Monday, April 22, 2019

Dianne Sherman "Clearsight: a Gift from my Near-Death Experience", Choose to Believe in Unconditional Love

Some notes from her sharing:
"i see the beloved in you, I see the preciousness in you.
It is a reminder of the energy of the divinity, of the light you share on the planet every day.
it does not matter how successful you are.
What matters: Did I touch people? Did I allow them to touch my heart?
We have the ability to love ourselves, be the highest vision of ourselves we are.
If we lived this way, there would be love, Let me the best of myself.
Let our light shine! It reminds others to let their light shine!
Do not be afraid of life or death.
We are connected on so many levels. 

"Look at at Altar, Where are the Women?" by Phyllis Zagano/ My Response: Like Mary of Magdala, Women Are Celebrating the Christ Presence Rising Up Today in Communities of Equals

"If you had the chance to attend Holy Week services in person or via television — and I hope you did — you probably noticed the more things change, the more they stay the same. It's a men's church...'
Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Sending you Light- Awakening to Joy, Easter Blessings to You!

From Left to right: Michael Rigdon, Elena Garcia ARCWP, Sally Brochu ARCWP, Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, Kathryn Shea ARCWP, Janet Blakeley ARCWP Seth Theo, Lee Breyer- Presiders/Liturgical Team At Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community, in Sarasota, Florida
"I am sending you light to heal you to hold you in love. I am sending you light to hold you in love."

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Homily for Easter Vigil for the Community of St. Bridget in Brecksville, OH. by Mary Eileen Collingwood ARCWP

Mary Eileen Collingwood ARCWP

It is probably safe to say that all of us are familiar with the transformation that takes place before a butterfly spreads its wings.  It’s within the chrysalis, or cocoon, that the “transformation” happens. From the outside it looks like the caterpillar is resting, but inside big things are happening – remarkable transformation called metamorphosis is going on as the caterpillar is changing its shape and form..  It is amazing to patiently watch the transfiguration from caterpillar to butterfly!  Many a person has marveled at this site!
As a mother, I, too, have witnessed the remarkable transformation that took place in my children as they grew and matured.  It was within my “womb” that the rudimentary stages of transformation happened, the stage that made them viable human creations.  From the outside of my body it looked like my belly was swelling, but inside big things were happening as this new life continuously changed its shape and form.  
The obvious difference between the transformation of the caterpillar into butterfly, and my children gestating within my body, is starkly different.
Once the butterfly escapes its confines, it reaches its maturity.  Now the butterfly is able to live a life that it was intended to live.  For the plant world, butterflies pollinate or carry pollen from plant to plant, helping fruits, vegetables, and flowers to produce new seeds. From the animal point of view, butterflies are near the bottom of the food chain and provide food (especially in their caterpillar stage) for birds, mammals, and other insects.   In addition, for us, each butterfly provides a unique beauty that lifts our spirits and allows us to marvel at our Creator’s magnificence.  And once its relatively short life is spent, it becomes fertilization by mixing with the nutrients of other forms of creation. Eventually it becomes new life for another species within the creative force of our universe.  A true transfiguration to be sure!
Within the human transformation process, once a child is born, it is quite evident that they still need loving care and nurturing to continue the maturation process of becoming a fully-grown member of the human race.  An infant has a long way to go before human maturity happens, both physically and spiritually.  I have found myself chuckling at people who believe once a developing child reaches the stage of human viability, they are considered fully formed.  Only a mother has the intimately unique advantage of knowing how untrue that statement is!
The human being is a complex, multifaceted creature, to say the least.  For all the potential a human has, the person must wait many years in search of  their full capacity.  Not only does our journey entail continued physical development, but also spiritual development.  And our enlightened understanding of being a fully developed human being embraces both. 
Each of us, made in the image and likeness of our Creator, experiences numerous opportunities for continued growth and development within our lifetime—we are never actually finished learning or being.  We are made with the capacity to continuously gain insight and understanding, both of the physical and spiritual world.   
This idea and thought is concretely manifested here at the Community of St. Bridget.  An example of this is that the traditional Catholic “penitential rite” that is normally found at the beginning of liturgical worship has been renamed our “transformation rite.” For we have realized and put into prayer form the main purpose of liturgical prayer as providing an opportunity for each individual to experience an inner transformation as they participate in the Eucharistic liturgy.  We believe that we do not go away from this communal experience without having been changed in some way.  And so we pray at the beginning of the service for the grace to let go of all the obstacles we encounter that would prevent us from accepting that change.
Tonight, we recall and celebrate the process of human transformation as actualized in the life, ministry, death and transfiguration of Jesus of Nazareth.   
In the words of scripture scholar, George Smiga, our services on Holy Thursday and Good Friday were not merely about action, as much as they were about continuation.  We continue to seek and find our true worth in the midst of all the injustice and torment our world puts at our feet.  We continue to study and pray over Jesus’ example of dying for what he believed in, for the reformation and renewal of God’s original design for all creation.  And we continue to witness that this Spirit of Jesus has broadened our limited perspective on who we are called to be.  He continues to rise in the minds and hearts of those who choose to answer the call to love and serve one another, no matter the consequences.  Jesus said, “You will do far more than I have done.”  Our work continues as we challenge ourselves by reflecting on the question: 
How does the effects of Jesus’ dying and rising continue to shape our lives?
May this Easter be a celebration of all things new for you and those you love!

