Thursday, April 2, 2009

Roman Catholic Womenpriests: Cloud of Witnesses Retreat

Bishop Elect Andrea Johnson and Hildegard
of Bingen and RCWP Community with our communities and support people, our fillling Cloud of Living Witnesses

My conversation with Andrea was just a bit different from my exchange with Dana Reynolds. Andrea had to think about her real names first. Andrea? Andrew? That didn't seem to work. And Michelle or Michael in his armor and brandishinig his sword didn't fit either.

"Hildegard, Andrea then replied, " because of her boldness and the way she spoke back to bishops!"

Not unlike their Eastern Saint Katherine Drexel.--I thought. Katherine had written in her journals,
" To speak only and when it pleases God; but to lose no opportunity of speaking before priests and beareded men."
PEOPLES' COMAPNION to the BREVIARY,Vol. 1. Carmelites of Indianapolis,1997. 535.

.It seemed to me then, that for Andrea and for all of our Bishops elect and our ordained bishops and ourselves: candidates, deacons, and priests that the work by Hildegard entitled "O Ignis Spiritus Paracliti" is a most powerful and relevant prayer for us in Cloud of Witnesses International and I offer it in prayer for us today.

I am taking the opportunity to re-language from Norma Gentile whose translation comes closest to contemproary conceptions but not close enough for RCWP realities.

I found a statement which links Hildegard to our time and it is from this statement that I am working the re-languaging..

The statetment is from "Poetry Chaikhana"

Hildegard believed:

"All of physical reality even in its most solid forms of earth and rock, all of 'solid' reality...flows . Nothing is as tangible or stationary as it may superficially appear.
All forms possess a sort of divine inner 'sap.'
The fluid Holy Spirit.. that is the true being or essence which shows itself as life: ' and earth sweats her green vigor.' (Hildegard)

This is not a dusty theological statetment, but a vision of life, how the Divine flows unhindered through all creation, and it is that flowing that is life. And all things, all people, you and I, we are not solid, separate physical bodies. We, too, are nothing less than that eternal flow."

Quantum Physics, we could say, has caught up with Hildegard.

O Ignis Spiritus Paracliti(O Comforting Fire of the Spirit)

O life bringing Divine Paraclete
Spirit Holy. O Divine Fire of Ruah
of Wisdom Sophia, you comfort us.
You are the life that flows through
all of Creation. We praise you,
You are the Holy One.

O Holy Anointing Spirit,
you heal us. You suffuse
all our wounds. Even the deepest
receive your life-giving balm.
New life comes to us inwardly
and you then gradually draw us out.

Fire of Love, your Sacred Breath
infuses us. You know us
in the marrow of our bones,
in the core of our hearts and souls.
You then instill us with the strength
and graces we most need.

Fountain of flowing Lght,
you enlighten and draw to you those who are lost. You bring strangers together.
You make possible the re-union of those who are estranged.

You who are our Holy Protector,
show us how to bring unity
in diversity without the divisions created by the need to be right. Keep us as one
and enfold us in your infinitie blessings.

O Caring One of great compassion,
free those held by dark forces from within and without..Dissolve the bonds of all those imprisoned literally or in their hearts and spirits.

O Peneterating Light and Fire,
fill the universe in the height and depth the length and breadth of your great
Wisdom and Love.

As the clouds suffuse the skies.
and wind comes streaming.
As rain falls against stone
and new and fresh water rises,
cleanse our ever greening earth
and bring your refreshing Living water, the Light and Fire of your Living Truth to our understanding and our hearts..

Emboldening Fire of Ruah, draw Your knowledge out from the hidden places within us that we may speak with courage in Holy Wisdom's ways.

We praise you as we hear you in the Universe
that praises you. Sustain us and the Universe through the power of your Holy Spirit Who infuses all Being in the fluid circulation of Your Divine Love.

From RCWP Canada and Europe West
Cloud of Witnesses
re-languaged mbc
jpeg painting "On Holy Ground"
Rose Mewhort
diaconate candidate/.Canada

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Episcopal Posse": Article by Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church

