[Jorge Bergoglio] Made a pilgrimage to the Bavarian city of Augsburg where, in the Jesuit church of Sankt Peter am Perlach, he contemplated s Baroque-era painting from the early 1700’s known as Maria Knotenloserin, “Mary, Untier of Knots,” which was the object of a local devotion. The painting’s story goes back to a feuding married couple who had been on the verge of a bitter separation. The husband, Wolfgang Langenmantel, had sought help from a local Jesuit priest, Father Jakob Rem, who prayed to the Virgin Mary “to untie all the knots” in the Langenmantel home. Peace was restored and the marriage was saved; and to give thanks for the miracle their grandson commissioned the painting and donated it to the church.
At First glance, it is nothing out of the ordinary; the painting shows the Virgin, surrounded by angels and protected by the light of the Holy Spirit, standing on a serpent with the child Jesus in her arms. But the middle of the painting is striking: an angel to Mary’s left is passing her a silk thread full of knots that she unties, handing on the un-knotted thread to an angel on her right.
Father Rem’s prayer to the Virgin had been inspired by an ancient formula of Saint Irenaeus: The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary.
Obedience was precisely Bergoglio’s knot. It is the key vow for Jesuits, and one he strongly believed in; it was what made mission and unity possible. Yet what he had been given was not a mission, but a means of getting him out (sic. Of Argentina) because he was an obstacle. What obedience did he owe?
Obedience comes from the Latin obaudire, to “hear” or “listen to.” The vow is meant above all to free the heart from the ego in order to listen to God, and submit freely to His will: the Virgin is the perfect model of such obedience.
What was God’s will, now, for Bergoglio, in the middle of his life?
Bergoglio took a handful of Maria Knotenloserin prayer cards back with him. In the 1990’s, after a local copy of the painting – known in Spanish as Maria Desatanudos – was hung in a church in Buenos Aires, it took off in an extraordinary way, leading Bergoglio later to say he never felt so much in the hands of God.
The Oscars are on. The opening number just ended. We love N.P.H !!!
It was a warm one today. Warmer than it has been recently. (-5c/-12c) We had a little snow last night, and in certain places (read:Westmount) snow is piled up about two feet deep in some yards.
It has been a beautiful weekend.
It was an early night last night, and there will a number of early mornings this week. I have to drop labs tomorrow morning, and I have a midweek doctors appointment. Has it been six months already? My doctors have dropped me from four visits a year down to two visits.
The Super hospital is opening in a few months, so they are consolidating services and closing hospitals as they are absorbed into the larger super building. To that end, my one clinic at the General is staying open, but that may change this week. My other doctor is seeing me at his private office on the other side of town, but I don’t see him until April.
I departed on time and we cranked out set up and our guys and ladies, came to do our hour prior read and discussion. I can honestly say that I am inspired by my guys. They, each in their own way, inspire me to be a better person.
The sun shone down on us today and God was good, prayers were answered and a miracle took place, all in the space of ninety minutes. If you don’t believe that miracles happen, they do.
We sat a small group.
One of our women gave birth to a healthy baby boy yesterday. We are so proud of her. Babies in A.A. are miracles in themselves, because the women who gave birth to them are miracles as well. The miracle baby phenomena now counts four children strong.
It was the last Sunday, therefore a Tradition meeting. Second month, Tradition Two.
“For our group purpose there is but one authority – A loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.”
I am not God. And I am not the center of the universe. And it isn’t all about me either.
Over the years, I’ve learned a great deal about this tradition, because I have seen what egos and attitudes do when they collide in a meeting. And I have been guilty myself, of being less than charitable or kind. We all have grown past these problems and all the players are good men and women. Each in our own ways.
We see Tradition Two come together at every business meeting. I can sit back and let my friends partake in the miracle that is recovery. Everyone plays a role in the group, and as a community, and finally in their own recovery. We defer to our chair for wisdom, and to God to guide us. And that model seems to work.
It was a night for miracles. And I am grateful to have been present to see it happen.
A good night was had by all. Please pray for our guys.
More to come, stay tuned …
Another week has come and go. The weather is getting cold. This is the time of year where I enjoy sitting on my balcony watching weather come and go overhead.
The city is little by slowly getting taken over by elf magic. Decorations are going up in the stores, in the malls, on lamp posts, if it stands by itself, one can put lights on it, it seems.
From where we live, up as high as we are, weather is a huge feature of this home of ours.
Every night the sky is different. Every night, the sunset can be spectacular, and sometimes it is just meh ! This getting dark in the middle of the afternoon is definitely disconcerting.
Yesterday I was sitting outside and I watched a lone cloud, move from West to East, around the West end, and over the South Shore, (read: The south side of the St. Lawrence River), we are on the North side, the island of Montreal.
There were no other clouds nearby, not over our section of the city, that we can see. And this one cloud dropped rain over the South Shore, in one fluid movement, moving West to East.
Tonight, it was somewhere around 5:30 or 6:00, hubby had just gotten home from work, saying that he saw snow. I walked outside, and once again, there was a single cloud hanging over the South Shore, and it was snowing from that one cloud.
Our view is quite expansive. On a clear day we can see all the way to New York State, to the West, Mount Royal to the North, the South Shore to the South. The lighting in the section of the city is not white. It is more like an amber color in the streetlamps. The buildings on the west end are up lit from their roofs. And it is an optical illusion, but when it is cloudy or stormy, it seems the clouds drop out of the sky, and are lit from the ground and the buildings. Sometimes they cover the top of the mountain.
It is especially cool in the winter to watch the clouds come over. One can usually tell when the clouds are fit to burst with either rain or snow.