Do you really believe that I wasn't invited to the Last Supper? Mary Magdalene

Ann Harrington ARCWP Presides at Easter Liturgy with Free Spirit Inclusive Catholic Community in North Carolina

Ann Harrington ARCWP presides at Easter Liturgy at Free Spirit Inclusive Community in North Carolina

With a church in crisis, why do Catholic women stay? by Cecilia González-Andrieu , America

The story of the dysfunction of the Catholic Church as an institution is now the subject of multiple investigations and copious news coverage worldwide. Tragically, at issue is not just the sexual abuse of minors by clergy or the exploitation of women religious or the exclusion of women from positions of authority and oversight or denying women full use of their gifts. We are now confronting all of this together.
The picture that emerges is stark: In the eyes of the world, the church has lost much of its moral authority.
My part in this story began a few days after the Pennsylvania attorney general released a devastating report describing in detail hundreds of cases of sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy, when I received an oddly addressed envelope marked “personal.” Inside was a “study guide” claiming to prove that the Catholic Church was “the harlot of Babylon.” We have all likely seen these pamphlets before. This time, however, the sender identified himself, gave me his phone number and added: “It is so clear that Satan is in control of so much of the Catholic Church: now is a wonderful time to get out of Babylon, Rev 18:1-4, God be with you and yours.”
His conviction was impossible to simply dismiss. Is this how others see us now?
I began to notice that anywhere I spoke, when I reflected on our priorities as a church, advocated for a gospel of mercy and inclusion or expounded on the requirements of the Reino de Dios, women young and old wanted to have conversations.

A few months later, as more records of abuse emerged, I joined 3,000 other Hispanic Catholics in Dallas, Tex., for the culmination of the V Encuentro process. Heading there, many of us imagined a time of speaking truthfully, praying together, grieving and healing. Even accounting for over 500 ordained members of the clergy in attendance, it was obvious that more than half of the delegates were women. Yet as the program unfolded, it was challenging to find the community we sought, as few women were included in the liturgical ministries and or in the major talks.
In the hallways, some women expressed outrage, while others seemed simply resigned. Is this how we see ourselves now?


I started comparing notes with other Catholic women who teach or lead ministries in the church. What were they hearing from their communities? Some recounted that their students asked why women would remain Catholic today. Others shared how their elderly parents grieved, unable to participate in Mass or “look a priest in the eye” because of the abuse crisis. One woman lamented the loss of her nephew’s vocation: He had tragically “walked away” from his plans to enter the seminary.
I began to notice that anywhere I spoke, when I reflected on our priorities as a church, advocated for a gospel of mercy and inclusion or expounded on the requirements of the Reino de Dios, women young and old wanted to have conversations. In any part of the country, at large meetings or small, in universities, parishes or classrooms, women came up to me, speaking in whispers. Women who teach, run ministries, parent and study shared their experiences of marginalization and their desire to serve the church and our collective good. They were also explicit about their fear of speaking up. “Why stay Catholic?” was no longer just a question coming from curious outsiders; it was a question we were asking ourselves.
“Why stay Catholic?” was no longer just a question coming from curious outsiders; it was a question we were asking ourselves.

Signs of the Times

One of my students, a 30-something youth minister, recently introduced me to a new term: the “dones.” Thinking I had misheard her, I asked, “Do you mean the ‘nones,’ people who don’t identify as belonging to any religious tradition?”
“No, I mean the ‘dones,’” she said, “Like, in, ‘I’m totally done with the Catholic Church.’”
There was pain in her voice, which soon gave way to tears. Saying “none” could be about disaffection, boredom or the perception of a faith tradition’s irrelevance, but “done” was about betrayal and disillusionment. It was about love and loss.
Melissa Cedillo, a recent graduate of Loyola Marymount University who is now working on issues that affect women, echoed my student’s frustration. “When are we going to have our #MeToo movement?” she asked, referring to the growing willingness in the worlds of business, entertainment and politics to act on women’s allegations of sexual harassment and abuse. We have no analogous community rising to speak on behalf of women in the Catholic Church, she lamented.
In a very practical way, the need to articulate reasons for remaining Catholic as women is also related to the church’s demographic survival and moral relevance. Betty Anne Donnelly, a former lay missioner and philanthropist, told me of her fear that “people’s willingness to learn about and be inspired by the church’s rich social tradition has been fundamentally undermined by the institutional church’s positions on several issues, not the least of which is the church’s failure to avail itself of the tremendous gifts of women in its liturgical life and governance.”
The contributions of Catholic social teaching and all the good works it inspires contribute to society in truly significant ways. Consequently, the church’s ability to grow and thrive in its ministries of compassion and mercy affect the whole world. The imperative to survive as the global Catholic Church is most acute when we think of how the most vulnerable and dispossessed of the earth depend on our work.
The Catholic Church’s ability to grow and thrive in its ministries of compassion and mercy affect the whole world.

