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Rosslyn Chapel

Temporal Shift …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are going to play Word Association now:

Your three words are:

Ethics — Morals — Christian

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

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

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

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

In The Montreal News:

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

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

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

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

Stay Tuned…

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

 


Photo Essay #8 – Christ Church Cathedral (AIDS)

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I was invited to a special unveiling of an exhibition at The Christ Church Cathedral today of art and information about The Primates World Relief and Development Fund. Directed at prevention and education about AIDS. A subject close to my heart, in fact, part of it as well. Below are photographs of the art on display for the next two weeks at the Cathedral.

Our Bishop, Barry B. Clarke, was on hand to open the exhibition and the chair of the Theology Department at Concordia University was there as well. They are looking for a few volunteers to show up and participate in the exhibition, if you have a spare hour or two, they could use your support.

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It’s time to open our hands, hearts and minds to HIV and AIDS and respond with action, love and knowledge.

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It’s time to stop the stigma and discrimination and act on God’s call to love one another, restore right relationships and ensure the dignity of every human being.

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It’s time to break the silence and inaction and face a world with AIDS more holistically, more authentically and more compassionately.

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It’s time to embrace all brothers and sisters as children of God without prejudice, judgment or fear.

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It’s time!!!

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This is the Altar piece from St, Michael’s Mission – artwork done by many artists. They represent different liturgical and seasonal scenes. The central panel is called “the life bearers,” to the left, “The Tree of Life,” and to the right, “beyond, what I see.”

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The creator of this altar piece followed one of the artists home and this segment of photos is called “On the way home.” From St. Michael’s Mission.

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The Primates World Relief and Development Fund
Hyperlink here

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What We Do

Development, Relief and Justice

PWRDF works in partnership with organizations in Canada and throughout the world to support people-centred development that improves the quality of daily life for vulnerable populations, promotes self-reliance, and addresses root causes of poverty and injustice. PWRDF is active in approximately 30 countries, and also accompanies Uprooted People – including victims of disasters, refugees, internally displaced people, and migrant workers. PWRDF partners are drawn from Anglican churches, ecumenical organizations and community-based groups. Partners address the root causes of problems and accompany communities as they move beyond survival into sustainable development.

 


Gay Bishop Announces Civil Union, Infuriates Church Conservatives

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I support the V. Rev. Gene Robinson. Good for him and his partner. 

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(London) The only openly gay bishop in the worldwide Anglican Church has unveiled plans for a civil union with his longtime partner, unleashing an attack by church conservatives who call it a publicity stunt. 

New Hampshire’s Episcopal Bishop, Gene Robinson, tells the British Broadcasting Corporation that he and his partner of 18 years, Mark Andrew, 53, will have a civil union shortly after the state’s civil union law goes into effect next year.

“The decision to take advantage of the new law that will come into effect in New Hampshire on January 1 is simply our taking advantage of the kinds of rights which are now being made open to gay and lesbian people in New Hampshire,” Robinson tells interviewer Michael Buerk in the program to be broadcast August 28.

The timing would bring it just weeks before bishops from around the world are to meet in London for their once-a-decade meeting called the Lambeth Conference.

Conservatives pressing the church to outlaw gay clergy accuse Robinson using the timing in a bid to gain a political advantage, something Robinson disputes.

“I am certainly not doing that to rub salt into anyone’s wounds, but no one should expect me to penalize me and my partner when these rights are being offered,” he said.

“I believe that Peter Akinola, the Archbishop of Nigeria, one of the primary spokespeople against my election [as bishop], I believe he is following his call from God as best as he can, I just wish he could believe I am following my call from God as best I can.”

Robinson first raised the possibility of entering into a civil union when he testified in April before a New Hampshire committee hearing leading up to the vote that passed the law.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the titular leader of the worldwide denomination has been trying to keep the Church from splintering over Robinson’s election in 2004.

While Robinson will be allowed to attend the Lambeth Conference, Williams will not allow him to participate or vote.

A similar restriction has been placed on bishops consecrated in the US by Akinola.

Despite claims by the dissident faction that they are not seeking a schism of the worldwide Church when leaders gather next year for their once-a-decade meeting bishops representing almost half of the denomination’s 77-million members will be absent. 

Last month the steering committee for the Global South Primates, made up of churches mainly in the developing world and the most conservative in the worldwide Anglican Communion, said last month its bishops will boycott the meeting because the Episcopal Church, is allowed to participate. 

On Thursday Akinola issued a statement saying the “the moment of decision is almost upon us” about whether Anglican conservatives and liberals can stay together.

The statement went on to say that theological conservatives cannot stand by as the U.S. Episcopal Church – the Anglican body in the U.S. – and the Anglican Church of Canada move toward full acceptance of gay relationships.

“We earnestly desire the healing of our beloved communion but not at the cost of rewriting the Bible to accommodate the latest cultural trend,” Akinola said. “We cannot turn away from the source of life and love for a temporary truce.”

©365Gay.com 2007


Report: J.K. Rowling writing crime novel

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By DAVID STRINGER, Associated Press Writer 

LONDON – J.K. Rowling has been spotted at cafes in Scotland working on a detective novel, a British newspaper reported Saturday.

The Sunday Times newspaper quoted Ian Rankin, a fellow author and neighbor of Rowling’s, as saying the creator of the “Harry Potter” books is turning to crime fiction.

“My wife spotted her writing her Edinburgh criminal detective novel,” the newspaper, which was available late Saturday, quoted Rankin as telling a reporter at an Edinburgh literary festival.

“It is great that she has not abandoned writing or Edinburgh cafes,” said Rankin, who is known for his own police novels set in the historic Scottish city.

Rowling famously wrote initial drafts of the Potter story in the Scottish city’s cafes. Back then, she was a struggling single mother who wrote in cafes to save on the heating bill at home.

Now she’s Britain’s richest woman — worth $1 billion, according to Forbes magazine — and her seven Potter books have sold more than 335 million copies worldwide.

In an interview with The Associated Press last month, Rowling said she believed she was unlikely to repeat the success of the Potter series, but confirmed she had plans to work on new books.

“I’ll do exactly what I did with Harry — I’ll write what I really want to write,” Rowling said.

The office of Rowling’s literary agent, Christopher Little, was not immediately available to comment late Saturday.


Finding the Perfect Church…

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I have asked this question of some of the ministers that write for our sphere. For many years I have searched for the “Perfect Church.” Growing up in a predominantly white, middle class neighborhood gave rise to attending church with my friends. And that served me very well for most of my young adult life.

Labels had not been applied to us in this period of our lives so we were free to worship wherever we chose to. And in most cases our parents followed along, because the church was not only a religious landmark, but also housed Youth Ministry that everyone was part of for several years through high school and junior college and even for myself, Seminary.

After leaving seminary with a bad taste in my mouth for Catholicism, and Church, I walked away from God and his church. I thought that I had been slighted by clergy and I was pushed against the “choose us or get out” wall. It took me many years dealing with the truth to walk back into church.

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This was always my childhood home, the Church I called home. It was the place that God and I communed. And after my leaving seminary – this was the church that I returned to many years later, as a weary, AIDS suffering sinner. I was sick, and I had been away, and I met a man who changed my life when I saw him say mass in this space with his crutches and MS. I vowed never again to complain about things in my life. And I have kept that word so many years later.

Being Gay, had its issues with Church. But not to the men who led this church forward. I was a part of this church and this is where I would find prayer, support and salvation.

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As I grew into my 30’s I hit several questions in my life about faith, recovery and living with AIDS. I’d like to say that I found all my answers in “church” but that would be false. I was living in an area of town that did not afford me the ability to get to church any more. So I was not attending “church” where I had been for so many years. It was just logistically impossible to get there in time for mass.

During my second recovery, I was seeing a therapist and I had friends who were talking care of me at the time. I was having my visions and spiritual experiences outside the church I may have left the church “physically” but not emotionally and spiritually.

