Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. The Ferryland – New Foundland Iceberg Easter 2017. A Word Press Production.

Ice Skating

Canadian Gold Medalist(s) #10

By Jennifer Lukas, CTVOlympics.ca

Canada’s men’s short track speed skating team finally ended its medal drought, Friday, and they did it in a big way.

In the 500m, Charles Hamelin of Levis, Que., picked up the gold medal, finishing first in 40.981 seconds. Teammate François-Louis Tremblay of Montreal earned bronze.

Less than an hour later, Hamelin and Tremblay led teammates François Hamelin, Olivier Jean and Guillaume Bastille to the top of the podium, winning the men’s 5,000m relay in six minutes, 44.224 seconds.

Bastille did not participate in the final, but because he raced in the semis, he will also receive a medal.

The men’s 500m race began with all four skaters – South Korea’s Sung Si-Bak, Apolo Anton Ohno of the United States, Tremblay and Charles Hamelin – in tight contention for a medal.

Things opened up in the final lap. Tremblay spilled onto the ice after what appeared to be a push from Ohno, while Sung Si-Bak slipped and fell behind.

It was Hamelin who was first across the line, but Ohno was close on his heels. Upon review, however, the referee disqualified the United States’ most decorated winter athlete, postponing Ohno’s eighth career Olympic medal.

Sung was boosted to silver with a time of 41.340, while Tremblay, with a time of 46.336, was third.

In a live post race interview with NBC, Ohno said he believed he was unfairly disqualified by a Canadian official. He said he believed the ruling was made to put two Canadians on the podium.

The silver and bronze were Canada’s first in the distance since Marc Gagnon won gold in 2002.

In the men’s 5,000m relay, Canada tucked into second place behind China’s relay team for the first 20 laps of the 40-lap race. South Korea was close behind the Canadians in third.

It was Jean who actually made the move to pass China as the skaters entered second half of the race. Canada held the lead until the end, earning the gold ahead of South Korea. The United States finished third.

With the relay result, Canada tied its best-ever gold-medal tally, earning its 10th gold of these Games. Canada last picked up 10 gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

With the 5,000m gold, Tremblay also made his own mark in the history books. He joins Marc Gagnon as the only male Canadian athlete to win a total of five medals at the Olympic Winter Games.


Canadian Gold Medalist #9

It’s about time Charles, well done.

Canada’s men’s short track speed skating team finally ended its medal drought, Friday, with Charles Hamelin of Leval, Que., picking up the gold medal in the 500m final while teammate Francois-Louis Tremblay earned bronze.

Skating in a tight race with South Korea’s Sung Si-Bak and Apolo Anton Ohno of the United States, Ohno tripped up Francois-Louis Tremblay in the final lap of the race, while Sung Si-Bak slipped and fell behind.

It was Hamelin who was first across the line in a time of 40.981 seconds ahead of Ohno. But upon review, the referee disqualified the American skater, preventing Ohno – already the most decorated American winter Olympian in history – from winning his eighth career Olympic medal.

Sung was boosted to silver with a time of 41.340, while Tremblay, with a time of 46.336, was third.

The silver and bronze were Canada’s first in the distance since Marc Gagnon won gold in 2002.

Earlier in the evening, Canada’s women were shut out of the 1,000m medal race. The men’s 5,000m relay – the last short track event of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games – is scheduled for later Friday.


Canadian Gold Medalist(s) #5

For months, Scott Moir has been unabashedly telling reporters that he and partner Tessa Virtue were the best ice dance team in the world.

Monday night, they proved it.

In front of a roaring crowd at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, Virtue, of London, Ont., and Moir, of Ilderton, Ont., scored a personal-best 110.42 points in their skate to Adagietto from Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.

It was good enough to take North America’s very first ice dancing Olympic gold with a whopping 221.57 points over friends and trainingmates Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States.

From Yahoo Sports: THE CANADIAN PRESS Report Here.

VANCOUVER, B.C. – Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir have made history, winning Canada’s first Olympic gold medal in ice dance.

The couple captured the gold with a stirring free dance performance to Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No. 5” at the Vancouver Winter Games on Monday. Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., edged American training partners Meryl Davis and Charlie White and reigning world champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia.

The Canadians finished with 221.57 total points in their Olympic debut. White and Davis had 215.74 for the silver and the Russians scored 207.64 to take the bronze.

Virtue and Moir are also the first North Americans to capture ice dance gold.

They punctuated their free program with a breathtaking lift known as The Goose.

It’s the first figure skating medal for Canada at the Vancouver Games and first Olympic gold since Jamie Sale and David Pelletier shared the pairs title eight years ago in Salt Lake City.


Evan Lysacek – Men’s U.S. Champion Skated to Gold

Evan Lysacek: 167.37  – 257.67
Winner Gold Medal – from the United States

Evan Lysacek wins the Men’s freestyle skate tonight in Vancouver. It was a long night of competition. He did not pull a quad, but had a perfect skate technically. The scores are as follows:


Evgeni Plushenko: 165.91 – 256.36
Winner Silver Medal from Russia

He came in big from the men’s short program, poised for the win, but after all the chatter about the quad and the rivalry, it seems that nerves got the best of Evgeni tonight, he skated well, popped a quad but in the end he could not pull out the win.


Daisuke Takahashi: 156.98 – 247.23
Winner Bronze Medal from Japan


Stefane Lambiel 162.09 – 246.72
4th Place from Switzerland

Patrick Chan of Canada: 160.30 – 241.42
5th Place from Canada

Young Patrck Chan had a good skate, but he faltered. At 19 his skating career is far from over. The judges were very generous with scoring tonight affording every point to Chan that he needed. But in the end, he stood in 5th position.

and
Johnny Weir:  156.77 – 238.87
6th Place from the United States

Johnny Weir wasn’t going down without a fight, there was no quad, but there was spunk. After all the drama about costumes and fur, Johnny came and did what he could do, but it wasn’t enough to challenge the pack. Maybe next time Johnny.

Honorable mention goes to Nobunari Oda – ( 238.54 ) who skated a wonderful program to Charlie Chaplin, only to have a skate lace pop out with a minute to go in his program, and he was penalized 3 points for a wardrobe malfunction. And he got back out there and finished his skate. Had his skate not popped he would have contended for a medal.

From CTV Olympics: The Final Call:

Patrick Chan‘s free skate lifted him two places from Tuesday’s disappointing seventh-place finish in the short program, but it wasn’t enough for a podium finish.

Chan finished fifth in the men’s figure skating competition. The 19-year-old skater from Toronto finished more than 16 points behind the new Olympic champion Evan Lysacek of the United States.

Lysacek dethroned 2006 Olympic gold medallist Evgeni Plushenko, edging the Russian by just over a single point after he performed a clean skate to Sheherazade by Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov. The 24-year-old American’s winning combined score was 257.67 points.

Skating last in the competition after winning Tuesday’s short program, Plushenko skated a clean program but scored 1.86 points less than Lysacek for his technical elements.

It was less than two points, but it was enough.

Plushenko took silver with a combined score of 256.36.

Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi fell on his opening quadruple toeloop to earn bronze with 247.23.

Chan, seventh after Tuesday’s short program, stepped out of an early triple Lutz and fell outright on a triple Axel late in his program, Thursday.

It was his footwork that picked him up off the ice.

The reiging world silver medallist’s level-4 step sequence was performed flawlessly, and Chan picked up a whopping 82.00 points in the category that takes skating skills, transitions and link footwork, performance and execution, choreography and musical interpretation all into account.

Chan is famous for his difficult and intricate footwork, and he used it to finish fifth behind four points behind Swiss skater Stephane Lambiel with a score of 241.42.

