Sunday, December 27, 2015

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP: Homily at Unitarian Universalist Church in Sarasota, Florida on Dec. 27, 2015


Bridget Mary Meehan: Homily at Unitarian Universalist Church

Show Slideshow: Woman Spirit Rising Slideshow. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTmdxHXWlFY

Let us rejoice that Woman Spirit is Rising for justice and equality for women everywhere -including in the Roman Catholic Church with the international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement.
Show slideshow
I will share a brief overview of our story.

In 2002, seven women were ordained on the Danube, now there are 215. Our international movement is a holy shakeup that has rocked the Vatican!
We are in Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Asia.  According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, the total number of U.S. priests had fallen by 35 percent to 38,000 in 2014 from 59,000 in 1965,  In 1965, there were about 180,000 religious sisters in the United States. In 2014, that number had fallen by more than 70 percent to approximately 50,000.   
left to right: Lea Hall, Worship Leader at UU, and Bridget Mary Meehan (green stole)

In our local area, Sarasota, we have women priests and married priests who serve an inclusive Catholic Community where all are equal and empowered. Mary Mother Of Jesus meets at 4 PM on Sat. at St. Andrew UCC.
All are welcome to receive sacraments in our women priests-led communities.
In response to the Spirit’s call in our time for a more just church and world we are following our consciences and ordaining women in prophetic obedience to the Spirit who created women and men as spiritual equals. Galations 3:28 states that “ In Christ there is neither male nor female, all are one.”
Therefore, in our movement we disobey an unjust law, canon 1024, that prohibits women’s ordination.  In order to change an unjust law, we must break the law. This is prophetic obedience. We are walking in the footsteps of the great women prophets, Miriam, Deborah, and Mary, Mother of Jesus whose revolutionary prayer, the  Magnificat challenges oppressors and raises up the oppressed.
There are two branches of this movement in the United States. The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (my branch) and Roman Catholic Womenpriests USA.  The Catholic Church requires ordination in apostolic succession. Both  women priests branches have valid Holy Orders because our first bishops were ordained by a male Roman Catholic  bishop with apostolic succession. He has remained anonymous for obvious reasons, he is not on the Vatican’s guestlist! Therefore our ordinations are valid. (We are not self-proclaimed bishops, but bishops with apostolic succession.)
As a result of our ordinations we have received excommunication after excommunication from the Vatican and our male Roman Catholic bishops. I cannot count the number that I have received!
 Excommunication does not cancel our baptism. The Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is a renewal, justice movement within the Catholic Church. We call on Pope Francis to lift all excommunications and honor primacy of conscience. I believe that in this Holy Year of Mercy this would be a perfect opportunity to show compassion to women and begin the long journey toward healing of sexism in our church.
We are leading the church, not leaving the church.  The church teaches that the people of God are the church, not the hierarchy alone. However, Catholics in the pew and others often mistakenly identify the hierarchy as the church. The hierarchy must reflect the faith of the believing community which includes the reflections of theologians. Since women are half of the church’s membership, women  priests are needed in church to give women voice and vote in church decisions in all areas of church life. Women priests at altar are visible reminders that women are equals images of God
It is not about what the priesthood does for women, but what women do for the priesthood. Our movement makes the connections between discrimination against women in the church and poverty, abuse, violence and injustice toward women in the world. 70 percent the world’s poor are women and their dependent children, the church’s condemnation of artificial birth control plays a major role in keeping women poor and pregnant. Women are free, responsible, moral agents who must control own fertility. The Roman Catholic Church must embrace women’s rights as human rights in its own house!
While Pope Francis challenges global economic inequality, destruction of the earth and  greed, he must correct a flawed theology that treats women as subordinate and not worthy to preside at sacramental liturgies or play major roles in decision making in church governance.  The bottom line is that men do not resemble Christ more because of their gender.  
Woman Spirit rising in our movement is putting new wine in new wineskins. We are not a clerical, but a renewed priestly ministry in a community of equals.  In our inclusive communities, at Mary Mother of Jesus and elsewhere, everyone consecrates Eucharist, gives mutual blessing and participates in dialogue homilies and community decision making.

 We preach the Gospel, the Good News,  from women’s experiences and often utilize feminine images of God in our liturgies.  I have written 20 books on spirituality including several on feminine imagery of God in the scripture and Christian tradition. This has been missing in our church for centuries.  When we contemplate the feminine face of God and see woman as reflections of the Feminine Divine, we will begin the long, healing journey of centuries of sexism. It is time to heal the church’s soul wound in order to restore wholeness, balance and partnership.
In summary in our inclusive Catholic communities all are welcome to receive sacraments. including, divorced, LGBTIQ, former Catholics, non-Catholics. Our mission is to serve all, especially those whom the Vatican marginalizes. (33 million Catholics have left the church in the U.S.  According to a February 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center, 68 percent of US Catholics said women should be allowed to become priests.

Now, the time has come, and Roman Catholic Women Priests are here, serving in Sarasota. Florida.

Dialogue : 5 minutes of questions with the people.
Here are questions that we did not have time to answer at church”
Does your movement have a position on married priests?
Yes, we work as partners with married priests in our inclusive communities.
Thomas Merton as a priest embraced the Zen Buddist tradition in his path by seeing a direct experience of God within. Can you comment on this with regard to your movement?
I believe that we are called to be midwives of grace and that the mystical tradition of Catholicism which contemplates Divinity everywhere, similar to Buddism, nourishes us individually and energizes our renewal movement. I practice meditation and see this as integral to living a dynamic, passionate woman of faith in loving service to God’s people today.
What is the community’s version of the Our Father?
At  MMOJ we pray, Our Father and Mother.  There are many names for God.  In my view, it is important to use a rich diversity of images for Divinity as no one image/metaphor/or name can reflect the fullness of God who is also so much more than we can imagine.
Speak to why Mary and not Mary Magdala.
I focused on Mary, Mother of Jesus, today because our reading was her prayer, the Magnificat in Luke.  I believe that the story of Mary of Magdala gives a profound example of  Jesus ‘ vision of empowerment and equality. According to all four Gospels she is the primary witness and closest companion of Jesus , who with other women bankrolled Jesus’ ministry and who was present at both the cross and tomb. As apostle to the apostles Mary  was the first witness to proclaim the central belief of Christianity, the Resurrection. According to the Gospel of Mary, Peter and the male disciples were intimidated by her closeness to Jesus and challenged her authority to lead and preach. Scholars conclude that this controversy reflected a debate over women’s apostolic authority in the early church. In my book, Praying with Women of the Bible, I have a chapter on Mary of Magdala.
Conclude: Woman Spirit Rising sung by congregation

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