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Faith is like a garden. Each one of us inhabits the garden of our own making. We tend that garden daily. In the morning we walk through misty, dew covered flowers and plants, and as the day wares on the sun tracks across the sky as we sit in that garden. I believe that everyone is born into some kind of spiritual tradition, more than most may speak of but nonetheless, someone puts the seed of faith within us at some point.

If you were like me, you were baptized, first communion ed and confirmed in the Catholic faith. Some were baptized in the baptist faith and others were raised in the faith of their parents or extended families. But we all carry that seed within us.

For many, being Gay and Christian or Being Gay and Catholic was something we battled with because of the politics of the church. Now in my 40’s I can tell you that I will not walk into, better yet worship in a space that does not welcome me fully into communion. I used to compromise my ethics and my politics because I was attached to the Catholic faith by an unbreakable umbilical cord that still exists today.

When I got sick, the priests told me to come to church and I did because they were 21st century men in an archaic world of Catholicism. That lasted as long as it had to to keep my in line with my faith and connected TO my faith. God was in the church, praying with others took place in the church. Mass took place within the church. And I was ok with that way of life.

When I got sober in 2001 I was filled with questions. My faith was strong because I KNEW who God Was and who god Is still. I did not need the physical building to give me what I had created and cultivated internally over many many years of spiritual exploration. You see, faith is not something you feed once a week in a worship service. Faith is not something you partake on any given Sunday.

I was sober a four months when I came to visit Montreal in the Spring of 2002. It was Ash Wednesday when I arrived. I celebrated Easter here and I loved it. This is such a rich religious city. Later I would meet a Jesuit priest who would give me the same puzzle piece he gave all the other boys I later met on the path later on.

This is where it all starts…

I had a reason to come here and I knew after two weeks of being here, that I needed to stay here. I went back to Florida, packed all that I could and I left, never to return. Lies my mother told facilitated my move out of the United States.

I started my journey of faith in the Church Basilica of Notre Dame. It took me weeks to start putting the faith puzzle together. and now six years later, I can tell you that there are still pieces of the puzzle missing.

I had to get used to living in Montreal, Pre-Iraq War. I had to find my place in the greater scheme of things. And that took a long time. I had my citizenship on February 17th 2003, and I was sober 14 months. I decided that I would go back to school. My chosen major in the beginning was Psychology, that quickly changed to Religion.

These were the years that demonstrations were taking place in the streets and Americans were being warned to sew Canadian flags on our backpacks, so as not to acquire the ire of Canadians in Montreal, because protests against the war were daily occurrences. I did that and I participated in those demonstrations. But eventually I would hit several crises points in my life, ONE would be “where do I fit in?” I had to find my place in the community and that took two years upon beginning University. I remember sitting in Donald’s office asking the all important question: “I don’t know where I fit in and I have one foot in the South and one foot in the North – I don’t know where I should be?”

He was always apt to tell me these key words:

“If you find yourself in between and you can’t decide where to go or move, then sit where you are and survey all that you see before you. FEEL your feelings and get in touch with your dis-ease with where you are. Consult your map and ask your questions of the people on the path, then when you are ready, plot your next step, but not before you are sure of your footing.”

I met a man of faith in the Chaplaincy office. I was a man of faith and I was sure in my faith as any other man or woman was. The one difference? I was a sure gay man living with AIDS. I made no excuses and expected no special treatment, just love and acceptance, which I found in Fr. Ray Lafontaine. Still to this day, as a fellow Christian and Catholic priest in my life, he challenges me in my faith to find the answers for myself.
I attended his church at Loyola on Sunday evenings. And that worked for me because there were others like me in the church and we were all accepted.

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That haze of Summer lasted for two years. In that time I started working on my religious beliefs. And I maintained my sobriety by attending meetings in the basements of many of Montreal’s most beautiful churches. When Father Ray was moved to St. Monica’s church and new priestly blood was flushed into the chapel, I met my faith match…

Having been singled out over my marriage to my husband and the vile words shared with me by the existing chaplain of the University, I walked away from Church once and for all. Although when Fr. Ray and Fr. Paul said mass, I would always attend.

Having studied religion for so many years of my life, and having lived with AIDS for so many years, I knew several things. 1. I knew who God was. 2. I knew who God is not. and 3. I knew who I trusted to support me in my faith journey.

I have been separated from Church for a long time now. It took the invitation of friends to attend a mass said by the Very Reverend Gene Robinson in the Summer of 2006 at Christ Church Cathedral to seriously contemplate a return to Church. In 2003 I was married in the very Catholic Space at Loyal, much to the consternation of Georges Pelletier. We did it just to make a statement of faith, because the entire Loyola community was there to stand with us and profess our faith and love before our families, friends and God himself.

The only time I ever walked into a church, during my time in the field, was with my Great Aunt Georgette, may she rest in peace… I would pray in the mother house chapel with her and I would attend mass there as well. The last time I attended mass in the Mother House Chapel was the day we buried her in August of 2006.

I would never walk into another Catholic Church after her funeral. Although I still maintain a working relationship with men of Catholic faith, I don’t go to mass in the Catholic Church. The other day that marked a change in my Catholic belief system was the day that the Late Pontiff John Paul II died, and I attended mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

You see, while I was studying Religion in university, I was studying my past, making peace with it and learning why things happened the way they did for me, and I was afforded this historical review because of the professors that I studied with for the last four years. I polished my religious skills and I mastered my Christian faith.

I was getting sober in church basements and I was ministering to people in the field. I never walked away from God again. I knew better, and he would always wait for me to find Him. Some of you know about the last five years. Some of you sought me out from the field for spiritual guidance. And I was there for you without question.

I always knew where God resided within me. I knew where to find God, outside myself. I can walk into any church in the city and talk to God. And I can talk to God at any given moment of my day or night, because I have built a temple of God within me.

We are all temples of the spirit of God. Most of us do not know this truth. So I share it with you now. We are all created in the image of God, and therefore we carry the image of God within us. We are walking talking miracles of God’s love and grace. My garden of faith is Eden within me. And I share that garden with anyone who wants to come and walk amongst the flowers. I do not need a building or the perfect church to settle my restless heart.

I’ve spent the last five years searching for God in the sacred churches of Montreal. He was always there where ever I looked for Him. As for the perfect church? You will never find it, because of the true nature of men and women. Humans are imperfect sinners who need to be taught what is right from wrong. And those who come to church already have their preconceived notions of who their God is, and what they will be willing to accept, in the way of Christian teachings, dogma and practice.

So take a church full of imperfect humans and ask them to build for you the perfect church! With all the heads buzzing in the church, each with their notions of church and God, and what do you have? A room full of buzzing heads, who could not agree on what they would call church, and I am sure that their conception will not be what you had in mind either. The perfect church does not and will never exist…

Where did Jesus do his best work? In the field, over dinner in sinners houses. Working with the homeless and the poor and sick. How many times does Jesus step into a church in biblical writing? And what does he say about the ‘church?’ What would he say about all of the terrible incarnations of Church we have today – in the world?

I do believe that God and Jesus weep at the way Christianity is lived out in the millions of lives of people around the globe. We know the scripture, we know the reason yet we can’t see past the noses on our faces and we cannot take the plank out of our own eyes before we try to help another, so what does that say about active Christianity???

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I’ve been in the process of Spiritual direction for some time now, ever since coming to Montreal many years ago. I have sought the advice of many people over the years. And I work with others “in the field” every day…

Where is my “Church?” If I had to give you an address, that would be the Christ Church Cathedral because the bishop has said to the LGBT community that we are just as important to the church as any one else. That he supports us and wants us to participate in community and be active participants in our own faith. I am 40 now, and I have my morals, beliefs and values, and if I choose to leave the Catholic faith based on principle I can do that today, because of the certainty of WHO I am and What my faith means to me, because I am ‘out of communion’ with Benedict’s Church, and I can live with that today.