What Can We Learn From the Past?

Women are Supreme Court justices and astronauts, surgeons and philosophers, prime ministers and firefighters. And although in many parts of our unjust world women and girls are kept from school and viewed only as necessary for reproduction, there are many of us with education and political voice working against this injustice. The wider culture has come to accept the basic truth that gender has no bearing on abilities or intelligence and cannot be used to curtail our God-given freedom. But today, in many corners of the church, women are not treated with equal dignity and worth. Too often, the structures of the Catholic Church show little openness to meaningful transformation.
This is not a new story. As the formidable Teresa de Jesús set out from Ávila in the 16th century, braving cold and illness to reform a religious order, her every move was controlled by men. St. Teresa was not allowed to study formally, and young priests were appointed to “guide her.” She was consistently made to feel inferior and incapable. But as difficult as Teresa’s life as a Carmelite nun was, religious life was often the only space where a woman in her time could have any education and develop her gifts.
The 20th century church offered something different. Following the Second Vatican Council, many women sought the possibility of theological study, and more than a few persevered to earn advanced degrees. At my own university, the merging of Marymount College and Loyola University in 1973 allowed for the co-education of women and men. Shortly after, the church historian Marie Anne Mayeski joined the faculty as the university’s first woman theologian. Her teaching inspired me, and she suggested I continue my studies. The door of education, once opened, could not be shut again, and we now have three generations of women theologians teaching the fourth.
But getting here has not been easy. In various other Christian denominations, committed students will often receive considerable institutional and financial support for graduate theological education. Catholic women rarely receive any from the church. For a Catholic woman (lay or religious), completing an advanced degree in theology can be a lonely and costly climb.
Today, many women theologians teach priests. We evaluate their work, engage them in the complexity of the Catholic intellectual tradition and help form them for ministry. But in our own parishes, we are at times forced to sit silently by and watch deficient homilies, uninspiring liturgies, neglected communities and abuses of power.
As the young theologian Layla Karst confided to me, “I remember responding to a faculty member’s question about my career goals my senior year in college by expressing my desire to go into ministry and being told that as a woman, my options for this were either to become a nun or become a Protestant or become unemployed.”
Many women theologians teach priests and help form them for ministry. But in our own parishes, we are at times forced to sit silently by and watch deficient homilies, uninspiring liturgies, neglected communities and abuses of power.

What Must Change?

Embedded in the frequent question from students,“Why are you still Catholic?” is a suggestion that there is something very wrong that is apparent to everyone else. Why isn’t it obvious to us? What prevents us Catholics from seeing it?
My attempt to understand this question pointed me in the direction of neuroscience. We Catholics seem to be suffering from a collective case of a condition called anosognosia, “an inability or refusal to recognize a defect or disorder that is clinically evident.” But unlike an individual who has suffered a traumatic brain injury, our problem seems to manifest itself in what the neuropsychologist Katherine Rankin characterizes as the “loss of the ability to accurately characterize one’s own personality and social behavior.” Once I replaced “the patient” with “the institutional Catholic Church,” I found Ms. Rankin’s outline of this condition in an essay for the anthology The Study of Anosognosia to be profoundly helpful.
Anosognosia is a pathological and extreme manifestation of a lack of self-knowledge or self-awareness, which in healthy persons (or in this case institutions) derives from:
1) Introspection: paying particular attention to our internal states and their meaning;
2) Exteroception: observing ourselves and our behaviors from an external, third-person vantage point, identifying group norms and, I surmise, playing an important role in moral reasoning;
3) Memory of a longitudinal self: putting together, through the aid of our memories, the key insights into ourselves and our behaviors that through multiple experiences we come to believe define us.
What lessons might we learn if we apply these categories to the institutional church?
We need introspection. This introspection must be vulnerable and truthful. It must notice how we feel, not avoid it. As an institution, are we joyful? Are we grateful? Do we feel we have clarity? Do we feel capable of doing the work of discipleship? If we feel none of these things, why not? What lies have we been telling ourselves about ourselves?
We need exteroception. If we step outside of ourselves and adopt the perspective of others beyond our institution, what do we find? Are we doing what it takes to be part of a moral order predicated on the inviolable dignity of every human person? How is that possible if we exclude half of the human race, victimize the vulnerable and cover up what we have done? What profound inconsistencies do others see in us that we fail to see in ourselves?
We need memory of who we are. We know how to do this. We have a rich bounty of memories from two millennia. From these, we can relearn and recalibrate who we are. The return to the sources, the ressourcementthat guided much of the theological thought of the 20th century, did this. It allowed us to see more clearly and embrace more robustly Jesus’ words and actions as the best markers of our communal identity. Our interpolation of myriad ideologies extraneous to the New Testament witness, including patriarchy, mind-body dualism and imperial hierarchical structures, have contributed much to our inability to know ourselves as disciples of a very unambiguous teacher who revealed to us a very unambiguous God.
According to Ms. Rankin, overcoming anosognosia can also be aided by “explicit communication from others.” The mortal danger our Catholic Church is in right now has many authors: the priest who abuses a child, the bishop who covers it up, the pastor who expects “Sister” to keep the parish humming and his food on the table, the priest whose homily makes young people leave never to return, the closed rooms where the few make decisions for the many.
This cursory list reveals that the “others” whose explicit communication may be helpful include women. But do women continue to be excluded by the power structures of the church precisely because our perspective is destabilizing to a false self-image? Ms. Rankin would probably think so. As she explains, “[p]atients who consistently reject explicit feedback about their behavior and personality are more likely to have had a multicomponent breakdown of the self-monitoring systems.”
We are experiencing a multicomponent breakdown of the institutional church’s self-monitoring systems, and we need urgent intervention.
We are experiencing a multicomponent breakdown of the institutional church’s self-monitoring systems, and we need urgent intervention.

