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Theology

Religion Fiction … A Continuation …

robin_shoots_with_sir_guy_by_louis_rhead_1912Lifted From: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World

Children brought up in a religious environment, according to a recent BBC story, are more prone to believe in fictional characters. The story, based on research from my alma mater, Boston University, suggests that if children are taught to believe miraculous stories at a young age, they will more likely believe that fictional figures are based in reality too.

Undoubtedly this will be seen as yet another brick in Montresor’s wall by those who can find no good in religion. The reasoning will go something like this: believing in no religion is the “neutral” position. If we raise children in a religious context, we are inclining them toward a fictional belief system and making them less likely to reason their way out of it. Therefore, we should raise children secular.

Even in the BBC story there are dissenting voices. Perhaps children who learn about Jesus find Thor a more compelling character. Perhaps they are open to possibilities that logic shuts out. Our brains have two hemispheres for a reason. I often wonder whether it is possible to be fully human while ignoring about half of what evolution gave us to work with.

Logic tells me that religious belief serves a survival function. And my creative side still appreciates the possibilities that my Manhattan brain is forced to shut down every day when I punch the clock. If there’s nothing more than work, perhaps believing in fiction serves a valuable function after all. But I suspect this is playing right into the rationalists’ hand. Pass me another brick, will you, Fortunato?

The jury, however, is still out on the nature of reality. Even for materialists. Gods of the gaps tend not to survive very well. The question is actually much larger than that. We don’t know the nature of ultimate reality. We’re not even sure what reality is yet.

Can a parent who believes in God, after the experience of growing to maturity in a heartless universe, be blamed for teaching their children the same? No humane parent raises their child purposefully teaching them falsehoods. Yes, some children are damaged by religious upbringings. Some are damaged by materialist upbringings as well.

What seems to have shifted, in my humble opinion, is the popular perceptions of religion. What used to be understood as the foundation of a civil society is now challenged as a harmful fantasy that encourages children to grow up into terrorists or non-functioning adults.

The belief that we can raise children with no biases, however, is clearly fiction. Until we have the full truth, there should be room for both Gilligan and the Professor on this island. But then again, I was raised to believe in the divine world, so what do I know?

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

I am a child of the 1970’s,80’s and beyond. Now in my late 40’s I can reflect on what I have learned so far, and be able to look back on what I learned early on. If you grew up in this period of time, then you will get all these references that I am about to write about.

I come from a Catholic background. And back in the day there was much family and prayer, saints and church. But aside from all of that there were many outings and adventures.

The first movies I remember were Old Yeller, Bambi, and the much anticipated Star Wars. We went to see the very first installment at Twin City Theatres in New Britain Ct. I’d never seen anything like it. Nobody had.

And as I look back on 47 years of life. we can safely say that George Lucas gave the world something to believe in. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away …

Star-Wars

CUE Music ….

I never thought about religion or God when viewing these movies. Fictional characters were larger than life. Luke, Leia, Obi Wan and of course Yoda. Then you had the dark side represented by Darth Vader. Those movies were stories for the ages.

Faith – Power – Good – Evil – The Light – and The Darkness – Family Etc …

I would not realize what that meant for a very long time. And cannot be seen unless in retrospect. From this side of the story and not the earlier. As the next two motion pictures came out, the story filled out and we got a few steps closer to the depth and gravity of the story.

I remember sitting in the Falls Theatre, I was a teen ager by now, watching Return of the Jedi and I had a spiritual experience watching Luke being tortured by the Sith Lord. And Darth coming to his rescue. I felt emotions that I could not name, however they were occurring at that time.

That whole series of movies were existential and spiritual for me. There are no two ways about it. They certainly made an impact in my life and the way I chose to live it after all these years.

The whole cosmic universe of Star Wars was a teaching in religion and faith from a distant galaxy. I know that now, having studied the worlds greatest religions in university and spent 47 years getting to know God myself.

Over the decades we played with toys, you know we all had them. We built legos and star fighters. We had the figurines. And we believed that those people were indeed real because George Lucas brought them to our collective consciousnesses. Amid all that was going on in the world, we could escape into the universe of Star Wars when ever we wanted to.

I know we have all seen the Star Wars Trilogy and the subsequent prequels several times over, I know I have. What was more important was that in the 70’s and 80’s we got to live on Tatooine, and live the life of Luke and his family, like they were our family.

We learned all the teachings of Yoda. And I am sure we can all quote word for word every sentence he spoke from every movie he was in. I know for myself that I still cling to those words and I have applied them to my life and I use them in the work that I do today with others.

Do or Do Not … There is No Try !!!

Yoda, you seek Yoda, Take you to him …

Yoda was a teacher, and I am positive that the world is a better place because of him and the other teachers of the stories. Escapism, either good or bad, can lead to spiritual awakening or another. And I believe that my horizons were broadened in the experience of these stories.

God or the universe, what ever you called it then, existed. I believe that those movies fueled the hearts and minds of millions over the decades. I think it was a bit special to be of the generation to have experienced Star Wars in Theatre as they were released.

Today’s generation, only get them on dvd. They did not get to see the movies on Big Screens. When they did the digital reload of the films, I got to see them on DVD, I own the collection today.

I don’t know if the impact of these films were or are as great as when they were first released. Times were different. We did not have the internet or social media, and today’s kids are too engrossed with technology to sit for a long period of time and concentrate on anything that isn’t connected to Twitter, Facebook or a Cell Phone.

I know that my love of music, from the 70’s onwards was part of my lexicon. The movies were as well. And when finally cable tv came to Florida when I was a teen ager, we got to see much more film and programming.

Things were much simpler in those days. We had each other. We had family, we had friends, whom we shared our greatest treasures with. Music, Film and TV.

In the last fifteen years, Peter Jackson gave us the Hobbit and all those stories. I read them in school, and I have the books in my library, but I did not take to them like I took to Star Wars and other stories.

