Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. Parliament Hill Ottawa. A Wordpress Production

Archive for September, 2013

Date set for Popes John Paul II and John XXIII sainthood


Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will be declared saints on 27 April 2014, Pope Francis has announced.

The Pope said in July that he would canonise his two predecessors, after approving a second miracle attributed to John Paul.

Polish John Paul, the first non-Italian pope for more than 400 years, led the Catholic Church from 1978-2005.

Pope John was pontiff from 1958-1963, calling the Second Vatican Council that transformed the Church.

The decision to canonise the two at the same time appears designed to unify Catholics, correspondents say.

John Paul II is a favourite of conservative Catholics, while John XXIII is widely admired by the Church’s progressive wing.

Adam Easton BBC News, Warsaw

John Paul II’s life and teachings have had an enormous impact in Poland, his homeland.

The number of young Polish men training to become priests rose by about a third after his election in 1978, peaking in the mid-1980s.

Polish Catholic Church leaders will be hoping his canonisation will have a similar effect.

The number of Polish seminarians – while still much higher than in the rest of Europe – has been declining steadily since his death in 2005.

‘The good pope’

John Paul stood out for his media-friendly, globetrotting style. He was a fierce critic of communism, and is credited with helping inspire opposition to communist rule in eastern Europe.

John Paul has been on a fast track to sainthood since his death, when crowds in St Peter’s Square chanted “santo subito” (“sainthood now”).

During his own papacy he simplified the process by which people are made saints, and created more of them than all previous popes combined.

John XXIII is remembered for introducing the vernacular to replace Latin in church masses and for creating warmer ties between the Catholic Church and the Jewish faith.

He has a big following in Italy, where he is known as Il Papa Buono, the good pope.

The BBC’s David Willey reports from Rome that Pope John was in many ways similar to Pope Francis, a humble, down-to-earth man with a fine sense of humour.

Two living popes are expected to be present at the canonisation ceremony: Francis, who will officiate, and Pope Benedict, who retired earlier this year.

The double canonisation will be the first in the Church’s history.


Two miracles have been officially attributed to Pope John Paul II – the number usually needed for canonisation.

The first miracle was the apparent curing of a 49-year-old French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand. She had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, the same malady which afflicted the pope himself in his later years.

The second miracle came on the day of John Paul II’s beatification by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI. A Costa Rican woman reportedly made an “inexplicable recovery” from a serious brain illness, and the only explanation was believed to be the fact that her family had prayed for John Paul II’s intercession.

Pope John XXIII was beatified by John Paul II in 2000, and Pope Francis took the unusual step of waiving the requirement of a second miracle in his case.

Vatican: 2 living popes may honour 2 dead ones at April canonization for John Paul, John XXIII


the 2 popes

VATICAN CITY – Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be declared saints on April 27 at a ceremony that might see two living popes honouring two dead ones.

The Vatican on Monday said retired Pope Benedict XVI might join Pope Francis in the saint-making ceremony for their predecessors, noting that there was no reason why Benedict should have to watch the ceremony on TV.

“There’s no reason — either doctrinal or institutional — that he couldn’t participate in a public ceremony,” the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. “I don’t have any reason to exclude it.”

He noted there was still time before the ceremony and that Benedict was free to decide what to do.

Benedict, who became the first pope in 600 years to retire when he stepped down in February, had said he would spend his final days “hidden from the world” in the Vatican monastery.

But he has taken on a more public profile recently, writing a letter to an Italian atheist that was published last week in Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper and appearing with Francis over the summer at a ceremony to unveil a Vatican statue.

Francis had announced in July he would canonize two of the 20th century’s most influential popes together, approving a miracle attributed to John Paul’s intercession and bending Vatican rules by deciding that John XXIII didn’t need a second one to be canonized.

Analysts have said the decision to canonize them together was aimed at unifying the church, since each pope has his admirers and critics. Francis is clearly a fan of both: On the anniversary of John Paul’s death this year, Francis prayed at the tombs of both men — an indication that he sees a great personal and spiritual continuity in them.

Both popes are also closely identified with the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that brought the Catholic Church into modern times, an indication that Francis clearly wants to make a statement about the council’s role in shaping the church today.

A spokesman for Poland’s bishops’ conference, the Rev. Jozef Kloch, said the dual canonizations would stress the fact that John Paul II continued the ideas introduced by John XXIII, who called Vatican II.

Originally, the canonization was expected to have taken place Dec. 8. But Polish bishops complained that a December date would make it difficult for Polish pilgrims to come to the Vatican by bus along snowy, icy roads. As a result, the first Sunday after Easter was chosen instead — a feast day established by John Paul himself.

It was on that same feast day — Divine Mercy Sunday — that John Paul was beatified in 2011, drawing 1.5 million pilgrims to Rome.

John Paul made Jorge Mario Bergoglio — the current Pope Francis — a cardinal. Francis’ immense popular appeal has also been likened to that of John XXIII, dubbed the “good pope.”


Monika Scislowska contributed from Warsaw.

Sunday Sundries … Traditions


It has been warm the past couple of days. And night time temps sit in a tremulous balance between, a little too warm, and not cool enough. I should have left the a/c unit in the window a few more days. We get sun on our side of the building from 11 a.m. until sunset, and so we bake during the day.

Almost over night the trees on Tupper, just downstairs have turned a bright fiery yellow. The yellows are the first to turn in our neighborhood. There are no reds or oranges in this area. But there are a few reds over on Rene levesque, not far from here.

In Westmount, trees have yet to turn. Last week I noticed that the church yard trees were dropping green leaves, and today upon closer inspection of the trees, the leaves are spotted with disease, so I don’t imagine a great turn from the trees on the property. However the trees down the street are still green.

I was out early and set up girl was waiting for me and we cranked out set up and decided to sit outside prior to the meeting. There is a bench out front and to the side of the front of the church, underneath a copse of trees which lends to a nice greeting area outside.

We sat a fair number tonight. It is last Sunday and a Tradition night. And since it is the ninth month, we read from the Twelve and Twelve and Tradition Nine.

“A.A. as such, should never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.”

A.A. as such should never be organized, yet, organization is at the heart of our fellowship. It is the triangle upturned. There is no leader – and it is a loving God who may express himself in our group conscience that is in control.