Johnny Weir of the United States finished sixth with a score of 238.54 while Japan’s Nobunari Oda – fourth after the short program on Tuesday – received a three-point deduction after snapped skate lace halted his skate. Oda was awarded three minutes to fix the problem, then resumed his program where he had left off.

But the deduction proved costly, and Oda’s combined short program and free skate score of 238.54 dropped him to seventh.


Evan Lysacek – Men's U.S. Champion Skated to Gold

Evan Lysacek: 167.37  – 257.67
Winner Gold Medal – from the United States

Evan Lysacek wins the Men’s freestyle skate tonight in Vancouver. It was a long night of competition. He did not pull a quad, but had a perfect skate technically. The scores are as follows:


Evgeni Plushenko: 165.91 – 256.36
Winner Silver Medal from Russia

He came in big from the men’s short program, poised for the win, but after all the chatter about the quad and the rivalry, it seems that nerves got the best of Evgeni tonight, he skated well, popped a quad but in the end he could not pull out the win.


Daisuke Takahashi: 156.98 – 247.23
Winner Bronze Medal from Japan


Stefane Lambiel 162.09 – 246.72
4th Place from Switzerland

Patrick Chan of Canada: 160.30 – 241.42
5th Place from Canada

Young Patrck Chan had a good skate, but he faltered. At 19 his skating career is far from over. The judges were very generous with scoring tonight affording every point to Chan that he needed. But in the end, he stood in 5th position.

and
Johnny Weir:  156.77 – 238.87
6th Place from the United States

Johnny Weir wasn’t going down without a fight, there was no quad, but there was spunk. After all the drama about costumes and fur, Johnny came and did what he could do, but it wasn’t enough to challenge the pack. Maybe next time Johnny.

Honorable mention goes to Nobunari Oda – ( 238.54 ) who skated a wonderful program to Charlie Chaplin, only to have a skate lace pop out with a minute to go in his program, and he was penalized 3 points for a wardrobe malfunction. And he got back out there and finished his skate. Had his skate not popped he would have contended for a medal.

From CTV Olympics: The Final Call:

Patrick Chan‘s free skate lifted him two places from Tuesday’s disappointing seventh-place finish in the short program, but it wasn’t enough for a podium finish.

Chan finished fifth in the men’s figure skating competition. The 19-year-old skater from Toronto finished more than 16 points behind the new Olympic champion Evan Lysacek of the United States.

Lysacek dethroned 2006 Olympic gold medallist Evgeni Plushenko, edging the Russian by just over a single point after he performed a clean skate to Sheherazade by Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov. The 24-year-old American’s winning combined score was 257.67 points.

Skating last in the competition after winning Tuesday’s short program, Plushenko skated a clean program but scored 1.86 points less than Lysacek for his technical elements.

It was less than two points, but it was enough.

Plushenko took silver with a combined score of 256.36.

Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi fell on his opening quadruple toeloop to earn bronze with 247.23.

Chan, seventh after Tuesday’s short program, stepped out of an early triple Lutz and fell outright on a triple Axel late in his program, Thursday.

It was his footwork that picked him up off the ice.

The reiging world silver medallist’s level-4 step sequence was performed flawlessly, and Chan picked up a whopping 82.00 points in the category that takes skating skills, transitions and link footwork, performance and execution, choreography and musical interpretation all into account.

Chan is famous for his difficult and intricate footwork, and he used it to finish fifth behind four points behind Swiss skater Stephane Lambiel with a score of 241.42.

Johnny Weir of the United States finished sixth with a score of 238.54 while Japan’s Nobunari Oda – fourth after the short program on Tuesday – received a three-point deduction after snapped skate lace halted his skate. Oda was awarded three minutes to fix the problem, then resumed his program where he had left off.

But the deduction proved costly, and Oda’s combined short program and free skate score of 238.54 dropped him to seventh.


Jeff Buttle wins world figure skating title

Jeff Buttle reacts after skating a personal-best program to take the men's world title.

Jeff Buttle reacts after skating a personal-best program to take the men’s world title.
(Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press)

Canada’s Jeff Buttle captured his first world title in style, blowing away the rest of
the men’s field Saturday at the world figure skating championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.The 25-year-old from Smooth Rock Falls, Ont., put on a personal-best performance in the final to beat out defending world champion Brian Joubert of
France by a whopping 14 points. American Johnny Weir was third.

“It’s always been my dream to be world champion,” said Buttle, a world silver
medallist in 2005 and an Olympic bronze medallist in 2006. “I can’t believe it’s
really happened.”

Buttle came into the free skate with the lead after placing first in Friday’s short
program. The three-time Canadian champion posted 163.07 points in the final to
give him an overall total of 245.17, also a personal best.

Toronto’s Patrick Chan dropped two positions to ninth, finishing his first world championship with 203.55 points.

Buttle is the first Canadian man to win the world title since Elvis Stojko in 1997.

He was slowed by a back injury last season, and just last month he finished second to Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi — Saturday’s fourth-place finisher — at the Four Continents championship.

But Buttle skated brilliantly Saturday. Though he didn’t do a quadruple jump, he did three clean combinations for a total of eight triple jumps. He had great speed, whimsical footwork and performed with an energy and lightness that reflected the confidence he’s carried during these championships.

Buttle was grinning when he came off the ice, telling his coach, “just like at home.” When the marks went up and showed he was the winner, Buttle’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped.

“It’s been such a great week for me,” Buttle said. “It doesn’t even feel real yet. It hasn’t sunk in.”

Joubert’s finish was impressive, considering he was sixth after the short program. The Frenchman has had a tough season, missing most of the Grand Prix series because of a strength-sapping virus. But he was mesmerizing Saturday. He opened with a quad and did seven triples, and showed he will be a force to be reckoned with next year.

With files from the Canadian Press


Wednesday ramblings…

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Photo Courtesy of: Walking on Scorpions

Does it seem like you are always marching uphill? It is snowing [again] in Montreal. It started snowing last night and me thinks it has been snowing all day as well, not that I was paying attention to it, because I was sleeping. Oh the joy of being on academic holiday!!

It is a balmy [-8c with a wind chill of -17c] outside as the snow is being whipped up between the buildings in my neighborhood. Our balcony is covered in snow all the way back to the bedroom door.

I got an invitation from Ron at the [Int’l Carnival of Pozitivities] today to contribute to his project, which was very nice.  I had read all of the latest entries over the last few weeks, although I did not submit anything, it was nice to be asked. For anyone who is HIV positive coming to read – there is a multitude of posts over there in [Pages] for you to read. My collection of stories and assorted other gems are wonderful reads.

There are five shopping days left until Christmas, for those who have not yet finished their shopping. Hubby has been busy running all over town to finish his shopping, I had mine done over a week ago. No mall runnings for me.

Yesterday I gifted my favorite women at my home group, with their yearly traditional gift from the Willow Collection. They were very touched by the gesture. I had to say thank you for the ways that they have supported me in my sobriety, they baked me a cake for my birthday and brought me gifts just because and they also bought me my anniversary medallions. So a little thanks goes a long way.

Hubby will be leaving for the capitol on Friday providing the weather does not hamper bus traffic between the provinces. I will look forward to having that time to myself. It is very rare that I have two days to myself, so I take full advantage of that time. We got word from the government today that our January financial aide would be coming on the 27th of December which is very kewl – we can take some of that cash and pay off tuition bills and other assorted sundry bills that we have been trying to pay off for months. We always get what we need, when we live in the 24 hours day model.

