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Pope Francis

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

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20 Nov 2015 at 08:51 ET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday – Some People Don’t make It !

tumblr_m187ytnKBN1r3fvxmo1_500 thedarkblueThe weather is definitely cooler. The trees have begun their turns. Lots of yellows in the neighborhood. But I haven’t noticed bursts of color in other parts of my commute, as of yet. I was standing on my balcony today and noticed the trees.

The first holiday of the “2015 Holiday Season” is just days away. I went book shopping the other day and I noticed as I came down the stairs to the check out, that they had CHRISTMAS CARDS, out for sale. We are the beginning of October right now. I stepped up to the checkout and looked at the young lady behind the counter and said …”Christmas cards, really, REALLY !!!”

God Give Me Strength !

I’ve finished my read of The Great Reformer, Pope Francis.

It’s difficult not to love a man who lives simply, loves deeply and wants to bring Jesus to the people in every walk of life. A man who calls us to serve, “the least of these” because we can and we must. He wants to build community across racial, socioeconomic, ethnic and religious borders.

The church has had its stance on several fronts that hasn’t changed since the 1960’s. Some of these stances are never going to be changed, and others, it seems are on the table for discussion.

The Pope came to the U.S. with a specific goal in mind. He stayed away from Hot Button issues, however the Papal Nuncio to Washington, who famously, served in the Vatican during the run up to the conclave that elected Jorge Bergoglio pope. He had a major faux pas in bringing that anti-Christ woman to meet the pope. He clearly failed and we are told may pay dearly for that appearance.

One must admire a man, who has stayed “on message” for most of his priesthood. Prior to the Dirty War, Jorge Bergoglio saw the world in a specific way and he treated his priests and others, in a way that was not so papal. Jorge’s saving grace was his spiritual transformation that turned his world upside down. The message changed. And a man who only served the church became a man who served the people. And that changed the entire ball game.

The Pueblo Fiel, the People of God, are the most important part of church. Without them, there is no church. Francis’ entire ministry hinges on serving everyone. And that goes for everybody. Although Francis has shared certain words on specific subjects, the fact that he welcomes “everybody” is telling. We are all people of God, no matter our orientation, background, sin or omission.

If we don’t go out and love our brothers and sisters, who is going to do that for us ?

You might want to judge Pope Francis on his few words, or on what he might be saying, from behind the safety of Vatican walls, but you cannot ignore how Francis goes about his days and nights, the austerity in which he lives, and the way he sees church, which is a total 180 degree change from the Old Guard Papacies.

It is written that Pope John Paul II was a great man, who certainly had his faults. No pope is perfect, as Jorge reminds us. Nobody is perfect. Only God is perfect. I relate the story on one Christmas, before John Paul II became infirm, a group of Cardinals came to greet the pope and ignored the Swiss Guard standing at attention outside the residence. They did not greet him, nor did they acknowledge him either.

Afterwards, Pope John Paul II came outside and spoke to the young man and had a chair for him to sit down, because the Pope had brought him some food to eat. The guard replied that he cannot sit down, “on the job!”

The Pope replied … Well, I am the Pope, have a seat and eat this treat …

This story is a highlight in Pope John Paul II’s reasons for canonization.

When Francis was elected, he shunned extravagance. He paid his bills like any other priest. He rebuffed the papal suite and rooms to go with it. Like John Paul II who wore hand me downs, and very little expensive clothing, Pope Francis is particularly similar to John Paul II in many ways.

I am highly literate on John Paul II.

Pope Francis lives in Casa Santa Marta in a small 2 room apartment. He shares his meals and masses with those who work in the area, in the Vatican, and the residence. He does his daily prayer and meditation to start out every day at 4:30 in the morning.

He works during the day, and at night, he goes into his rooms and changes into simple street clothes, and goes out to meet the poor, to serve them and to be with them. His outreach to the “least of these” is an example of a holy man who forgoes the trappings of Church, and simply goes out and does what is right.

His concern for “the people” and as well, his Church, is indicative of a man who came to Rome, not expecting to become Pope. He had asked certain people back in Argentina to continue their jobs, that he would be back very soon.

As we know, things change. In a very simple but direct address to the cardinals in the pre conclave meetings, swung the pendulum in his favor. And it was because of that 170 word speech, Jorge Bergoglio became Pope.

He never got to go home again. And after becoming Pope, he still calls his friends, and invites them to visit, and he has brought the world he came from, into the world at large.

Before you judge someone or rely on preconceived notions about Pope and the Church, I highly recommend you read what has been written about Francis. It was a truly enjoyable reading.

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Some People Don’t Make It

Another Thursday and another speaker. This night was reserved for our local DCM. That would be “District Committee Member,” who serves our district of the Island of Montreal fpr the area.

I, for example, hold a position as GSR for one of my home groups. That would be “General Service Representative” The GSR is the go between the group and the district. We meet once a month, to discuss news, hold workshops and do service for our specific groups.

Anyways …

The main message from her tonight was this … We should be so grateful for what we have, and to recognize just what we have in the rooms. That our program is one of “Spiritual Transformation,” that in order to reap the benefits, we heard it again tonight, we must be prepared to go to any length.

It seems the women have the market on this call.

They know what to do, and they do it gladly and willingly.

Some women suffer much more than the men do. And maybe this is why they work it as hard as they do. And some of us men, emboldened by their example have adopted their practices.

Some alcoholics come from alcoholic homes. And others come from homes where they never saw their parents take a drink. Many of us have siblings who drank, got sober, and either by their example we followed in their footsteps, or we got here on our own steam, many of those siblings went back out and paid the ultimate price.

I know, that a good number of our membership have lost family members to the disease of alcoholism. Which makes it a little more personal, why we stick so close to what we have and we go to any length to keep this going, even in the worst of times.

In the end, one of our men took 31 years. There was lots of Cake to go around.

