Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pilgrimages have historically been good sources of income for dioceses, monasteries, and the Vatican. Especially in bad times.

Two days ago I wrote that I thought one of the biggest contributing factors to the Vatican's new guidelines for visionaries was money--specifically Medjugorge, but also including other Marian sites which have not received Vatican approval. Today I find this interesting announcement on clericalwhispers:

Rome is banking on its centuries-old ties to religion to boost tourism, with a four-day fair expected to draw thousands to the Italian capital this week. The Eternal City is one of the most popular destinations in the world for Catholic tourists but the first edition of the Journeys of the Spirit Fair (JOSP) aims to broaden the capital's spiritual appeal. Running from Thursday until Sunday, JOSP Fest will celebrate spiritual journeys and pilgrimages in all forms, with conferences, workshops, concerts, film screenings and cultural events.

Over 500 exhibitors from four continents will be present at the fair, which is expected to draw around 40,000 visitors. The goal of the fair is to shake off the slightly musty reputation of pilgrimages, introducing a range of concepts linked to journeys, both physical and metaphorical, to a wider audience. In particular, JOSP Fair will seek to engage with global issues, looking at how religion and spirituality affect geopolitics, with seminars on Tibet and China and a series of meetings exploring Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

On a more conventional note, feature films, documentaries and personal accounts will explore the attractions and experiences of Christianity's 'mega-sites': St Peter's Basilica in Rome, Lourdes in France, the shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico city, Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and Jerusalem. (Shock, no mention of Medjugorge, no mention of San Giovanni Rotondo and Padre Pio, two of the more profitable pilgrimage destinations, and both in the hands of monastic orders, not dioceses.)

RELIGIOUS TOURISM A FAST-GROWING SECTOR Figures released by the World Trade Organization suggest the religious tourism industry generates some 18 billion dollars each year, 4.5 billion of which in Italy alone. Around 3-3.5 billion trips are made each year for religious purposes, the WTO calculates. A month after JOSP Fair, Milan's prestigious International Tourism Fair (BIT) will pick up the baton, with a brand-new section devoted solely to religious and spiritual tourism.

Fabio Majocchi of Expocts, BIT's organizer, explained that religious tourism was a surprisingly fast-growing sector. ''It brings important economic advantages for destination areas,'' he said.''Furthermore, our research also shows that travellers are no longer just heading for the traditional sites but are also searching for alternative destinations, spots that combine historic and religious significance with a warm welcome''.

'Nuff said about this particular reason for the visionary guidelines.


Yesterday I wrote that Benedict should probably pay more attention to what is happening in the fields of human consciousness and quantum physics, because it impacts both the Church's theology and cosmology. He took some of this on in his Angelus address yesterday, referring to two of Paul's letters, one to the Ephesians and one to the Collosians:

"It is only here," he observed, "that the term 'cefa', head, is used for Christ. It means first of all that Christ is head of the Church": he is "the director" who "guides the Christian community as its leader and master. The other meaning is that he is like the head that is connected to and enlivens all the members of the body to which it is attached."

"He not only commands, but he is organically connected to us."

"In both cases, the Church is considered as subjected to Christ in order to receive both his instructions and the vital forces that emanate from him."

"In the second meaning, Christ is the head not only of the Church, but also of the celestial powers and the entire cosmos. Paul says that God places Christ above every principality and power. His words assure us that Christ is above every hostile power, so that if we are close to him we have nothing to fear."

The two letters offer "a highly positive and fruitful message. Christ has no competitor to fear, because he is above any other form of power that presumes to humiliate men," "if we are united to Christ, we need not fear any enemy or adversity, he who is with Christ has nothing to fear." (Interesting choice of language. Christ has no competitor because competition was not His frame of reference. Jesus seems to have had an ego that didn't recognize personal humiliation. He had transcended notions of the need to defend His ego.)

"Today as well, the world is full of dangerous powers, but Christ is the victor, and the one who is united to Christ need not fear anything." For the pagan world, which "believed in a world full of dangerous spirits, from which it had to defend itself, this announcement was a true revelation. This is also the case for the paganism of today, which believes that the world is full of dangerous powers. We as well," he added, "in a world full of so many fears must learn that Christ, beyond any domination, is the true Lord of the world." For this reason, "we must remain close to him." (This is quite a statement from a man who just issued guidelines whose main purpose, at least stated purpose, is to root out Satan and his deceptions.)

But Jesus is also the master of the cosmos, and "with the blood of the cross he has reconciled the things in heaven and on the earth."

"Everything is one in Christ." (I suspect I understand this truth way differently than Benedict does. So would a quantum physicist.)

"If we begin to understand that the cosmos is the imprint of Christ, we learn the proper relationship to the cosmos, to all the problems of the conservation of the cosmos" and "to act in the right way" toward it.

So how are we to understand the proper relationship of man to the cosmos? Benedict explains this further in his message:

Finally, the Holy Father touched on the recurring theme of "the Church as the bride of Christ.” According to St. Paul, the Pope said, Christ has "won" his bride, the Church, by giving his life for her, “the greatest possible demonstration of love." (Jesus didn't WIN anything. He CREATED a new idea of a spiritually grounded community, which St. Paul chose to describe with a number of interesting metaphors.)

“What greater sign of love could there be than this,” he remarked. Christ “is concerned for her beauty; not just the beauty acquired through Baptism, but also the beauty that must grow every day through a life of irreproachable moral behavior, without spot or blemish.” (It seems to me Jesus actually said, the two greatest laws were love of God and love of one's fellow man. 'Irreproachable moral behavior' is an interesting way to describe love.)

"From here to the shared experience of Christian marriage is but a short step," he observed. “And in fact it is not clear what the initial point of reference was for the author of the Letter: whether the Christ-Church relationship provided a light in which to consider the union of man and woman; or whether experience of conjugal union was the light in which to examine the relations between Christ and the Church.”