Yesterday was kind of rough, I have to say. I came home from my meeting and I was visibly upset, I was moody and somewhat angry. I put up that Tall Ship post then I left a comment over on Steve’s blog, I wasn’t angry at you bud, I guess I am angry at disease and suffering. I am angry that the world operates on the [take a pill to make it better] method, I know about pills because I take enough of them to choke a horse daily. I WISH that the medical establishment could find cures for many of our medical situations thereby stemming the need to prescribe pills, give me a cure any day over a bottle of medication.

My contention with all these pills is this: There are too many pills on the market. And those who take pills for the sheer necessity of stemming a problem, without the forward action behind the pill taking, those pills will eventually fail you. We take a pill for what ever ails us, and many expect that to happen, and they do not put the same emotional energy to healing themselves, and yet they expect that magic pill to make the boogey men go away!! It takes a lot of work for me emotionally to generate the same force of power behind the medical power that my meds do as well. If one does not meet the pill energy with the same mental and emotional energy, the pills will eventually fail you.

I know full well that many of us take pills for problems that demand that we med up because if we do not, we will surely die or go insane. So I understand that sometimes pills are necessary to combat sickness, addiction, illness or disease. I believe I have mastered my disease therefore I dose as I believe is necessary – I don’t take one more pill than is necessary, even if it means countering a dosing mandate from my medical team. All they see is numbers and the forget that I know my body better than anyone else, and I have other powers at my disposal who have guided me in my quest for life.

***********

There that is much better, some tunes to go with the writing, a little Matt White…

So now we are going to have some fun
Here is a MeMe from [Cooper’s Corridor]

Were you named after somebody?
Yes I was at one time, a soldier that my father had a relationship during the Viet Nam War, when I turned 30 I changed my name to suit my quest for survival. I could not live up to the formers valor and sacrifice.
When was the last time you cried?
I weep at the slightest provocation. I wept last night listening to one of my closest friends sob about her suffering, knowing I was powerless to make it stop.
Do you like your handwriting?
Yeah, it’s ok. I type much better…
What is your favourite lunch meat?
Smoked ham or turkey on baguette with sharp cheddar and a pickle.
Do you have kids?
I have two boys that I have been foster parent to for many years.
If you were another person, would you be friends with you?
Yes. Absolutely!
Do you still have your tonsils?
No, they were removed when I was a little boy.
Would you bungee jump?
I don’t know. I have a sensible fear of heights
What is your favourite cereal?
Rice Krispies
Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
Yes, I love my shoes, I have at least one pair of shoes for every day of the week
Do you think you are strong?
I may not be superman, but I have the inner strength of a superhero, when it is necessary to apply that strength.
What is your favourite ice cream?
Breyer’s Strawberry Ice Cream
What is the first thing you notice about people?
The way they hold themselves, I look for their neon sign and their ability to look me in the eye when we speak.
Red or pink?
Red, blood red
What is the least favourite physical thing about yourself?
I have protease paunch from my medication which has mis-shapen my body facially and across my midsection.
Who do you miss the most?
My grandmothers, they were the women who helped me become the man I am.
What colour pants and shoes are you wearing?
I am wearing my SOBE cozies that I bought years ago when I was still living in Miami, sox and a t-shirt.
What was the last thing you ate?
Beef and Vegetable soup at 5 a.m. this morning before bed
What are you listening to right now?
I am listening to Matt White on my pod.
Favourite smells?
Freshly baked bread, falling snow, a crisp fall day on the mountain, my hubby has a particular scent that I quite like when he sleeps.
Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?
That would be my friend Karl. The other night.
Favourite sport to watch?
I love Ice Skating and Winter sports, and of course Collegiate wrestling.
Hair colour?
Light walnut Loreal color, ok so I am a vain old man, no gray hair on my head…
Eye colour?
Blue
Favourite Food?
Fresh baguette, a great steak, endless pasta
What colour shirt are you wearing?
A bergundy t-shirt
Winter or summer?
I love the Winter, the falling snow, the pristine landscape and untrod ground up on the mountain. It is too hot in the summer here.
Favourite dessert?
Anything chocolatey.
Hugs or kisses?
Hugs are nice, kissing is much nicer
What book are you reading now?
I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this morning, I usually have more than one book working, Many Lives Many Masters and the Journey Home…
What is on your mouse pad?
Nothing, it is a plain black mouse pad.
What did you watch on TV last night?
I got home from my meeting and did some writing. Tuesday is always Boston Legal, I just love that show.
Favourite Sound?
Birdsong first thing in the morning, the whisper of Gods voice in the falling snow
Do you have a special talent?
I do. 😉
Where were you born?
New Britain, Ct. many years ago. I haven’t been back there in over 25 years

Pope speaks of Europe's tragic past

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By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer 

VIENNA, Austria – Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged Europe‘s tragic past and warned of its uncertain future Friday as he honored Jews killed in the Holocaust and urged the continent to accept its Christian heritage.

Abortion must never be considered a human right, Benedict said, and urged European political leaders to encourage young married couples to have children and the continent’s graying population “not to become old in spirit.”

“Europe cannot and must not deny her Christian roots,” the pope declared, saying that Christianity has “profoundly shaped this continent.”

Benedict opened a three-day pilgrimage to Austria, once the center of a Roman Catholic-influenced empire and now a wealthy but small nation that has seen considerable dissent against the church, as in much of Europe.

In an evening address to Austrian officials and diplomats in the former imperial Hofburg Palace, Benedict spoke of the “horrors of war” and the “traumatic experiences of totalitarianism and dictatorship” that Europe has undergone.

The pope, born in neighboring Bavaria, Germany, began his visit by paying tribute to Holocaust victims.

He stepped out of his popemobile in a driving rain and joined Vienna‘s chief rabbi, Paul Chaim Eisenberg, in prayer before an austere stone memorial honoring the 65,000 Viennese Jews who perished in Nazi death camps and others burned at the stake in the 1400s after refusing to convert.

He made no public remarks during the seven-minute stop but told reporters aboard his plane from Rome that he wanted to extend his sense of “sadness, repentance and friendship to the Jewish people.”

In 1938, the city’s vibrant Jewish community numbered 185,000 members. Today, there are fewer than 7,000.

Alluding to the nation’s past complicity with the Nazis, President Heinz Fischer conceded in a greeting to the pope that Austria had “dark hours in its history.”

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Austria’s top churchman, noted Christianity’s roots in Judaism and urged his countrymen never to forget the atrocities committed against the capital’s Jews.

“It is part of the tragedy of the city that here, of all places, this root was forgotten — even denied — to the point where godless will destroyed the people to whom God gives his first love,” he said.

Benedict, who visited and vacationed here often as a cardinal, faced a challenge: Many Austrian believers, disgusted by clergy sex scandals and deeply resentful of a government-imposed church tax, have grown cold — and tens of thousands have left the church altogether.

Benedict’s trip underscored the difficulties the Vatican confronts across Europe, where cathedrals are empty as disillusioned believers question the relevance of faith in the postmodern era.

The pope defended the vitality of Christianity today, saying Christians throughout history have been examples of “hope, love and mercy.”

In his condemnation of abortion, Benedict said he was speaking out “for those unborn children who have no voice.”

He also urged Europeans to ensure humane care of the elderly, assailing “actively assisted death,” a reference to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In a reflection of anti-pope sentiment held by some Austrians, about 300 young demonstrators marched through central Vienna on Friday to protest the pontiff’s conservative stance on homosexuality, gay marriage and other issues.

“I think the pope represents a system that has repressed people and other religions for hundreds of years. It’s simply antiquated,” said Ludwig List, 19, holding a banner that read: “Papa Don’t Preach.”

