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Pope Francis: Christmas festivities ‘a charade’ in a world filled with ‘war and hate’

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20 Nov 2015 at 08:51 ET

Christmas festivities will seem empty in a world which has chosen “war and hate”, Pope Francis said Thursday.

“Christmas is approaching: there will be lights, parties, Christmas trees and nativity scenes … it’s all a charade. The world continues to go to war. The world has not chosen a peaceful path,” he said in a sermon.

“There are wars today everywhere, and hate,” he said after the worst terror attack in French history, the bombing of a Russian airliner, a double suicide bombing in Lebanon, and a series of other deadly strikes.

“We should ask for the grace to weep for this world, which does not recognize the path to peace. To weep for those who live for war and have the cynicism to deny it,” the Argentine pontiff said, adding: “God weeps, Jesus weeps”.

The sermon threw a shadow over the start of the festive season at the Vatican, where a giant Christmas tree was unveiled.

The 25-metre (82-foot) high pine hails from former pope Benedict XVI’s homeland, the German state of Bavaria.

The tree, which will be decorated in time for the start of the Vatican’s Holy Year on December 8, will be festooned with ornaments made by children from cancer wards in hospitals across Italy.

This year’s nativity scene will be made up of 24 life-size figures, sculpted from wood and hand-painted.

In a nod to Pope Francis’s humble style, alongside the figures from the story of Jesus’s birth will be sculptures of ordinary people, including a man supporting an elderly person in need.


The Pope – Why He is Against Same Sex Marriage – By The Book !

popeapologize-660x330The Great Reformer, Pope Francis. Austen Ivereigh

At this section of the book, I have just read, our writer is telling the story of how a then Cardinal Bergoglio, went head to head with the Argentine Government over Same Sex Marriage. And clearly states, in print, that the current Pope’s stance on gay marriage, was set well before he entered his pontificate.

The news that Pope Francis met with AND encouraged Kim Davis to “Thank her for her courage and to Stay Strong” is a strong black mark on this historical Pontifical Tour of the United States.

This is a blatant show of force, by the Pope, who does not live in a bubble, that there are issues that have been well trod in Bergoglio’s past.

Pope Francis is a very savvy man.

Who ever orchestrated this meeting, for whatever reason, meant for it to be a secret meeting. But the news that has since leaked out, someone in high places brought Mrs. Davis and her husband to the Papal mission in Washington D.C.

This is a blatant slap in the face for many of us who were wowed by Francis’ message of love, charity, inclusion and social justice. But like I tweeted earlier, The Pope’s stance on Gay Marriage was already set.

This is NOT new news, or a new church decision. It is a Papal belief that is ardent and strong, born out of reflection and contemplation, and solidly enshrined from the Bible.

We should not be surprised that the Pope can be so polarizing on certain topics. His entire history as a young man, a priest, Jesuit and now Pope, is one of contrast and contradiction.

Page 314 – 315…

… But that day another, private letter that Bergoglio had sent a fortnight earlier to the four Carmelite Monasteries of Buenos Aires was leaked – how and why is not known. Its dramatic language ensured that is dominated the headlines and eclipsed the public statement. The letter to the nuns had been described as a “dangerous tactic” that back fired. But it wasn’t tactic at all. It formed no part of any political or internal church strategy, and was never intended to be made public.

Bergoglio had an intense devotion to the Carmelite saint Therese of Lisieux and was close to the Carmelite nuns in Buenos Aires, He had great confidence in their power of prayer, and has often over the years sent the nuns letters asking for their prayers for this or that intention, especially when he was under pressure. This was no exception. “It was a letter in which he was sharing what was in his heart with his intimates, intercessors, in the language of spiritual people,” says Bergoglio’s close collaborator.

The Cardinal told the Carmelites what he discerned at stake in the same sex marriage legislation: a serious threat to the family that would lead to children being deprived of a father and a mother. It was “a frontal attack on God’s law”; not simply a political battle but a “bid by the father of lies seeking to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

He went on to ask for the nuns’ prayers for the assistance of the Holy Spirit “to protect us from the spell of so much sophistry of those who favor this law, which had confused and deceived even those of goodwill.” He had spotted the serpent’s tail, with all its usual telltale signs: hysteria, division, confusion, envy.

This was “God’s war,” as he put it later in his letter.

Allowing gay people to marry required that the ancient, natural, God given institution of matrimony be stripped of the very thing that made it a reflection of the divine plan: the bonding of man and woman, and the begetting and raising of children by their natural parents in a relationship of permanence and sexual exclusivity.

As Bergoglio put it in his official public letter, a law that recognized marriage as male – female did not discriminate but appropriately differentiated – appropriately, because a man – woman bond, like a child’s need of a father and mother, were core human realities.

To try and make marriage something else was “a real and serious anthropological step backwards.


Sunday Sundries – Papal Apology

popeapologize-660x330My problems and dramas, pale in comparison tonight. So we close the weekend with hope from The Holy Father. If his actions of late are true, and His words mean anything to anyone, this is the one issue that needs to be heard, acted upon and dealt with swiftly and decisively.

And we (read: I ) know that Jorge Bergoglio is a decisive and thoughtful man, when pushed to act he acted decisively. I would love to be a fly on the wall for the next series of discussions Pope Francis will have with his Vatican counterparts.

Goodnight.

Lifted From: Joe My God

“My dearest brothers and sisters in Christ, I am grateful for this opportunity to meet you. I am blessed by your presence. Thank you for coming here today. Words cannot fully express my sorrow for the abuse you suffered. You are precious children of God who should always expect our protection, our care and our love. I am profoundly sorry that your innocence was violated by those who you trusted. In some cases the trust was betrayed by members of your own family, in other cases by priests who carry a sacred responsibility for the care of soul. In all circumstances, the betrayal was a terrible violation of human dignity.

“For those who were abused by a member of the clergy, I am deeply sorry for the times when you or your family spoke out, to report the abuse, but you were not heard or believed. Please know that the Holy Father hears you and believes you. I deeply regret that some bishops failed in their responsibility to protect children. It is very disturbing to know that in some cases bishops even were abusers. I pledge to you that we will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead. Clergy and bishops will be held accountable when they abuse or fail to protect children.

“We are gathered here in Philadelphia to celebrate God’s gift of family life. Within our family of faith and our human families, the sins and crimes of sexual abuse of children must no longer be held in secret and in shame. As we anticipate the Jubilee Year of Mercy, your presence, so generously given despite the anger and pain you have experienced, reveals the merciful heart of Christ. Your stories of survival, each unique and compelling, are powerful signs of the hope that comes from the Lord’s promise to be with us always.” – Pope Francis, speaking today at a Philadelphia meeting with the victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, family members, and teachers.