Episcopal Posse
Have you read or heard about the now dead Connecticut House Bill 1098? This story is a must for all Catholics! T
he way this bill was defeated serves as a strong warning to Catholic church reformers. Elected representatives in CT responded to recent large-scale thefts in Catholic parishes by drafting a bill that would modify a historical exception given to the State Catholic corporations allowing Catholic bishops to control who serves as the corporate officers. The legislators met a strong Catholic Crusade against the State's right to establish or change its own rules for incorporation.
In an all-out campaign by way of TV, radio, newspaper ads, letters from the pulpit, etc., the CT bishops mustered a posse of 3500 people to storm Hartford in protest against this bill which would require that parish members elect those who serve on the board of their Catholic parish corporation. Imagine that! Parishioners elect the parish State corporation.board! An excommunicatable offense?
Hearing about it, the legislators killed the bill before they arrived.Bridgeport Bishop William E. Lori, called Senate Bill 1098 "irrational, unlawful and bigoted" and "a thinly veiled attempt to silence the Catholic Church". Might their response be "a thinly veiled attempt" to keep secret what they have gotten away with for many years? The lesson here is: Don't mess with the Principalities of Catholic Princes!
While not a matter of interfering with our Roman Catholic faith or sacraments, for us to seek some participation in governance decisions on the use of our contributions seems to be the greatest act of schism we can commit as evidenced by this forceful and successful Catholic hierarchy blatant interference with the State. Such is the Prince-bishops' power over our elected civil authorities. And our money keeps them in power.
Remembering the Women Sunday Readings 4/6 Palm Sunday - 2 Samuel 13:1-22, Mark 14:3-9, 66-72, 15:40-414/12 Easter Sunday - John 20:1-18
Authorization given to distribute this article as is without any change. Thank you.
Support for The Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC) is greatly appreciated. Comments welcomed or 1-877-700-ARCC (2722).

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Roman Catholic Womenpriests: Cloud of Witnesses Retreat

Bishop Dana Reynolds and Hildegard of Bingen

"Well, Dana, I asked, who is St. Dana?
Or rather who is your Patron Saint?

"Hildegard of Bingen. "

There was no hesitation in her reply. She did not have to think for even 1/2 sec.

Here is a woman who knows her own mind and mystical heritage, I said to myself.

"Because of her creativity," Dana further asserted.

There was no mistaking Dana's integrity in her knowing.

In one of her Sacred Imaginations Website entries Dana has said,

"Creative self-expression allows us to connect with the wisdom and desires of our souls for better self understanding and healing.
It also serves as prayer, drawing us closer to our Creator."

The Work:

I have knowm many artists working in a number of artistic media but not all make this spiritual connection so boldly. In my own writing and artistic work, I know that what Dana says is true and I would add that the language of symbol and metaphor, of analogy , of story and narrative and interview and imaging in any artistic form can bring us into mystical experience. It can take us into Divine Union and this must have been from where Hildegard, completely infused by the Luminous Spirit of God prolifically poured forth her work in an immense range of expressions, even when she was unwell.

The knowledge and gifts of artistic talent and craft must undergird and penetrate the expression, however, and in the case of Hildegard and Dana this is exactly the reality.

One need only take a look at each of their works.

The Sacred Space:

In the sandstone house, yellow and blending in with the environment of Carmel, California, Dana has created a spiritual artistic environment that bathes you in light and in the sight of beautiful sacred objects in every nook and cranny (and it is a kind of nook and crannied home). Vivid varieites of flowers and vibrantly alive plants bring the outdoors in and the inside...out!

You can choose from comfortable deep sink into rest furniture or you can sit upright and straight in carved wooden chairs if that is your preference. or your need. The hearty smell of fresh baked olive brio bread lets you know you are embraced by gracious hospitality.

Victoria Rue, Kathleen Kunster and Michele Birch-Conery;( I flew down from Canada for the weekend)--made our pre- St. Lawrence ordination retreat one weekend in May/05 just prior to our ordinations to the priesthhod and diaconate.

It was a weekend rich in soul and heart bonding and in immersion in the sacred emvironment I have just described.

Yet, as RCWP, we did not entirely have the opportunity to just rest in our retreat. A phone call from somewhere important alerted us to the fact that we had to quick make the liturgy for the ordination and thus began a 4 way team and partnered text crash. We interpsersed our work with other activities such as two really good meals., a walk in the deep sand a few blocks away on the shores of our great Pacific Ocean and then???? A labyrinth walk.

On Sunday eveming, Victoria had to leave but we still had some time left for Monday a.m. and it was then that Dana brought out her astonishing writings. I was awed at the extent, the beauty and the mysticism of Dana's conception of a brand new special religious order of women. And I thought of Hildegard. I made the connection then and remember it today.

I've forgotten the name of the order and it doesn't matter because there we had been, little seedlings germinating together all weekend and not knowing that this is who we were to become and now the rest of you have come and we continue to become in our fragile but growing and maturing RCWP.