Security was heavy for Benedict’s visit, with more than 3,500 police officers and soldiers and 50 aircraft deployed to protect him. The Interior Ministry said the measures were taken even before this week’s thwarted terrorist plot in Germany.

On Saturday, the pope holds an open-air Mass to commemorate the 850th anniversary of the founding of Mariazell, a famous shrine to the Virgin Mary about 60 miles southwest of Vienna.

The Vienna Archdiocese said 33,000 pilgrims had received tickets for the event and that 70 bishops, mostly from Eastern Europe, would join in. Benedict called the anniversary “the reason for my coming” and said he would go as a simple pilgrim.

Benedict’s visit concludes Sunday with a Mass at Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral and a visit to the Heiligenkreuz abbey outside the capital.

___

Associated Press Writers William J. Kole and Veronika Oleksyn contributed to this report.


Pope speaks of Europe’s tragic past

capt4bd015a8a6c14b13901156475e6cc741austria_pope_papa102.jpg

By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer 

VIENNA, Austria – Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged Europe‘s tragic past and warned of its uncertain future Friday as he honored Jews killed in the Holocaust and urged the continent to accept its Christian heritage.

Abortion must never be considered a human right, Benedict said, and urged European political leaders to encourage young married couples to have children and the continent’s graying population “not to become old in spirit.”

“Europe cannot and must not deny her Christian roots,” the pope declared, saying that Christianity has “profoundly shaped this continent.”

Benedict opened a three-day pilgrimage to Austria, once the center of a Roman Catholic-influenced empire and now a wealthy but small nation that has seen considerable dissent against the church, as in much of Europe.

In an evening address to Austrian officials and diplomats in the former imperial Hofburg Palace, Benedict spoke of the “horrors of war” and the “traumatic experiences of totalitarianism and dictatorship” that Europe has undergone.

The pope, born in neighboring Bavaria, Germany, began his visit by paying tribute to Holocaust victims.

He stepped out of his popemobile in a driving rain and joined Vienna‘s chief rabbi, Paul Chaim Eisenberg, in prayer before an austere stone memorial honoring the 65,000 Viennese Jews who perished in Nazi death camps and others burned at the stake in the 1400s after refusing to convert.

He made no public remarks during the seven-minute stop but told reporters aboard his plane from Rome that he wanted to extend his sense of “sadness, repentance and friendship to the Jewish people.”

In 1938, the city’s vibrant Jewish community numbered 185,000 members. Today, there are fewer than 7,000.

Alluding to the nation’s past complicity with the Nazis, President Heinz Fischer conceded in a greeting to the pope that Austria had “dark hours in its history.”

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Austria’s top churchman, noted Christianity’s roots in Judaism and urged his countrymen never to forget the atrocities committed against the capital’s Jews.

“It is part of the tragedy of the city that here, of all places, this root was forgotten — even denied — to the point where godless will destroyed the people to whom God gives his first love,” he said.

Benedict, who visited and vacationed here often as a cardinal, faced a challenge: Many Austrian believers, disgusted by clergy sex scandals and deeply resentful of a government-imposed church tax, have grown cold — and tens of thousands have left the church altogether.

Benedict’s trip underscored the difficulties the Vatican confronts across Europe, where cathedrals are empty as disillusioned believers question the relevance of faith in the postmodern era.

The pope defended the vitality of Christianity today, saying Christians throughout history have been examples of “hope, love and mercy.”

In his condemnation of abortion, Benedict said he was speaking out “for those unborn children who have no voice.”

He also urged Europeans to ensure humane care of the elderly, assailing “actively assisted death,” a reference to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In a reflection of anti-pope sentiment held by some Austrians, about 300 young demonstrators marched through central Vienna on Friday to protest the pontiff’s conservative stance on homosexuality, gay marriage and other issues.

“I think the pope represents a system that has repressed people and other religions for hundreds of years. It’s simply antiquated,” said Ludwig List, 19, holding a banner that read: “Papa Don’t Preach.”

Security was heavy for Benedict’s visit, with more than 3,500 police officers and soldiers and 50 aircraft deployed to protect him. The Interior Ministry said the measures were taken even before this week’s thwarted terrorist plot in Germany.

On Saturday, the pope holds an open-air Mass to commemorate the 850th anniversary of the founding of Mariazell, a famous shrine to the Virgin Mary about 60 miles southwest of Vienna.

The Vienna Archdiocese said 33,000 pilgrims had received tickets for the event and that 70 bishops, mostly from Eastern Europe, would join in. Benedict called the anniversary “the reason for my coming” and said he would go as a simple pilgrim.

Benedict’s visit concludes Sunday with a Mass at Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral and a visit to the Heiligenkreuz abbey outside the capital.

___

Associated Press Writers William J. Kole and Veronika Oleksyn contributed to this report.


Labels … Let us Reflect on them …

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Krystalnacht – The Night of the Broken Glass…
The Beginning of The Holocaust

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Work Makes You Free …

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A Survivor from Buchenwald

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Yad Vashem – Jerusalem Holocaust Memorial

 

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Auschwitz – Concentration Camp

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The Red Ribbon – Synonymous for AIDS

Pride Flag

The Pride Flag – Proud Symbol for all things Gay

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The Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt – For all those who died from AIDS
My friends,My family, My brothers and sisters…

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The JEW – The Star of David used during the Holocaust …
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You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.

Primo Levi

Survival in Auschwitz

 

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The Homosexual – Also Used during the Holocaust …

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A Young Man – Hungarian Jewish Boy –
From Fateless, the Motion Picture

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The Label Chart Used By the Nazi Party within
the Death Camps and Concentration Camps to
Identify people…
Location, Ethnicity, Area, Orientation, Religious Affiliation

 

There weren’t only Jews in the Camps…

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The ACT UP slogan for Gay and AIDS circa 1980

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What Would Jesus Do???

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This is my Label – I earned every hour of it, with Pride…

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We Should Be Proud, but we should remember what labels have done to millions world wide over the Decades. I think it is time to move past them, to stop labeling and Outing people. I think we need to learn to live together PEACEFULLY in order to stop the killing of ALL people around the world…

THAT WE SHOULD REMEMBER – SO THAT WE NEVER FORGET!!


Should the Crucifix be banned from the Public Square???

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Originally found on: Neil McKenty’s Blog. 

A militant secularist group wants the municipality of Verdun to remove the crucifix from its council chambers. The mayor has flatly refused. His argument seems to be that the crucifix is intimately bound up with the Catholic founders of the island of Montreal. Furthermore, if secularists successfully remove the crucifix in Verdun, will the crucifix at the City of Montreal be next and after that will they want the Cross dismantled and removed from high atop Mount Royal?

But is it possible the secularists have point when they argue displaying the crucifix in the public square violates the doctrine of separation of church and state? A crucifix in this case is a double symbol. It points toward history and it points toward religion. There is no doubt the crucifix in Montreal commemorates the history of the city’s founding by Catholic explorers from France. It also points to the Catholic religion.

But we now live in a pluralistic society. Suppose in this day and age a militant group of Jews wanted the menora displayed in Montreal’s council chambers.

Would we be better off if Montreal were to stay religiously neutral by banning all crucifixes. Or would that be a distortion of the city’s Catholic heritage?

What do you think?

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This was my response to this question:

In Montreal, reasonable accommodation is on the table in religious circles. It is no wonder that some groups are trying to “Cleanse” Montreal of certain items, peoples, and traditions just because they do not fit the mold of some.

If it is not one thing it is another in this city. We cannot strip the Catholic nature and tradition of this city because religious tradition is the base cult of belief. If someone is so threatened by the visage of religious items, then I have to ask, what is the problem they have with themselves?

