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Monday, February 19, 2024

Register now for a New PCS Retreat/Independent Course: Celebrating the Sacred Feminine in your Life with Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan

 https://pcseminary.teachable.com/p/pcs-310-celebratingthesacredfeminineinyourlife

Celebrating the Sacred Feminine in your life invites you to explore the beautiful mosaic of names and images that depict God's All-Embracing, inclusive love for us. Each section provides imagery of the sacred feminine in Scripture, the Christian mystics and in contemporary life. Open yourself to your belovedness as an image of the Divine Feminine in prayer and action and explore new paths to spiritual healing, nourishment and transformation in our world.



Celebrating the Sacred Feminine in your life is available as a private retreat, an independent study, or as a course for sharing in a cohort model.

Cohorts meet in a Zoom video conference to share insights on their meditations.

For those taking this course as an independent study or retreat, Bridget Mary will be available upon request to share with you in phone or Zoom conversations.

“A Kick-start to Lent” by Rev. Annie Watson ARCWP




Genesis 9:8-17; Mark 1:9-15

February 18, 2024

Rev. Annie Watson, Holy Family Catholic Church

If we want to take Lent seriously, we need to give it a good kick-start. As you know, Lent is often associated with the word “repent.” Think of Lent as the key we turn to the “on” position on a motorcycle and repentance as the kick-start. 

Repentance essentially means to go in a different direction, to change one’s mind, heart, habits, or actions. Giving up something for Lent—a common practice—is not just a way to start a temporary diet or give up a favorite activity for several weeks. It’s supposed to be a way to kick-start a new lease on life.

So, how do we know what to kick-start? How do we determine what to repent of? Outside of scripture, the answer to those questions might be found in the wisdom of two people: Albert Einstein and Dr. Phil. 

Dr. Phil McGraw began his television career as the resident expert on human behavior on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show. He is known for asking people who are struggling with life a very simple question, “How’s that working for you?” Dr. Phil tried to get his guests to see how a particular activity or worldview was detrimental to their well-being.

In a similar way, Albert Einstein is often credited for saying: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This is also a very helpful quote, especially for those who engage in repetitive destructive behavior. 

In both cases, Dr. Phil and Albert Einstein’s words reflect the biblical wisdom of repentance. This is a way to kick-start our lives in ways that put us on a new path and help us get going in a new direction.

The God of the Bible engaged in many acts of repentance, kick-starting the kingdom of God as if it is an old, hard-to-start motorcycle. Remember, repentance isn’t just for people who are swimming in sin. Repentance means going in a new direction or trying something new, which God does on many occasions in the Bible when things are not working very well. 

In the story of Noah and the Ark, for example, God tries to kick-start a new relationship with humanity. It’s not a pleasant story at all. It’s a violent story about divine punishment. Ever since Adam and Eve were forced out of the Garden of Eden because of an act of disobedience, God’s relationship with humanity was not working very well.  

The writer of Genesis says, “The earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.” At this point, God decides to kick-start something new by wiping the slate clean. But after the flood, we can almost hear Dr. Phil saying, “Hey, God, how’s that working for you?”

So, God makes a covenant with Noah and all living things and promises to never destroy everything again. The rainbow becomes a sign of this promise, which makes sense. After a big rain the sun comes out and what do we see? A rainbow.

God says, “When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” 

The rainbow is more interesting than we might think. In the ancient world, the rainbow was seen as the actual bow used by God to shoot arrows of lightning. Psalm 7:12-13 says, “If one does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and strung his bow; he has prepared his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.” God’s arrows were the bolts of lightning during a thunderstorm. 

After the flood, the biblical God promises to hang up the divine bow on the wall. Worldwide destruction will no longer be God’s strategy to straighten out wicked human beings. God repents of this and kick-starts a new relationship with all creation. 

Did it work? Did God’s covenant with Noah make things better? No, so like a frustrated biker with a slow-starting motorcycle, the Bible tells the story of a God who tries kick-starting one covenant with humanity after another. After the covenant with Noah there is a covenant with Abraham, with Moses, with David, and even one called the New Covenant, which was kick-started after the Babylonian Exile.

The covenants were well-intended, but humanity kept sputtering and dying. So maybe, God thought, it’s time to try something new. That’s where Jesus enters the picture. The Jesus story is like God saying to Dr. Phil, “You know, this isn’t working. So I guess I’m going to have to go down there and kick-start the bike myself.” 

