy City to receive the honours reserved to earthly kings, to the powerful, to rulers; he enters to be scourged, insulted and abused, as Isaiah foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 50:6).
He enters to receive a crown of thorns, a staff, a purple robe: his kingship becomes an object of derision. He enters to climb Calvary, carrying his burden of wood. And this brings us to the second word: Cross. Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to die on the Cross.
And it is precisely here that his kingship shines forth in godly fashion: his royal throne is the wood of the Cross! It reminds me of what Benedict XVI said to the Cardinals: you are princes, but of a king crucified. That is the throne of Jesus. Jesus takes it upon himself… Why the Cross? Because Jesus takes upon himself the evil, the filth, the sin of the world, including the sin of all of us, and he cleanses it, he cleanses it with his blood, with the mercy and the love of God.
Let us look around: how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil! Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money that you can’t take with you and have to leave. When we were small, our grandmother used to say: a shroud has no pocket.
Love of power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation! And – as each one of us knows and is aware – our personal sins: our failures in love and respect towards God, towards our neighbour and towards the whole of creation.
Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection. This is the good that Jesus does for us on the throne of the Cross. Christ’s Cross embraced with love never leads to sadness, but to joy, to the joy of having been saved and of doing a little of what he did on the day of his death.
3. Today in this Square, there are many young people: for twenty-eight years Palm Sunday has been World Youth Day! This is our third word: youth! Dear young people, I saw you in the procession as you were coming in; I think of you celebrating around Jesus, waving your olive branches.
I think of you crying out his name and expressing your joy at being with him! You have an important part in the celebration of faith! You bring us the joy of faith and you tell us that we must live the faith with a young heart, always: a young heart, even at the age of seventy or eighty.
Dear young people! With Christ, the heart never grows old! Yet all of us, all of you know very well that the King whom we follow and who accompanies us is very special: he is a King who loves even to the Cross and who teaches us to serve and to love.
And you are not ashamed of his Cross! On the contrary, you embrace it, because you have understood that it is in giving ourselves, in giving ourselves, in emerging from ourselves that we have true joy and that, with his love, God conquered evil.
You carry the pilgrim Cross through all the Continents, along the highways of the world! You carry it in response to Jesus’ call: “Go, make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), which is the theme of World Youth Day this year. You carry it so as to tell everyone that on the Cross Jesus knocked down the wall of enmity that divides people and nations, and he brought reconciliation and peace.
Dear friends, I too am setting out on a journey with you, starting today, in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We are already close to the next stage of this great pilgrimage of the Cross. I look forward joyfully to next July in Rio de Janeiro! I will see you in that great city in Brazil! Prepare well – prepare spiritually above all – in your communities, so that our gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world.
Young people must say to the world: to follow Christ is good; to go with Christ is good; the message of Christ is good; emerging from ourselves, to the ends of the earth and of existence, to take Jesus there, is good! Three words, then: joy, Cross, young.
Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us the joy of meeting Christ, the love with which we must look to the foot of the Cross, the enthusiasm of the young heart with which we must follow him during this Holy Week and throughout our lives. May it be so.
Courtesy: BBC News Europe Online
Pope Francis is to begin the Catholic Church’s most important liturgical season with a Palm Sunday Mass in Rome.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims are expected in St Peter’s Square for the Mass that marks the start of Holy Week.
Sprigs of olive trees will be distributed to the faithful in remembrance of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem before his crucifixion.
The run-up to Easter is considered the most important week in the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church.
After Sunday’s Mass, the Pope will lead six more liturgies during the week, culminating with the Easter Sunday Mass and Urbi et Orbi blessing.
What the newly-elected Pope says during these services will take on added significance coming at the start of his pontificate, says the BBC’s David Willey in Rome.
On Saturday, the Argentine Pope held a first meeting with his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict, who is now living in retirement near Rome.
Pope Francis was flown by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo for the private lunch with Pope Emeritus Benedict.
Benedict has lived at the lakeside castle south of Rome since last month, when he became the first pope in six centuries to resign, citing ill health.
Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected to succeed him on 13 March.
Pope Francis has decided to modify some traditional Vatican Holy Week observances.
On Thursday, for example, he will visit a prison for young offenders in a Roman suburb where he will symbolically wash the feet of 12 young prisoners.
In previous years the ceremony was performed by the Pope in Rome’s Cathedral of Saint John Lateran with priests symbolizing the 12 apostles.
The new Pope chose the name Francis in honour of St Francis of Assisi – the 13th Century Italian saint who spurned a life of luxury to work with the poor.
He has called for the Roman Catholic Church to be closer to ordinary people, especially the poor and disadvantaged.
And, only 10 days into his pontificate, he has made some subtle but significant changes in the lifestyle of the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, says our correspondent.
He dresses very simply, preferring to wear plain black shoes under a simple white habit rather than the red leather loafers and ermine-trimmed cape worn by his predecessor.
The first Latin American Pope spurned a special car to take a bus with his cardinals after he was elected, and insisted on returning to his Rome hotel the next day to pay his own bill.
And Pope Francis places himself on the same level as his guests, rather than greeting them from a throne on an elevated platform, which is seen as a powerful gesture after centuries of Vatican pomp.
The former archbishop of Buenos Aires has also started inviting guests to his early morning Mass – including Vatican gardeners, street sweepers, kitchen staff and maids working at the hotel where he is currently staying.
It is past my bedtime but there are some things I need to put down before I go to bed tonight. When I got home from the meeting, as I am wont to do, I unpack and change out and sit down at the box and see what has gone on since I had left the house. I was surprised to get a letter from Scotty. Work in Progress
Some time ago, well, a long time ago, I came across his blog and as a young person he exemplified the word faith. His moniker “Live the Word, Breathe Prayer” was a thought that I admired and at that time, wished I could Live the word more fully and to breathe prayer.
Prayer is like a garden that must be cultivated and cared for. There are many ways to pray, and there is the Ladder of the monks that talk about prayer, and that I have posted about some time ago.
I have always aspired to promote people who do good works, share their faith, minister to others and truly live the gospel in their daily lives. For a while I hosted Scotty’s photo on the blog and even created headers of the prayer thought.
After while – some found my blog and began writing and commenting about the fact that I (a sinner) would associate myself with a Good Book Following Christian. I got those nasty emails too.
It seems – over the past year the nasty commenters have tired of berating me and my blog and my journey. I wiped Scotty off the blog so as not to offend any more sensibilities and left it at that.
I still followed the blog from a silent point. Today I received Scotty’s letter and it truly filled my heart with joy. It reads:
I’m not sure if this is still your email but I thought if give it a bash.
I wanted to drop you an email that I should have sent a long time ago.
I owe you a massive apology.
Sorry for caring too much about myself and not enough about others.
I wrote to you a long time ago not quite sure what to do with a couple of comments I’d received when someone had seen my picture on your blog. I immediately sought to “save myself” and didn’t stop to consider how it would make you feel.
I’ve had a couple of years of deep growth where God has been softening my heart, stripping back my pride, and filling me with a compassion that I lacked.
I have thought about that email several times. I think of the grace in your response which I did not deserve. I think of the email I should have sent, which shouldn’t have gone to you but to the people who had made the comments telling them to get a grip. I should have laid aside my own pride and selfish ambition and stuck up for you.
Thank you for your grace, and thank you for all your encouragement. You read numerous blog entries, interacted, and consistently encouraged me. I just read back over some of your comments and feel further conviction and sorrow.
Thanks for the energy you invested in praying for me and advocating for people to support me.
Please forgive me for acting in such a self-seeking way, and in doing so, trampling all over the grace you’d been pouring out.
I pray that God blessed you richly,
Today Scotty is married with a beautiful child. He has suffered with God and he surmounted and won his fight with disease. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to know he won and is well. God is glorious. God is good.
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
Self-seeking will slip away.
Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not.
They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.
All Photos Courtesy of BBC World Europe online.
