Thursday, June 18, 2009

Roman Catholic Womenpriests: Homily by Kathy Reddig on Corpus Christi

Kathy Reddig is a Roman Catholic Womanpriest
who serves a Catholic Community in Minnesota. She gave permission to share the homily she preached on Corpus Christi Sunday, June 14, 2009.

Homily—Corpus Christi

June 14, 2009

Over the years, since the time of Jesus, when he first made the Passover Meal something new by proclaiming the profound words, “This is my body, this is my blood, the whole notion of the Body and Blood of Jesus—or Corpus Christi—which actually means, “the Body of Christ, has made quite an evolution. Even from the time when I was a child learning about these mysteries—a span of 50 years, I have seen the changes. When I was preparing to make my first, (and we always added then) “holy” communion—it was all about reverence, worship and awe. There were special protocols if ever a host was dropped—everything stopped and it was as if everyone was holding their collective breath until Father retrieved a white cloth and picked Jesus up so that no one would step on him—something we would never have wanted to do!

Jesus, in the form of bread and wine was so sacred then that there were special things everyone had to remember about even how to receive this gift that was originally intended as a way for our God in Jesus to be closer to us. In those days, as many of you recall, we didn’t even receive the wine—the most precious blood was simply too precious for us to receive. And we received the host, the most precious body on our tongues as we weren’t worthy to touch it and we were never to chew it. This puts a great deal of stress on a young child like myself who was also very reverent and would never think of desecrating the host in any way.

Today things have changed. With Vatican II, we were encouraged by John XXIII to open some windows, let some fresh air in—think again about the original intention of this special gift. Jesus took common elements—the stuff of the Passover Meal—

flat bread—matzos—remembering the time of their forebears’ fleeing captivity in Egypt—no time to put leaven in the flour—wine, the common drink. Within the course of this religious ritual, Jesus did something new. He said, never again will you need to offer atonement/blood offerings to our God. I will become the sacrificial lamb who takes upon himself all the sufferings—all the evil that humans are capable of—I will become at last the offering that “cleanses your consciences”—makes you a whole and worthy gift to our loving God. My whole life has been to show you the way—this is my body—you are my body for the world. This is my blood—you are now that blood—that life-force, and without you, I have no heart, no voice, no eyes, no ears to engage the world. I came that you might know how much our loving God holds each one of you close—in the palm of God’s hand—carries you close under her heart as a mother soon-to-be carries her precious young.

Today, as a result of Vatican II, I see there being much more emphasis on the body of Christ, which is all of us, than on the body of Christ which is represented by the bread and wine on the table that we will soon together make sign and symbol of Jesus present among us.

Another aspect of those pre-Vatican II times, as I described earlier was the over-emphasis on worshipping the body and blood of Jesus in the form of bread and wine. It spawned practices of Eucharistic devotion and perpetual adoration—practices the Church is trying desperately today to reinstate, which will further keep Jesus away—untouchable as in earlier times.

The word “transubstantiation” –a word we second graders in the 50’s could barely pronounce and even less understood, was the talk of the day whenever the Eucharist was mentioned. The doctrine, as most of you know, states that one must believe that the bread and wine, with the words of consecration, have become “flesh” and “blood” even though they still appear to be bread and wine—taste like bread and wine.

The question perhaps to ask is—can the bread and wine—looking like bread and wine, tasting like bread and wine, still be Jesus-with-us? How about this? When we eat the bread and drink the wine, sign and symbol of Jesus-with-us, it becomes, actually, flesh and blood in our bodies. Again, I believe this is an instance of us taking Jesus’ words too literally and spending undo time and energy trying to get our heads around something that is not intelligible. I believe what Jesus intended is that he would remain with us, a part of us, body and blood, by incorporating all that he taught us and making it literally, a part of us. That’s what we mean when we say we are now Jesus’ body for our world. Hopefully, we become a bit more transformed into the body and blood of Jesus each day. People should be able to see Jesus in our actions.

Jesus’ task on this earth was to show us the way—he said, you will do greater things than I. He wasn’t going to be the one staying around—that would be our task. He knew we would need to feel his presence and thus he gave us the Eucharist—as a way to remember him, as a way to receive the strength needed to be his body in our world.

You might have wondered why we all say the words of institution unlike in the traditional Church. Many inclusive communities have been doing this for several years now and it is reflective of taking ownership for Jesus present-among-us.

We all together say the words that in effect make it so and it is again a mystery we can only see around the edges—dimly, as through a glass, to use Paul’s words. If we can grasp the fact that our God has loved us from all time, and that is proven by the sending of Jesus to be one with us, we have gotten the core message. Then, because Jesus couldn’t remain with us in physical form, he left us a way—a sacrament that when we share it, we become cognizant of his presence with us in a special way. We live in our respective worlds—in our own life situations and we are Jesus’ body and blood for the world, if we so choose.

