Tag Archive: The revolutionary Pope


We either grow or die!

Children are easily noticed when they get taller. All of us do notice the rate of growth of the young ones. We, as adults, we are growing up very day! It seems so obvious that most of us don’t notice at all! What’s natural and happening everyday seems to get sandwiched between our 1001 jobs we have to do daily.

How do we grow up? Obviously not getting taller! But we are making experiences and reflections in our daily journey. As spiritual beings we tend to look beyond the experience. We are humans who ask many questions.

It has become obvious that as a spiritual community all of us have different ideas, characters, upbringing etc…But lately the going is getting a little bit more challenging. There are some who are not open to change [like in many other sections of the population]. Others who would like to take a commanding role [either you do as I’m telling you or I’m quitting]. Some others go on a rampage by labelling others [including myself]. A few have chosen their role: to be judges!

Can we move forward in this way? Well, in the moments when I feel it’s getting dark, I would grasp the bible in my hands and look for inspiration. Yes, Jesus Christ could have started and set everything ready made in His church. Yet He didn’t do it! He wished to have 12 frail men to command it. Where they the best people on earth at that time? Definitely not. It’s not me who is leading his church. It’s the Holy Spirit who is continually cleaning and sanctifying His church. Do we truly believe this?

This is the biggest change in teaching. We are bombarded by negative news. It’s so easy to fall in the prey of today’s so called journalists. It seems that there is negativity all around! How can I believe in the ‘nuclear’ news of the gospel? From this aspect, we are seeing what we DO NOT AGREE IN. In this way we are undermining our community. We have to believe that as a community we are obliged to take care of each other.

This is like friends. When we are young we tend to think that our best friends seem to be our photocopies. As we grow older, we notice many areas were we disagree completely! We are best friends not because we agree on all subjects, but rather for other reasons! The same goes for our community. We are trying to give a message to the world: married priesthood will be a blessing to our wider Catholic community. Now if we remain separated or everybody in the comfort of his house but disregarding the calls of his brothers/sisters, then we fall down. All of us. The entire community.

I did my doctoral thesis on the role of the community. I lived in a community 24/7. For some time, I lived in an international community of nearly 200 people. I know what it takes to live in a community. I know all the pros and cons. I do distinguish though, the online community from other communities. In fact some people play the bully role simply for the fact that they are behind a screen and they think nobody can get their true identity!

I never told anybody to leave. I hope I will never do that. But some people seem to abandon the community because the community is growing. Growing means taking a different path in our journey. Now I know that most human beings are so diffident with change. Yet, looking out of the window and seeing the wind blowing, I realise that it’s not the most ‘strong’ tree that will resist the wind but the most flexible one. The flexible ones seem to be so frail as they are going in all directions when the wind blows heavily. Surprisingly those who seem to be so strong are the most likely ones to be uprooted! Technically because they try to stop the wind, which of course is unstoppable, like change!

One final note: I have been there many times when there was discord amongst a community. I do feel that God is telling us to move forward, with or without these members. It’s up to them to either get on the bus again or risk of being left behind!

The secret hand of God

Children would like to win when playing games. Adults want to come out as intelligent and mature persons when conducting a project at work. The Jewish people too wanted a superman in order to get rid of the then so powerful Roman Empire! In any case, everybody wants/wanted to come out with flying colours!

How come then we’re celebrating the death of a man nailed to a cross? Is this the promised victory? What kind of victory is that? It seems that the so called bad people had won!

Although we’ve been brainwashed [at times] in the Catholic church, there are moments when one is all alone. One can’t do what others did. It’s a personal situation where each individual has to give a personalised answer!

The married priesthood is another subject which cannot be judged on a yes or no campaign. We don’t say it’s possible or not. We firmly believe that it’s in God’s hands for the future. Now God, the way He handles these projects is in a different manner. If we just look at one of His extraordinary projects [the church], he didn’t select the very best [according to our frame of mind]! Yet no one can deny that it was another wonder of the world! Companies get dissolved after a few years or in other words, no company has withstood 2 centuries though!