We had the Tween movies of late.

dhonesheet

And then there is Harry Potter.

Harry Potter. Do you dig him like I do?

I fell into Harry Potter because of my therapist who’s office was decorated in Harry Potter Sheik. When we were talking I gravitated towards him, because I felt like an orphan and I was alone in my life and I really needed certain direction.

When I learned that Harry and I shared a birthday in common, I was hooked. It is also J.K. Rowling’s Birthday as well. I have every book and related story that was published. All the monster books, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and of course all of the books, and every dvd that was produced.

I remember the day the first Harry Potter movie came out, I was living on South Beach and I bought two tickets and I had to watch the first one by myself, however hard a good friend tried to go with me, I insisted we take in the second showing together.

I think I had the first three books by the time I moved here to Montreal in 2002. And Montreal does books very well. Each subsequent release was an event to partake. The book stores were decorated, the employees dressed up and there were hundreds of people who would come to partake and be sorted into houses and then wait for hours until the midnight release time to get your next book.

Harry Potter is another Story for the Ages. No matter where you live, or who you are, unless of course you derided magic and everything to do with Harry, you got hooked, at least I did.

I got to grow up all over again.

I even have my own wand that my therapist gave me when I moved here. Harry Potter fandom is not isolated. The world was taken by him and the story.

I loved reading. And if you search Harry on my blog here you will find hundreds of entries about him. When each book came out I would sit a read through the entire book in one fell swoop. I did that for all of the books.

And to this day, I have several Harry Potter books along side my bed at arms reach so that I can read certain chapters over and over again. I loved Harry, but silently I always rooted for Ron Weasley. The stalwart sidekick who always got second billing.

Hogwarts was a place we could all believe in.

The battle for Good over Evil.

The importance of Family and of Memory.

The value of Friendship and Honor.

The incalculable potency of certain magic.

If you’ve read the Deathly Hallows, then you understand these things.

Like Star Wars, for the older set of folks who are reading, Harry Potter was of this age, something to cling to, to honor, to love and to cherish. We all know what house we belong to.

I am a Gryffindor… I was sorted a long time ago.

And I think we all strive to be a little like our counterparts from the stories. And I think we carry a little of each character/person into our daily lives.

So what does God have to do with any of this?

Do you believe in God? Did you believe in the Star Wars Universe? Were you a Trekkie? Are you a Potter Head? Do you have a favorite story or set of books you would carry with you to your grave and believe strongly in the story, its characters and the words on the page?

Does your faith in God battle with the Gods and Characters of Fiction?

I say that if you have a solid faith in God, or in the faith you practice, then none of this should shake that foundation. That has been the battle for the last ten years for some, people get all in arms over religion and faith, that any little chink in the chain rattles them to high heaven. God forbid …

Can you find or did you find room in your religious/spiritual lexicon to include all those favorite characters you have read in your lifetime as a belief system?

And does the fictional world augment or detract from your religious/spiritual life?

Can both exist in the same space/mind? And if it can how has it impacted the life you live and the way you work with and or relate to others?

I just thought that this was an interesting post, originally found on his blog. I said as much, in fewer words there the other night.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you like it, give it a thumbs up.

More to come, stay tuned …


Easter Sunday … He is Risen … and more

10-heisrisen-by-he-qi-china

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

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

It was a bright and sunny day. What more could you ask for for Easter Sunday.

I did not attend services this year. But I did participate in an age old tradition.

The only thing that matters on tv on Easter Saturday is The Ten Commandments, from beginning to end. It is by far, one of the greatest works of art there is from ages past, that still runs on television in the 21st century.

Before I even was ready to go this afternoon, folks were calling and texting that they would not be making it tonight. So I cranked out set up and went outside to enjoy the day.

Surprise … We sat a full room. If you open – they will come. And they did.

We read another story from the Big Book, “Winner takes All.” The story of a woman born legally blind, her story of loss, alcoholism, family and the negative tape that plays in our minds, and how that tape took her to hell, before he entry into the rooms.

Now, she had a choice to either be happy or not. And in sobriety, she is happy, her life had changed and she became successful. And that came from the people who came into her life, the program that saved her, and the steps that shaped her.

Watching other people get sober over long periods of time is a blessing, and I know for a fact that God exists. And what better a day to speak of God, than on Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate the Risen Christ.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…


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

Pope Francis in a selfie photo

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

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

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

After reading his biography by Paul Vallely, I wonder …

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

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

Afterword, pg. 197.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us pray for the Holy Father.


Sunday Sundries … The Death of my Big Book

Pope Francis buda mendes Getty

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

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

Pope Francis … Untying the Knots.

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

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

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

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

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

We completed the story … “The Vicious Cycle.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It has been a good weekend.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tap Tap Tap …

francis

“The way you make people feel says a lot about you.” Jordan Bach

Add another stellar day to the calendar. At the sun’s zenith this afternoon, it was quite steamy out. And the sweaty, dirty, humpy roofer men were up on a second roof just cranking out another new roof.

Several of these men took matters into their own hands as I watched them cut the sleeves off their shirts because it was so steamy up there, out in the sun.

They have another day’s work ahead of them, but the roof is covered and they still have a layer of roofing to put down.

It was a glorious day. I ran some errands, did some supermarket safari this morning after waking in the middle of a very strange dream.

I was on a sinking ship and then found myself in a foreign place, but at the end of the dream, I met up with someone who had been looking for me and knew my name and where I came from … The rest of the dream is gone and I woke up before I could figure out just what was going on.

That’s what usually happens in these technicolor dreams that take place at the very end of a sleep cycle.

I almost went back to bed to see if I could reconnect with the dream and let it play itself out, but that never happens either. Once a dream ends, it is impossible to reconnect to it, later …

I’ve not been able to work that one out.