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But I don’t need a building to worship God. I don’t need the perfect church to teach me God’s word. I don’t need the perfect minister to keep me on the path of Godly living. Why, you ask? Because I can do all these things on my own. I celebrate my Christianity every day through prayer, word and action. I live my faith – therefore it is in front of me every day for all to see. I practice my faith. I talk the talk and I walk the walk, daily…

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This is not a task I ask you to ponder on your own and it is not for the feint of heart either. But in order to build your inner church, you must start with a foundation, a garden. Mark out the space in your heart. Till the soil and plant your seeds. Give them plenty of water and sunlight and then pray over them…

We each have the capability to till our own gardens of faith within us. Because until you have a strong garden of faith within you, will you be able to find a church that will serve you, because without the understanding and cultivation of your own garden, do you remove the judgments within your heart of men and ministry.

If you are looking for the perfect minister of Christ, he will not appear, save Christ himself. We are flawed human beings, and therefore we must understand that and with that knowledge we can better serve the community at large, and if we able to serve the community at large, we can then see God for ourselves where ever we go, and in whatever church we visit.

The best work of the field is done in the most imperfect churches, because most people know that perfection is unattainable. Your Heavenly Father is perfect, so we have every ability to be as perfect as our heavenly father is perfect. But that will take a lifetime to achieve.

In order to find church outside of you, you must first build church within yourself. You must find your definition of God, you must let your faith garden grow. You must be strong in your faith because without strong inner faith, you will not have strong outer faith for community. Without using the gardening tools that God has given you, how can you practice your faith? You must find Sacred Space within yourself, and you must build sacred space for yourself, while you are in the field.

Because, what good would looking for the perfect Church do for you, if you do not have a handle on your own inner faith to begin with??? Build your inner church and invite God to inhabit your sacred space. Get to know this God of your own understanding. There are certain things a Christian must do every day…

 

  • Read Scripture every day
  • You must Pray every day
  • You must Meditate every day
  • You must Actively Practice your Faith every day

Because the simple act of prayer – asking God for those things that weigh heavily on our hearts, must be followed up with a period of silent “Listening” for God’s voice to speak to you. Because sometimes we get the answer… ‘keep praying, not today, NO!’ Cookie cutter Christianity is too easy. You must live your faith actively in community, that is one sure way to find Jesus in the field.

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Start with your garden
Plant it, Till it, and let it grow
Listen to your heart song
and share it with the world
Take off the blinders on your eyes
and see the world in its imperfect state
Find Christ in the field and walk with Him
talk the talk and walk the walk
practice your faith in ACTION
in time your heart will soften
and you will see God
and you will find that

‘Perfect Church’

is but
‘Perfect Union with Christ’

AND

One day
A church will find its way to you

Because you will be ready to serve…


Quiet time …

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“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

1 John 1:5-7

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The Pontiff in Winter, John Paul II. And the candle lit tonight to bring my prayers to heaven above us. There is much to be grateful for and much to pray for this night. May the Lord hear us and grant us our petitions. We ask these and all things through Christ our Lord who gives all that is good.

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O God, my heart is the altar
and my love for you is the flame:
I’ll keep the fire burning for you, Lord,
And I will rejoice in your name

Hess – Our Daily Bread Sunday August 12th


Ministry

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“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

I never thought that doing something good for another would turn around and bite me in the ass. Christian ministry and emergent churches are the new faces of Christian worship and ministry. What I am is immaterial to Who I am. In the past few months as my degree was conferred to me by a University, I was thrust into a position of ministry leadership, not by my own choice, but by popular acclimation of the group who thought that I was the most logical person to lead them, in the wake of a colleague dying.

I have been working in my field here in Montreal for over five years. I work with the addicts, the alcoholics, the sick and the dying. I have probably spent more years in the ACTIVE practice of Christian Charity longer than most of you would even care to consider. When my friends were all dying of AIDS who do you think ministered to their souls, took care of their physical bodies, fed and bathed them and in the end buried them when parents of Christian faith walked out on them and left them in the streets to die alone!

My work was something that my peers and my supporters highly encouraged. I looked all over the world for the model that I would adopt to begin my work here. That church was RE:HOPE in Glasgow.

Let me stop for a moment and say this loud and clear. Just because I am a gay man, does not infer that any people I choose to support, or pray for, or attempt to raise funds for, speaks of the sexual orientation of anyone. There are straight writers on this blog and there are gay writers. They all have good messages and are people that I respect and admire. We all learn from each other.

So I know that RE:HOPE is trying to raise 12,000 GBP for their trip to the Holy Land this fall and I went OUT of my way to try and help them, because it was an easy choice and it was the right choice. I used the term “Partnered” and that has come back to me also.

You may not agree with some of my theology, and the obvious sane fact that I am a gay man of faith – speaks of just how much work I have done in 40 years of life to find my way through Christianity and Catholicism. I take what is good and I leave what is bad.’

Christianity isn’t perfect, and it is truly flawed. But Christ is perfect in his simplicity and direct in his message. People are flawed too in their beliefs and theology. People are imperfect yet God is perfect…

People have commented and Scott has commented about my choice of words and today he writes me to admonish me and to tell me about being careful of what I write, I got that.

What troubled me more – and to the point that – because I am a gay man in Ministry, some have gone as far as to question the sexual orientation of Scott Burns. I have to say that I am disgusted by this little piece of information. Don’t people have better things to do with their time than to wonder about the sexual orientation of people? Have we not grown past this little issue? Are we all adults here?

I’ve never met Scott, but I believe in his ministry. Enough to put my own reputation and this blog on the line in the sense of credibility and respect. So what, I am Gay and Scott is not? Does my support of his ministry automatically make him gay or make him suspect? Have we backtracked that much in the year 2007, that doing good Christian work comes with parameters and judgments by some? Of course it does, I should know that.

All of you out there are Christianity Majors and have decades of Christian study and worship under your belts, right? All of you have spent years in University studying Church history, Christian History and Christian Origins. right??? And all of you have spent time in a Catholic Seminary in the pursuit of priesthood as well, I suppose?

I do not make choices rashly or out of one side of my brain. You may not agree with my stance of Church, and you can question my “take” on Christian Theology. I have spent over 20 years of my life studying religion, in seminary and in University so I do know much more about church and Christianity, than the run of the mill lay person or arm chair Christian.

Living with AIDS – over 14 years now gives me certain understanding of what charity and forgiveness and true unconditional Christian love is. I know what doing the right thing is, if you lived with the threat of death every day of your life, knowing just what is going to kill you and how, you either do one of two things, you find FAITH fast or you give up and die.

I took the high road. Seeking ministers, priests and bishops who were accommodating and understanding. I am part of the Anglican faith now because I was told, unequivocally that the Montreal Diocese agrees with the blessing of Same Sex unions. I, in fact, am Married, and have been for now three years. We had a United Church wedding before God and our families.

So if you have a question about my Christian faith – You Ask Me! If you have a problem with me You Tell Me.

I cannot believe that trying to help another ministry would come back with questions, inferences and disagreements. I love it when people come to read, and many do each day. I reach out to millions with this blog, we have even saved a few lives here and there with the work that we do here.

All my kids and my peers and supporters who are part of this ministry are straight. One of them is in Seminary this fall. NONE of them question my ability to serve based on my sexual orientation. My exploration of faith has brought me to this point. And I will even go so far as to say that I probably have a better Christian practice than most of you out there, because you have to deal with doctrine, theology and teaching.

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I study Theology and though I may not agree with it, and for the most part I do not agree with any church that limits its membership to those who believe and are straight from those who believe and are gay. I have struggled with this issue for the whole of my life. And I have made peace with it.

I CAN reconcile being Gay and Being Christian, IF You CANNOT then that is your issue, not mine.

I do what I am called to do. I serve where I am called to serve. And I love unconditionally because I am commanded TO! I read scripture too and those six references to same sex, homosexuality and sleeping with a man as to a woman are all scriptures that I have spent a great deal of time, during my studies, trying to understand. I don’t think that you have spent as much time studying scripture as I have in 25 years.

