Call me anything you want, just not faithless...

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I don't always strike people as someone who goes to church or even one who believes in god. It may be because of my hefty drinking habit, I swear like a sailor, or the fact that I am one big jackass.

Nevertheless, I'd like to explain a bit about my trip to Australia this month. It wasn't a holiday, vacation, or one of my random getaways; it was a "pilgrimage". There are numerous definitions for pilgrimage, but let's go with Wikipedia's: a long journey or search of great moral significance. Wiki also states that pilgrimages aren't just a Catholic thing; the Jewish, Buddhists and Muslims take journeys in the contexts of their faith. World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney calls for the young Catholics of the world (brace yourself for the Catholic jargon) to meet and celebrate mass with the Holy Father and to listen to his homilies on the Holy Spirit. (Not to mention camping out on a cold Australian winter night, along with 400,000 pilgrims, in the middle of a racecourse turned into a stadium).

So the question hangs: what "moral significance" did I find as I journeyed to the land of kangaroos, koalas and damn good wine?

I'll be the last to preach, but I've always thought that Pope Benedict XVI is a brilliant man (even before he became Pope). He's written many books and homilies (discourses on scripture) that are significantly pertinent to life in our modern society - and relevant to everyone, not just Catholics. Benedict spoke on several matters on the course of this pilgrimage that I'll have to spend the next year or so contemplating (happily) their relevance in my life.

There is one message that I would like to share though. You can read it in its entirety here (don't worry, it's a short one). To sum it up a bit, Benedict says that life isn't a fairy tale. And in the midst of the struggles of life on earth, we need examples, inspiration and, of course, help.

I'm a cocky bona fide asshole, but in times of conflict, I turn to the faith and guidance of my church. That doesn't change the fact that I'm still a jackass! Forgive me father, for I have sinned...


See my photos from "down under" here. (update - I've removed some pictures from this link for privacy)
(The Australia banner team is pictured above. from left to right: Dan Chappell, Katherine Chappell, Katie Sumner, Charlotte Fernandez, Robert Chappell.)

P.S. Oh bloody hell, Fosters is NOT Australian for beer...

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