There is only one book I need to read in order to understand where I come from, and quite possibly where I might be going if I stick around long enough to see the miracle happen for myself and my friends.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


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

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

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

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

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

Pope Francis is a very savvy man.

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

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

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

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

Page 314 – 315…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday Sundries – Papal Apology

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

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

Goodnight.

Lifted From: Joe My God

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

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

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


Mary Untier of Knots

Mary-Untier-of-Knots

[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.


Thursday … “Siempre Adelante …” Always Moving Forwards

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

“Siempre Adelante …” Always move forwards,

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

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

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

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

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

I beg to differ…

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

Which leads to the term the Pope of the slums …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am saddened to say, nothing has changed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I drank, I stank and I sank …

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

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

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

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

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

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

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … The Baby, The Pope, GOD and Me … Not Necessarily in that Order !

pope-francis-do-not-disturb cropPope Francis, as we speak, is in Cuba. Having Celebrated Mass in Revolution Square this morning, has met with Raul Castro and today, his brother Fidel. It was an informal but cordial meeting between the two men.

The Pope wants “Change.” Change in a good way, Change in an internal attitude way. Of leaving our safe homes and safe lives to go out in the streets and serve “the least of these” in the best way we can, from our hearts, not our minds.

He wants to unite the world in the ways of God. Francis sees God in a very particular way. He invites us to share in the divinity of God through Jesus, and come into that special spiritual awareness that comes with the resurrected Christ on Easter morning.

I admire Pope Francis a great deal, because he asks simply to serve God in each other. Because we are all formed in the image of God, and we are also, star stuff. Which means that “Divinity” exists in each of us, as we are, warts and all.

If we stopped and took a serious look at our fellows, our neighbors and our friends, we too would see that divinity.

It comes to us to “change” to be able to see it.

We are called to serve. Not for our own good, but for the good of others. For the good of God, yes, “church” would be mentioned here as well, Francis has been stripping away the trappings of “Church” for a simpler way of life. We don’t need finery or gems and gold.

Jesus once commanded his disciples to go out into the world carrying only what they had on their backs, and to do the work they were commanded.

Just the same, Francis calls us to go out and do good works.

Because it is in those works that we exemplify the spirit of God.

I am slowly working my way through The Great Reformer, Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, written by Austen Ivereigh.

I have read a few other books about Francis. When he was elected Pope several tomes were released. Pope Francis has not escaped the past because he plays a much hated man, a much loved man, and a man who was once a very tight Jesuit priest with his own ideas and ways of life, until the time came, when God struck him and Francis had his spiritual awakening.

People have many opinions about Francis, and the role he played during the Dirty War. Was he complicit, was he flying under the radar, or was he a victim of the times as they played out before him?

Every writer I have read has painted a picture of Francis.

I do not stand in judgment of his past.

I do stand in awe of the man he became and the words he speaks and the challenges he puts before us as the leader of Holy Mother Church. Even there, he turned the Curia and the papal household on its ear, by living in Casa Santa Marta, and sharing his days working in the church, then at night, he changes into his spiritual superman suit and goes out and visits with the least of these, inviting them to dine with him and attend his morning masses at the Vatican.

There is a kernel of Holy Mother Church in me, I won’t deny that. I loved the church that educated me, the church that served me, and the church that went above and beyond to save me when I needed to be saved and looked after.

I am eternally grateful to those men who took time out of their lives to sit with me, to break bread with me, to minister to my spiritual needs, and to give me Hope and Faith, in a time when Hope and Faith were in little supply.

Churches … Many of them, Across the board, were not kind to the gays, especially us gays who had AIDS, because it was said that we got what was coming to us from God himself as punishment for our sinful lives.

I can say this with total confidence … I have NEVER met a man of God who EVER pointed a damning finger at me and said that God was punishing me for any reason whatsoever.

That is a thing …

We’ve talked of God these past few days again. God has been in high rotation for a while now, and I really did not have anything substantive to write, but it was coming.

We read “An Artists Conception” tonight. It opens with this quote from Appendix II in the back of the Big Book, in regards to Spiritual experience.

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance –

That principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

Herbert Spencer

Our man has a serious problem. And he knows what the problem is, Alcoholism. He has investigated the issue backwards and forwards, but he lacks one thing; the spiritual approach, because like many of us, religion is a nasty word, because of the taste it left in our mouths.

But he meets one man, who shows him the way, humbly and quietly. And our man GETS IT. Then he meets twenty other men who also have gotten it. And the desire to drink becomes pointless against all of his other problems. But he never picks up a drink again.

He says that it wasn’t the words they used, or the book they were reading, but there was an invisible force that he recognized. He saw it. And in some miraculous way, he finds that power greater than himself.

Many of our folks are still trying to figure it out for themselves. God as an intellectual pursuit is a rather hard task. But if you stick around long enough, you will find it, sure enough.

Did I tell you the time I met God ???

Yes, I have. Over and Over again. It is the best story I have in my bank.

After listening to my friend vacillate and try to figure out who God is for them, I had twenty minutes to state my case. And I tell them of the horrors I was living in the nineties. And how my life came to a crashing end when I was diagnosed with AIDS, and was told to go home, kiss my ass goodbye and wait to die.

I made one phone call that changed my life.

I had actually made several other calls that did not pan out.

So that one call I made was to Provincetown.

Todd and Roy returned from their holidays early because I needed help.

When Todd stepped up, it was because he loved me. He chose me to save, in the way he chose to do that. He concentrated everything he had into me in those first two years that saved my life.

Meanwhile, at the bar, all of my friends were approaching death in exactly the way they chose. living fast and leaving a good looking corpse. Well, how good of a corpse is it when it is riddled with K.S. stricken with disease, plowed with exotic drugs and tanked on the best liquor a bar tender could pour ?

I had no other choice. Well, I did have a choice.