As married priesthood is aimed for the future, it links with another group of people: the prophets. Prophets in the old Testament [Bible], used to talk in a strange language. They used to see things that others didn’t. No prophet knew how far away was the actualisation of his words. Though they firmly believed that one day it would have been put into practise.

The signs that make us believe that it will happen is that the number of candidates for priesthood is getting the lowest record. We’re speaking in a general manner because in very few countries they are still having an incredible high number.

The church can’t survive in such an environment. I do mix with people and many times when discussing religion, I realise how little do they know about true religion! How can they learn if there is no one to teach them? What about their daily lives? Do they turn to God? Well, we can safely say that the old prayers are gone forever. Even though people can surely meet God in other areas and circumstances, we firmly believe from daily experience that if we don’t have a timetable, most probably we turn to God [maybe] when we encounter a negative experience!

As usual, when discussing any subject in the church, there should be a dose of prayer. It’s not just the sharing of ideas. We are walking together on a journey to discover God in the futuristic church where married priests will be present.

Just to make our ideas more clear let’s make an example: discussing forgiveness. One can discuss at length about the subject but finally one has to pray a lot in order to practise it in one’s life. This is because one needs God’s help to be able to live it!

Let’s not see married priesthood on its own. It’s just one project alongside others which finally will enhance the church to be able to be again an important player in society in this century.

I struggled even writing this, never mind trying to summarise almost 16 years of my on and off friendship with this person. I wanted to share my story to let others know that they’re not alone (because for a while, I felt very alone and as if no one could understand). If I’m being honest, I’m looking for advice and a resolution too. My name is MA and my priest is J.

I met J through a family friend; they were both attending seminary at the time. I was attending a mass for vocations and after, I went down to the church hall for refreshments. It was then that J caught my eye across the room and right away, I wanted to know: “who is HE?” I cannot tell you how silly I felt when my friend introduced him as a fellow seminarian (he was not dressed in his collar). We talked for a while and I was struck by his smile, his dimples, and his pure excitement about becoming a priest, as well as his commitment to our faith and God. Frankly, I was blown away by the sheer chemistry and energy radiating off him and between us. For the record, it was the first (and last) time someone had ever caught my eye in that way. Regardless, I didn’t think we’d ever see each other again.

The following summer, he was placed at my Mom’s church as an intern. Right away, we clicked. We often joined other parishioners for coffee, attended masses for vocations around my state, and he even met a few of my closest friends and family. At this point, I wasn’t thinking of J as anything other than a mentor of sorts, someone who I could talk about my faith with. He also seemed proud of my work in the healthcare field and we discussed helping others a lot. He shared he had been engaged prior to entering the priesthood and had needed to take a break from seminary in order to discern whether he was on the right path. J admitted he struggled with celibacy and the thought of not being a father.

By the end of that summer, we were even closer & I felt sad that I was losing my friend as he headed back to the seminary. I was also a little shocked and confused as to why he hadn’t yet asked me for my email (no cells back then!). He waited literally until minutes before leaving and heading back to ask me for my contact info. I wish I had seen the confusion I felt then for what it was— a foreshadowing of feelings that would characterize and haunt our relationship.

We continued to email at least weekly during his school year and then he started calling me at work. It happened so often, that I actually got in trouble. Not to mention, every time he called, he would say it was “Father J,” making the poor receptionist have a heart attack, thinking that something bad had happened to someone in my family. I was there for his transitional deaconate ceremony and celebrated with him after. He introduced me to his family and I became friends with some of his family members, often emailing them on a regular basis.

His last year of seminary, J. treated me much like the previous year, except our contact greatly increased. A few months before his ordination, he confided that he “wasn’t so sure he wanted to do this and that his biggest fear was getting to his mid-40’s and realizing that he wanted to be a husband and a father.” At this point, I was starting to become physically attracted to J. and finding him working his way into my thoughts more and more. I struggled between the desires of my heart, being a good Catholic and friend, and giving him unbiased advice. I tried to give the best advice I could, encouraging him to take a good, hard look at his motivations. J. basically summed it up as: “My parents want me to be a priest. Besides, what else would I do? I didn’t go to college.” At the time, he neglected to tell me he was a trained healthcare professional himself.