Thursday … “Siempre Adelante …” Always Moving Forwards

20140127-pope-x624-1390859938Tonight, Pope Francis is in New York City.

“Siempre Adelante …” Always move forwards,

is a motto Pope Francis has shared for years and years.

I’ve listened to what Pope Francis has said so far. And he has stuck to a theme, a Catholic Theme of being “Our brother’s keepers,” “Charity,” “Being good stewards to the earth,””Respect for life,” and that we should go out from our homes and serve the least of these with all that we have, because as Christians, we are called to serve.

Along this process, I am reading, “The Great Reformer,” about Pope Francis.

Last night, as I was reading, I came across a sermon that the young Archbishop Bergoglio was giving to the church in Argentina. And I found that the message he was sharing so long ago about people, the “Pueblo Fiel,” and what a nation must do to build up its people, to care for the poor and to take care of the world, is the very same message Pope Francis has spoken in the U.S.

Along with his words, are words that come from politicians, who believe they know something particular of the Holy Father, and they speak with indictments against him. One Marco Rubio says that “The pope know nothing about the poor, and also that he wasn’t a scientist, so should keep his counsel to himself.”

I beg to differ…

Jorge Bergoglio was a Jesuit who worked in the Jesuit order for his entire adult life, until he left the order upon assuming the Throne of Peter. He worked in the slums of South America, with the poorest of the poor. Many Jesuit priests worked with the poor, much to the consternation with the church hierarchy, and at one point, with Jorge Bergoglio himself.

Which leads to the term the Pope of the slums …

Jorge Bergoglio is also schooled in science. He is very well learned for a pope.

It was the issue between many of the priests who worked in the favelas, who thought that their work was too important to be stopped. And two priests lost their licenses and ended up being kidnapped by the guerrillas and held captive and tortured.

When American politicians speak about what THEY think is the truth about the Pope, and try to indict him, those men should really shut their damned mouths.

There are common themes that Pope Francis repeats over and over again. They are themes that were born when Francis was a young Jesuit. And as he rose in the ranks of the church, his influence only grew. And the words became flesh for him, in the way he worked so hard for the “pueblo” and what he saw as justice, charity and peace.

We could all learn a little about the life of Francis, and what he sees and believes as important.

But we need to dig a bit deeper to learn that knowledge. The papacy of Francis is still young, but there is a wealth of words written about him, if you know where to look.

I think the themes of Charity, Love and Caring for others is universal. In his speech to Congress today he quoted the Golden Rule …

“Do unto others, as you would have them do unto You.”

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It has been a challenging few days indeed. I work every day to be present and accountable; consistently. If it were possible, I could use a few more “me’s” right about now.

I had a conversation with a friend the other night. And I am confused as to why people are the way they are. I am powerless over people. And sometimes I place unattainable expectations on them, knowing, that I am flirting with stupidity.

To this end, still, people continue to astound me with their selfishness and self centeredness.

I am not preaching from some lofty perch, like God. And I am surely not arrogant to think I hold sway over anyone except myself. I hear my friends speak words, and they don’t ring true. I have implored my friends with things to do. Certain, Specific, things that need to be done.

We must succeed, or else, great failure is at hand.

We must go out and serve our brothers and sisters with all that we have, if we are able. I am able, and I devote serious time to that outreach work. The more I talk, the less goes into action, by any of the people I need to act. Before I speak, I consider my words carefully. And the other day I found an opportunity to talk and I did that. Hoping that it would bring results.

I am saddened to say, nothing has changed.

I was talking to my friend and I told her my story. Well, one big story. To demonstrate where I learned to be present, accountable and consistent. And she does not dispute my abilities.

But she said to me that There is only one of me. And she fears that I will burn out and go away when I have had enough. I’ve learned that lesson, I am in it to win it.

But she is of the mind that every human being needs three Strong, Present, and Consistent people to guarantee their survival. She doesn’t have those three people. She has me and one other woman, who’s mother is suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease, but when needed she shows up and attends to what needs to be done. The other couple of folks, are unreliable, and inconsistent and can’t be depended on, not for lack of trying, but the lack of desire to be 100% present.

We all have lives. But one of our number is in dire need of support and I do not know what to do for her but to repeat, as often as I can, that right now, I am here.

I fear that message isn’t going to be enough to ground her permanently.

If I can’t get any other players into the game, and things don’t start looking up soon, my friend is going to pack up herself and the baby and go back to New Foundland. Forever.

I don’t know what else to do. My words fall on deaf ears, and my friends are unable to rise to the occasion. And that IS a problem, that I have no solution for.

In the end, I am only one man. I am not God and I can only do so much.

**** **** ****

I drank, I stank and I sank …

That is the short version of the share we heard tonight.

One of my friends spoke tonight. It was simple and to the point. In seeing another alcoholic drink, get drunk, loose his family, his job, his home and end up sleeping in the park, our man got sober.

Coming in, at first, he believed we’d all be brown baggers, dirty clothed, and sleeping in the park, but much to his surprise, we were happy, clean and well dressed people who welcomed him.

It was the commonality, the identity, and the honesty that kept him.

And for more than twenty five years, our man hasn’t had a drink since.

Tomorrow is Friday. We’ll see what that brings with it.

More to come, stay tuned …


Belief, Faith and Practice …

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When is it important to expect Belief, Faith and Practice to be unified?

I have given you some comments via other writers on the recent rash of states decisions to promote the practice of hate and exclusion, in the name of religion or the practice of ones faith, or the fear that the freedom to practice their faith and religion is being diminished because a Christian would have to serve his brother or sister, and that brother or sister being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered.

I can say, with pride, that I earned degrees in Religion and Theology.

I can also say, with pride, that I have the faith of a family and faith of my own to draw on.

When it comes to recovery and my belief, my faith and practice, are rock solid. I have no doubt, in my mind, that there is a God. And I am not He.

Today I speak with my voice to tell you that I am FED UP with governments choices when it comes to legislating hatred on a state level as well as on a governmental level. I am FED UP with Christians who speak from both sides of their mouths, when it comes to faith and practice.

When can you call out a Christian for being not – so – much – a – Christian?

For every man, woman and child on earth, there is a way to practice faith, be that faith among the lists of faiths that are claimed on the earth.

Some say they know God.
Some say they know their Bibles.
Some say they they speak for one, and believe in the other.
Then there are those who know neither.