So I got up – dressed – went to the store – got my laundry money and came home and proceeded to do laundry for the week since we were on our last pairs of underwear in the dresser.

You know its time to do laundry when you run out of clean underwear…

I departed early because I had stops to make on the way and I arrived at the church early and cranked out set up – I had brought a book with me but I was satisfied with listening to music on my phone.

I can’t get enough of Fleetwood Mac.

We sat a full compliment. One of our elder statesmen was in the chair. And he chose to read from Daily Reflections and The Spiritual Angle.

There was a healthy discussion of all things spiritual. From quoting the Big Book and hearing the sainted words of sponsors past, and what each of us has learned about the spiritual path, that is recovery.

One friend has returned to church looking for God, and in that quest to find God, he has a lot of questions. Then he said this … “I’ve never had a spiritual experience of the extraordinary kind, but the educational variety”

And I am half waiting for God to drop out of heaven and tap me on the shoulder and say “Hey, here I am, I wasn’t lost, you were…”

Another member said that if we only took the time to get quiet, and listen for that still small voice, we would make room for God to make His presence known to us.

Tap, Tap, Tap … “This is God, Here I am. I’ve been sitting her waiting for you to find me. All you have to do is look within and notice the breath in your lungs and the life you have – and there I am.”

I’ve lived a long life to this date. And there are many occasions I could tell you about where I saw or felt God’s presence.

The most important spiritual experience, well two of them in fact that happened when I was in seminary and just after I left was when David came to me after he had died.

The first time was the night of his wake – I was there. I returned to the school and went into the chapel to pray. I was alone, and along the back wall of the chapel were confessionals. I heard a door open and footsteps that moved from the back wall to the altar in front of me. The sacrament candle exploded and illuminated the high mural on the back wall above me.

And there was David, standing in front of me wearing my favorite shirt, the one he appeared to me in twice. And he said not to be sad, that he was free.

I have a Miraculous Mary medallion that his mother gave me when he died. I wear it still, to this day. I never leave the house without it.

The second time David appeared was in San Francisco. I had gone on a trip to San Francisco with colleagues. I went on a Mission District tour of an old church. In the graveyard was a life like statue of St. Anthony, our patron saint.

I heard a voice that bade me to follow. So I did. i walked into the church and up to the lectern and a voice said to me “look up …” I looked up and there was David standing on the balcony above the congregation seating.

God exists. And He does great things for us.

When I got sober the first time, God made manifest in the guise of Todd, who became my greatest champion. When I was sick, he took care of me, when I cried, He held me, when I was lost, he found me. And in my worst times, he lifted me up, unlike any other man, IN MY LIFE !!!

I did not die, But I lived.

There is a God.

Over the past almost twelve years, I’ve attended hundreds of meetings in the same space since I got sober. That’s many meetings. That’s hundred of people that have come and gone from those rooms.

If you want to see God – go to a meeting. Participate in someone else’s life. Watch them, over time, get clean and sober. 

See the life return, see the light rise in their eyes, and watch THEM find a God of their own understanding, trust me, you WILL see God.

You never know when something you say, may bring God closer to someone than He’s ever been.

I know that this spiritual practice we engage in takes time, and like all things, takes practice, prayer, and patience. I know that after all these years, my spiritual practice has given me words that are not mine at times.

During my days, a multitude of situations may arise. People come into my life right at the right moment, or vice versa, I come into their lives at the right time, because I get to share words with them. I find I have words in my heart that appear when needed and are useful.

Sometimes a kind word comes, a teaching, a lesson from experience, that I get to pass on to someone who might need it. And that has happened in the past few days. On a number of occasions.

When do you pray ???

It depends. It depends on the moment, and what is in front of me. I have friends all over the world by association and in person. Those people I know personally, and those I follow as part of a specific community.

Numerous times a day, someone writes … “Please pray for this or that…”

And momentarily, I stop and I say a prayer. I send light in a specific direction to a particular person. And in the moment I connect with the God of my understanding and WE participate in the life of another, if only for a moment.

Then, at the end of my night, when I sit here and close my day, I recall all those people from the day, and I mention them to God once more, as I give them over for the night into the hands of God.

I’ve learned how to do this over time.

I also realized today after hearing someone mention “church” at the meeting tonight, that he was sitting in Phillips Square … Which is a small square downtown with a statue and several street shops, where people congregate, and across the street from there is Christ Church Cathedral.

And this man walked across the square and went into the church, where he sat down, and eventually knelt to pray. And in that moment, he sat with God.

I realized that yes I go to the Cathedral for services on the odd occasion.

But I miss the sacrament.

I miss the tabernacle and the presence of the Body of Christ in the church.

There are hundreds of churches in this city. Most of them tourist traps. I used to travel to Old Montreal to Notre Dame Cathedral Church/Sacre Coeur to pray before the blessed sacrament.  I haven’t done that in a long long time.

But that message made itself perfectly clear to me as I was sitting in a meeting.

Is that ODD or is that GOD ???

I know for me – God exists.

I’ve made space for him in my life.

And that took almost twelve years of sobriety to realize.

And I think I will end on that note.

Goodnight.

More to come, stay tuned …


Vatican: 2 living popes may honour 2 dead ones at April canonization for John Paul, John XXIII

 

the 2 popes

VATICAN CITY – Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be declared saints on April 27 at a ceremony that might see two living popes honouring two dead ones.

The Vatican on Monday said retired Pope Benedict XVI might join Pope Francis in the saint-making ceremony for their predecessors, noting that there was no reason why Benedict should have to watch the ceremony on TV.

“There’s no reason — either doctrinal or institutional — that he couldn’t participate in a public ceremony,” the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. “I don’t have any reason to exclude it.”

He noted there was still time before the ceremony and that Benedict was free to decide what to do.

Benedict, who became the first pope in 600 years to retire when he stepped down in February, had said he would spend his final days “hidden from the world” in the Vatican monastery.