The temptation story of Jesus in the wilderness is the story of God trying to kick-start the kingdom of God again. Think about how this story fits into the biblical narrative: The Bible takes us from a God who expels the first Adam from the garden out into the wilderness because he gave in to temptation, to a God who intentionally sends the Second Adam out into the wilderness to be tempted. And he passes. This time it worked.

If God has kick-started the kingdom of God, the least we can do is kick-start this season of Lent? But how?

We can do so . . . 

  • by repenting 
  • by turning around and going in a new direction
  • by seeking a new path 
  • by trying something new 
  • by changing our minds, hearts, habits, and actions
  • by asking, “How’s that working for us?” 
  • by realizing that we have been doing the same old tired things and expecting different results (which is insane) 
  • by hanging up our bows and arrows, our psychological and philosophical weapons against others 
  • by allowing God to drive for us 
  • and by following Jesus out into the wilderness

There is so much we can do to kick-start the season of Lent. Let’s just make sure we have enough gas. 

Sunday, February 18, 2024

A Holy Disruption by Dick Vosko

 



I talk quite frequently with a 16-year old boy who lives in Harlem. Mpiana is a refugee from Congo who lives with many hardships that are different from most teenagers. Through it all he is a remarkably resilient student-athlete determined to succeed. 

Mpiana goes to a Baptist church with his little brother and, impressively, can recall passages from the Bible. He once told me he believes God does not test us beyond our ability to be tested; that God does not leave us alone; that God helps us deal with the tests that come our way. (1 Cor 10:13) Mpiana is nourished by God’s promises.

Mark’s gospel today (Mk 1:12-15) asks us to pay attention to “Biblical precedents where God does test people to play a significant role in the story of salvation.” [1] Think of Abraham being tested to sacrifice his son Isaac. But this gospel is not just about Jesus being tested. (The Greek word also means temptation. One could say all temptations are tests.)

The gospel also tells us how Jesus was called to ministry when his cousin John baptised him. According to the story, during that event God broke through the world order with an earth-shattering, roaring voice, accompanied by thunder and lightning. Jesus was being called out loud by God to a life of service that would engage him in a conflict with world powers.

David Schnasa Jacobsen, biblical scholar at Boston University, noted that Mark’s narrative pointed out the urgency of the gospel. “In doing so, we’ll understand Jesus’s temptation as the first skirmish of his vocation and a harbinger of the apocalyptic battles to come.”  [2] Those are the struggles that confront us today.

In so many words, Jacobsen wrote that Jesus’ baptism in Mark is portrayed as an act of apocalyptic, cosmic, holy disruption that will usher in God’s plan for the coming kingdom. It will be a time that includes healings, liberations from bondage caused by evil, announcements of forgiveness, and calls to social transformation.

But the devil and evil are still at large. How do we respond to the tests that often can lead to a change of heart? The reading from Genesis (Gn 9:8-15) is a good reminder of the covenants God created with us. A covenant is an ancient formula wherein two parties promise to do something or not do something. Some of them are worth remembering. In the covenant with Noah God promised no more floods. It was a sign of God’s faith in people but the people did not return the favor. The psalmist (Ps 25:4-9)  today reminds us God’s ways are love and truth for those who do keep God’s covenants.

So God tried again. The covenant with Abraham and Sarah prompted loyal relationships with God. What is our bond with a God who wants to be our friend? The covenant with Moses at Mt. Sinai included a code of conduct (the 10 commandments) to help us live together in harmony. Are we abiding by those moral barometers?

The covenant with David included the promise of a messiah who would save people from all oppression. And, the new and everlasting covenant embodied by Jesus assures us that God forgives sins and restores communion with all of God’s people. (1 Peter 3:18-22)

So, how do we keep our part of our covenant with God today? Can we set complacency aside? Advocate for justice? Can we disrupt the work of evil doers? Or, are we being tested beyond our abilities to handle the test? These are urgent questions for us as we begin our march toward Easter.