It is a forgone conclusion that when people have issues with someone or something, it is a direct reflection of what they feel inside themselves. In Verdun no less… They are so backwards to begin with – having lived there I know.

I think this is pointless argument. But you know there are always some religious fanatic at either end of the spectrum. I have a BA in Religious Studies and I am acutely aware of the religious bias and hatred in this city. It’s really sad…

I would hate to see some group lobby to take the cross off the mountain, There would be a war for souls there!!!


Temporal Shift …

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Hello, my name is Jeremy and I am a Graduate Student in the Department of Theology at Concordia University… Try that one on for size…

Today was a big day … My first day of school as a Graduate Student. The beginning of the Fall semester is always fraught with drama long lines and insanity. This morning brought with it some sad memory, as my Monday-Wednesday morning class is in the Mother House in the West end of the house which has been transformed from living quarters of former nuns to classrooms and offices. I wanted to go visit the chapel this morning and spend some time in prayer, but that wasn’t in the cards today.

Christian Origins is my first class of the week, and it seems, because of certain technical problems, [read:no internet connections or electronic availability] in the room we are using, means a room change is in the offing soon. I saw some familiar faces from my summer as an independent student.

Thank God that none of the witches from the religion department are in any of my theology classes! There IS a God!!!

I took the afternoon to do some power shopping for books at the Diocesan Book Store in the core after class, and I even treated myself to a BK Lunch, Woo Hoo!! The Eaton Centre food court is really interesting at lunch time lots to see…

The Textbook for Christian Origins, Theo: 206 is called The Shaping of Christianity, and can be purchased at the Diocesan Bookstore at Place Cathedral at the McGill Metro. The book ran me $33.87.

I came home from my journey to the “Core” and took a short power nap before my evening class, hubby decided to join me for a nap… [he just can’t nap by himself when I am home] … I had 3 hours to nap, and I was in the middle of this fantastic adventure dream, it was action packed and I was really into it, when the alarm clock went off at 5:15 and it startled me so bad and I was so groggy that I could not hold onto the visual to write anything about it… I know I was in a town with a above ground subway system, it was dark and I was running all over the place. So I washed up and left for class and I couldn’t raise the dream in the light, I hate when that happens…

This evening I went to my Theology 204 with Fr. Ray was quite interesting. I saw many of the same faces that were in my morning Christian Origins class, which was great because this class is a lot smaller – with about 45 students in a smaller intimate lecture room. I think it is going to be a great semester…

The University Book Store also has the course packs for Theo: 204 Christian Ethics with Fr. Ray. The texts books are available and are on reserve in the library.

We had some really great discussion, and it is really nice to have Fr. Ray teaching the course, since he is one of my spiritual advisers, on the Catholic side. I told him that I had one foot in the religion of my family [Catholicism] and one foot in the Anglican Church, having been given a green light by Bishop Barry. So now Fr. Ray calls me the Anglo-Catholic. I am hoping that I reach some place new in my spiritual journey.

We are going to play Word Association now:

Your three words are:

Ethics — Morals — Christian

We talked about Religious Studies being a study in culture, society, history and tradition and Theology having a different Methodology, it is faith seeking understanding. Will we agree on all issues in Theology, probably not. Especially with a GAY, HIV+, Married, Catholic Queer in the classroom. This should be an interesting semester. I can look into my crystal ball and see much discussion and choppy waters ahead.

We all introduced ourselves in class and shared our majors and reasons for taking that class, many of us are in Core Studies for Theology, though, many of the students are from many other departments like Psychology [YAWN] Applied Human Sciences [Double YAWN] and others… If today’s discussions were indicative of what’s to come, this class should be incredibly enjoyable because of the varied beliefs, opinions and ages of students in the class. There are a few Graduate and Master’s students in the class, which is really cool…

Tomorrow should be even better with Religions of Tibet. I have high hopes for this class because I have been studying Buddhism and other Eastern Religions over the past four years, last academic year I took Buddhism and Jainism [at the same time] which was a real challenge. I did better in Jainism because it was more writing and academic study into a tradition that is labor intensive, because of the scarcity of primary source material. I flubbed on my Buddhism final exam, which hurt my grade. I hate huge multiple choice exams with very little writing!!! I perform better when I write.

See I did learn something in University! I learned how to write Good Essays and I learned how to write academically sound papers. It took me four years, but I was successful in my writing career. Writing here as well, has enhanced my academic writing because I can work out my ideas here before I add them to a paper.

In The Montreal News:

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The Strike at the Notre Dame de Neige cemetery is OVER!! Thank Bloody Christ, it is about time – for Pete’s sake! Now gravediggers go back to work on Monday and they have over Seven Hundred and Fifty Caskets to bury, that have been in cold storage for Months!!

I talked to Fr. Ray about this on the way home tonight, we walked to the Major Seminary where he was parked just up the hill from home, The Bishop of Montreal got involved to try to end the strike, we all admit he was a little late with his word, but it seems to have worked! The Religious Authority has some sway over our community thank God for that!

So we are at 1042 words… Have I gone on too long here???

Ok that’s all for tonight. More tomorrow from the world of Tibet…

Stay Tuned…

Oh, I forgot to mention that I am listed as an ALUMNI Blogger on the Concordia University Website!! Very Kewl!! We are also listed on the Religio Scholasticus website as well. I am really grateful for the support of my peers at Religio and as well from the University.

 


Wednesday… The First Day

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Should Suicide be a Sin??? Discuss…

 

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Originally read on: Neil McKenty Blog.

“Today a 26-year old Vatican police officer named Alessandro Benedetti commited suicide in the bathroom of his barracks near the Pope’s private quarters. He left a suicide note which referred to the fact his girl friend recently left him.

A papal spokesperson said the Holy Father was grieving and he “trusts the young man’s soul to the compassion of God.”

The 1997 Cathechism of the Catholic Church says suicide is one of the gravest sins and results in damnation. When I was growing up a Catholic suicide could not be buried in consecrated ground.

However, the Catechism also says a person who suicides “may not be fully culpable if suffering grave psychological disturbance, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering or torture.”

Wouldn’t it be better to drop all this mumbo jumbo and simply admit that suicide is not a sin?”

This question is asked within the context of Catholicism, not Evangelical Christianity.


The God of My Understanding…

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It seems recently that my traffic has been steady in numbers we have never seen as of late. It also seems that I have touched a few nerves with my Fuck You attitude. How can any Christian man or woman tell another Christian to “Fuck Off?” Well, I can and I often do.

I have to say that turning 40 has been a watershed for me as of late. I know myself and I know what I believe and what I understand and what I preach. There is a lot that I can talk about having lived 40 years of life, knowing full well the severity of sickness, the grace of education, the hell of addiction, and the blessing of sober time and the one thing that has saved me from utter death and destruction: My Faith.

There is something to be said for a man doomed to face a life of pain, sickness and eventually a miserable death to come out fourteen years later alive and all the better for the faith that sustained him. I have seen enough division in my life, enough hatred and enough pain to tell me that Christianity was the most damning religion in the Western hemisphere.

When I watched, witnessed and was one of those men who were damned by the Christian right as a sinner, I began to learn what I could about religion, which led me to the halls of higher learning to find out for myself what was truth and what was fiction. The bible, written by man, transcribed centuries ago, and we know as fact that sometimes that translation was determined by the one doing to work.

Do I believe the bible, yes I do, do I follow it to the letter of the law, no I don’t. But you must understand where I came from to understand why I stand by my position of my take on Christianity. I’ve had enough of what you all believe, and at 40 I can state without equivocation what I believe because I lived this experience. Christianity must change to acceptance and love.  And that’s what I believe. I have invested enough time in study and I continue my studies to this day in Theology. There are too many divisions and I am trying to create a ministry of hope, acceptance and love.

