Pope Francis: Christmas festivities ‘a charade’ in a world filled with ‘war and hate’

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20 Nov 2015 at 08:51 ET

Christmas festivities will seem empty in a world which has chosen “war and hate”, Pope Francis said Thursday.

“Christmas is approaching: there will be lights, parties, Christmas trees and nativity scenes … it’s all a charade. The world continues to go to war. The world has not chosen a peaceful path,” he said in a sermon.

“There are wars today everywhere, and hate,” he said after the worst terror attack in French history, the bombing of a Russian airliner, a double suicide bombing in Lebanon, and a series of other deadly strikes.

“We should ask for the grace to weep for this world, which does not recognize the path to peace. To weep for those who live for war and have the cynicism to deny it,” the Argentine pontiff said, adding: “God weeps, Jesus weeps”.

The sermon threw a shadow over the start of the festive season at the Vatican, where a giant Christmas tree was unveiled.

The 25-metre (82-foot) high pine hails from former pope Benedict XVI’s homeland, the German state of Bavaria.

The tree, which will be decorated in time for the start of the Vatican’s Holy Year on December 8, will be festooned with ornaments made by children from cancer wards in hospitals across Italy.

This year’s nativity scene will be made up of 24 life-size figures, sculpted from wood and hand-painted.

In a nod to Pope Francis’s humble style, alongside the figures from the story of Jesus’s birth will be sculptures of ordinary people, including a man supporting an elderly person in need.

Thursday – Some People Don’t make It !

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

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

God Give Me Strength !

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am highly literate on John Paul II.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Some People Don’t Make It

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

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

Anyways …

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

It seems the women have the market on this call.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …

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

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

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

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

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

Pope Francis is a very savvy man.

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

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

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

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

Page 314 – 315…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Sundries – Papal Apology

popeapologize-660x330My problems and dramas, pale in comparison tonight. So we close the weekend with hope from The Holy Father. If his actions of late are true, and His words mean anything to anyone, this is the one issue that needs to be heard, acted upon and dealt with swiftly and decisively.

And we (read: I ) know that Jorge Bergoglio is a decisive and thoughtful man, when pushed to act he acted decisively. I would love to be a fly on the wall for the next series of discussions Pope Francis will have with his Vatican counterparts.

Goodnight.

Lifted From: Joe My God

“My dearest brothers and sisters in Christ, I am grateful for this opportunity to meet you. I am blessed by your presence. Thank you for coming here today. Words cannot fully express my sorrow for the abuse you suffered. You are precious children of God who should always expect our protection, our care and our love. I am profoundly sorry that your innocence was violated by those who you trusted. In some cases the trust was betrayed by members of your own family, in other cases by priests who carry a sacred responsibility for the care of soul. In all circumstances, the betrayal was a terrible violation of human dignity.

“For those who were abused by a member of the clergy, I am deeply sorry for the times when you or your family spoke out, to report the abuse, but you were not heard or believed. Please know that the Holy Father hears you and believes you. I deeply regret that some bishops failed in their responsibility to protect children. It is very disturbing to know that in some cases bishops even were abusers. I pledge to you that we will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead. Clergy and bishops will be held accountable when they abuse or fail to protect children.

“We are gathered here in Philadelphia to celebrate God’s gift of family life. Within our family of faith and our human families, the sins and crimes of sexual abuse of children must no longer be held in secret and in shame. As we anticipate the Jubilee Year of Mercy, your presence, so generously given despite the anger and pain you have experienced, reveals the merciful heart of Christ. Your stories of survival, each unique and compelling, are powerful signs of the hope that comes from the Lord’s promise to be with us always.” – Pope Francis, speaking today at a Philadelphia meeting with the victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, family members, and teachers.