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I have, in the past, been called to task for my faith and my practice, when it comes to my education as a Homosexual Christian. I have, in the past, been victimized by one particular church in the United States, who seem to think that being a Homosexual and a Christian, are incompatible with God’s word. That I could not possibly be both. That I can’t be both.

That what I am, is incongruous with who I claim to be.

Today I want to call out all of those Christians, that Speak the name of God, out of one side of their mouths, and also speak and practice hatred out the other side of their mouths.

I don’t believe that God honors a human being that speaks His name so confidently and at the same time can speak and practice hatred and bigotry.

You cannot claim to speak for God and speak His name, and do the exact opposite by your actions. Your faith must abide with your practice.

God does not abide in Hate
God does not abide in Bigotry
God does not abide in Homophobia
God does not abide in Exclusion
Jesus Christ, as I live and breathe, never condoned exclusion
Jesus went out of his way to pointedly INCLUDE everyone that was excluded

We are amid Holy Week and Passover right now. The most blessed and anointed time of the liturgical year for Christians and Jews. Everything we claim to be and the faith we claim to practice, began during Holy Week.

Was everything that Jesus did and said, faith and practice, just words in a book? How can you look yourself in the mirror every day and call yourself Christians, when you cannot stand up and do and say what Jesus asked you to do and say?

What did he say?

For what ever you do to the least of these you have done to me.
Love your neighbor as yourself.

You cannot serve two Masters.
You cannot serve God and hate your fellow man or woman
Your Faith and Practice must abide
Live the Word, Breathe prayer

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

We cannot stand by and allow the Right, The Christian Right, to roll over and rip apart the fabric of the nation, that we are all a part of and the world at large. We cannot allow Christians who profess Christian faith to oppress and exclude our brothers and sisters, because of their sexual orientation.

This is NOT a just cause.

This is plain and simple. I’m really not sure what Bible these people are reading, nor where it is written that based on ones “Faith and Practice” I (read: GOD) Divine you the right to exclude your fellow man or woman, because of their sexual orientation ! Where did God ever mention exclusion of Gays and Lesbians, Bisexuals or Transgendered humans?

We’ve had this discussion. It is appropriate to mention Matthew Vines and his groundbreaking book, God and the Gay Christian. He, with his minions of believers, are changing the face of Christian faith and practice. We have discussed those seven biblical passages that the most vehement of Christians, still stand behind that allow them to hate and exclude.

When I was a child, I was introduced to God, by women I revere and honor to this day. Everything that I am, came from what they taught me about Life, God, Faith and Practice.

My parents claimed to be Christians, Catholics and Believers. They spent decades waiting for a man of God to absolve them for their choice in preventative birth control, when Holy Mother Church, kicked parishioners out of the fold, because of their choices of preventative birth control.

They eventually got that absolution. They turned around and served God to the best of their ability. And they did that work gladly and without complaint. But when it came to the fact that I was a homosexual, their faith and practice splintered.

They began to speak out of both sides of their mouths.

Well before I ever decided to come out of my self imposed closet, I knew, well and good what they actually thought about Jews, Niggers, Dark skinned Asians. and Homosexuals. I knew this was truth because I listened to them for years, pontificate their hatred and bigotry and serve God at the same time.

My father abused me terribly, because he feared me becoming a homosexual, because I was friends with adult homosexuals and that was an abomination. And he was going to beat homosexuality out of me if it was the last thing he ever did.

But they could not serve two masters. Practice went by the wayside. I cannot tell you what their faith looks like today, because I, along with my aunt Paula, have been blacklisted by the family, shut away in the darkness of radical faith and resentment, to have our voices and lives shut in the dark, never to be acknowledged.

When I got sick and came very close to death, from AIDS, I turned to my family for faith, support and practice. They in turn, turned their backs on me and denied me love, faith and family.

The last holiday I went home for Christmas, my father humiliated me in front of a table full of guests they had invited for dinner. He went on to encourage me to “die quickly!”

My mother, a Christian, a Catholic, at one time, worked in Home Healthcare for the sick. She served the least of these, albeit grudgingly. Every night after work, with colleagues in tow, would come home, pop a beer or two, and talk about the faggots with AIDS that they had to visit with medication to help keep them alive, and their only wish, in that moment, was that for them just to die already !

My parents called me things like dirty homosexual.
They called me sick.
They called me an ABOMINATION …

And they claimed they could use these kinds of words because they read it in their bibles. And believe you me, we had a bible. I never saw them open it nor read from it.

I knew what good faith and practice was. I went to church. I served God. I spent a year in a Catholic Seminary, only to be told that my faith and practice were not good enough to pass muster and they told me to leave and not return.

In my darkest night of horror, the family I trusted to stand with me did not. When I needed them the most, they were absent, by choice. Because of their faith !!!

It then fell to the man named Todd who stepped in and became God incarnate, and he saved my life, when I should have died, by the side of the road, alone and destitute.

He chose to step in. He chose to save me. From all those others in our circle, he picked me.

Because He loved me unconditionally, as God loved me unconditionally.

The family I came from, could not and would not love me unconditionally, because of their faith and practice. Because I was one, a homosexual, and two, because I had AIDS, therefore God’s judgment came down upon me and He spoke my death to them.

Sadly, families all over North America still believe, in faith and practice, that because we are Homosexuals, and some have AIDS, God has spoken his condemnation upon us for our past transgressions and for who we are as human beings.

Therefore we are owed no Love, Respect or Salvation.

It is ABOMINABLE for a Christian to speak out of both sides of their mouths. You cannot serve God and hate your neighbor. You cannot claim to Love God and hate your neighbor.

You cannot love God and Hate your neighbor.

Every day you decide to hate your neighbor, or exclude your neighbor you spit in the face of Jesus and you desecrate the faith you proclaim. You did not do as Jesus asked you to do.

Therefore, can you, Christian, still call yourself a Christian, and hate your neighbor?

That answer is NO !!!

What Would Jesus Do ???

… Jesus Wept …


Misusing religious freedom as a weapon of mass discrimination

tumblr_ld9721OgLN1qzhiyso1_500 canada kidCourtesy: Canada Kid – Joel Canadian Photography

Lifted from: An Inch at a time – Susan Russell – All Saints Church Pasadena

Religious discrimination is a real thing.

History — both modern and ancient — is tragically full of examples of times and places where religious discrimination has been the source of persecution, death and destruction. The perversion of religion into a weapon of mass destruction is antithetical to the core beliefs of all the world’s great religions. And yet none of those religions have escaped the sad reality that human beings — given the power to do so — will use God as an excuse to inflict pain and suffering on other human beings.

