The tapestry of Saint Andre Bessette, of Canada, is displayed on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica during a Canonization Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010. (AP / Gregorio Borgia)
CTV.ca News Staff
Date: Sun. Oct. 17 2010 9:43 PM ET
The humble Quebec monk who founded Montreal’s St. Joseph’s Oratory was named a saint by Pope Benedict in a ceremony at the Vatican Sunday.
The former Brother Andre, who was credited with miracle healings before his death in 1937, is now known as St. Andre.
The Pope told the thousands of faithful gathered for the ceremony, including hundreds of Canadians, that although St. Andre was poorly educated and working at a menial job, he was an inspiration to many faithful.
“(As) doorman at the Notre Dame College in Montreal, he showed boundless charity and did everything possible to soothe the despair of those who confided in him,” Benedict said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon led the official Canadian delegation to the ceremony.
“Here is a person who throughout his life had a dream, and he was able to pursue that dream, he was able to build the St. Joseph Oratory in Montreal,” Cannon told CTV News Channel on Sunday in a telephone interview from Rome.
“So I think that when one looks at him, and what he was able to do throughout his life, he will be an inspiration for generations of Canadians to come.”
Francoise Bessette, whose grandfather was Brother Andre’s first cousin, was among the thousands of Canadians in attendance.
“I didn’t think this would happen while I was alive,” said Bessette, whose brother was named after the saint. “So to be here today is very special for me.”
In Montreal, the faithful crowded around a big-screen television in the Oratory’s church to watch the ceremony broadcast live from St. Peter’s Square.
His elevation to sainthood will carry some worldly benefits for St. Andre’s hometown, according to Kevin Wright, the president of the U.S.-based world religious travel association.
“When an individual is declared a saint, their shrines attract significant numbers of visitors,” Wright told CTV News Channel. “And we’re going to see that in Montreal.”
He said that while the oratory that St. Andre founded is not as big a draw as sites like the French shrine at Lourdes, it already attracts an estimated one million pilgrims a year.
And Wright said that St. Andre’s sanctification will only boost those numbers.
“Over the next couple of years we could see that double and get up to three, four or even five million people. And that’s incredible.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that the newly canonized St. Andre was “a great Canadian.”
“Brother Andre’s canonization is an important inspiration to us all, and the Oratory will continue to serve as a central landmark of spiritual strength and faith for Quebecers and all Canadians.”
Premier Jean Charest said in a statement from Quebec City that Saint Andre is a major figure in Quebec and that his “canonization gives full measure to his work as well as to his place in Quebec history.”
All the attention and ceremony would likely have embarrassed St. Andre, who was known for his humility and his faith, which has been described by Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte as strong enough “to move mountains.”
St. Andre was born Alfred Bessette in St-Gregoire-d’Iberville on Aug. 9, 1845, and was orphaned at the age of 12.
In 1904, the Holy Cross brother founded Montreal’s St. Joseph’s Oratory, a landmark church on the northern slope of Mount Royal that receives about 2 million visitors every year.
He became known for comforting the sick, and is credited with more than 100,000 miraculous healings before his death in 1937 at age 91. Two of those healings met the Vatican standard for a miracle, reported the Globe and Mail’s Eric Reguly from Rome.
The drive for the canonization goes back to 1940, when it was started by the Archdiocese of Montreal and the Congregation of Holy Cross and St. Joseph’s Oratory.
He was declared “venerable” by Pope Paul VI in 1978, and beatified — declared “blessed” — by Pope John Paul II in 1982.
Benedict announced his canonization in February after officially recognizing a second miracle attributed to him.
Brother Andre died at age 91 on Jan. 6, 1937. During the six days and nights before his funeral, more than one million people filed past his coffin.
His heart still rests in a small shrine in the Oratory, where he was ultimately laid to rest.
The heart, which is on public view as an object of contemplation for pilgrims, is protected by security systems after it was stolen in 1973. Police recovered it almost two years later from the basement of a home near Montreal.
Brother Andre follows in the footsteps of Marguerite d’Youville, who was born in 1701 and was the first saint born on what is now Canadian territory.
Canada’s other saints are Marguerite Bourgeoys, who was born in France in 1620 and is considered the co-founder of Montreal, and eight French-born Jesuit martyrs who were killed during the 1640s.
Benedict gave Australia its first saint, canonizing 19th-century nun Mary MacKillop.
Also canonized Sunday were Stanislaus Soltys of Poland, Italians Giulia Salzano and Battista Camilla da Varano, and Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola of Spain.
My IMVU Avatar in Canadian Shirt …
Let us enter the sanctuary and praise God for all that is good in this world. And we spend a moment in quiet contemplation of gifts unknown and people still to meet, and blessed be the God who brings strangers from afar to minister to us on common themes and spiritual practices.
I walked out the front of the building and down the street towards the Monday night, Came to Believe meeting and there was a bunch of bikers standing on the sidewalk in front of the Oxford Inn, I quietly made my way around them because they were gathered there in great numbers. Harley’s, leather, all those profane things that excite my innards in ways that no mortal human being can understand.
I settled into my seat as usual, against the wall by the fireplace and I waited. You never know what is going to happen in that small little meeting space, and for weeks now I’ve been telling you about wondrous people, and stories that I have had the opportunity to listen to. Tonight was no different…
It just so happened that all those bikers were coming to the meeting. A rag tag bunch of sober bikers from far and wide, all over Canada, Europe and the United States. The A.R.M. Association of Recovering Motorcyclists. Needless to say our regular meeting folk were surprised to see them at the meeting. I heard someone say “oh, another biker gang!” I just rolled my eyes.
Owen, the bright eyed young man who shared last week about his gratitude for being in the room, it was great to see him again, only tonight he was chair. We got to hear a first time share tonight which is really a gift. The first time one gets up and shares about what it was like, what happened and what it is like now is cathartic to say the least, because one is reminded of the first time we did it too. And for one person, maybe, the person sharing will speak of commonality with someone in the room and may help them stick and stay.