Why Are You Still a Catholic?

The hope-filled answers to this question from Catholic women I trust may provide the very medicine that the anosognosia affecting our church desperately needs. Clinicians refer to cases of anosognosia as a “loss of insight.” So what are some insights, derived from our communal memory, that we can offer in order to heal our Catholic Church?
Be church. Shannon Green, the director of the CSJ Institute at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles, is very clear: “As I have walked with college students for the past 15 years, I have returned to the question, ‘What makes good church?’” she tells me. We need to refocus on “church as ‘People of God,’ as radical hospitality, as pilgrims, as humble, vulnerable disciples who lay down our lives in radical friendship for our neighbor.”
Honor the incarnation. The theologian Nancy Pineda-Madrid points out that “the Catholic faith is and can be so much better than a lot of what we see today. While the church is infused by God’s grace, it also commits sin.” This is critical self-awareness. “I remain Catholic,” she tells me with conviction, “because, as a theologian, I have spent my life seriously studying this tradition and, in the process, have gained an ever-increasing appreciation of its enormous treasure. What we believe is extraordinary: We believe in the incarnation of the divine in human flesh, which is the greatest expression of God’s love for every human being. Wrestling with our beliefs will transform us and our world.”
Show up and act. A religious sister I greatly admire shared her grief with me while simultaneously insisting that her “first loyalty is to Jesus Christ and to being a faithful disciple during these difficult times. I cannot answer for those in power; I can only answer for my own actions, my own beliefs, my own response to the needs and the people I encounter each day. So I will continue to ‘show up’ as a Catholic and affirm my identity and my vocation.”
Make room for others.“Communion is an act of trust, caring for the local issue while holding on to the larger principles of speaking a common language of human life together,” the theologian Susan Abraham stressed in a note from the school of theology where she is dean. “Since this is a dynamic and organic notion, no blueprint exists for it because it arises in continuing dialogue and recognition of claims being made.”
Be a disciple. Emilie Grosvenor finds the deepest reason to remain Catholic in living out her discipleship. “To leave behind my Catholic identity,” she wrote from Scotland, where she is completing her doctoral studies, “would be to disown part of myself, allowing it to be claimed by those against God’s reign who claim to speak on its behalf. When we do our best as disciples to reveal the goodness in the world and in so doing call ourselves Catholic, we prevent the church from being completely defined by false prophets. We allow for hope to break through.”
All of these women give me hope. Our church’s lack of insight, and the breakdown of our own self-monitoring systems, are curable. We cannot allow the very blindness of the condition to keep us from seeking the change that will heal us.
The “others” are here: women, offering themselves in faithful discipleship and with bold vision to renew our communal life and saying “mine too.” The Catholic Church is #MineToo.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community April 20, 2019 Solemn Easter Vigil And Celebration of Life of Helen Marie Duffy Presiders: Kathryn Shea and Presider Team Music Minister: Mindy Lou Simmons

Left to right: Elena Garcia ARCWP, Sally Brochu ARCWP, Michael Rigdon, Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, Kathryn Shea ARCWP, Seth Theo, Janet Blakeley ARCWP, Lee Breyer
Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP (homilist)

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community, Sarasota, Florida

Bridget Duffy with friends

Jack Duffy embraces Russ Banner

Part 1: Service of Light

Blessing of the Fire and Paschal Candle

We will gather around the place of the new fire- in the courtyard outside the main doors of the sanctuary.  Presiders will invite each person to mention the names of those who have gone before and who have ignited faith and love and wisdom in her/his life.  After each set of names, presented by any individual, the community will respond: They walk with us!