In the end, he followed through with being ordained and it was one of the proudest, yet hardest, days of my life (it still is). I knew how he had struggled with the academic work, his emotions, but persevered because of his strong faith. As he lied prostrate, it felt like a knife to my heart. I love my faith and God, so I felt guilty and ashamed for feeling this way. It was that very day, probably the proudest day of his life, that I realized I was in love with him. The irony was not lost on me.

J ended up in his first placement as a parochial vicar not far from where I live. He invited me to his first mass and told me that my being there helped to decrease his nerves. He also asked me to continue to attend mass there and I found no problem with this, as I was dating a man from the area and often spent my weekends there. J was aware of this and made it obvious he didn’t approve. Despite the tension that my having a significant other created, our friendship continued to strengthen and we started to create special moments together. One snowy Xmas Eve J. begged me not to leave, as he was “lonely” and estranged from some of his family at that time. I helped to advocate for a family member of his when insurance would no longer cover her chemotherapy and filled out numerous amounts of paperwork to get her additional resources. Meanwhile, my faith was growing stronger than ever, but so were my feelings for J. Looking back on it now, I find it odd how I never dreamed that he could possibly reciprocate those feelings; I was brainwashed and saw him as a priest, not a human being. A person not only who is capable of love, but might even be desiring it. It was only until J started acting funny that I questioned his intentions, but immediately dismissed them. He insisted I have a confession with him when I thought it was a conflict of interest and fought with me about not attending a pilgrimage to Italy with his church (I couldn’t afford it at the time, he offered to pay for me). After mass on a beautiful spring day, he offered to walk me to my car after we spent hours chatting and laughing after mass. A red flag went up; I found it strange because we were in a suburban, safe neighborhood, with my car tucked safely in the church parking lot, in broad daylight. However, I was used to his being courteous, and he always walked me to my car but it was always in the presence of fellow priests. I started to feel funny as I loaded my things into my car, only to turn and find him leaning against my door, in close proximity to me. I started to feel that awkwardness when a first date is ending and you don’t know if the guy is going to kiss you or not. I didn’t know if he was going to do or say something, but I knew whatever was coming would change things for both of us forever, so I literally pushed him away, said goodbye, and drove off. I remember, still to this day, seeing his face in my rearview and cried the whole way home. It was the last time I would see him for a decade. There are no words to describe how I felt that day, other than I loved him so much, I wanted to protect him. I also didn’t want to hurt God. I thought of J over the years and wondered if my gut intuition was right regarding his feelings for me and what he was going to do that day or if I totally misread the whole thing.

To make an already long story longer (kudos if you read this far), I ended up lapsing and not going to church for 6 years. I would be lying if I said my love for J wasn’t part of it. However, my faith and spirituality never faltered. It is my main coping mechanism despite chronic health issues and frankly, it’s what keeps me going. About a year ago, I started to get serious about returning to church and yearned for a place where I wouldn’t be judged, feel comfortable, and not be forced by the pastor to get involved behind the scenes in various roles (this has been an issue for me in almost every church I’ve attended). I looked up J to see where he was and found he was assigned to a parish in the same city I work. I attempted to contact him via parish email to break the ice and make it less awkward for us both if I decided to show up. Naively, I figured that so many years had passed; there would be no harm in seeing him again. I assumed he’s now an experienced pastor, that I have grown leaps and bounds and am pretty good at detecting red flags (that’s what happens folks when you’ve been dating since 15!), and that my feelings for him had leveled out because of lack of contact. I even prayed continuously and agonized over my decision. I prepared myself for seeing someone who might have changed in ways I would not appreciate, expected him to be different, even prepared myself that he might have a significant other (yes, we all know the reality). Nothing could’ve prepared me for what I’ve dealt with since my return.

He claims he never got my email message and within minutes of sitting down at my first mass there, I realized my instincts and gut feelings so many years ago were spot on. He turned pale, then beet red, stumbling over his words, hands shaking when he gave me communion, fidgeting when sitting on the altar. I have seen him drop the Eucharist once or twice and it was always the person before me in line. I cannot tell you how awful I felt, as if I was causing him to feel uncomfortable on his own turf and screw up his at his job.