Nobody has the right to judge what kind of Christian I am – or question the ministry that I work with. The reason that we have emergent churches and church plants and Christian ministries popping up all over the world is in response to the way Christianity has played out over the centuries. Nobody is pleased or agrees with the model we have, so we set out and create our own. I have done that after reaching the conclusion after prayer, study and academic work to know that Church Christianity will not work for me – it never has.

I have been a Catholic all of my life, I spent a year in a Catholic Seminary as well and I left because I would not serve Man and also because I was not a pedophile and I was not going to spend another year keep secrets for my fellows and the Catholic administration.

The members of the Anglican faith, here in Montreal, have been planting seeds in my heart for a year. They allowed me to come and go as I please. And they loved me unconditionally. And now I have made a conscious choice to become part of the Anglican communion because the Bishop himself has given the LGBT community a green light in his church. I have already written about this.

Can a Gay Man be spiritually centered – Yes of course he can. Can a gay man lead a church, Many do, quietly. I can tell you how many gay priests we have in Montreal and how many are open about it and they still have parishes and communities. I can tell you that I know a handful of Christian Ministers who will speak on my behalf and tell you that I am as true to Christian faith as I can be.

I hook up with a church I see does good work and I try to style a ministry by its example, maybe partner wasn’t the right term but still, I pray for that community and I work for the betterment of that community and I work tirelessly trying to help them.

I write letters to my supporters on my time to help You, and I get a letter of “this weighs on my heart too much” ok, that’s your issue not mine. I was just trying to help you out of a situation that you placed yourself in, then you wrote about it and asked for help, how many of us listened to you and went out of their way to help you???

And I am admonished for doing something charitable and good. I am told that Some do not agree with my theology! That’s your issue not mine. Some do not agree that a Gay man can be a good example to the people he leads, because of the inherent problem with being gay!

I will tell you here and now that sexual practice in my marriage is between ME – MY GOD and My Husband, and nobody else. Go read my writings on the Sacred and the Profane. Maybe you will learn something about how much I respect the two states of grace. You cannot have the Sacred without the Profane, because they inform each other.

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They are married in a coexistence of grace.

 

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I would like to know from you, my readers just what objections you have to what I am, Who I am and what I choose to do for a living? I put those buttons on my blog because the ministries that are there need support either financially or Spiritually. I won’t make that mistake again…

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I choose to support the needs of many and they should be grateful that a stranger would put himself out there to help another human being because he believes in the ministry of Christ. So until further notice I will remove all connection and fund raising for any ministry accept my own.

If you cannot understand what it really means to be a Christian and you can’t accept that maybe a Gay man with religious leanings, a full degree in Christian Religion Study and a further pursuance of a Pastoral Ministry Degree in Theology can lead and be a good example and a wise leader, then I invite you to be on your way.

Don’t waste another moment reading here and please, do us all a favor, do not return to this place, because we have no use for you either.

Yesterday I turned forty years old, and I had my own issues with faith, life and death, but to receive a letter of concern, admonishment and as I read it a separation in Theology and Christian faith practice insulted me. And to know that people who have come by here have questioned the dignity of another minister AND question his Sexual Orientation just because his visage and ministry appeared on the side bar of this blog made me sick to my stomach. I thought we were all adults here and that we were grown up enough to lay down our judgments and issues for the shared communion of Christianity. I guess I was mistaken.

Like I said, if you’ve got a problem with me, that is Your Problem not mine. If you don’t have the balls to approach me and state your case, that is also your problem not mine. If you question the way I practice my Christianity, that is also your problem, not mine.

If you do not know enough to understand that I have struggled with Christianity for the whole of my life and that I probably know MORE about the intricacies and minutiae of Christianity than you do – that’s not my problem.

God speaks to me – and he knows I am Gay, He also knows I am HIV positive, so do all my kids, my friends, my peers, and even my husband. They all love me just the same. God Loves me Unconditionally. There is no separation between God and Myself.

I don’t have time to sit here and write sermons like this and justify why I can practice Christian faith because of …. to you. I don’t need to. You can sit your happy ass down and write me and tell me of your concerns with my theology and practice and if I feel moved I will write you back, or even take the time to embarrass myself in front of you by writing a rant like this one again!

I know a lot more about Christian Theological issues than you might think. I have battled with the best and the brightest when it comes to theological and ministerial discussion. And we agree to disagree. The Catholic Church allows me access to the sacraments because it is a RITE of my Catholic upbringing, I was baptized into the church and in all my years only ONE priest saw fit to condemn me openly and with that condemnation he lost his parish and his people, they all left his church! In the Anglican faith I am in full communion with the Bishop’s church and it is high about time. God WEEPS at the intolerance and judgment of Christians all over the world. And we pray for them just the same.

I have studied Papal History and I continue “on my time” to further that theological education outside the classroom. I know all about the Churches laws and decrees, I have studied at great length – the life of John Paul II one of the most important Popes in Modern History second only to John XXIII. I don’t agree with all of his writing, especially about women, birth control, homosexuality and assorted other dimensions of his writing, but you must admit that in the hallowed darkness of his chapel the Pope begged God for forgiveness for some of what he did in public, forced to speak so many words at the consternation of the Holy See and those Bishops and Cardinals who were close to the See of Peter. So I know all of your arguments.

Christianity MUST evolve or else crumble in the ruins of its own intolerance and judgmentalism and condemnations. The Church must change to accommodate the many people who have grown up in a faith and as adults we are divided from the faith because of the stance of those conservative men in certain positions. The curret Pope Benedict will never earn my allegiance or respect, because he is a dog of a man. HE is responsible for much of what John Paul II wrote as he was the man in the position of keeper of the doctrine of the faith, now he is Pope, God help us all…

Faith for me as a gay HIV Positive man is cut and dry. You do good for others, and you love others and you maintain a humble presence in the world and you do no harm. I think that this simple theological model works. Don’t quote me mumbo jumbo theological ideas because all the theology in the world will not change the man I am today and what I choose to do with my life.

Theology is too wrapped up in rules and dogma. I am wrapped up in simple Christian faith for simple Christian people. Faith is simple. Talking the talk is one thing, Walking the Walk is surely another. I can do both – I can talk the talk and I do walk the walk. You ask any of my people about what I do day in and day out, and just how much of my time I spend helping others because I am called to do that and I am sure you would be pleasantly surprised. Men of faith should be this “giving” of their time and talent for the little pittance I make in return. I work my ass off to the bone day and night, I write, I work with others because work was done for me when I needed it to. Ministry is not just about preaching the Gospel to people, but getting down in the gutter with them. How many Christians get out there and really get their hands dirty? Not Many.

So I see a group that gets their hands dirty and I start talking them up and I pray for them and I try to raise funds for them. I do that for my group too. All is not words and bible, show me the money at the end of the day – I don’t make nearly enough to support my house yet, and I have another 18 months to go before I hit my Masters and Pastoral ordination, but I am in the field, I have been in the field for years.

I have been a Christian presence in my Gay Community since I was a young boy, And I was in the trenches when Christians were fleeing like in the exodus from infected sons, daughters and children. I stuck and stayed. I raised money, stood in picket lines and I was there through the worst time when Christians turned their back on men and women who were sick and dying. I WAS THERE! I cannot tell you the countless and thankless hours that I spent in service to my community because NOBODY else would dare touch us or help us. So speak to me about active Christian Ministry. Tell me you know from what people like me lived through in our own lives! Tell me you know the words that self righteous Christians used to condemn people and people lost their jobs, apartments, lovers, family and friends. Were you there?

I can tell you about Christian families that THREW their sons on the STREET, Churches who REFUSED to perform funerals, Christian men and women who worked in funeral homes that REFUSED to process AIDS infected dead boys and men.

This is a double sided issue. Men acted with one another. Men did what they did. Do we condemn them as well? They are all DEAD and I am still alive, so God in his wisdom still sees good in me to fill my lungs with air and gives me life each day. I know how I was infected. I was trying to help another sick soul who LIED to me and then killed himself and I found out After the fact!! So fuck me right? I got what was coming to me right? I was a sinner just like the others. So fuck us !!! right??