From General Service in New York, to your General Service in your city, to your Area Committee to the D.C.M. (District committee members) to your G.S.R. (General Service Representative) down to the group, there are many committees that serve the community in a well oiled machine.

There are three sides to the service triangle: Unity, Recovery and Service.

Every group is unique, yet what we do is somewhat identical. The reading may be altered, the routine may be different, but the one thing we all do is carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

Traditions are in place for the groups to run smoothly and the Steps are there to hopefully teach us to run smoothly.

Every member has a story about what they have seen in the years they have been sober. The old timers spin tales of people gone bad, thorns in our sides, and issues that have come up, only to be rectified in the meeting of a group conscience.

There are no rules or regulations in joining a group. You come by your own volition and we welcome you openly and humbly. Where you go in your sobriety is entirely up to you. It is just a suggestion but … When you come in it is suggested you go to as many meetings as possible, and in time, chose a home group, where you can get active and do service.

You become one of many, in an effort, on a grand spectrum, to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers. There is a routine to meetings.

Someone comes and opens up a church basement or meeting location. Then there are people to set up and make coffee. Once you get into rotation we rotate from service position to another. Eventually with time and experience, you get to chair. The whole purpose of a home group is to get you into service that will only enhance your sobriety.

Some groups are much more comprehensive in regards to service. You should see the jobs they create in a meeting in New York City and how many people usually show up for any given meeting. It defies convention but down south they come in hundreds, unlike here they come in twenties or thirties.

When I got sick, many years ago, I was getting sober at the same time. I was introduced to structure. Severe structure. I had doctors appointments, and treatment days, pharmacy calls, and social worker meetings. All these things were done on a daily or weekly basis, and missing an appointment would mean no services – so you went – even if you were sick. And at certain points, whether or not you were dying.

I also had a structure at the job I was employed at, which kept me very busy, my mind off my own personal issues and centered on the work I was mandated to do on a daily/nightly basis.

Meeting were interspersed with work until that came to an end. And little by slowly meetings and sobriety lost their priority. And I went out.

So much for trained structure.

When I came back, i was re-introduced to sober structure and I took to it like a duck to water. For the first few months the people in the group I joined served me, took care of me, mentored me and helped me clean myself up.

It wasn’t until I hit Montreal that things changed. I did meetings and met people. I rooted in a home group, (Tuesday Beginners) and went to the other weekly meetings. I built my life Around my Meetings…

The Home Group was a Non-Negotiable night.

When I joined the group it was mostly women and a couple of men. I had certain responsibilities each week for months. First I set up tables and chairs. For months. Then I moved to coffee, for months. And at a year’s time I was able to chair a meeting. (Then there were two; a beginners meeting and a speaker meeting).

Over the twelve years I was there many things changed. All the old timers left for other meetings. So as they all left I stepped up into the main service person along with two friends that had come to the group.

Building my life around my meeting was at times difficult, because of university. Some semesters I had to forgo my home group because of class, but that only happened a few semesters over nine years.

Today I am grouped at several meetings. Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights. I am a member on Sunday’s. Tuesday’s and Thursday’s… Friday is my night for me. I hit the A.B.S.I. meeting to be with my friends. I go to do twelve step work.

But i do step work at every meeting. Being a housewife, my life revolves around my meetings, and I don’t know what I would do without that structure to my days. They are my life, on a daily basis I have someplace to look forward to visiting and seeing my friends and fellows. I get to do service and be part of a movement that is greater than myself.

For an unorganized fellowship, it is our organization that makes it all work, through a God of our understanding who speaks among us in our group conscience.

I am grateful for our organization and the fellowship.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …

Citizens Again… Friday A.B.S.I.

tumblr_mtnk7z10yj1rswp1to1_500 tgrade5

Courtesy: TGrade5

The stellar weather continues. It was cool enough for a hoodie.

Since I was traveling alone, I departed Uber early because I was ready to go early. And it was a 2 minute transit night. In fact in both directions there were trains in the station when I arrived at my connections.

I like to get there early, to help set up and to coast into the night as people show up. I get to greet and talk to the folks. The most important part of the meeting is the 20 minutes before and the 20 minutes after.

It was a full house.

A.B.S.I. page 21 was our topic.

“I just know that you are expected, at some point, to do more than carry the message of A.A. to other alcoholics. In A.A. we aim not only for sobriety – we try again to become citizens of the world that we rejected, and of the world that once rejected us. This is the ultimate demonstration toward which Twelfth Step is but not the final step.”

I’ve spoken at length about what it means to be a member of a home group, and also the groups you regularly attend during your week. You can be one of two people. One – a seat warmer … or Two – an active participant.

Over time, we grow into our chairs. We begin to invest in each other and our lives as people, as fellows who have suffered greatly, and come together to share experiences.

I heard a member say tonight that “It isn’t much the words that we speak, but the experiences, that help each other…”

We’ve done our respective time in purgatory and now we are trying to dig ourselves out of that morass. And in time that does take place. We come together for each other. In a grand sense, we are working the twelfth step by just showing up. Because every time we show up we embolden the others who come as well. By showing up we state that we care.

There are particular folks I always look for at certain meetings, because usually, that is the only meeting I see them at, and if I miss my chance to say a few words to them, I won’t get another chance for another week.

An invitation to another meeting is a handy way to get to see someone on another occasion other than the first time. And sometimes I must be wiley and get that invitation out so that my friend will respond and say, “Yeah, I will show up, I have nothing planned so there won’t be an excuse to miss it.”

Reach out that hand, You never know when you may change a life.

I made a few phone calls before the meeting – following up on projects that I am invested in – to make sure all the loose ends are tied up and that next week – we will have what we need.

This blog is another tool for outreach to the masses. I write often. Never knowing who is reading – but I have a good sense of how many people are subscribed either to the blog or twitter, or Facebook.

With the new interface, when I publish once, I get cross publication across ALL of my social media websites. And they are all interconnected so nowadays, my friends on facebook get to read the posts because they appear in my feed, so I am reaching more folks than just here on the blog.

They say that you suit up and you show up and you do the work, with humility and the fact that when you do good work, don’t go looking for praise, we should do what we do because we aught to, “because this is who we are” not for glory or ego.

On the odd occasion I get a note from someone out there saying thank you or that they come and read and are uplifted. The other day I got a call from a friend just to say thank you for being part of …

It is good to be useful and to be part of a community where your presence is the most important part of being who you are.

