Sunday, October 20, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy for Sunday, October 20, 2019 - Presiders: Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP, and Michael Asbury

Michael Asbury and Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP, led the Upper Room liturgy with the theme: The Path of Vulnerability to Grace.  Mary Theresa's homily starter and Michael's  homily conclusion is printed below. 

Opening Prayer

Let us begin by centering our thoughts on the Divine Christ presence within us, around us and among us. (pause)
Feel the peace of the Holy One within you. (pause)
Offer that peace to each other in this circle (pause),
Offer that peace to our community (pause)
Offer that peace to our world.

Opening Song: Prayer of St. Francis

First Reading: Being Vulnerable by Joyce Rupp
Being vulnerable does not mean being weak and allowing anyone or anything to hurt us. It Is actually a great inner strength which comes from freely choosing to be open to being wounded because we are open to loving in the manner in which Jesus loved.

Most importantly, to be vulnerable is to know the paradoxical power in surrendering ourselves to God. It is to allow the power of God’s Spirit to take over and to move through our being. It is to know that by ourselves we can do nothing, but with a surrendered heart we can do all things through the one who gives us strength.

Gospel: Luke 18 1:8 The Widow and the Judge

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.

He said, "There was a judge in a certain town
who neither feared God nor respected any human being.
And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.'
For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,

'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me
I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'"

And Jesus said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.
Will not God then secure the rights of the chosen ones
who call out day and night? Will God be slow to answer them?

I tell you, God will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

Mary Theresa's Homily Starter: The Widow and the Judge

Biblical Scholar Amy-Jill Levine writes:
“Jesus told a very short story about a judge and a widow, both with problematic characteristics; the judge is not inclined to grant the widow’s request, but because of her persistence and her threats he does. That’s it.  Our interpretive task begins with those four versus.

This is not an easy parable and is open to a number of interpretations. Levine tells us that the parables are meant to provoke and challenge us as we enter into the story and figure out the challenge Jesus presented to his followers then and presents to us, now.
How are we like or unlike the widow and the judge?

The widow is persistent. She promises to be back in court again and again until she gets justice. Or is she seeking revenge? We’re not sure which because the Greek word could be translated as either justice or revenge. 

The judge is indifferent to a point. He is willing to give her a decision not on the merits of her case but because he feels threatened. This widow just may give him a “black-eye.” Or, maybe he just wants to get rid of this annoying woman.

Some scripture scholars agree that this parable has little to do with prayer and that the lines before and after were added by the author known as Luke as his interpretation, and were not likely words spoken by Jesus. 

So, why would Jesus present this parable to his followers? They heard him speak of the “attitudes” for building the kin-dom, the Be-attitudes. Be pure of heart, be merciful, be just, be a peacemaker, be vulnerable as described in our first reading, be compassionate, love the Holy One, love one another. So, where was he going with this parable? 

I have my interpretation of this parable, but Mike and I wanted to hear your thoughts first. So, what are your thoughts? Where are you in the story or how are you challenged by it and how will you respond?

Community shares their inspired words.


Mary Theresa: As I pondered this parable, I thought, maybe Jesus wanted his followers to look at their own life situations when they are the person wronged or the person passing judgement and to be persistent in their pursuit of justice. But, not just any justice, be persistent in a restorative justice – one that is compassionate and vulnerable and leads to deep inner peace.

Michael’s Conclusion: In our current age, focused so on “getting even” and becoming the “winner-take-all”, the Gospel of Jesus stands apart. Thus, from his example of honesty, open-mindedness and willingness ... for only restorative justice to all... may we come to know the infinite, uncanny and unpredictable love of God, as we unite to become the risen body of Christ.

Communion meditation: Let Justice Roll Like a River by Marty Haugen


We are one human family. We each light a flame in the darkness of this world. Love one another. Amen.

May you know you are one with all creation. Love, intentionally, love extravagantly, love unconditionally. Our world waits in the darkness for the light that is you. Amen.