The room was PACKED, every chair was used and it was standing room only for the second speakers. Bikers from all over the place came to hear this woman share – our second speaker. Her name escapes me, although I did thank her in the end. She has been sober thirty one years. And she spoke about steps One, Two and Three…
- The admission of our powerlessness over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power Greater than ourselves could restore us to Sanity
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
She hared about the two God’s the Catholic God on one side and a Higher Power on the other side, she wasn’t sure that they have met each other, so she believes in both, coming from a serious Catholic background [nuns and all] and then coming to the rooms and having learned over a great deal of time who the God of her understanding was. And then she joked that when she dies that she reaches the pearly gates and knocks and God answers and says, “see if that Higher Power of yours can get you in!”
I laughed out loud…
I have to say that nobody moved, nobody said a word the entire time she was speaking, it was like being in church and having being blessed that God was walking around the room, it just felt so holy and blessed. You could have heard a pin drop for the better part of an hour. It was incredible.
The question she had for the room when she got sober, “What do you want me to do now? What am I supposed to do now that I am here, and finally the answer came to her, in this form “What are you going to do with what we have to offer you?” She spoke of changing our “will,” which for mortals is “how we think.” In sobriety we are constantly asked to change the way we think, because sobriety is a continual process of evolution, personally, emotionally and spiritually.
I am not perfect and I surely am not God by any stretch of the imagination. But I am also teachable. And I take my sobriety very seriously, and I apply all the principles to my life, even if that means cutting people loose because they are unhealthy and I practice what I preach. I can’t help you – If you don’t want to help you. There are plenty of other people who want the help and are willing to go to any length to get that help. We must dispense with enabling and allowing people to run us ragged.
She then told a story about her home group, like Tuesday’s Beginners they share their sobriety date as the discussion moved around the room. She would write down sober members names and dates in her 24 hour book – and there were a a good number of members in that group, each week they would meet and share their dates. One man named Joe would share his date and another man would say, “my name is Steve and I’ve been sober for 35 years and some son of a bitch is lying about his sobriety date.”
Now we are not supposed to take anyone else’s inventory at a meeting, but Steve persisted in sharing that someone in the group was lying about their sobriety date. Eventually some weeks later Joe spoke up one night and said, “my name is Joe and I am the son of a bitch that has been lying about his sobriety date.”
Steve died a sober member of AA, Joe did not.
Which brings up a bitter pill for me because at my home group meeting, we have a member who is not sober, yet he shares his sobriety date with us, as August 96′ and I know for a fact, any by his own admission over the years, that he still drinks. This is the man that I pray for more than the rest, because he does this week in and week out, year in and year out.
And I laughed at this story because I have more than once wanted to get up and say, “my name is Jeremy and I am an alcoholic and an addict, my sobriety date is December the 9th 2001, and some son of a bitch here is lying about his sobriety date!!”
I sat there transfixed on the speaker, from Wisconsin. What a blessing to have such an amazing speaker come to us to share tonight. We were truly blessed. You never know who is going to show up at that Monday meeting, or from whom the message is going to come from, but I suit up and I show up and I do what I can for the groups I support, just by my showing up every week. At the end of the meeting, Owen thanked our speakers and this woman closed the meeting.
“We stand here together, holding each others hands. We stand her united, not alone any more. We stand here and we pray for those sick and still suffering members out there who have not yet come in here. Take a look to your left and your right and hold tight to the hand you are holding, because you might be saved by them or them by you one day down the road. Maybe you have already saved them and maybe not, but right now you are standing here with them. She was two over from my left, Rob was holding my left hand, he was the first speaker, Dawn was standing to my right, she is a member of my home group at Tuesday’s Beginners, and we prayed:
Our father who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those
Who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
For thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory
Forever and ever, AMEN.
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
I make no bones about WHO I am, I make no bones about WHAT I am. I will not argue about sin or homosexuality again. I should have never engaged you in the first place, that was stupid on my part, but enough is enough. If you don’t agree with me then please, by all means, get the fuck out, I invite you never to come to this blog again.
I invite you, the Evangelical Christian, to choke on the scripture you read and I invite you to call God on the phone and ask him personally what He thinks of me, and I invite the first person who gets access to God to come and share with me what Almighty God has said to him or her about me. There is plenty of writing in my pages for you to consume, think about and understand about what makes me who I am and what I believe and how men of faith supported me when many of YOU condemned me. Who was right, and who was wrong? I am still here and my faith is all I have and that alone sustains and keeps me.
We shall agree to disagree on Sin and Homosexuality. Because until God drops out of his heaven to tells me to come home or stop, I will live my life, as I have lived my life, as it has been for years. I will stay sober, I will stay clean, I will continue my Theological Studies and I will be respected for WHO I am and not discriminated based on WHAT I am.
I have meditated on yesterdays writing, and So I publish an abbreviated portion of that post for you all to read. Summer is at an end. And I am going to re-group and pull back my commitment to work with others, based on recent goings on. I am not pleased, but I will deal with it, like any sober member would. I stick to my base. I pray and meditate and I remember that I cannot help everyone, lest I loose myself in the process.
I’ve decided to add more academic courses to my schedule and that schedule is as follows:
- Theology 206 Origins of Christianity – Mon-Wed 10:15 to 11:30 a.m.
- Theology 204 Introduction to XT Ethics – Wed 6:00 – 8:15 p.m.
Fr. Ray La Fontaine
- Religion 398P (Special Study) Religions of Tibet – Thursday 6:00-8:15 p.m. Marc Des Jardins
I thought that I would add another class to my schedule because it is a special study section in the Department of Religion, and add to that Marc Des Jardins has spent time in the field during his Summers and I happen to like him as a professor, and I look forward to this class. I am taking care of me now.