The new pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the 76-year-old Argentinean, who will be known as Pope Francis, has in the past described same-sex marriage and gay couples adopting as a “destructive attack on God’s plan.”
The new pope has also said that same-sex adoption adoption is a form of discrimination and abuse against children.
In 2010, he fought against the introduction of same-sex marriage and adoption rights in his home country of Argentina saying that the population would “face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family. He added: “At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”
He went on to describe introducing equality as a move from “the ‘Father of Lies’ who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God”. In the Gospel of John, ‘the Father of Lies’ is a term for the Devil.
Andre Banks of AllOut said: “By electing Jorge Bergoglio to be Pope, the Catholic Church has renewed their commitment to oppose equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people. Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis I, has a long history of opposing equality for gays and lesbians in Argentina.”
Dr Sharon Groves, director of the Human Rights Council’s Religion and Faith Programme said: “We congratulate Pope Francis in his new position as leader for the Roman Catholic Church. As Pope, he has enormous power to be a source of spiritual healing for millions around the world. But for him to be the best kind of spiritual leader, he must acknowledge the signs of the times and embrace LGBT people as worthy of dignity and respect. American lay Catholics are fully supportive of equality, even more so than the broader population. The new Pope should follow the virtuous lead of his flock.”
She added: “We hope the new Pope understands the time for religious-based bigotry is not only over, but must be denounced. Demonising LGBT people and their families from this powerful platform not only fails to keep faith with the most charitable principles of Catholic teachings and the Jesuit tradition of caring for the marginalised, but it does real psychological damage to millions of LGBT people around the world.”
Los Angeles Times Vincenzo-Pinto-afp-Getty-images-March-13-2013
Photos Courtesy of : BBC WORLD NEWS ONLINE
Courtesy: BBC WORLD ONLINE
Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, elected as the Catholic Church’s new Pope, Francis, has greeted crowds in St Peter’s Square in Rome.
Appearing on a balcony over the square, he asked the faithful to pray for him. Cheers erupted as he gave a blessing.
The 76-year-old from Buenos Aires is the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to be pontiff.
An hour earlier, white smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney announced the new Pope’s election.
He will be installed officially in an inauguration Mass on Tuesday 19 March, the Vatican said.
Pope Francis replaces Benedict XVI, who resigned last month at the age of 85, saying he was not strong enough to lead the Church.
He has telephoned Benedict and is planning to meet him, a Vatican spokesman said.
Pope Francis takes the helm at a difficult time for the Catholic Church, facing an array of challenges which include the role of women, interfaith tensions and dwindling congregations in some parts of the world.
The BBC’s James Robbins, in St Peter’s Square, says that at first the crowd was unsure who this man was, but they seemed to warm to his humour.
He began his address to the crowds by offering a prayer for his predecessor.
In a light-hearted moment, he said his fellow cardinals had gone to the “ends of the Earth” to find a bishop of Rome.
He went on to ask the crowd to “pray to God so that he can bless me”, before calling on the world to set off on a path of love and fraternity.
“Habemus Papam Franciscum,” was the first tweet by the papal account @pontifex since Benedict stood down last month.
The election was met with thunderous applause at the cathedral in Buenos Aires, Pope Francis’ home city.
Throughout Latin America – home to 40% of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics – people reacted with delight and surprise.
“It’s a huge gift for all of Latin America. We waited 20 centuries. It was worth the wait,” said Jose Antonio Cruz, a Franciscan friar in the Puerto Rican capital San Juan, quoted by the Associated Press.
“Everyone from Canada down to Patagonia is going to feel blessed. This is an event.”
US President Barack Obama sent “warm wishes” on behalf of the American people to the newly elected pontiff, hailing the Argentine as “the first pope from the Americas.”
Argentina’s President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner wished him a “fruitful pastoral mission”.
She is expected to attend the Pope’s inauguration Mass on Tuesday, as is US Vice President Joe Biden, himself a Catholic.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said it was a “momentous day” for Catholics, while Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, leader of the world’s Anglicans, offered him “every blessing”.
