Sunday, August 16, 2020

A Woman’s Revolution in Ordinary Time, August 16, 2020 Community of St. Bridget Inclusive Catholic Community, Mary Eileen Collingwood ARCWP

Suggestion:  Please provide a piece of bread and cup of wine/juice so that you can participate fully in this liturgy.

In the Gospel story of the pregnant Mary visiting her also pregnant cousin Elizabeth, Mary entered Elizabeth’s house and greeted her.  As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Before we begin this liturgy, may we greet one another the same:  May the presence of that same Holy Spirit leap joyfully within each of us as we gather in the fullness of this Eucharistic experience. 

Opening Song: We Bring Who We Are - by Colleen Fulmer

I am who I bring from yesterday,
I am who I am today,
I am who I am for all the days to come,
I am a woman
A glorious creation of praise.

We are who we bring from yesterday,
We are who we are today,
We are who we are for all the days to come,
We are women
Glorious creations of praise.

Today we celebrate A Woman’s Revolution in Ordinary Time.  In traditional observance, yesterday’s feast was the Assumption of Mary, and today’s Gospel speaks of a woman requesting Jesus’ help in curing her daughter.  Both images bespeak the courage and faith of a woman—once the premise of patriarchy and hierarchical viewpoints are removed. 

Please join in as we celebrate who we are as believers and who we are called to be as we spread the word of women’s truth within this sacred space and throughout our world, in the name of the Divine: Source of All Being, Eternal Word, and +Holy Spirit.
ALL:  Amen.

Transformation Rite
As we prepare to celebrate our love for Jesus, let us be open to the transformative power of the Divine presence in our lives:

1.   We lament there are many in our world and in this city, who lack the necessities of daily life.  May we all learn the ways of compassion and justice, we pray:
ALL:  May the Spirit of Compassionate Women change our hearts.

2.   In our hope for a better world, we embrace that good spirit in people that strives to overcome the emotions and behavior of fear, hatred and prejudice, we pray:
ALL:  May the Spirit of Compassionate Women, change our hearts.

3.   In our hope for a better world, we embrace that force within ourselves, and the force that is beyond ourselves, that makes forgiveness possible.  And so, we pray:
ALL:  May the Spirit of Compassionate Women, change our hearts.

We breathe the life of God as we breathe the air about us.  May we breathe it more deeply.  This is our prayer.
ALL:  Amen

Cantor:  Glory to God, glory!  O praise God, alleluia!
              Glory to God, glory!  O praise the name of our God!

ALL:  Glory be to the One in whom we live, and move and have our being,          
         to the many who participate in this ONE life, and to the Spirit who
         gathers us as ONE in Love, as it was in the beginning, is now in ever
         evolving, worlds without end.  Amen.

Cantor:  Glory to God, glory…

Opening Prayer
O Holy One, may we see your feminine face in our female ancestors and in all women.  May we open our hearts, like Mary of Nazareth, to the Creator of All.  May we see the divine reality in women who praise you and honor your creation by serving others.  May we, like Mary, live our lives with the faith of our convictions, and proclaim God’s blessings with joy.  May the God of love, forgive us our lack of trust in your Spirit Sophia moving with us, in us, and through us, leading us to guidance, courage, healing and empowerment.  
ALL: Amen.

We now call upon the Spirit of Our Living God as we listen to the Good News broken open and shared by all.

First Reading:  an excerpt from “Stewardship: A Feminine Perspective” by Doris Donnelly

A reading from the woman theologian, Doris Donnelly:

One of the clearest justice statements of the Christian Scriptures is made by a woman, and a singularly important woman, Mary.  Protestant theologians have recently taken to suggesting that Mary should be reinvestigated and reinvigorated as a role model for women.  While my own sentiments support this type of endeavor, I am also led to suggest that Mary would not only provide an adequate role model for women, but for stewards as well, and most particularly with reference to the question of justice.

It is in Mary’s prayer of the prophetic tradition placed on her lips in chapter one of the Gospel of Luke that she, like women of the Bible before and after her, maps out a liberative message promised by God to God’s people.