Every day I get to be present for my friends.

Life is full and my cup overflows.

I’m just grateful for somewhere to go where I can sit and be me without having to perform or be someone who I am not. I get to be me. We get to be Us.

And then we become WE.

A good friend took an 11 year cake. We are all so very proud of him. It was a great way to end the usual Friday meeting.

Cake, friendship and fellowship.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …

Reflection Thursday

tumblr_mtn6lrUbCB1splyxmo1_500 blamboyzà

Courtesy: Blamboyz

Another glorious day goes down in the books. And sunshine is on tap for days to come. Night time temps are getting low. But not as low as I’d like. However I did spy, not far from here, trees that are colors other than green. I can see them from my balcony.

The end of the month is always exciting, for many reasons. Our little Group that Can met for another business meeting. And this month (September) we have finally paid off all our debts to group members who footed the bill to open the meeting in May. The opening expenses came out a little more than $300.00 cad.

This evening we made our final payout to one of our members, which means that we are free and clear for the kitty to pay into prudent reserve. A.A.W.S. sent out their fall letters advising us that New York is on their push for end of the year donations from groups worldwide.

Our area (Montreal) collects donations from groups here in the city. When groups can, they send donations to the area. And the area pays out all their bills and accounts. They distribute materials to corrections facilities and other areas that request materials.

After all else is paid, the area sends monies directly to New York in a lump sum. If we decide to send monies to the area (plus) a donation to N.Y. G.S.O we can allocate part of that donation to go ahead to New York from our (group name and donation).

New York then records the donation from a specific group and under our group number that is assigned, our donations are listed (per group), and not from a lump sum that is not portioned from specific groups.

The holidays will soon be upon us. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and then the mad rush for Christmas begins. Halloween won’t be over before we begin to see decorations and merchandise up in stores. And I brought up the possibility that our group collect a humble donation for the parish church we meet in for their Christmas Basket Program that takes place each December.

That note is in the book to be discussed later on.

We made rent again, which means we are doing well as a group. Besides group members at least 2 to 3 guests come each week for the meeting.

Tonight’s topic came up which dealt with The Promises.

When did you first hear them, when did they begin coming true for you and how did they come to fruition for you?

The promises are read at numerous meetings in the city. They appear in the Big Book at Step nine. In total there are 182 promises in the book. We each got a sheet with the promises on them. And every experience from the group was different. No two stories are the same.

I remember coming in this time around and it taking a good amount of time for my brain to defog and my self esteem begin to rise again. Going to the same meeting, every night, in the same location (in addition to) going to other meetings in the area gave us a sorted look at sober materials.

The first ninety days the newcomers counted days. We heard the steps presented over 12 weeks. We read from Living Sober and the Big Book.

However, I did not work my steps until I was almost a year sober, here in Montreal. I joined a 17 week series with my sponsor. And when we reached step 4, over half the men that came, left … They could not complete the work. Most went back out and drank. At the last meeting of the series, only 4 men were left. Two sponsees and their sponsors.

I remarked tonight that (God is doing for us what we could not do for themselves) began to come true well before I got sober. Because it was not me that was taking care of things as they happened. They just did.

When I came here to Montreal, the first real lesson I learned was to stay in my day and one day at a time it. I was rooted in a Home Group and I was doing service and I was making meetings all over the place.

God was doing for me – what I could not do for myself.

Over time, I am looking back in hindsight, It is only after the fact that I can honestly speak to the affect of the promises. Because we read them all the time, one can get “yeah, yeah … some day” Sometimes quickly sometimes slowly.

When I met my then boyfriend, we had a roof over our heads and old and broken appliances and hundreds of beer bottles to return to the store for deposit. We needed paint, we needed to shop and we needed new things, it was very clear.

Over the last 11 years, this apartment is a representation of the promises.

We started cleaning and returning bottles. That took some time. We did not have cable tv, or a color television. We had rabbit ears and foil on the antennas.

Over time, we got rid of the old appliances and we earned enough money to paint a little and begin building a home out of a hole in the wall.

The Promises began to come to pass. We were going to meetings, we were sober for a while. Life threw us a few bad cards and we dealt with them as we were able. And we were victorious over time.

As a result of surmounting difficulty, a wedding took place, in a small chapel in front of sober friends and a bit of family. A BIG promise came true that day.

And over the years we have grown and remained sober. The one outstanding promise that still dogs us is (Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us). Finally about two months ago, we hit a new benchmark in that area.

I think, humbly and honestly, we have crossed that threshold.

At some point, if you stick around long enough, and you keep coming back, you will see the promises begin to materialize in front of you. And those will be happy days. And you yourself will be able to say, that the promises came true for you too.

It was a good night.

More to come, stay tuned…




Were you sent as a prophet to unite, or were you sent to divide?


Lifted from: Michael Dodd – In Dodd We Trust

The Shepherd’s Prayer

From the book “Rumi, Poet and Mystic, a selection of his writings“,
Translated from the Persian by Reynolds A. Nicholson.
Slightly abridged

Moses saw a shepherd on the way, crying,
“O Lord… Where are You, that I may serve You and sew Your shoes and comb Your hair?
That I may wash Your clothes and kill Your lice and bring milk to You,
O worshipful One: That I may kiss Your little hand
and rub Your little feet
and sweep Your little room at bed-time.”

On hearing these foolish words, Moses said,
“Man, to whom are you speaking?
What babble! What blasphemy and raving!
Stuff some cotton into your mouth!
… the High God is not in want of suchlike service.”

The shepherd rent his garment, heaved a sigh, and took his way to the wilderness.

Then came to Moses a Revelation:
“You have separated My servant from Me.
Were you sent as a prophet to unite, or were you sent to divide?
I have bestowed on every one a particular mode of worship,
I have given every one a peculiar form of expression.
The idiom of Hindustan is excellent for Hindus;
the idiom of Sind is excellent for the people of Sind.
I look not at tongue and speech,
I look at the spirit and the inward feeling.
I look into the heart to see whether it be humble,
though the words uttered be not lowly.

Enough of phrases and conceits and metaphors!
I want burning, burning: become familiar with that burning!
Light up a fire of love in thy soul, burn all thought and expression away!
O Moses, they that know the conventions are of one sort, they whose souls burn are of another.”

