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SO You Think You Can Dance

Liminality …

Courtesy: Randall – Iona Chapel

It has been a dark afternoon. With the turning back of the clocks, it was dark by 4:30 this afternoon. It is very unnerving that it gets so dark so early in the day, and therefore the night takes so long or is so long. And it will be like this until the Winter Equinox come December.

I was out early and arrived at the church before 5 to help with set up. We had a full house tonight. And finally we have begun the “meat and potatoes” of the Big Book, beginning the Doctors Opinion…

“The physician (Dr. William Silkworth) who, at our request, gave us this letter, has been kind enough to enlarge upon his views in another statement which follows. In this statement he confirms what we who have suffered alcoholic torture must believe – that the body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal as his mind.

It did not satisfy us to be told that we could not control our drinking just because we were maladjusted to life, that we were in full flight from reality, or were outright mental defectives. These things were true to some extent, in fact, to a considerable extent with some of us. But we are sure that our bodies were sickened as well. In our belief, any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete.”

The Doctors Opinion, Pg. xxvi

Was it problematic that when I was growing up I was witness to alcoholism at its ugliest? Alcohol was the accepted norm. Nobody spoke about a problem, nor of a solution to that problem. I knew what alcoholism was before I became an alcoholic. Because from the first drink, I was drinking for the effect. And I just could not have “just one drink.” It was all or nothing.

I started drinking very early on, and alcoholism had me in its clutches for more than a decade. Were my mind and body abnormal? Was I maladjusted for life?

All the words I heard growing up was that alcohol was social lubricant. It was a necessary evil, therefore no solution to the problem was ever offered. Nobody told me that I had a problem, and amid my twenties I believed that drinking was part of growing up. That the drink would take me places and keep me acutely pickled and part of the community.

Admittedly so, I had a problem with alcoholism. I was maladjusted. I came into a world that I was woefully unprepared for. I just thought that it was all part and parcel of living. I could lie, cheat and steal for the drink. I was woefully irresponsible as a young man. And I did not know any better. Because nobody stopped to explain it to me, and I muse on the fact that had the “Problem” been brought to my attention then, would I have accepted the solution?

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One of my friends, tonight, brought up the word “Liminal.” The dictionary defines liminality as:

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“Liminality” – The transitional period or phase of a rite of passage, during which the participant lacks social status or rank, remains anonymous, shows obedience and humility, and follows prescribed forms of conduct, dress, etc.
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In his words “coming from one phase to the next.” Moving from one stage to the next.” When I think of liminal, I automatically go to “liminal places.” Those locations that are thin, where to points meet, such as a holy place or a scared location, i.e. Iona for example. Photographed above…
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Surely I was in a place of transition, moving out of my home on my own. I was transitioning into the gay community. I was moving from one place to another, but it seemed that I got stuck there for a protracted amount of time. I did not know the way out. There were no markers or signposts signaling that “you should be here or there.” Or “move this way or that way.”
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It was the drink that dictated what I would do, who I would do it with and where I would do it and why. I had no social status, alcohol was supposed to confer upon me some magical status of accepted or having “arrived.” I was obedient to the drink, and not to any one human or direction. Humility was not part of my lexicon. But I seemed to progress, tacking one year onto the next.
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The drink kept me numbed to my feelings and ignorant of responsibility. Until I hit that proverbial wall in my mid twenties. I arrived at a jackpot that had no way out. I had escaped some of the jackpots because of my family, and I am sure that those long seeded resentments still exist to this day for them. But there was nobody there to extract me from the life jackpot I got myself into.
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But for the Grace of God go I…
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Thank God I placed myself in the company of certain men during that period. I wanted so much to be a part of a certain community, that I would go to any length to find myself accepted into that community. I paid my dues and was accepted into that community, but I was still drinking.
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It took me a year, asking Roy what was that “Big Book” was doing sitting on his register… And his answer was always the same, “when you are ready to listen, I will tell you what it means.”
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I guess you could say that I passed through many rites of passage. I had moved from one point in my life to another. And I moved from irresponsibility to responsibility. I came into my own, being part of something that was greater than myself. This time and place, of this transition, was the most important transition point in my whole life.
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It was during this period that someone told me to STOP. That I had a problem. And because of the jackpot I had found myself in, I was ready to listen. And listen I did, to every word and direction. And this was surely the worst rite of passage I think, that anyone could go through. Many did not survive this transition, many died. But I lived to tell the story…
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As long I was protected under this umbrella, with the people and within this location, I was safe. When that came to an end, I was forced to move back into my own world and devices. My will was once again, my own. I had lost all my protections. And that was my own undoing.
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Moving from that place of protection out into the open, I had not the inner voice or direction that I had come to rely on so heavily. When that voice disappeared from my life, I had only myself to listen to. I disconnected from the book, and made decisions based on feelings and not on reality.
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I had no defense from the first drink. I did not take proper precautions to safeguard my sobriety. In fact, I did not even ponder that thought. Hence, I had entered into the last rite of passage – which led me to the gates of hell – and I survived that passage – and here I am today.
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And I muse … They say that you remain the age you are at, when you begin drinking, which meant that I was stuck in my twenties, well into my thirties. I was powerless over the drink, and my life was unmanageable.
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But it was the voice of another alcoholic that I prayed for, and that is exactly what I got. The book speaks of that “psychic change” that has to occur for us to finally loose the obsession to drink. I heard the simple message of “I did not drink today,” for a number of days, consecutively…
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This was the way out. I needed that physical person to take my hand and take me into my first, Next, meeting … The desire to drink eventually left me.
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Funny that… I am on the edge of thirty days before my cake. That thought came to me tonight as I was sitting in the meeting.
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I have often warned others of the “Pre-Cake” roller coaster. Life tends to throw situations at you 30 days out from our cakes. Or we find ourselves in times of Dis-Ease… I hit that dis-ease early this year. I worked my steps, and now I start counting down the days till my anniversary.
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I am being very vigilant. This next phase in my sobriety marks the beginning of the second decade of sobriety. All the years I skipped as a young twenty year old, I got a Re-Do. The last ten years I did all the work that I needed to, to  complete that section of my life. I relocated. I met and married. I finished several degrees in University. I stayed sober.
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I feel like I have been in a transition period for a while now. Having completed all that work and personal achievement, I have been wondering what is coming next?
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Bill once said that the only change he would have made in the Big Book, was to change the phrase … Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly f0llowed our path. ( Rarely would have been changed to Never !!!) This change was never made.
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Secondly, it may have been helpful to put a calendar in the book. Because like good alcoholics, we always want to know the how and when things were going to happen. Like a calendar would have been beneficial to us to help us zone into the specific dates that a psychic change or a spiritual experience would take place.
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It is good we are reading the book in its entirety again… Because I need to be reminded of where I have come from, to ruminate over how I got here and to be grateful for rites of passage. And that I survived to tell the story.
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For the book says: “I earnestly advise every alcoholic to “read this book” through, and though perhaps he came to scoff, he may remain to pray.
William D. Silkworth M.D.
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I believe in Liminal places. That is the space where we come into conscious contact with the God of my understanding. In the “places in between.” It is a place of comfort because I can do well listening to His voice and to what he has to show and tell me.

So You Think You Can Dance 7-16-08

Gev is the man of the night…

Vote for Gev, Vote for Gev, Vote for Gev !!!!
My couple for the night is Gev and Chelsie. Their Contemporary routine was amazing. They did a really GREAT Jive. So Vote, Vote, Vote…

Katie and Will, the most technical couple of the night come in second for me tonight.
Did they rock your boat?


SYTYCD – BOLLYWOOD… Katee and Joshua

The couple that wins the night hands down, Katee and Joshua. The Bollywood routine was incredible. They make the Hot Tamale Train as well tonight.


So You Think You Can Dance 7-9-08

The Garden of Eden performance was just amazing. Beautiful and wonderful.

Gev and Courtney Cha Cha Chaaa’d the house very well done. They made tonight’s Hot Tamale Train

Thayne and Comfort, not too good tonight. But I will put them up again this week.