I could have taken that route myself. Todd had other plans for me.

He began to teach me how to live, with the reminder that BOB was in the cemetery right across the street from the bar. And if I was not willing to try to live, that I would end up there myself.

When I needed God, He came. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, that I know what God looks like, I know His voice and I know for sure that He was with me in my hours of need.

And I looked at my friends after telling this story, (with more words used to get the point across) that if they need proof that God does exist, they need not look any further than myself.

I lived. I did not die. Because God saved me.

But like any mortal man, addiction knows no bounds. I forgot …

But when I returned, I said a single prayer to God for help.

And let me tell you, I prayed a specific prayer for specific needs in a specific order.

  1. I prayed for the desire to drink to leave me
  2. I needed an alcoholic to come to me, and
  3. I needed to get to a meeting.

Nothing is too difficult for God when we really need help. Because He moved heaven and earth and provided me that prayer in the order it went out, as if to say,

“Hey there, I got your back!”

Not a day goes by that I do not remember where I came from. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Todd. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for something. However, I admit, freely, that gratitude is not something I think about constantly.

It is an action.

I’ve chosen to live out my gratitude in my “Presence” to my friends. Like Francis calls us to do, I go out and I serve the “least of these” and those who need the love and faith I have.

Which leads nicely into the next portion of tonight’s read … The Baby

I work every day to be a man of honor, courage and strength. I work every day to make the right decisions, and to be of maximum service to my fellows. And let me tell you, that does not come easily.  Creating family is difficult. Maintaining family is challenging. Taking care of a baby is the most rewarding experience I can share in today.

Today, I got an entire afternoon with the baby, we had some lunch. She would not eat her food, by herself, so she did eat when I offered food to her. hen we played for a while with her blocks, but that did not last very long.

So we dressed her and popped her into her stroller and went to the park. This was our first park outing together. And we passed a few of my friends on the way, and it was said to me that “we probably started tongues wagging …” but you only live once.

We did some swings. We did some slides, and some playground rides. We played in the sand and got dirty. It was just me and the baby. It was the most wonderful feeling. There were screaming kids all over the playground, and their parents watching closely, and for a while, I was one of those parents, playing with his child.

It was immense …

I want to close with some thought’s by Pope Francis.

“Archbishop Quarracino invited Bergoglio in January and April 1990 to give retreats to dozens of his clergy in La Plata. In the first, “Our flesh in Prayer,” Bergoglio reflected powerfully on Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, the story of the foreigner who comes to the aid of a traveler beaten by brigands. He showed that those who passed on the other side – symbolized in Jesus’s telling by the priest and the Levite – used a series of distancing techniques, which were all temptations: either they intellectualized the suffering they saw, or evaded the responsibility for it by reassuring themselves that this is how life was.

The Samaritan, on the other hand, got on his hands and knees to get close to the victim, opened his heart to him and bound his wounds, shouldered him and spent his money on him. “That is what we will be judged on,” Bergoglio told the priests, adding that this proximity was at the heart of the Incarnation. Jesus, far from “passing on the other side,” paid the ultimate price in sacrificing his own flesh for those who suffer; and God’s closeness to humanity is the reason why “Prayer touches our flesh in its very nucleus, it touches our heart.”

Prayer, he told the priests, meant enduring the possibility of change; it meant a willingness to suffer. When a person ceases praying and starts complaining, “he ceases to serve the Gospel and becomes a victim. He canonizes himself.” Making oneself the victim, rather than Christ, was blasphemy; and a flesh that is used to blasphemy, which does not know how to ask for help for its own wound and sin, is a flesh incapable of helping the wounds of others.”

Even if he dedicates his life to God he will only ever be able to come close to himself.: It is the asepsis of the Pharisee,” Bergoglio warned: “neither virus or vitamin.”

There is a God, and I am not He.

More to come, stay tuned …


In Case of Fire …”BREAK GLASS”

Pope Francis in a selfie photoIt has been a week of change. People have come and gone. One of my men is now living in Pittsburgh and we get to talk every night, thanks to Skype. The wonders of technology never cease.

Last night we heard from a second of my men, who is moving his family back to Oshawa to his family home where the kids will have a house, a yard and parks to play in close to home, which is a big change from their 3 1/2 here in Montreal. That move takes place in a fortnight.

My third and final man is coming home in the days to come, which will be exciting since he has been gone all summer long at camp.

The Friday night commute was quick and painless, and we set up quickly and quietly. Then everyone came for the Friday night meet and greet. It was a full house by the time the meeting ended. We talked about prayer, and we talked about God.

At some point in the game, you get to God. And the Book speaks about the “spiritual experience” and the “psychic change” that has to come about to guarantee a sober life.

Everyone has a story. And at some point or other, in our drinking story, that we get to the end and we say …”God, help me, I can’t go on like this any longer !” In case of Fire, Break Glass…

There has been a lot of talk about religious faith amongst my fellows, which I am going to write about in a separate post later tonight. I read an interesting post last night about religious faith and the belief in fictional characters we find in pop culture and in film. But more on that later.

I’ve noticed along the way that there are buzz words and concepts that have popped up this time around that did not come to mind the first time around, not that I remember. That was more than twenty years ago now.

When I hit my slip, I surely was not thinking about God. He never came up. I never thought about Him. And the thought did not come to mind until I had had my last drink and I finally called out for help. I prayed, and I believe that that is all He needed to hear. You see, God allows us to do what we are going to do, usually He doesn’t act, unless we are in peril, for some.

Over there —> in the Pages if you look down to “Naked and Sacred” you can read my story about my relationship with God, when it started and how I got here.

God was part of my life. I went to church, I attended seminary, visited the Vatican. God and I were close. And as long as I remained “on the beam” my life was pretty sweet. Everything went according to plan, it was never my plan, per se, but it was a plan that worked.

