LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26). These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons. Crimes that inflict deep wounds of pain and powerlessness, primarily among the victims, but also in their family members and in the larger community of believers and nonbelievers alike.

Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated. The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults.

1. If one member suffers…

In recent days, a report was made public which detailed the experiences of at least a thousand survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years. Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the victims.

We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these wounds never go away. The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity.

The Lord heard that cry and once again showed us on which side he stands. Mary’s song is not mistaken and continues quietly to echo throughout history. For the Lord remembers the promise he made to our fathers: “he has scattered the proud in their conceit; he has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty” (Lk 1:51-53). We feel shame when we realize that our style of life has denied, and continues to deny, the words we recite.

With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.

I make my own the words of the then Cardinal Ratzinger when, during the Way of the Cross composed for Good Friday 2005, he identified with the cry of pain of so many victims and exclaimed: “How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to [Christ]! How much pride, how much self-complacency! Christ’s betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his body and blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison – Lord, save us! (cf. Mt 8:25)” (Ninth Station).

2. … all suffer together with it

The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way. While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough. Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit.

If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history. And this in an environment where conflicts, tensions and above all the victims of every type of abuse can encounter an outstretched hand to protect them and rescue them from their pain (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 228). Such solidarity demands that we in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person.

A solidarity that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption. The latter is “a comfortable and self-satisfied form of blindness. Everything then appears acceptable: deception, slander, egotism and other subtle forms of self-centeredness, for ‘even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light’ (2 Cor 11:14)” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 165). Saint Paul’s exhortation to suffer with those who suffer is the best antidote against all our attempts to repeat the words of Cain: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9).

I am conscious of the effort and work being carried out in various parts of the world to come up with the necessary means to ensure the safety and protection of the integrity of children and of vulnerable adults, as well as implementing zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable. We have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary, yet I am confident that they will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future.

Together with those efforts, every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need. This change calls for a personal and communal conversion that makes us see things as the Lord does. For as Saint John Paul II liked to say: “If we have truly started out anew from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see him especially in the faces of those with whom he wished to be identified” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 49).

To see things as the Lord does, to be where the Lord wants us to be, to experience a conversion of heart in his presence. To do so, prayer and penance will help. I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command.[1] This can awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse.

It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People. Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives.[2]

This is clearly seen in a peculiar way of understanding the Church’s authority, one common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred. Such is the case with clericalism, an approach that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people”.[3]

Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all forms of clericalism.

It is always helpful to remember that “in salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in the human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 6).

Consequently, the only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God. This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within.

Without the active participation of all the Church’s members, everything being done to uproot the culture of abuse in our communities will not be successful in generating the necessary dynamics for sound and realistic change.

The penitential dimension of fasting and prayer will help us as God’s People to come before the Lord and our wounded brothers and sisters as sinners imploring forgiveness and the grace of shame and conversion. In this way, we will come up with actions that can generate resources attuned to the Gospel.

For “whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 11).

It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable. Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.

Likewise, penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils.

May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled. A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary.

A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.

In this way, we can show clearly our calling to be “a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race” (Lumen Gentium, 1).

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it”, said Saint Paul. By an attitude of prayer and penance, we will become attuned as individuals and as a community to this exhortation, so that we may grow in the gift of compassion, in justice, prevention and reparation.

Mary chose to stand at the foot of her Son’s cross. She did so unhesitatingly, standing firmly by Jesus’ side. In this way, she reveals the way she lived her entire life. When we experience the desolation caused by these ecclesial wounds, we will do well, with Mary, “to insist more upon prayer”, seeking to grow all the more in love and fidelity to the Church (SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, Spiritual Exercises, 319).

She, the first of the disciples, teaches all of us as disciples how we are to halt before the sufferings of the innocent, without excuses or cowardice. To look to Mary is to discover the model of a true follower of Christ.

May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them.

Vatican City, 20 August 2018

 

Fifty One … Made It Another Year

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“… They show how the change came over them. When many hundreds of people are able to say that consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith.”

We Agnostics, page 51.

Tonight, we ended the month of July, with me in the chair, and we talked about God, Prayer, and Faith.

