Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community @ Sun City Center March 5 2020 Lent: Time of Reflection

Opening Image by Aalmeidah-Pixabay
MMOJ community members anointed one another for health during coronavirus outbreak. 

All: Infinite God in whom I live and move and have my being (arms outstretched), Holy Spirit Sophia in every person and all Communities (hands in Namaste position, bowing to person across from you), Inner God, my brother Jesus: I am your light for the world (hands crossed over heart) Amen.

Presider: God lives within us all. All: And also, within you.

Opening Prayer, All: Loving Companion, I open myself this Lent to go deep into my heart where you dwell in infinite goodness. May I let go of anything that prevents me from seeing, feeling, thinking or acting according to your Way of Loving and serving.  May I grow in kindness, compassion and joy in my thoughts, actions and ministry. Amen*

Communal Reconciliation Rite
Presider: We pause now to remember the times that opposing forces have influenced us and pray that we will make wise choices according to our best selves to grow more deeply loving in challenging relationships and situations. Recall one missed opportunity, one broken or damaged relationship. Now imagine this person or situation in the light of divine healing love as we ask for forgiveness, and make wise choices according to our best selves.
Presider: Let us extend our arms in a sign of mutual forgiveness as we pray:  
All: I love you, Please forgive me, I am sorry, I thank you.
See Sheet for Readings
First, Psalm Response: 
Gospel reading 

Profession of Faith. All: We believe in God who is calling us to spend these 40 days in time set aside for reflection on our faith, hope, thoughts, words and actions.  
We believe in Jesus Christ our brother and Beloved Son of God who spent time in the desert in prayer and wrestling with his human temptations before beginning his own ministry of teaching, healing and forgiving. 
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of Wisdom Sophia who was present with Jesus in the desert and is present with us now.  Sophia calling us forward on our journey of spiritual evolution into Love as our Brother Jesus lived. 
May we spend these days in reflection so we might grow more Loving as we minister for justice, peace and equality with our own lives and in our communities. 
We believe in the Communion of Saints our heavenly friends and family, who support our spiritual transformational journey while on earth.  We believe Sophia your Spirit is guiding us as we live in the Holy Mystery of Creation. Amen. 

Presider: O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings during our Lenten journey.  Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens for healing of body, mind and soul. 
Response: Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of your world.

Please add your own intentions

Presider: Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God.
All: Amen

Presider:  Blessed are you, O Loving God. This bread is your MMOJ community in our Lenten reflections as we try to follow the Path of Jesus.  Made by human hands, we have this bread to offer, it will become for us the Bread of Life.   ALL:  Praise to God, fill us with your Easter hope to come. 

Presider:  Blessed are you, O God, Creator of all.  This wine is our desire to gather in prayer and worship that we might have a fruitful Lent filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Through your divine providence, we have this wine to offer, it will become our spiritual drink.  ALL: Praise to God, fill us with your Easter hope to come. 

All: Divine Presence, we are united in this sacrament by the love of our Brother Jesus Christ and all who seek to be the Compassion of Jesus this Lenten season across our world and in our time. Amen. 

Eucharistic Prayer. All Sing: We are holy holy holy (x3) We are whole; You are holy holy holy (x3) You are whole; I am holy (x3) I am whole; We are holy holy holy (x3) We are whole. 

Presider:  Please extend your hands in blessing.

All: We are ever aware of your Spirit in us and among us at this Eucharistic table and we are grateful for this bread and wine which reminds us of your presence with us now and our call to be the Body of Christ in the world.

All: On the night before he faced his own death, Jesus sat at supper with his companions and friends.  Jesus reminded them of all that he taught them, and he bent down and washed their feet. 

Presider lifts plate as the community prays the following:

All: When Jesus returned to his place at the table, he lifted the bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it to them saying: Take and eat, this is my very self.

Presider lifts the cup as community prays the following:

All: Then Jesus took the cup of the covenant, spoke the grace, and offered it to them saying: Take and drink.
Whenever you remember me like this,
I am among you.

All: Let us share this bread and cup to proclaim and live the gospel of Justice and Peace. 

All (2nd Invocation of Spirit, with hand on each other’s right shoulder): Like Jesus, we open ourselves up to your Spirit Sophia, for it is through living as Jesus lived, loving and healing others we awaken to your Spirit within each of us this Lent, moving us to glorify you, at this time and all ways. 

Prayer of Jesus “Our Father and Mother”
Song of Peace Joy is flowing like a river, flowing out of you and me, flowing out into the desert, setting all the persons free. Peace is flowing...Hope is flowing…Alleluia

Litany for Breaking of Bread. 
All: Holy One, we will serve the least and the last.
Holy One, we will care for our sisters and brothers in need.
Holy One, we will advocate for justice and peace. 

Presider: Jesus came to liberate, heal and transform each of us and all of us in Your world. All are invited to partake of this banquet of love and to live as the Heart and Hands of our Cosmic Christ. All: We are the Body of Christ, in our place and time.

Prayers of Gratitude from community

Final Blessing. 
All (hand extended over community):
May Holy Sophia, guiding Spirit nudge you to pay attention when opposing forces within tug and pull and you are caught in the tension of choices. May you trust that Holy Sophia will continually lead you to make wise decisions toward the good. Amen**

Presider: Let us go forth as members of Mary Mother of Jesus on our Lenten journey. May we with Jesus celebrate our resurrection on Easter Sunday.  
 All: Thanks be to God. 