The religion of love is apart from all religions.
The lovers of God have no religion but God alone.

Electricity … Dependence and Independence

tumblr_ms7m2ow94k1rq5h24o1_500 untiltheacropolis

Courtesy: Untiltheacropolis

It was a great sunny day today. I was blinded, while sitting on my balcony earlier today. It has also been on the cool side, we will see single digits tonight, overnight.

I departed early for Trinity to  make coffee and set up. Tonight was our last meeting at Trinity, and next week, Oct 01 – our new home will be Notre Dame de Grace Church in NDG.

Several issues came up since our last meeting, as to being dependent on a stranger to make sure that the door is open when we get there, and secondly, we need more than 30 minutes for our large urn to perk a pot of coffee. The church was hesitant to issue us our own key, but they don’t require rent from us but a humble donation on a monthly basis.

But I brought this up to our head member of the group tonight, that we should not be dependent on a total stranger to have a meeting, and that we should be free to come when we need to open and therefore, be given our own key to the church. And we should have the new key for next week.

We can’t depend on someone (outside) the program with winter coming and the possibility of them not showing up for some odd reason, and thereby keeping us from our regular schedule. A small pain in the ass…

We sat a full table tonight. Which was a good showing. We had a couple of chip takers at the end, as we are a beginners meeting we hand out 3,6,and 9 month chips along with the desire chip.

I was in the chair tonight and read from A.B.S.I.

“True Independence of the Spirit.”

“… Though we really accept this principle of healthy dependence in many of our temporal affairs, we often fiercely resist the identical principle when asked to apply it as a means of growth in the life of the spirit. Clearly, we shall never know freedom under God until we try to seek His will for us. The choice is ours.”

12 x 12 pg. 36

This passage, in its entirety, taken from the 12 and 12, written by Bill, is another passage where Bill uses science to make a point. Here, the passage refers to electricity, it is there, in every house, wired to do what it is supposed to do, and we rely and are dependent on it to exist without issue. And we really take for granted that it is there, but it lights up our lives.

The passage then touches on spiritual practice and the dependence we should cultivate on our higher powers. There is that word again … GOD …

One of my friends brought up Bill’s problematic issue with all things “faith.” With all the people Bill had in his inner circle, men, women, a priest and a good God fearing nun (Sister Ignatia) Bill still battled with faith.

Yet he cleverly came up with the spiritual loop hole he calls God

” As We Understand Him…”

For those who cannot make peace with God, there is your out. Whoever he/she/it is – call it what you like.

When it came time for me to share, I picked up at “God as we understand him.” And went on to say that when we are children, (read: When I was a child) I was birthed into a family of faith and church.

Children and infants are closer to God in the first years of life, because from the time we are born into the world, we come from God, and we grow up. But in growing up we grow apart from God into the world, and we become tainted.

God was a constant thread throughout my life. And when I kept to him, and to His will I was in good shape. I went to church and worshiped God accordingly. And at one point, my presence in church (read: when I was very sick) was mandated for my personal well being and the continuing practice of my faith among a community who would pray with me. (Thanks to Father Jeff on that one).

So. where am I going with this …

God was the constant. and I was / am the variable.

When I take back my will and step off the path, i.e. when I drank and drugged and stepped off the path from God, my life usually ends up in the shitter.

And as we grow up into adulthood, we either knew God once, or will eventually find him in the rooms. Most people are born into some system of faith. But that may change as life takes its toll.

For the addicted and the recovering, finding the power Greater than Ourselves is a challenge. A fair number of people I know in the rooms know God, it is only a handful of folks who ( I have said before) wouldn’t know God, if he came down from heaven and stood before them … They are just blind to Him.

Recovery, it came to me tonight, is cyclical.

The books, we read them every which way from Sunday. The Big Book, As Bill Sees It, the Twelve and Twelve, Daily Reflections, etc …

We come across the same passages over and over. Because we need the repetition to make it sink in … Every time we read from the book, the issues we all have in our heads come up.

This runs on the “polishing the gem” theory I have spoken about before.

We do not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.

We read, we hear each other, and we hear ourselves. Our own personal issues come up over and over again. They never really go away, its just that the sting of the past goes away over time, and our history becomes our greatest gift in sobriety. Because we learn to “LEARN” from the past.

The same can go for “God as we understand him.”

Every day we go to meetings, we get to either read, share or listen. Or all three depending on the meeting you go to. And as we listen to others “Come To” and find God, we hear them speak of God. And at the same time, we learn about our own concept of God.

And like each issue (read: gemstone) and the understanding of God, (read: faith) when they all come up, the gem gets polished, and our faith grows. One hand washes the other. They go hand in hand.

The longer I stay in God’s good graces, the better my life becomes.

As we get sober, we learn about gratitude. A state of “Thankfulness.” Something we should practice every day.

All that I have came from God and the rooms. All the good things, all the good friends, all the love, comes from God.

I have air in my lungs and I an still alive, which proves to me that God exists. I should be dead already, But God is not done with me yet.

Like the electricity that runs in our homes, so the power of God runs through our lives. Whether we believe it or not! What made you, Why are you here, and What is your purpose?

The ethereal questions that we all ask …

Come and follow.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … Equinox

tumblr_mo53oob6II1r6lw4po1_500 freshie

Courtesy: Freshie

Overnight the rain came – in stops and starts. But today was the equinox and summer turned to fall. And it felt a little fall. I noticed that in the church yard, the leaves are falling from the trees, green … They haven’t begin to change and they are already falling.

It was a big day today for our fellow set up girl. I arrived and she was waiting for me to help set up, but more on her mind was the fact that today she was getting her first year chip.

It has been an uphill slog for her. In the beginning she was reticent and very angry and it took time for her to warm to the meetings. And it took many months for her to find her place, as in, a home group, and still to this day, she sometimes can’t find her voice. But today was not one of them.

An entire posse of women came to celebrate with her. They made cupcakes and brought cake which fed the crowd at the end of the meeting.

We are working our way through the first set of stories in the back of the Big Book, and today we read from “Our Southern Friend.” The room was packed so we did not get very far, in order to allow everyone to share.

There were many take away’s from the short portion we read from, a sad story, written a long time ago, it isn’t a pretty story, written in stiltish language.