Late Night: SYTYCD

It is almost 4 a.m. here as I sit to write. Not that there is much in my head right now, I just felt like writing something. Another elimination day has come and gone. And we loose another couple from the competition. Suffice to say that Comfort and Thayne will dance again next week. I think the judges made the right call this week by eliminating Matt and Kourtni. One too many times in the bottom three is the deathknell for competition.

It was a quiet day today. I had a doctors appointment early on Thursday morning. And everybody knows that I don’t do mornings very well, not to mention that it was pouring when I left the house to go up the hill. Once again I get soaked but all went well. I dropped a new set of labs and the substitute doc told me that everything looked good on paper, I got more meds for the study and was sent on my merry way. The numbers are still high – the doc explained that because my numbers are in the 1000’s that my body ebbs and flows – t-cells are created then the body backs off a little for a break and then it recycles. Which was a new way of putting it. Doc Chris will return and I will see him in a few weeks time, when the new labs come back.

I’ve had a few days of intense nausea over the last week, which is strange. It just comes over me and invades me and catches me off guard. So I canceled my afternoon appointments to take a nap before class Thursday night. Hubby is off to Ottawa tomorrow which gives me a weekend to myself for a few days. I might take in some fireworks on Saturday night with some friends, and maybe take in a movie. It’s been ages since I have gone to see a movie at the Paramount Theatre. It will be a fun weekend I’m sure.

It seems that SYTYCD this season is bringing a HUGE amount of traffic (Thursday) brought us almost a thousand hits in one day, a new record for this blog. We have served over 157,676 readers since the beginning of the blog two years ago. We are well on our way to the 200,000 mark. So you keep on coming by and reading and I will keep writing. Thanks for all of your support and readership.

That’s all for now, the meds are kicking in. So off to bed with me.


So You Think You Can Dance 7-2-08

The new couple proved that they can Dance. The second number, the Waltz, was just amazing. I think you should vote for Thayne and Comfort tonight.


SYTYCD: Gotta Vote Tonight

Let’s keep Chelsea and Thayne in the competition. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE !!!


So You Think You Can Dance Top 20

Tonight’s episode featured the top 20 in their first dance on the Hollywood Stage. We have from Left to Right:

  1. Twitch
  2. Kherington
  3. William
  4. Jessica
  5. Kourtni L.
  6. Rayven
  7. Matt
  8. Chelsea T.
  9. Chris
  10. Thayne
  11. Katee
  12. Joshua
  13. Gev
  14. Comfort
  15. Jamie
  16. Susie
  17. Marquis
  18. Courtney G.
  19. Chelsie H.
  20. Mark

The Hot Tamale Train recognizes Thayne and Chelsea T. And Katee and Joshua who did a flawless Hip Hop number. Wow Wow Wow …


So You Think You Can Dance

Here we go peeps, my Summer has officially begun.

My FAVORITE show of the Summer has begun. We shall see who America’s favorite dancer will be. Not to mention that So You Think You Can Dance – Canada is coming too, and won’t that be doubly exciting. Each week we will look at the contestants as they get down to the top 20 and compete for the coveted spot of Best Dancer.

I was terribly upset that David Archuleta did not win American Idol – David Cook was a great competitor and his grace in his win last night was not missed by me. As he said himself on night one of the competition, “The competition is over for me, right now we are just having fun!”

I hope to hear that Little David gets at least a recording contract out of this even if he did not win the whole kit and kaboodle…

It is a quiet night here. Nothing much else going on. See ya later…


Longing for the Divine

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I’ve changed the header again. I can’t seem to stay on one photograph. I was running through some images and I came back to this one, because I guess, I am missing that component of my life as it was lived so long ago.

I’m tired and all I really want to do right now is curl up in a pew, in the chapel, before God and his angels. The photo you see above is of the rear wall mural located inside the chapel of the Seminary of St. John Vianney in Miami. I approach the chapel from the residence hall close by. The glass doors open for me and I take that first step upon the flagstones that are paved throughout the chapel. To my right and my left are tall glass doors that shudder with the breeze blowing against them.