Lean on Me by Bill Withers

Podcast: Scripture Prayer from Healing Power of Prayer with Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Benedictines Chittister and Forcades Delve into Women’s Role in the Church

Benedictines Chittister and Forcades delve into women's role in church

Women's Ordination Conference events 6 CROP.jpg

Benedictine Sr. Teresa Forcades, left, talks with Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister at the Women's Ordination Conference's Oct. 11 event, "Radicals and the Rule," in Washington, D.C. (Women's Ordination Conference / Anna Romanovsky)
Benedictine Sr. Teresa Forcades, left, talks with Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister at the Women's Ordination Conference's Oct. 11 event, "Radicals and the Rule," in Washington, D.C. (Women's Ordination Conference / Anna Romanovsky) 
WASHINGTON — Memory was at the core of an Oct. 11 exchange between two prominent Benedictine sisters both known as radical thinkers in their circles — Sr. Joan Chittister, 83, and Sr. Teresa Forcades, 53 — at All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, D.C., for a fundraising event hosted by the Women's Ordination Conference titled "Radicals and the Rule."
As a young scientist in the early 1990s, Forcades was taught that DNA's three-dimensional double-helix structure is called the "Watson and Crick model" for the two men who apparently discovered it: "That's James Watson and Francis Crick, two names."
Forcades later learned it was actually a woman, Rosalind Franklin, who discovered the shape of DNA in the 1950s, years before Watson and Crick. But Franklin's name — a woman's name — was left off the model's official title.
NEW: GSR in the Classroom is a supplementary curriculum that adapts GSR articles for use in Catholic middle and high schools and faith formation programs. Learn more.
"In 30 years, the science had forgotten her," said Forcades, a Catalan physician and theologian known for her public health social activism and views on feminist theology.
The Catholic Church, by contrast, has preserved the memory and history of women going back thousands of years in a way that "no other institution has done," Forcades said. In China, for example, where is the history of women from, say, the 12th century? Who are these women? Of course, women in Eastern cultures had important social initiatives, Forcades said, but their records have disappeared.
The church is struggling to move forward to address the oppression of women, Forcades acknowledged. Nevertheless, "every day, the church is placing in front of my eyes [an example of] a woman that is highly honorable —"
Chittister jumped in before Forcades could finish the thought.
"Maybe you're being bought off," Chittister said.
"Bought off?" Forcades asked.
"Maybe it's one of the cleverest sexist tricks," Chittister said, then shared a story, and memory, of her own.
As an 8-year-old in Catholic school, Chittister used to go to the nearby church every night after school and stand in front of its stained-glass windows, "looking for a woman."
"Here is an institution that has preserved great women for over 2,000 years — the kind that created you and me, the kind that gave us a model that there was another place to go and another way to think," Chittister said.
"But at the same time, I have to ask: Why is it that the institution that has saved the memory, the work, of the strongest women in history for 2,000 years is not the church that recognizes this membership of these women?" she asked.
'The ideal of human life is sanctity, and that has always been open to women.'
—Sr. Teresa Forcades
The two sisters, who had not met before this event, wasted no time diving into the complex subject.
"Modernity began with the exclusion of women," Forcades said.
In "modernity" — the phrase she used to describe the post-Renaissance period of history that continues to this day — human reason was made out to be the highest "ideal of human life." From modernity's outset, Forcades said, women were excluded from pursuing this ideal because they were barred from receiving an education and attending university.
While reason is the ultimate ideal for secular society, Forcades made clear that the church has never said that the ideal of human life is the priesthood, which only men are allowed to attain.
"The ideal of human life is sanctity, and that has always been open to women," Forcades said, though she also mentioned she supports the Women's Ordination Conference and will continue to advocate for women's ordination to the priesthood.
Before turning it back over to Chittister, Forcades questioned if the best way to address the Catholic Church's sexism is by casting stones at the institutional church from a perspective that the society outside it is more welcoming to women.
"I don't know about that," she said.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Secret History 2018 Jesus Female Female Disciples, Interesting Documentary Movie shot in the Holy Land and Italy

Joan Taylor and Helen Bond explore the Holy Land to rediscover the role women played as disciples of Jesus.
Mary Magdalene is an equal to the male apostles. Peter, the Rock, Mary, "The tower"
 The word "tower' could have bee a "knick name" give by Jesus for Mary Magdalene
How did a wealthy woman living among the enemies of Jesus in Tiberias become a disciple? Was she healed by Jesus? 
Luke's gospel states that Joanna, like Mary Magdalene, denoted their money to bankroll the Jesus movement.
Why has this been overlooked for centuries?
Male bias in the text places women in subordinate position, but this story is changing today to show the role of women and men disciples of Jesus on the road together. 
Could there have been twelve women working in pairs as disciples similar to the men?
Women  would have to anointed with oil in the context of the culture. 
Another woman Salome who appears in Mark's gospel at Jesus' execution and resurrection.  They visit a chapel dedicated to Salome who possibly was remembered as a healer by the early Christian community. She points out the inscription.
Joan and Helen also visit a catacomb in Italy where a woman bishop,  Churula, is depicted. At this time women were ministering at the altar as priests. In 495, Pope Gelasius condemned this practice and ordered the bishops to stop allowing women to preside at Eucharist.
In the fourth century women disciples begin to disappear from the scene as leaders as a result of Constantine's reign. This was due to the  the rise of  patriarchal power and the need for a single faith to unite it. 
So, women were hidden from history for centuries. Their stories were ignored. 
Today, there is a new consciousness of the role of women in the Jesus' movement and early Church. 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Wedding Celebration of Women Priests Donna Rougeux ARCWP and Kim Panaro ARCWP, Officiant- Rev. Kathleen Ryan ARCWP, at Unitarian Universalist Church in Schenectady, New York