In that message, Mary announces, in modern terminology,

(1) a cultural revolution in which the proud are replaced by the poor and simple (‘You have deposed the mighty from their thrones and raised the lowly to high places.”’ Lk. 1:52);

(2) a political revolution where the power passes from the mighty to the masses and where traditional political structures crumble; and

(3) an economic revolution which provides, finally, food for the hungry and starving of the world while the rich are sent away empty.

Mary then, in that prophetic tradition enunciated by Hannah before her, proclaims a reversal of values: where the haves change places with the have-nots.

It is not simply a case of the hungry being fed; it is more precisely and poignantly a situation where the hungry are fed and the fed are hungry.  It has been observed that Mary has often been regarded as the comforter of the disturbed when she is far more accurately the disturber of the comfortable!

Certainly, the socially radical statement that the Gospel writers chose to give her elevated her from accepting the status quo and urges us to consider a new model, and a feminine one at that, of stewardship…”

The inspired words of theologian, Doris Donnelly.  Amen.
Responsorial: Luke 1: 46-55
Blessed is She by Colleen Fulmer

Refrain:  Blessed is She, who believed,
               That the promise made her by our God
               Would be fulfilled, would be fulfilled!  
And Mary said:
"Let me sing the praise of God
For having touched this lowly one
And from now on I shall be called:
'Woman most highly blessed.'”  R

Holy is our God!
Whose kindness never ends
Who by great strength has scattered the proud
And raises up the poor
And gathers them into all fullness.  R

For God has come
To this servant Israel
To show all mercy now and forever
As was promised Sarah and Abraham
And their children forever.”  R

Second Reading:  excerpt from “In Pursuit of Peace: Praying the Rosary Through the Psalms” by Joan Chittister, OSB

A reading from “In Pursuit of Peace” by Joan Chittister:

Psalm 16 sings, “You will not allow the one you love to see the pit; you will reveal the path of life to me, give me unbounded joy in your presence.”

Those whom God loves, the psalm promises, will be raised up above the thousand daily deaths that come into every life. When we raise our hearts and souls to God, the things that drag us down will lose their grip on us. When we refuse to become imprisoned by things and status and ambition and self and greed, our souls are set free and our bodies are unburdened. Life becomes livable again. Enough becomes enough. God becomes God again.

But where can we possibly go to find someone whose life is not tethered to the earth to the point of death? What proof do we have that anyone can rise above what we want to what we can become?
The answer surely is Mary of the Assumption whose love of God lifted her far above the goals and gains of those who had never really seen the Christ for what he was, because their mind’s eye was taken up totally with what they were themselves. Mary of the Assumption teaches us to keep our eyes on the things of heaven; to free ourselves from the fetters of anything lesser; to develop a vision outside of ourselves; and to allow ourselves to be lifted up beyond the petty and the transient to the eternal and the unalloyed.

Mary of the Assumption is a sign of what we can become if we are willing to let go of what we have planned for ourselves.

The inspired words of spiritual writer, Sr. Joan Chittister.  Amen. 
Cantor:  8 Alleluias

Gospel:  Matthew 15:21-28

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew:

Jesus left Gennesaret and departed for the district of Tyre and Sidon.  It happened that a Canaanite woman living in that area came and cried out to Jesus, “Heir to the House of David, have pity on me!  My daughter is horribly demon-possessed.”

Jesus did not respond to her.  The disciples came up and repeatedly said to him, “Please get rid of her!  She keeps calling after us.”  But Jesus turned to the woman and said, “My mission is only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

She then prostrated herself before him with the plea, “Help me, Rabbi!”

He answered, “But it is not right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

“True, Rabbi,” she replied, “but even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table.”

Jesus then said in reply, “Woman, you have great faith!  Your wish will come to pass.”  At that very moment her daughter was healed.

The inspired words of the evangelist, Matthew.  Amen.

Cantor:  8 Alleluias

Homily/Reflection A Woman’s Revolution, August 16, 2020

Faithful to the theme of this liturgy, A Woman’s Revolution in Ordinary Time,
Doris Donnelly presents the revolutionary aspect of Mary’s Magnificat in cultural, political and economic terms.  These aspects carry with them an ongoing movement of a socially radical departure from the status quo, wherein the lowly are raised up, political structures crumble, and the distribution of goods favor those in need, and sends those with abundance away.   

