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Posts tagged “Religion

The Gospel of John – Revisited April 20, 2009

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Jesus Teaches Nicodemus – Jn. 3:1-8

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

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In the Gospel of John, there is no mention of miracles, as in the other Gospels. Miracles in John are called “signs” and we can see here in this reading from today that John is telling a story of Jesus evident here is the High Christology of John. No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Jesus is talking about things above, not things of the earth.

The narrator gives an explanation of ambiguous statements. There are literal and non-literal understandings, and also spiritual meanings. In John 3:1-3, we have the statement being born from above or born again, this is a spiritual or celestial birth. Nicodemus misunderstands Jesus, and the author of the Gospel plays on this passage.In this discourse between Jesus and Nicodemus (1:21) (3:28-30, 36) the information is not adequately integrated. (11-13 – 31-36) there is an opposition between earth and heaven.

Let us look further into the Gospel of John:

There is a difference between John and the synoptic Gospels.

  • John the Baptist’s witness of Jesus (1:19-34)  John the Baptist is never named “The Baptist” in John
  • Jesus’ purification of the Temple (2:12-22) this is placed at the beginning of John, but is found further on in the synoptics
  • The feeding of the 5,000 (6:1-13)
  • Jesus walks on water (6:16-21)
  • Peter’s confession of Jesus (6:66-71)
  • Mary’s anointing of Jesus at Bethany (12:1-8)
  • Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (12:12-19)
  • Jesus’ last supper (13:1-30) Jesus washes feet
  • Passion and Resurrection Narratives (Jn 18-20)  The discussion between Pilate and Jesus’ crucifixion scene

Miracles in the fourth Gospel:

Only 2 of the 29 synoptic miracles are found in John. The feeding of the 5000 and Jesus walking on water. Five other “signs” are absent in the synoptics

  1. Water into wine (2:1-11) Mary is named Mother of Jesus
  2. Healing of the Royal Officers son (4:46-54) maybe (Mt 8:5-10)
  3. Healing of the man at Bethzada (5:1-9) on the sabbath
  4. Healing of the blind man (9:1-7)
  5. Resurrection of Lazarus (11:33-44) This action seals the death of Jesus

Chronology of the Fourth Gospel:

There is one journey to Jerusalem in the synoptics (1 year) yet John mentions 3 passover feasts (approximately 3 years) John (2:13, 5:1, 6:4, 7:10, 10:22-23,11:55 and 12:1-12)

  • Jn 2:13 – The Purification of the Temple  in Jerusalem
  • Jn 5:1 – The festival of the Jews – Jerusalem visit once again
  • Jn 6:4 – Passover mentioned – Jesus feeds the 5000
  • Jn 7: 2-11 – Jesus goes to Jerusalem
  • Jn 10:22-23 – Feast of Dedication (In the Temple) Jerusalem
  • Jn 11:55 – Passover
  • Jn 12:1-12 – Jesus is going to come to Jerusalem

John has access to other materials. There are tensions in John (problems) it’s not about chronology but Theology in John.

Johannine Double Christology: everything that pertains to the identity of Jesus Christ. Christology much more present, not so much ethics of the kingdom of God, focuses more on faith, the only prerequisite for eternal life.

John 20:30-31

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

This you see the Subjunctive aorist – “That you may come to believe”
Here you see the Subjunctive present – “These are written so that you will continue to believe”

There is something more in John about Jesus. (Jn:1-18) refers to Jesus divine origin – this inclusion refers to Jesus having a divine origin with God which comes back at the end of the Gospel, on the part of the doubter (20:28) “My Lord and My God.”

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The Gospel of John was written in stages or redacted in stages.

  1. Pre-Johnannine (John) traditions were independent traditions from the synoptics (record of sayings and deeds)
  2. Kernel of the Johannine traditions basically is or represents expansion of stage 1. They added Joahnnine theology also from the people who were preaching at that time.
  3. The actual redaction of the Gospel – the writing
  4. A second edition of the Gospel
  5. And we end up with the final edition of the Gospel (chapter 21)

From a Source perspective John was not a one shot writing. The prologue in John is the interpretive key to John. There is the community of the Beloved Disciple.