Donna, on left, Kathleen in middle, and Kim on right

Centering Prayer from The Healing Power of Prayer, Podcast with Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan

Centering Prayer focuses on being in the presence of God.
Being together, not accomplishing anything, is the goal. This form of quiet prayer takes us beyond thoughts, words, and images into the embrace of Divinity. "As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of [the First Born] into our hearts, crying out, 'Abba, [God]!'" (Galatians 4:6). Christ's Spirit becomes more intimately present to us than we are to ourselves. "I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me." (Galatians ). Centering Prayer offers a glimpse into the fullness of divine love that is beyond our hopes and dreams. God dwells within us in infinite love every minute, every day, of our entire lives! Wow!
Centering Prayer can free you from tension and stress, open you to the indwelling divine presence within you and within all creation, and lead you toward deep healing and wholeness. Centering Prayer invites you to rejoice in your intimacy with the Holy One.. Jesus stressed the importance of this in the gospel when he said, "Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the [Reign] of God/Companionship of Empowerment belongs to such as these" (Luke ).
Centering Prayer is a modem term that describes an ancient form of prayer referred to in a medieval mystical classic, The Cloud of Unknowing. The unknown author describes the path to contemplation in these words:
"Lift up your heart to God, with a gentle stirring of love desiring the Holy One for God’s own sake and not for divine gifts. Center all your attention and desire on the Divine Presence within you, and let this be the sole concern of your mind and heart.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

MMOJ Liturgy:Twenty Eighth Sun in Extraordinary Time Santa Teresa De Jesus/ Santa Teresa De Avila October 12, 2019 Theme: Prayer and Mindfulness Presiders: Elena Garcia ARCWP and Jim Marsh ARCWP

Presider~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Moment of silence

Opening Song “We Gather Here To Celebrate”(M. Simmons)
~We gather here to celebrate one God universal
We gather here to celebrate the Joy within
In unity we celebrate the beauty of diversity.
Come join us in our fellowship, welcome friends.
~You are my sister, you are my brother
In the one divine mind we are one with each other
So join with me, in unity, let us celebrate, our divinity.
Repeat: WE Gather Here………

All: In the name of God our creator, Jesus our Living Word, and the Spirit who calls us to share the Good News. Amen.

Opening Prayer. All: Let us pray. O God, protector of the poor, we give thanks for your Holy Spirit who sends women and men to share the Good News. We give thanks for this bold Wisdom-Spirit who impels us to pray always and to proclaim your Good News of love & peace in our homes, communities and world. We ask your blessings on our celebration today as we honor our call to share the Gospel. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Communal Reconciliation Rite
Presider: We pause now to remember the times we have not asked for forgiveness.      (Pause)
(Please extend your hand in blessing and say the Ho’oponopono prayer)
All: I am sorry. Please forgive me. I thank you. I love you.
Glory to God
All sing: Glory to God, glory! O praise God, alleluia. Glory to God, glory! O praise the name of our God. (2x)
Liturgy of the Word
1st Reading from “The Way Of Perfection (Santa Teresa De Avila)
You must know that weather or not you are practicing mental prayer has nothing to do with keeping your lips closed. If, while I am speaking with God, I am fully conscious of doing so, and if this is more real to me than the words I am uttering, then I am combining mental and vocal prayer. I am amazed when people tell me that you are speaking with God by reciting the Paternoster even while you are thinking of worldly things. When you speak with a Lord so great, you should think of Who it is you are addressing and what you yourself are, if only that you may speak to Him with proper respect. How can you address a king with the reverence he deserves unless you are clearly conscious of his position and yours?”      (Pause)
These are inspired words of Santa Teresa De Avila, and we respond by saying: Amen
Psalm “Let your God Love You” Edwina Gateley)
Response:  Let Your God Love You
~Be silent, be still, Alone, empty before your God.
Say nothing, ask nothing, be silent be still.        R.
~Let your God look upon you. That is all. God knows. God understands.        R.
~God loves you with an enormous love, and only wants to look upon you with that love.  Quiet.   Still.   Be.        R.