Today from Canada in rememberance and acknowledgement I pray and I pray with my sisters and brothers here and in Europe:

Today, we ask Wisdom Sophia to further infuse the graces of Spirit Holy into our sister Bishop Dana Reynolds. May the inexhaustible creativity of her patron Hildegard lead her in continued deep spiritual understanding and expression for her own deepening and for the furtherance of our evolving RCWP movement.

May Dana, Joan, Bridget Mary, Regina and Andrea, combine their gifts freely and unabashedly in total freedom and trust, in inclusivity with each other and with us, as we unfold our model of priestly ministry and stand together in solidarity around difficulties that arise.

May we continue to know the complete joy especially begun the morning of the reurrection when Mary Magadalen became the first apostle to the apostles. In knowing Mary's call and empowerment, may we encourage healing and renewal in the spirit of all women especially those who have been oppressed within Church environments and others in their racial and cultural daily realities.

Love to you all,
RCWP Canada and Europe
composed today March 31/09

Ordinations in Toronto 2007
Bishop Patricia Fresen ordains Marie Bouclin

I have been re-reading this passage from Rosemary Radford Ruether’s recent book Catholic ≠ the Vatican, which I underlined because it gave me hope. It is my prayer for you and all of us this day.

"(We) are engaged in a process the future of which cannot be predicted. It may be that those of us concerned with (church) reforms will grow tired of institutional intransigence and go elsewhere, or it may be that at least parts of the official institution will open itself to greater acceptance of such movements. I hope that we are engaged in a process that will lead to eventual transformation of the official institution to allow legitimacy to the broader range of thought and life. But meanwhile, we can and must carry on living ways of being a Christian community that satisfy our vision of what is authentic and truthful. In short, we need to insist on being the church today and not waiting to be allowed to do so in some distant future. "(emphasis mine).

For RCWP Europe and RCWP Canada,

Marie Bouclin

Monday, March 30, 2009

Roman Catholic Womenpriests: Cloud of Witnesses Retreat- "God Made Me a Priest"

"God Made Me a Priest"
Poor Gertrude, triply silenced in a Christian cocoon of misogyny.

You are Eve, daughter of Satan: your mouth speaks only evil.

You, a woman, are under obedience: your voice is irrelevant,
Your superiors speak for you, if speech is necessary, which from women is rarely so.

You are less than nobody in God’s church: was it not you, a woman, who dealt with the devil, and caused sin to grow and drag down forever the church of God?
You caused the death and suffering of Jesus; now take your place submissively as an evil irrelevancy.

But God said to Gertrude:
Write, speak, forgive sins in my name: I will never let your words be in vain,
I now make you a priest of God, you are my mouthpiece.
My words are your words and yours mine.
The words of the powerful are shallow like pebbles in an empty can.

I now touch your mouth, today I make you my priest:
Feed the people,
Bless the bread,
Share the wine.
Speak for me to them.
Remove their doubts and scruples.
Lift their burdens.
Help the women to stand tall.
Tell them, “Come.”

No wonder we call her Gertrude the Great,
Ordained by God Herself, spokesperson of the Holy One.
God of Gertrude, Gertrude of God,
Touch our mouths with courage,
Loosen our tongues to speak,
Straighten our back to stand tall,
Priest us! Priest the women,
God the Great, Gertrude the Great.

Marie Bouclin
Inspired by Gertrude the Great of Helfta (Mary Malone, Praying with the Women Mystics, Novalis, 2006

Pope Benedict ignores principles of Catholic Moral Theology in reference to HIV husbands use of condoms to avoid infecting faithful wives

A Comment Wm. J. Schuch
on an article by John Allen
which recently appeared in the National Catholic Reporter.

I am dismayed that in his reason #5, Mr. Allen fails to mention that many of the millions of deaths
from AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa might have be avoided if Benedict XVI and his predecessor had not ignored established principles of Catholic pastoral moral theology,
viz. double effect, lesser evil and the right to self-defense -
which make it a moral imperative
that HIV-positive husbands use condoms in order not to infect their faithful wives.

Benedict owes those hapless women who are needlessly suffering fromHIV/AIDS a sincere "mea culpa, mea maxima culpa" as well as an immediate and unequivocal declaration that HIV-husbands are morally obligated to use condoms if they insist on sexual relations with their wives, lest they become guilty of manslaughter
(or more accurately"womanslaughter") if not murder.

This should not be an opportunity for a triumphal Benedict to dispense his pious blessings but rather along-overdue opportunity for a penitential Pontiff to beg forgivenessfrom the victims of his failure and that of his predecessor to show theCompassion of Christ for these women who are victims not only of theirmale-dominated societies but also their male-dominated church.

Wm. J. Schuch