Lee: On this most sacred night, in which Jesus Christ passed over from this earth to a new life, the People of God everywhere come together to watch and pray.  If we listen to the word of God and live it, and if we honor the memory of his death and resurrection, we will have the sure hope of sharing his victory over death and living a resurrected life with our Creator.
Lee sets the fire.  When lit, the fire is blessed.

Lee: Let us pray.  O God who, through Jesus, blessed upon us the fire of your glory, sanctify  this new fire -- and grant that, by these paschal celebrations, we may be inflamed with new hope.  Purify our minds by this Easter celebration and bring us one day to the feast of eternal light.
Preparation of the Paschal Candle
Lee:  Christ, yesterday and today (pause) The Beginning and the End 

While saying:                 The Alpha and Omega                              (put in the first pin) - Kathryn
While saying:     All time belongs to God                                         (put in the second pin) - Sally
While saying:     And all the ages                                         (put in the third pin) - Russ
While saying:                 To Jesus, be glory and power                   (put in the fourth pin) - Lee
While saying:     Through all time and all places, Amen       (put in the fifth pin) - Bridget Mary

ALL: May the light of Christ - rising in glory - dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.

(Alternate sides – left and right – for each sentence)

ALL: We Rejoice. We Remember.
The Christ - a spark that lit the cosmos at the beginning of time.
We Rejoice. We Remember.
The Christ - a spark that is expanding across time.
We Rejoice. We Remember.
The Christ - a spark that was borne, sheltered and passed to us by our ancestors.
We Rejoice. We Remember.
The Christ - a spark that was fanned into flame by those who ignited our lives in love and wisdom and joy.
We Rejoice. We Remember.
The Christ - a spark that is a sacred trust held by us to pass on to generations yet to come.

ALL:  We rejoice. We remember. We celebrate.                                              Alexander J. Shaia

Cantor:  Lumen Christi, light of Christ. (3 Xs)

All: Deo gratis.   Thanks be to God!  

Michael Rigdon & Cheri McDonough:  Exultet

Part II: Liturgy of the Word
The first Reading is the Story of Salvation History – (adapted from the books of the Hebrew Scriptures adapted by Jay Murnane). – (Proclaimed by Bridget  and Jack Duffy)   

In the beginning, there was only chaos and a void. God breathed life into it and said, "Let there be light." And there was light: sun and moon and stars in the heavens. There emerged vast bodies of water filled with live creatures. Then, birds flying across the breadth of the skies, and on the earth, reptiles and animals of every kind, color and shape. And all had a purpose. God saw what had come to be, and God found it very good.

God then said: "Let us make human beings in the divine image; women and men together to take care of all of this, and one another! When this was done, God viewed the whole of creation, and loved it, for it was very, very good.

: But human beings did not take care of creation and each other. Human beings corrupted the good-ness of what God had made. Rain fell, a torrential, purifying rain, covering the earth and washing away all the corruption to which people had given birth. Only Noah, his family, and living creatures from every species on earth floated above the flood in an ark made of wood.

After forty days, the rain subsided, so that the water was no longer a flood, and the ark came to rest on high, dry ground. The people and the animals looked up into the sky and saw something beautiful. God said: "That is my rainbow, the sign of my presence with you and my love for you. It will forever be the sign of my relationship with you, and your responsibility to take care of creation, and each other."

: From these survivors of the flood, creation was begun all over again. Many, many years went by and there were many gatherings of people all over the face of the earth. One of these was the people, Israel, and among all of God's precious people, the Jews were very precious. During a time of famine, the Jews were invited by the Egyptians, their neighbors, to share their land and their food. But some centuries after this hospitality, a cruel leader in Egypt forgot the old relationship and made the Jews into slaves.
They lived this way for a long time, until Moses came among them and risked his safety and security to convince the Jews that God loved them and wanted them to be free. So, they left Egypt, filled with the Spirit of God, led by Moses and Miriam through the desert in search of a new home where they could be free again.

During this difficult journey, they were often disillusioned and resentful, and they complained bitterly. Moses asked God for help, and God offered the ten commandments, so that the people might know the simplest possible way to love God and their fellow human beings. And from these survivors of oppression, Israel began all over again.

 But the people forgot the simple way of God and were not always faithful, and at times they were as oppressive to each other and to strangers as the Egyptians had been to them. They paid lip service to God, but their hearts were very far from God, and therefore, from justice and compassion. People of wisdom came from among them to remind them of the rainbow of their journey to freedom, and of their promise to God about caring for creation and each other. These were the prophets, and like Moses, they risked everything to convince the people to come home to freedom and responsibility, compassion and justice, faithfulness and integrity.