AUTHOR – is not necessarily the writer (21:24) from whom received the tradition – the message giver.
EVANGELIST – The writer composes the work elements of tradition recording of the author and put tradition in narrative form this adds theological flair.
REDACTOR – is the one who completed the editing work of the evangelist, there may be more redactors.

The authorship of the Gospel of John: Was the Gospel of John written by the Disciple whom Jesus Loved?

Jn 13:23 – Only the Beloved Disciple knows who will betray Jesus
19: 26-27 – He was at the foot of the cross
20:2 – At the Tomb
21:7 – Redactional chapter – fishing with Peter
21:20-24 – Testimony of this person – person who wrote the Gospel received testimony from the Beloved Disciple.

The Disciple whom Jesus Loved:

13:23 The Beloved Disciple
19:26-27 – Beloved Disciple identified with Mother
Jn. 20:22-23 The Outpouring of Spirit – Johannine Pentecost, the result will be the mission.
Jn. 19:30 – Jesus Giving up his Spirit – the Gospel is written for “insiders”

The Mother of Jesus and the Beloved Disciple are representative of the Johannine community. The symbols of water and the symbols of the spirit (Jn. 7/ 20:20-23) When Jesus dies – he gives up his spirit. Everything happens at the Cross – The cross is the moment where Jesus dies and returns to the Father. When the Son of Man will be lifted up (on the cross) The Christology of the Son of Man ( refers to Daniel chapter 7 ).

Christology of the Son of God

Jesus is more than the Messiah, carries attributes that traditional Jews would have given to the Messiah. The Son of God carries glory and power of the Father and the only begotten son.

Johannine Christology of the “agent of the Father” Judicial clauses – Jesus is the plenipenitentiary – the mediator. Someone sent with the power of the one who sent him.

Jewish law elaborated a Charter of Rights, responsibility of the one who was sent. Responsibility clauses are discernable (sender and agent) the relationship between Jesus and the Father – Judicial Christology.

Mandate Clause:
The existence of the mission. Choose the right representative – the son or elder son. The person invested with full rights and the same authority of the sender, the Father in John is the sender – Jesus is the one who is sent. (Jn. 3:31-34, Jn. 5:21-23, Jn. 6:39, Jn. 13:3, Jn. 17:10)

The Judicial Equality Clause: (Jn. 10:30,38, 12:45)
There is a judicial equality between the sender and the agent this explains a series of passages – (Jn. 5:23, 12:44, 13:20, 15:23 ) There is an equality between Jesus and the Father. (Jn. 13:16, 15:20, 14:28)

We would never know the Father except through Jesus

The Obedience of the Agent Clause:
The agent had to be faithful and obedient. (4:34, 6:38) “I come to do the will of him who sent me” (7: 16-18, 18:28-38, 12:49-50, 14:24, 5:43) Jesus only teaches what he receives from the Father.

The Return and Reckoning Clause:
Mandate – equality – responsibility – return with an account. This is the theme of the return of Jesus to the Father. (13 – 17) (13:3) In John 17:1-4 Jesus knows his work is done, Jn. 17:6 it is made known to the Father.

Why is Jesus the Plenipenitentiary – to introduce the Father

Prologue 1:1-2 and the word was turned to God (in the Greek) There is an auto revelation of God – seen through the prophets of the Old Testament. This word will become incarnate. Jesus will be the one to incarnate the word – the culminating point – that Jesus comes from the Father. The word (Divine Autorevelation) Christology of the Son of Man.

The Son of Man differs from the Son of God

Daniel 7:13 apocalyptic literature. Designates Jesus as eschatalogical judge – (Synoptics – Divine Heavenly Being)

John – Son of Man titled 1:50-51 The ladder of Jacob in Genesis – the some of man is associated to heaven, ascending and descending. (3:11-15) Son of Man related to heaven because he is descended a heavenly being.