At one point our writer is sitting an exam he can barely get through because he is hung over and needs a pick me up to complete the task. And the story goes on from there and only gets worse until he admits that “No, I can’t go on like this …”

A poignant episode in my life takes place early on in my drinking career, I was still in High School, and even then, I had the gene …

Every student dreads the S.A.T. test. Having to take it once is a challenge, and twice is torture, and three times is just plain wrong … It fell on us, back then, that we took that test three times during our high school careers. Because it was the almighty S.A.T. score that would get us into the right college.

College … there weren’t many choices for us in Florida, unless you had deep pockets and were able to travel, alas, those choices were not mine. So by the third pass at the test, I was over it before it even began.

The night before the test – my friends and I – a whole group of us drank. I drank until I could not stand up – in fact I was falling down drunk. You could say that even then, I was a true alcoholic. But nobody cautioned me to stop.

The next morning I was green. And hung.

My test site was in the library, which was in the biology wing, that also housed bathrooms and the varsity gym. Each section is timed. And the clock would start and I would run to the bathroom and heave. Hoping to return to the test and complete each section accordingly.

In the end, it was my best showing, score wise.

I was still an alcoholic.

What would my life had looked like if I had gotten sober that far back in my life? I will never know, because the disease took its toll on me and I had to walk this journey to get where I am today. A good friend of mine is coming home from Tokyo for a few days and will celebrate 14 years very soon. He was just a boy when he came in and now he is a man with a life and career.

Not many young people make it in so early and get the gift.

Most of us have to suffer into adulthood before we realize that we are licked and we need help. Which is why we still keep going to meetings, even after years and years. Because if we forget, we are destined to return to the hell that alcoholism is.

There was cake, and lots of conversation. On the way home, it was cooler than I had expected and for the first time this season, I grabbed my toque out of my bag and wore it home.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …

What did He say ???

tumblr_mqlvrbRyUs1rzu555o1_400 sneakerfreakin
Courtesy: Sneakerfreakin

It was a stellar day today. Lots of sun and cool temps. But like they say, all good things must come to an end. Tomorrow it will be bleak and rainy.

The usual Friday meeting celebrated an anniversary this evening. North End English celebrated 63 years of meetings in the same location. The regular discussion meeting turned into a full house speaker meeting. The place was packed.

I departed much earlier than usual, traveling by myself tonight, I made all my connections in short order and when I arrived at the church we set out chairs and made coffee. What ever needed to be done, we took care of in short order.

I hung out front to greet – many of my friends came tonight, and there was lots of good conversation before the meeting.

Our speaker came from the West Island, and sober many years. It was a story unlike any I have heard in a while. But the commonality between us was apparent. How many binge drinkers do I know in recovery? And how many of us could make do with “just a drink!”

It was aloud and boisterous share. We all laughed and it was a great celebration. After the final prayer – I set out for the door, to make my bus home, I did not stay for food and conversation. It was a quick ride home, all the trains were on time and ran without incident.

Back to A.B.S.I. next week.

More to come, stay tuned …

Pope warns church must find balance between rules and mercy, focus less on abortion, gays

Pope Francis buda mendes Getty

By Nicole Winfield And Rachel Zoll, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

VATICAN CITY – Signalling a dramatic shift in Vatican tone, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church had become obsessed by “small-minded rules” about how to be faithful and that pastors should instead emphasize compassion over condemnation when discussing divisive social issues of abortion, gays and contraception.

The pope’s remarkably blunt message six months into his papacy was sure to reverberate in the U.S. and around the globe as bishops who have focused much of their preaching on such hot-button issues are asked to act more as pastors of wounded souls.

In interviews published Thursday in Jesuit journals in 16 countries, Francis said he had been “reprimanded” for not pressing church opposition to abortion in his papacy. But he said “it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

“The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently,” Francis said.

“We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel,” the pope said in the 12,000-word article, based on interviews conducted by a fellow Jesuit, the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civilta Cattolica, a Rome journal for the religious order.

“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules,” Francis said. “The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.”

The comments contained no change in church teaching, and the pope said reform should not happen quickly. Still, it was the pope’s clearest declaration yet of a break in tone and style from his immediate predecessors.

John Paul II and Benedict XVI were both intellectuals for whom doctrine was paramount, an orientation that guided the selection of a generation of bishops and cardinals who now face making a dramatic turnabout in how they preach.

The interviews were conducted by Spadaro over three days in August at the Vatican hotel where Francis has chosen to live rather than in the papal apartments. The Vatican vets all content in Civilta Cattolica, and the pope approved the Italian version of the article, which America magazine, the Jesuit journal in the U.S., translated into English.

The admonition will especially resonate in the United States, where some bishops have already publicly voiced dismay that Francis hasn’t hammered home church teaching on abortion, contraception and homosexuality — areas of the culture wars where U.S. bishops often put themselves on the front lines. U.S. bishops were behind Benedict’s crackdown on American nuns, who were accused of letting doctrine take a backseat to their social justice work caring for the poor — precisely the priority that Francis is endorsing.

“I think what Francis is doing when he’s talking about these hot-button issues, he’s not saying one side is right or the other side is right. He’s saying that arguing over these things gets in the way of the work that Catholics are supposed to be doing,” said David Cloutier, a theologian at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland.

“This suggests a really different vision of what the church should look like in the world. It’s not a defensive vision. He comes out and forthrightly says we don’t have to talk about these issues all the time. I can’t help but see this as a potential rebuke to American leaders who have focused on these issues.”

Just last week, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., said in an interview with his diocesan newspaper that he was “a little bit disappointed” that Francis hadn’t addressed abortion since being elected. But Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, said Francis’ comments on abortion do not indicate any change in the church’s commitment to the issue.

“Pope Francis is reminding us that when we discuss the issue of abortion, we are not talking about some abstract issue or procedure. Rather, we’re talking about situations that involve mothers and their unborn children, and we must be mindful to help them both — something the right-to-life movement works to do every day,” Tobias said.

Two months ago, Francis caused a sensation during a news conference when he was asked about gay priests. “Who am I to judge?” about the sexual orientation of priests, as long as they are searching for God and have good will, he responded.

Francis noted in the latest interview that he had merely repeated Catholic doctrine during that news conference — though he again neglected to repeat church teaching that says while homosexuals should be treated with dignity and respect, homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.”

But he continued: “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?'”