(Off hand I can't think of one Gospel reference of Jesus's in which he compared anything about the Kingdom to exclusive sexual expression between a man and a woman. This is not one of Paul's better metaphors if Benedict has this kind of interpretation.)

"These two Letters are a great catecheses, from them we can learn how to be good Christians," Pope Benedict concluded. (Good straight Christians who subscribe to a specific set of gender roles.)

"If we begin to understand that the cosmos is the mark of Christ, we understand what our relationship with the cosmos is, what problems are involved in its conservation. We learn to see it using reason, but a reason moved by love, respect and humility. If we remember that the Church is the Body of Christ, that Christ gave Himself for her, then we learn to live with Christ in mutual love, a love that unites us to God and brings us to see the image of Christ in others. Let us ask the Lord to help us meditate well on Sacred Scripture, his Word, and to really learn to live well.”
(Sometimes I have great difficulty following Benedict's reasoning. Maybe it's the translations. The metaphor of the Body of Christ implies a whole different concept of Church than the Bride of Christ. This is a glaring jump in thinking and takes all the bogus conjugal sexuality out of the Church equation. What's a Catholic to do?)


It sure does look to me like Benedict is going to pound a few hobby horses this year. Coupling ecology with traditional marriage is a biggy, no matter how far the stretch. I have a difficult time believing Paul had conjugal sex in mind when he wrote his take on the Church as the Bride of Christ. I think it was more a hopeful attitudinal thing, rather than a procreative sex thing.

Benedict seems to need to continually shore up the Church's institutional authority, so now we have a competitive Christ who is above and beyond all things material---the whole of the cosmos in fact. Jesus is the biggest baddest dude in creation, who has nothing to fear from any principality or power, and He can't be humiliated either.

But then Benedict does give some credence to the idea of the inner connectedness of Christ and the vital forces which emanate from Him, and the notion that everything is one in Christ. Except this is a two way street, the forces emanate both ways and Christ is also one in us. In this way it's not about authority, it's about sharing as best we can with Jesus. Emphasising just one side of this relationship may benefit Benedict's notions of top down authority, but it's not what Jesus actually said about Himself or His relation to us. He's not our father or our groom, He's our brother. He is in us and we are in Him, as brothers and sisters, equal participants in the quantum sense of things.

By the way, there is no 'traditional marriage' in heaven, and probably not in any of the other entangled universes in which we share our energy. There is however, one great big all inclusive family-------whether our egos are humiliated or offended by this fact has nothing to do with the truth of it.


  1. Colleen you have your fingers on the pulse with these columns. . .once step beyond the Pope each day. .

    ". . . .In particular, JOSP Fair:
    will seek to engage with global
    issues, looking at how religion and spirituality affect geopolitics, with seminars on Tibet and China. . ."

    They will have to be careful here, for China will likely be the one to mass produce the chocolate crucifixes for all the tourist pilgrims. . . UGH!

    I have such a different view of Christ and the meaning of Jesus life have to bite my tongue. . . and stop and send prayers for light for all of us. . .

    For me, the supreme grace of Jesus is; he so clearly externalized the internal process, showing us the alchemical process which leads to the internal marriage and the freedom it can lead to. . .

    For me the Bride of Christ and the Christ are within as well outside and they are all one when all the chaft is separated from the wheat by the Wind. . .

    Yesterday when you talked about celibacy; i agree for those who are experiencing the depths of Jesus Christ celibacy is often a necessity for the occurance of the inner marriage . .

    Colleen as i was reading i kept seeing the imprint of the Dark Ages mentality. . .the attempt to manipulate the people is so energetically similiar. . .The materialization of spirit and stacking the cards on every deal to line the pockets, all under the banner of such piety and condemnation of the "competition". . . . .mercy!

    Here is one the Pope has placed on the Pagan list, but i kept thinking of Dark Ages and Kali Yuga is known as the Dark Age. . .

    . . so googled the predictions of the Kali Yuga becasue of the prophecies i have read they make such clear references to our age of materialism and greed. . .

    " Here is a short list of the Kali Yuga which we are considered to be currently in:

    From the Sanskrit text the Purana:

    Some of these ancient texts actually predicted the conditions which now in exist the Twilight of the Kali Yuga. Remember, these are predictions! The ancients who bothered to write these prophecies down did so because they considered them to be abnormal, unheard-of, and outrageous.

    Thieves will become kings, and kings will be the thieves.

    Rulers will confiscate property and use it badly.

    They will cease to protect the people.

    Base men who have gained a certain amount of learning (without having the virtues necessary for its use) will be esteemed as sages.

    There will be many displaced persons, wandering from one country to another.

    Predatory animals will be more violent.

    Fetuses will be killed in the wombs of their mothers.

    People will prefer to choose false ideas.

    No one will be able to trust anyone else.

    People will be envious.

    There will be many children born whose life expectancy is no more than 16 years.

    People suffering from hunger and fear will take refuge in "underground shelters."

    Young girls will do trade in their virginity.

    The god of clouds will be inconsistent in the distribution of the rains.

    Shopkeepers will run dishonest businesses.

    There will be many beggars and unemployed people.

    Everyone will use hard and vulgar language.

    Men will devote themselves to earning money; the richest will hold power.

    The state leaders will no longer protect the people but, through taxes, will appropriate all wealth.

    Water will be lacking.

    And my favorite quote:

    "Pre-cooked food will be readily available!"

    The fact that our food supply contains very little nutrition and is full of toxins also tells us something about the frequencies of Time we live in. "

    May we all be blessed with the light that allows us to walk with peace and compassion with all in these dark days. . .

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