The prophet Isaiah said: "God is displeased with your prayers and your liturgies because the hands you lift in prayer are covered with blood. God wants prayer from the heart.    God wants justice for the oppressed. God wants food for the hungry. God wants true peace!"

 The prophet Amos said: "Some of you have grabbed power and made your own people no better than slaves. You have stripped people of their dignity as God's children, buying and selling them as if they were groceries or sandals. Greed is your god and selfishness, your liturgy!"

The prophet Micah said: "My people, you struggle blindly to know what God wants, and you act as if you remember nothing from your history, as if you know nothing. From the beginning of time, there has been one message from God. What God wants is this, ONLY this: That we live justly, that we love tenderly, that we walk with integrity in God's presence!. 

These are the inspired words of our prophets. 
ALL: Thanks be to God.

Responsorial: Sung ‘Alleluia’ – Cheri McDonough 

The Gospel according to John (20:1 – 18) – (Proclaimed by Jack Duffy)
Response; Glory and praise to you, Jesus, the Christ.

Responsorial: Sung ‘Alleluia’ – Cheri McDonough

Chant: “Come Be Beside Us” – Jan Philips

Come be beside us, come be around us,
Come be within us, Come be among us. X5

Homily Starter - Bridget Mary

Today we gather in community to speak words of gratitude for Helen Duffy who has now joined with all those who have gone before us in the Communion of Saints.

 Richard Rohr explains that this notion means that we are all in this together "the dead are at one with the living, they're our direct ancestors, the saints in glory. All suffering is our suffering and Gods suffering. We are all caught up in the cosmic sweep of divine grace." (The Universal Christ, p. 163-164)

In other words, in this holy mystery, we call resurrection, we are one. Today, Easter, we celebrate that the same power that raised Jesus is at work transforming us and the entire universe. Christ rises every day in the love that we share that goes beyond death and connects us to one another forever.  

Like Mary of Magdala, the first disciple to encounter the Risen Christ and to tell others the good news, Helen Duffy lived the compassion of Jesus everywhere she went. 

Helen lived the message of Jesus because she had room in her heart for everyone beginning with her 7 children, many grandchildren and great grandchildren, relatives, neighbors and friends. The long lines of people who came to her visitation in Madison, Wisconsin and the stories shared after her Memorial Liturgy gave testimony to her hospitality, joy and concern for others’ well-being.

Today, I want to celebrate Helen as disciple of Jesus, woman of faith and one of the pioneer founders of Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community.

I will never forget my first meeting with Helen and Jack in a local restaurant, not far, from here. Jack had read a letter I wrote to the Sarasota Herald Tribune about women’s equality as an important issue in the Catholic Church. Jack and Helen got in touch and invited Dad and me to join them for lunch. We had a very animated conversation as you can imagine.  As I shared my story of call to priestly ministry, I recall Jack’s enthusiasm and Helens wonderful smile and supportive words.

Although Jack and Helen could not attend our historic ordination in Pittsburgh on July 31 2006, we agreed to meet again when Dad and I returned to Florida.

In early January 2007 Dick and Pat Fisher, Jack and Helen, Dad and I gathered in my home in Oakwood Manor for a liturgy. Soon after that we were joined by Imogene and Michael Rigdon, and then by Carol Ann and Lee Breyer. Our fledging founding group decided to meet on Saturday evenings. We named our group Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community because we were meeting in the home that I had dedicated to Mary in 2004. Our motto was and is “all are welcome!”

Someone had the brilliant idea to put a small announcement in the Sarasota Herald Tribune newspaper which attracted a few more brave souls. Helen and Imogene welcomed everyone who walked through my door, my Dad, Jack, our music minister, played the hymns on the sax and Jack Duffy took on the car parking ministry after my neighbors complained that there were too many cars on my street in Oakwood Manor. At that time, we might have had a dozen people.

 On one occasion, Helen and Imogene decided to turn one of my empty wicker baskets into a collection plate insisting that there were some Catholic traditions that our small community would keep! After all they insisted you have to pay for the lights and air conditioning! Both Imogene and Helen were women of action.

 As our community evolved, we made decisions by a very informal process of discussion and voting. One example, I asked the group if they wanted me to wear vestments or not. They all said yes! So I wore vestments during our early years.

  Bishop Frank Dewane apparently took umbrage with our notice in the paper, posting his Court of Arms with the announcement that our Masses were not valid and Catholics should not come. That sparked the interest of journalist Tom Lyons who then write an article about our little holy shakeup. Next our local ABC affiliate filmed clips of a Mass, and interviewed Jack and me. Helen stood beside Jack, smiling and nodding her head, agreeing with everything Jack and I said. I will never forget her laughter!
(ABC news did a story on Mary, Mother of Jesus, House Church and interviewed Jack Duffy, a Venice Diocese official and Bridget Mary Meehan
The written text of our ABCnews story of Mary, Mother of Jesus, House Church is up on this site. You can also click for video:

The result of the media coverage and the dustup with the bishop was that more people showed up and we were crowded like sardines in a jar in my small house.   One of our members invited us to their home. We moved to the larger home which was located across Fruitville Rd from Bishop Franks residence,  but, after about a month we outgrew this space as well. So, we went Church shopping and had one positive response. Michael Rigdon and I were invited to meet with Pastor Phil Garrison at St. Andrew UCC.  After consulting his board, Phil welcomed us to our new home in March 2008.