Good Christian men kept me alive when all I wanted to do was die already. They believed I had a place in God’s kingdom, even if we did not go to any certain church. I learned Christian Charity from the best. I learned what Jesus meant by Loving others as I loved myself the hard way. I had no choice because good upstanding self righteous Christians could not stomach the horror and filth – the sickness and death. Yet, they could walk into church on Sunday’s and quote scripture and condemn from their Holy Pulpits and pews, UGH it makes me SICK to think about the past…

I can tell you that some of us angry gay men who were Christians who went to school  to become morticians so that they could start funeral parlors to give our friends proper burials and I know renegade priests who WOULD perform funerals for us and the minions of people who worked behind the scenes behind the Christian iron curtain who DID walk the walk when we needed it.

I can also tell you about cemetery workers who refused to dig graves and those religious men who stood in the way of us burying those people in hallowed graves. Shall I continue? I can tell you about ministers, Christian ministers TODAY who still condemn us. And you want me to follow their theology?

I think Not!! 

And I know good Christian people who loved me when my parents disavowed me and wrote me off as infected goods. I was not immune to judgment and condemnation. I got it from my own family which speaks to the effect that my family has no role or place in my life today – and I am 40 years old and I am still here writing this story.

I was there with Jesus, changing diapers, cleaning up shit and puke and feeding people – And I sat with them until they died, while Christians all over the world sat on their tuffets condemning us and alienating and judging us and telling us that

“AIDS was God’s punishment for our sinful lifestyles.”

I SPIT on the people who did that and I will SPIT on whomever says that to me today.

And God WEPT!!!

Christians could learn from the ministerial work we did in the trenches when it really mattered. So nobody owns the right to judge or critique my Christian life, ministry, theology or practice. Because when I take my last breath – it will then be God and I in a discussion of life review and I know for sure that he will look at me and say:

“Well done, good and faithful servant!”

1 Corinthians Chapter 13:1-3

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Deuteronomy Chapter 6:4-7

Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one, and you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. These words, which I command you this day, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.

End of Sermon…


My Birthday – What a Day it Was!!!

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I got up this morning and My desktop had been changed to say Happy Birthday and that’s how it started. I showered and went to the Cathedral for Shirley’s memorial mass, which I asked to have said today. Louise showed up for mass today which was a treat and the Reverend Canon Joyce said mass. I thought that it would be good to honor God and Shirley, so I started this birthday with Mass and Prayer. To thank God for life and air and family and friends. This is the Cathedral by day!! Beautiful isn’t it!!

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When it came time for the Eucharist, I went up to the dais and knelt and Rev. Joyce laid her hand on my head, she blessed me and prayed over me, as well she traced the sign of the cross on my forehead as she was praying. I almost fainted.

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After the mass I went to the Diocesan bookstore to find something to honor my spirit. And I found this icon of the “Annunciation.” It is one of the most beautiful Marian Icons I have ever seen. So this was my spiritual gift to myself. I bought a book as well called “Discernment – Acquiring the Heart of God.”

I got home and I got the best gift in the world. Jacob had called me and so I called him back and he wished me happy birthday and he then told me that they were giving me the digital camera that Angela had loaned me to do some photography with Jacob. Now, I was like “Seriously? Seriously?” and he said “Seriously!!” I was totally overjoyed. It is a finepix S5200 Fuji film 5.1 mega pixel digital camera! O M G !!!

I had to call back and make sure I heard them right!

I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am today!

So I set off for coffee with Ms. Nikki and we had fun as usual. We went to set up the room for the meeting and we had a Birthday Party in the space, it was FUN!! Louise brought me the most beautiful Apple and Caramel cake drizzled with caramel, honey and chocolate. YUM!!! I got a book from Louise called “Discover Your Destiny with the Monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma.

I got cards and gifts from friends. Ms. Nikki gave me a $100.00 gift certificate to Indigo Booksellers and other sundry items, like chocolate and grocery gift certificates. My friends are too generous. And I am totally grateful for the gifts. I did not expect such an amazing day that today turned out to be.

I came home after the meeting and now I am writing this. I have one more gift to open, so I am gonna go do that and get back to finish this. So Peter got me Dan Millman’s No Ordinary Moments and The Calendar Girls on DVD! Sweet!!

I have more to say – but not in the same post as this one. My head has been all over the place today and there are a hundred thoughts running through my head right now. So I will write more later on tonight.

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This is the Ceiling over the Main Altar of the Church


Thoughts on the Night – Quiet Time

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Mark Brian has just had his vicarage rebuilt by the community he serves, the little church of St. George in Kingcome. I just love this little story because it is one that keeps me grounded and reminds me why I am in this business called faith.

I had the afternoon to myself. And I usually sit here and write but I waited until the evening to write because of the upcoming event. I have been collecting music off the net and when I am alone I usually blast music for the entire time. I did not disappoint my neighbors. People come and go at odd hours, and they come home well after 3 a.m. sometimes. None of my neighbors say hello or even nod when we occupy the same elevator.

They are going to freak out whence Christmas comes. Because I go trey gay decorate the door Blinky freakish. Anyways, I digress…

We live in a very transient building. People are always coming and going, they don’t stay for more than a year. There is only one other tenant on this floor who has been here as long as we have, seven years. There are eight apartments on this floor. I think I am being way too observant of my neighbors. The quiet is sometimes unnerving, that’s why I like to blast some music now and then.

I was going to church by myself tonight because hubby was not going to “sit and sweat” like he did last year, he tells me. And he wasn’t back from the gym when I left. So I was ok to go it alone. Faith is my department, the gym and vanity are my husbands. I do the praying and sobriety for both of us, yes I know I can only get sober for myself. I just had to say that!

I set off on the metro and got there early, as is always my case. I will be early for my funeral, just wait and see. The church was still dark and the choir was in the loft and I headed into the vestry to find Rev. Joyce. She screamed when I got to her office and hugged me wildly. We are a team, Rev. Joyce and I. She is also a spiritual adviser for one of my best friends and one I have had since I got sober. She is also one of my spiritual advisers. We were really hoping to hear something good from the bishop. We were not disappointed, with her remark “I think we are in the clear!”

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Prayer…

Live the Word – Breathe Prayer

I did pray today. I prayed while sitting in the church listening to the choir warm up. They sing so beautifully, and I have to say, that when properly warm myself, I keep a pretty good pitch and tone myself. I was keeping right up there with the tenors, I happen to be a tenor, thank you very much. I love to sing in church, I don’t know if I could occupy a seat in the choir. The Anglican mass gives new meaning to “singing in Church.” A beautiful space, wonderful people and a Bishop who is supportive, that means a lot to my Christian sensibilities. I know accepting Catholic priests in the city, but as a rule, politically, I can’t worship where I am not really welcome, yet some will allow me the ability to go to mass and nobody is none the wiser. I really want to find “Home” and I think I’ve found it.

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One cannot live in the past, nor dwell on the past. What’s done is DONE. What’s said has been SAID. My father is apt to say … “Once you speak the words, you can’t take them back!” Well my parents sure said their words, and no they can’t take them back. But case in point: People change and People grow. Time heals all wounds if YOU are ready to face the future with a clean slate, because that is what God gives on a daily basis. Spiritual cleansing, just for the asking…

 

Almighty God,
to you all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from you no secrets are hidden.
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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So I had brought Mark Brian with me to mass, along with my beads, which I always carry in my pocket. And a few minutes before mass I settled down with my beads and I started the ritual. I usually follow the prescribed prayers for my Anglican Beads, like a rosary but a little different route. They are pictured above – rose colored beads with black cruciform beads with a Celtic Cross to balance the energy. They are truly beautiful. They can be found at the Solitaries of DeKoven, A Vigeat Radix Hermitage in Texas. They are hand made and the prayers of the one who made the beads sends them with their prayers. In turn, the owner of the beads offers a prayer each day for the person who made them in return.