Our forefathers knew that. And they brought that knowledge — that wisdom — into our Bill of Rights with a First Amendment that begins: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

The First Amendment both prevents the government of the United States from privileging one religion over another and protects each and every one of us — as American citizens — to believe whatever we choose — or choose not — to believe about what God thinks, approves of or blesses.

It is what protects our democracy from becoming a theocracy. And, as we watch with sadness and horror the nightly news stories of religious wars and sectarian violence, this guarantee of religious freedom is something Americans of all religions — and no religion — should rejoice and be glad in.

What that guarantee of religious freedom is not is something to be distorted and exploited to further a homophobic agenda of legislated discrimination against LGBT people. But that’s exactly what happened today when Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the so-called “religious freedom” bill into law during a private ceremony in his Statehouse office.

Officially entitled the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” this bill will allow individuals and businesses in the state to deny services to LGBT people on “religious liberty” grounds – doing nothing to restore freedom and everything to bolster bigotry. It is the first of many proposed measures pending in statehouses around the country – all with the intent of allowing business owners and individuals to discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds.

It is a dangerous and detrimental piece of legislation — not only for the LGBT Americans who are its direct target. It opens the door for discrimination, inequality and prejudice to nearly every citizen of every state, undermining the foundational American value of equal protection. It nothing less than an orchestrated backlash against equal protection for LGBT citizens and the flagrant distortion of the ideal of religious freedom into a vehicle for religion based bigotry.

Bottom line: The First Amendment protects your right as an American to the free exercise of your religion. It does not protect your right to use your religion as an excuse to discriminate against other Americans.

And watching the tragic consequences of genuine religious discrimination on the nightly news makes it all the more urgent that we stand together and speak against this and other pending legislation – and challenge those who are supporting it.

Because religious discrimination is a real thing. And this blatant effort to exploit it in order to attack LGBT citizens is a reprehensible thing.

Let the boycotts begin.


Monday December 1st … W.A.D. – Blessings and Music

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Sister Cristina Scuccia – suor Cristina is an Italian Ursuline nun who won the 2014 season of The Voice Italy. I happened across Sister Cristina on You Tube. Since we don’t get international television here, one has to resort to online platforms to enjoy something a little different.

So, I had written down the release date of her album and today I went looking for it on several sites and finally found it on I Tunes. I think everybody has an I Tunes account by now.

And I had some I Tunes money in the bank … win …

Track List:

  1. Try – Pink cover
  2. Fallin Free
  3. Like a Virgin – Madonna cover
  4. Somewhere only we know – Keane cover
  5. Blessed be your name
  6. Fix you – Cold Play cover
  7. No One – Alicia Keys cover
  8. I surrender – Hillsong Live
  9. True Colors – Cindi Lauper cover
  10. Price Tag – Jessie J cover
  11. Perto, Longe Ou Depois
  12. L’Amore Vincera

You probably have never heard of Sister Cristina. But it is worth the price. Her spin on this track list is impressive. You can see her videos on You Tube and Like a Virgin on Vimeo.

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world-aids-dayToday we mark World AIDS Day again… twenty one years later, sadly, there still is no cure, and people are still contracting HIV in high numbers all over North America and even worse in Africa.

We don’t usually think of AIDS like we used to.

People are not dying in numbers that are alarming. Here at least.

But that is a different story a world away!

But, as they say, N.I.M.B.Y.

Meanwhile in Africa, disease is a daily struggle. So many people. So much sickness. And the world, as a whole has done little to stop it. AIDS is not the disease du jour any longer. Ebola is at the top of that little list of killers.

But we should not ignore or dismiss the suffering of an entire nation because they are over there and we are over here. I would not be the first to say, that if the world spent as much money on sickness and cures for diseases that they do on national and international defense and war, we probably could make a dent on the list of the dying world wide from sickness.

The world does spend a pretty penny on illness and sickness, in the form of medications. The pharmaceutical industry makes money hand over fist. They would rather you be forced to take their pills for ever, making them hundreds of billions of dollars a year, rather than contribute to curing the sickness that we have to take the pills for …

Isn’t it pure insanity ???

A long time ago, I heard a doctor say that the world would never cure AIDS until it found a cure for cancer. Twenty one years later, I am still taking pills to maintain my quality of life, cancer is still far from being cured across the board, and the pharmaceutical companies are making millions on our backs.

Today my HIV doctor is not worried about me dying from AIDS. He doesn’t worry so much that he cut my doctor visits from four a year to two a year. Pills, Pills, and more pills. He is more concerned with my aging problems, like my diabetes, and my heart, since I have a heredity bulls eye on my back.

But I am alive today because of Big Pharma. So I guess that that is a blessing, right?


Friday … We’re Closed … Selfish … Paradox

tumblr_na1os98mxP1t7d7l8o1_500 freshieCourtesy: Freshie

Another week in the books. The weather is holding. Our fair city has been lucky so far, from where we sit, geographically on the map, the latest round of nasty weather has passed us by, either to the North, or to the East and into the Maritimes. Right now we are in sitting in the sweet spot.

Did you brave the crowds to shop till you drop today? I wouldn’t be caught dead in a mall today even if you paid me. On the trek back from the meeting, the stops that are located in shopping complexes, there are two (McGill and Peel) there were hoards of people with bags and boxes and all kinds of holiday goodies on the train. Traffic was certainly up tonight.

Tuesday I wrote about Step 11 and the insights I had to this point on the topic.

Last night I was corresponding with a fellow who is sixty days sober, and miserable.

Now, there are massive numbers of subscribers to this blog, many of them are women, few are men, a good number of them are in varying degrees of sobriety. The interesting ones, I bookmark so I can go back and read and maybe participate. And I do that tentatively. Lately it seems that people are hit and miss when it comes to the program. I don’t overstay my welcome, and I certainly know when to leave.

… Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got …

The word God keeps coming up for discussion, and the problem of the fact that the Judeo-Christian God is written into the book so boldly. There are a few points I want to make. Bill gives a caveat, in the four word phrase … As We Understood Him… But if you read As Bill Sees It, there is a paradox phrase that states … You can believe in whatever you want, as long as it works, BUT, it always comes back around to God.

Lots of people have problems with God for one reason or another.

  • People have prejudices against God because of (C)hurch
  • People don’t always believe in God
  • People feel alienated by the (C)hurch or her ministers
  • People hate God because of certain life story issues

I watch people get sober. I have done that for the better part of thirteen years. And I’ve witnessed every scenario you can think of. People who come with a negative spin on God, usually take a long time to (1) find a power greater than themselves, (2) They do it without ever mentioning the word God, or (3) they make peace with God in the end, and they find new ways to approach God.