I have never had a more awkward conversation, as I attempted to explain my presence to him. He couldn’t even look me in the eye and reprimanded me for disappearing all those years ago and not telling him why. I think he sees my leaving years ago as rejection, not the protection I intended. However, he never contacted me to see if everything was ok either. I was struck how emotionally immature he seemed, able to interact with parishioners quite easily, but not with me. For some reason with me it seems different; it’s hurtful and painful. J insists he “likes having me there and it’s not awkward for him,” but I don’t feel he’s being honest. There are days he’s friendly and like old J I knew, we laugh and talk with no issues. Then there are others where he ignores me and I don’t know how to act myself. I have always felt comfortable talking to a wide range of people, especially males; I am a tomboy and have mostly male friends. I talk and listen to people for a living, so to be struggling like this is a foreign concept for me. People always tell me that I am easy to talk to, that they feel like they’ve known me for years, and can trust me with anything. It says something that I don’t know how to act when I’m around J.

Over the summer, I started taking J’s unwillingness to open up personally. I also noticed his friendliness and closeness to another female parishioner our age, who is married and whose husband holds a highly respected job. She is actively involved in the parish in a variety of roles and donates a substantial amount of money to the church. I have seen him engage in a way that I think is inappropriate for a pastor to engage with a parishioner but then I think: “am I just biased? Is it purely the fact that she gives money?” I am aware the church is a business. I don’t find that a comfort though—it makes me think less of him and get angry. If money is what he bases his friendships on, I find it sad and hypocritical. I can’t afford to give thousands to my church, but it doesn’t mean I love God any less. I also don’t want to think of the alternative, that she’s special to him in a way she shouldn’t be.

I struggle to understand why he has no issue interacting with this woman but gets nervous and discombobulated around me. I feel jealous and frustrated, as if I’m on an emotional roller coaster. I’m beginning to think we weren’t as close as I thought.

As soon as I pull away emotionally and get to a good place, it seems as if J can almost sense it, and he’ll do something to pull me back in. One day, it was telling how he was struggling. I didn’t want to talk personal issues in front of other parishioners, so I told him to text or call, whatever he felt comfortable with if he needed someone to talk to. It’s something I would do for any friend in need. He’s never once texted, emailed, or called. It’s disconcerting when we used to talk every single week, almost daily. I began thinking if it weren’t for Mary and the Eucharist, I’d consider becoming Protestant. I struggled over the summer to see how my faith could continue to grow in this church, but I didn’t feel like leaving either. I like the people, feel comfortable for the most part, and was doing fine when I got to a peaceful place about J. Finally, I got to a good place emotionally and it lasted for a few months. I was proud of myself.

That all changed. After recently experiencing a serious trauma, suddenly nothing mattered—not J, not this other woman—nothing was as important and crucial to my well-being as God and my faith. I am so thankful and grateful not only to be alive, but to have come to see it as a learning experience that readjusted my priorities. J was involved in my healing process and was honest; he admitted it scared him to see me that way. He told me that “out of all people, you don’t deserve this.”

Since then, I have noticed J. attempting to connect with me, but his immaturity and arrested development often get in the way and act as an obstacle in growing our friendship. He does small things, often within homilies or during prayers that I know are geared towards me. At first, I found myself thinking: “am I narcissistic? Egocentric? I think that was meant for me!” But then a smile or direct eye contact will reassure me, yes, I’m not crazy. I still find my mind drifting off to him, like a school girl with a crush. I feel sad, confused, angry, worried, and alone; it’s not exactly as if I can talk to just anyone about this. There are times, though, when I’m talking to him or praying with him, that I feel such joy and love, love for not only J, but an overwhelming love and closeness to God. One of J’s smiles can send me floating for days.