Tonight I was praying for specific people and I knew at one point that there was someone else sitting in the pew with me at one point. I felt it, it made me stop singing and I wept. There were people sitting a few rows behind me from London Ontario – that wasn’t a coincidence. The woman who was sitting with her husband, they were both Anglican clerics, were singing louder than I was, and i was trying to keep up with them.

I was winded by the end of mass, I thought…”Jesus, I feel like I just ran an Anglican marathon!” What with all the singing the entire hymn – stanza after stanza !! OY!! Have you ever sat through a high Anglican mass??? Oh My Goodness. The music, the responsorials and the song after song!! I was exhausted !! But in a good way. Nothing like good honest worship of God with prayer and song, not to mention the Eucharist.

It’s 3:21 in the morning and I am still here editing and adding to this post. My nightly prayer time to think and write. I think it is important that I take this time each night to offer my thoughts and prayers for the day – gratitude for a wonderful day and night, prayers for my friends and family, and most important prayers for you my readers. I got a wonderful comment tonight, on this post on its first incarnation:

“In a sea of phobic madness claiming to be Christianity, it is fab to read your blog – thanks, and God Bless” from Kristin… Thank you so much… I hope she comes back to read. She is also a “member!” woo hoo!!!

My prayer candle is lit and I offer my gratitude to the fire that my prayers would rise with the smoke to the heavens above, that God might hear them and grant them as He sees fit to grant them unto me. I miss school. I wish Summer was over, so I could get back to doing what I love, studying!! I’m tired of vacation. I have work to keep me busy and a ministry to run as well, so it’s not like I am bored or anything of the sort. Getting an appointment with me is wonderful – and I would love to see everyone and I will this week.

Please pray for our Ministry – we call it “The Common Ground.” I haven’t heard from my girls at all this week, which is strange. Everyone is busy with work and summer school. I finished first session long ago. And I missed my friends at mass tonight, some of them did not make it, they must be out of town.

If you like what you read, please, by all means let us know. It is always nice to hear from my readers. I am not your “run of the mill” Christian, but quite the opposite.

I just do what I am called to do

I help where I am directed to

and I love because I am commanded to

And from the Old Testament I remind of these most important words:

“The most vital commandment in the Old Testament is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deut. 6:5…


Walk Humbly with your God…

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

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Pictured here is the Very Reverend Gene Robinson preaching at the Out Mass at the Christ Church Cathedral last year. Seated behind him to the left in the presider’s chair, is The Very Rev. Bishop Barry B. Clarke, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal and our preacher for tonight’s Out Mass which was held earlier this evening.

I was amazed, astounded, overjoyed and very pleased to hear this blessed man tell the entire congregation without skipping a beat, that his church is moving forwards, that ALL are welcome in his church, man or woman, child and elder. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans gendered. He also said the words we were waiting to hear from a leader of the church, that in his opinion, NOT to respect and bless same sex unions was troublesome.

He talked about the Anglican Church at large and he set his staff in the ground and said that he welcomes everyone into his church, for what would Jesus do? Following his example, he stated emphatically that he 100% supports the blessing of same sex unions even if the church at large is still wrestling with the issue.

The church is ever more blessed for the diversity that finds comfort and truth under its roof. It is diversity that makes Montreal a truly special city. For what did Jesus do? He sat with the poor, he ate with them, he healed the sick and he loved those on the periphery, those on the margins of community.

In some churches you find that some are marginalized and kept out and away. But in Bishop Barry Clarke’s church everybody is welcome and everyone is free to pray, to worship and to come to the Lord. He told us to persevere, to be persistent in our prayers. Eventually, that door will open. And prayerfully and with a right heart we shall approach it when it does.

He said that the persistent man is rewarded. From the Gospel passage from the book of Luke Chapter 11:1-13

Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

He said to them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation

Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’

“Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

This is the teaching that he shared with us tonight. To keep praying, to keep coming to church because everyone is part of the church, everyone, not just some. We shall be persistent in our prayers and consistent in our Christianity. We will keep knocking until that door is opened to us. It was a wonderful mass, the choir was heavenly, the music, once again, lifted me out of my body.

I had my prayer beads in my hand during the communion hymn and I was thinking about Shirley and for a moment, I was praying for her soul, and I felt her – I knew it was her because of the energy and the feeling of maternal love. After mass I talked to our celebrant, the Reverend Joyce and she is going to say a mass for Shirley on Tuesday, July 31st – My Birthday at noon. I will start my birthday with mass for both of us and then go to coffee and celebrate at a meeting. How much better can life get???

After mass I was talking to Rev Canon Joyce, and she asked me how I liked the sermon and I was just smiling, and she looked at me and said “I think we are in the clear!” After that prophetic and positive statement from the church, by the Bishop, unequivocally stating his support of the LGBT community and that of his support in blessing same sex unions, that when the day comes when the church finally catches up to us, we will have same sex blessings in our church, in our diocese, in our community. That the Montreal Anglican diocese does not agree with the stance of some bishops after the

38th Anglican General Synod in Winnepeg Manitoba June 19-25 2007.

He did not waver from his message of inclusion and support. So we walk on together.
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This is the exterior of the Christ Church Cathedral…


OUTMASS 2007 at Christ Church Cathedral

The 2007

 

O U T M A S S

Christ Church Cathedral

635 Rue Ste. Catherines

Montreal

Saturday July 28, 2007

 

at 7:00 p.m.

Bring a friend and celebrate!!!

The Reverend Canon Joyce Sanchez will be Officiating

and the Bishop will be giving the sermon.

If you are in Montreal for Pride, please join us.

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OUT MASS 2006 with the V. Rev Bishop Gene Robinson
of New Hampshire…


AIDS Lab – Jewish General Hospital

June 28, 2007  –  New HIV/AIDS Bio-containment Laboratory opens at the Jewish General Hospital’s Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research

Testing and research into HIV/AIDS have taken a major step forward with today’s opening of a new $5 million HIV/AIDS Bio-containment Laboratory in the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research (LDI) at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH).

The laboratory, whose development was spearheaded by Dr. Mark A. Wainberg, Director of Research at the JGH, will be used to grow the HIV/AIDS virus and to test tissue samples to determine how patients respond to various types of medication.

This is the fourth and most sophisticated laboratory of its kind at the LDI since the hospital began its pioneering work in HIV/AIDS under Dr. Wainberg’s supervision in the early 1980s.

“The Jewish General Hospital and the Lady Davis Institute deserve a great deal of credit for having recognized the importance of HIV/AIDS research so soon after the outbreak of the epidemic 25 years ago, and for continuing to support major, ongoing initiatives to fight the disease,” Dr. Wainberg said.

Dr. Wainberg, an internationally recognized expert on HIV/AIDS, added that the new laboratory, which is affiliated with the McGill AIDS Centre, is among the few Level 3 facilities in a Canadian hospital. In such a facility, safety precautions are so strict that Health Canada has permitted the HIV/AIDS virus to be studied and stored there. It is also one of only two centres in Quebec that are authorized to perform clinical genotyping – i.e., checking the virus’ genetic sequences to determine whether it has mutated so as to become resistant to anti-viral drugs. This test is an essential component of HIV therapy.

A total of 82 people have been trained to work in the laboratory, which received $2 million from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation for construction and equipment. The rest of the funding was provided by the JGH Foundation and various donors.


I'm not a Theologian – YET!!

“It remains unclear why Pope Benedict chose to publish this document just as he begins a three-week holiday in the Italian Alps.

Admittedly, the document does stress that Pope Benedict remains seriously committed to dialogue with the other Christian Churches, but first reactions from Protestant Church leaders appear negative.

This is the second document issued by the Pope in recent days which re-evaluates the work of the Second Vatican Council, the reforming council held in Rome during the 1960s.

The Pope’s point is that although this was a council of reform, the Church fathers meeting at that time remained true to Catholic traditions.