But every time I stepped “off the beam” my life became a real shit storm.

I have had several shit storms in my life. Most of my twenties, half of my thirties. I had brief connection when I got sober the first time, but I account that survival to people and not God. But in hindsight, I have said that when I really needed God, (read: my diagnosis) He came to me in human form. I was so satisfied with my job and the people in my life, I really did not think about God, because He was there, right in front of me.

The second time around I learned how to trust God all over again. And I have said that from the moment I put down the drink, God moved heaven and earth to get me here. And He was running the show. I have stayed “on the beam.”

When I hit my ten year anniversary, the theme of that anniversary was ” I Thirst” a meditation from the journals of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It would not come to pass for another couple of years that God spoke to me. At the West island Roundup in 2013, I met Lorna Kelly. She went to Calcutta and worked along side the sisters and had a relationship with Mother Teresa for years, prior to her death, and later spoke in the case for her canonization.

Anyways … I read both her books. The Camel Knows the Way and In the Footsteps of the Camel. In the story in the first book is all about Calcutta. Lorna steps into the chapel and there stenciled on the wall next to the crucifix are the words … ” I Thirst.” It floored me.

It was also at that roundup that my prayer life got a huge jump start. I was coasting. And the fire that was lit pushed me to new lengths in my prayer life. And from that blossomed a new sponsor, sponsees and something entirely new for my sobriety.

But as of late, I’ve had problems finding God. I know He is there, but there are times that I can’t see him, or I forget to call out His name. And that usually happens when I am stuck on my hamster wheel obsessing or worrying about things that are way outside of my control.

In certain situations, the older I get the angrier I get about people and situations. I imagine in my minds eye that adults grow up eventually and we reach a point that darkness is overcome by the light.

That hasn’t happened yet for me.

I spoke about it last night again, because we read on resentments and anger. And throughout the meeting I heard the the older men speak, and we got two round robins in and I heard those sentences from the book that makes sense of everything that is going on …

  • ACCEPTANCE is the KEY to ALL my problems and that
  • NOTHING absolutely NOTHING happens in God World by Mistake.

God is in control, to the extent we allow that control. But God allows for self will. And when we take back our will, it usually ends up in self will run riot. I would rather not be in that place.

Where ever you are at what ever time it is, no matter what day it is, we are right where we need to be at any given moment on any given day. And that if nothing happens by mistake and I an right where I should be, then I can let go of my expectations and my fears and my pains of heart.

I got here right? Well, God got me here.

I am powerless over people, places and things.

I’ve read countless books about Karma, Family, Parables, Teachings.

One book I love is The Journey Home – a Kryon Parable.

In it the lead character looses his parents very young, and spirals into a pit of depression and loneliness until he winds up in hospital because of a robbery gone very wrong. In the story he gets to take a journey through seven Angelic Houses. And learns many lessons about life.

When we are born, we incarnate in groups usually. Everybody has their prescribed roles, agreed upon before we get here. And certain people may not be on board for the entire journey, because each contract is different. And we may not get very far, but far enough to the point that we either move apart or we die.

I believe that my family had a very short contract. We only got so far before we parted ways and i went on with my life by myself. And I wonder why that happened, well I know why, I am Gay, HIV+ and I live in another country now. Grounds for immediate dismissal.

So that is a thing.

I pray for the time when everybody grows up to a point that communication is possible. But I am not hedging my bets. Cue resentment and anger. 

Unfounded.

I must go on trusting that God knows what He is doing. Can you see I have trust issues?

I am right where I need to be and there are no mistakes.

I must connect daily, many times a day. I must be humble and get on my knees and pray.

There are no two ways around it.

I must remain “On the Beam.”

It is getting late and I have a second post to finish.

More to come, stay tuned …


Hundreds of thousands watch two popes become saints

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By Philip Pullella and James Mackenzie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A TRAGIC CENTURY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“THE ENDS OF THE EARTH”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Papal Plea for Peace …

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis made an impassioned New Year’s peace address on Wednesday, saying the heart of humanity seemed to have gone astray and too many people were still indifferent to war, violence and injustice.

The pontiff, who took his papal name from St Francis of Assisi, the saint most associated with peace, urged the world to listen to the “cry for peace” from suffering peoples.

“What on earth is happening in the hearts of men? What on earth is happening in the heart of humanity?” he said to tens of thousands of people in St Peter’s Square on the day the Roman Catholic Church celebrates its World Day of Peace.

“It’s time to stop!” he said, departing from his prepared text.

“Everyone must be committed to building a society that is truly just and caring,” he told the crowd on Wednesday, acknowledging the many peace banners and blue balloons held aloft.

In a message for the World Day of Peace sent to world leaders last month, Francis said that huge salaries and bonuses were symptoms of an economy based on greed and inequality

In that letter, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina again urged nations to narrow the gap between rich and poor, more and more of whom were getting only “crumbs”.


Twas the Night Before Christmas

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis lauded Jesus’ humble beginning as a poor and vulnerable baby as he celebrated his first Christmas Eve Mass as pontiff Tuesday in St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Francis has dedicated much of his nine-month-old papacy to drawing attention to the plight of the poor, of children, and other vulnerable members of society.

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The bells of St. Peter’s rang as Francis, who turned 77 a week ago, walked briskly up the main aisle of the basilica for the ceremony, which began Tuesday 2 1/2 hours before midnight.
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Keeping with the theme of humility he has set for his new papacy, Francis carried the statue instead of an aide, and kissed a knee of the figure of the newly born Jesus.The occasional wail of babies in the basilica contrasted at times with the sweet voices of the choir.
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The Argentine-born pope has also encouraged his flock to be a joyful church, and he called Jesus’ “the light who brightens the darkness.”
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In the world’s history and our own personal history, Francis said, “there are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows. ” He added “if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us.”