“I look forward to meeting Pope Francis, and to walking and working together to build on the consistent legacy of our predecessors,” he said in a statement.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he looked forward to cooperation under Pope Francis’s “wise leadership”.
Correspondents say Cardinal Bergoglio was a surprise choice and not among a small group of frontrunners before the election.
Many observers were also expecting a younger pope to be elected.
He is regarded as a doctrinal conservative but seen as a potential force for reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, which may have won the support of reforming cardinals.
However, he is known more than anything for his humility. He has spent almost his entire career in Argentina and often travels to work by bus.
The BBC’s Marcia Carmo in Buenos Aires says Cardinal Bergoglio’s sermons always had an impact in Argentina: he often stressed social inclusion and indirectly criticised governments that did not pay attention to those on the margins of society.
The name he has taken is reminiscent of St Francis of Assisi, the 13th Century Italian reformer and patron saint of animals, who lived in poverty.
The saint was said to have been summoned by God to repair a Church in ruins.
Cardinal Bergoglio, whose family roots are Italian, is generally thought to have come second in the last conclave in 2005, which elected Benedict XVI as Pope.
The 115 cardinals involved in the 2013 election were in isolation since Tuesday afternoon, and held four inconclusive votes.
At least 77 of them, or two-thirds, would have had to vote for a single candidate for him to be elected Pope.
Before the conclave began, there appeared to be no clear choice to replace Benedict.
The church leader that believing Roman Catholics call the “successor” of the apostle Peter and “the vicar of Christ” will go by the name of Pope Francis and is the first non-European pope in modern times, and the first from a developing country.
The much-awaited choice is something of a surprise, as the new pope was not foreshadowed prominently on the short lists of various experts, though the 76-year old was said to be the runner-up to retiring Pope Benedict in the 2005 conclave.
Cardinal Bergoglio, a Jesuit intellectual who reportedly eschews the ornate trappings of church power – he travels by bus – was elected in a swift five votes of a conclave of 115 cardinals, and immediately appeared to say the Lord’s Prayer to crowds on the Vatican plaza.
Like his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI who resigned last month, the first head of the Catholic church to do so in 600 years, Pope Francis is said to be theologically orthodox and socially conservative. He has opposed Argentina’s gay marriage laws, has been fiercely pro-family, and is also known as an advocate for the poor. In church terms, he is seen as a master conciliator who will be adroit at healing many of the rifts and scandals over finances and pedophile priests that have dogged the Vatican in recent years.
He was elected by a conclave that overwhelmingly shares the conservative views of Benedict who has held sway as an enforcer of orthodoxy in the Vatican since 1982.
As John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter writes, “Either John Paul II or Benedict XVI appointed each of the 117 cardinals who will cast a ballot, including 11 Americans, so there will be little ideological clash. No matter what happens, the church almost certainly won’t reverse its bans on abortion, gay marriage or women priests.”
B.B.C. Europe Report
Cardinals gathered in Rome to elect a new pope will begin voting later on Tuesday, with no clear frontrunner in sight.
The 115 cardinal-electors will attend a special Mass in the morning before processing into the Sistine Chapel to begin their deliberations in the afternoon.
They will vote four times daily until two-thirds can agree on a candidate.
The election was prompted by the surprise resignation of Benedict XVI.
The challenges of leading a Church beset by problems ranging from the sexual abuse scandal to accusations of corruption at the Vatican bank proved too much for the 85-year-old now known as Pope emeritus, say correspondents.
They now lie ahead for his successor, once he is elected.
Tuesday morning will be dominated by the saying of the Mass “for the Election of the Supreme Pontiff”, beginning at 1000 (0900 GMT) in St Peter’s Basilica.
- 115 cardinal-electors
- Two-thirds – or 77 – need to agree on papal candidate
- Four votes per day, two in the morning and two in the evening
- Chosen candidate will be 266th Pope
- He will lead world’s 1.2 billion Catholics
In the afternoon, 115 cardinal-electors – all under 80, as those over 80 are excluded – will proceed into the Sistine Chapel for the secret conclave to select Benedict’s successor.