That being said for me, knowledge is power. I have actually sought out support groups online and in the process, read research and many books about this issue. Yes, women love priests. Some because it’s a challenge, some because they “lack self-esteem,” others because they love the priest not for his role, but because of the amazing man beneath the collar. I fall in this last category; I love J. for who he is, not WHAT he is. Yes, I’ve said it; I’m in love with a priest. It feels freeing to finally say those words. And I am no longer naïve to the fact that priests often love a woman back. I have rationalized my awareness that this man may indeed love me back for way too long. The key is he’ll never love me back in the way I deserve or need. I’ve come to understand that there is no happy ending in this situation. Will I ever tell J how I feel? Probably not, although if he directly calls me out on it, I wouldn’t lie. I don’t plan on leaving his church any time soon either, but don’t have plans to pursue more than a friendship. Believe me, if J ever tells me he’s leaving the priesthood, I’d be the first one (in a long line of women I’m sure) ready and eager to pursue a relationship, one that we both deserve and would be on equal footing.

Meanwhile, I plan on devoting some of my energy to advocating for the married priest movement. Why shouldn’t priests be able to marry? I find it ironic, as they speak about love and counsel married couples. Should a man who has chosen to spread the word of God be “punished” by an inability to experience God’s greatest gift—love? There is no way that anything that involves love can be a sin because it is of God. Period.

In ending, thank you for reading my story. It is because of the courage of the many folks who contribute to this blog that I was finally able to tell my story. I know many of you will relate to me and support me, but I’m also aware that others may think my feelings are wrong and am prepared for possible criticism. If you’re in the latter group, I only ask you to think of how it felt when you first experienced love: the excitement, the joy, and the confusion at times. Be kind to one another and may God continue to bless us all on our individual journeys.

Merry Christmas to All! Readers, let’s be charitable by finding the right phrase or writing, to help this lady.

How far will Pope Francis go ?

The Catholic Church is not just any other organisation! Whilst many other business enterprises, organisations etc….. try very hard to sell their products to today’s people, the Catholic Church does not use the same methods. For many centuries it has had the conviction of holding the truth and it does not feel the need to discuss or listen to others. It doesn’t measure people’s minds in order to satisfy their needs or requests.

There was a breakthrough in this method during the Second Vatican Council (meeting for all Catholic bishops – 1962-1965), where the church started to listen to people. Alas the last Popes practically reversed the improvements or updates provided by this council and repeated the same methodology provided before the council. Now with Pope Francis it seems that he wants to listen. Will he be successful? Well we can’t read the future but we know that most of the people who are still attending the church are mostly conservative (they want to conserve everything as it was taught so many years ago). Other people have walked forward. They wish to see the old teachings in a new light. The problem is that most of the people who are forward looking have long abandoned the church. How can one reach out to these people?

We know from experience that most of the people in the western world are happy living their own private life. They are happy as they are. We’ve been helping people in order to get involved with the church. Notwithstanding that there many things which puts one away, one needs to stay ‘in’ and try to bring a change. Now this is the most difficult part as many people were hurt in one way or another and they can’t accept the fact to go back to where suffering took place.

That’s why the married priest movement became so popular because it accepted people who were living in the periphery of the church. They listened to people and adapted the teaching according to the wishes of the people of God. This is not changing religion. Our religion is to be lived by people and it’s not just a book to be followed blindly. This is not our teaching but the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and of the early church. The bible was written by the first communities who first lived Jesus’ message. Now this message is being lived by the christian communities of today. If we let the common people speak up ie those attending the christian communities of today, they will show us the way forward. The voice of the communities is very loud. It reaches far away. It is astounding. It breaks walls.

The married priest is acting as a bridge between the lost sheep and the official church. Let’s support our married priests who are living the change in our religion. The change is not just a change for the sake of change but rather to put people near God. The people living outside the church have changed. We cannot ignore this fact. We cannot isolate ourselves by saying we have the word of God. God is not to be imprisoned in a book. He speaks through non-believers and other people. If people have changed, then He is saying something to us. It’s our duty to hear his message.

The church is not simply the Pope but rather the whole community. Let’s prepare the way for a change in religion by living the change ourselves. Let’s not delegate our duties to other people (eg Pope or priests). The Pope might see God’s hands through the communities of today and act accordingly.

Following there are some articles which could be interesting for some people:

 Why priests should marry

The poor in the western world

It’s very hard to go back for the church