But he has taken on a more public profile recently, writing a letter to an Italian atheist that was published last week in Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper and appearing with Francis over the summer at a ceremony to unveil a Vatican statue.

Francis had announced in July he would canonize two of the 20th century’s most influential popes together, approving a miracle attributed to John Paul’s intercession and bending Vatican rules by deciding that John XXIII didn’t need a second one to be canonized.

Analysts have said the decision to canonize them together was aimed at unifying the church, since each pope has his admirers and critics. Francis is clearly a fan of both: On the anniversary of John Paul’s death this year, Francis prayed at the tombs of both men — an indication that he sees a great personal and spiritual continuity in them.

Both popes are also closely identified with the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that brought the Catholic Church into modern times, an indication that Francis clearly wants to make a statement about the council’s role in shaping the church today.

A spokesman for Poland’s bishops’ conference, the Rev. Jozef Kloch, said the dual canonizations would stress the fact that John Paul II continued the ideas introduced by John XXIII, who called Vatican II.

Originally, the canonization was expected to have taken place Dec. 8. But Polish bishops complained that a December date would make it difficult for Polish pilgrims to come to the Vatican by bus along snowy, icy roads. As a result, the first Sunday after Easter was chosen instead — a feast day established by John Paul himself.

It was on that same feast day — Divine Mercy Sunday — that John Paul was beatified in 2011, drawing 1.5 million pilgrims to Rome.

John Paul made Jorge Mario Bergoglio — the current Pope Francis — a cardinal. Francis’ immense popular appeal has also been likened to that of John XXIII, dubbed the “good pope.”

___

Monika Scislowska contributed from Warsaw.


Pope warns church must find balance between rules and mercy, focus less on abortion, gays

Pope Francis buda mendes Getty

By Nicole Winfield And Rachel Zoll, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

VATICAN CITY – Signalling a dramatic shift in Vatican tone, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church had become obsessed by “small-minded rules” about how to be faithful and that pastors should instead emphasize compassion over condemnation when discussing divisive social issues of abortion, gays and contraception.

The pope’s remarkably blunt message six months into his papacy was sure to reverberate in the U.S. and around the globe as bishops who have focused much of their preaching on such hot-button issues are asked to act more as pastors of wounded souls.

In interviews published Thursday in Jesuit journals in 16 countries, Francis said he had been “reprimanded” for not pressing church opposition to abortion in his papacy. But he said “it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

“The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently,” Francis said.

“We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel,” the pope said in the 12,000-word article, based on interviews conducted by a fellow Jesuit, the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civilta Cattolica, a Rome journal for the religious order.

“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules,” Francis said. “The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.”

The comments contained no change in church teaching, and the pope said reform should not happen quickly. Still, it was the pope’s clearest declaration yet of a break in tone and style from his immediate predecessors.

John Paul II and Benedict XVI were both intellectuals for whom doctrine was paramount, an orientation that guided the selection of a generation of bishops and cardinals who now face making a dramatic turnabout in how they preach.

The interviews were conducted by Spadaro over three days in August at the Vatican hotel where Francis has chosen to live rather than in the papal apartments. The Vatican vets all content in Civilta Cattolica, and the pope approved the Italian version of the article, which America magazine, the Jesuit journal in the U.S., translated into English.

The admonition will especially resonate in the United States, where some bishops have already publicly voiced dismay that Francis hasn’t hammered home church teaching on abortion, contraception and homosexuality — areas of the culture wars where U.S. bishops often put themselves on the front lines. U.S. bishops were behind Benedict’s crackdown on American nuns, who were accused of letting doctrine take a backseat to their social justice work caring for the poor — precisely the priority that Francis is endorsing.

“I think what Francis is doing when he’s talking about these hot-button issues, he’s not saying one side is right or the other side is right. He’s saying that arguing over these things gets in the way of the work that Catholics are supposed to be doing,” said David Cloutier, a theologian at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland.

“This suggests a really different vision of what the church should look like in the world. It’s not a defensive vision. He comes out and forthrightly says we don’t have to talk about these issues all the time. I can’t help but see this as a potential rebuke to American leaders who have focused on these issues.”

Just last week, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., said in an interview with his diocesan newspaper that he was “a little bit disappointed” that Francis hadn’t addressed abortion since being elected. But Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, said Francis’ comments on abortion do not indicate any change in the church’s commitment to the issue.

“Pope Francis is reminding us that when we discuss the issue of abortion, we are not talking about some abstract issue or procedure. Rather, we’re talking about situations that involve mothers and their unborn children, and we must be mindful to help them both — something the right-to-life movement works to do every day,” Tobias said.

Two months ago, Francis caused a sensation during a news conference when he was asked about gay priests. “Who am I to judge?” about the sexual orientation of priests, as long as they are searching for God and have good will, he responded.

Francis noted in the latest interview that he had merely repeated Catholic doctrine during that news conference — though he again neglected to repeat church teaching that says while homosexuals should be treated with dignity and respect, homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.”

But he continued: “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?'”

“We must always consider the person. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.”

New Ways Ministry, a Catholic outreach to gays and lesbians that has been rebuked in the past by church leaders who accused ministry leaders of straying from church teaching, called Francis’ comments “a new dawn.” Equally Blessed, an advocacy group for gay and lesbian Catholics, likened Francis’ remarks to “rain on a parched land.”

“Catholic progressives are wondering if we’re dreaming and going to wake up soon,” said John Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, a liberal advocacy group in Washington. “It’s a new day.”

The interview also showed a very human Francis. He seemingly had no qualms about acknowledging that his tenure as superior of Argentina’s Jesuit order in the 1970s — starting at the “crazy” age of 36 — was difficult because of his “authoritarian” temperament.

“I have never been a right-winger. It was my authoritarian way of making decisions that created problems,” he said.

The key, he said, is for the church to not exclude.