Once they have taken an oath of secrecy, Msgr Guido Marini, papal master of ceremonies, will call out the words “Extra omnes” – “Everybody out” – and the chapel doors will be locked to outsiders.
The 85-year-old Pope emeritus resigned on 28 February after eight years in office, citing ill health. He was the first Pope in six centuries to do so.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the marked favourite ahead of the 2005 conclave that elected him pope after just four rounds of voting, says the BBC’s Michael Hirst in Rome.
His status was compounded by a strong sermon given during the pre-election mass, a scathing attack on what he saw as the “dictatorship of relativism”.
The vote for his successor is expected to be much longer.
After 10 general congregations open to all cardinals, regardless of age – at which 160 cardinals spoke of the issues facing the faith and its 1.2 billion adherents, and the qualities needed by their next leader – no clear frontrunner has emerged, our correspondent says.
“Last time around there was a man of stature, three or four times that of any other cardinal,” French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin told reporters, according to Reuters news agency.
“That is not the case this time around. Therefore, the choice has to be made among one, two, three, four… a dozen candidates.
“We still don’t really know anything. We will have to wait for the results of the first ballot.”
Cardinal Angelo Sodano – the dean of the college of cardinals who will lead Tuesday’s Mass and issue a sermon likely to touch on the themes and priorities raised during the congregations – is too old to vote at 85 and not seen as a contender for the papacy.
Candidates named as contenders include Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan, Brazil’s Odilo Scherer, and the US Cardinal Timothy Dolan – though he told one interviewer anyone who thought he was in with a chance might be “smoking marijuana”.
Emphasis on secrecy
Once inside the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday, cardinals will listen to a meditation by elderly Maltese Cardinal Prosper Grech before holding a first vote, after which their ballot papers will be burned.
The smoke that will drift out of the chapel’s chimney early in the evening is likely to be black – meaning no Pope has been elected.
From Wednesday, two votes will be held each morning and afternoon – with ballots burned after each session – until one candidate attains a two-thirds majority (77 votes).
Then the smoke will be white, meaning the 266th bishop of Rome will have been chosen.
Extensive measures are taken to prevent details about the cardinals’ discussions over the next pope becoming public.
On Monday, some 90 staff who will support the cardinals during their time of seclusion – including waiters, cleaners, drivers and medical staff – took an oath of secrecy.
The Sistine Chapel will be swept daily for bugs.
What Are We?
The Reformation Project is a Bible-based, Christian non-profit organization that seeks to reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity. Read more below and visit our Statement of Faith to learn more about our beliefs.
We are a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the United States of America.
Our Plans and Our Vision
This fall, we will host our first leadership conference for 50 straight, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians who are committed to reform. From September 18th-21st at Asbury United Methodist Church in Kansas City, KS, we will put them through a Bible boot camp. There, we will equip them with the tools and training they need to go back to their communities and make lasting changes to beliefs and interpretations that marginalize LGBT people. Once they go back, we will continue to offer them personal, financial, and infrastructural support for months and years to come. We will ensure that even those with the biggest and most daunting of goals will have the means to accomplish them.
Crucially, the aspiring reformers that we train will not be seeking to change their churches by asking them to ignore or look past the Bible. The Bible is not anti-gay. It never addresses the issues of same-sex orientation or loving same-sex relationships, and the few verses that some cite to support homophobia have nothing to do with LGBT people. Careful, persistent arguments about those passages have the power to change every Christian church worldwide, no matter how conservative their theology. The mission of The Reformation Project is to train a new generation of Christians to streamline that process and accelerate the demise of homophobia in the church.
After we build our leadership training model with 50 reformers this year, we will start to expand aggressively. As soon as we raise the money to do so, we will open a headquarters here in Wichita, Kansas. We will host more conferences, both in the U.S. and abroad.
Here in America, we will partner with churches and pastors to develop vocal and visible allies in every church around the country. We will launch regional offices in places where LGBT people have the least support, and we will work to reform the churches there from within. Soon, gay kids in Jackson, Mississippi and Kingston, Jamaica won’t just have to hear on YouTube that it gets better—they will have the personal support of outspoken, influential Christian allies in their communities who can ensure that it does.