 Lawlessness is rampant; lying is normal; negotiated diplomacy doesn’t seem to matter; covenants rooted in love are broken, civility is trumped by rudeness, distinctions between classes are distorted and the rights of marginalized persons are minimized. These challenges require a “moral reinforcement in [our] collective beliefs.” [3]

Of course, Lent can be an intense period of prayer, reconciliation, initiation and even fasting. More urgently, however, it is a time to confront those forces that alienate us from God, one another and ourselves. Can we figure out “what we are willing to sacrifice for a more important good.” [4] Our task is to balance competing interests that can cause anxiety, even sickness.

On Ash Wednesday Pope Francis said Lent is about rediscovering our call "to love the brothers and sisters all around us, to be considerate to others, to feel compassion, to show mercy, to share all that we are and all that we have with those in need.” 

Yes, Lent calls you and me to renew the values that Jesus invites us to embrace — loyalty, commitment, solidarity. It is a time to cause a holy disruption that will bring about the kingdom of God here on earth. Getting into “good trouble”  [6] is grounded in our longing for God to set things right. If Mpiana, that young teenager from Harlem, were here he would say: “Hey, Bro, don’t you know with God on our side anything is possible.” (Mk 10:27)

____

1. Byrne, Brendan. A Costly Freedom: A Theological Reading of Mark’s Gospel. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press) 2008, 33.

2.  David Schnasa Jacobsen. <https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/first-sunday-in-lent-2/commentary-on-mark-19-15-6>

3.  See Karen Fields and Barbara J. Fields. Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life. (NY: Verso, 2012), 227 in Joerg Rieger Theology in the Capitalocene: Ecology, Identity, Class and Solidarity. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2022) 96.
4.  David Brooks “The Cure For Ails Our Democracy”  <https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/15/opinion/democracy-good-evil.html>
6.   “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and redeem the soul of America.” John Lewis made this statement on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 1, 2020 commemorating the tragic events of Bloody Sunday

Richard S. Vosko, Ph.D., Hon. AIA
V: 518-441-9155

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Pope Francis on Women Deacons- Conversation with Anglican Woman Bishop

 


Women Deaconesses? 

When Two Women Put Pope in Communication Problems 

It had not happened in the past, when only the Pope and his Council of Cardinals met, that details about topics addressed were ventilated in a public way. 

Two individuals have done disservice not only to the great multitude of discreet women that are outside and inside the Church, but also to the Pontiff himself. 

FEBRUARY 10, 2024 18:39JORGE ENRIQUE MÚJICAANALYSIS 

OPINION,  (ZENIT News / Rome, 10.02.2024).-  

The official communication of the Holy See Press Office regarding the content of the meetings in early February 2024 between Pope Francis and his Council of Cardinals (the so-called C9), stated that one of the three topics addressed was the role of women in the Church. 

But what they said, which has spread more widely, is what the non-official communication transmitted (in reality, it should be called indiscretion): that women’s Diaconal Ordination can be taken for granted in the Catholic Church. 

The indiscretion came from two women, who were present in the Pope’s Council as experts. On one hand, a Catholic woman theologian and, on the other, an Anglican woman “bishop.” 

In an interview announced on the cover of the Spanish magazine “Vida Nueva,” the Anglican “bishop” Jo Bailey Wells admitted that the invitation left her totally surprised. 

And she also gave more details about the topic she was asked to address. “I was asked to talk about the experience of the ordination of women in the Church of England and in the Anglican Communion. 

This included some antecedents, the process of decision-making and the impact it had for our Church. But I also talked somewhat more generally about what we had learnt through the process in terms of how to surf the change and address the differences.” 

Mrs Wells commented that those present “spent more time listening than speaking,” although later she acknowledged that, more than a request for advice, “it was rather a seminar in which we sat together to listen ( . . . ) as colleague, as ministry companion in Christ’s Gospel, to share the recent history of women in our Church.”

 Ands she added: “I know that on the part of Pope Francis there is a willingness to explore, to assume some risks, to exercise the imagination in regard to the possibilities of change.” 

Wells had already made some statements to the Anglican News Service saying virtually the same but with fewer words. 

Asked if she thinks Anglicans are going farther than other Christian denominations in gender equality, Mrs Wells said that “It seems we are going ahead of the Catholic Church in regard to helping women to take advantage of the gifts granted to them in the whole gamut of possibilities at the service of God.”


Women Deaconesses? When Two Women Put Pope in Communication Problems | ZENIT - English

Thursday, February 8, 2024

The Divine Feminine Returns- Matthew Fox