One over arching comment I heard from my friends is that for many of them, the thought of God, the practice of prayer, the admission of humility and the profession of faith, is a natural part of who they are.

They don’t necessarily “think” about God or Prayer, or Humility, or faith, every minute of the day. Those constituent parts of who they are present in everything that they do, every day. These parts are, in and of themselves, separate, but are unified in a single thought … Presence and Service.

The old story rose in my mind as I sat and listened. And I told it again. Even if my friends have heard me tell this story over and over.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away … Cue the Star Wars Theme …

God has been an integral part of my life, for the whole of my life. Memere and Grammy made sure that I knew of God, and that God loved me.

Memere, one day, when I was very young, took me to church and presented me to God, standing on the altar of that church, where she had a conversation with God, about me.

That visual is burned into the back of my mind.

I served God to the best of my ability, to the extent that in my second year of college, after high school, I ended up in Seminary, studying to be a priest.

I devoted my life to God, in every way possible. But I was not like the others. I did not do evil things that the others had done. I never broke my vows to Mother Church, during that year, and I thought that would get me by.

It didn’t.

At the end of that year, the rector, whom I had issues with personally, said to me that I was not “one of them.” Therefore, it was his decree that I would be told to leave the seminary.

Talk about being resentful and angry about God.

My alcoholism took off full-bore. And lasted until my 26th year of life. I told God to go to hell, that I did not need Him. Took back my will and my life, and pursued life.

I had come out of the closet not long after.
That only added to my alcoholic woes.

On one morning, as I sat in that bar nursing a drink at 7 a.m. fate strolled in to greet me and I danced. That morning would be the last morning.

What I did not know would eventually almost kill me.

On July 8th 1994, I got those words. “You are going to die.” A few days later I called Todd home from vacation and told him I was going to die.

As God as my witness … I may have turned my back on God. But God, in His wisdom, got my attention once again.

Never be thankful for a terminal disease.

Sometimes a fatal disease is just that, a fatal disease.

I took my life in my own hands that morning, and did what I did. And I am the one to blame for my misfortune. It is my fault.

God got my attention. Then He stepped out of Heaven and soothed my soul.

What Todd did for me, I will never forget, will always be grateful for, and remember as long as I breathe air. I will tell his story as many times as I can, because if this story dies. I die with it.

It is the power of God that makes this story critical.

Todd promised me, if I turned my will and my life over to him and trusted him with my life, that he would see to it that I survived. I may have kicked and screamed for a while, but that did not last very long.

As my friends died around me, one after another, and every day that I lived, is a testament to the Power of Todd, Read: GOD.

On the day I said goodbye to him, standing next to his car, as he got into that car, and shut the car door, he forgot to give me one small piece of information,

“What was I supposed to do now.”

I lament that he did not give me that much-needed piece of information. We were so caught up in goodbye that I don’t think that thought crossed his mind, in that moment.

When he drove off, my life drove off with him.

I could not make it alone. I had no idea what to do or how to do it.

All of the people who were still alive, already made the trek West. I was the only one who stayed. I stayed because of my heart. I stayed because I was sure, my father would die, and I would make my stand and go to my mother, and reclaim her from my father, and care for her for the rest of my days.

Obviously, that plan never happened.

My parents would rather eat dirt, than accept me as a human worthy of love.

On January 7th 2018, my father died. I got that one wrong.

My mother spit in my face, once again, saying to me that I was a mistake and should never have been born. This is the very same woman I was hedging my bets of saving and being part of her life.

Got that one wrong too.

I did drink again.

At the end of my drink binge, I called out to God. Begged Him for help.

I prayed three prayers in order of necessity.

  • A hangover
  • An Alcoholic
  • And Get me to a Meeting

God did those very things for me, in the order I needed them, miraculously.

I was on the return arc, when Troy walked into my business and his first words to me were: I did not drink today …

Troy was that blessed alcoholic whom God sent. Troy took me to my next, First Meeting. I stayed for the later 10 pm meeting and met the folks who would bring me back to life again. Those original folks are still in my life to this day.

God granted me a few dispensations. And created a number of miracles.