2nd Reading: “The Way of Perfection”(Santa Teresa De Avila) 
“Imagine that this Lord Himself is at your side and see how lovingly and how humbly He is teaching you – and, believe me, you should stay with so good a Friend for as long as you can before you leave Him. If you become accustomed to having Him at your side, and if He sees that you love Him to be there and are always trying to please Him, you will never be able to send Him away, nor will He ever fail you. He will help you in all your trials and you will have Him everywhere. Do you think it is a small thing to have such a Friend as that beside you?”     (Pause)
These are inspired words of  Santa Teresa De Ávila, and we respond by saying: Amen

Gospel Acclamation All: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia
Gospel of Matthew 6: 5-9
Jesus said to his disciples: “When you pray, don’t behave like the hypocrites; they love to pray standing up in the synagogues and on street corners for people to see them. The truth is they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to God who is in that secret place, and your Abba God who sees all that is done in secret will reward you. And when you pray don’t babble like the Gentiles. They think God will hear them if they use a lot of words. Don’t imitate them. Your God knows what you need before you ask.  (Pause)
These are the inspired words of the evangelist Matthew and we respond :  Praise and Glory be to Jesus The Christ.

Homily.   Share your preferred prayer style & how it may have evolved.
After Homily Sharing  #379 “Here I Am God” (Refrain Only)

Profession of Faith.
All: We believe in God, the creator of the universe, the fountain of life, flowing through every being. We believe in Jesus the Christ who reflects the face of God and the fullness of humanity. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of God in the cosmos, who calls us to loving service without counting the cost. We believe in our global communion with all in the circle of life. Amen to actions on behalf of justice, compassion, equality & healing for all in our world! Amen

Community Petitions.   
Presider: Loving God, you empowered Teresa to reform the Carmelite Order;
All: Bless all those who seek to reform institutions; grant that they walk before you in sincerity and truth.

Presider: Your daughter Teresa had a great love for the humanity of Jesus and cherished him as a friend;

All: May our friendship with Jesus enable us to cherish our friendships with one another.

Presider: The depth of her knowledge of the spiritual life resulted in Teresa being proclaimed as a Doctor of the Church;

All: Grant that women who study theology and spirituality may continue to gift the church with wisdom and insight.

Presider: What else shall we pray for? R: Loving God bless our petitions.

Presider: Healing God, you faithfully listen to our prayers. Strengthen us as we respond to the needs of your people and work for justice and positive change in our world. We
Pray in the name of Jesus the Christ. All: Amen

Offertory Procession/Instrumental Music
Presider: Blessed are you, God of Creation, through your goodness we have this bread and wine to offer, the grain of the earth and fruit of the vine that human hands have prepared for our use. All: Blessed be God forever.

Gathering of the Gifted
Presider: The following well known quote from Santa Teresa bears repetition now as a useful and timely reminder.
“Christ has no body now but mine. He prays in me, works in me, looks through my eyes, speaks through my words, works through my hands, walks with my feet and loves with my heart.”
― St. Teresa Of Avila, The Autobiography of St. Teresa Of Avila: By St. Teresa Of Avila - Illustrated

Presider: Jesus who has often sat at our tables, now invites all of us to join him at his. All are welcome to share in this meal. (Please gather around the table fotr our community meal)

Liturgy of The Eucharist
Presider: God is within you  All: And also within you.
Presider: Lift up your hearts. All: It is our joy to lift them up to our God.
Voice: Merciful God, we, your people are united in this sacrament by our common love of Jesus. We are in communion with everyone everywhere, who shares your gift of compassion, especially with those who are marginalized and oppressed. May we love tenderly, do justice, and walk humbly with you in solidarity with our brothers and sisters. May we live always as prophetic witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus.    All: Amen

Eucharistic Prayer
Voice: Ever living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks . In you we live and move and have our being. That spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is the foretaste and promise of the paschal feast of heaven. Her dwelling with us gives us the hope of  unending peace and joy with you. And so, while keeping
in mind that all creation is holy, we sing:

We are holy, holy, holy. We are whole.(You,I,We) (KDrucker)

All: (Extend hands in blessing toward the bread and wine for invocation of the Holy Spirit)   As we do in this place what you did in an upstairs room, send down your Spirit Sophia on us and on these gifts of bread and wine, that they may become for us your body, healing, forgiving and making us whole. That we may become for you, your body, loving and caring in the world until your kindom comes. Amen.