The lights are low, save for the sacrament candle hanging to the right of the mural. As I walk down the center aisle of the chapel, my footsteps echo off the walls and reverberate through the vast empty space. I approach the altar and genuflect to the altar and greet my God in his holy place. It is said that you can take a boy out of the church, but you can never take the church out of the boy.

As defiant I am against institution and my railings against all that is ‘christian’ It in these moments that I long to be before the almighty alone before the tabernacle of God. Listening to the Litany of the Saints as chanted by the monks, I reflect on all that is holy within me. I know His voic, He has more than once spoke my name. And funny, that I was able to hear it amid the din in my head. There was a time when I could fresh recall it at will, but now I have to look for it today.

I have visited some of the most important “Churches” in Christendom and though they are grand in scale, and pronounced for their place in the living of Catholicism, it is the sacred chapel where I consecrated myself to God that I return to in my minds eye.

We are all called, to a life of holiness, whether we choose to follow that call is up to us, save for the judgment of men who would either deem us able or disabled to follow. Which I think is my biggest resentment with “Church.” Walking on the path of God is a lonely path, because no one can walk the journey for you, you must walk it alone. Because when you hear the voice you have to choose, to walk towards or run from. I don’t think I have completely run away from it.

You can’t run from God, because He is always there. You can choose to walk off the path and do what you need to do, but eventually, you find that the path looks really good from where ever you are standing and when you take that first step back onto the path, there God is waiting for you to resume your journey. “I was waiting for you, you know, I can hear Him say to me!” “Why did you go away from me?” “You can deny me and ignore me, but you must admit that my voice draws you near to me, you long to hear me call your name.”

The chant continues…

Tantum Ergo III

I must admit that the silence is beautiful, the chant fills the space with such heavenly sacred sound. All voices praising God and his heaven. The Preacher man is apt to tell us about his chapel in the Rockies where he like to nap before God and his tabernacle in Crede. There are times in the life when I muse on the thought of just walking away from all of this and finding myself in an abbey somewhere out in the hills, just me, the monks and God. It’s not like I wouldn’t have far to travel, there are plenty of Holy Places in this city of light where God’s footprint can be seen on any given street anywhere in Montreal, because “here is where it all started.”

From my front door within a few minutes walk, you can find yourself transported to a place that is otherworldly, Godly in fact. So many churches – and not a moment to spare out of my busy day to find one open where I can be alone with my God. I guess that’s my fault, that because of my stubbornness and principles, I won’t walk into a church because of politics, and I know that God is not about politics. It is at the last of the night as I sit here in the quiet before the silence and I take a few moments to contemplate the Holiness of God and His majesty.

Have you ever felt the sublime majesty of God in his holy place? Have you ever felt what it feels like to raise your voice to God and sing his praises? Do you know what it feels like to have God wrap his arms around you and hold you to his breast as you weep for the grandeur of it all? God is perfect, He is mighty, He is sublime. There is nothing that I write here, right now that I do not know. Just that I don’t take enough time during my day to remember and reflect. I guess this post shows you that I can go from the Profane to the Sacred in a matter of hours. Sometime you just gotta say “#$&%!!!”

I never said I was perfect, I said that God was perfect. I never said that I was God either. Well, it is getting late and I am exhausted and I have things to do tomorrow, it’s my day off and my home group. Maybe I will find myself a quiet corner of a chapel tomorrow before I have to chair the meeting.

Stay tuned. I may visit God with you again soon.

Isn’t this an interesting journey? I leave you with Great Expectations…

The morning finds me here at heaven’s door
A place I’ve been so many times before
Familiar thoughts and phrases start to flow
And carry me to places that I know so well
But dare I go where I don’t understand
And do I dare remember where I am
I stand before the great eternal throne
The one that God Himself is seated on
And I, I’ve been invited as a son
Oh I, I’ve been invited to come and…

Believe the unbelievable
Receive the inconceivable
And see beyond my wildest imagination
Lord, I come with great expectations

So wake the hope that slumbers in my soul
Stir the fire inside and make it glow
I’m trusting in a love that has no end
The Savior of this world has called me friend
And I, I’ve been invited with the Son
Oh I, I’ve been invited to come and…