How You Can Help
In order to make our vision a reality, we need your support. This spring, we are running our initial fundraising campaign on Indiegogo, we need thousands of donors to pitch in to reach our goal of $100,000. This will fund our first leadership conference in Kansas City this fall, covering all of the basic expenses of those who attend, and it will allow us to start laying the groundwork for the future.
A Message From the Founder
A little less than a year ago, I gave a speech at a church in Kansas about the Bible and homosexuality and posted the video of it online. Two years earlier, I had left school at Harvard and set out on an improbable quest to confront homophobia in my conservative Wichita church and find acceptance there as a gay Christian….
We are dedicated to training LGBT Christians and their allies to reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity through the teaching of the Bible.
We believe in:
- The inspiration of the Bible, the Word of God.
- The Triune God, eternally existent as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- The supremacy of God the Father, who created all things seen and unseen through Christ our Lord.
- The deity of Jesus Christ, only begotten Son of the invisible God, firstborn over all creation, fully God and fully man, head of the church, author and finisher of our faith; His death for our sins; and His resurrection and eventual return.
- The regenerative power of the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
There is a reason I posted the prior article from the Daily Beast, because it resonated with me so vividly.
Let me tell you a story…
I graduated High School in 1985. I spent a year at the local junior college, but all the while, I was actively working at my home parish, I was an altar server, and a member of the youth group and later a Eucharistic minister.
In 1986, I applied to the Diocese of Miami – Minor Seminary in Miami. I took all the tests and passed, I guess. My parents were neither here nor there. It was because of my grandmother(s) that my passion for God was so strong.
All I wanted was to serve the church, And I did that without question during that year. I loved God with all my heart and all my soul. And I wanted to do right by my upbringing. But men at the seminary did not think that I was suited for ministry, that is why I only lasted a year.
You could say that when I was dismissed, God fell out of favor. I did not come out until I turned 21 and was well away from my family. What I didn’t know at 19 I should have in hindsight.
I was all of 19 years old. I had eyes for the church, and I was accepted into the minor seminary in the Fall of 1986 – thru – Spring 1987. I was a boy trying to find his way in a community of men who, in most cases, were older than me, also, (and this is purely hindsight observation) most of my peers knew who they were, as in sexual orientation.
There was a dichotomy of states I observed. I kept my nose clean, I did not make waves, I did my studies, went to chapel, participated in community, but still, I was an odd ball.
In hindsight, there were many things that I felt passionate about. A certain priest, had a problem with the drink. He would drink and find himself in the lodging hall and some of us took it upon ourselves to get him back to the rectory and into bed without incident. This happened more than once, and more than twice.
He eventually got sent away to dry out. And it was upon this campaign that I seized upon. I lobbied for him to be returned to us. Because he was a priest in a certain position of authority when he was sent away.
The priest who was installed as his replacement, was a Big Frock Priest. He loved his vestments, and you would have thought he had aspirations to the Vatican, by the way he held himself, marched through the chapel and wielded his limp fist. I did not like him. Because he had an ego of authority.
There were gay priests in residence at the seminary. It so happened that certain priests were taken out of their own churches because of personal issues that seemed as punishments for their transgressions. And were sent to live with us.
Among my fellows, there were surely young men who were gay. I did see them OUT in community, when I was asked to leave the community. Some of my fellows did end up being ordained. I have since seen them on televised masses on tv, and over the past years I have posted reports about the exploits of some of the priests that were in residence during my year.
I can tell you that YES there are gay priests in churches. And It would not phase me one bit to know that there are gay priests ensconced in the Vatican. It does not shock me to read items such that I have posted here.
One of the priests, whom I know was gay at the time, when I was in seminary, studied at the Vatican during his formation years. So it is not a stretch that there are homosexuals in the highest echelons of Holy Mother Church.
I will defend some men. Because although they may be gay, many of the priests I have come to know in all my years, are good upstanding priests who serve their communities without fail. They don’t run around in the shadows and act out as we have read below.
