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Archive for March, 2013

Pope Francis delivers Easter plea for peace

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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”.


Have you Ever …

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Courtesy:RThompson80

It is raining. The great spring wash has begun. As is usual, April brings showers to wash away the snow on the ground. It has been a couple of beautiful days with sun and warmer temps.

It is Easter Sunday and I had hoped for a good showing tonight, as for it is a holiday and the biggest night in bar traffic always comes on holidays after folks have spent the better part of the weekend with family, they need a night out for some liquor.

The same goes for members. Holidays, family, alcohol, a mix not for the feint of heart, beings people out of the house and to a meeting, which is why meetings are open on holidays.

As it was the last Sunday of the month, we read from the Twelve and Twelve. And it is the third month, so we read Tradition Three. ” The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”

Have you ever …

Have you ever judged someone in the rooms, based on their story or circumstance? Have you ever felt that someone should go get sober somewhere else because it might happen that a particular person upset the delicate apple cart of members egos and attitudes? Have you ever shunned someone from a meeting because they were different ? Have you ever felt superior to someone new to the rooms, or towards one of your fellows ?

The only requirement…

The first time I got sober in Ft’ Lauderdale, I got sober in a gay room of A.A. a Lambda room. I was safe and amongst my people. As circumstances presented themselves, a couple years in I moved from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami to be treated for my HIV by a specialist. Because there was no infrastructure there to assist people with AIDS.

I began attending meetings at the Coral Room in South Florida. That was a club room, which meant it was open all day from 7 am to midnight, and housed many meetings a night – every night.

At one point, I was sober a few years, and I had never really shared my story with community up until that point. I was asked to share at a meeting, of course I said yes. I was at the podium talking and at the point where I got to where I came out and said that I was living with AIDS, many men got up from their chairs and went outside to wait until I was finished speaking. At the end of the meeting they took me outside and said …

DO NOT COME BACK HERE, GET SOBER SOMEWHERE ELSE !!!

Had I been versed on the traditions, I would have recited tradition three. This is a hindsight observation. I never attended that particular meeting again. I then settled at the late night meeting at 10, where people welcomed me with open arms. Just goes to show you that there are IGNORANT people in the rooms.

It was in that room that I planned and executed my slip.

I never returned to that place, when I returned the second time. The second time I got sober on South Beach in 2001.

When I moved to Montreal in 2002, I was hitting meetings all over the city. And it happened again that I went to a meeting on the West End, holed over by a family of sober folks. At the end of the meeting they starting plying me with twenty questions about my life and sobriety. A second time I stated the truth and once again I heard those words…

ISN’T THERE SOMEPLACE ELSE YOU CAN GET SOBER, OTHER THAN HERE ???

Once is enough to be told that one is not welcome, but twice is a problem. Being new to a city and meeting new people for the first time, it doesn’t bode well for a community to be so ignorant and intolerant of those with different struggles. I mean that’s what we pray when we recite the long version of the Serenity Prayer.

There are ignorant people in Montreal. To this day there are some who ignore me and will come to a meeting I sit in and ignore me as if I didn’t exist. I don’t know why this is, but I have my suspicions. Years ago, it was odd to find a queer in a straight meeting. We had queer meetings dedicated to the queer factor.

But over time, queer meetings fell apart and the LGBT folks scattered across the city to main line heterosexual meetings. We are everywhere today. And for the most part there is no qualm about it. We are all alcoholics, who want to get better, and far be it from anyone to tell someone that they are not welcome at any given meeting.

The only reason we would ask someone to leave a meeting is, and only when they get unruly and threaten anyone’s well being in a meeting. And in all my years I know of only One Man to be barred from a particular meeting, which is above and beyond the pale of any group conscience.

People come to a meeting because they suffer the same affliction we all do, a sickness of mind, body and soul. And the only way to get better is to put down the drink and come to a meeting.

I have always erred on the side of caution. When dealing with new folks, to allow them to sink in slowly, to be welcoming, to be grateful and to be of assistance. Never throw a book at them prematurely or to force them to “get it my way or the highway” or suggest they “come to” quicker than they are able, each according to their gifts.

There are meetings where old timers pound the book from the first meeting. I don’t agree with the heavy hand approach. Sobriety takes time, and all we have is time. Take as much time as you need.

Young people are suffering. We heard it again tonight. Conflicts about God, and spirituality are coming in between people. Egos and attitudes are coming to blows for some. And we hear as well that newcomer numbers are dropping on the young people groupings, all because of heavy handedness.