The connection between the wonderfully radical proclamation of Mary in our First Reading and Responsorial, with the woman seeking a cure for her daughter in today’s Gospel, comes with the realization that the Gospel story is an example of how Mary’s words become flesh.

It was after the execution of John the Baptist, when Jesus was leaving the land of Israel and wandered into pagan territory to escape the threat of Herod’s pursuit, and lie low for a time.  He crossed territorial and cultural boundaries, as well as putting himself in danger of a public social exchange with pagans—especially pagan women.  And yet, he ventured there and was recognized by a Canaanite mother seeking healing for her daughter.

She and her people were considered the arch enemy with whom Israel had struggled for possession of the land.  She disregards the appropriate social decorum by speaking to Jesus, in as much as he disregarded the territorial boundaries by being there. 

Jesus makes it clear that his mission did not include the Gentiles, as ethnic purity would prohibit it.  The Canaanites were even called “dogs” by the Jews of that time.  No, Jesus’ mission was only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  His chauvinistic attitude shown quite clearly when he insulted and shunned her. 

Yet this woman, as a dedicated steward, continues to plead for the healing of her daughter.  Nothing would stop her supplications.  A mother’s enduring love for her child drives her to seek help without being deterred. She turns Jesus’ words around and challenges him by saying that even dogs get the scraps from the table.  She heard he had the power to heal, and sought it for her daughter.  The woman stood on solid ground in her own territory as she pushed him to admit her right to demand his help.  And Jesus could not resist; the faith of the mother ultimately ushered in the healing of her daughter. 

Jesus lost this battle, to be sure!  Not only does this mother depose him from his high and mighty throne, not only did she crumble the political correctness of the time, her hunger for her daughter’s cure was satisfied. 
Yet, the encounter with this strong and determined woman forced Jesus to move beyond the limited confines of his own cultural experience.  Her faith and tenacity allowed Jesus to realize his mission was much too narrow; he needed to go forth and include all people.

Yes, Jesus evolved.  We all evolve—either into or out of something.  As Jesus experienced an awakening in this Gospel story, our Second Reading today marks a change in faith perspective for all of us.  An expanded understanding of fresh and insightful interpretations of Scripture gives rise to fresh and insightful interpretations of dogma. Our raised consciousness of the Spirit’s presence in our lives spurs us on to transformation.  This is exactly what Jesus was about when he interpreted Scripture anew to the Jews in the Temple. 

Through the spiritual acuity of Joan Chittister, we can welcome Mary’s Assumption with a deepening sense of clarity that continues to enlighten. Chittister takes the kernel of truth in this Feast and broadens it by embracing the hope and joy that lies ahead of us. Lifting us beyond the petty and transient to the eternal and unalloyed.  As the psalmist says, we are lifted from the pit and the path of life is revealed. Mary was lifted from the clenches of oppression into the realm of freedom. 

When we become aware that open minds and faithful hearts are capable of enveloping lofty ideas, ideas that are not constricted within small imaginations or structures, we are able to open ourselves to the energy emanating from Spirit Sophia.  Our future then unfolds beyond our wildest dreams.  Focusing on that future while accompanied by that Spirit, fashions the fullness of our being, radiating unbounded joy!

The church’s liturgical calendar puts us in Ordinary Time.  May it be that this extraordinary feminine revolution be realized in All Time! 

What truths has the Spirit revealed to you on your life’s pathway?

Affirmation of Faith

4.   We believe in God who is creator and nurturer of all.

5.   We believe in Jesus, the Christ, who is our love, our hope, and our light.

6.   We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of Wisdom Sophia, who energizes and guides us to build caring communities and to challenge oppression, exploitation and injustices.

7.   We believe that God loves us passionately and forgives us everything.

1.   We believe that we are radiant images of God who calls us to live fully, love tenderly, and serve generously.

2.   We believe in the communion of saints our heavenly friends, who support us on life’s journey.

3.   We believe in the partnership and equality of women and men in our church and world.

4.   We believe that all are one in the Heart of God.

5.   We believe that women’s liberation is human liberation. 
Here we dwell in loving relationships. 
Here we live our prophetic call of Gospel equality.  Amen.