Some I will not defend.I do draw a line in certain situations.
As a young man, at that time, I had not come to any realization about my sexual orientation. And I must ponder how I would have turned out, had I remained in seminary and eventually ordained like some of my fellows. I don’t know how that would have turned out.
There were gay men in my formation class. Some were upperclassmen, some from other countries. We had a good population of seminarians from other parts of the Latin world. And it was apparent that some of them were terribly gay.
It was a bit off putting. We had orientation weekends when new prospects would come to visit the school, and for some, would be followed by coming online with us. One particular boy who came after me, brought along his trunk with his assorted speedos and colorful underwear. Which he wasn’t shy about showing off to us as he unpacked.
He did not last very long. He came and went in less than a season.
The rector of the seminary … Big Frock Priest … was a character. I would name him, but I won’t because that would bring me too much grief. I imagine that in hindsight, as an older man myself, today, that he was a priest with a flair for the dramatic.
You know when you stand in church and a priest raises his right hand to offer a blessing to the people, there is the regular way a priest would hold out his hand to offer that blessing. Then there was Big Frock Priest, who, like I said, had aspirations of higher office, his pointed blessings with hand held high in mock of a bishop or the pope. I can see it in my minds eye.
We’ve talked about Gay priests … and If they are the problem?
We cannot discount the countless men of faith who have abused their positions in the church to abuse children. Actions that are morally and ethically deplorable. I cannot condone these men.
You come to serve the church, and you come to serve God first and foremost. With that in mind, if you desire to abuse children, then renounce your ministry and be on your way.
I have known a handful of men in ministry. Many of them straight. But since my coming to Canada, and being educated here, my affiliation with the Catholic and Anglican Churches has introduced me to a group of saintly Gay Clergy in both the Catholic and Anglican faiths.
One of them is one of my best friends, is to be ordained later on this year.
There are gays in Catholic ministry. That I can confirm. It is not a stretch to think that there are gay priests in the Vatican. This whole gay black male situation in Rome is perplexing. But it would not surprise me if these allegations are true. There are priests, then there are those men who over step their roles and bring shame upon themselves and to us by their actions.
It’s kind of repugnant.
But what do you do with all that pent up frustration of ministry work day in and day out. having to perform for the masses and the bishops, cardinals and the many who pass through the gates of Holy Mother Church?
The gay priests I knew, who were schooled in Rome, were certainly members of a particular community, and surely there were others there are well. This is not just a North American Phenomena. Gays come from most civilized countries.
Pope Benedict XVI was always known as the bulldog, for his strict stance on Church doctrine. The late Pope John II appointed him to his position for the Doctrine of the faith, because he was so learned and highly educated and well known for his smarts and clerical knowledge.
With this kind of cleric in the highest office of Holy Mother Church, I don’t think for one moment that he did not know what was going on in his church? A watchdog of this caliber had to have eyes in the community.
But what was an 85 year old frail pontiff going to do about these men? What recourse was he to take, and what punishment could he enact? Who ever wins the next conclave is going to have quite the mess to clean up, in addition to all the scandals that are rocking the church from the inside.
Some gay men have good character and are good men.
Some gay men are characters and give us all a bad name.
Some gay clergy are priests first and human second.
Some gay clergy have blurred the lines between the sacred and the profane.
But what is the answer to these situations? Do we punish all the clergy for the transgressions of some? Do you defrock those priests who have been implicated in these tawdry accusations? Do you close every sauna in Rome and take into custody all those gay men who (the reports say) have damning evidence on those so called (transgression priests)?
What will unfold, and what is truth and what is false?
I guess we shall see.
I’ve stood in St. Peter’s Basilica, I have climbed to the top of the cupola and looked down into the papal gardens, and I have visited the tomb of St. Peter.
I don’t understand how men of faith could spit upon the church and their vocations by doing such stupid and repugnant things…
Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.
God is perfect; yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
I can’t imagine what God is thinking about these things.
I would offer that he isn’t terribly pleased.
Back on April 29, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI did something rather striking, but which went largely unnoticed.