Numbers 21:4-9 – The Son of Man will be lifted up, believe in him (the Son of Man) elevation of the Son of Man. The source for eternal life. John 3:11-15 (Born from above) (2Cor 5:17, Gal 5:6) Being someone new. John 6:61-62 Ascending to where he was before. The elevation of man has to be seen, taken note of. John 12:20-36 The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

John 12:31-33 Eschatalogical judgment coming. The Prince of the earth (the devil) will be debunked.

We have here the double existence of lifting up the Son of Man. Lifted up on the cross – The cross as way to return, to ascend – everything happens at the crossas supreme king. (the crucifixion and elevation)

This is a realized eschatology – In John the eschatological moment comes at the cross. The elevation is the death. Why does the writer need a second Christology?

The cross is a shame ( Deuteronomy 21:22-23)

Various Laws

If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

Cursed be the one who is hung on wood.

Here the cross becomes a participant – not a scandal for the Son of Man. The two Christologies integrate the cross, the Son of Man is returning to God to give a report. For the Son of God – the cross is a problem.

Jesus is in total control of his destiny. John 13:27 …

We find a lower Christology in the Synoptic Gospels Mt, Mk, Lk – The Son of God is linked to the Messiahship. in John Jesus is the plenipenitentiary of the Father. Jesus the Son of Man is lifted up – The death of Jesus with his elevation is Glorification encapsulated in the Crucifixion scene. It is a relaized eschatology – at the cross.


Saturday: Odds and Ends, and Everything In Between

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On my trip to see Alexander, we engaged in serious debate about the state of the world. I am not the best at politics, world issues, and everything in between. Our lives at home consist of one cable news channel, and at 11 p.m. we turn to CTV for our nightly news fix.

I cannot go to bed without the last word coming from Lisa LaFlamme.

I’ve never been totally political, as in, devoted to politics or politicians of any stripe. I’ve always known where I sit on issues of the day. But expanding my brain to other news outlets only began when I moved to Canada in 2002. And over the time I have lived here, I’ve explored other points of view.

Alexander encourages that I step out of my bubble and echo chamber to see the world from other points of view. And this is one reason I love my best friend, because he is from somewhere else, (read:Brazil) and he has world knowledge that I do not. He has a smarts about him that no one I know have themselves.

So I read, I watch, and I listen to other points of view. If you polled me online, I rank in the NDP sphere of thought. But I voted for Justin. And he is proving to be a challenge to me.

Alexander sits on the Conservative side of life. And that is NOT a bad thing at all. Because he forces me to see the world, like he sees the world. He challenges me to spread my vision and take in others words, and not just accept words by people I am accustomed to listening to.

Politics and world events are two different spheres for me. I care very little for U.S. politics. And I do not consume politics like I used to because I cannot be bothered on a daily basis to know or listen to repetitive redundant news about a mad man in the Oval Office.

Cannot Be Bothered.

I spend a good amount of my sober life, buried in books. I learned long ago, while in University, that reading “other literature” that situate itself “around” a topic I was studying, as it went along, was very useful.

Reading side literature around a specific topic whether that literature be fiction or non-fiction, built a world for me to engage with on a wider basis, rather than on a single note in time.

I read, Every night.

There are places in the world that interest me. There are social issues that I am passionate about as well. Issues in the world, and issues right here at home are on my dashboard, quite often. I worry about our less fortunate, our homeless, and our indigenous population.

Because I am in the rooms, I’ve seen so much suffering. Friends of mine, in the program have gone on to work in those specific areas of helping the less fortunate. So I am engaged in their work.

Studying Religion and Pastoral Ministry opened my eyes to World Religions, as well, taking care of those people I am engaged with on a daily basis. I have stayed away from posting anything incendiary on this blog, certain world issues, that I am not clearly well-rounded or well versed on, to write coherently or knowledgeably.