Mary Untier of Knots

Mary-Untier-of-Knots

[Jorge Bergoglio] Made a pilgrimage to the Bavarian city of Augsburg where, in the Jesuit church of Sankt Peter am Perlach, he contemplated s Baroque-era painting from the early 1700’s known as Maria Knotenloserin, “Mary, Untier of Knots,” which was the object of a local devotion. The painting’s story goes back to a feuding married couple who had been on the verge of a bitter separation. The husband, Wolfgang Langenmantel, had sought help from a local Jesuit priest, Father Jakob Rem, who prayed to the Virgin Mary “to untie all the knots” in the Langenmantel home. Peace was restored and the marriage was saved; and to give thanks for the miracle their grandson commissioned the painting and donated it to the church.

At First glance, it is nothing out of the ordinary; the painting shows the Virgin, surrounded by angels and protected by the light of the Holy Spirit, standing on a serpent with the child Jesus in her arms. But the middle of the painting is striking: an angel to Mary’s left is passing her a silk thread full of knots that she unties, handing on the un-knotted thread to an angel on her right.

Father Rem’s prayer to the Virgin had been inspired by an ancient formula of Saint Irenaeus: The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary.

Obedience was precisely Bergoglio’s knot. It is the key vow for Jesuits, and one he strongly believed in; it was what made mission and unity possible. Yet what he had been given was not a mission, but a means of getting him out (sic. Of Argentina) because he was an obstacle. What obedience did he owe?

Obedience comes from the Latin obaudire, to “hear” or “listen to.” The vow is meant above all to free the heart from the ego in order to listen to God, and submit freely to His will: the Virgin is the perfect model of such obedience.

What was God’s will, now, for Bergoglio, in the middle of his life?

Bergoglio took a handful of Maria Knotenloserin prayer cards back with him. In the 1990’s, after a local copy of the painting – known in Spanish as Maria Desatanudos – was hung in a church in Buenos Aires, it took off in an extraordinary way, leading Bergoglio later to say he never felt so much in the hands of God.

Thursday … “Siempre Adelante …” Always Moving Forwards

20140127-pope-x624-1390859938Tonight, Pope Francis is in New York City.

“Siempre Adelante …” Always move forwards,

is a motto Pope Francis has shared for years and years.

I’ve listened to what Pope Francis has said so far. And he has stuck to a theme, a Catholic Theme of being “Our brother’s keepers,” “Charity,” “Being good stewards to the earth,””Respect for life,” and that we should go out from our homes and serve the least of these with all that we have, because as Christians, we are called to serve.

Along this process, I am reading, “The Great Reformer,” about Pope Francis.

Last night, as I was reading, I came across a sermon that the young Archbishop Bergoglio was giving to the church in Argentina. And I found that the message he was sharing so long ago about people, the “Pueblo Fiel,” and what a nation must do to build up its people, to care for the poor and to take care of the world, is the very same message Pope Francis has spoken in the U.S.

Along with his words, are words that come from politicians, who believe they know something particular of the Holy Father, and they speak with indictments against him. One Marco Rubio says that “The pope know nothing about the poor, and also that he wasn’t a scientist, so should keep his counsel to himself.”

I beg to differ…

Jorge Bergoglio was a Jesuit who worked in the Jesuit order for his entire adult life, until he left the order upon assuming the Throne of Peter. He worked in the slums of South America, with the poorest of the poor. Many Jesuit priests worked with the poor, much to the consternation with the church hierarchy, and at one point, with Jorge Bergoglio himself.

Which leads to the term the Pope of the slums …

Jorge Bergoglio is also schooled in science. He is very well learned for a pope.

It was the issue between many of the priests who worked in the favelas, who thought that their work was too important to be stopped. And two priests lost their licenses and ended up being kidnapped by the guerrillas and held captive and tortured.

When American politicians speak about what THEY think is the truth about the Pope, and try to indict him, those men should really shut their damned mouths.

There are common themes that Pope Francis repeats over and over again. They are themes that were born when Francis was a young Jesuit. And as he rose in the ranks of the church, his influence only grew. And the words became flesh for him, in the way he worked so hard for the “pueblo” and what he saw as justice, charity and peace.

We could all learn a little about the life of Francis, and what he sees and believes as important.

