Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. Parliament Hill Ottawa. A Wordpress Production

The Great Reformer

Thursday – Some People Don’t make It !

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

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

God Give Me Strength !

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am highly literate on John Paul II.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some People Don’t Make It

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

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

Anyways …

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

It seems the women have the market on this call.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


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

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

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

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

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

Pope Francis is a very savvy man.

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

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

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

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

Page 314 – 315…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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