What is said, has been said. What is done, is done. What is in the past is in the past. I have made my decisions, and thus my post written last night. Suffer the little children, they now rest in the hands of God. I am not going to suffer any longer.
When I stay in my day and put the principles of AA into practice, I know that I am not alone in sobriety. This second chance at sobriety gives me insight/hindsight into the first attempt which failed. The first time I was living life – yet I was going to meetings. Both were mutually exclusive. With learning to live with AIDS back then, as life taught me, I did not incorporate the two worlds well enough.
This time around I did the right thing. I invested in my sobriety much more. I engaged the program like never before. When I came to Montreal, I had to invest time and life into staying sober because here you had to travel nightly to different places for a meeting. There aren’t many multiple meetings in the same location every night. They don’t exist except for two meetings, 7 a.m. Wood and 5 o’clock shadows.
I found a home group and I invested in that group. An investment that I honor today. When I got sober in Montreal, people invested in me, took care of me and gave me right guidance. Today I give back to that meeting. I invest my life around my sobriety. Life is worked around my home group and other meetings.
I do nothing during the hours I attend meetings. I do not usually make any decisions without first passing my ideas past another drunk. So it goes. Because I am invested in my sobriety, I usually stay ahead of the wave. And I have a bank of time and knowledge to draw upon when I need it.
I work with others and I invest in new comers. But I do not force my way into their lives, I have learned that force feeding an infant is pointless because they will only choke and throw up on you. I choose my battles wisely in sobriety. I hand off my number and my counsel wisely. And I sure as shit do not waste my time with people who don’t want it.
It is a waste of my time, talent and knowledge to try and work with someone who doesn’t want to get sober. That’s why I don’t have sponsees at the moment. I work best in the field where everyone has access before, during and after a meeting. I go to a handful of meetings and I serve others. I never say no to sobriety, because you must give it away to keep it.
With that said I have made a decision.
I can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. I can lead a horse to water, but I cannot make it drink. I can lead by example, but faced with current situations, I should have taken a more cautious approach. I was put into a no win situation. There are just some things I know in sobriety that translate into the world I live in like ENABLING.
Abuse is unacceptable. Lying is unacceptable. Pushing someones buttons to see how far they will lurch is unacceptable. If we allow people, children, and spouses to run rough shot through our lives with no concrete action of circumstances, then we end up being victims of the situation we participated in.
If we enable a child to run riot through the house and we enable a child to be disrespectful and ignorant, then we have failed them as parents. If we enable a spouse to abuse us, and we don’t extricate ourselves from bad situations, then we suffer the consequences of our choices and indecision to act wisely.
If a wife allows her husband to abuse her, and she does nothing, then she suffers. If a partner allows their significant other to abuse drugs and alcohol or us and does nothing then we call that enabling them. We also call that insanity.
I cannot help anyone out of a hole if I am in their with them.
I was invited to invest time, talent and experience into a project this summer, that has disastrously backfired. So I am going to apply the rules of sober engagement to this situation. In order to keep me level headed. I gave freely of what I had, and I invested hours, days, weeks and months into working with others, and what did that get me?
Lies, Deceit, Abuse and Disrespect.
I was asked to take on a challenge that has occupied me for some time. And I gladly did it, in the hope that I would affect change, what did that get me? Heartache. If we allow children to run riot through our lives and abuse us and disrespect us, verbally, physically and emotionally, then we have failed at good parenting. We have failed to be good stewards of our children.
If we enable our children to run riot and we enable them to continue disrespectful behavior then that child will grow up into a disrespectful and abusive adult. If we cannot step up and demand that things change and set the rule of law in our home, thereby allowing children to abuse us, then why bother being a parent in the first place?
If we spend countless hours teaching our children right from wrong, good from bad, acceptable from unacceptable, and we spend hours trying to figure out their motivations for lying, cheating and deceiving and we fail to stop that behavior, then we have failed to be good examples. If our children learn that they can run riot and be disrespectful and ignorant and petulant, and we do nothing, but sit and let them run riot, it is our own fault.
Brilliant gifted children who know the law, know the truth and know that there are consequences for bad behavior yet STILL they push us up against the wall and test our resolve to be good parents, role models and authoritarians, they have failed at learning where they fit into the family dynamic. I can only lead by example.
Alas, I have failed to be a good example.
Like new comers in the room, they think they know it all, yet they stumble. And it sometimes takes years to teach them the same lessons we learned ourselves. And with those lessons we offer them “quickie passes” to avoid the pitfalls, yet many choose to take the long and hard road instead of the learned road. That is why I stay away from newbies because they are usually fucked in the head for the first few months of sobriety.
I allow them to see me exist, participate and share experience, strength and hope with others, in the hope that they will want what I have and in time, they may accept me into their lives and at that point they choose to engage, I did not force them to engage.
Henceforth, I am not wasting another moment working with others, who disrespect me, do not listen to me nor want to change their lives for the better, even if they are challenged. My investment of time and talent came at a personal price, my sanity.
And my sanity is worth more than I get paid for.
When you want my help – you let me know, and only when you want to change. Because I am not wasting any more time, placating you or enabling you either. Kelly never called me back. So I guess I am not that important.
Good Orderly Direction
God Adores You
Face Everything and Recover
Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired
God Grant me Serenity!!!
Home Group Tonight
You never know what you’re going to get at Came to Believe. Tonight the room was packed. With new and young faces. People that I know, people I call my friends. And hey I am a homosexual with non-judgmental friends, who knew!
But it isn’t about me is it?
We are there to stay sober and clean.
one of my angels chaired the meeting, which was really cool, because I really like Mike and he is one of those special people in recovery. We fly by the seat of our pants at the Monday night meeting which is always exciting. I heard this young man speak, his name was Owen. He was glowing with the light of God. It emanated from him throughout the room, I wanted to inhabit his light. I needed that energy. I wanted that energy to fill me up.