But we need to dig a bit deeper to learn that knowledge. The papacy of Francis is still young, but there is a wealth of words written about him, if you know where to look.

I think the themes of Charity, Love and Caring for others is universal. In his speech to Congress today he quoted the Golden Rule …

“Do unto others, as you would have them do unto You.”

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It has been a challenging few days indeed. I work every day to be present and accountable; consistently. If it were possible, I could use a few more “me’s” right about now.

I had a conversation with a friend the other night. And I am confused as to why people are the way they are. I am powerless over people. And sometimes I place unattainable expectations on them, knowing, that I am flirting with stupidity.

To this end, still, people continue to astound me with their selfishness and self centeredness.

I am not preaching from some lofty perch, like God. And I am surely not arrogant to think I hold sway over anyone except myself. I hear my friends speak words, and they don’t ring true. I have implored my friends with things to do. Certain, Specific, things that need to be done.

We must succeed, or else, great failure is at hand.

We must go out and serve our brothers and sisters with all that we have, if we are able. I am able, and I devote serious time to that outreach work. The more I talk, the less goes into action, by any of the people I need to act. Before I speak, I consider my words carefully. And the other day I found an opportunity to talk and I did that. Hoping that it would bring results.

I am saddened to say, nothing has changed.

I was talking to my friend and I told her my story. Well, one big story. To demonstrate where I learned to be present, accountable and consistent. And she does not dispute my abilities.

But she said to me that There is only one of me. And she fears that I will burn out and go away when I have had enough. I’ve learned that lesson, I am in it to win it.

But she is of the mind that every human being needs three Strong, Present, and Consistent people to guarantee their survival. She doesn’t have those three people. She has me and one other woman, who’s mother is suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease, but when needed she shows up and attends to what needs to be done. The other couple of folks, are unreliable, and inconsistent and can’t be depended on, not for lack of trying, but the lack of desire to be 100% present.

We all have lives. But one of our number is in dire need of support and I do not know what to do for her but to repeat, as often as I can, that right now, I am here.

I fear that message isn’t going to be enough to ground her permanently.

If I can’t get any other players into the game, and things don’t start looking up soon, my friend is going to pack up herself and the baby and go back to New Foundland. Forever.

I don’t know what else to do. My words fall on deaf ears, and my friends are unable to rise to the occasion. And that IS a problem, that I have no solution for.

In the end, I am only one man. I am not God and I can only do so much.

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

I drank, I stank and I sank …

That is the short version of the share we heard tonight.

One of my friends spoke tonight. It was simple and to the point. In seeing another alcoholic drink, get drunk, loose his family, his job, his home and end up sleeping in the park, our man got sober.

Coming in, at first, he believed we’d all be brown baggers, dirty clothed, and sleeping in the park, but much to his surprise, we were happy, clean and well dressed people who welcomed him.

It was the commonality, the identity, and the honesty that kept him.

And for more than twenty five years, our man hasn’t had a drink since.

Tomorrow is Friday. We’ll see what that brings with it.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … The Baby, The Pope, GOD and Me … Not Necessarily in that Order !

pope-francis-do-not-disturb cropPope Francis, as we speak, is in Cuba. Having Celebrated Mass in Revolution Square this morning, has met with Raul Castro and today, his brother Fidel. It was an informal but cordial meeting between the two men.

The Pope wants “Change.” Change in a good way, Change in an internal attitude way. Of leaving our safe homes and safe lives to go out in the streets and serve “the least of these” in the best way we can, from our hearts, not our minds.

He wants to unite the world in the ways of God. Francis sees God in a very particular way. He invites us to share in the divinity of God through Jesus, and come into that special spiritual awareness that comes with the resurrected Christ on Easter morning.

I admire Pope Francis a great deal, because he asks simply to serve God in each other. Because we are all formed in the image of God, and we are also, star stuff. Which means that “Divinity” exists in each of us, as we are, warts and all.

If we stopped and took a serious look at our fellows, our neighbors and our friends, we too would see that divinity.