There are so many things that separate us. Religion separates us, judgment separates us, scripture separates us, and social and religious gospel separates us. The first thought I have when I think of separation is labels. When I work with young people on their way OUT into the world, I caution them against labels, because wisdom tells us that labels not only identify us, they separate us as well.

Some may say I am morally reprehensible and that I am a sinner and that I have violated some religious or moral principle. And maybe I have, but I knew well before I “knew” that I was different. The whole notion of nature -vs- nurture idea. I was surrounded by things that informed the boy I would grow up to be and eventually, the man I would become.

I make no excuses for the life I have lived. And I believe, still to this day that if it were not for the profane men who cared for me when I most needed it, I would not be the faith filled man I am today, and of course I would be dead. If you look in the PAGES section of this blog, you will find The Sacred Path and also my writing on Man gives information but God gives Inspiration: Here is an excerpt of that writing. There are many dimensions to my Christian life, how I came to be, why I believe the way I do and how the man you read about here, came to be…

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Man gives Information but God gives Inspiration…


I’ll tell you a story about God and why I believe the way I do. Many years ago, during the “sickest” period of my HIV diseased life, I happened upon a little television show that brought me hope during some of the darkest times of my life. I tell this story every so often to illustrate why I believe God speaks to us in certain terms. My home parish back in
Miami is the most wonderfully blessed and sacred space that I have ever been in and had the privilege to grow up in as well.

The good thing about this parish is that they stuck behind me in prayer and support when the greater church at large was raging against the homosexual community. The Pastor of the parish was a sainted man – well – he IS a sainted man included with him are the men who ministered with him to more than 25,000 families and even more today.

The priests in that parish told me that as long as I showed up for mass and prayed that I would get everything that I needed. I went to mass weekly, I even started making mass daily which meant I got on the road at 6:30 to make the trek to the church via a train, 2 buses and a 45 minute walk from the through-way to the church which was across the street from the high school I graduated from.

I went to mass every Sunday night and I was an altar person and a Eucharistic minister. I had my assigned hour every week praying before the Blessed Sacrament. We had a sacrament chapel in the church that was open 24 hours a day around the clock there was always someone praying before the “Blessed Sacrament.”

Over those years I went to mass our parish was the proving ground for new priests that were ordained. This is where I met my greatest mentor and my greatest critic. One Sunday I was standing in the church during the processional and a man came in on crutches to say mass. I knew then that God had spoken to me that night. I vowed never to back down from a challenge and I also vowed that unless I was dying that I would never complain about my lot ever again.

Fr. J had MS and was crippled, yet he suited up and he showed up and he said mass and the next day on that Monday morning I showed up for a morning mass and asked Fr. J to be my spiritual director. This journey lasted a few years. We talked and we prayed, I had reading to do each week and we discussed my progress along the way. I don’t have that kind of direction these days; it is hard to nail down holy men to a scheduled meeting. Anyways, I digress…

After Sunday Mass I would rush home for a little show I like to call my saving grace in very dark times. It was a little show of little acclaim, but it meant a great deal to me. Get ready for it, here it comes, a little show called “Touched by an Angel.” I longed to hear those words spoken every week in any circumstances – I knew that God was in my house each week saying words of hope in the form of angelic messages from Tess, Monica, Raphael, and Andrew.

“I’m an angel sent by God to tell you that God loves you and that he hears you!” No matter what the problem or the sickness or the tragedy there was always hope and a lesson from the almighty about social issues and problems in society. If a little show like this could move someone like to me Hope and to rely on the Lord, then it mattered to many more people than me.

I believe that angels walk the earth and that God makes his presence known in ways we might not always see the forest for the trees. I know it may be hokey and simple, and TV is just TV, it has no value to life, I beg to differ. When I had no one to talk to or was alone for long periods of time, it gave me great comfort to know that at least God was listening to my prayers and that my prayers mattered.

I made some mistakes and I walked off the path because of my stupidity – and God, I think forgave me for that after all the faith I put in him, and I learned that lesson the hard way and that is enough of that thought.

I have a little “Touched by an Angel” calendar of quotes from the show that sit on my bedside table and I look at it every night. And thanks to the age of VCR’s and Syndication, I can get a double dose of T.B.A.A. every day here in Montreal. Everyone has an angel, because God loves us unconditionally, no matter what color our skin is, no matter who we are, or what ever life we live. God sees sin and pain and He sees just how the world is running, and it is up to us to make a difference, to bring hope to those who need it, to bring love to those who desire it, to bring comfort to the sick and to love each and every person in our lives. I have tried to uphold those tenets in my life, I believe in God because he believes in me.

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I did not need a church to teach me about God’s love, because I knew that God loved me every morning that I woke up and I was still breathing. I have left the path on numerous occasions in my life, and I’ve been on a really good streak for the last seven years and I intend on keeping on. I listen to God, and I search for him and it is rarely that I don’t get a daily reminder that HE is watching over me, in one way or another.

I have a great posse of readers whom I love dearly for their support. I try to lead by example and I hope I have done well. I take time each morning and each night to “remember my spirit.” I am good to myself. And I am good to others as well. If you want to feel good about yourself, go out and do something for someone else without any expectations.

I get that opportunity each and every week on Tuesday’s to give back to my community, at my home group of AA. Ms. Nikki and I set up the meeting each and every week, and it has been that way every Tuesday now for the last four-plus years now I’ve been sober. Each chair I set down during setup is a prayer I offer for one particular person, so I meditate on each and every member that attends our meeting each week, and for every empty chair I pray for the one who will come and maybe sit in that chair. You just have to be there to understand this ritual.

Do I hear God, yes I do.
Do I listen for God, yes I do.
Do I talk to God, of course I do.

I love walking or hiking up the mountain because I hear God’s voice in the trees as the breeze blows through. I hear God every time the church bells ring. From where I live 17 stories above the city we are surrounded by fantastical, sacred churches. And each day those church bells ring at certain hours they call me to stop – get quiet – and I say a short prayer as the bells ring. At my home group in Westmount, they have mass each evening and at 6 p.m. they ring the Angelus bells, like clockwork. We set up and finish before six so that when the bells ring I can stand outside and say my Angelus prayers.

If we don’t take time out of our busy day to remember God and to connect to God, then what are we doing with our days? Where do we find inspiration and energy? How do we maintain a level of serenity to help us through the business of the day? Starting each day on ones knees before God is the way I start my day and doing a gratitude list at the end of the day is also a great way to end ones day. Remembering gratitude keeps me grounded and mindful of all that I have and all that I learned on that given day. Then I come here and I share it with my readers.

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– Naked and Sacred –

 

As a young child I have fond memories of old churches and polished pews and candles flickering in dark corners of the building, statues of saintly persons who looked out over the congregational spaces and the dark corner grotto’s making sure we knew that they were watching over us and praying in tandem with the many who came to find peace, solace and faith within those walls.

I remember that day that my Memere took me to that grand church all alone, just her and I and God. It was an afternoon event; she brought me here for mass on a regular basis. These were the days of the old missal books and rosaries, women wearing lace over their faces, it was an ethnic parish church attended by many from ethnic communities all around.

On that day she took me to the church, she had a purpose. I remember this as if it was yesterday because, in my minds eye, this was very important to her. We went to light some candles and leave our offering in that little tin box attached to the candle display, we sat in quiet supplication and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and we lingered to hear the voice of God speak to us. I am sure that Memere and God had brokered an agreement over me.