What Owen spoke about for fifteen minutes was just what I needed to hear. His gratitude, his love his energy and steadfastness for the program was amazing. I wanted so bad to get that feeling once again. Was I that grateful at five months of sobriety? Was I that illuminated and blessed? I don’t remember – that was so long ago.
At the end of the meeting I spoke to Mike and Owen and I said to him, “you know if we could bottle and sell this little gift of grateful blessing, we could make a mint! Go home and write this feeling down. Remember it, and inhabit it as long as you can, because one day you might need to draw on this bank of goodness and light, when things may get dark and you forget how grateful you are tonight.”
I know that when I walk into a room, all labels of difference drop away and the commonality of one sober member talking to another takes precedence. Pity the man and woman who do not know this feeling. Those who will never know what it means to be united in a life and death struggle for life, that is recovery.
I am grateful to be alive, sober and clean.
That I can pray with my friends at a meeting and know that God hears my prayers just as he hears everyone else’s, that God knows my heart and that is good enough for me. I don’t need to justify or defend my homosexuality before any of you, because unless you are part of my daily life, I really don’t give a shit what you think of me or my brand of Christianity.
When all is said and done on that last day, It will be God and myself and I know I live a good Christian life and God will judge me, not man, not YOU nor anyone else who reads my blog. I am really happy that I have hit a meeting tonight, that I don’t have to drink or drug and that I am forgiven… seventy times seven…
Those who know me love and respect me because of WHO I am, not for what I am and what I do for my community at large. That I am trustworthy and kind, I forgive and I serve my God with complete abandon. That I love unconditionally, and that I am good. People respect me because I am respectable. People love me because I am loveable. My husband married me because I was worthy of his love under God and before friend and family. God blessed us and continues to bless us every good day that passes.
Deuteronomy Chapter 6:-
Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one:
And you shall love your neighbor as yourself…
I was invited to a special unveiling of an exhibition at The Christ Church Cathedral today of art and information about The Primates World Relief and Development Fund. Directed at prevention and education about AIDS. A subject close to my heart, in fact, part of it as well. Below are photographs of the art on display for the next two weeks at the Cathedral.
Our Bishop, Barry B. Clarke, was on hand to open the exhibition and the chair of the Theology Department at Concordia University was there as well. They are looking for a few volunteers to show up and participate in the exhibition, if you have a spare hour or two, they could use your support.
It’s time to open our hands, hearts and minds to HIV and AIDS and respond with action, love and knowledge.
It’s time to stop the stigma and discrimination and act on God’s call to love one another, restore right relationships and ensure the dignity of every human being.
It’s time to break the silence and inaction and face a world with AIDS more holistically, more authentically and more compassionately.
It’s time to embrace all brothers and sisters as children of God without prejudice, judgment or fear.
This is the Altar piece from St, Michael’s Mission – artwork done by many artists. They represent different liturgical and seasonal scenes. The central panel is called “the life bearers,” to the left, “The Tree of Life,” and to the right, “beyond, what I see.”
The creator of this altar piece followed one of the artists home and this segment of photos is called “On the way home.” From St. Michael’s Mission.
What We Do
Development, Relief and Justice
PWRDF works in partnership with organizations in Canada and throughout the world to support people-centred development that improves the quality of daily life for vulnerable populations, promotes self-reliance, and addresses root causes of poverty and injustice. PWRDF is active in approximately 30 countries, and also accompanies Uprooted People – including victims of disasters, refugees, internally displaced people, and migrant workers. PWRDF partners are drawn from Anglican churches, ecumenical organizations and community-based groups. Partners address the root causes of problems and accompany communities as they move beyond survival into sustainable development.
Cruise Ships coming to Montreal: Fall Schedule 2007
On October 8th I have been granted access on board the Fred Olsen Cruise Liner – Black Watch by GLP Worldwide Expeditions, who are representing Fred Olsen Cruise Lines in Canada. There are travel shows beginning in Vancouver and Victoria next week, and move Eastwards across Canada, calling in Alberta and as well Ontario.
On September 22 – and 23 the Arctic Sunrise will be ported at the Old Port in Montreal with open ship tours on both days from 12 noon to 6 p.m.
The Fall Foliage Cruise ship calendar is getting busy I will be posting other dates here as I get them.
22 – Spirit of Nantucket
25 – Maasdam
26-27 – Spirit of Nantucket
6-7 – Spirit of Nantucket
8 – Maasdam
8-10 – Grande Caribe
9-10 – Alexander von Humbolt
14-16 – Grande Caribe
15 – Christopher Columbus
19 – Veendam
22 – Maasdam
27 – Saga Ruby
1-3 – Grand Mariner
2 – Crystal Symphony
6-9 – Grande Caribe
8-9 – Black Watch
I have asked this question of some of the ministers that write for our sphere. For many years I have searched for the “Perfect Church.” Growing up in a predominantly white, middle class neighborhood gave rise to attending church with my friends. And that served me very well for most of my young adult life.
Labels had not been applied to us in this period of our lives so we were free to worship wherever we chose to. And in most cases our parents followed along, because the church was not only a religious landmark, but also housed Youth Ministry that everyone was part of for several years through high school and junior college and even for myself, Seminary.
After leaving seminary with a bad taste in my mouth for Catholicism, and Church, I walked away from God and his church. I thought that I had been slighted by clergy and I was pushed against the “choose us or get out” wall. It took me many years dealing with the truth to walk back into church.
This was always my childhood home, the Church I called home. It was the place that God and I communed. And after my leaving seminary – this was the church that I returned to many years later, as a weary, AIDS suffering sinner. I was sick, and I had been away, and I met a man who changed my life when I saw him say mass in this space with his crutches and MS. I vowed never again to complain about things in my life. And I have kept that word so many years later.