All: We remember Jesus. On the night before he died, Jesus sat at the Seder meal with his companions. Reminding them of what he taught, he bent down to wash their feet. Jesus, after returning to his place at table, lifted the Passover bread and spoke the blessing, broke the bread saying: “ Take and eat, this is my very self 


Jesus then raised the cup of blessing spoke the grace and offered them the wine saying: “Take and drink of the covenant made new again through my life, for you
and for everyone. Whenever you do this, you remember me”

Voice: Remember, gracious God, your Church throughout the world. Make us open to receive all believers. In union with all people, may we strive to create a world where suffering is diminished, and where all people can live in health and wholeness.

Presider:  Jesus, who was with God in the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth, is with us now in this bread. The Spirit who the prophets spoke of in history, is with us now in this cup. Let us proclaim this mystery of faith.
All:  Christ dies, Christ rises, Christ comes again and again  (Sing) Amen

Prayer of Jesus “Our Father and Mother”
Presider: Let us hold hands as we sing “Let There be Peace on Earth” # 526  (Substitute ) “With God as Creator, we are Family”  and “Let us walk with each other”

Prayer for the breaking of the bread 
All: Loving God, you call us to Spirit-filled service, to live the Gospel of peace and justice, to be your presence in the world, to be bearers of understanding and compassion, forgiveness and healing everywhere, and you call us to speak truth to power. We will live justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with you.

Presider: This is Jesus who liberates, heals and transforms us and our world. All are invited to partake of this banquet of love. We are the Body of Christ.

All Chant: “Sanctuary”
God prepare me, to be your Sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true.  With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living, sanctuary for you. (2x)

Presider:  We now share the sacred bread and cup with our brothers and sisters as we remind each other:
”You are the face of Christ in the world” and  
“You are the peace of Christ in the world.”

Communion Meditation Music
Prayer of Thanksgiving
All: O God, in Teresa you have given us a model- a woman who was faithful to prayer, to her sisters and friends, and to the work she was called to do. Help us to be so committed to you, that our daily activities foster our life of prayer and our life of prayer enables us to live fully in the world around us—aware of its needs and concerns. Bless all who follow the charisms of Teresa and grant that they may be true to her spirit and faithful in prayer. We ask this through Jesus who was ever her friend. Amen

Thanksgiving/ Introductions/ Announcements
All sing, (hand extended in blessing) 
~You are the face of God, I hold you in my heart, You are a part of me, You are the face of God.
~You are the face of God, I hold you in my heart, You are my family, You are the face of God. (2x)

All: Let us go in the peace of Christ, and let us share the Good News with all!  Indeed, we will do so! Alleluia!

Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582) was a very active contemplative. I like to non-dual, mystical consciousness in the 16th century, before it all but disappeared for five hundred years in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, the enlightenment, and the invention of the printing press. [1]
Mirabai Starr, in Saint Teresa of Ávila: Passionate Mystic, explains why Teresa is still so relevant to us today: “What can Teresa of Ávila offer us five hundred years after her death? Teresa models the living balance between action and contemplation, serving others and developing an interior life, engaging in passionate human relationships and surrendering to the divine mystery. She was an ecstatic mystic and a skillful administrator, a fool of God and an insightful psychotherapist, a penitent when she needed to be and an epicurean when she could be. . . . Teresa of Ávila was fully, deeply, unapologetically herself.” [2]
Perhaps Teresa’s greatest weakness—which was also an “effective political weapon,” as Starr describes—was her desire to be liked. When she was sent to a convent at the age of 16, Teresa found that her extroverted and social personality was right at home. The Carmelite convent of the Incarnation, as many convents of the time, was full of young women, Starr writes, “whose families didn’t know what else to do with them.” Life in the convent was austere, but there was ample opportunity to interact socially with people from outside the monastery. Everyone adored the charming and attractive Teresa, including male visitors. Teresa fell in love over and over again. [3]
Teresa’s attachment to the admiration and affection of others troubled her so much that she became physically ill and had to leave the convent. Physicians and a medicine woman (curandera) were mystified, and their treatments left her in worse condition. During this time, Teresa’s uncle gave her a copy of The Third Spiritual Alphabet by Francisco de Osuna, a Franciscan. From Osuna, Teresa learned about contemplative prayer and how “to think without thinking” (no pensar nada es pensarlo todo). This became the foundation of her spiritual practice. While Teresa’s prayer life blossomed, her health declined even more, until everyone but her father believed she had died. It seemed a miracle when she recovered. But it was a long and painful journey back to health. Teresa could not control her arms and legs for eight months, and it took two more years for her to even crawl.
This is the cliff hanger!  Do you want to know more about Teresa? Read a biography or her autobiography.