Pope Benedict is, in effect, attacking what he regards as later erroneous interpretations of what the council actually decided.”  BBC News Report Below

There are reasons I have my opinions of the Catholic church, past the death of John Paul II. I know, I know he said his share of words about a great many things that I detested as an adult, but I was willing to overlook his faux pas, in the hope that somewhere in his spirit he was contrite and humble.

Benedict is doing his damnedest  to alienate, not only other religions, but he has now made an about face to alienate those churches which fall under the wider umbrella of Christian, namely the Protestants and the Anglicans. I have been, for some time, a supporter and attendee at mass at the Christ Church Cathedral for a long time because of my agreement with the clergy there and their openness to adopt wayward men of “pride.”

But as we all knew that Benedict was going to adopt his”ways” we have just been watching the pieces fall into place. First he brings back the Tridintine Mass you can read that text here direct from the Vatican:

LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS
BENEDICT XVI

TO THE BISHOPS ON THE OCCASION OF THE PUBLICATION
OF THE APOSTOLIC LETTER “MOTU PROPRIO DATA”
SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM
ON THE USE OF THE ROMAN LITURGY
PRIOR TO THE REFORM OF 1970

 

My dear Brother Bishops,

With great trust and hope, I am consigning to you as Pastors the text of a new Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio data” on the use of the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970.  The document is the fruit of much reflection, numerous consultations and prayer.

News reports and judgments made without sufficient information have created no little confusion.  There have been very divergent reactions ranging from joyful acceptance to harsh opposition, about a plan whose contents were in reality unknown.

This document was most directly opposed on account of two fears, which I would like to address somewhat more closely in this letter.

In the first place, there is the fear that the document detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican Council, one of whose essential decisions – the liturgical reform – is being called into question.

This fear is unfounded.  In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy.  The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration.  It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were “two Rites”.  Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.

As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.  At the time of the introduction of the new Missal, it did not seem necessary to issue specific norms for the possible use of the earlier Missal.  Probably it was thought that it would be a matter of a few individual cases which would be resolved, case by case, on the local level.  Afterwards, however, it soon became apparent that a good number of people remained strongly attached to this usage of the Roman Rite, which had been familiar to them from childhood.  This was especially the case in countries where the liturgical movement had provided many people with a notable liturgical formation and a deep, personal familiarity with the earlier Form of the liturgical celebration.  We all know that, in the movement led by Archbishop Lefebvre, fidelity to the old Missal became an external mark of identity; the reasons for the break which arose over this, however, were at a deeper level. Many people who clearly accepted the binding character of the Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope and the Bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the form of the sacred liturgy that was dear to them. This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear.  I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion.  And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.

Pope John Paul II thus felt obliged to provide, in his Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei (2 July 1988), guidelines for the use of the 1962 Missal; that document, however, did not contain detailed prescriptions but appealed in a general way to the generous response of Bishops towards the “legitimate aspirations” of those members of the faithful who requested this usage of the Roman Rite.  At the time, the Pope primarily wanted to assist the Society of Saint Pius X to recover full unity with the Successor of Peter, and sought to heal a wound experienced ever more painfully.  Unfortunately this reconciliation has not yet come about.  Nonetheless, a number of communities have gratefully made use of the possibilities provided by the Motu Proprio.  On the other hand, difficulties remain concerning the use of the 1962 Missal outside of these groups, because of the lack of precise juridical norms, particularly because Bishops, in such cases, frequently feared that the authority of the Council would be called into question.  Immediately after the Second Vatican Council it was presumed that requests for the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older generation which had grown up with it, but in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them. Thus the need has arisen for a clearer juridical regulation which had not been foreseen at the time of the 1988 Motu Proprio. The present Norms are also meant to free Bishops from constantly having to evaluate anew how they are to respond to various situations.

In the second place, the fear was expressed in discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio, that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities.  This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded. The use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often.  Already from these concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.

It is true that there have been exaggerations and at times social aspects unduly linked to the attitude of the faithful attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition. Your charity and pastoral prudence will be an incentive and guide for improving these. For that matter, the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal.  The “Ecclesia Dei” Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the usus antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard. The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage.  The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal.

I now come to the positive reason which motivated my decision to issue this Motu Proprio updating that of 1988. It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church. Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden.  This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew.  I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: “Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide.  You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections.  In return … widen your hearts also!” (2 Cor 6:11-13).  Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject.  Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.

There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal.  In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.  What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.  It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.  Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books.  The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.

In conclusion, dear Brothers, I very much wish to stress that these new norms do not in any way lessen your own authority and responsibility, either for the liturgy or for the pastoral care of your faithful.  Each Bishop, in fact, is the moderator of the liturgy in his own Diocese (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22: “Sacrae Liturgiae moderatio ab Ecclesiae auctoritate unice pendet quae quidem est apud Apostolicam Sedem et, ad normam iuris, apud Episcopum”).

Nothing is taken away, then, from the authority of the Bishop, whose role remains that of being watchful that all is done in peace and serenity.  Should some problem arise which the parish priest cannot resolve, the local Ordinary will always be able to intervene, in full harmony, however, with all that has been laid down by the new norms of the Motu Proprio.

Furthermore, I invite you, dear Brothers, to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this Motu Proprio has taken effect.  If truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy them can be sought.

Dear Brothers, with gratitude and trust, I entrust to your hearts as Pastors these pages and the norms of the Motu Proprio.  Let us always be mindful of the words of the Apostle Paul addressed to the presbyters of Ephesus: “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son” (Acts 20:28).

I entrust these norms to the powerful intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, dear Brothers, to the parish priests of your dioceses, and to all the priests, your co-workers, as well as to all your faithful.

Given at Saint Peter’s, 7 July 2007

 

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI


I’m not a Theologian – YET!!

“It remains unclear why Pope Benedict chose to publish this document just as he begins a three-week holiday in the Italian Alps.

Admittedly, the document does stress that Pope Benedict remains seriously committed to dialogue with the other Christian Churches, but first reactions from Protestant Church leaders appear negative.

This is the second document issued by the Pope in recent days which re-evaluates the work of the Second Vatican Council, the reforming council held in Rome during the 1960s.

The Pope’s point is that although this was a council of reform, the Church fathers meeting at that time remained true to Catholic traditions.

Pope Benedict is, in effect, attacking what he regards as later erroneous interpretations of what the council actually decided.”  BBC News Report Below

There are reasons I have my opinions of the Catholic church, past the death of John Paul II. I know, I know he said his share of words about a great many things that I detested as an adult, but I was willing to overlook his faux pas, in the hope that somewhere in his spirit he was contrite and humble.

Benedict is doing his damnedest  to alienate, not only other religions, but he has now made an about face to alienate those churches which fall under the wider umbrella of Christian, namely the Protestants and the Anglicans. I have been, for some time, a supporter and attendee at mass at the Christ Church Cathedral for a long time because of my agreement with the clergy there and their openness to adopt wayward men of “pride.”

But as we all knew that Benedict was going to adopt his”ways” we have just been watching the pieces fall into place. First he brings back the Tridintine Mass you can read that text here direct from the Vatican:

LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS
BENEDICT XVI

TO THE BISHOPS ON THE OCCASION OF THE PUBLICATION
OF THE APOSTOLIC LETTER “MOTU PROPRIO DATA”
SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM
ON THE USE OF THE ROMAN LITURGY
PRIOR TO THE REFORM OF 1970

 

My dear Brother Bishops,

With great trust and hope, I am consigning to you as Pastors the text of a new Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio data” on the use of the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970.  The document is the fruit of much reflection, numerous consultations and prayer.

News reports and judgments made without sufficient information have created no little confusion.  There have been very divergent reactions ranging from joyful acceptance to harsh opposition, about a plan whose contents were in reality unknown.

This document was most directly opposed on account of two fears, which I would like to address somewhat more closely in this letter.

In the first place, there is the fear that the document detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican Council, one of whose essential decisions – the liturgical reform – is being called into question.