In the past few months, several of our men, have expressed their disdain for God, especially, when we got to the reading in A.B.S.I. that says … It always comes back around to God.

Last night I said to someone who has a problem with the program and God, that yes, the word God is in the book. And not everybody is comfortable with that word, and they find ways around it. I’ve come to realize that there is more than one way to skin a cat.

God, as we understand him. As YOU understand him.

In the Past, there has been a desire to remove the word God from the reading, and the steps. And I’ve seen splinter groups form who have rewritten the steps to placate those who hate the word God.

You know, if you can’t stomach the word God, with its Judeo-Christian connotation, then we come to a new interpretation. Yes the word God is there. But if we remove the taint of religion and intention from the word God, and we re-appropriate the word with your own concept, then God can work for you.

And that is what I have said to the guys I work with, and that seems to work for the good of all.

If you are trying to get sober, all by yourself, there are ways to end your suffering.

This is where reading, listening and the powers of deduction come to bear.

I come and I read you. I listen to what you are saying, and I get a feel for who you are and what you are going through, and if I have words, I share them, from my point of view and my experience.

I’ve done that on several occasions.

One woman I used to read, came to the decision that the fellowship was a cult.

I walked away.

The next man I read, the one listed above is sober on his own, he can’t stomach God and he doesn’t do the fellowship. This after I participated in a discussion of what early sobriety can look like then I share some tips and suggestions that seem to work for the rest of us.

  • Read the Book
  • Get thee to a meeting
  • Call another alcoholic
  • Work with another human being
  • Find ways to fill free time with useful work, passions, hobbies
  • Read Living Sober

I left one comment about God (see above) and said a few words about staying sober on one’s own. If you think you can do it alone, then more power to you. I just know that for me and for many of the people I call my friends, we could not do it alone.

Especially going through the holidays, sober for the first time.

I know what worked for me, that solution may not work for you.

  • We did not stop drinking because we were lonely.
  • We stopped drinking because we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.
  • I know that I did not get sober to be MISERABLE.
  • I got sober to be Happy, Joyous, and Free

If you are miserable, then may be you should do something about it. Find a place to BE. There are places to BE that you won’t be ALONE any more.

People are who they are, I cannot change anyone, or get you sober. All I can do is point the way and tell you my stories and share my experience.

Step One – WE admitted we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable. Part two of Step one is this … I am powerless over People, Places and Things.

That includes YOU.

**** **** ****

Last night, was a very bittersweet night. Our little men’s group that could, came to an end. A little over eighteen months ago, a handful of men, some from the Tuesday Beginner’s Group and a few from downtown, and a few from Verdun, came together to open this new meeting.

Since I have a history with the parish in Westmount, they gladly gave us space, and were happy to have us in the parish. We opened a modest meeting with a handful of folks. Over the last year, we have had our issues with one another. Winter last year almost did us all in. We learned about each other in ways only a brutal winter forced us to look at.

We lost several members to work, illness, and extenuating circumstances. We tried to make it work, but in the end, we weren’t attracting new folks to come, albeit, the same faces came week after week, but that did not pay the rent. A few months ago, we began to consider closing. It was a bad omen for me, that our cabinet we paid a pittance for, broke. I did not fix it. Too much trouble.

Last night was our last night meeting.

We divvied up the spoils. We donated all the literature to other meetings, we sorted out stock of cups, coffee and materials, to the other meetings in the church and to our Tuesday meeting at Vendome and the Yellow Door. The only things we kept were the coffee urn and the tea kettle, because at the moment, there was no need from any of the groups we all go to on other nights.

So that was a thing …

**** **** ****

Tonight it was chilly. I layered appropriately. Arrived at the church early, and we waited for a key. We cranked out set up which affords the opening crew to chat about our weeks as they happened. The Friday meeting is the end of the week rallying point for those who come.

We are all sharing the holiday together, in varying forms of who is here and who is home for the holiday and who is coming and going. One of my sponsees is coming in from Pittsburgh on the 13th of December and he is triangulating dates and get togethers in advance to maximize his visit with the maximum number of people.

Holiday parties have been organized and sign up sheets for food are going around. Christmas and New Years fall on Thursday this year. Hopefully, everybody will be open because our little meeting is now closed. Which means, probably that we will hit St. Matthias Christmas Night.

Tonight we read from A.B.S.I. and “Selfish” …

“If we cannot or will not achieve sobriety, then we become truly lost, right in the here and now. We are of no value to anyone, including ourselves, until we find salvation from alcohol. Therefore, our own recovery and spiritual growth have to come first – a right and a necessary kind of self concern.”

We get sober for ourselves. Some folks take a long time to realize that, which ends up in several attempt to get sober, first for others, then finally they see the value in getting sober for ones self.

Yes, this is a selfish program, that is laid out in a way that the steps are, in the order that they are written for maximum usage, by those who work them dutifully. We get to look at ourselves, warts and all, we get to look at the wreckage of our pasts, we get to clean it up and clean ourselves up, we learn, we share, we clean, we pray, then we give at away.

  • You cannot transmit something you haven’t got.
  • This is a selfish program
  • In order to keep it you have to give it away
  • The past is our greatest treasure – there is great wisdom in that statement
  • A Searching and Fearless moral inventory will lead you to Freedom and Hope
  • It is in giving that we recieve
  • It is by understanding that we understand
  • It is having compassion for others, that compassion is returned
  • It is by loving that we get love in return
  • We have to love ourselves, before we can love another
  • God cannot fill a full vessel, one must empty the vessel in order for it to be filled
  • If we don’t clean house, how can we give to others?

“This great experience that released me from the bondage of hatred and replaced it with love is really just another affirmation of the truth I know: I get everything I need in A.A. – and everything I need I get. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.” B.B.pg.552


Friday: “Yes my Lord, No my Lord …”

church windows randallCourtesy: Randall

It is the end of the week. The temps have gotten wintry as of late. The word SNOW appears in the forecast for the coming week. I noticed in my travels tonight that the light poles and many of the trees on main travel bus routes are decorated with lights, all sparkly and holiday like.

I have also noticed that holiday programming has begun and it isn’t even December yet !

I departed on time for my transit, the theme was hurry up, trains wait for no one.

I met one of my friends at the church and we waited for a key holder.

We sat a large group and read from A.B.S.I. … Clearing a Channel

I read the reading along with the others, and the first image that came into my mind was Mark Brian.

Mark Brian is our Anglican priest sent to a native outpost on the up coast of B.C.

When he gets there the vicarage is falling down, the windows are falling apart, and the floor is sagging.