Prayers of the Faithful
Always mindful of our Creator’s love and care for us, we bring to our Table prayers of thanksgiving, petitions for help and compassion.  We pray that we will awaken to the call of responding to these prayers in the name of Jesus.  We turn our hearts and minds through these prayers to his message, to his hopes and dreams, to his ardent desire for a better society.  After each request, our response remains:  We awaken to your call!

6.   Thank you, O Christ, for all the ways you heal us.  Open our hearts to receive your healing grace and let us, like the woman in our Gospel today, put all our trust in your healing energy.  For this we pray…

7.   Mary and the other women and men disciples persevered with Jesus, even when he was persecuted by his own religious leadership and government authorities.  God of Strength, help us stand in Jesus’ truth and healing love especially when we experience persecution for justice’ sake.  For this we pray…

1.   Because of her mothering witness and fidelity, Mary of Nazareth is known as the Mother of the Church.  Help us, O God of Righteousness, to accept your apostolic call to go and tell our brothers and sisters of Jesus’ power to heal… even our wounded church and other structures which exclude.” For this we pray…

2.   Women were faithful disciples of Jesus and significant leaders in the early Christian communities.  Help us Most Inclusive One, to reclaim our baptismal call to leadership.  For this we pray…

        (For what else or whom shall we pray?)

O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us.  May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings.  Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory.  Listen to our hearts’ longing for the healing of our world.  Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God.  Amen.

As we prepare for this sacred meal, we reaffirm that just as Jesus was anointed, so is each of us.  And so, we celebrate our Creator’s fruitful love as we extend our blessing to one another with joy.  May the peace that our brother, Jesus, offers, be always with us!

We place on our plate the harvest to be won by labor’s love.  And into the cup we pour all the sap which is to be pressed out this day from the Earth’s fruits.
ALL:  Blessed be the Divine Presence forever!

Prayer Over the Gifts
Holy Mystery, we offer this prayer in union with the whole church.  In this bread and wine, you give us food for body and spirit.  May our strength be renewed by your generous blessings that will bring us health of mind and body.
ALL:  Amen.

The Holy One is with us, abounding in love!
3.   We open our hearts in Christ, who lives and loves, heals and empowers through us! 
4.   Let us give thanks to the Source of All Life.

Here in This Place by Christopher Grundy  (lyric/video)

Holy One may your presence here
open our minds.
May your Spirit among us
help us to find
you are rising up now
like a fountain of grace
from the holy ground,
here in this place.

Holy, holy, holy God
of love and majesty!
The whole universe speaks of your glory
from the holy ground here in this place. Here in this place.

5.   We give grateful thanks for those who came before us, for all those who
gave from their hearts, who gave from their lives, that there might be a
better world, a safer world, a kinder world, we pray for peace in their

6.   And for the children, that they may live, that they may have children of
their own and that it will go on – this great blossoming that is meant to go on and on – we pray for peace, in their name.

7.   And for all peoples of this Earth who have no voice in this,
For the animals that have no voice in this,
For the plants, the trees, the flowers that have no voice in this,
For all who share this Earth with us, we pray for peace in their name.

1.     You are holy indeed O Mothering God. You are the Heart of Love. You  
  affirm women’s bodies as holy and women’s stories as sacred.  Pour out
  your Spirit upon all who work for justice and equality.

ALL:  (extend hands) We now call upon you, O Spirit of Life, to bless and enliven
all that exists.  You +transform these gifts of bread and wine, and our
very lives, by boundless grace that nourishes and sustains us on our
journey—our mission to be the loving face of God in our world.

2.   This Table we share is adorned with gifts given for all to share in equality
     and justice, a Table where all are welcome, and from which nobody is to be

3.   As a Christian people we celebrate the Open Table, proclaimed by Jesus our liberator and our friend, a Table of abundant life, inclusive love, and liberation.

ALL:  On the night before he faced his own death and for the sake of living
         fully, Jesus sat at the Seder supper with his companions and friends,
women and children as well as men.  He reminded them of all that he taught them, and to fix that memory clearly within them, he bent down and washed their feet.  When he returned to his place at the Table, he lifted the Passover bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread, and offers it to us now saying:
Take and eat; this is my very self. (all raise bread)

ALL:  He then raised high the Cup of Blessing, spoke the grace, and offers  
         it to us saying:
Take and drink of the cup of my life-blood through which the covenant is
made new again through my life, for you and for everyone, for liberation
from every oppression.  Whenever you do this, re-member me!
(all raise cup)

As we share this bread and cup, let us embrace this mystery of faith:
ALL:  Nurtured by your Word, nourished by your food, called anew to be your
people, we acclaim your praise!