I ended up crossing the border, attaining Canadian Citizenship, I am still sober, almost seventeen years later. And had you told me, back in Miami, back in the day, that my life could have looked like it does today, I would have laughed at you and called you crazy.

God moved heaven and earth. And God’s saving grace has made me whole.

There IS a GOD, and I am not God.

Although, I did meet God. I spoke to God. I worked for God. I served God, every day I walked into work and served those men, who are all dead now, until they all took their last breaths on this earth. I was with many of them. When their families tossed them into the gutter and into the streets, I was there, with a few friends, who cared for the sick, until they eventually died, in our arms.

None of my friends died alone. Not One Of Them.

Nobody knows the intricacies of this story. Nobody really cares, even the gay men I know today. They know nothing about AIDS or Living with AIDS. They really don’t care for my stories, because they cannot identify.

If my story dies, I will die with it.

Which is Why, till the day that I take my last breath, I will utter the name of Todd and thank God for saving my life, all these years.

I made it to 51.

Let’s PARTY !!!

Thursday: Friends …

 

It has been a couple of weeks, and my strategy of keeping my friends close has sustained me, during this life transition I am in.

There are certain people in my life, that are anchors for my soul. Just seeing them come into a room is soothing. That look of hello from the crowd, as you are sitting in the chair, and it is your job to “Bring it” to the room.

Tonight was my second sitting in the chair, and both weeks, I really “Brought it.”

Last week was my favorite lady friend. Tonight, I had the pleasure of presenting another anchor friend, who is part of my life. There are only two Jeremy’s on the English side of Montreal sobriety. Myself, Jeremy the Elder, and my other friend Jeremy, the younger.

It is like a Solar Eclipse when you get us both at the same meeting at the same time.

I was chairing for a lady friend of the meeting tonight, and she had lined up my friend to speak tonight. A little serendipitous meeting tonight.

I enjoy listening to my friend talk. And as I listen I am reminded just how hard we fought to get to this point, when so many of the people we knew in rehab or early sobriety, did not make it and have since died.

That is very emotional for all of us.

I am also reminded, watching some of the folks I know, just have no desire to know me beyond saying hello before a meeting. Since my life event, I have changed my tack, so to speak. I’m concentrated on some young people, who need a little hope, and are willing, at this point, to get their hands dirty, ala Service and Reading.

It is Thursday, and after my Thursday meeting, I get to sit with a very close friend who is part of my life. And I am eternally grateful for his presence in my life. He gives me food for thought, and each week, I give him a faith challenge to go study, and I get his weekly bible studies, then I get his weekly lesson from the Book of Mormon.

Life could not be better right now. People I have not seen in some time, have been showing up at the other meetings I go to, which is nice. It is also good that I have changed in so many ways, emotionally and physically, and people are noticing.

I guess I am doing all the right things for now.

Time is of the essence, and if people don’t want what you are selling, then you find those who want to buy, and or, listen to what you have to say.

Sixteen is a very round number of time. Lots of wisdom to share. It is knowing who, really wants what you have and who doesn’t.

And not waste your time with people who don’t want what you have.

More to come.

Home Coming – Elder Christensen

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Photo: Temple – Spencer right in photo.

Here’s the story of my homecoming! Thanks for the challenge and for the trip down memory lane.
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November 22nd, 2016, came so much faster than I thought it would. My mission seemed to end as fast as it had begun. The last few days where a whirlwind. We had to make transfer calls, pack bags, prepare the area for the next elders, and all at the same time, I was trying to process exactly what it would mean to go through such a radical change.

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We had a final devotional in the Laurier Chapel, and we all took turns sharing the highlights of our missions. There was not a dry eye in the room. It felt so good and hurt so much all at the same time. The day finally did come, and on the way to the airport, it felt unreal, as if it where all a dream and I was going to wake up any minute. I couldn’t believe I was going to see my parents and my sisters again after years being apart.
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We arrived at the airport, and I shook hands and hugged the same Elders I had trained with in the MTC two beautiful years earlier. I still keep in touch with every one of these lifelong friends. When the plane took off, I looked out one last time at the Saint Lawrence river, and had to hold back my tears. It was as if I were leaving home all over again. My friends and my family were down there. People that I loved deeply and was so sad to leave. I was leaving wards and branches that had loved me and my companions, taking care of us, supporting us in our work, and becoming lifelong friends.