It is the holidays and it is cold, and all the sundry inanimate things in the village are seeming to be revolting all at the same time. Fires won’t burn, water heaters have busted, and pipes are frozen.

Beset with all kinds of futility and loneliness, Mark has to eek out a living in a place that is new to him.

One night, before service, the only generator in the village breaks down. Mark flings off his cassock and dons his Indian sweater, and pulls out the tools, wrenches and screwdrivers. He bleeds the line out and reconnects it all back together, and in the moment, he speaks … “Yes, my Lord, No my Lord …” repeating the phrase.

His Indian friend says to him, “Who are you talking to?” and Mark responds, “The Bishop!” the Indian replies, “but the Bishop is not here …” And Mark says …”And its a good thing …”

In reading I Heard the Owl Call my Name, when all is in doubt and answers are needed, Mark always stops and repeats the words “Yes, my Lord, No, my Lord …”

It was the Bishop who chose to send Mark there, for reasons that Mark is not made privy to. But he figures out the reasons, and they are not necessarily the same reasons the Bishop sent him there to begin with. Mark often responds in times of doubt to that simple mantra. Speaking to the Bishop, and speaking as well to God.

The reading tonight also speaks about “taking the moment,” when things seem to be getting crazy, that we stop and repeat any of the familiar mantras we learn in the program. Our often said prayers, slogans, things we hear from our sponsors or others in the rooms.

Often I forget to take that moment.

And even sometimes when the rat gets on the wheel, and it starts going, I don’t always stop, and I allow the situation to grow and fester to see where it is going, knowing that I should have stopped the thought when it came, but didn’t.

And like my story yesterday, I was busy, and I needed to get somewhere, and the train had other plans, and we got stuck on the rail to wait out a stoppage. I consider that maybe this was God saying to me that:

Here you are, and maybe you  should “Take the moment…”

When I don’t necessarily choose to take it, God forces it upon me in funny ways.

I listened for the song of prayer again tonight. And was pleased with it to my soul.

Serenity, Acceptance, Wisdom, Patience, Appreciation, Tolerance, and Strength …

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Open up my Heart and Cause my lips to Speak …

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Courtesy:TylerBear

“Bring the heaven and the stars down to work for me …”

It has been an interesting past few days. So much so, that I had to let my brain calm down in order to not speak the wrong words at the wrong time.

Suffice to say that … I know who I am in the grand scheme of things. And that I am powerless over people, namely, my friends, or men whom I call my friends. And after this weekend, I’m not really sure about that.

The time is coming that a decision is on the front page. One that I don’t really want nor need to make right now, unless circumstances change between now and then.

I am reading a book on Catherine of Sienna. A kind of hagiography. The man who read it before me, didn’t get a thing from the book, and all he did when he gave it to me was complain. That’s another story for farther down the page …

But I did come across this and it hit me right over the head.

“You know that a person who walks with a lamp at night doesn’t stumble. Souls who have God as their lamp cannot stumble either. They open the eye of their understanding and reason to see which road this gentle Master took. And once they have seen it, because of their will and desire to follow their Master, they run attentively and eagerly. They don’t stop to look back – at themselves, I mean.

They see themselves well enough where knowledge of their sins and failings is concerned, and admit of themselves that they are nothing. And at the same time, they recognize in themselves the immeasurable goodness of God, who has given them what ever being they have.”

Catherine goes on to say about an inner dialogue she had with god is this …

“You are she who is not, and I am he who is…”

Thomas Aquinas writes that “God is pure being – God simply Is. All the rest of creation takes its being from God but does not possess being in the same way God does. Everything and everyone else “is not” until God intervenes.”

I’m not sure why that passage impacted me so much when I first read it, for that very same reason, I had to note it.

I am not sure my fellows really know who I am, and why I am who I am and why I do the things I do. In a certain community, these men have twenty or thirty years on me age wise, and all they do is complain. And over and over, coming rote nowadays, is the part of the prayer that speaks of “Tolerance for those with different struggles!”

The Old Gay Men Group is totally working my Very Last Good Gay Nerve !!!

I have to remember this when I want to run my mouth and rant and rave, just like I really wanted to a couple of days ago. And who wants to read a missive of verbal diarrhea.

So that is a thing.

Our friend “Baby MAMA” texted us very early this morning, before the sun came up that she was in the hospital and that the baby was on the way. We have been texting New Foundland several times throughout the day waiting.

And at the meeting this evening a friend said “Let he be, it’s not like she is sitting on her bed with her phone in her hand waiting to text you she is getting ready to push a watermelon through a pea hole. Let her be for God’s sake.

We talked about the “Coming of faith.” And several of us said those very familiar words … We come, then we Come To, and finally we Come To Believe.

I’ve been worried about a certain issue that has been dogging me for the past ten years, Thank God for Gay Rights moving across the U.S. on the state and even on the Federal level. I had a question that needed answering, and I could not find an open office on the East coast, they all close at 3 p.m. WTF ???

So I called a number in Minot South Dakota and found a man who spoke truth to me and I could hear it in his voice, the tone and tenor … “Tell the Truth.”

That was the end of the conversation. I made a second call this morning and asked a related question, and the answer came easily, “no problem, it makes no difference in your qualifications.” That was a load off my back.

That brings us up to today.

The sun shone, it was really hot. Perfect traveling weather. We have been a very warm stretch. The A.C. is a real gift.

More to come, stay tuned …

 


Eden Citizenship … Belong – Believe – Behave …

Do you believe in Love

Somewhere in my minds eye, I wrote about this topic, once. And a friend I read today, wrote about it just a few days ago. So I am offering it up to you to read.

Where we come from, our community of friends, People come from the world tarnished, wrecked and used up. And they come. And we welcome them. As they say, you belong as soon as YOU say you do. Over time, folks learn the ropes and they learn about behavior, how they acted, how they reacted, and how others treated them in the past. Steps will do that to you, you see…

I am not one to push “The Work” on anyone too soon. Gotta let them sink into their seats, as I have said before, get used to it and learn to love it. Because one day you never know (from your seat) you may change a life in ways you may not even imagine possible.

Then we work on Steps … We Come, We Come to,

And finally We Come to Believe.

From Day One, we hope for each other. We give people a place to come, to gather, to mend, and to learn how to live again. They themselves suss us out, as Jeremy writes to see if we are legit,

“Then, through the belonging and the beginning to believe, behaviour starts to change because priorities and value and understanding changes. We see this all the time.”

We see this all the time as well. We are a community of people who would not necessarily mix in the outside world. But once you cross that threshold, or doorway, or come down those stairs, we are unified in once main objective.