This fear is unfounded.  In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy.  The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration.  It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were “two Rites”.  Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.

As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.  At the time of the introduction of the new Missal, it did not seem necessary to issue specific norms for the possible use of the earlier Missal.  Probably it was thought that it would be a matter of a few individual cases which would be resolved, case by case, on the local level.  Afterwards, however, it soon became apparent that a good number of people remained strongly attached to this usage of the Roman Rite, which had been familiar to them from childhood.  This was especially the case in countries where the liturgical movement had provided many people with a notable liturgical formation and a deep, personal familiarity with the earlier Form of the liturgical celebration.  We all know that, in the movement led by Archbishop Lefebvre, fidelity to the old Missal became an external mark of identity; the reasons for the break which arose over this, however, were at a deeper level. Many people who clearly accepted the binding character of the Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope and the Bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the form of the sacred liturgy that was dear to them. This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear.  I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion.  And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.

Pope John Paul II thus felt obliged to provide, in his Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei (2 July 1988), guidelines for the use of the 1962 Missal; that document, however, did not contain detailed prescriptions but appealed in a general way to the generous response of Bishops towards the “legitimate aspirations” of those members of the faithful who requested this usage of the Roman Rite.  At the time, the Pope primarily wanted to assist the Society of Saint Pius X to recover full unity with the Successor of Peter, and sought to heal a wound experienced ever more painfully.  Unfortunately this reconciliation has not yet come about.  Nonetheless, a number of communities have gratefully made use of the possibilities provided by the Motu Proprio.  On the other hand, difficulties remain concerning the use of the 1962 Missal outside of these groups, because of the lack of precise juridical norms, particularly because Bishops, in such cases, frequently feared that the authority of the Council would be called into question.  Immediately after the Second Vatican Council it was presumed that requests for the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older generation which had grown up with it, but in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them. Thus the need has arisen for a clearer juridical regulation which had not been foreseen at the time of the 1988 Motu Proprio. The present Norms are also meant to free Bishops from constantly having to evaluate anew how they are to respond to various situations.

In the second place, the fear was expressed in discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio, that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities.  This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded. The use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often.  Already from these concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.

It is true that there have been exaggerations and at times social aspects unduly linked to the attitude of the faithful attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition. Your charity and pastoral prudence will be an incentive and guide for improving these. For that matter, the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal.  The “Ecclesia Dei” Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the usus antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard. The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage.  The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal.

I now come to the positive reason which motivated my decision to issue this Motu Proprio updating that of 1988. It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church. Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden.  This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew.  I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: “Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide.  You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections.  In return … widen your hearts also!” (2 Cor 6:11-13).  Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject.  Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.

There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal.  In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.  What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.  It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.  Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books.  The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.

In conclusion, dear Brothers, I very much wish to stress that these new norms do not in any way lessen your own authority and responsibility, either for the liturgy or for the pastoral care of your faithful.  Each Bishop, in fact, is the moderator of the liturgy in his own Diocese (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22: “Sacrae Liturgiae moderatio ab Ecclesiae auctoritate unice pendet quae quidem est apud Apostolicam Sedem et, ad normam iuris, apud Episcopum”).

Nothing is taken away, then, from the authority of the Bishop, whose role remains that of being watchful that all is done in peace and serenity.  Should some problem arise which the parish priest cannot resolve, the local Ordinary will always be able to intervene, in full harmony, however, with all that has been laid down by the new norms of the Motu Proprio.

Furthermore, I invite you, dear Brothers, to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this Motu Proprio has taken effect.  If truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy them can be sought.

Dear Brothers, with gratitude and trust, I entrust to your hearts as Pastors these pages and the norms of the Motu Proprio.  Let us always be mindful of the words of the Apostle Paul addressed to the presbyters of Ephesus: “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son” (Acts 20:28).

I entrust these norms to the powerful intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, dear Brothers, to the parish priests of your dioceses, and to all the priests, your co-workers, as well as to all your faithful.

Given at Saint Peter’s, 7 July 2007

 

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI


Embracing the Exile …

 gene_robinson.jpg

From the Text: “Going to Heaven, The Life and election of Bishop Gene Robinson,” by Elizabeth Adams.

Reference: John Fortunato Embracing the Exile: Healing Journeys for Gay Christians, written in 1982.

From Going to Heaven Pg. 53 – 55

Fortunato’s book speaks of “exile” as the place where so many gay Christians find themselves. To be both gay and Christian, accepting and rejoicing in both one’s homosexuality and Christianity as gifts from God, “is to place ourselves on the outskirts of the community we most care about,” he wrote. He said that “embracing the exile” demands not only the belief that living on the fringes of the spiritual community can be endured by gay Christian, but that “being banished can be viewed as an incredible spiritual opportunity to learn to “love anyway”:

“For gay Christians to be able to love, give, and find meaning in a world that rejects and isolates them, the cruel gash separating their sexuality from their spirituality must be healed. Their freedom to love and give in a hostile world hinges upon their coming to believe in their wholeness and in their having a rightful place in God’s universe.”

“Here” Gene said, finding the section he had been looking for. “Let me read this to you.” He read, and I listened, with growing emotion. The passage was John Fortunato’s description of his own, intensely powerful mystical vision of a conversation with God: the moment when he finally realized that, as a gay man, he was acceptable to the God he lived and whose love he desperately wanted to know, feel, and believe in.

In this vision, Fortunato expresses to God his doubts and fears that the Christians who call homosexuality an abomination might be right. God gently answers, “How can love be wrong? It all comes from Me,” and goes on to dispel Fortunato’s fears about his own wholeness and worthiness as a person capable of giving and receiving love. Fortunato is overwhelmed, and asks, “but what am I supposed to do about ‘them’ — the people who hate and vilify me?” And God answers, “I have given you my gifts: I’ve given you my light; love them anyway.”

gene-robinsonb.jpg

Gene then turned the book’s epilogue, titled “into the Lions Den,” in which Fortunato’s revisits this vision and asks, “How? How do I ‘love them anyway’?”

“You begin by just being who you are.” God said, “a loving, caring, whole person, created in my image, whose special light of love happens to shine on men, as I intended for you.”

“Is that all?” I asked, fearfully.

God shook his head. “No, You must also speak your pain and affirm the wholeness I have made you to be when they assail it. You must protest when you are treated as less than a child of mine.”

“Is there more?” I asked.

“Yes,” God said gently. “And this is the hardest part of all. You must go out and reach them. Help them to know of their dependence on me for all that they really are, and of their helplessness without me. Teach them that their ways are not my ways, and that the world of their imagining is not the world I have made. Help them to see all that Creation is One, as I am One, and that all I create, I redeem. And assure them by word, and work, and example, that my love is boundless, and that I am with them always.”

Fortunato protests, saying “They won’t listen to me, they’ll laugh at me and persecute me.” And God’s “radiant face” becomes very sad, and he answers, “I know. How well I know.”

That was the breakthrough. Fortunato writes:

Now I knew. Now I understood. And it was as though large chunks of who I had been, began falling away, tumbling through time and space and eternity. I just let them fall. No fear now, no resistance, so sense of loss. All that was dropping away. It was unnecessary now, extraneous. I began to feel light and warm. Energy began to surge through my whole being, and widen me as though I were a rusty old turbine that had been charged up and was starting to hum.

Then two strong, motherly arms reached out and drew me close to the bosom of all that is, and I was just there, just being, enveloped in being.

And we wept.

For joy.

When Gene finished reading, I wiped my eyes, and looked at him in silence. He nodded, solemnly. “That was it; this was the pivotal point in my journey,” he said. “That unlocked the rest of my life. Pure and simple. Literally, my life changed upon finishing that book.

Up until that point, Gene had wanted to believe the Good News – that he was actually loved by God, just as he was – but after reading the book, he actually did believe it. He finally had the courage and faith to accept his orientation, to reconcile it with his spirituality, and move forward with those two truths at the center of his identity.

outmass.jpg

There is nothing else to say…