He stopped off in Aquila, Italy, and visited the tomb of an obscure medieval Pope named St. Celestine V (1215-1296). After a brief prayer, he left his pallium, the symbol of his own episcopal authority as Bishop of Rome, on top of Celestine’s tomb!
Fifteen months later, on July 4, 2010, Benedict went out of his way again, this time to visit and pray in the cathedral of Sulmona, near Rome, before the relics of this same saint, Celestine V.
Few people, however, noticed at the time.
Only now, we may be gaining a better understanding of what it meant. These actions were probably more than pious acts. More likely, they were profound and symbolic gestures of a very personal nature, which conveyed a message that a Pope can hardly deliver any other way.
In the year 1294, this man (Fr. Pietro Angelerio), known by all as a devout and holy priest, was elected Pope, somewhat against his will, shortly before his 80th birthday (Ratzinger was 78 when he was elected Pope in 2005). Just five months later, after issuing a formal decree allowing popes to resign (or abdicate, like other rulers), Pope Celestine V exercised that right.
And now Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to follow in the footsteps of this venerable model.
Courtesy: Vatican Holy See Direct Link
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.
However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.
For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
Courtesy: BBC News
Pope Benedict XVI is to resign at the end of this month after nearly eight years as the head of the Catholic Church, saying he is too old to continue at the age of 85.
The unexpected development – the first papal resignation in nearly 600 years – surprised governments, Vatican-watchers and even his closest aides.
The Vatican says it expects a new Pope to be elected before Easter.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope in 2005 after John Paul II’s death.
The BBC’s David Willey in Rome says the move has come as a shock – but adds that in theory there has never been anything stopping Pope Benedict or any of his predecessors from stepping aside.
Under the Catholic Church’s governing code, Canon Law, the only conditions for the validity of such a resignation are that it be made freely and be properly published.
But resignation is extremely rare: the last Pope to step aside was Pope Gregory XII, who resigned in 1415 amid a schism within the Church.
A Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said that even Pope Benedict’s closest aides did not know what he was planning to do and were left “incredulous”. He added that the decision showed “great courage” and “determination”.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is quoted as saying he was “greatly shaken by this unexpected news”.
The brother of the German-born Pope said the pontiff had been advised by his doctor not to take any more transatlantic trips and had been considering stepping down for months.
Speaking to the BBC from his home in Regensburg in Germany, Georg Ratzinger said his brother’s resignation was part of a “natural process”.
“When he got to the second half of his 80s, he felt that his age was showing and that he was gradually losing the abilities he may have had and that it takes to fulfil this office properly,” he said.
There would be no interference in choosing a successor, Georg Ratzinger said: “Where he’s needed he will make himself available, but he will not want to want to intervene in the affairs of his successor.”
The next Pope will be chosen by members of a 117-strong nominating conclave held in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.
Analysts say Europeans – and Italian-speakers specifically – are still among the favourites, but strong candidates could emerge from Africa and Latin America, which both have very large Catholic populations.
The Pope was to retire to the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo when he leaves office, the Vatican said, before moving into a renovated monastery used by cloistered nuns for “a period of prayer and reflection”.
At 78, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was one of the oldest new popes in history when elected.
He took the helm as one of the fiercest storms the Catholic Church has faced in decades – the scandal of child sex abuse by priests – was breaking.
In a statement, the pontiff said: “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.
“I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.
“However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to steer the ship of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me.
“For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.”
A theological conservative before and during his time as Pope, he has taken traditional positions on homosexuality and women priests, while urging abstinence instead of blessing the use of contraceptives.
His attempts at inter-faith relations were mixed, with Muslims, Jews and Protestants all taking offence at various times, despite ongoing efforts to reach out and visits to key holy sites, including those in Jerusalem.
A German government spokesman said he was “moved and touched” by the surprise resignation of the pontiff.
“The German government has the highest respect for the Holy Father, for what he has done, for his contributions over the course of his life to the Catholic Church.
“He has left a very personal signature as a thinker at the head of the Church, and also as a shepherd.”