There are also some young people who deign to say the word God and have come up with their own set of steps rewritten to omit any reference to God, and that isn’t sitting well with older members.

Our book is meant to be suggestive only, we realize we know only a little …

It is written in the way it is written for a reason and the steps were written for a certain reason in the format they were set down to paper. Far be it from someone to rewrite them because of the God issue. In the end this is a spiritual program, and sooner or later we come to the God word.

However you get there … there is one who has all power that one is God, may you find him now … the words spoken in How It Works.

Seasons are changing. And people are shook up. And it is distressing to see these kinds of flare ups, but what can you do ? Always check your motives when dealing with others.

You belong when you say you belong.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.

I am grateful for my friends tonight and every night.

It was a good but painful meeting, but that happens occasionally.

Pray for our young people.

More to come, stay tuned…


Pope leads Catholics into Easter at vigil service in St. Peter’s

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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.


Exsultet …2013

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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.
Amen.


Saturday Easter Vigil …

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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.


Vigil …

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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.

 


Providence …

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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 …


Pope washes feet of young Muslim woman prisoner in unprecedented twist on Maundy Thursday

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By , and agencies [The Telegraph]

6:39PM GMT 28 Mar 2013

Pope Francis continued his gleeful abandonment of tradition by washing the feet of a young Muslim woman prisoner in an unprecedented twist on the Holy Thursday tradition.

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.


Thursday Thoughts …

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Courtesy: ConstableConnor

Holy week is progressing quietly. Churches around town are busy preforming the rites of the season, and the big splash will be Saturday for the Cathedral, not to mention Easter Sunday services across town. We will pull out all the stops to ring in the resurrection of Jesus.

It is raining over the city tonight. We hit the 138 for the journey to the church, which was all lit up for the service upstairs while we gathered downstairs.

I find it funny that I was talking to a friend when our speaker walked up and my friend said to her, do you know Jeremy? And she replied, yeah we’ve met… Like it pained her to acknowledge me as someone she has known for most of my sobriety.

Let’s just say our speaker and I have past. Nuff said about that.

I find it peculiar that certain people in sobriety who just won’t deign to speak to me or mention my name. There are people in the program who have no need to acknowledge me in the rooms. Long ago, in the past, there were issues with some folks I knew and friends they had, words that were supposedly spoken and reputations besmirched, that had nothing to do with me, yet some folks, even to this day treat me like shit. Their bad, not mine.

The message was the same as usual. It was interesting to hear someone confess from the chair that they are lacking in their work as per the steps and that she needs to get on them again.

Sobriety is a life long process that is an everyday event. We aren’t living properly if we aren’t working our steps actively and honestly. What happens when we take a vacation from meetings??? squirrely happens.

Lots of friends tonight. I connected with folks I want to spend time with and got to see people I miss from Tuesday night. It was all good.

Tomorrow is Good Friday. For all you Catholics out there, no meat fast on Friday. We will be heading up to North End English for the meeting and services on Saturday night. It will all be exciting.

More to come, stay tuned …


Would that they have said the word STOP !!!

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Courtesy: ShannonBoh

Another week has begun, Passover began for my Jewish friends and family, and it is holy week in the Christian calendar. The most holy or Highest Holy days of the year. We will be partaking in services at the Cathedral on Saturday night for the Easter Vigil Choir mass – which is always a good production.

It was a busy day today. We spent the morning writing letters to the government and the bank who holds my student loan – the government is trying to hold me responsible for paying a $3000.00 loan, that should have been converted to a bursary because AIDS is a major functional disability and they did not adjust my account properly – and they did this to hundreds of thousands of other students as well. So we are contesting the loan payback and requesting the government to retroactively correct my file. Let Us Pray !!!

After a short power nap, I got ready to go for tonight’s meeting at Trinity Memorial this evening. We sat a fair number of folks. 90 % had less than a month. And a few with multiples of years. And it is a beginner’s meeting, so precedence goes to the newcomers.

We read from the Big Book … 32-33.

… Most of us have believed that if we remained sober for a long stretch, we could thereafter drink normally. But here is a man who at fifty-five years found he was just where he had left off at thirty.

[the man got sober – and went back out and never returned]

We have seen the truth demonstrated again and again:” Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” Commencing to drink after a period of sobriety, we are in a short time as bad as ever. If we are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol.

There is that pesky warning once again repeated in the text. Some folks just don’t read the book.