“This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity,” he said.

___

Religion Writer Rachel Zoll reported from New York.

The interview can be found in the original Italian at La Civiltà Cattolica: http://www.laciviltacattolica.it , in English at America Magazine: http://www.americamagazine.org , and Spanish at Mensaje: http://www.mensaje.cl .


Pope Francis in a Selfie …

Pope Francis in a selfie photo

@Pontifex and the #Sabbath Selfies

John McCarthy  |  Aug. 29, 2013 National Catholic Reporter

 

Oxford University Press announced that the word “selfie” has been added to the online dictionary of the English language. In case you were wondering, selfie (plural is, of course, “selfies”) is defined as: “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” I bet at this point, you’re asking, “Why does this matter for the church?”

The Holy Father posed for a selfie with a group of young people visiting the Vatican. You can see that photo here.  Selfies are the new rage, and everyone is posing for them. Chelsea Clinton took one; Bret Michaels, Donald Trump and Donald Trump’s hair, too. P. Diddy and the Mona Lisa do a pose here (that’s my personal favorite).

Now last time I wrote about popular culture and the church (What Catholics can Learn from Shark Week), some people thought the idea was silly. However, I’m going to give it another try.

Think about this: It would have been very easy for the Holy Father to turn these young people down. He could have just as easily suggested that they pose for a formal photo taken by a Vatican photographer. Instead, he embraced the silliness of the opportunity and posed for a photo with the visitors (as a result, making their lives complete).

Catholics around the world can take away an important lesson here: Engage the culture.

At World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis said, “The results of our pastoral work do not depend on a wealth of resources, but on the creativity of love … At times we lose people because they don’t understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity and import an intellectualism foreign to our people.”

When I read that statement, it really hit me. Why aren’t we talking more about the “creativity of love”? Why is it that every day, we fail to ask ourselves, “How can I bring love into the lives of others?” I happen to think it’s because there is growing sentiment that the world is scary, unsafe and unworthy of our faith. Our biggest barrier is this prevailing sense that we must “protect the church” from some outside, unnamed impeding force.

We make long theologically correct statements about why we can’t do something or who can be called Catholic versus who cannot. This is not to say that certain moments do not call for seriousness, but we need to learn how to take a joke every now and then. People are viewing the church as an exclusive, cold, barred-off entity. How can we let people in if the walls are so high? The “creativity of love” must begin with meeting people where they are, and joining them on life’s journey.

So take out your phones and tweet about going to church. Maybe download a Catholic iPhone app, or suggest to your friends that they read a Catholic blog (shameless plug). Moral of the story: Let’s take a step back and remember our simplicity — and pose for a selfie.


Moving Towards the Big Reveal

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Today’s Post is brought to you by Target Canada.

This in fact is NOT Alexis Nihon but a stock photo.

It was a bright and sunny day. However I am hearing complaints across the board about oppressive heat and humidity. As has been the case, September is just a few days away. And hopefully the temps will moderate and fall, hence the turning will begin.

I set out as usual and I am pleased to report that Alexis Nihon is coming along quite nicely. The escalator casing has been stripped and I assume that they are installing an elevator in front of the stairs. The up and down escalator sits in the center of the ground floor with the stairs in the center of the casing.

There is a (newly built addition) retail space going in on the left hand side (ala the down escalator) side (on the ground floor) which extend probably 20 feet from the center (square). The new storefronts on that side of the ground floor are still dark and have yet to be revealed.

But one good reveal is this … We now know what the store front for Target will look like with the reveal of most of the storefront. The entrance, it looks like, is far to the right of center with a roll door and a glass enclosure to the left and center of the front.

They have tiled almost all of the ground floor in white tile, but the old support columns have been re-boarded and spackled have yet to be finished. More work is continuing on the mezzanine floor where the IGA and Pharmaprix is located.  The ceiling is all a mess of wires and hanging light fixtures with no ceiling put in place yet, there is a drop tile ceiling on the ground floor.

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It was another banner night for Changing Attitudes. Our business meeting was painless and once again this month we made rent and there is money in the kitty. Most of our opening expenses have been paid out, which means now the seventh tradition is going directly to the group as prudent reserve and rent.

We sat 15 folks. I even went as far as to set out extra tables this evening hoping that we would see guests that came last week. Others came in their place. It was good to see new and returning faces – a good sign.

Our group now has been registered at Inter Group, which means we have passed muster at the area level and that guarantees our placement in the next printing of the meeting booklet.

With a full house and a lot of gratitude, the chair read from As Bill Sees It. This book has become a regular staple at several meetings we go to during the week. We read from page 51 – The Coming of Faith …

“… When I was driven to my knees by alcohol, I was made ready to ask for the gift of faith. And All was changed. Never again, my pains and problems notwithstanding, would I experience my former desolation. I saw the universe to be lighted by God’s love; I was alone no more.”

Many people in the world are born into some form of religious upbringing. Either by parent or grandparent. And growing up with this infrastructure of faith either fostered or devolved into painful associations and sore feelings of hard done by God and or the church.

We heard a handful of God experiences tonight. Some do not like the word God and most have found their way around the God of institution, and have found for themselves a faith a (as Bill writes in the Big Book – a “God of our understanding.” This one phrase saves the reader of the book, who may be at odds with an institutional God of the church.

I’ve related all my God stories and you can read them in the PAGES section of the blog, —> over to the right a bit a ways down.

My earliest memory of God is Memere presenting me to God in the church when I was a young boy.

Faith was a staple part of my upbringing. I learned about God via osmosis and seeing how faith was practiced by family.

I was faithful to the book and the church to the point of ending up in seminary after high school. And I imagine had I passed muster and the ego test, that I essentially failed, I may have made it to my ordination and all this would have never happened. Alas, it did not.

My addictions grew and I become at odds with God for a long time. However He still knew who I was and was paying attention, at least to deliver me from the many jackpots that I found myself in over the years.