I’ve always been interested in Israel and Palestine. Our Jewish Community here in Montreal served my early sobriety solely. The Chabad organization does work all over the city for many people, I just happened to be one of those people.

During my studies I spent time at the Ghetto Shul at McGill during my Judaism studies. And I often said that if I would become anything other than a Christian, I would certainly be a Jew. Palestine is a new subject for me, since being introduced to that area by a friend who wrote a book on the subject, from a point of view we don’t hear about ever.

When I finished the book, all I could write about was what was in Ben’s book, by the words he wrote. Which began my reading slant into books that were written, on the ground, within the Palestinian community. There are not many in circulation, that don’t begin with a premise situated in Israel, and merely spits on Palestine.

I need to figure out what I know, what I need to know, and where I sit on the spectrum of politics and on the ground situations. I know where I would like to be, but that point needs to be plotted on a map so that I can see it clearly.

Israel and Palestine is such a deep topic with some serious history, people, and problems, that I am unable to touch because of the complexity of the state of that area of the world. But while in Ottawa, I picked up another tome that I am reading at the moment.

I just cannot read a handful of books and expect to be able to write anything that is worthy of print on this blog, because that would be stupid and green of me.

The entire Middle East is a quagmire of instability, political strife and religious intolerance. And we just cannot say, incendiary things about people we know little about or those points of views or lives that we don’t even care about informing ourselves about, because it is easier to hate outright, then find a point of agreement or understanding.

How many people do you know who really care about the Middle East beyond blanket hatred of those we don’t even know, or care to know ?

Because they are not “Christian?” or “Jewish?”

If we don’t read, or listen to other points of view and study areas of the world that interest us, and take the time to get informed, how can we relate what we are reading/studying?

That is a thing …

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Colorful Metaphors

Any Star Trek fan knows the line from Star Trek IV the Voyage Home, where Kirk and Spock are on a bus, and Spock relates his confusion of people’s use of “Colorful Metaphors.”

I don’t know if it is age, or my sensibilities to certain colorful metaphors and words, used by people I listen to, or something else, but I’ve grown weary of people using certain language.

Since the dawn of the Pod Cast, when I got my I Phone for Christmas, my nightly bed time schedule was shifted when I started listening to Pod Casts. They competed with my traditional book reading time before bed.

Over the past few months, I’ve listened to a number of Pod Cast presenters. And I’ve come to the point that the Ardent Screaming Host, or the host who litters his show with the word FUCK, every other word, I just delete their shows from my phone.

I love me some Bill Maher. But he is incessantly insane. And over the last month, I’ve also grown weary of him as well, because his devolution into insane screaming by the end of the hour podcast.

People who talk on the Pod Cast, are not bound by ethical language rules. Although many men and women, do take listeners into consideration when it comes to words. Others, not so much. I just don’t have the mental energy to listen to people swear and use foul language. It is just no longer appealing.

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Social Media

Over the last year, I have had to unfriend many people from my Face Book Profile. Certain friends litter my time line with shit I am not interested in, and they persist. Others, all they can do is post POST after POST of political bullshit, incessantly.

I went as far as to neuter my feed from showing me anything related to topics I have no interest in. That meant turning certain people off, for my own well being and sanity.

Aside from news online, that I do consume, Face Book and Twitter are two sources of news and current events that I utilize on a daily basis. But I don’t do either on my phone, so I deleted the apps from my phone.

  • I make phone calls on my phone.
  • I listen to music on my phone.
  • And I Pod Cast on my phone.

That’s it.

I am trying to set some news boundaries for myself. I have built a wall around me on social media that is useful, because I have a life, and I am not connected to social media 24/7. That is insane.

