My father was captured by the nazis just before he turned twenty, on the coast of Albania.
He was deported in Northern Germany in a working camp where he had to spend eighteen long months of hard working in a coal mine,no food and twelve hour a day shift. He was born and raised in asmall town near Venice, Italy. His schooling days ended in tenth grade as he was needed in the fields as a worker as were his two elder brothers.
On Easter Day 1945 he was freed from the camp by the Americans, when he returned home to his family he was phisically broken. He weighed 80 pounds. he was 5’7.
So when he went to the Lourdes water to ask for healing and the Virgin Mary Listened to him, he returned as a new man, fired by the Spirit of Love and willing to start a new life as a true Christian.
His dream was to create a Christian Family. He did when he met Maria Teresa, in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
They married and remained faithful to one another for fifty one years. Three children were born. I am the younger, my name is Pio.
Pio is a very uncommon name for a man of my age, even in Italy. Narciso, my father, just after he was healed in Lourdes had heard of a friar in Southern Italy that was becoming famous for performing miracles. His name was Padre Pio.
Narciso travelled many times to that small village where Padre Pio lived.He met Him.He became one of His Spiritual Sons and returned regularly to visit the friar.
When Maria Teresa became pregnant of her third child, doctors told her that she should have aborted the fetus. She has had two children before this and they both came to life trough a Cesarian. She never thought, even for a second, to give up that creature, even if her life was in danger.
Narciso was desperate and went to see Padre Pio to seek confort and advice.
Go home Narciso…tell Maria Teresa that everything will be alright… said the Saint Man
Maria Teresa kept on with her pregnancy and she gave birth to a healthy child and the name she choose was
I was raised by these two wonderful parents in a small town in northern Italy, and Christianity was taught to me from the very beginning. I had to pray in the morning, in the evening. On Sunday we went to church all together, and back to church in the afternoon. So my life was filled with Christianity,prayers, church,and Padre Pio always mentioned as the person who brought me to life.
The small town where I grew up was too small for me. I was never idle, always on the move, seeking always new horizons. In my younger yearsI gave my parents many problems, despite the name, I was a kind of child you wouldn’t baby sit even for a hundred dollars an hour.
In 1972 i smoked my first marijuhana cigarette, i was 16 years old in a town of five thousand, in Italy. That made me very unpopular with the mothers of the girls I tried to date. There was a small American compund in my town; a detachment from an Air Base. It was natural for me to go there daily and practice my English with the soldiers who became all my friends. In a few years I spoke better English than most of my friends.
When I boarded my first TWA flight from Rome to New York, It was my 23rd birthday. I was on my way to America and I was excited and happy to leave my small town to discover the world.
I ended upin Florida and i worked as a bus boy, a store clerk, and finally discovered that I loved to drive a cab, so I did for many years.
I was meeting people everyday and listening to their problems, their worries, their dreams and aspirations.
It opened my mind. But the real issue for me was to find out where the truth was. Was the RELIGION that my parents taught me the right one or was there a better answer to the big questions of life?
I then began my search trough the Religions of the world as seen from the people I met in my life.
In Knoxville Tennessee in 1982 there was a World’s Fair. I went there. Drove a cab and fell in love with AISHA, a Muslim who opened my mind to the knowledge of Islam.
I asked myself many times , while i was loving her, If I should change my Religion to hers. Analyzing the two , I realized that there were similarities, and switching from one to the other would have not changed my life, beside, deep in my hart, I felt that neither Christianity nor Islam would have given me the inner peace I was seeking. So I didn’t change. I left Aisha and Tennessee, went back to Miami.
I had a fellow driver who was a Jewish and he spoke to me about his faith. I must say that I was really attracted by many issues in that Religion that shares with us the history of Moses,Abraham, Isaac. And later, as a photojournalist, when I had the chance to visit the Holy Land for three times I was really overhelmed by the Spirituality I breathed there. It was like a plunge into my ancient roots. I felt as a grain of sand in the desert when I walked on the Land of the Prophets. I felt as if really all my Spirituality started there.
So by the time when i was about 30 years old, I came to a conclusion, given to me by the people I met , the places I visited, and the experiences that life gave me the gift of making:
All the Religions have the truth but none of them has the WHOLE TRUTH. There is some good and some bad in all. So I began thinking that the Almighty God has really given us many a tool to discover His Greatness, in different ways, according to our differences in Geography, History, and Heritage. I opened my mind and start thinking that it doesn’t matter wheter you believe in Jesus, Mohamed, or in the Prophets, as long as you believe that there is only ONE GOD.
But my discoveries were not over yet.
Back to the USA I “stumbled upon” the NATIVE AMERICAN SPIRITUALITY , and realized that the more I knew about it the better I felt inside. There it was, I though, if today we could live by the teachings of this Great People, the World would be a much better place.
Native teaching gave me many answers, and still today. The Creator, The Universe, Mother Nature, the Animal, the Plants, all the Living Creatures are part of the Hand of the Great Spirit that Lives inside our harts, who Has no need for churces or temples, as the Whole Universe is Its Church.
This way of seeing life and the Universe, as a Religion enlighted my Spirituality and made me a different man.
Now in the Blog’s era, I discovered the peace and the serenity that the Buddhism is giving me with its great teachings, with meditation, and prayers of wisdom.
so here is my conclusion to the answer I made to myself if there is a RIGHT RELIGION?
NO. All of the Religions have something to teach,but if we are really interested into discover the truth of our peregrination on this Earth, we should keep ours eyes open as well as our minds, so that we can understand better what differs from our “beliefs”. Instead of fencing ourselves into the fortress of “OUR” Religion, we should focus on a Greater Goal, making our lifes better for our well being and for the one who suffer, without letting the greed and the materialistic thought overcome the “Breath of the Spirit” that lives in our Souls from the moment we came to life.
War and Sufferings caused by different views should stop, and we should think as God as a Great Fire around Which we, as HUMAN BEINGS are sitting. We all know what a Fire is, but if we were to describe it the answers will be as many as we are, but the FIRE still will remain ONE.
Sorry Magdi but if you look at this report:http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html you will find out that you are today one of the 2.1 Billion Christians in the world today versus 1.5 billion Muslim .
I don’t agree with the changing of religion, although I higly respect your personal choice.
In my life of travelling I had many chances of changing my religion too, but i never did for a simple reason: respect for the beliefs of my Ancestors.
“If my grandfather and my great grandfather and his grandfather were Christian, I would consider it an act of hostility to them, considering that I am today the tangible projection of what they were and what they believe in.”
There are many things I do not agree with in the Christian Religion of today, one of them is for example the showing off of golden crucifixes , and “donut sized golden rings”worn by the Pope on public ceremonies(.http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/msnbc/Components/Photo_StoryLevel/080131/080131-pope-benedict-vmed-10a.widec.jpg)
Another thing i do not agree with is the continuous “hunt” for new adepts to the religion, in contrast, sometimes with the difficulties by certain married Christian couples to have their children baptized for their past marriages or experiences.
But I was baptized a Christian and I will die a Christian.
If I was raised as a Muslim I would do the same.
As I pointed out before, I respect your decision, and I understand the danger you have to live with but these “sparks” I would have saved for another historical period, as tension between the two Religion is mounting in the last few years, I think it would have been much wiser to have a humble, simple ceremony, in a hometown church, rather than a flamboyant one performed by the Pope.
I believe than in these time of tension and peril, we, and our religious leaders should be more careful not to add fuel to the fire of inter-religious tension, and that the Almighty God,should not be downgraded to question of who is on this side or into the other.
This is my humble opinion.