“We must always consider the person. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.”

New Ways Ministry, a Catholic outreach to gays and lesbians that has been rebuked in the past by church leaders who accused ministry leaders of straying from church teaching, called Francis’ comments “a new dawn.” Equally Blessed, an advocacy group for gay and lesbian Catholics, likened Francis’ remarks to “rain on a parched land.”

“Catholic progressives are wondering if we’re dreaming and going to wake up soon,” said John Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, a liberal advocacy group in Washington. “It’s a new day.”

The interview also showed a very human Francis. He seemingly had no qualms about acknowledging that his tenure as superior of Argentina’s Jesuit order in the 1970s — starting at the “crazy” age of 36 — was difficult because of his “authoritarian” temperament.

“I have never been a right-winger. It was my authoritarian way of making decisions that created problems,” he said.

The key, he said, is for the church to not exclude.

“This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity,” he said.


Religion Writer Rachel Zoll reported from New York.

The interview can be found in the original Italian at La Civiltà Cattolica: http://www.laciviltacattolica.it , in English at America Magazine: http://www.americamagazine.org , and Spanish at Mensaje: http://www.mensaje.cl .

Introspection – What do I do Now ???

tumblr_l8yig0qgFp1qbsveko1_500 billypazionis

Courtesy: Billy Pazionis Flickr

It was another glorious day today. Fresh Air and Blue skies…

It was a busy day today running errands and taking care of business here at home. Finances have been tight and the promise of ” fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us” comes to light in such situations. It is good to be UP on financial responsibilities and on top of the bills and home finances.

I was a little late tonight, having to make stops on the way that took longer than I had expected, because they could not find my huge bag filled with pills in the mass of bags that had been filled recently at the pharmacy. I saw new faces behind the wicket so that was the challenge.

It seems the mall is in the final stages of preparation for the BIG REVEAL that is coming very soon now. The spaces on the mezzanine level outside of IGA and Pharmaprix are coming along. The ground floor is still in process as I noticed tonight that they are again working on the floor and other shop spaces that were open are now blocked off and being worked on.

Set up went quickly. And I set out more than enough tables tonight, almost begging God to bring us more folks tonight. I am of the mind that “If you build it, they will come!” and come they did. We sat a fair number tonight.

Most of our guests, aside from the group members who have considerable time, are new to the program. A good sign, that we have work to do and people to work with.

Our chair for the evening spoke to us in opening the floor to discussion with recent events that will translate into a topic.

A number of his sponsees are working their steps, and having transited 4 through 9 – the actual writing and inventory and personal house cleaning they have reached the “MAINTENANCE” steps … 10, 11 and 12.

And the question invariably comes up … “What do I do now?”

We’ve just spent the better part of our sober time working on ourselves and writing the garbage that was our past on to paper and we’ve made lists of character defects and shortcomings, we’ve discussed them with our sponsors and each other, and we step into the final part of recovery.

Most people who get here get the stock answer … “let’s turn to page 84 in the Big Book and let’s read the Tenth Step.”

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it …”

For the women, who really know how to pound the book, would tell us that this is a written step that one does every day. To actually sit down and write a tenth step in order to speak it to our sponsors the next day during our appointed call time. For those of you paying attention … The women are always working on something. And calling every day EVERY DAY, is standard operating procedure.

Most men do not call each other every day or every other day for that matter.

We read from the book, on ten, making that impromptu inventory, we then set it to prayer and meditation (step 11) and we go to meetings and we work with others (step 12).

In the beginning we rely on the book and a good sponsor to guide us into the parts of the book that will, over time, become rote. We learn what it means to work 10, 11 and 12, we read the book, we act it out for ourselves, and each other and we carry the message to others coming up the ranks.

Once we’ve taken the inventory steps and done the work, we know a little about who we were, what happened and we now sit with what we are like now. And in some cases, here is where we get our lives handed back to us to actively work towards building the life we have been promised in the book.

And it is work. But it is not the big, bad and demeaning work, but it is positive and uplifting and enhancing to our sobriety. We have, for some, found a power greater than ourselves that we turn our lives over to every day, for most, it is God, but there are some, as I have said recently, cannot find God, if he came down from heaven and stood in front of them …

But I digress …

On a daily basis now, we take spot inventory during our day. We notice where we might be off and where an amend might be prudent. And I’ve heard it said over and over, if you are having a bad day … You CAN start your day over at any time of the day as needed.

There is also the practice of writing a gratitude list every day, to keep us mindful of all the good things in our lives on a daily basis.

We should, by now, have begun the formation of spiritual practice. Post finding that power greater than yourself we learn how to pray, for those who may not know how to pray or who to pray to, the universe, God or something that brings you peace and comfort.

For me that is God.

A while back a good lady friend of mine gave me a package of prayer cards, 12 in fact. A prayer for each step and a few dropped in here or there. I keep these cards by the computer and I read them every morning and every night before bed. A little help in the prayer department never hurt.

They say that Prayer is the speaking to God bit, but after we’ve spoken our words, we should cultivate “time to listen” for an answer. And that is where meditation comes in. (Step 11)

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood him. praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.”

Prayer comes in many forms and can be done throughout the day and night, as we learn how to incorporate this practice into our lives. The serenity prayer is very popular. For the religious members, The Our Father and other assorted prayers come to mind.

And now, we should have, as I have mentioned in the past, built our lives around our meetings, and namely our Home Group. A Home Group is a non-negotiable night. You always attend your home group, because that is where we get connected and we learn to do service.

Because it is in working with others, that we get to practice the 12th Step.

“Having had a spiritual awakening as THE result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Nothing guarantees our sobriety like direct work with another alcoholic. If we have read the book, worked with our sponsors and gone to enough meetings, and we have come – we’ve come to – and we’ve been restored to sanity, we get to share our experience with others who come up behind us.

Our lives, our stories, the what, where, who, when and why of our stories is what makes us who we are. And at some point, someone is going to ask you to share/speak at a meeting. I would say that when we speak, we have arrived.

We’ve spent hours, days, weeks and months talking in discussion meetings, We’ve been a numerous speaker meetings, we’ve been to Big Book and Step meetings, and all along, we are working on ourselves.

We have, in essence, been polishing the diamond that is our lives, with a little help from the God of our understanding, and each other.