It comes to us to “change” to be able to see it.

We are called to serve. Not for our own good, but for the good of others. For the good of God, yes, “church” would be mentioned here as well, Francis has been stripping away the trappings of “Church” for a simpler way of life. We don’t need finery or gems and gold.

Jesus once commanded his disciples to go out into the world carrying only what they had on their backs, and to do the work they were commanded.

Just the same, Francis calls us to go out and do good works.

Because it is in those works that we exemplify the spirit of God.

I am slowly working my way through The Great Reformer, Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, written by Austen Ivereigh.

I have read a few other books about Francis. When he was elected Pope several tomes were released. Pope Francis has not escaped the past because he plays a much hated man, a much loved man, and a man who was once a very tight Jesuit priest with his own ideas and ways of life, until the time came, when God struck him and Francis had his spiritual awakening.

People have many opinions about Francis, and the role he played during the Dirty War. Was he complicit, was he flying under the radar, or was he a victim of the times as they played out before him?

Every writer I have read has painted a picture of Francis.

I do not stand in judgment of his past.

I do stand in awe of the man he became and the words he speaks and the challenges he puts before us as the leader of Holy Mother Church. Even there, he turned the Curia and the papal household on its ear, by living in Casa Santa Marta, and sharing his days working in the church, then at night, he changes into his spiritual superman suit and goes out and visits with the least of these, inviting them to dine with him and attend his morning masses at the Vatican.

There is a kernel of Holy Mother Church in me, I won’t deny that. I loved the church that educated me, the church that served me, and the church that went above and beyond to save me when I needed to be saved and looked after.

I am eternally grateful to those men who took time out of their lives to sit with me, to break bread with me, to minister to my spiritual needs, and to give me Hope and Faith, in a time when Hope and Faith were in little supply.

Churches … Many of them, Across the board, were not kind to the gays, especially us gays who had AIDS, because it was said that we got what was coming to us from God himself as punishment for our sinful lives.

I can say this with total confidence … I have NEVER met a man of God who EVER pointed a damning finger at me and said that God was punishing me for any reason whatsoever.

That is a thing …

We’ve talked of God these past few days again. God has been in high rotation for a while now, and I really did not have anything substantive to write, but it was coming.

We read “An Artists Conception” tonight. It opens with this quote from Appendix II in the back of the Big Book, in regards to Spiritual experience.

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance –

That principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

Herbert Spencer

Our man has a serious problem. And he knows what the problem is, Alcoholism. He has investigated the issue backwards and forwards, but he lacks one thing; the spiritual approach, because like many of us, religion is a nasty word, because of the taste it left in our mouths.

But he meets one man, who shows him the way, humbly and quietly. And our man GETS IT. Then he meets twenty other men who also have gotten it. And the desire to drink becomes pointless against all of his other problems. But he never picks up a drink again.

He says that it wasn’t the words they used, or the book they were reading, but there was an invisible force that he recognized. He saw it. And in some miraculous way, he finds that power greater than himself.

Many of our folks are still trying to figure it out for themselves. God as an intellectual pursuit is a rather hard task. But if you stick around long enough, you will find it, sure enough.

Did I tell you the time I met God ???

Yes, I have. Over and Over again. It is the best story I have in my bank.

After listening to my friend vacillate and try to figure out who God is for them, I had twenty minutes to state my case. And I tell them of the horrors I was living in the nineties. And how my life came to a crashing end when I was diagnosed with AIDS, and was told to go home, kiss my ass goodbye and wait to die.

I made one phone call that changed my life.

I had actually made several other calls that did not pan out.

So that one call I made was to Provincetown.

Todd and Roy returned from their holidays early because I needed help.

When Todd stepped up, it was because he loved me. He chose me to save, in the way he chose to do that. He concentrated everything he had into me in those first two years that saved my life.

Meanwhile, at the bar, all of my friends were approaching death in exactly the way they chose. living fast and leaving a good looking corpse. Well, how good of a corpse is it when it is riddled with K.S. stricken with disease, plowed with exotic drugs and tanked on the best liquor a bar tender could pour ?