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At the Vatican during the homily, Francis quoted the Apostle John, saying “‘whoever hates his brother is in the darkness”‘ and “‘does not know the way to go, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”‘

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

Wow, Pope Francis really knows how to hit it hard. I so needed to read this passage reported from his first Christmas Eve Mass.

“whoever hates his brother is in the darkness… Because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

So true So true…

It is the Holiday before the Holiday. And as usual, traveling in the night was problematic. There were more buses going East, than buses going West. So on the way out we waited and waited …

We sat a humble group of folks, who came out of respect for the meeting and also, just for the chance to spend time with each other, before we all wandered off to fulfill family obligations this Christmas Eve.

The chair double dipped tonight, on a topic that, for many, is on the front of many brains during these days, Anger and Resentment.

“Anger is the dubious luxury of normal men, but for us alcoholics it is poison.”

I have been a bit angry and resentful.

The one thing I pray for every year, has not come to pass for me, again this year. And they say that if you pray for something, you must take the next action, thereby giving God an IN to help along that which you pray for.

I opened the holidays with a great effort, out of kindness and love. I took great pains to act in kindness, and once again, it was ignored.

Fuck me …

With all that is going on in the world, the lack of respect of each other from certain celebrity and certain family and politicians, is unnerving and upsetting.

And this week I reached a tipping point.

I culled my twitter account, now only including a handful of folks I want to follow. It bothers me to high heaven, the lengths some will go to denigrate and disrespect other human beings just because we are gay.

I am sick to death of politics.

I am sick of reading, watching, and focusing on people who do nothing but drink, get drunk, and fall down. So I have culled all those folks off my social media platforms. Maybe I am getting old in sobriety, but I just can’t stomach folks who drink alcoholically. Over and Over and Over … And think it is good video to watch on a daily basis.

The same went for Facebook. The only reason I keep it open is to stay in touch with friends here and there. I have culled all that shit that has gone too far and makes we want to puke.

We are Here, We are Queer, Get Used to It.

For Fuck sake …

God damn the celebrity with vile and unacceptable word of condemnation. And fuck the politicians who support them, and the media who give them time on their front pages and on news casts.

God Damn them all to hell.

It’s Christmas for Fuck Sake. Can’t we all get along for one day?

No, that would be too fucking difficult.

Thank the Baby Jesus I live up here, above the Northern Border.

I don’t give a shit about U.S. politics, celebrity with foul mouths, and all those people who rent them free space, because of the First Amendment.

Bullshit … Take them fuckers off the air for good.

Read your God Damned Bibles and try for some compassion and love.

And Jesus Wept !!!

It was good to see my friends. It is the one space on a regular basis that I get to spend time with people I care about and who care about me.

Tomorrow is Christmas. We shall cook and serve others.

I was promised a good story to read after presents tomorrow, so YAY for that. Thanks to a good friend.

I hope you all have a blessed Christmas filled with Light, Joy and Love.

More to come, stay tuned …


Does the Holy Father really mean “Every man and woman?”

Pope Francis in a selfie photo

“The love of God is not generic. God looks with love upon every man and woman, calling them by name.”

Pope Francis tweeted this today. And it made all kinds of news.

Pope Francis is a Holy Man, and he has said plenty already that has been noticed, and been dissected …

After reading his biography by Paul Vallely, I wonder …

On a flight he was quoted saying “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?”

Vallely writes,”he [Pope Francis] has opposed same sex marriage and gay adoption but spoken out strongly in favour of civil unions and equal rights for homosexuals.”

Afterword, pg. 197.

If you read about Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis, from the man he was in Argentina, and his evolution into the man he is today, as Pope, there is definite evolution. And it seems that he is hitting all the right notes, and he also seems to be well informed of just how he is being perceived in the world at large.

He has recently been branded as a Marxist by the Christian Conservative Right for his views on Capitalism and the Poor.

To understand his stance on the poor one must read about his work against Liberation Theology as a Jesuit leader, and his redirect years later to a total embracing of the poor and their plight and of Liberation Theology and its focus on the poor. His work in the slums of Argentina became revelatory, and how he sees the world and the people close to him.

I just hope that when the Pope uses this sweeping language of “all inclusive” that he means all and not just some.

Pope Francis wants a Poor Church for the Poor. And he has said that he wants the church [read:Rome] to go OUT to the people, instead of waiting for them to come to the church [read: Rome].

His words seem heartfelt. I just hope this transformation into Pope is branching across every walk of life. For if he is genuine, this breath of fresh air is just what the Church needs. And Francis is the man to do it.

Let us pray for the Holy Father.


Sunday Sundries … The Death of my Big Book

Pope Francis buda mendes Getty

“Humility is a much-misunderstood quality in the contemporary world, where it is a quality in short supply. It is not, as is often assumed, some kind of synonym for shyness, reticence, bashfulness or lack of ambition; humility is not a character trait with which some are born, rather it is the orphaned virtue which our age has publicly forgotten how to embrace…”

“…[prayer] this is where dialogue, listening, and transformation occur. Looking at God, but above all sensing that we are being watched by Him. This happens, in my case, when I recite the rosary or the Psalms or when I joyfully celebrate the Eucharist. But the moment I most savour the religious experience is when I am before the tabernacle. Sometimes I allow myself to fall asleep while sitting there and just let Him look at me. I have the sense of being in someone else’s hands, as though God were taking me by hand.”

Pope Francis … Untying the Knots.

We return to regular time this Sunday night. The weather is markedly cooler as night falls. I set out early for the church and walked through the mall, and more change has occurred on the ground floor. There are walls up marking off more floor space, It all seems to coalesce around the main staircase/escalator casing.

Not sure what they are doing, but great change is happening on the store front property of space. And we are mid-way into October, so they must get whatever they are doing finished by the late fall reveal of the Target space.