The final three steps are meant to get us into the practice of actively living and working a sober lifestyle. It is our choice what we do with our lives, once we’ve cleared the wreckage of the past.

The promises state that (in time) we will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.

We are not who we were, or what we did or what we have said.

You are WHO you are at this very moment. Right now, as you read this. It was your choice to change and your choice to cultivate the life you are now living.

I have said over and over that there is no greater blessing than to attend the same meetings over the years and watching folks get sober.

Because when they come in they are sad and disillusioned. They come, they come to and they begin the work. And in time, the gem begins to appear and over time that gem gets polished, and in the end it sparkles with the life that has been renewed and that is YOU.

Embrace the 10th, 11th and 12th steps.

They will dictate the person you become, as you work the program.

It was a good night.

Now it is time for dinner. More to come, stay tuned …

By The Numbers – Sept 18, 2013


It is a glorious day today. A little cool, a lot of sun. And a great morning to travel for my fall clinic visit.

I arrived early and a very gregarious nurse did my triage and (she chose to use a side room and not an exam room) which led to a conversation that went long, and another nurse came in and interrupted us and said there were other patients waiting…

My visit with the doctor was stunning. It seems this new G.O.M.B.S. diet is working.

(Greens, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, Seeds) See Joel Furhman

I’ve been on this diet for 5 months now. I’ve lost a few pounds, and there is promise that if I loose more weight, my diabetes medications will be pulled.

My numbers are WAY up.

My cardiac test at Hotel Dieu came back normal.

My blood tests for cardiac numbers was normal. (read: Lower that usual)

My sugar number was 4.5 – BUT my Triglycerides are up at 11. Strange that my sugars are so low and the triglycerides are up so high??? Doc doesn’t have an answer for this and aside from my dietary changes, they should come down.

My T-Cell numbers are as follows:

12 Aug 2013  VL 39 copies cd4% 43 (low) cd4ABS 1591 cd8% 42

16 Apr 2013  VL  39 copies cd4% 45 (mod) cd4ABS 1080 cd8% 42

03 Jan 2013   VL  39 copies cd4% 45 (mod) cd4ABS 1440 cd8% 39

All the numbers were spot on. Doc was happy. He said I had the highest t-cell count in the clinic. Must be the pills…

It was a good start to the day.

Now I am doing laundry … UGH !!

More to come, stay tuned …

Tuesday – All or Nothing A.B.S.I.


Fall is definitely coming. Temps dipped into single digits and close to zero overnight last night. It was a cool night as the sun went down this evening.

I am hopeful that the cooler the nights get, the sooner the trees will begin turning. We are just weeks away from the first big holiday of the season, with Thanksgiving coming on the 13-14th of October.

It would not be strange for temps to be cold come the end of October, and quite possibly we will see snow in some Canadian locations.

I departed early for my 90 bus to Vendome – but as I stood there will a multitude of people, the bus did not come, but they were stacked one behind the other at the location buses wait for their next run. (Which is right at Cabot Square – Right where we were waiting for the bus to come).

A 63 showed up after we waited at least fifteen minutes, and folks packed that bus, which left us, the 90 folks, still waiting. A bus was coming UP towards the square on a run Westbound, Cabot Square is the endpoint of the 90 run (West) and it made the turn around and pulled through the square and took on new passengers while the other buses that were waiting remained at the kiosk.

It is still a construction nightmare at Vendome Metro. So I was a little late in arriving – but was still the first person there to make coffee. We received good news from our Trusted Servant tonight that the meeting has a new home.

As of October 1st – we will be meeting at Notre Dame de Grace Church on Decarie and NDG Avenue… Right down from Villa Maria Metro and on the #24 bus line. The 24 originates (Eastbound) from Villa Maria.

Hopefully this change will bring back folks who have stopped coming because the informality of the hall we have been in since the NDG food depot came to town. We’ve been needing this change of location for some time.

I’ve emailed Inter-Group with the new location information to be printed in our Blue Sheets and the directory and the online website meeting locator.

We hosted a small group. They might not be big numbers, but at least folks are still showing up.

The chair read from A.B.S.I. and – All or Nothing …

“Acceptance and Faith are capable of producing 100 percent sobriety. In fact, they usually do; and they must, else we could have no life at all. But the moment we carry these attitudes into our emotional problems, we find that only relative results are possible. Nobody can, for example, become completely free from fear, anger, and pride.

Hence, in this life we shall attain nothing like perfect humility and love. So we shall have to settle, respecting most of our problems, for a very gradual progress, punctuated sometimes by heavy setbacks. Our old time attitude of “All or nothing” will have to be abandoned.”

There are a lot of buzz words in this passage and there are a multitude of routes one could take when discussing this passage. And the folks who showed up tonight went a lot of places.

From this reading we can take away the thought that we can work with “Moderation!” They say that moderation should be a catchword. Because as alcoholics, many of us could not take anything moderately. It was All or Nothing when we drank and used. And learning to step away from All or Nothing and come down into the possibility of moderation is quite a change.

Many words are written about “Acceptance” being the key to all our problems.

And many words have been written about “Faith” from the book, “Faith without works is dead!”

Fear – Anger and Pride … How many of us can say we came to the rooms, with fear, anger and pride as problems to our personal progress? Once we start to work our steps we get to list these things running steps 4 though 7.

The book speaks of progress not perfection. We are imperfect people living in a world that is imperfect. I’ve never met someone who had perfect sobriety. I don’t know a perfect sober person.

For some, in the beginning, it is an uphill slog. But as long as we stick with it and do what we are told and we listen to suggestions and slogans.

Shit happens and I don’t know form Normal. What is normal? That is a question for the ages … What is Normal?

Slow and steady usually wins the race.

And to finish off the thought … ALL or NOTHING … At the end of my drinking I was an all or nothing alcoholic. I wanted ALL the liquor, not just some. It was Go BIG or Go Home.

I am glad that All or nothing was reworked and I learned to put the same force and zeal towards my sobriety that I did when I usually drank. Which is probably why I haven’t had a drink in almost twelve years.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries – Women Suffer Too !


It wasn’t a stellar day today. Kind of grey and on the cool side. They say it might rain tonight, but the rain stayed away for the evening commute.