I did not get to ask one of my fellows tonight how he squared his belief in a higher power when he faced his own mortality like I had almost twenty years ago for me. God made himself manifest in my life in the guise of Todd who saved my life from imminent death.

I knew God existed, because I lived…

Going out was a brief departure from faithfulness. I really did not have time to practice faith because I was sunk in the pit of hell until I was extricated from it by friends who had a modicum of care to extend a hand to someone who really needed it and had no way out of hell myself.

I have said, recently, that God was moving in my life, well before I admitted my second bottom, and imbibed my last drink (once again). He moved heaven and earth and put certain people in my path that facilitated, (By divine intervention) my return to the rooms.

A year sober – I returned to university. And what did I choose to study? At first it was psychology, but that was short lived, and I changed my major to Religion. So I was studying God during my days, and learning about my higher power by night in the rooms. Needless to say, I was sandwiched between two heavenly powers.

If I ever left the church of my upbringing, I would have become a Jew. Because that portion of my studies was cathartic. I am still a Catholic at heart, in Mother Teresa’s terms. (read the book).

I don’t attend Catholic Church, yet I practice my faith in the Anglican Communion. My mentor and guide will be ordained on the 8th of September, but I digress …

I have said that I find faith in the rooms. In its people. I go to certain meetings, and by going to certain meetings on a weekly basis, I choose to invest in the group of people who host the meeting and ALL who attend any given meeting on any given night.

I mean you can go to a meeting and warm a chair and do and feel nothing. I’ve seen that happen over the past almost twelve years.

Once you chose a meeting to go to, by default, you have chosen to invest in that meeting, its people and in that space, most likely, will be the familiar church basement. And if you STAY at a meeting long enough, God will manifest himself to you and to countless others.

I find faith and see God as he moves in the lives of our guests. Watching people get sober is an act of faith. It is participatory action. It is a movement. We go for our own well being but we get so much more in return if we stick around long enough.

Eventually, after reading the book, and understanding the Book in the terms of “WHAT THE ORIGINAL WRITERS MEANT IN THE BOOK” and not what YOU think about the book, you will find God, or He will find you. Go to meetings, sit and listen, little by slowly, everybody comes to some understanding of that Power Greater than Themselves.

Faith without works is dead. We also heard that quoted tonight.

If I don’t / if we don’t spend a bit of time praying daily, the A.M. Please and the P.M. Thank You and a few sprinkled 3,7, and 11, thrown in there with a dash of serenity prayer, then we are not acting out our faith. If I don’t / if we don’t go out and do service and work with others, I / we can’t keep what was freely given.

You might just want to warm a chair for a while. But eventually, we/you find your/our way into a meeting. We find our voices and our faith. We meet God on our terms and we become able to listen to how others see and find God in their lives.

You come, you come to, and you finally arrive.

We are thankful for the many who have arrived, and came tonight.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…


Thursday – Eternal Values

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Courtesy: Summer Diary Project

The skies have been rumbling and grumbling over the past day or so. We get an odd rainfall and it passes. A thunderstorm passed through overnight, and it looked, earlier in the evening a little foreboding. It was a wise option to carry an umbrella just in case.

It didn’t rain on us tonight.

I did a little supermarket safari earlier in the day and the new grocery store is beginning to moderate their prices. The great opening sale is over. I also had to go by Provigo on the way out and they are matching some of the prices we saw over at the new store.

Needless to say, Adonis is taking traffic from the neighborhood staple stores.

We were out a bit early tonight and made a smooth transit from here to the Plateau. We hit a bus and two trains with little wait time on the way back.

The topic came from A.B.S.I. and Eternal Values:

Many people will have no truck at all with absolute spiritual values. Perfectionists, they say, are either full of conceit because they fancy they have reached some impossible goal, or else they are swamped in self-condemnation because they have not done so.

Yet I think that we should not hold this view. It is not the fault of great ideals they they are sometime misused and so become shallow excuses for guilt, rebellion, and pride. On the contrary, we cannot grow very much unless we constantly try to envision what the eternal spiritual values are.

“Day by day, we try to move a little towards God’s perfection. We we need not be consumed by maudlin guilt for failure to achieve His likeness and image by Thursday next. Progress is our aim, and His perfection is the beacon, light years away, that draws us on.”

The discussion went around and a few key words came up repeatedly.

One – that the book talks about spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Two – that who really knows what God’s perfection is, or what it looks like.

Three – that the universe is always changing, so with that posit, we are also always changing. It is up to us to figure out which way we are going to change, for the good or the bad.

Speaking of values. I could never, in my life, accept nor adopt the values that were taught in our home as I was growing up. They went against everything I believed. And I moved away from home, with some morality and set of values, however loose they were, I was too busy drinking and acting out to stop and think about them. But I had values. Who I hung around, who I dated and who I ultimately slept with.

That was then, this is now.

Ending up where I did at the end of my slip, in a big city I grew up in, I was in a hole, spiritually and emotionally. I was all alone, and you know, if I dropped off the face of the earth, then and there, nobody would have missed me or come looking for me. Because I was deemed pariah …

God, in his infinite wisdom began working in my life well before I began asking for help. It was an antecedent assistance.

I guess I recognized the almighty moving heaven and earth and I began to ask for certain things, that eventually came to fruition, just as I called them out and needed them.

I wanted change. Lies were told to me. And never lie to your children because eventually the truth will come out and it may not be a good end game.

I took a lie and I used it to my advantage. To finally get me out of a hole and into a life that was worthy of value and credence. When I came here, I had 36 years of living, knowledge and indoctrination.

The first two years were difficult as I experienced severe culture shock. Learning where my loyalties lay, and what values I would adopt coming to a new country and an entirely new life.