Being Gay, had its issues with Church. But not to the men who led this church forward. I was a part of this church and this is where I would find prayer, support and salvation.
As I grew into my 30’s I hit several questions in my life about faith, recovery and living with AIDS. I’d like to say that I found all my answers in “church” but that would be false. I was living in an area of town that did not afford me the ability to get to church any more. So I was not attending “church” where I had been for so many years. It was just logistically impossible to get there in time for mass.
During my second recovery, I was seeing a therapist and I had friends who were talking care of me at the time. I was having my visions and spiritual experiences outside the church I may have left the church “physically” but not emotionally and spiritually.
Faith is like a garden. Each one of us inhabits the garden of our own making. We tend that garden daily. In the morning we walk through misty, dew covered flowers and plants, and as the day wares on the sun tracks across the sky as we sit in that garden. I believe that everyone is born into some kind of spiritual tradition, more than most may speak of but nonetheless, someone puts the seed of faith within us at some point.
If you were like me, you were baptized, first communion ed and confirmed in the Catholic faith. Some were baptized in the baptist faith and others were raised in the faith of their parents or extended families. But we all carry that seed within us.
For many, being Gay and Christian or Being Gay and Catholic was something we battled with because of the politics of the church. Now in my 40’s I can tell you that I will not walk into, better yet worship in a space that does not welcome me fully into communion. I used to compromise my ethics and my politics because I was attached to the Catholic faith by an unbreakable umbilical cord that still exists today.
When I got sick, the priests told me to come to church and I did because they were 21st century men in an archaic world of Catholicism. That lasted as long as it had to to keep my in line with my faith and connected TO my faith. God was in the church, praying with others took place in the church. Mass took place within the church. And I was ok with that way of life.
When I got sober in 2001 I was filled with questions. My faith was strong because I KNEW who God Was and who god Is still. I did not need the physical building to give me what I had created and cultivated internally over many many years of spiritual exploration. You see, faith is not something you feed once a week in a worship service. Faith is not something you partake on any given Sunday.
I was sober a four months when I came to visit Montreal in the Spring of 2002. It was Ash Wednesday when I arrived. I celebrated Easter here and I loved it. This is such a rich religious city. Later I would meet a Jesuit priest who would give me the same puzzle piece he gave all the other boys I later met on the path later on.
This is where it all starts…
I had a reason to come here and I knew after two weeks of being here, that I needed to stay here. I went back to Florida, packed all that I could and I left, never to return. Lies my mother told facilitated my move out of the United States.
I started my journey of faith in the Church Basilica of Notre Dame. It took me weeks to start putting the faith puzzle together. and now six years later, I can tell you that there are still pieces of the puzzle missing.
I had to get used to living in Montreal, Pre-Iraq War. I had to find my place in the greater scheme of things. And that took a long time. I had my citizenship on February 17th 2003, and I was sober 14 months. I decided that I would go back to school. My chosen major in the beginning was Psychology, that quickly changed to Religion.
These were the years that demonstrations were taking place in the streets and Americans were being warned to sew Canadian flags on our backpacks, so as not to acquire the ire of Canadians in Montreal, because protests against the war were daily occurrences. I did that and I participated in those demonstrations. But eventually I would hit several crises points in my life, ONE would be “where do I fit in?” I had to find my place in the community and that took two years upon beginning University. I remember sitting in Donald’s office asking the all important question: “I don’t know where I fit in and I have one foot in the South and one foot in the North – I don’t know where I should be?”
He was always apt to tell me these key words:
“If you find yourself in between and you can’t decide where to go or move, then sit where you are and survey all that you see before you. FEEL your feelings and get in touch with your dis-ease with where you are. Consult your map and ask your questions of the people on the path, then when you are ready, plot your next step, but not before you are sure of your footing.”
I met a man of faith in the Chaplaincy office. I was a man of faith and I was sure in my faith as any other man or woman was. The one difference? I was a sure gay man living with AIDS. I made no excuses and expected no special treatment, just love and acceptance, which I found in Fr. Ray Lafontaine. Still to this day, as a fellow Christian and Catholic priest in my life, he challenges me in my faith to find the answers for myself.
I attended his church at Loyola on Sunday evenings. And that worked for me because there were others like me in the church and we were all accepted.
That haze of Summer lasted for two years. In that time I started working on my religious beliefs. And I maintained my sobriety by attending meetings in the basements of many of Montreal’s most beautiful churches. When Father Ray was moved to St. Monica’s church and new priestly blood was flushed into the chapel, I met my faith match…
Having been singled out over my marriage to my husband and the vile words shared with me by the existing chaplain of the University, I walked away from Church once and for all. Although when Fr. Ray and Fr. Paul said mass, I would always attend.
Having studied religion for so many years of my life, and having lived with AIDS for so many years, I knew several things. 1. I knew who God was. 2. I knew who God is not. and 3. I knew who I trusted to support me in my faith journey.
I have been separated from Church for a long time now. It took the invitation of friends to attend a mass said by the Very Reverend Gene Robinson in the Summer of 2006 at Christ Church Cathedral to seriously contemplate a return to Church. In 2003 I was married in the very Catholic Space at Loyal, much to the consternation of Georges Pelletier. We did it just to make a statement of faith, because the entire Loyola community was there to stand with us and profess our faith and love before our families, friends and God himself.
The only time I ever walked into a church, during my time in the field, was with my Great Aunt Georgette, may she rest in peace… I would pray in the mother house chapel with her and I would attend mass there as well. The last time I attended mass in the Mother House Chapel was the day we buried her in August of 2006.
I would never walk into another Catholic Church after her funeral. Although I still maintain a working relationship with men of Catholic faith, I don’t go to mass in the Catholic Church. The other day that marked a change in my Catholic belief system was the day that the Late Pontiff John Paul II died, and I attended mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
You see, while I was studying Religion in university, I was studying my past, making peace with it and learning why things happened the way they did for me, and I was afforded this historical review because of the professors that I studied with for the last four years. I polished my religious skills and I mastered my Christian faith.