To rid ourselves of the addiction to Drugs, Alcohol, Pot, we are kind of a one stop source for all things recovery, because let’s face it, the percentages of cross addicted people is much much higher in the 21st century.

To Hell with the Primary Purpose bullshit …

I just remember this teaching as important. I may have written it before. Or maybe Jeremy here, has said it before and I lifted it for here. Anyways …

Read On: Lifted from: Don’t Eat Trash …

“How much closer can you belong somewhere then in family adoption?”

I want to broaden this a whole bunch more, to almost epic proportions. The people I work with have this awesome almost motto to how we do youth work. and it flies in the face of how most organizations seem to want to work.

In a lot of communities the expectation is on new members to behave, then believe, then they can belong. Like a rite of passage. If you can behave just like us, then you will learn how to think like us internally and then we will allow you to belong with us, we will give you the name badge.

In the youth work we do, we have taken the opposite approach. Our crew belong. They have a place with us. We love them and want all of our crew to be involved in everything we do. We then give them that belonging space to start riffing and engaging and experimenting with Jesus.

They suss out, to see if Jesus is legit. Then, through the belonging and the beginning to believe, behaviour starts to change because priorities and value and understanding changes. We see this all the time.

Crew have no other place that just lets them belong. So they love coming because it’s a special place where they can actually be who they are and still get to belong.

I was sitting and listening to this being explained to new students who have started working with us and it dawned on me

Belong believe behave is the gospel story

It echoes through history from the beginning of time till this moment i sit in a dinning room listening to Mumford and sons “that’s exactly how this grace thing works” (the exact line that was just sung)

God created us to belong with him in a pretty garden. (The aesthetics of which he created, and continues to create) The garden of belonging never left. The garden of belonging was never destroyed. But, as we know the story, Adam and Eve left the garden and the people of Israel decided to not belong to God as their king, they chose their own… Multiple times. The garden of Eden was forgotten about.

But God never forgot.

God never forgot that he had designed us to hang out with him intimately in a pretty place. He designed humanity to be clothed with him, unashamed, un-comparatively belonging. But, even more than that, before time he had already decided with his trinity brothers that Christ was going to come to earth and adopt us into their community.

As family.


Thursday … The week that was … And More

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Courtesy: SummerDiaryProject – Jase

It has been a busy week. The rains came this evening. Kind of raining in between coming and going. Hit and Miss rain that ended before the meeting ended.

The past few days, we’ve been on information assimilation concerning “the work.” We have all picked apart the best and the worst from the roundup now. Me thinks that they should bring in a new source, let’s say Akron, or Cleveland, or The Pacific Group in California. we may have had our fill of New York City, and the fact that the weekend was mediocre at best, seems to be the common buzz word.

I hit a bunch of meetings, hoping to hook up with a possible pigeon, but he was a no show on Monday night, and I won’t get another chance to see him until Saturday.

My guys are amid their step work. I am mid way through my 4th, waiting on my sponsor to finish with HIS sponsor, so we can move ahead. Lots of good stuff.

Which leads nicely into tonight’s topic and discussion.

We read from the Appendix 2 – and Spiritual Experience.

In A.A. it is enforced that a psychic change or spiritual experience must take place where in a change in attitude and outlook happens, this change guarantees that sobriety is possible.

In the M.A. book, it says that a spiritual experience is not necessary to get clean. it goes on, when working steps that you are allowed to “create” and find a power greater than yourself. For some, that is not always God, in the Deity spectrum.

Something my guys struggle with. My sponsor is of the mind that there are many ways to work a program and that “one way” is not always the “right way.” And sometimes you need to do something else, and We have done that.

I was thinking about Spiritual Experience. And turning my will and my life over to the God of my understanding.

A long time ago, in a church that was familiar to me and my grandmother, one afternoon she took me to church and set me on the altar and prayed, and in my memory it was as if she was turning my life over to the care of God as she understood him. This is one of my first memories that I tracked working my 4th step.

God was always present. For the whole of my life.

The second time I got a pass at turning it over was in High School on a retreat, the first of many over three years time. The One on One retreat where we were introduced to Jesus and at the end we were committing our lives to him, many of us came home on a high, and we learned how to live that commitment in our daily lives. Being a Christian in high school was quite the chore. Because the odds were against us. Carry a bible in ones bag was suspect.

I had several more passes by God in Seminary and in the Vatican itself.

When I came to my last drink the second time, I knew it was coming. The signs were there, and I had began to communicate with God. So that decision to quit was a conscious decision. Bolstered by prayer and a commitment to getting back, but I needed an escort to take me back, and I have written before that that did happen.

The most important spiritual experience this time around always involves other people. Committing to one room, committing to “the Stay” and spending time with others getting sober, watching others have spiritual experiences, is where I have mine, because it is in those moments that I see God.

I know who God is, and I know who God is not.

A university education gave me that, and spending time in the rooms has opened my eyes to the God of many’s understandings. For every human being there is a concept, some are the same, some are different.

My faith is solid so embracing other concepts do not threaten my faith or my spiritual journey.

You see this in real life issues in the world. New takes on religion, spirituality, homosexuality, equal rights and equality, these things shake up the pot of belief and you watch people who think they have a handle on their faith and practice, but if you speak these words to them, their entire lives are turned upside down.

People who do not have a solid handle on their faith and belief are easily rocked when they are asked to consider something more than they know. Hence this new movement of God and the gay Christian. This has totally upturned the apple cart of the belief systems of evangelical Christianity.

It is quite something to watch.

But, Um, Sputtering, total confusion, duh !!!!

Somewhere up there, God is taking the piss …

God is or He isn’t.

I live for spiritual experience, especially when I get to share them with my friends.

That is God in action.

It was a good night, and it has been a good week.

More to come, stay tuned…


Sunday Sundries … The Miracle of Life

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The rain went away for the evening commute. And it has been a bit chilly (read: for me) so I added a layer of clothing, so I did not have to wear a coat, my hoodie did the job.

They suggest that we “stick around until the miracle happens!” And tonight, we were all privy to TWO miracles. It is all about babies as of late.

Our baby mama came to the meeting tonight, she is about a month and a couple of weeks away from delivery. She’s going back to Newfoundland to have the baby, one, because of a death in the family last week, and secondly so that she isn’t alone here, and she leaves on Saturday.

A very close friend of mine, our Very Sober Lady who saved T.B.’s a few years back, has always been delicate. And doctors said that she would never be able to have children, and that broke her heart.

And I learned not long ago that she was housebound and couldn’t get out so the girls have been bringing meetings to her at home, and today I learned why …

Our woman is pregnant.

This is the second miracle pregnancy we have seen in our city this season.