We’ve been invited with the Son
And we’ve been invited to come and…

Believe the unbelievable
Receive the inconceivable
And see beyond our wildest imagination
Lord, we come with great expectations


For the Bible Tells Me So …

For The Bible Tells Me So – Trailer

For more information go to: For The Bible Tells Me So…

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Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate? Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival, Dan Karslake’s provocative, entertaining documentary brilliantly reconciles homosexuality and Biblical scripture, and in the process reveals that Church-sanctioned anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a significant (and often malicious) misinterpretation of the Bible. As the film notes, most Christians live their lives today without feeling obliged to kill anyone who works on the Sabbath or eats shrimp (as a literal reading of scripture dictates).

Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families — including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson — we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard’s Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.

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The God of My Understanding…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Man gives Information but God gives Inspiration…


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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– Naked and Sacred –

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where was God when it hurt?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Don't Mess with a Missionary Man

2008 Men On A Mission Calendar – Version 2

Originally Found at: The Ministry of Pleasure…

Get your calender and Information: Mormons Exposed

There is great ministry testimonies on the site under “Meet the Missionaries.” When I studied the Mormons in my “Death and Dying” Course many years ago, “Mission” was very important to each young person. Aside from the eye candy, I think that there is also a learning dimension to this site, if you look for it.

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“Brandon’s mission took him to Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world. He witnessed people dying on a daily basis from disease and saw firsthand how HIV has ravaged Africa. Brandon did his best to affect change by teaching English, rebuilding homes and giving medical care and love to orphans as well as assisting men and women to develop job skills and find work. In addition, Brandon focused on the religious aspects of his mission by helping to build chapels and baptizing 69 converts.

Brandon is appearing in the calendar because he would like to help create a more positive view of returning missionaries among non-church members. Echoing the sentiments of many of the other models, Brandon says, “We are down to earth just like everyone else. We live to do good things, but we make mistakes as well. We aren’t perfect going out there and we aren’t perfect coming back.”


Don’t Mess with a Missionary Man

2008 Men On A Mission Calendar – Version 2

Originally Found at: The Ministry of Pleasure…

Get your calender and Information: Mormons Exposed

There is great ministry testimonies on the site under “Meet the Missionaries.” When I studied the Mormons in my “Death and Dying” Course many years ago, “Mission” was very important to each young person. Aside from the eye candy, I think that there is also a learning dimension to this site, if you look for it.

pabrandon2.png

“Brandon’s mission took him to Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world. He witnessed people dying on a daily basis from disease and saw firsthand how HIV has ravaged Africa. Brandon did his best to affect change by teaching English, rebuilding homes and giving medical care and love to orphans as well as assisting men and women to develop job skills and find work. In addition, Brandon focused on the religious aspects of his mission by helping to build chapels and baptizing 69 converts.

Brandon is appearing in the calendar because he would like to help create a more positive view of returning missionaries among non-church members. Echoing the sentiments of many of the other models, Brandon says, “We are down to earth just like everyone else. We live to do good things, but we make mistakes as well. We aren’t perfect going out there and we aren’t perfect coming back.”


Monday August 20

I guess I am supposed to write something coherent after posting all those articles below. A Canadian MP and his partner were wed in the Maritimes (Yay, Eh!) Mexico is getting blown’ away at this hour and the Queen of Mean is dead “ding dong the witch is dead…’

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I’ve been engrossed by my most recent read “The Power and the Glory” Inside the Dark Heart of John Paul II’s Vatican. I have to say that if David Yallop has written one true word in his text, if all of what he writes is true, surely, to me, makes me question the life of John Paul II.

We have read through Liberation Theology, Solidarity, England and Ireland and Scotland  and even Medjugorje, in what is now Bosnia. When I was a young person, in my home parish, we were visited by the priests of the parish church where the young people were receiving messages and visions of the Blessed Mother. I even had a rosary that was said to have been touched by the Blessed Mother herself. Now a relic of that extreme to have been touched by the Blessed Mother, to me, carried sanctified power of the Blessed Mother and of God.