I was getting sober in church basements and I was ministering to people in the field. I never walked away from God again. I knew better, and he would always wait for me to find Him. Some of you know about the last five years. Some of you sought me out from the field for spiritual guidance. And I was there for you without question.
I always knew where God resided within me. I knew where to find God, outside myself. I can walk into any church in the city and talk to God. And I can talk to God at any given moment of my day or night, because I have built a temple of God within me.
We are all temples of the spirit of God. Most of us do not know this truth. So I share it with you now. We are all created in the image of God, and therefore we carry the image of God within us. We are walking talking miracles of God’s love and grace. My garden of faith is Eden within me. And I share that garden with anyone who wants to come and walk amongst the flowers. I do not need a building or the perfect church to settle my restless heart.
I’ve spent the last five years searching for God in the sacred churches of Montreal. He was always there where ever I looked for Him. As for the perfect church? You will never find it, because of the true nature of men and women. Humans are imperfect sinners who need to be taught what is right from wrong. And those who come to church already have their preconceived notions of who their God is, and what they will be willing to accept, in the way of Christian teachings, dogma and practice.
So take a church full of imperfect humans and ask them to build for you the perfect church! With all the heads buzzing in the church, each with their notions of church and God, and what do you have? A room full of buzzing heads, who could not agree on what they would call church, and I am sure that their conception will not be what you had in mind either. The perfect church does not and will never exist…
Where did Jesus do his best work? In the field, over dinner in sinners houses. Working with the homeless and the poor and sick. How many times does Jesus step into a church in biblical writing? And what does he say about the ‘church?’ What would he say about all of the terrible incarnations of Church we have today – in the world?
I do believe that God and Jesus weep at the way Christianity is lived out in the millions of lives of people around the globe. We know the scripture, we know the reason yet we can’t see past the noses on our faces and we cannot take the plank out of our own eyes before we try to help another, so what does that say about active Christianity???
I’ve been in the process of Spiritual direction for some time now, ever since coming to Montreal many years ago. I have sought the advice of many people over the years. And I work with others “in the field” every day…
Where is my “Church?” If I had to give you an address, that would be the Christ Church Cathedral because the bishop has said to the LGBT community that we are just as important to the church as any one else. That he supports us and wants us to participate in community and be active participants in our own faith. I am 40 now, and I have my morals, beliefs and values, and if I choose to leave the Catholic faith based on principle I can do that today, because of the certainty of WHO I am and What my faith means to me, because I am ‘out of communion’ with Benedict’s Church, and I can live with that today.
But I don’t need a building to worship God. I don’t need the perfect church to teach me God’s word. I don’t need the perfect minister to keep me on the path of Godly living. Why, you ask? Because I can do all these things on my own. I celebrate my Christianity every day through prayer, word and action. I live my faith – therefore it is in front of me every day for all to see. I practice my faith. I talk the talk and I walk the walk, daily…
This is not a task I ask you to ponder on your own and it is not for the feint of heart either. But in order to build your inner church, you must start with a foundation, a garden. Mark out the space in your heart. Till the soil and plant your seeds. Give them plenty of water and sunlight and then pray over them…
We each have the capability to till our own gardens of faith within us. Because until you have a strong garden of faith within you, will you be able to find a church that will serve you, because without the understanding and cultivation of your own garden, do you remove the judgments within your heart of men and ministry.
If you are looking for the perfect minister of Christ, he will not appear, save Christ himself. We are flawed human beings, and therefore we must understand that and with that knowledge we can better serve the community at large, and if we able to serve the community at large, we can then see God for ourselves where ever we go, and in whatever church we visit.
The best work of the field is done in the most imperfect churches, because most people know that perfection is unattainable. Your Heavenly Father is perfect, so we have every ability to be as perfect as our heavenly father is perfect. But that will take a lifetime to achieve.
In order to find church outside of you, you must first build church within yourself. You must find your definition of God, you must let your faith garden grow. You must be strong in your faith because without strong inner faith, you will not have strong outer faith for community. Without using the gardening tools that God has given you, how can you practice your faith? You must find Sacred Space within yourself, and you must build sacred space for yourself, while you are in the field.
Because, what good would looking for the perfect Church do for you, if you do not have a handle on your own inner faith to begin with??? Build your inner church and invite God to inhabit your sacred space. Get to know this God of your own understanding. There are certain things a Christian must do every day…
- Read Scripture every day
- You must Pray every day
- You must Meditate every day
- You must Actively Practice your Faith every day
Because the simple act of prayer – asking God for those things that weigh heavily on our hearts, must be followed up with a period of silent “Listening” for God’s voice to speak to you. Because sometimes we get the answer… ‘keep praying, not today, NO!’ Cookie cutter Christianity is too easy. You must live your faith actively in community, that is one sure way to find Jesus in the field.
Start with your garden
Plant it, Till it, and let it grow
Listen to your heart song
and share it with the world
Take off the blinders on your eyes
and see the world in its imperfect state
Find Christ in the field and walk with Him
talk the talk and walk the walk
practice your faith in ACTION
in time your heart will soften
and you will see God
and you will find that
‘Perfect Union with Christ’
A church will find its way to you
Because you will be ready to serve…
I guess I should write something today. I think I am still in exploration and expectation mode – although I am not expecting anything in particular, it is the right description of where I am mentally.
What do Gay men think about at age 40 and beyond? What changes have come about since my 40th birthday, not so long ago? They say that in your forties that you begin to find yourself and you ‘awaken’ the consciousness within you, you awaken to the person you were meant to be, not necessarily what we have been programmed to be by the world, the media and our families.