I had no other choice. Well, I did have a choice.

I could have taken that route myself. Todd had other plans for me.

He began to teach me how to live, with the reminder that BOB was in the cemetery right across the street from the bar. And if I was not willing to try to live, that I would end up there myself.

When I needed God, He came. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, that I know what God looks like, I know His voice and I know for sure that He was with me in my hours of need.

And I looked at my friends after telling this story, (with more words used to get the point across) that if they need proof that God does exist, they need not look any further than myself.

I lived. I did not die. Because God saved me.

But like any mortal man, addiction knows no bounds. I forgot …

But when I returned, I said a single prayer to God for help.

And let me tell you, I prayed a specific prayer for specific needs in a specific order.

  1. I prayed for the desire to drink to leave me
  2. I needed an alcoholic to come to me, and
  3. I needed to get to a meeting.

Nothing is too difficult for God when we really need help. Because He moved heaven and earth and provided me that prayer in the order it went out, as if to say,

“Hey there, I got your back!”

Not a day goes by that I do not remember where I came from. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Todd. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for something. However, I admit, freely, that gratitude is not something I think about constantly.

It is an action.

I’ve chosen to live out my gratitude in my “Presence” to my friends. Like Francis calls us to do, I go out and I serve the “least of these” and those who need the love and faith I have.

Which leads nicely into the next portion of tonight’s read … The Baby

I work every day to be a man of honor, courage and strength. I work every day to make the right decisions, and to be of maximum service to my fellows. And let me tell you, that does not come easily.  Creating family is difficult. Maintaining family is challenging. Taking care of a baby is the most rewarding experience I can share in today.

Today, I got an entire afternoon with the baby, we had some lunch. She would not eat her food, by herself, so she did eat when I offered food to her. hen we played for a while with her blocks, but that did not last very long.

So we dressed her and popped her into her stroller and went to the park. This was our first park outing together. And we passed a few of my friends on the way, and it was said to me that “we probably started tongues wagging …” but you only live once.

We did some swings. We did some slides, and some playground rides. We played in the sand and got dirty. It was just me and the baby. It was the most wonderful feeling. There were screaming kids all over the playground, and their parents watching closely, and for a while, I was one of those parents, playing with his child.

It was immense …

I want to close with some thought’s by Pope Francis.

“Archbishop Quarracino invited Bergoglio in January and April 1990 to give retreats to dozens of his clergy in La Plata. In the first, “Our flesh in Prayer,” Bergoglio reflected powerfully on Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, the story of the foreigner who comes to the aid of a traveler beaten by brigands. He showed that those who passed on the other side – symbolized in Jesus’s telling by the priest and the Levite – used a series of distancing techniques, which were all temptations: either they intellectualized the suffering they saw, or evaded the responsibility for it by reassuring themselves that this is how life was.

The Samaritan, on the other hand, got on his hands and knees to get close to the victim, opened his heart to him and bound his wounds, shouldered him and spent his money on him. “That is what we will be judged on,” Bergoglio told the priests, adding that this proximity was at the heart of the Incarnation. Jesus, far from “passing on the other side,” paid the ultimate price in sacrificing his own flesh for those who suffer; and God’s closeness to humanity is the reason why “Prayer touches our flesh in its very nucleus, it touches our heart.”

Prayer, he told the priests, meant enduring the possibility of change; it meant a willingness to suffer. When a person ceases praying and starts complaining, “he ceases to serve the Gospel and becomes a victim. He canonizes himself.” Making oneself the victim, rather than Christ, was blasphemy; and a flesh that is used to blasphemy, which does not know how to ask for help for its own wound and sin, is a flesh incapable of helping the wounds of others.”

Even if he dedicates his life to God he will only ever be able to come close to himself.: It is the asepsis of the Pharisee,” Bergoglio warned: “neither virus or vitamin.”

There is a God, and I am not He.

More to come, stay tuned …