Last Thursday night, while I was cleaning the coffee pot, I had set the urn on the counter next to the sink, as I took apart the innards to clean. My back pack and my hoodie were also on the counter next to it. And somehow my bag must have dropped onto the spout, pushing down the plunger and releasing hot coffee all over the counter and the floor. My back pack was soaked with coffee as well as everything that was in my bag. My toques, were all wet and stained, and my Big Book, that I have used for the last 12 years was also soaked.

I walked home with wet clothes and a sticky wet bag. I hand washed my toques in the sink and set them out to dry, as well as my bag. Most of the book pages are coffee stained. I brought the book to the meeting tonight and leafed through it and it was ruined.

We had a couple new books in the inventory, so after the meeting I decided to just buy a new Big Book and retire my poor warrior book. Some of my friends said that I should continue using the book, even though it is sunk in coffee stains. I’d rather have a new book instead.

We completed the story … “The Vicious Cycle.”

“Every time I blacked out, and that was every time I drank, there was always that gnawing fear, “What did I do this time?”

That was me at the end of my drinking. I at least had someone who could partially tell me what happened the night before, even if he was pumped up on his drugs, usually that friend knew where I was and what happened. Eventually, the not knowing the how, where and when at the end, scared me into the last drink.

We sat a small group and we ended earlier than usual. All in all it was a good night.

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

I am almost finished with the read of “Francis, Untying the Knots.”

And I am encouraged by the story of who Jorge Mario Bergoglio is. He lived a very complicated life in Argentina. He is a member of the Jesuit order. And now he is a Jesuit Pope.

Pope Francis survived a life of difficulty and the transformation that came around for him throughout his life from the man he was prior to his “spiritual awakening” from the man he grew up as – into – the man he is today as Pope, is quite remarkable.

Suffice to say that I was moved in the telling of the story and learning about him through this text is very helpful in my practice of Catholicism. The quotes above are just a blink into his thinking. There is so much more to say, but that would mean transcribing a good portion of the read here.

Pope Francis has a storied history leading up to his election in the last conclave. And if what I have read is a sign, the church has so much more to look forward to and the world will learn just what Pope Francis will do to reform the church and open it to the world and ALL her people.

People, are very important to Francis. The poor especially. He says that we must go out to the people (meaning the church), We cannot wait for them to come to us. And we must respect the traditions, and religious practices of the poor, there is so much religiosity and practice within the smaller communities of the poor and of many nations. And we must embrace these practices and the people.

The poor are the most important people on the earth. And in the coming months and years, we will see Francis teach us all how we can walk among, live among and minister to the poorest of the poor.

Where Mother Teresa ministered to the poorest of the poor in India, Jorge Mario Bergoglio tended the poorest of the poor in his native Argentina.

There is where he gets his strength and faith. Not from the Top Down mentality of the Church, but from the Bottom Up mentality of the people.

His church will go out and gather the masses. And if this simple story of what moves Pope Francis forward, the future is going to be very exciting for the worlds religious and her people.

It has been a good weekend.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday Thoughts …

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Courtesy: Thesneakerboy

Well, the weather sure is a changing. The rain comes overnight, and the days have been clear and sunny. But in the coming days, the night time temps are dropping into low single digits close to the freezing mark, but not just yet.

It was a busy day here at the hood. Bills had to be paid, errands run all over town, and a little supermarket safari on the way home. I was up early so that I could run my errands, and get back here with plenty of time to snag a washer and dryer before the housewives got them.

I paid my bills online, and set out for the “Core” shortly after 10. I had to get tickets for my Opus card, and then Metro to the mall. I half expected to see scaffolding up in preparation for Xmas decorations. But that may be a little premature, as Halloween hasn’t happened yet. But I am sure the malls are getting itchy about now.

My first stop was Indigo to buy some books. A perk I don’t get to do very often so it was special nonetheless. Christopher Rice has written a new thriller and I’ve been following it on Facebook for months now. So here it is:

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I haven’t cracked the cover yet, as it is sitting on my bedside just waiting to be read. We are hoping that the Rice crew makes it up to Montreal for a book signing. Although no dates have been put up yet, and I haven’t asked about it in the forum.

I also picked up a book on Pope Francis, Titled: Pope Francis, Untying the knots, written by Paul Vallely. There were a number of books in the category about him, but this one seems more biographical, instead of the question and answer format. If I want questions and answers I can read his blog on the National Catholic Reporter, of which I am a subscriber.

Pope Francis seems so genuine and honest. And the image we have of him today is directly informed by his actions and words thus far. And I like what I see and I am encouraged by what I hear.

Me thinks I will be reading two books at the same time.

Tonight at the meeting a fellow member brings me books from his home library to read, so to date I have 6 books waiting to be read. And new books take priority, especially books that I want to read for me.

One the way back I took the long route back through Atwater to pick up my pills from the pharmacy and boy was I surprised when I hit the station.

As you are approaching the station from either the mall entrance or coming FROM the platform, there are 2 passages connecting the mall to the station proper.

They have entirely broadened the footprint of store frontage on the ground floor. Many of the cell phone kiosks have been either moved/or/ removed. There was a diner in front of the Target storefront, that is now gone. So all the meal services have been removed from the ground floor, (there were two).

They have blocked off more floor space adjacent to Target, farther towards the tunnel. Which means, they have sealed off one passageway into the Metro Station. That passageway is now re-routed through an old storefront (the old Tim Horton’s space) And now ALL the traffic from BOTH passageways drain into one hallway. Which is dangerous during rush hour. Because you only get one staircase up – towards the station – and traffic coming out of the station into the mall is heavy and trying to navigate one passage is a problem. However the redirect from the closed doorway is open. It is just, both passageways feed into one passage into the mall instead of two. Instead of having two traffic lanes, you have one. Until the build is finished.