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The first flight seemed to go fast, and we landed for a connection in Chicago. My layover was over five hours, so I had a long time to walk around the airport. I had so much on my mind, that I alternated between walking around and sitting quietly in the waiting areas. I thought about going to see a little of Chicago, but I just felt like I was too engrossed in my thoughts to enjoy any of the sights there. I just sat there thinking about the life I was leaving and the life I was starting. I also felt so tired. I realized how much I had been running on adrenaline for my mission, especially during the last months.
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I was working so hard that I hadn’t even had a chance to get my hair cut. It was much longer than I would have liked, and it probably looked a bit sloppy. I was wearing the same trench coat that I wore on my first night as a missionary in Joliette Quebec, freezing clear down to my bones and wondering how I would ever survive in this place where I could not even speak the language. Today was cold like it had been then, the same time two years ago.
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Missionaries stick out like sore thumbs to other members of the church, and several times, people would come up and ask “Are you coming or going, Elder?” It felt good to be surrounded by community even in such a strange place. The hours ticked by in that airport, and I started realizing just how tired I really was.

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I was drained to the core. My body mind and spirit had gone to their limits. Now that I literally had nothing to do but wait, it was as if my whole soul finally breathed a sigh of relief. I wandered over to my terminal and sat down, feeling like a washed up piece of driftwood. I somehow felt like I still had energy, not tired enough to try and sleep, but I was just worn completely out. I felt totally emptied. I don’t remember how long I sat there, in that weird state.
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I was jarred back to reality by a voice asking “Elder! How are you?” I looked up to see a lady, clearly a member of the church, holding half a pizza in her hand. “Elder” she said “I can’t eat the rest of this, would you like some?” She had hardly touched that Pizza, and it was probably a lie, but suddenly it downed on me that I hadn’t eaten in hours, and I was so tied up in my thoughts that I hadn’t even realized how hungry I was.

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I gratefully accepted and we started talking. As it turns our, she was not only going back to Idaho, she was in my same stake. She knew a lot of my friends. She new Ashton Wise and her family, my stake president, and many others. We passed about an hour waiting there. Another man sat down next to us, and we somehow started up a conversation with him. As it turns out, he was a youth pastor, and we had a great talk about God with him.
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Finally, the plane was ready, and I started the last stretch of my ride home. It went so fast, and I will never forget the feeling of passing down over Boise, and seeing the spires of the Boise Idaho temple lit up in the night.
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We touched down, and I realized that my parents were on the other side of the door. This sweet sister who had stopped to talk to me asked “Are you ready for this?” I don’t remember what I said, I was too excited now. I passed through the corridor, and through the glass doors I saw my mother for the first time in two years.
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They opened and there was a huge shout as I was welcomed home by a crowd of friends and family. There were posters, there were balloons. Mom hugged me first, then Dad, then my sisters. My lips were really dry, because I smiled so wide that I actually split my lip. My uncle and aunt with my cousins were there too. We drove home, and we talked about so much. It was late at night when we pulled into our driveway.

As is tradition in our family, we knelt down to pray together before we all went to bed.

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My Dad said “Spencer, it is definitely your turn to say it.” I said it in French, and as I spoke to God in that language that I had grown to love, the language of my family in Quebec, my heart was breaking. I stared up at the ceiling for a while, in my own bed. One of my best friends, who was also just recently home from a mission, was staying the night, and I was grateful to have him there.
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It still felt weird to be alone, and besides that, I still wasn’t released from being a missionary, so the rules of having to be with a companion 24/7 still applied. We talked a little before falling to sleep. We reached the same conclusion. It had been a hard two years. It had also been the best thing we had ever done in our lives.
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The next day, I called president Christensen, (no relation, but my wonderful stake president) to let him know that I was home safe and that I could be released. He was out of town, so he sent one of his counselors to formally release me. Now, when a missionary is set apart to begin his service, it is a very important, private, and sacred occasion.
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The stake president, who reads directly from the assignment given by one of the twelve Apostles, lays his hands on the missionaries head, usually with his/her father and everyone else in the family who has been ordained to the priesthood. He sets you apart as a missionary specific to the area of the world where you have been called by inspiration to serve, and blesses you with all the rights, powers and privileges you need to teach the gospel, along with any other blessings he feels inspired to give you.