Which leads me to this proclamation to you folks South of the Border …

“Drop your beers and chips, get off the sofa and turn off the tv. Pack your bags, your children and whatever else you need and leave your homes and venture OUT into the world for ONE calendar year.”

Your life will change in ways you would never imagine. I guarantee you that.

Today my life has value. I have values. I hold certain beliefs and thoughts.

I don’t engage in maudlin guilt or depression. However it comes, that on the odd occasion I wax nostalgic and I remember all the men who went to their deaths so I could live. And yes, I have survivors guilt at times. Especially around anniversaries or specific death dates. But It comes and goes much quicker.

I am constantly learning about my feelings. I can count on one hand the times I have gotten really angry. And holding on to that anger comes and goes much quicker. H.A.L.T. is very useful. Letting Go, and Easy does it …

I will never see ultimate perfection, I am not Borg. The bible speaks of:

“Being perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.”

That is a daily job. Always striving to be better, not the best, because what is best?

I will close with scripture … Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

That is what we should do every day.

More to come, stay tuned …


Indulgences

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tumblr_mq45jul6dU1qzgghfo1_1280This topic is moving around social media tonight. You can follow Pope Francis @Pontifex

I wonder if indulgences are conditional on sexual orientation???


Popes John Paul II, John XXIII to be made saints: Vatican

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By Philip Pullella – Reuters

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope John Paul II, the globe-trotting pontiff who led the Catholic Church for nearly 27 years, and Pope John XXIII, who called the reforming Second Vatican Council, will be declared saints, the Vatican said on Friday.

The Vatican said Pope Francis had approved a second miracle attributed to John Paul, a Pole who was elected in 1978 as the first non-Italian pope in 450 years and died in 2005. His progression to sainthood is the fastest in modern times.

The Vatican also said Pope John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and called the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council – which enacted sweeping reforms to modernize the Church – would be made a saint even though he has only been credited with one miracle since his death.

The canonization ceremonies, which are likely to bring hundreds of thousands to people to Rome, are expected this year.

John Paul had already been credited with asking God to cure a French nun of Parkinson’s disease, the same malady he had, before he was beatified in 2011.

Two confirmed miracles are usually required under Vatican rules for the declaration of a saint.

The second miracle attributed to his intercession is the inexplicable curing of a Costa Rican woman who prayed to him for help with her medical condition on the day of his beatification.

In the case of Pope John XXIII, who was known as the “good pope”, Francis waived the customary rules requiring a second miracle after beatification, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said. John XXIII was beatified in 2000.

Francis, who has tried to instill a spirit of simplicity and reform in the Church since his election in March, is known to have great admiration for the reforming Pope John, who was born of peasant stock in northern Italy.

John Paul went down in history as the “globe-trotting pope,” visiting every inhabited continent in more than 100 trips outside Italy.

LAST DAYS WATCHED BY WORLD

His struggle with ill health was watched by millions around the world on television towards the end of his life.

He was also credited with being instrumental in the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989 because of his steadfast defense of the Solidarity trade union in his native Poland.

After martial law was declared in Poland in 1981, he is believed to have told then-Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev that if Russia invaded Poland, he would return home.

John Paul was nearly killed by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot him in St Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981. Two trials failed to prove Italian magistrates’ accusations that the Bulgarian secret services had carried out the plot with Agca on behalf of the Soviet Union.

Millions of people attended his funeral in April, 2005, and many cried “Santo Subito” or “Make him a saint immediately”.

His successor, Benedict, waived a Church rule that normally requires a five-year waiting period before the preliminaries to sainthood can even begin.

John Paul is respected by Jews because of his 1986 visit to Rome’s synagogue, the first by a pope to a Jewish temple.

He is already considered a saint by millions of his countrymen in Poland, having supported their bid for freedom on the world stage for 11 years before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

“I am so happy and hardly can wait. John Paul II was one of a kind,” said Ewa Jezierska, 72, a Polish saleswoman in Warsaw.

Liberals in the Church say John Paul was too harsh with theological dissenters who wanted to help the poor, particularly in Latin America. Others say he should be held ultimately responsible for sexual abuse scandals because they occurred or came to light when he was in charge.

John Paul also drew criticism for supporting the late Father Marcial Maciel, the Mexican founder of the Legionaries of Christ religious order, defending him despite charges of sexual abuse that later turned out to be true.

John XXIII has for decades been venerated by Italians who recall his kind gestures. While he was pope for less than five years, his short pontificate coincided with the post-World War Two “economic miracle” that transformed Italy from a devastated agricultural backwater to an international economic power.

(Additional reporting by Dagmara Leskowicz, editing by Barry Moody/Mark Heinrich)


Vatican commission clears John Paul II for sainthood, may be canonized with John XXIII

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Report and Image: Canadian Press

By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

VATICAN CITY – Pope John Paul II has cleared the final obstacle before being made a saint, awaiting just the final approval from Pope Francis and a date for the ceremony that could come as soon as Dec. 8, a Vatican official and news reports said Tuesday.

The ANSA news agency reported that a commission of cardinals and bishops met Tuesday to consider John Paul’s case and signed off on it. A Vatican official confirmed that the decision had been taken some time back and that Tuesday’s meeting was essentially a formality.

One possible canonization date is Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a major feast day for the Catholic Church. This year the feast coincidentally falls on a Sunday, which is when canonizations usually occur.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized by the church to discuss saint-making cases on the record, confirmed reports in La Stampa newspaper that John Paul could be canonized together with Pope John XXIII, who called the Second Vatican Council but died in 1963 before it was finished.

There is reasoned precedent for beatifying or canonizing two popes together, primarily to balance one another out.

John Paul has been on the fast track for possible sainthood ever since his 2005 death, but there remains some concern that the process has been too quick. Some of the Holy See’s deep-seated problems — clerical sex abuse, dysfunctional governance and more recently the financial scandals at the Vatican bank — essentially date from shortcomings of his pontificate.