Helen and my Dad, Jack, were great buddies. When Dad was hospitalized on numerous occasions, Helen and Jack came to visit. When she walked into the room, Helen was like a ray of sunshine that lifted Dads spirits.  Like Jack, Helen had great faith in the healing power of prayer, and, at the end of our visit, we would join hands and hearts to pray with Dad for strength and healing.

 I believed then and I believe now that the Risen Christ continues to speak to us through our own and others thoughts and words, especially when that voice within us, or within others moves us to greater compassion, kindness, justice and peace. All our spiritual gifts are given to build up the community of faith. I know that God touched my heart and blessed our MMOJ Community through Helen Duffy and continues to speak to us through our dear Jack.

I could go on and on with stories about Helen, who, like Mary of Magdala, was a joyful witness to the Risen Christ in our midst, but I want to leave time for your sharing which will continue at the reception in the hall.

I will conclude with this prayer of blessing.

Helen, may you sing and dance with the angels and enjoy the company of your dear family and our MMOJ friends in the Communion of Saints especially Jack, Carol Ann, Imogene , Ford, Joe, Jodie, and Ron. Amen

Chant: “Come Be Beside Us” X5

Part III:  Liturgy of Baptismal Water
Blessing of the Water
Kathryn & Seth: May God renew us and keep us faithful to the Spirit we have all received.
ALL (with arms extended):
God, our Father and Mother, we know you are with us as we recall the wonders of creation.  Bless this water that you have made a servant of your loving kindness to us.  Your Spirit, “in the beginning of the universe, hovered over the surface of the waters” so that its very substance would take on the power to sanctify.   Through water, you set your people free from bondage and quenched their thirst in the desert.  With water, your prophets announced a new covenant that you would make with humanity. By water, you made us holy by Jesus in the Jordan.  Let this water remind us of our baptism and of our covenant with all of creation.  Amen
Kathryn:  Holy people of God, through the Pascal Mystery we have been buried with Christ in Baptism and we now walk with our God in newness of life.  And so let us renew the promises that brought us to this point in our lives and will support us until we walk with our God in the next.
Hymn: “Come to the Water” #609 (during the water sharing rite)
Renewal of Baptismal Promises  (adapted from Jay Murnane)
Janet:  Let us renew the promises we made in baptism and try to fulfill in the years since.
ALL:   I promise to see what is good for my sisters and brothers everywhere, rejecting injustice and inequality, and living with the freedom and responsibility of the family of God.

I promise to work for the realization of God’s vision of harmony and right relations among people, rejecting the idols of money, property, race, gender, and position.

I promise to seek peace and live in peace in one human family, rejecting prejudice in every form, and all barriers to unity.

I promise to cherish the universe and this precious planet, working creatively to renew and safeguard the elemental sacraments of air, earth, and water.

I believe in God, the Creator, in Jesus, the teacher of justice and love, who lived among us so that all might live with abundant fullness;

I believe in the Spirit, the breath of God, who continues the work of birthing and blessing, of forgiveness and reconciliation, of challenge and hope, so that together we all can continue the work of creation.

Janet:  God has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit. May God keep us faithful to Jesus the Christ forever and ever.  Amen.
Profession of Faith

Janet: Now that we have renewed our promises originally made years ago, let us now express the beliefs that give us strength and courage today.

ALL:  We believe in God, the fountain of life, flowing through every being.   We believe in Jesus, the Risen 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 love and serve without counting the cost.   We believe in our global communion with all in the circle of life.  Amen to loving actions on behalf of justice, healing, compassion and equality for all in the cycle of life.  In all of this, we surely do believe.

Part IV:  The Prayer of the Faithful
Sally:  Always mindful of God’s love and care for all creation, we bring the needs of the  people to our loving God.  Response: Loving God, hear our prayer.
Sally: For what shall we pray?
Sally: Healing God, we know that you hear our prayers.  May we celebrate our planetary oneness in our works for justice, equality, and peace.  We ask this through the risen Jesus, our brother, and the Spirit, our sanctifier.  Amen.

Part V:  Liturgy of the Eucharist
Preparation of the Gifts

Kathryn &; BMM: (raise the bread and the wine):  Ever gentle God, as co-creators of our planet, we offer you these gifts of bread, wine and our lives.  May we celebrate our oneness with all creatures, large and small, in your earthly family.  We ask this of you through Jesus, our brother, and Sophia, our wisdom.  ALL: Amen
Sally: Pray that we become more aware of our oneness in the Cosmic Christ through the grace of the Risen Jesus.
(Please join us around the altar)
ALL:  We are gathered as a community to celebrate the gift of life pulsating in the glories of Nature everywhere.