After a while she got up from her place and she gathered me to herself and we walked to the edge of the banister that protected the main altar from people walking up on the dais. The banister was open, as if to welcome us to step up there – so with great pride Memere walked me ahead of her until I was standing on the dais before God. I must admit there were no words that were spoken to me; this is where the agreement must have been made. Memere looked up that the altar, then at her favourite statue and then beckoned God to look down upon us and take us into His arms and protect us. In that moment I believe I had been “consecrated” to Christ and to God and the Blessed Mother, not to mention Marguerite D’ Youville. (This will be explained later in the timeline)

Memere had a “tight” relationship with God. Her homes were shrines to the family that had gone before us, to the saints who protected us, and the God who gave us life. I always felt naked before God in her house. As if God sat with us daily and saw us for whom we really were simple God fearing folk. I never for one moment feared God. There was nothing I could not say to Him nor ask of Him, but I also knew that there were things one just did not ask of God, because greed and excess were not part of Memere’s lexicon.

I learned to pray the rosary as a young boy, we went to mass frequently. I don’t know if my mother and father were aware that I had so much “sacred time” in my early life. I am sure she knew that if I was with Memere that I would go where she went and I would love her for taking me and I would love the adventure of going to see God all the time.

The church of old is not the church of now, unless of course you live in Montreal and have living “great” relatives who live in a convent not far from home.

Being the first of two children in a family firmly grounded in the late 1960’s brought a lot of opportunities to me as that first child. I had three years on my brother. Three years are a big deal. I had the adoration of the matriarch’s of the family; I had three years of unadulterated wisdom taught to me over time. My time was my own; there was no one to deflect that attention away from me, which endeared me to the hearts of the women of the family. But secrets existed, secrets that would one day turn my life upside down.

My father was an abusive man; he came back from Viet Nam with major issues. I was born out of the man who came back from war, damaged and lost. He took a wife of Canadian blood, gave her an ultimatum and got her pregnant. I was there at the wedding, my mother carrying me in her womb, walked down the aisle that day and agreed to bear his children and live by his rules and regulations. My father, the racist, bigot that he was wanted to force a continental divide to rise from the ground to separate that which made my mother who she was and force her to become the woman he required.

That divide never rose, and my father’s resentment of the maternal “nursery” that I entered as a child began. I guess this is why I am so maternal, because all the men in the family were war shaken and damaged. They worked all the time in business, in the fields and in factories. It was up to the women to rear the children into the people we were to become. My father’s resentment of my presence was well known. Later in my life I would be told of the fact that my father wanted to kill me, that I was a mistake and should never have been born. He tried many times to snuff my light out as quick as he could. The one thing that he did not expect was the backlash that came in the form of vociferous rebukes by the matriarch’s of the family, hence my “consecration to God.” If I was consecrated to the Almighty, then my father’s plan for ending my life would never come to fruition.

I remember being chased through houses by drunk men in my life, I remember my grandmothers standing in doorways between me huddling beneath a bed, hiding for my life, and my drunk and angry father fighting with them to let him “do it already!” He wanted nothing more than to wipe me off the face of the earth. The women of my family tell me that he fought often with them to abuse me and to hurt me and eventually to kill me.

They were not going to let that happen, my mother was powerless to try and stop him, why, they had an agreement, and she was his bitch, and she did what he said without argument! That was his way unto this very day.

When I was born he gave me my name. I was given to the earth as the man he loved from the war, who died in the war, so every time he looked at me or said my name or heard my name called, the memory of “one dead soldier” would rise to the fore. What kind of man places that kind of sadistic torture on himself? Was he hoping to exorcise that memory from his brain by personal reprogramming? I think there was more to this story than met the eye. Yes, there was, it took me decades to divine the truth from those who knew, and in hindsight I was able to complete the puzzle.

At age 30 I changed that name and exorcised it from my life, it was the final conflict that separated me from my parents. Being gay – HIV Positive and changing my name was three strikes, I was now damned to live without parents. He made damn sure of that.

Needless to say, faith was a priority; God would protect and save me. My grandmothers agreement with God was non negotiable with any one else. Not that my father knew she had this deal on the table. Women are tricky characters you know! When Memere beckoned upon those she regarded as spiritually powerful, hell hath no fury like the wrath of an angry saint and my grandmother generating the turbine of retribution with her dedicated prayers.

Who was God? And why should I care? Because it was beaten into me that I was a mistake and should never have been born, for 18 years my father made it his life’s work to destroy me mentally and emotionally. Later on in my 30’s the revelation of my sexual abuse at my father’s hands would rise from my sobering mind. And you think HE had issues? I went to church, as a young boy. I would complete all my sacraments in the order of succession. I would be in communion with the church I would pray my rosary and my novenas. God was present in my daily life. I was always naked when I was sacred. There was nothing I held back from God, because my relationship with God was between him and me. To stand before God is to be naked in his sight. How much more sacred could it be?

My parent’s went to church off and on. After my brother was born in 1970, my mother found out she was RH positive and a tubiligation was ordered by her OB because she might not live through another pregnancy, and so it was done. This act of “birth control” forced an issue that divides the church and her people to this day. A woman’s right to decide proper birth control and the church’s position that if one impedes the ability of a woman to conceive then you are outside the rule of mother church.

My parents were dealt a swift blow by the parish priest where they were married. That priest, by order of Holy Mother Church, was bound to defend the party line of those times; he excommunicated them both from the church – which meant that they could no longer receive the sacraments. I have to assume my mother was crushed and my father couldn’t give a damn.

Years would pass, life would go on, God still existed in my life, and we, as a family went to church, I remember that much. It came to pass in my years as a pre-teen that we moved to the third home of transition, when I was in grade six. This afforded my parents entry into suburbia. It was a very big step up from where we had been socially and economically. We had made it into the “big time.” My father was proud of this accomplishment. I remember the day we saw the house, we all loved it, and it was sacred. It was in the right place, for the right money and had just the right charm to allow my parents to afford it.

St. Richard’s parish was less than a mile away; schools were “in the neighbourhood” and all was well. My father’s drinking began in earnest so did his abuse, not only of me, but my brother and mother. My mother sought out the parish priest whom would play a large part in my later seminary formation at a later date. They began the process of becoming redeemed in the church; this process took almost 4 years, after decades of living in sin.

My father’s parents were cursed in the years when I was in grade seven and eight. The curse first took my grandmother with a stroke; I was taken from school at age thirteen and flown 1500 miles to her bedside where my father expected that I would be the one to bring her back across the divide. Since I was his first born son, and had the connection I did with her that seeing me would ignite the fire that went out in her brain. I failed to re-ignite the flame. I don’t think my father ever forgave me for my failure to heal his mother. A year later my grandfather was hit with a stroke one year to the day of my grandmother, but he was no favourite of mine, and I did nothing to help him. He abused us all, and for that abuse, death was right punishment.

At age 15, I entered High School. This was a very important period for me. I met a circle of friends that would impact the rest of my life. St. Louis Parish was one block from the High School which I was attending. The youth minister on duty at that time used to open his office at lunch and that is where people would gather to pray, to meet and talk and to learn about God. Who knew it would lead me where it did.

It was in my grade ten year that I would make my confirmation. In order to make that confirmation, my parent’s needed to step up their game in attaining absolution from the church for their “faux pas” with the church over birth control. The Pastor of the parish spoke to them, and gave them counsel and I remember that day he told those, in his Irish Brogue, “the hell with that priest and his excommunication.” I remember my mother doing the happy dance the day that God re-entered our home. He never left, I mean he was in my room, I wasn’t quite sure of any other room in the house up until that point, but for my parents that was the biggest coup of their lives.