4.   As we celebrate this sacred meal, we recall the wise and gracious gifts bestowed on us down through the ages; and we look forward in hope, knowing that you, our wise and faithful God, will continue to endow us with abundant blessings.

5.   Sending among us our brother, Jesus, you birth afresh in our world the power of Sophia-Wisdom, and in the gift of the Spirit, your creative goodness blooms anew, amid the variety and wonder of life.
6.   And may we ever be aware and alert to the new things Spirit Sophia makes possible, as our world unfolds amid pain and beauty, into the fullness of life to which all are called, participating in the wise and wonderful work of co-creation.
ALL:  For it is through learning to live as Jesus lived,
         And why he lived,
         And for whom he lived,
         That we awaken to your Spirit within,
         Moving us to worship you truly,
         Life-giving God,
         At this time and all time and in all ways.  Cantor: Amen!

Let us pray together in the Name of Jesus:
7.   O Holy One, you are within, around and among us,
     We celebrate your many names.
     Your Wisdom come, Your will be done,
     Unfolding from the depths within us.

1.  Each day you give us all we need;
     You remind us of our limits, and we let go.
     You support us in our power, and we act with courage.

2.  For you are the dwelling place within us,
     The empowerment around us,
     And the celebration among us, now and forever.  Amen. 

Please join in our prayer for the breaking of the bread:
ALL:  Loving God, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice.  We will   
          live justly. 
          Loving God, You call us to be Your presence in the world.  We will love
          Loving God, You call us to speak truth to power. We will walk with
          integrity in your presence.

This is the Bread of Life, and Cup of Blessing. Through it we are nourished and we nourish one another. 

ALL:  What we have heard with our ears, we will live with our lives; as we share
          communion, we will become communion, both Love’s nourishment and
          Love’s challenge.

Communion Meditation:  Ave Maria – Celine Dion

Ave Maria! Maiden mild!
Oh, listen to a maiden's prayer
For thou canst hear amid the wild
'Tis thou, 'tis thou canst save amid despair.
We slumber safely 'til the morrow
Though we've by man outcast reviled
Oh, maiden, see a maiden's sorrow
Oh, Mother, hear a suppliant child!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria
gratia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Ave, Ave dominus
Dominus tecum

The murky cavern's air so heavy
Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled
Oh, maiden, hear a maiden pleadin'
Oh, Mother, hear a suppliant child
Ave Maria, Ave Maria!

Closing Prayer
Our God of love and compassion, just as you called Mary as a young girl, you also call us to go forth and be bearers of new life and good news.  We answer you as people who are often unsure of our desire to be so embraced.  Guide women closer to You and to each other.  Strengthen us in our walks of life,  build us into the your Kindom,  and seal us with the Spirit of your promise.  We ask this through our Holy Sophia.
ALL:  Amen.

Blessing: All are invited to extend your hands for a mutual blessing:

  1.  May wonder and thanksgiving fill us, may compassion penetrate us, that
 we may penetrate the numbness that continues our society’s injustices.

  1.  May we know that we are loved.

  1.  May we continue to be the face of God to each other.

  1.  And may we be blessed in our time in the name of the Divine: 
           Source of All Being, Eternal Word, and Holy Spirit.  ALL:  Amen.

Go in the peace of Christ.  May Mary and all the faithful, determined women of the Gospels be our model of courage and faithful service.  By their example may we delight in our presence before our Creator and shout with joy: I, too, am most highly blessed!
ALL:   Thanks be to God.

Closing Song: Woman Spirit – sung by Karen Drucker; words and music by Marvella
                                                        McParland & Lynn Fugua

Woman’s Spirit is beauty
Woman’s Spirit runs deep
Woman loves with compassion
Our perfection is complete…

Woman’s Spirit is graceful
Woman’s Spirit is wise
Woman’s Spirit is moving
Bringing love into our lives…

Woman’s Spirit is passion
Woman’s Spirit is birth
Woman’s power unfolding
To honor life on Earth.

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