They have re-tiled areas on the ground floor. And there is studding on the floor, I don’t know what purpose it serves just yet. Up on the mezzanine floor outside of Pharmaprix and the IGA, the building walls have been extended to the back passage out of the mall, that drains in front of Dawson College across the street. There is a great deal of real estate behind build walls both on the ground floor and the mezzanine. This is going to be a BIG reveal when they finish it.

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

I had the afternoon to hang around and a power nap before setting out again for the meeting. And once again, I left early, walked the tunnel, and as I exited out onto Greene, I could hear the bells ringing at the church. Now either I am getting old, or walking slower than usual, but I usually walk cranked with tunes, so it can’t be that slow.

I got there just at the top of the hour and cranked out set up and went outside to sit, but it is getting darker earlier and earlier here. By 6:30 it was dark outside. It was quarter to 7 and folks were showing up.

We read from the Big Book and steps six and seven. And the discussion was centered on the inventory we take and the being ready for God to take away all of our character defects.

When it came to me to speak, I was the last, because I really did not know what I was going to say, so I hoped it would come last. I related the story about when I got sober the first time and the lessons I learned from Todd over that first year.

All those defects I carried and all those issues I had and all those problems I thought I had and I thought were important, were slowly and carefully excised from my life through the work that I did for the bar. I can’t express fully how that occurred (so you need to go read the pages) the stories are all there if you want to peruse the stacks.

Today, being married is a great exercise in keeping your character defects in check. Because I have a husband who will call me on my shit and remind me of who I am. I don’t have time for defects. I pray and I use my sobriety to keep on the level. I was told, the last time I worked my steps that defects and shortcomings don’t go away, they become less pronounced. Because we work every day, to rid ourselves of them, (by polishing the gem) …

I have an experience that none of my brothers an claim. I’ve been through a life journey that nobody I know in the rooms can hold a candle to. i was told i was going to die. I prepared to die, I worked my ass off, through Todd’s help to prepare my body and soul for death. It ain’t simple – it is quite cathartic.

How many people do you know who have faced mortality – into a death that was horrid and painful, and survived to tell the tale? I have friends who have battled cancer, none of whom died because of it, and are still alive. But outliving a disease that really had no treatment back then (for me) and death was imminent, the situation was totally different. At least Cancer can be treated and removed and radiated and chemo’d.

Facing ones mortality will change you forever in ways that mere mortal men and women have no idea. I don’t have the words to tell you how horrid it was, well, maybe I do, but I am not going to repeat them here at this moment.

Anyways, I’ve written enough and it’s dinner time.

More to come, stay tuned …


Could’ve had the farm …

farm-view-from-hill jerkmag wordpresscom

Courtesy: Jerkmag.wordpress.com

A friend grew up on a farm, long ago. Living, farming and planting like a real farmer, but we are not made farmers, for some, we are born farmers. With a temperament to match.

So the story goes, a young man worked a plot of land, which had to be planted in a certain time frame, for harvesting reasons, it all had to go smoothly. And when does anything go real smoothly??? Anyways, after breakdowns and farm related issues, the field got planted. And the waiting started, and prayers for rain …

well, it rained,

And rained,

And rained,

AND RAINED !!!!

That hard fought planted farm was flooded and all the seed was lost.

Now, how do you think the son reacted?

He went into a rage at the loss of all that work.

The farmer on the other hand, replied … “Well, tomorrow is another day !”

Some of us are farmers and others are clearly not …

End of story.

The day was warm, and I was out uber early because one of my readers wanted to talk about the blog, so I got there earlier than I ever have gotten to the meeting. The church was open and people were streaming in and out, and I noted that parking tonight was gonna be tight.

I made all my connections quickly, no waiting on either trip.

The more I invest in this Friday meeting the more I love the people in it. It is just a super way to end the week. With good, honest and loving folks around a table who enlighten each other as the reading is shared.

It is one thing to read from the book ourselves. And then process what we just read. On the other hand, when a book is read “in company”

You not only get what’s in your head, but what everybody else thinks or feels about a specific reading for the night.

I’m seriously pondering taking my cake at the Friday Meeting in December. It is just the “right” space.

As usual we read from As Bill Sees It and “Worshipers All.”

“We found that we had indeed been worshipers. What a state of mental goose flesh that used to bring on! Had we not variously worshiped people, sentiment, things, money and ourselves…?

… It was impossible to say we had no capacity for faith, love, or worship. In one form or another, we had been living by faith and little else.”

Our folks are having hard times. And the drink has been closer for some in recent days as it was when they were actively drinking. But our men and women are sober tonight. But for the Grace of God.

Where does your mind go when you read or hear the word Worship?

Society round the world lives on the worship of celebrity, gossip and hardships. You can’t go a day without seeing something on the wire about a celebrity this, or celebrity that, these ones are divorcing, and that one has an addiction, and this celebrity is DEAD !

I share stories here about people, real people, and some are celebrities, and some are Royals, but I try to stay away from gossip and negativity. The two topics you should stay away from in conversation … Religion and Politics.

I can’t say I follow those words.

My Higher Power, whom I chose to call GOD, is still sending messages. it seems they are all pointed in the same direction beckoning me to a location that I have been avoiding for a while.

A few days ago it was the Tabernacle the got my attention.

Tonight, it was Worship.

From your first click here, we are in worship mode.

Pope Francis has made it much easier to see myself back in a Catholic Church.

And why don’t we start there.

I spent 1986-1987 in a Catholic Seminary. A year that changed my life in many ways. I learned to pray, I learned about worship, I learned about others.

And their secrets …

At the end of that year, I was not asked to return for a second, I felt God had dropped me. But that wasn’t the end of God. But it did bring on the demon of alcoholism in a very bad way.

I gained employment at a Travel Agency owned by a friends mother. It was a really good job. Making a lot of money, and I ended up as manager. There was a catch. We served alcohol to clients who came to visit. (In those days you had clients who traveled and came to consult, get advice and tickets).