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A release, on the other hand, is much more direct, simple, and even abrupt. President Nelson, the counselor who released me, came over to our house. We had a short talk about my mission, and we enjoyed catching up on each others lives.
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He then said, “Elder Christensen, are you ready to be released?” I said something about being ready. His next words stung. He said: “Then Brother Christensen, acting under the authority of President Christensen, I release you from your obligations as a full time missionary.” I instantly felt different. There was a moment of silence. Then he quietly said, “Its time to take off your tag.” I did so. I stared at it for a few seconds with a deep sense of loss.

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That next Sunday I was asked to speak in church. Christmas was coming and that was the spirit that prevailed that day. There were so many reunions that I lost count. Friends and family had traveled long distances to be at this meeting where I would report my mission.
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My grandparents, uncles and aunts, and so many friends were there. the meeting was about to start, so I took my seat on the stand next to the other speaker and my father, who was also my bishop at the time. Suddenly, I see Ashton Wise, one of my best friends, walking up the aisle.
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I jumped down to hug her and thank her for being there, and I remember being shocked at how thin and small she felt. She had just come back from a mission herself, and I could feel the difference. She was tired too. She had lost weight, and had a touch of laryngitis, so she spoke with a froggy voice. I wanted to sit down and talk about her experience, but I had to speak, so she went to the audience. I honestly had prepared very little for this twenty minute talk.
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I had a few notes, but I didn’t look down much at all. After two years, I had plenty of material. I did my best. I shared the funny moments, and they laughed. I shared the miracle moments, and they cried. And I did too. It stung so bad to have to come home from a live spent in the service of something so much bigger than me. I shed many tears.
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That was the beginning of accepting I was home, and that I needed to find my new identity in the work , because the work was only beginning.

Monday: You Cannot Enter

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What a difference a day makes …

Yesterday I was talking about Heavenly Father and the church and all that was good in my life and how “on track” I was, heading towards the finish line, as one of my Elders, leaves for home, in Idaho, next Tuesday.

I have been the subject of high level talks in the Church hierarchy. Over the weekend while we were all at the Stake Conference, my name came up in discussion between my Elder team and the Mission President.

Tonight, after family night, I inquired about that discussion.

Eyes turned downwards, and they broke the news to me, and this is what was said.

My Gay Marriage, my On Paper Legal Marriage in the Province of Quebec, Marriage is unacceptable. In order for me to become a card carrying Mormon member, baptized with all the privileges due … I would have to end my marriage and get an ANNULMENT.

In a word, well two words … ABSOLUTELY NOT …

I knew this was going to be the sticking point. I just knew it. But I was holding out hope, and giving my hope more power than I usually give my hope, because I know how ALL IN I can be and what happens when I commit to ALL IN, I get my heart broken.

Well, my heart is broken tonight.

I am very saddened that my Young Elder Christansen will end his mission next week, and my journey will be incomplete.

Heavenly Father has a plan, I’m not sure what that plan is. I’ve been encouraged to follow through with my studies and prayer life and allow Heavenly Father to do what He is going to do, because I am ALL IN.

Sunday: Part 2, Still In the Running

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Oh My Goodness, what a day so far. I was up with the birdies this morning, well before my alarm went off. I had two set, so I would get out of bed, at an ungodly hour, because I usually don’t do mornings …

I did some surfing. Last week, I culled my social media memberships, and deleted an entire chunk of stuff that was not serving me, or was a waste of time and energy, when I could be putting time into things that were actually good for me.

I got changed for my first L.D.S service at the Church in N.D.G. I met my Elders at the church a little early, so that we could chat before service. I shared with them my passage through darkness, and what the Scriptures said when I went to them.

NOTE To SELF: I should hit my scriptures early and often throughout the day.