**** **** ****
This was an ordinary week, so far. Nothing exciting going on here.
Tuesday we sat a small group, and we read through Step Ten. All the usual suspects came, but we were missing some folks. Thursday we sit the same group of men, the ones holding together that meeting, one month at a time. We read from Living Sober … Getting Enough Rest.
Tonight I traveled across the city to North End English. The Friday Who’s Who meeting of the week.
Tonight’s reading … Who’s Responsibility ???
“… That is why sobriety – freedom from alcohol – through the teaching and practice of A.A. Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of the group ( read: or a group). If we don’t stick to this cardinal principle, we shall almost certainly collapse. And if we collapse we cannot help anyone.”
An A.A. group follows the singleness of purpose rule, our job is to welcome the newcomer, and anyone else who needs a meeting. That is our job. The first order of business, when we stop drinking, is to stay stopped. And the way we do that, is by coming, and listening, and watching. And learning …
We cannot solve all your problems. Social, Marital, Financial, etc …
An old timer spoke tonight telling the story about his life. He had all those kinds of problems. Our One Common problem, between us all is that (a) we were powerless over our alcoholism, and (b) that our lives had become unmanageable.
It is usually a foregone conclusion that if we remove the alcohol, usually, everything falls back into place. But not every situation is like that. Sometimes by the time we quit the drink, we have wrecked our relationships, our families, our spouses, and the lives of children, if we have them, our jobs and our financial security, sometimes all at once, or they fall, like dominoes, one at a time.
The first thing I (read: me) had to do was put down the drink. Because at that point, I was sick and delusional. I could not go on drinking like I had been. And for the first five months, this time around, I went to meetings, and I listened to people talk, I went through a couple passes of the Steps, Living Sober, and the Big Book. I was pretty well set, when I moved here, to get started.
I got connected right away. I worked very hard at doing everything right, hoping that I would never “want” to drink again. One of my friends and I were talking on the way home about wants and needs.
When I came back, I had thoughts about things I wanted … Things I thought were important.
God had other plans for me.
In the beginning, I relied on meetings and the people in those meetings, like I had never depended on anyone before. I wasn’t dependent on them, but I depended on them. Never in the last thirteen years, (almost), I have never had to go outside the rooms for anything.
Our meetings follow the singleness of purpose, true. The addendum to this is this …
We always get what we need, whenever we walk into a meeting. And in this program, if you’ve ever come in, went back out, and come back a second, third or fourth or fifth time, you gotta really “want it” to be able to get it.
I heard it tonight. A friend came in crazy, worried and afraid, and she spoke it to the meeting, and at the end of the meeting, several members stepped up and said, “We will help you …” Situation averted!
If there is something on your heart or on your mind, speak it to a meeting. If the need is great, and the desire is genuine, God will provide, one way or another. It may not come right away, but I’ve seen God turn things around within an hours time.
They also say that be careful for what you pray for, because if God thinks you are ready, He will give it to you. Without even an expectation on the books.
Many people have come and gone through my life in sobriety. Not everyone is meant to be with us for the entire journey. I can tell you that there is only one woman, who is still in my life today, who was there when I got sober in the beginning. I see her at work, because she doesn’t go to meetings any more, but we are still close friends. I can always count on her for support.
God has done for me what I could not do for myself.
This reading also talks about personal responsibility.
Firstly, We are responsible for ourselves and the decision we made to stop, and to Stay Stopped.
Once we put down the drink, we may or may not be very responsible, but we get there eventually. A good sponsor steps in at the right time, to support you. Our job, to help you stay sober, and get you through your steps. But not all at once, and surely not right away.
I’d rather help you sink into your seat and get comfortable with where you are, before The Work begins. In the beginning, all I had to do was get me to a meeting. I had to learn how to do that in a four season setting. That took work. A lot of work.
They gave me jobs to do in the beginning. Chairs and tables, for a long time. Months …
Then I made coffee, for a long time. I still make coffee to this very day.
That’s almost 13 years of weeks, making coffee for a meeting at least three times a week.
An urn usually holds 30 cups of coffee per night. I go to 4 meetings a week. I make coffee, three times a week. That is three urns of coffee a week, at thirty cups a night, times thirteen.
30 cups x 3 times a week x 365 days x 13 years = that’s 427,050 cups of coffee in 13 years.
I learned how to be responsible for simple things, which prepared me for the bigger things.
I had good people in my life all along, from the very beginning. Who taught me very important lessons about life, love, responsibility, accountability, etc …
I got that all from the meetings, and the people in them.
Little by slowly, I got a life.
Little by slowly, I got the man.
Little by slowly, I got the home I wanted.
Little by slowly, I got the education.
Little by slowly, I got the marriage. Next Thursday it will be 10 years …
And little by slowly, in December, I will reach thirteen years sober on December 9th.
It did not come all at once. I learned that I go to meetings. I talk things out. I work my steps.
Then God says … ok, now you’ve done the homework, let’s see you work it out in real time.
And one by one, I get a little study time, a little think time, and a long period of work it out time.
Then the cycle repeats itself. Season after season, year after year.
I am responsible.
Whenever anyone anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. to be there,
And for that I am responsible.
God has been good, to me and my fellows. Not all times are good. Sometimes things can get very shitty and it seems that God steps out of the picture for a time, I’m not sure why that happens, maybe we need to learn something about ourselves ( read; study period) then He re-engages.
The only thing we have to change when we get sober is everything.
It isn’t always fun. Sometimes it can be downright HARD !
But they tell us, wisely, to stick around until the miracle occurs.
More to come, stay tuned …
“I get everything I need in Alcoholics Anonymous – And everything I need I get, And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.”
Big Book, Freedom from Bondage, page: 552.