She is very fragile, but came this evening to give one of her sponsees a 24 year chip and all the girls showed up, which more than tripled our usual attendance. We sat close to 50 folks. Chairs, and chairs and more chairs.

It was a blessed event, to say the least.

That would make three new babies on the way for our group of women in my circle of sober gals. Our third gal is on her second child now, with Baby Julian having been born a little more than 18 months ago.

Winter may have been long and drawn out and miserable, but all those hours sequestered in the house proved to be very useful for some. Tee Hee !!!

It is the last Sunday therefore a Traditions meeting. And Tradition Four.

It was hit and miss on sharing. A lot of folks, but few who really engaged with the text. The traditions are important for the group, but it was odd on the mind tonight. It was more important to be present for each other it seemed.

So that is what took precedence.

Our business meeting was fruitful. All the jobs were taken and we even went through the meeting archives looking for date information for our anniversary which will take place during “Gratitude Week June 8th through the 17th.”

Our group will be celebrating 52 years as a group. Our group was founded on January 10th 1962. That’s a long time ago.

All my guys are good and sober. One is still out of town till Tuesday, we did a Skype call last night, and my other guy returned early this morning from New York City. We spoke prior to the meeting.

You will see I posted the article from Rome on the Canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII which took place earlier today. I checked You Tube when I got home and noticed that they uploaded the mass, so I get to watch it later on tonight.

I will have highlights and photos later on. That is a labor intensive job capturing and photo shopping the pics from Live TV. More on that later.

Overall it was a good weekend. Everybody is sober and happy.

Babies are on the way, and most deserved for their mothers and fathers.

A true blessing. God does exist. He has proven it to us quite potently.

More to come, stay tuned …


Hundreds of thousands watch two popes become saints

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By Philip Pullella and James Mackenzie

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis proclaimed his predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II saints in front of more than half a million pilgrims on Sunday, hailing both as courageous men who withstood the tragedies of the 20th century.

Cheers and applause rang out across St Peter’s Square after the historic double papal canonization as many in the crowd fixed their gaze on huge tapestries of the two popes on the facade of the basilica behind Francis.

“We declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II to be saints and we enrol them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church,” Francis said in his formal proclamation in Latin.

Relics of each man – a container of blood from John Paul II and skin from John XXIII – were placed near the altar.

The fact that the two being canonized are widely seen as representing contrasting faces of the Church has added to the significance of an event that Francis hopes will draw the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics closer together after a string of sex abuse and financial scandals.

The crowd stretched back along Via della Conciliazione, the broad, half-kilometer boulevard that starts at the Tiber River.

The Mass was also attended by former Pope Benedict, who last year became the first pontiff in six centuries to step down.

His attendance gave the ceremony a somewhat surreal atmosphere created by the presence of reigning pope, a retired pope and two dead popes buried in the basilica. Francis went over to greet Benedict twice during the service.

A TRAGIC CENTURY

“These were two men of courage … and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy,” Francis said in his address.

“They lived through the tragic events of that (20th) century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful,” he added.

John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and called the modernizing Second Vatican Council, lived through both world wars.

John Paul II, the Pole who reigned for nearly 27 years, witnessed the devastation of his homeland in World War Two and is credited by many with helping end the Cold War and bring down communism.

While both men were widely revered, there has also been criticism that John Paul II, who died just nine years ago, has been canonized too quickly.

Groups representing victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests also say he did not do enough to root out a scandal that emerged towards the end of his pontificate and which has hung over the church ever since.

The controversy did nothing to put off the rivers of Catholic faithful.

“I think that they were two great people, each of them had their own particular character, so they deserve what is happening,” said Leonardo Ruino, who came from Argentina.

The Vatican said more than 500,000 people filled the basilica area while another 300,000 watched the event on large television screens throughout Rome.

The overwhelming majority in the crowd were Poles who had travelled from their home country and immigrant communities as far afield as Chicago and Sydney to watch their most famous native son become a saint.

“THE ENDS OF THE EARTH”

Hundreds of red and white Polish flags filled the square and the streets surrounding the Vatican, which were strewn with sleeping bags, backpacks and folding chairs.

“For years Pope John Paul II took the Church to the ends of the earth and today the ends of the earth have come back here,” said Father Tom Rosica, head of Canada’s Salt and Light Catholic television network.

Families and other pilgrims had waited for more than 12 hours along the main street leading to the Vatican before police opened up the square at 5:30 a.m.

Some people said they had managed to sleep on their feet because the crowd was so thick.

About 850 cardinals and bishops celebrated the Mass with the pope and 700 priests were on hand to distribute communion to the huge crowd.

About 10,000 police and security personnel and special paramedic teams were deployed and large areas of Rome were closed to traffic.

John, an Italian often known as the “Good Pope” because of his friendly, open personality, died before the Second Vatican Council ended its work in 1965 but his initiative set off one of the greatest upheavals in Church teaching in modern times.

The Council ended the use of Latin at Mass, brought in the use of modern music and opened the way for challenges to Vatican authority, which alienated some traditionalists.

John Paul continued many of the reforms but tightened central control, condemned theological renegades and preached a stricter line on social issues such as sexual freedom.

A charismatic, dominant pope, he was criticized by some as a rigid conservative but the adoration he inspired was shown by the huge crowds whose chants of “santo subito!” (make him a saint at once!) at his funeral 2005 were answered with the fastest declaration of sainthood in modern history.

(Additional reporting by Antonio Denti; Editing by Andrew Roche and Andrew Heavens)


Easter Sunday … He is Risen … and more

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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.

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It was a bright and sunny day. What more could you ask for for Easter Sunday.

I did not attend services this year. But I did participate in an age old tradition.

The only thing that matters on tv on Easter Saturday is The Ten Commandments, from beginning to end. It is by far, one of the greatest works of art there is from ages past, that still runs on television in the 21st century.

Before I even was ready to go this afternoon, folks were calling and texting that they would not be making it tonight. So I cranked out set up and went outside to enjoy the day.

Surprise … We sat a full room. If you open – they will come. And they did.

We read another story from the Big Book, “Winner takes All.” The story of a woman born legally blind, her story of loss, alcoholism, family and the negative tape that plays in our minds, and how that tape took her to hell, before he entry into the rooms.

Now, she had a choice to either be happy or not. And in sobriety, she is happy, her life had changed and she became successful. And that came from the people who came into her life, the program that saved her, and the steps that shaped her.

Watching other people get sober over long periods of time is a blessing, and I know for a fact that God exists. And what better a day to speak of God, than on Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate the Risen Christ.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…