I turn on my computer when I wake up, I run my set. All those sites I look at and participate in and when I am done, I just shut off the computer until I need it again, and I go read, or better yet, I nap …

All the time…

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Sober Realizations

I wrote to a friend of mine recently …

I no longer have the desire to engage most people who believe so strongly what they do, contrary to any evidence of acceptance and respect of humanity in others. Religion, like politics, are two areas I intentionally stay away from, because I know who I am, and what I know, and that is good for me. Sobriety teaches me that I don’t always have to argue when it is not necessary to do so.

He replied that this portion of my comment is a post in itself.

I spend my days working with others. I spend a few nights a week in meetings. Only three meetings a week now, instead of my prior, six meetings a week, spread over two fellowships.

I love what I do. Because the men and women I work with are accountable. We are all moving forwards. And that is a really good thing. Because I am not a born leader, however I think I “could” lead. I’ve had time in the past where what I did and what I said meant something to those I spent time with.

You never know WHO you are going to meet or what conversation you are going to have with them, until the meeting happens, and conversations take place either before or after.

I want a clean break going into my fifties.

God has made that something that I work on daily. Recently, certain friends have gone dark, for one reason or another, that I am not understanding at the moment, but it is what it is.

I have a routine that works. I have a life that is fulfilling. I have friends whom I love and adore. And a best friend, second to none.

Discussion was brought up the other night, by someone I trust, when he asked me why I just did not adopt the baby, and give her a father, who wants to be in her life, and someone she can rely on, because I am reliable and accountable to her and Mama.

And my reply was this … I want the biological father to pay his dues like the law states. Because he is a dead beat and a looser. And I want him to pay up.

I don’t want to step in and absolve him of any responsibility towards the baby.

I need to research this before I head to New Foundland in April.

I think I know what I want of life and of myself. But that is subject to change because sobriety is not a one trick pony.

Shit happens. Life happens. And you never know what to expect when you walk into a room full of your friends and fellows.

You might just learn something you did not know, or realize something you had not before, and it wasn’t until that particular moment that God opened up your eyes and spirit. And you heard something you realized you really needed.

But did not realize you needed it until right then.

This is the filler that happened between the lines over the last little while.

Sobriety is Magic. Sobriety is Miracles. Sobriety is God, it is Us and it is We.

I love the “We” that I am part of today.


Sunday Sundries: Mother …

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Today Pope Francis Canonized Mother Teresa into Sainthood. What is begun in the church, usually follows certain protocol. And in most cases, the Church is always right.

Whether She is Right or Wrong …

Amid controversy and medical science, The Saint of the Slums was elevated.

I’ve studied the cause for sainthood for a specific handful of men and women, of the Catholic faith, so I am truly familiar with how the process works, how it is carried out, and just how exhaustive that research really is.

I have several books in my library that outlines each process for each human being who is being investigated for sainthood. In University I studied John Paul II. I’ve read every book that has been published, “In university” and “outside of university.”

The question of the validity of miracles that must take place, and are therefore attributed to each “saint in the making” has to be verified several times over. Now we must give the Church her times, because the process for sainthood is long and storied.

And that process has been modified and tweaked, and can even be put on a fast track. We’ve seen, in my generation, what direct sainthood acclimation looks like.

In the case of John Paul II, the day of his funeral, the crowds in St. Peter’s Square, made a direct acclimation to their church, that John Paul II be elevated to Sainthood. Once certain elements were satisfied, the process began to elevate him into Sainthood.

I’ve read the book, several times over.

Mother Teresa, was one serious woman, who was friends with the late Pontiff, as you see, if you scroll down on this blog, several photos of them together. I’ve read many books about Mother Teresa. And when I talk about her, I always raise the ire of those who think that I am blind to her controversies, I assure you I am fully aware of all the trash and vitriol that has been aimed at her and myself over the years.

I have a tattoo that I got on my right bicep on my tenth sober anniversary. It is a quote that came directly from the writings from one of her biographies, “Come be my Light.”

The words, “I Thirst…” was, on my first pass, attributed to the story told of Mother Teresa’s relationship with Jesus Christ, when Jesus, on the cross, says, “I Thirst.”