Many of our young people, find it a challenge to pick up the book and really commit with their hearts, the tough task of self appraisal and inventory. Long before we get to the God issue, the admission of the problem is necessary. And being young and impervious, so they think, of alcohol, they either remain on the outside looking in, or stuck in the revolving door [ in and out and in and out.]

Who really wants to get honest with themselves and have to, in due time, speak those words to another, let alone God himself ? I suppose that if you are at the point of utter incomprehensible demoralization, there is no other way but up.

How do you impress upon young people that this is the only way to get better and that just thinking about it and saying the words and warming a seat will keep you sober and lead you to a happy and fulfilling life. However hard the task to begin with, if we can commence to drink, at some point, we will commence to get better. Because to drink for us is to die.

I waited for the end of the meeting to share, hoping that the newcomers would take up the hour talking, and they did. I’ve spoken about my SLIP experience ad nauseum.

What did I know, and when did I know it ?

Alcoholism was rampant in my family. Three generations worth. It was there, and because we were taught never to talk about it or seek a solution, God forbid, it existed untreated and undiagnosed. I never said to myself that I would never become my father or my grandfather.

I had to move away to be Gay, because my father would never had stood for a faggot under his roof. At 21 I moved away to begin my adult life, with not a one tool for proper living. Who knew from responsibility. Jackpot after jackpot occurred and I did not know what to do.

But stopping drinking was not a choice I entertained.

Would that someone said the word STOP … in my twenties ? Had someone that knew me and my life story, said the word stop, would I have listened ? And I imagine that my life would have been so different had I gotten help then.

Everything happens for a reason. And this is the cross I bear to this day. I am sure that my alcoholism and stupidity played a part in my diagnosis at 26. The boy who I was with at that time, lied to me then killed himself. So I was fucked from the word Go!!!

I got sober in spite of the fact that I was trying to kill myself with the drink, not to feel the sorrow of knowing that I was standing on deaths doorstep and that I was surely going to die in a matter of time. I had the date marked on a calendar, I knew the day I was supposed to die.

The powers that be made an executive decision on my behalf, and while they remained in my life I was safe, safe from myself, and safe my alcoholism. But like all good things, they also come to an end. And I was left alone in a world that I knew not, because of the world that I was living in the past few years.

I had to relearn how to live in the world without the protection and direction of Todd and Roy. I stayed sober for a couple more years, but it just wasn’t the same. Once I hit my death date and I was still alive, I had to figure out what to do next ? Because I had not planned on living that long and the world was at large.

I was going to meetings. I had friends. BUT …

The heterosexual men in the room that I spent most of my meetings were dead set against my attending meetings at that room, and they told me so to my face.

I stayed sober in spite of them. But after while, I strayed away from the book. I had no sponsor, and I wasn’t communicating with someone I trusted. And I made an executive decision in sobriety that doomed me to my slip.

They say we plan our slips ahead of time…

All the boys at four years went out, including myself. And the slip was worse because I not only drank, but I became a drug addict. Thankfully when I came to the end of my drug use, I moved away from the source, and I never looked back, and never returned to using, even though I kept drinking for more than a year before I was led back to the rooms.

I know that feeling of shame and remorse. Having to begin at the beginning and how others think of me, because it was all about everyone else at the start. And the book also says that

“at some point we get hit by the Grace of God and we get sober”

And that happened to me and countless others.

The desire to drink left me and never returned. I can attest to the words in the book, I have a healthy respect for what it says and how it applies to my life.

And at eleven years, safe and sound was not working for me and I needed to change it up to freshen my sober journey, so I started attending this beginners meeting. To hear stories and meet new folks. Because one day, I may be present at the right moment and say the right thing, and maybe help someone never have another drink again …

The message take away:

A. That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives

b. That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism

c. That God could if he were sought

You never have to ever drink again … It can be done, one day at a time.


Pope Francis to live in Vatican guesthouse, not papal apartments

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Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

Vatican City  Pope Francis has decided not to move into the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, but to live in a suite in the Vatican guesthouse where he has been since the beginning of the conclave that elected him, said Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.

“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.


i thought …

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i thought of you, while in the shower

and i thought of how nice it’d be

to have your things among my things

along the bathtub’s edge

and i imagined myself running out of soap

and using yours

and wearing you to work, and the grocery store

and i imagined that night, laying down beside you

and smelling your neck

and finding out where all my soap had gone

 

Courtesy:Tylerbear


Sunday Sundries … Steps Six and Seven …

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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.

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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.


HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS – Palm Sunday Rome…

st peters square

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.


Pope Francis to celebrate Palm Sunday Mass

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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.

Observances modified

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.

New style

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.