Defenders of the fast-track process argue that people are canonized, not pontificates.

But the Vatican in the past has sought to balance concerns about papal saints by giving two the honour at the same time. Such was the case in 2000, when John Paul beatified John XXIII, dubbed the “good pope,” alongside Pope Pius IX, who was criticized by Jews for condoning the seizure of a Jewish boy and allegedly referring to Jews as dogs.

By canonizing John Paul II along with John XXIII, the Vatican could be seeking to assuage concerns about John Paul’s fast-track sainthood case by tying it together with the 50-year wait John XXIII has had to endure.

Many Poles have been awaiting the final steps of John Paul’s progress, which has been pushed for by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish pope’s longtime private secretary.

“We should be very happy if it is confirmed,” Dziwisz’s spokesman, the Rev. Robert Necek told Polish TVN24 television. “This is the next and the last step towards canonization. It will be presented to Pope Francis and the pope will take the appropriate decision.”

During John Paul’s 2005 funeral Mass, chants of “Santo Subito!” or “Sainthood Now!” erupted in St. Peter’s Square. Heeding the calls, then-Pope Benedict XVI waived the typical five-year waiting period and allowed an investigation into John Paul’s life to begin immediately. The investigation determined that the beloved Polish-born pope lived a virtuous life, the first step in the sainthood process.

Subsequently, the Vatican determined that a French nun who prayed for his intercession was miraculously cured of Parkinson’s disease. A second miracle is needed for canonization. The Vatican hasn’t divulged any details about that second purported miracle.

___

Monika Scislowska contributed from Warsaw.


Second Miracle Attributed to Pope John Paul II; Set for Fastest Sainthood in Modern History

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By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter
June 19, 2013|7:55 pm

Pope John Paul II, The popular Polish pope who served from 1978 until his death in 2005, has had a second miracle attributed to his name, setting him on course toward the fastest canonization in modern Roman Catholic Church history.

The Vatican Insider reported on Tuesday that doctors and a commission of theologians agreed to attribute a second miracle to his name, meaning that now the final step for Pope John Paul II to become a saint is for cardinals and bishops to agree on the decision.

The miracle is the healing of a Costa Rican woman, who suffered from severe brain damage before she had an “inexplicable recovery.” According to The Independent, Italian newspaper Il Giornale quoted Vatican officials who claimed that a double miracle had actually been performed, because not only was the woman healed, but the faith of her family had been restored.

While the Vatican has yet to release the full details behind the case, the miracle supposedly occurred in May 2011, the day of John Paul II’s beatification.

The first miracle attributed to the pontiff, which led to his beatification, concerned another healing –a French nun who recovered from Parkinson’s disease in 2005. Sister Marie Simon-Pierre had said that her illness suddenly vanished when her order started praying on her behalf, and she wrote down Pope John Paul II’s name on a piece of paper.

The 2005 miracle left the pope only steps away from sainthood, and if in the coming weeks the Congregation for the Causes of Saints’ commission of cardinals and bishops verifies this reported second miracle, he will become the fastest saint to be recognized by the Church in its modern history, just eight years following his death.

The Atlantic Wire reminded readers that up until this point, the person to go through the quickest path to sainthood was Josemaria Escriva, the Spanish priest who founded Opus Dei, canonized 27 years after his death by Pope John Paul II himself.

Canonizations were a regular event during the Polish pope’s reign. He proclaimed 482 saints which is more than during the leadership of the previous 17 popes put together.

While Pope John Paul II’s canonization is not yet set in stone, The Insider speculated that the fast process suggests that the current pope, Francis, is also in favor of the proposed sainthood.

 


Church must help the poorest, not dissect theology, pope says

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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis shared personal moments with 200,000 people on Saturday, telling them he sometimes nods off while praying at the end of a long day and that it “breaks my heart” that the death of a homeless person is not news.

Francis, who has made straight talk and simplicity a hallmark of his papacy, made his unscripted comments in answers to questions by four people at a huge international gathering of Catholic associations in St. Peter’s Square.

But he outdid himself in passionately discussing everything from the memory of his grandmother to his decision to become a priest, from political corruption to his worries about a Church that too often closes in on itself instead of looking outward.

“If we step outside of ourselves, we will find poverty,” he said, repeating his call for Catholics to do more to seek out those on the fringes of society who need help the most,” he said from the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica

“Today, and it breaks my heart to say it, finding a homeless person who has died of cold, is not news. Today, the news is scandals, that is news, but the many children who don’t have food – that’s not news. This is grave. We can’t rest easy while things are this way.”

The crowd, most of whom are already involved in charity work, interrupted him often with applause.

“We cannot become starched Christians, too polite, who speak of theology calmly over tea. We have to become courageous Christians and seek out those (who need help most),” he said.

To laughter from the crowd, he described how he prays each day before an altar before going to bed.

“Sometimes I doze off, the fatigue of the day makes you fall asleep, but he (God) understands,” he said.

CRISIS OF VALUES

Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, said the world was going through not just an economic crisis but a crisis of values.

“This is happening today. If investments in banks fall, it is a tragedy and people say ‘what are we going to do?’ but if people die of hunger, have nothing to eat or suffer from poor health, that’s nothing. This is our crisis today. A Church that is poor and for the poor has to fight this mentality,” he said.

Many in the crowd planned to stay in the square overnight to pray and prepare for Francis’ Mass on Sunday, when the Catholic Church marks Pentecost, the day it teaches that the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles.

On Saturday morning, Francis met German Chancellor Angela Merkel and discussed Europe’s economic crisis.

Apparently responding to his criticism of a heartless “dictatorship of the economy” earlier in the week, Merkel, who is up for re-election in September, later called for stronger regulation of financial markets.

On Thursday, Francis appealed in a speech for world financial reform, saying the global economic crisis had made life worse for millions in rich and poor countries.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)