Mother Teresa was oft to talk about how we should thirst for God, ergo Jesus. I took the words from her book, and put them on my body. Only to later find out, via a sober member in the fellowship, who spent time IN Calcutta working in the slums with the poorest of the poor, that the words “I Thirst” are written on the wall, of the Mother House chapel in Calcutta, adjacent to the crucifix on the wall.

This quote is also attributed to Teresa of Lisieux.The “Little Flower.”

When I met said sober member at the Round Up in 2012, and we heard her tell the story of how she went to India, to the Mother House, wanting to meet Teresa, she was terribly shocked when she finally did.

On the fifth day of her visit, Mother Teresa arrived back at the Mother House. She had been away for some time. Lorna, a Manhattan socialite, and the first female auctioneer at the famed Sotheby’s auction house, went to Calcutta, in her fine chino pants, and pressed blouse, made up like a model and her nails brightly painted, approached Mother Teresa on her home turf.

What Mother Teresa said next changed her life and the way she approached the now Sainted woman.

Mother Teresa looked at Lorna and said … Why are you made up like that? Intoning that she was lofty in her approach and that she should sell her fine rich “things” and strip her nails, and give the money to the poor …

What an entrance …

Lorna died not long ago, I remember her fondly in sharing this story. It comes from her own book, The Camel Knows the Way … About her association with Mother.

Mother Teresa was shrewd in her condemnation of worldly things. Many have said that the Missionaries of Charity were/are rolling in money, that she accepted dirty cash from dictators and rulers that were not “above board.” That with all the money in the church or convent coffers she could have done much better, but eschewed wealth at every turn.

This is a serious taint on Mother. Not to mention other accusations that she shielded pedophile priests, with full knowledge of their transgressions. Well, let’s be clear on a few items of order as well … Mother Church, has also been complicit in the shielding and shuffling of pedophile priests from one parish to another, moving them around the countries of origin, and even bring some of them to Rome.

This is not in contention. This is truth.

Many high ranking Holy figures in the church turned a blind eye to abuse, because for some, that tainted the vision of the church, and the human being. And to acknowledge such abuse openly and directly, would be casting aspersions on Holy Mother Church, therefore God Himself.

Right or Wrong, this is fact.

In the pantheon of the Holy of Holies, facts and negative associations, it seems, are ignored on the face of it, not true… That does not mean that truth was not added to the cause for canonization. When all the data is collected, there is a “Devils Advocate” who’s job is to see the flip side of the process, insuring that both sides of an argument is written in the collected works and are bound for posterity and published for mass consumption.

There are many other aspersions I have read recently about the state of the Missionaries of Charity and their austere lifestyles and the lengths Mother Teresa went to, to maintain austerity at any cost, to the detriment and health and well being of her sisters.

The Church is going to do what she does, in spite of and sometimes blindly ignoring the negativity, knowing full well, what controversy exists, in favor of popular acclimation and the faith of community.

We see this notion in the story of George Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. In his story we see the merging of “popular faith of the people” in direct competition with “the faith of Holy Mother Church.” These are two different faith practices. Common in many places in the Southern Hemisphere and South and Central America.

One cannot remove popular culture and religious practice from the people, so Pope Francis, ergo George Bergoglio, had to find a way to marry the two traditions, to bring everybody to the table of Faith in the Church.

In India there is a multitude of faiths and practices.

Mother Teresa was popular culture and popular faith. This factor has to be recognized when we talk about her canonization, in just what this move does to appease popular culture and regional religious communities where she lived, worked and died and brings everyone together in one unified community.

Pope Francis has been making saints in higher numbers than his predecessors at the same time in their papacies. If you study the trend, Pope Francis is making Saints regionally, and for specific countries, and specific communities for specific reasons. He is recognizing popular religious practice, while maintaining Holy Mother Church standards for sainthood.

There is method, reason and rationality to this process, that you would only recognize if you did the research I have into Popes, Saints, and Holy people.

This is why I went to University, to be able to speak with authority on these topics.