Eucharistic Prayer
Elena:  Holy One, You stirred the waters of creation, and you dwell in us.
ALL:  And in every living being.

Elena:  Lift up your hearts.
ALL:  We lift them up to our Creator in whom all are one.

Lee:  Let us give thanks for the Breath of life in all forms throughout the Universe.
ALL:  It is right to give glory to God, present everywhere and in everything, with thanks and praise.

ALL (sing):  We are holy (3x); You are holy (3x); I am holy (3x); We are holy (3x).  (Karen Drucker.)

ALL:  Holy One, we bring you these gifts that they may become the Christ Presence.  Fill us with reverence for all creatures, great and small.

ALL: (extend arms):  On the night before Jesus died, while at supper with his friends, he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to them saying:  Take this all of you, and eat.  When you do this, remember me and all that I have taught you.  (Pause)

In the same way, Jesus took the cup of wine.  He said the blessing, gave the cup to his friends and said:  Take this all of you and drink.  When you do this, remember me and all that I have taught you.

Lee:  Let us proclaim the mystery of faith.

ALL:  This bread is you; this bread is me.  We are one body in communion with all creation.

Voice 1:  Christ of the Cosmos, we thank you that our bodies are made of stardust and that every place we turn, you are present, loving us.  You invite us to join the dance of creation in a mystical celebration of our oneness with all living things in your divine love.

Voice 2:  Risen Christ, we remember that it was you who said:  “Anything I have done in the name of the Creator, you can do too…and even more.”  So we remember all those in our world who are working for environmental healing, human rights and justice for all.

Voice 3:  Christ of the Cosmos, we remember Mary, mother of Jesus, faithful disciple,  and we remember St. Francis who sang canticles to brother sun and sister moon.  May we praise you in union with them and live your compassion now.

All Presiders:  Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in  unity with the Holy Spirit, all glory, honor and praise to you, loving God, forever and ever.  ALL: (sung): Amen (5x)

ALL (sung): Our Father and Mother, who are in heaven….

Sign of Peace
Lee:  Risen Jesus, you said to your disciples, “My peace I leave you, my peace I give you.”  Look on the faith of all those gathered here.
ALL: Grant us your peace.  Help us to spread your peace throughout the world, always and everywhere, no exceptions.  Amen
Elena: May the peace of God be always with us, and we will start by offering a sign of that peace among ourselves.  Let us experience that in a group hug.
Peace hymn: “Peace is Flowing Like a River” - #535
Litany for the Breaking of the Bread

ALL: Christ of the Cosmos, may we live our oneness with you and all creation…may we work for the healing of the earth…may we celebrate justice rising up in a global communion everywhere.  Amen.


Sally:  This is the Cosmic Christ in whom all creation lives and moves and has its being.  All are invited to share in this banquet of love and celebrate our oneness with all living beings on the planet.
ALL:  We are the Body of Christ.

ALL (sing):  You are the face of God; I hold you in my heart.  You are my family; you are the face of God.  (Chant by Karen Drucker)

Communion: Instrumental-
Communion Hymn: “I am sending you light” – Mindy Lou
"I am sending you light to heal you to hold you in love."
Prayer after Communion

BMM:  Lover of the Universe, fill us with awe at your extravagant love flowing through us.  May we immerse ourselves in the beauty of nature speaking to us each day.  We ask this through our brother Jesus, in union with the Holy Spirit.  ALL:  Amen.

Concluding Rite

Kathryn & Seth:  The Risen Christ is with us.  ALL: and loves through us.

ALL: Christ has come back as spring comes back out of the ground, renewing the earth with life, to be a continual renewing of life in our hearts, that we may continually renew one another’s life in his love, that we may be his Resurrection in the world.  We are the resurrection, always on going, always giving back Christ’s life to the world.
Caryll Houselander, The Risen Christ.
Closing Community Blessing

All (with arms extended):  The blessing of God is upon us as we go in the peace of the Cosmic Christ to live justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with Jesus, our Brother.    Thanks be to God.

Kathryn & Seth:  Let us go forth in peace and share the good news: The Risen Jesus is with us today and for all time.
ALL: Thanks be to God.  Let it be so!

Closing hymn: “We are Marching”
We are marching in the light of God, we are marching in the light of God.
We are marching in the light of God, we are marching in the light of God.
We are marching, we are marching, we are marching in the light of God.

We are singing in the light of God, etc.
We are dancing in the light of God, etc
We are rising in the light of God, etc.

Proceed to the Fellowship Hall immediately following liturgy for dinner,
compliments of the Duffy family. 

Jack Duffy and Bridget Mary Meehan