I told them my fears of not reaching my goal. And I was reassured by both of them that I was still in the running, that they would prayerfully work me through the process and get me to my interview date, with “passing grades,” so to speak.

Crisis averted, My heart is full.

GREEN LIGHT !!!

We talked about how the enemy, when we are about to reach a goal, or progress in our spiritual pursuits, always attempts to throw stones at us, tells us stuff that will discourage us from moving forwards, so that we will either give up or we fail.

That is not going to happen to me.

I know where I am going, NOW, I know, I WILL get there.

We attended service in the morning, which was interesting. I love Hymns.

The one thing that bothered me was that too many people were cavorting in their seats, taking amongst themselves, and babies were screaming in the back, and it seemed, while the sisters were talking, not a whole lot of people were paying attention.

I just wanted to tap some folks sitting in front of me asking them to hush, and to give the speakers their full attention, because that was why we were there to begin with.

After service we broke into smaller groups for a teaching with a member of the church, Elders, Sisters, members and guests.

Then we all gathered in the gym, for the fifth Sunday meeting of families, and young people. I got to meet some folks who were also “investigators.” That is what they call folks who are coming to Church to be part of Church.

One man in particular I met, has been “In process” for many years, but seems, has not made a definite decision to become, PART OF.

I know I want “in” that community. I met lots of kind men and women. I am getting involved with upcoming conferences. I have my weekly teaching sessions that will get me to my Baptism in the Temple in the future.

I saw my friend Cedric after the final meeting and we chatted for a bit, which was cool.

He wants me to go to Utah in January for a conference. That would be sweet to be able to visit the Temple in Salt lake City as a full fledged member of the L.D.S Church.

Now I am home, waiting for the last activity of the day …

Sunday Niters.

Stay tuned …

 

Thursday – Is there anybody out There ?

kneel

I know where I am going. I know where I have been. I know the way out, but I am not quite there yet. It’s like I am standing in front of the door of the church, and the door is closed at the moment, because it hasn’t been opened for me just yet.

There are steps I need to take, and people I need to meet and talk with, before that door is fully opened. I just need someone to talk to, someone to share with, someone who can be there and to listen.

I have heard the warning about “Disclosure,” that Heavenly Father will send the right people to us, when the time is right, and that we should not look to having conversations with people, who won’t necessarily accept or understand the finer details of the story I am living right now.

Right now, I have my sponsor who knows, I have my Elders who I have asked for help from, and for someone to talk to.

This afternoon, I had “The Discussion” with my best friend. He lives in another City, Ottawa, so he isn’t local, and if I want to see him, I have to go to him.

I had not really prepared what I was going to say to him, but I had an idea. I just was not sure that I would have the right words to explain all the details fully, or that I would be able to paint the right picture for him to look at.

He knows me, and he knows my story. We have spent months of Fridays sitting on his back patio, when he lived here, talking through a manuscript that, at one time, I thought would make a good book. I later decided that writing said book, was not a good idea, so I shelved it.

In my story outline were 5 threads. One of them is a Heavenly Father thread.

With that idea firmly sussed out between us, the story I told him made perfect sense. For over an hour we talked, and he did have valid questions, worries, concerns for my spiritual welfare, because he has seen me get burned before, and he does not want to see me get burned again.

He is walking with me. He gets it. It makes sense to him. And he supports this journey.

When I hung up the phone, I was emotionally and spiritually exhausted. In a good way though. I talked about my Testimony of Faith and The Atonement. I’ve studied the Plan for Salvation. Last night, I went over my scripture readings and I prayed.

I sent word to my Elders that I really wanted to know if there was someone who they knew who could be there to listen or to guide.

I listened to another story from Voices of Hope when I got home this evening.

I don’t have a map of the next steps. I don’t know what is going to happen. Or who is going to come into my life right now, to walk with me.

If there is anyone out there, who has time … Contact me. Please.

jeremy1350@gmail.com

You know, I sent two emails out over the past week. Neither of them have been returned.

I have an odd story, I am where I am.

I also know that if I don’t hear Heavenly Father myself, that the next step is to go and listen to someone who knows Heavenly Father, because words might come from them.

He always finds a way …