I have been on this journey of self discovery for a long time. If you go over to my sidebar you can read all about the past few years and how things have changed, and the quest for life I have been on. I find myself in a very settled position right now. Like I have been rooted to a spot in the universe, I know where that location is in the grand scheme of things.
It is not always about me, for the most part. My hubby gets the main portion of my time and attention, then my boys and the world get the rest. Since I entered the foster parent/mentor program some years ago, taking care of my boys is a full time job.
I always quote Adam Sandler from “Spanglish” when he says to Florr that
“Worrying about your kids is Sanity!”
I was at my home group last night and I shared on this thought, and Step 2 “Came to believe that a Power Greater than Myself could restore me to sanity.” I don’t get crazy in my head like I used to. That ‘Gay Mania’ I used to suffer from as a young man is gone. If I allow myself to get crazy, I would go crazy. My boys keep me on my toes. They keep me honest because how can you father a child, talk the talk, and not walk the walk? Every day I am reminded that if I am to be a good father to my boys, I have to live the messages I am giving them.
There is not enough love in the world. Every day I stop to remind my boys that they are loved. I talk to them at least once a day. It is hard being away from them, the phone and the computer have become the central connections between us. This past weekend I had a few days to myself, so I thought, until the universe spun out a microburst of insanity.
“It never rains but it pours!”
In the middle of the storm is where I prefer to be – able to look out and see the winds blowing around me and able to see the ground I can be the most assistance. And I found that spending time with my boys as I had over the weekend made me the sanest person I have been thus far. Because as the world was shaking them individually, I was there to stand with them and hold them and let them know that “this too shall pass!”
So what do Gay men think about at forty plus? I worry about my boys, I worry about my hubby, [he is Bi-polar] and let me tell you bi-polar is no cake walk, either for me or for him.
After a weekend of pain and tribulation I was laid wasted emotionally and mentally. I had been running on auto pilot all weekend. I stopped just long enough to rest and to pray. Funny, that I did not think about eating all weekend, and I wasn’t very hungry either… I paid that price on Tuesday…
Do not push your body beyond the boundaries it sets for you too far… I have the propensity to push myself into areas that I know I should not go because my body is a finely balanced machine. HIV does that to you. You either learn the system or you pay the price for failing to be able to read your inner signs. When brings me back to balance.
One must balance food, sleep, meditation and activity. Not to mention stay on treatment protocol in dosing ones self. I became out of whack this weekend. Now I am working on resynchronizing my inner systems. This ability is another gift one learns about when living with a disease that everyone knows is terminal at some stage of the game.
Live in the moment, stay in your day and remember your gratitude…
Where is this going, you ask?
I don’t know, I just thought I would share with you some observations from the ‘road’ as they are passing by. Balance is the key in all things. Learning what that balance is can take some time, so you must be persistent and thorough.
What do I do first? Well, I don’t have the movie in my collection, although I should. I can run around the house as I wish. Hubby has gone to see the in laws for the weekend. And I can do whatever, whenever and not have to worry about anyone else. I enjoy time to myself, since I get very little of it in normal life.
I’ll have to go by the DVD store …
I have made a pot of chicken stew this afternoon so that I can eat all weekend and not have to cook, or do dishes! yay…
I had a conversation with an old friend today. One of my many mentors that are made available to me at a moments notice. You see, I don’t make any major decisions or changes in my life without proper guidance from my mentors.
I know my young apprentice is going to read this so I have to be careful what I write. I have been working with him trying to teach him some valuable lessons in people skills, being out in public and learning what is right and wrong. People skills and most importantly FUN !!! I asked him the other day what he has learned from our time together and articulating information seems to still be an issue.
Space – Words – Language – Anger …
Everyone is allowed personal space. Something I guess we need to talk about is personal space. Knowing when to let alone and to stop invading peoples personal space. I live with another person. We each have our space. Our computer has a partition and I do not invade his space and hubby does not invade mine. We don’t read each others mail, nor do we fight over the box. Living under the same roof with another, your mother, your renter and your summer guest, each of you have personal space. You do not own the right to be controlling. You do not own the right to invade someone else’s space. You are a young man, your mother is an adult. THEREFORE, she is owed her space AND her privacy.
- You should never raise your voice at your mother
- You should never SWEAR at your mother
- You should never EVER raise a hand to your mother
- You should respect her space at home, on the computer and in public
- Learning to be an adult takes years of work, study, respect and love
- Disrespectful and Angry behavior is unacceptable
- We don’t need to read mom’s mail – That Is Private !!!
- Yes, please – Thank you and – how can I help you work much better
Women are different from men. Men and women both need their space at home and outside the home. It is imperative that you GET THIS, Today!! We need that security of personal space to do what it is that we (as adults) need to do for ourselves and for you. Living in such close quarters doesn’t lend very well to “space” and everybody needs to work together to “create safe and private space” when it is necessary. It is VERY important to remember that your mom needs her space.
We are guests in our parents houses – my parents made that perfectly clear to me on countless occasions.
So my friend Chuck, has a son named John. They are in the same boat we are. But John is a few years older than my apprentice. I needed to have a fatherly conversation with someone who could give me sound advice about what to do with my apprentice.
Life is difficult for kids growing up in a regular world. So one must take into consideration how it must be for the boys who have certain issues. I can’t make a decision or take a step in the right direction in regards to school, without proper guidance from someone up further on the path. I want to work to keep things SAFE, CALM, and Happy.
I want to make the right decisions for all parties involved. So I know what I need to do now. I know how to proceed, and I know there is constant assistance, whenever I need it from people who know where I am going with regards to my apprentice.
I know you are going to read this and critique what I have to say, and that is just fine with me. So Rather I be honest with you and write on my blog, what is on my mind, and give you something to think about before our next meeting.
Time to watch some tv.
Tonight I am proud to present the last of the three very special writers who were commissioned to write for me during my birthday week. This is from Cooper – from Coopers Corridor out in B.C. He is a truly gifted writer and a father of two young boys. Without further ado, I give you Cooper and his writing on the Totem.