*Opening Prayer: Joyce Rupp: Jesus, Friend of My Soul, 
** Final blessing: Joyce Rupp: Jesus Friend of My Soul, adapted from p. 17. 

Opening Image by “Aalmeidah-Pixabay”

Thanks to and adapted from a liturgy by Michael and Imogene Rigdon of MMOJ-Sarasota

First Reading: from Joyce Rupp “Jesus, Friend of the Soul”  
“By spending time with the qualities of Jesus, we are able to become more acquainted with his personal traits of goodness.  We do so by going to where his Spirit stays-in the home of our hearts and the larger dwelling place of the world. As our hearts ignite with a renewed desire to give ourselves more totally to the abiding love of Jesus, we become credible invitations for others to come and see this divine Companion who enthralls us with his Beloved Presence.”

Reflection: When do you feel the Beloved Presence of Jesus? What are the qualities of Jesus that come to your mind? Will you follow where they lead this Lenten reflection time?

Psalm 140 From Psalms for Praying; Nan Merrill
Response: We desire to be a channel of peace. Guide us and Love us into new life!
Deliver me, O give of Breath and Life from any fears we have; help us confront any inner shadows.  They distract us from all that we yearn to be, and hinder the awakening of hidden gifts that we long to share with others. 
Response: We desire to be a channel of peace. Guide us and Love us into new life!
We desire to be a channel of peace; to reflect the beauty of Creation! We want to manifest your love to all whom we meet, and mirror your mercy and justice!  Guide us, O Beloved, that we may become spiritually mature; Love us into new life! 
Response: We desire to be a channel of peace. Guide us and Love us into new life!
For are we not called to make Love conscious in our lives? Reawaken our sense of wonder that we may childlike be; That we might flow in harmony with the universe, and be a bearer of integrity?
Response: We desire to be a channel of peace. Guide us and Love us into new life!
We know that You stand beside those who suffer, and You are the Light of those imprisoned in darkness.  Surely you will guide us into the new dawn that we may live as co-creators with You! 
Response: We desire to be a channel of peace. Guide us and Love us into new life!

Reflection: What words in the psalm/or response touch you this Lent?

Second Reading from Isaiah 58:1-10 
“Is this not the fast which I choose…Remove the chains of injustice! Undo the ropes of the yoke! Let those who are oppressed go free, and break every yoke you encounter!  Share your bread with those who are hungry and shelter homeless poor people! …if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light will rise in the darkness and your shadow will become like noon.” 
Commentary by Sr Melannie Svoboda, SND  (Living with Christ pg. 200) 
 “Share your bread with those who are hungry” You can’t get much clearer or more specific that that.  We are called to feed the hungry… We can do this in many ways: by contributing goods to our local food bank, by helping out at a soup kitchen, by writing a check, by delivering a meal to the homebound.  But the word “bread” can mean other things besides physical food.  People are hungering for more than physical nourishment.  
This Lent look around and ask yourself:  -Who in my life is hungering for my time or attention?  -Who is craving a compliment or simple recognition from me? -Who needs my encouragement or advice? Who could use a hug or my companionship? Who needs my prayers? 
Isaiah says that there is “magic” in giving bread to others: it brightens up our entire life. “God of endless giving, help me to satisfy the hunger in at least one individual I encounter today.”

Reflection: Have you thought of “hungering for bread” this way before? Is there something that comes to mind because persons “hunger for more than physical nourishment” that I can do this Lent? 

The Gospel Reading reflection is adapted from “Wonderous Encounters” by Richard Rohr

Temptations Are Attractions to Partial Goods Mark 1:12–15; Matthew 4:1–11; Luke 4:1–13

In all three Lectionary cycles, the Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent is devoted to the temptation scene of Jesus in the desert from Matthew, Mark, or Luke. That seems to be the way that Jesus experiences his forty days in the desert, so it seems like an appropriate way to start ours.

(What is the) meaning and application for us today? I see the three temptations as the primal and universal temptations that all humans must face before they dare take on any kind of power—as Jesus is about to do. They are all temptations to the misuse of power for purposes less than God’s purpose. They are sequentially the misuse of practical everyday power, the misuse of religious power, and the misuse of political power. (my emphasis) These are the constant tragedies that keep defeating humanity. Jesus passes all three tests, and thus “the devil left him” because he could not be used for lesser purposes. If you face such demons in yourself, God can and will use you mightily. Otherwise, you will, for sure, be used!

But let me point out something we almost always fail to notice. We can only be tempted to something that is good on some level, partially good, or good for some, or just good for us and not for others. Temptations are always about “good” things, or we could not be tempted: in these cases, “bread,” “Scripture,” and “kingdoms in their magnificence.” Most people’s daily ethical choices are not between total good and total evil, but between various shades of good, a partial good that is wrongly perceived as an absolute good (because of the self as the central reference point), or even evil that disguises itself as good. These are what get us into trouble. (my emphasis)

Jesus is the master of spiritual discernment here, which is always much more subtle and particular than mere obedience to external laws. Note that Jesus quotes no moral commandments here, but only wisdom texts from Deuteronomy.

These are the inspired words of Richard Rohr and we affirm them by saying, All: AMEN.

Reflections Have you found within yourself these temptations? In the past? Or the present this Lent?

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