When I was home alone on many an occasion, I prayed and I listened to music and in my sacred space within my room I would become naked and sacred. I believed that God was with me, and he protected me, because I really needed it. My father had once again stepped up his attacks, and they were getting even more brutal. My friends all came from broken homes, parent’s divorced, splitting up or on the way there… I was a misfit like all of them. These were the years I spent more time out of my own house than in it. I just could not cope with the ritual mental, emotional and physical abuse.

Where was God when it hurt?

High school was hit and misses, God was here and he was not. I followed him and I cursed him through both sides of my mouth. I was becoming addicted to alcohol; I was starting to slip in school. My relationship with my parents was strained and the priests and ministers of the church had to do something lest they loose me to the statistics of teen tragedy.

I was given chores at church. Any free time was spent working on cleaning the church and keeping the sacristy in tip top shape. I had access to areas of “church” that not many had. In those years the rectory was on site and I spent a lot of time in that rectory doing chores and loving every moment of that time.

Those priests kept me from self destruction. My consecration to God had begun once again. I guess once you are given to God, you don’t have to ask again. Hindsight shows me that I was being groomed for greater things. What my father “beat” out of me, the church replaced in me. What my father on earth took – my heavenly father gave back ten fold. I was in the right place at the right time, when the priests of the parish began to entertain me with seminary speak, serving the church and the greater good. Was I good enough to wear a robe to preach to the masses, to herd a flock?

From the age of ten through out my later life, I was aware of my sexuality. In that I mean I knew how it worked. I knew the finer details of sex and sexual variations. My parents lived a double life, which I was privy to. Knowing the secret sex lives of my parents was an addiction. I couldn’t get enough. Why was I like this? Where did this all begin? I can’t say, and I really don’t want to know when it all began.

I had had relationships in my teen years with others, WHAT I was – was not an issue at any time during my formative years, although I heard the word queer and faggot come out of my parent’s mouths frequently. Our family had been introduced to “homosexuals” when we made that third and final move by friends my parent had and we blessed to have.

I did not identify myself in any “other” term than heterosexual well through my high school years. I dated girls, I had relationships, and I went to prom. I never questioned who I was openly, but between God and myself there was a lot of discussion and praying. Masturbation became a sacred activity, because it happened when God and I were alone. I wanted that sacred experience – to feel that divine communion with the God of my understanding, I wanted to feel sublime love in sacred terms. I’ve never had sex with a woman; I never had sexual inclinations towards the girls I dated in school. I was chaste in that way, but I was profane when left to my own devices.

After completing high school I attended one year of junior college and I failed miserably. I had no tools; I had no knowledge about the “world at large.” My parents never taught me about “transition.” This is the KEY moment in a young person’s life. I know that now, and I teach that to my boys and my fellows. That was when the priests of our parish suggested that I consider the seminary. It was a possible and real option. I got the necessary letters of recommendation and filed my application with the diocese. I was put through my paces and psychological testing, and I passed the boards with a clean sweep.

At this point of my life, my grandparents were getting old. My father’s parents did not know who they were cursed by strokes, Memere was living in a retirement home 1500 miles away, but she saw me enter seminary. When Memere consecrated me to God on that day many years ago in that church came full circle the day I moved into my room at the seminary. All her prayers and novenas were now fulfilled. I was safe for eternity.

I loved God with all my heart and all my soul and all my being. It was unlike any feeling I had every felt before. I remember moving in that day and walking with my parents around the grounds. My mother was so proud, my father had no choice, and he was hell bent on my destruction, my mother on my survival. The battle of the wills was raging on in front of my very eyes. God would win that days cavalry charge. We said goodbye and my mother cried as I walked them to their car and they drove off.

It took a few days to get used to being in the seminary. I sought quiet spaces to commune with God. I went to the chapel whenever I could. There were chapels located on the upper floors of the residence hall where we could pray and have mass said for us. It was the closest to the sacred nakedness I longed for, that I would get that year. God was all powerful and loving. I was there to do one thing, find the way to Him, to serve him to love him in the most sublime way.

The Eucharist became the ritual that would bring me closer to God. I sang my heart out; I prayed until the beads ripped through my hands, I walked in circles until there were ruts in my gardens. (I was a seminary gardener) during that years. It was in this year that things became clear to me. I started to hear God’s voice. I was just a boy in a big world. I was unprepared for the drama of living with others in such tight quarters. My every decision was scrutinized. My every prayer was spell checked. My intentions and motives were questioned. My classmates became my judges but I observed them as well.

My quest to find God was not the same quest that my fellows were on. It had seemed that “identity” was the issue on the table. Many of my peers had figured out their identity and were comfortable in their own skins to “practice their ways.” I had not come to this stage in my life yet. What did I know about identity? I was just this boy in a seminary trying to find my way in a world that was not kind to me. Sex was the first topic of discussion at each and every spiritual direction session I attended that year. It was one of the only lies I told to the man who was interested in my sexual proclivities. What did my masturbation have to do with the attainment of holiness? What I did alone with my God was my business and no one else’s.

I saw injustice in the church; I witnessed people being removed from service because of judgment. I witnessed the church move gay priests and some with illness to our grounds to live and work with us; they were taken from their parishes as a punishment for an unholy lifestyle. Homosexuality was right there in front of me. Grown gay men of the cloth living in community with me, and from my mouth to God’s ears, these men had more sacred reverence for God than any heterosexual holy man in residence with us at that time. I highly respected some of these men. They showed me real faith and real love for God. They gave me more in that year than others. They did not judge me nor force me to be anything but myself. It was the institution that forced choices of identity and allegiance. I was not ready to “identify” nor was I going to pledge “allegiance” to the rector of the seminary or to mother church.

What I do know is this, that I knew then who God was for the age that I was and I was ready to sacrifice my life for that God, but I was hell bent on denying the pressures of the institution to turn a blind eye to blatant abuses of power and human dignity and respect. I had no desire of entering or pledging for the “boys club” it was beneath me. I was better than that and I wasn’t going to compromise my walk with Christ to be like them.

After a year in seminary I was told that my invitation to return the following year had been rescinded. That maybe seminary was not “the place for me.” That maybe becoming a priest was not my “calling.” Who were they to judge with blinder on their eyes? What did they really know about my relationship to God, not that any of them really wanted to know? I walked away from the church and from God.

I moved back home for a short time. That did not last very long. I got a job and traveled the world. I met His Holiness John Paul II twice in the space of 2 years. Once in the states the second time at the Vatican. He was a sainted man; he was a star in my eyes. What I did not know then would not hurt me until decades later.

In my 19th year of life I took a trip to visit family that summer, this was the first time I gave into my sexual desires for another man. It was a one night event under the influence of alcohol, but it made its mark and stuck for good. I knew what sacred felt like when I felt penetration for the first time.

It was a moment I can still recall in vivid detail. It was then I realized what sacred penetration felt like. I buried that secret deep in my heart and never shared that intimate “detail” with anyone for almost two years. I was forced out of my house by my father once again. He was still hell bent on my total annihilation.

I was “Outed” by my best friend on a cruise when I was twenty one. We never spoke again after that. I moved away to be gay, to have my coming out experience. God was no where to be found in my lexicon. He was there; I just refused to allow him into my life, because the church had shit on my spiritual journey. That I took as a clear affront by God so I retaliated.

I got drunk. I stayed inebriated for years after that.

Until that day in 1994 when the news of my impending death made me re-evaluate my relationship with God. The rest they say is history…

I hope you enjoyed this retrospective of my Christian Life, one day I will end up in one of Butler’s books… ha ha ha ha … The rest of these stories can be found in PAGES on the sidebar.

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