We arrived at the church for set up and we had an interesting conversation between set up girl and myself. She is on the doorstep of her first sober year, come next week, and it has been an uphill slog for her. But it seems, that she is winning her battle for the most part. Unable to find a place that felt right, she has been floating from meeting to meeting, “testing the waters… so to speak.”

For the last couple of months she has called Sunday Niter’s her home group, after taking her sponsors advice about finding one spot, and stick and stay for one calendar year. Participate and do service. And next week she takes her year.

We sat a large group of folks. A handful from out of town, who happened upon the meeting by fluke. But that is always the case, we are better known for good numbers from out of town regularly.

We read from the Big Book – Women Suffer Too … Pg. 200 in the 4th Ed.

It was mentioned twice tonight, how passionately our women work the program. They are much better connected and work harder than anyone I know here, at staying sober. The dynamic is one you don’t see everywhere. Unless of course you live in New York or Los Angeles.

Our story today, written by a long time sober woman, writing in the late 1930’s and coming to the rooms after a tragic and painful bottom, many of the participants in the room tonight identified with portions of her story.

When it comes to spiritual experience, there are two camps. The white light, epiphany sort, and the educational variety. And that is an apparent divide amongst our numbers.

Like our woman from the book, who had an epiphany and a spiritual experience that took her from the bottle into salvation from the bottle, some of us had that kind of experience. While others, have not seen the white light, or heard God speak to them, or had an epiphany.

There are some in the rooms who know not from God. But concede that there is something greater than themselves, but it is not God who created what they perceive.

One of our men, is awed by creation and humbled by the sight of forests and trees and lakes and animals. Yet, in all of that beauty, he cannot find God. And this has been his issue since coming to the rooms. He identified with the words …” inwardly frightened, but outwardly defiant.”

I have watched our man come and attend meetings, and he is still wrestling with the concept of God, yet he recognizes divine creation, but defies the attribution of God to the scene.

On the other hand, there is a young lady, who is sober some time, not long, but long enough. She is amid her steps, and she too, ranks in the educational variety as described in the appendix “A Spiritual Experience.”

At some point when we put down the bottle we come in. And once we set out on the steps we read them and to each their own according to their ability, find a power greater than themselves. Whoever that is.

It may be hard for some to ponder God, when they have not had an experience that is defined as “other worldly.” Meaning a spiritual experience that comes with lights, sounds and voices.

I find it precious traveling this road with my people. I may not see them as often as I had in the past, but eventually we cross paths and we listen to each other, and sometimes we argue with each other – it is lively and always respectful.

Even though some seem blind to the concept of God, they still seek to understand the greater universe as it unfolds. No two journeys are the same. And every story is important for the lifeblood of the fellowship.

Because I can see God moving, however others do not. Some admit knowledge of the divine because of how our lives have transpired, blessings and gifts. But it is not our place to say what God is or what God is not. A man or woman who seek sobriety with such humility and grace is a gift to all of us.

I see how BIG the world is, and that there is something greater, But I don’t ascribe it to God. Because I don’t believe in a God is what I heard tonight.

I wanted to talk to our guy after the meeting, but he was engaged in some serious discussion with a friend as I left the church. Alas, some time in the future I might get the chance. But he is still sober, God or no God.

It is a blessing to be amid the people I love and trust. Because for an hour at least we can let go into the spirit of the room and be unified under the banner of sobriety for just a little while.

It was a good meeting.

More to come, stay tuned…

Friday – Light from a Prayer ABSI

serenity prayer

Another gloomy day today. For the most part, the rain stayed away. But it was wise to carry an umbrella into the night. It has been cooler as the sun sets, I’ve noticed that folks are wearing an extra layer of clothing. People are breaking out the jackets and sweaters.

It was a great transit – tonight’s theme was “2 minutes!” In both directions, trains were right on time. I arrived and the room was just coming together, so I put out chairs while the girls set up the books and literature.

It was a full house. And lots of passionate discussion based on the reading that highlighted the Serenity Prayer.

“In the radiance of this prayer we see that defeat, rightly accepted, need be no disaster. We now know that we do not have to run away, nor ought we again try to overcome adversity by still another bulldozing power drive that can only push up obstacles before us faster than they can be taken down.”

I thought better to keep quiet and listen tonight and it was a good choice. It is interesting to hear how people process the prayer, find prayer, and begin to understand the need for prayer.

For some, God is a foreign word to them, so they delete it from their lexicon. Some admit they don’t pray, and for those who do, most of them have cultivated a simple life of prayer and meditation.

They say that when we pray – we talk to God. But after we are done talking, what do we do? Move on with our lives or do we stop and wait for an answer? That is where meditation enters our lives. If we make time to talk to God, we should at least take the time to listen for an answer…

It is a daily practice of making time for prayer. Living on borrowed time, and never knowing when the other shoe is going to drop, I must remember to pray.

There is a story I tell to certain people about what prayer does for people.

Once, a long time ago, when I first got sick and was facing death, those who knew and those who supported me prayed for me. I prayed for me.

A study group was brought together and selected 20 people for this study.

20 sick me with AIDS.

10 men were welcomed by the group and were told they were being prayed for.

The other 10 men were welcomed, and that was it. No words, No prayers.

The ten men left on their own during the study all died in short order.

The ten men who were prayed for and shared with on these prayers, some lived longer, and a good number of them survived 5 or more years.

You could say that prayer works. Empirically.

A.A. is a “We” program. And we do a good amount of praying at meetings. We open with a prayer. We recite hopeful readings from the Big Book. We speak of promises, and we close with prayer.

Either way, when we come in, one way or another, You find God. Or at least, you accept that he/she/it exists and that it will restore you to sanity. It may take a while for some, when God is a foreign word. For some, the institutional “Big G” god is a sore spot, and finding a new rendition for God may take some time.

At some meetings at the beginning and end of a meeting, you often hear the chair say, before engaging the prayer … Let us take a moment and think about someone out there still suffering … and then engage the prayer.

We are praying for people we haven’t met yet. We are praying for each other, if you substitute the I and Me with US. Because it is no longer I but We.

It is important these days to keep our men close to your hearts. They are growing older and some are getting sick, and some not feeling up to venturing out from home for a meeting as usual, because of infirmity.

I worry for all of them. I fear that this season is not going to be kind. And it is only just beginning. So pray for our men. If you pray at all.

It was a quiet and hallowed night.

More to come, stay tuned …