Last night I was lying in bed reading when I came across this paragraph:

“Karol Wojtyla’s lifelong Marian obsession may have clouded his judgment on the events of Medjugorje. Since 1981 the Vatican has defended its inaction over the alleged apparitions by saying that it awaits pronouncement from the local bishop. The opinion of Bishop Pavao Zanic of Mostar that the apparitions were ‘hysterical hallucinations’ was confirmed in 1982 when he established a diocesan commission to investigate further.”

I’ve never heard this debunking of a Marian Apparition. If one is to take at face value,  everything that David Yallop has written, as fact and certain truth, I must say that he shakes the base of a lot of my base faith beliefs. Much of the read through the latest 227 pages of the book, do not paint John Paul II in very good light. I just wonder how much of this writing is truth and fact and how much is speculation and inference?

This text is hock full of data with places, names and insinuations that John Paul I was murdered because of his move to clean up the ‘church’ and its cover up of the Vatican Bank Fiasco and the involvement of the Italian Mafia and the hierarchy of the church at its highest level.

This text is, so far in my opinion, an indictment of all things sacred and profane during the life of John Paul II. David has gone to great length to inform his readers just how many issues faced the late pontiff, how the world saw him, and what really happened behind the scenes of the “Rock Star Pope.” We know of the double speak, and the issues that John Paul II championed all over the world. David tells us in the text some very damning statistics of the Catholic Church.

“Father Andrew Greeley found in several polls, the following information:

  • In 2002 Zogby poll indicated that Father Greeley might soon need to add the United States to those who are ‘no longer Catholic’
  • 54% in favor of married priests
  • 53% thought there should be women priests
  • 61% approved of artificial birth control
  • 83% though it was morally wrong to discriminate against homosexuals and on abortion nearly a third disagreed that is was always morally wrong.

In contradiction to those figures, in the same poll no fewer than 90% thought the Pope was doing a good job worldwide in his leadership of the church.

In Australia – between 1971 and 2006, Catholic weddings in a church had declined by over 50%, from 9,784 to 4,075. In the United States the number of priests more than doubled to 58,000 between 1930 and 1965. Since then the number has fallen to 45,000 and continues to slip away. By 2020, on present trends, there will be less than 31,000 and more than half of those priests will be over seventy. In 1965, one percent of US parishes were without a priest. By 2002, 15% – 3,000 parishes – lacked a priest. In that same period seminarians declined by ninety percent.

The same grim picture repeated itself in the figures for Catholic nuns and members of religious orders. Almost half of the Catholic high schools have closed in the past forty years. Weekly attendance at mass hovers between 31 to 35%. Annulment figures have soared from 338 to 501,00. Wherever one looks the story is the same yet the US Catholic Church still proclaimed that within the same period, 1965 to 2002, the number of Catholics within the country had risen by 20 million.

The MYTH of a hugely increased membership is perpetuated not only within the USA but globally. The Church’s definition of a Roman Catholic – a baptized person – flies in the face of the fact that hundreds of millions of notional Catholics subsequently reject the Church’s teachings on a huge range of issues and by doing so, notwithstanding what is written on the baptismal certificates, cease to be Roman Catholics. A non-practising Roman Catholic is an ex-Roman Catholic, or in Vatican-speak a lapsed Roman Catholic.”  (Statistic, text pages 205-207, David Yallop).

I don’t disagree with much of David’s writing about the late Pontiff. I know of many of the historical stories that he more than plentifully enlightened. In my study of Papal History, and namely of the late Pontiff, John Paul II, I reserve my scholarly right to look at this text with as David Tracy writes, hermeneutic suspicion.

“All interpreters of religion, whether believers or nonbelievers, can employ something like the theologians sixth sense that to interpret religion at all demands being willing to put at risk one’s present self understanding in order to converse with the claim to attention of the religious classic.

Hermeneutically, I am clearly not bound to either accept or reject and religious claims prior to the conversation itself. But if I would understand that claim, I am bound to struggle critically with the fact that its claim to truth is part of its meaning. To understand the religious classic at all, I cannot ultimately avoid its provocations to my present notions of what constitutes truth.” (D. Tracy, Plurality and Ambiguity, pg. 98)

More to come …