I stand in the great hall of the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, head bent back, gazing up forty feet to where precise images have been carved into cedar totem poles by craftsmen whose art has been almost entirely erased by time. Near the bottom of a nearby pole, a smooth-shouldered wolf rests in the shadow of a killer whale. The eye of the whale is a shadowed well.
This wood, these bones, trace the nature and purpose of a vast awareness, a living spirit in the grain, each knot and every growth-ring a secret hieroglyph worked carefully into many layers of meaning. The echo of leaves is here, the resonance of damp fields half submerged in twilight, of dark soil and tales of night. And long, interwoven strands of time knitted together by wood and human hands.
The wood has been coaxed into shape … whittled, chiseled, sculpted with broad, incising strokes … by tools of utmost antiquity, by weapons, by stones, by countless forms oiled by brown muscled skin.
The focus of the collections is northwestern …hundreds of examples … an eagle with a five-foot, intricately carved beak, a tenebrous skull shape, moons and ravens and wild spirits of the forest. There are objects of great power here. The spirit of creative work calls to whomever will listen, and as I gaze at these ethereal faces staring back from a lost age, their muted colors hiding a secret flame, once again I hear that whisper spiraling out from the primordial source of things.
This is my spiritual heritage.
The instant I reach my hand to the wood and sense a silent energy thrumming inside, I become aware of being pulled into an elemental state. The stillness of that source lies behind the dream of an ancient, verdant grove that sometimes wakes me in the night.
Dark sky, cold rain, and a ground made bright by the sinuous shapes of wood sawn fresh from the tree … ivory of birch, faded porcelain of maple, linen of alder. There is some cypress, too, its scent of lemons reaching to sting me with exhilaration. A black, rough walnut rests alongside the opened bole of a Douglas fir, its orange grain glowing from a sunrise heart. I reach down to touch the alder, and in the moment of reaching, of touching the silent wood with its living core of mystery, I become acutely aware of the life-blood of my ancestors within me.
I acknowledge that the wood’s redemption … its escape from dissolution … is also my own. We are bound now, fragments of becoming. We share the journey of the totem. The faces of the figures are hidden in my own hands and heart. The totem is a spiritual heraldry. It describes, through a vast shorthand, the indications of the unfathomable. It is a finger pointing to the beginning, a wind blowing from a pristine field of possibility. It relates the tale of meteoric iron birthed as companion to the sun. Totems are reminders to remember, and to act.
I step into the landscape of my own totem. I see my Nana, the falcon, her brow etched like the grain of rough cedar, weathered by pain, made bright with love. I hear the voice of my mother, the wolf … first a clear call, then a tremor, and finally a sorrowing wail. I feel the hands of my unknown father, the ghostly raven that I sometimes watch, looking for myself.
I am the eagle ….the one who carries and sustains, whose touch is redolent with solace.
My oldest son, to whom I gave the second name Cedar … the swift little deer … blueberry stains on his chin, shouting with joy as he runs through green fields. And my baby boy Rowan, the seal, cradled by wonder, darting into the light with luminous eyes.
I wonder what indelible traces I will leave … and they … what teeth marks from carved mouths? I reach toward a horizon of prophecy, to mentors and unknown guides, the gods and goddesses of an unbroken cord of lineage secured at the source by invisible hands.
This is where I begin.
Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte speaks to the media Monday morning clarifying his position.
This situation is a travesty. And workers that have been on strike, need to return to work and clean up this MESS of a cemetery and bury the Hundreds of dead now being stored on the property in the buildings and refrigerated trucks. These workers have no respect for the dead nor do they respect our community! It is time to get back to work and get this situation taken care of before Winter sets in on us.
CTV.ca News Staff
Montreal’s Roman Catholic archbishop has called out for an end to the labour dispute that has crippled a major cemetery’s operations.
“I have no button that I can push to say you get there, you get there, I have the power to bring understanding in a difficult situation,” Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte told the media on Monday.
About 500 bodies remain unburied in a refrigerated cemetery vault at Notre-Dame-des-Neiges because of the lockout.
All burials have been put on hold since May 16, when about 130 cemetery employees were locked out, prompting a strike.
The union and families have asked Turcotte to intervene on more than one occasion but the archbishop has said he does not have the power to meddle in a labour dispute.
“I have been asked to intervene and I must remind everyone that I can not do so,” said Turcotte in a press release dated Aug. 2.
“It is true that the law confers a certain number of powers to the bishop. However, the cemetery remains under the administration and management of the fabrique whose property it is.”
Citing a legal act governing cemetery management, Turcotte said the autonomy of administrators is required.
Turcotte still decided to meet with the families to speak with them about their ordeal.
Debra de Thomassis, a woman who has been waiting to bury her grandmother and is spearheading a class-action lawsuit against the cemetery to get it working again, said the families were asked questions.
“He basically asked us how we were feeling, how we came upon to be stuck in this conflict,” she said. “He totally understands out position and is with us all the way.
“I think he decided to get involved because he needed to let everybody know what was his real position, what were his real powers,” she continued. “He doesn’t necessarily have the powers to go into the management of the administration but he certainly has the power to let them know his position.”
The families also asked if the archbishop could work out a deal where they could have a requiem and see their loved ones one more time. De Thomassis said the archbishop is looking into it.
The union has said it will not return to work until at least some of its demands are met.
According to management, salaried employees currently make an average annual income of $49,000, while seasonal workers make $27,000.
The union is demanding improvements in five key areas:
- A defined benefit pension plan, in which workers can acquire previous years of service;
- A four-day work week;
- An increase in the number of weeks available to seasonal workers from 26 to 36;
- Greater departure allowances; and
Limiting the use of subcontracting
They have been without a contract since 2003.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Annie DeMelt