None of this point and click internet travel.

While there my boss, the man who was the consummate man took me on a whirl wind trip to Europe. Something every kid would kill to do, on free passes from Pan Am Airlines.

I was not sober the whole voyage. I was mostly drunk. And it was not pretty. I made a true ass of myself in public and turned pleasant day trips into the realm of hell, because I could not hold my alcohol. (AT ALL!!!)

The one stop I was sober, But for the Grace of God was ROME.

When we speak of worship, you think / I think, churches.

Well, I hit the mother lode in Rome. That day we toured the Colosseum and the city, and finally we walked into St. Peter’s Square. It is immense. The Vatican is an immense building. I have a solitary picture in my breviary of the Pieta.   The statue carved my Michelangelo Buonarroti.

We toured the catacombs and the many Popes buried there. And we climbed the single staircase that brought us to the Coppola of the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. I stood there looking down on the Papal Gardens.

I don’t know if you can do that portion of the tour in today’s day and age.

Back in the Vatican, I attended mass in the church. It was grandiose.

I had been to, and worshiped in, the seat of the Catholic Church.

It was the most sober I was on that two week journey.

Throughout my life, I have worshiped. I have toms of memories of holidays in church, and Sunday after Sunday masses. There is something to be said about gay men and the church. My mentor and best friend, now priest in the Anglican Church wrote several books on saints and devotions from a gay perspective.

You can see here, my devotions.

During my university time, studying world religions, I had the opportunity to visit all the major religious observances, from Shul in the McGill Ghetto, to Friday Prayers at the University Prayer space, to mass on Sundays at the Concordia Chapel on the West End.

Montreal is the home to many churches, religious orders, and religious people, and saints. On the mountain sits St. Joseph’s Oratory, in Old Montreal we have Notre Dame Cathedral, and downtown we have St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Take your pick, it would take you years to visit every church on the island of Montreal.

As a young man, a boy really, I worshiped the ground that my grandmother(s) walked on. Saintly women who gave me all they had, in the little time I had before they were taken from me by catastrophic strokes and by a father who was jealous that they were keeping alive a little boy he wanted to see dead.

Little by slowly, all that I knew was removed from my life by my father who alienated every family member from my life because of his alcoholism and jealousy.

All I have is their memories. I even Googled old homes in the places where they lived and found that even the houses are no longer standing. Sad, very sad.

You never know when God is going to pull your card and life is over.

It wasn’t until my mortality stood before me in stark relief that I began to pray.

But all those prayers said for me as a child did not go to waste.

There are a reason I lived. Maybe it was because I got sober, once! And maybe it was because Todd took me in and saved my life, and maybe it was just God.

A few years after I was diagnosed I was in mass at my old home parish in Miami. And that Sunday, a young priest came in the processional. But he wasn’t walking. He was on crutches. He said mass, and I swore that day that I would never complain about my life ever again.

I had to meet this man. And so I did. He became my Spiritual Adviser. And he gave me a couple of Books that I still read today.

No one to call me home by Rev. James J. Close (and)

I heard the Owl call my Name by Margaret Craven

When I need a kick of humility and sacredness I always turn to I heard the Owl Call my name. It is one of my favorite books in my collection.

Fr. Jeff, once told me that I needed worship. That God needed me in Church. And that the people of the community wanted to pray with me. So began a weekly schedule of morning masses, followed by spiritual direction and private prayer.

For the sick and dying, many would never darken the doors of a church because of their infirmity (read: AIDS). The local church had other thoughts about the dying than did Rome of that time.

Yet, to this day I venerate John Paul II – the man, the mystic and Pope. Who will be canonized next April. As well as Mother Teresa and Brother Andre and Mere D’Youville. Not to mention Pope Francis. That man who is on tap to change the face of the church. And much welcomed as well.

I don’t seem to have those issues that pop up in early sobriety for my friends. I was on a totally different page tonight. I knew what I wanted to say, but failed to get them all out, as I was the last to share tonight.

Drunk Worship – Addition late night…

Coming off my slip, I had put down the drugs and moved 1000 miles away from them, never to see them ever again. And I had sober stints during this period, from July 2000 through Sept 11 2001. But after 9-11, we drank and drank and drank. To drown ourselves, to remember, to raise money so forth and so on.

I was by now a binge drinker. I believed or was deluded by youth. I was growing up and getting older, and that was a challenge. I went to “Salvation” every Saturday night, where South Beach Gods went to drink, party, drug and dance.

We’d beach it all week, and what didn’t get tanned would be covered by a turn in a tanning bed in preparation for Saturday night. I was a little slimmer, and not so chunky as I am today.

I would find the smallest t shirt to wear with the tightest jeans. And we would visit the temple and dance. The music would start at midnight, and by 1 a.m. people were well toasted. I worshiped the music, the men and the bottle.

It was at 1 a.m. that they would blast liquid nitrogen to cool the crowd and all the shirts would come off … Oh God it was flesh heaven !

I was begging God to make me young and pretty, pretty enough to become part of a community that I was clearly outside of. And the more I drank, the further I got away from that goal of young and pretty.

The choice of growing up or dying in delusion were very real for me. And I had to make a choice, and sobriety helped a great deal. I could walk away from the bar, knowing there was the rest of my life ahead of me.

In the end I don’t know who took me from the room, who poured me into a taxi and how I got into my building without assistance. I had come to the end of my drinking. The worship of the bottle ended. pure and simple, and by that time I was ready for a return to the rooms, because I had been praying for it …

The rest is history.

Now a days, I’m having this private conversation with God among the people. But it takes all those people to speak in God’s name. You never know when you will hear it and if you aren’t paying attention, you might miss something important.

At the end of the meeting one of our Matriarchs took her Nine Year Chip…

WOO HOO !!! we are very proud of her.

It was a good night.

More to come, stay tuned …