For me, if it is a choice between reverencing Jesus’ body in the host and in the cup or reverencing Jesus’ body in our world and its people, my choice is clear—the world and its people.

So, am I saying that the sacrament of the altar is not important to me? No, on the contrary—it continues to be a very important ritual and a starting place for me. Jesus’ gift to each of us—his body, his blood, his loving, his dying, his rising—all instill within me a great sense of responsibility because if I believe he is here present, then I am called to make his gift my own—and not only my own, but a gift I am obligated to share with my world.

Earlier, I spoke about Vatican II bringing fresh air into the Church. In this homily, I have spent the most of my time trying to help us see the importance of putting the stress in the right place. As a child, I had a great reverence for the Eucharist—I went to Catholic schools and on special days when there was 40 hours devotion—the Eucharist was displayed outside the tabernacle.

I thought it so wonderful to go into the Cathedral on my lunch break and worship Jesus there. Those were the thoughts of a child. As an adult, I believe Jesus meant so much more than that.

I remember God’s words to the 1st Testament people—I don’t want your offerings of bullocks and lambs—we might add—I don’t need you to worship me in the bread and the wine, but in the flesh and blood of my people. There was a time when we worried about dropping the host and desecrating it on the floor—I believe Jesus is more concerned about the desecration that happens when we fail to recognize him in the sufferings and needs of others. Our God simply wants us to have clean hearts that show our love by the way we live our lives.

So my friends, I invite us to have great reverence for the Eucharistic

meal—something we make our own each time we celebrate together, each time we say the words that make Jesus present here in our lives in a special way. We remember Jesus’ words to us—where two or three are gathered in my name—I am there. We become a family when we share this meal—we become vulnerable to each other as we eat together and we promise as a community, with Jesus’ help to continue to share his life among us. That is why anyone who wants to be part of our celebration and partake of the meal is welcome here, because Jesus has 1st welcomed us. Partaking of the bread and wine as sign and symbol of Jesus with us only makes sense if we then go out and share the gift of Jesus’ love with all we meet. Worshipping or reverencing Jesus in the bread and wine only makes sense if we likewise reverence him in each person who comes into our lives.

Roman Catholic Womenpriests live renewed priestly ministry :Women's Ordination Conference Statement on Vatican's Year of the Priest

Mary, Mother of Jesus Catholic Community
Celebrates Eucharist in Sarasota, Fl.
Sheila Carey performs a liturgical dance during Lenten season.

Pope Benedict declared a Jubilee Year of the priest from June 19, 2009 to June 19, 2010. During this year of the priest, Roman Catholic Womenpriests are offering the church the gift of a renewed priestly ministry in a community of equals in grassroots communities where we serve God's people NOW. We are birthing the renewal of the Roman Catholic priesthood in our time as an inclusive partnerhsip within the community of faith.

Roman Catholic Womenpriests are working for justice for women in the church and for a total transformation of patriarchal structures to reflect the Spirit's presence in all the baptized as disciples and equals. As the Women's Ordination Statement below states:

When women are full and equal partners in every aspect of the Catholic Church, only then, will the Roman Catholic Church be associated with accountability, transparency and justice rather than hierarchy, exclusion, and scandal."

Now is the time for Catholics who love our ancient tradition-- which includes a twelve hundred year history of women serving as deacons, priests and bishops-- to live Jesus' vision of Gospel equality.
Let us promote an inclusive, renewed priestly ministry in a renewed Catholic Church where justice is a reality and all are welcome at the table.
Bridget Mary Meehan, rcwp
June 19, 2009


MEDIA CONTACT: Clarissa Mendez, office: +1 (202) 675-1006

Women's Ordination Conference Statement On
Vatican's Year of the Priest
On March 16, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI announced a Jubilee Year of the Priest beginning tomorrow, June 19, 2009, coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the death of the Cure d'Ars, St. Jean Vianney. The year-long commemoration is intended to strengthen and reinvigorate the male, clerical priesthood. The year is expected to close on June 19, 2010, with a "World Meeting of Priests" in St. Peter's Square. The following is a statement from Erin Saiz Hanna, incoming Executive Director of the Women's Ordination Conference (WOC), effective July 1, 2009. Erin Saiz Hanna currently serves as Assistant Director.

WASHINGTON, DC- "While the Holy See prepares for a year-long focus on the priesthood and struggles to reinvigorate a damaged institution, Women's Ordination Conference calls for a celebration of the priesthood of the baptized. Second Vatican Council documents state that all the baptized share in the "priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ" (Lumen Gentium 31). All people receive gifts of the Holy Spirit and all are called to use these gifts in service to the needs of our world. Instead of emphasizing the separation between the hierarchy and the people of God, WOC calls on the Vatican to return the church we love back to the example of Jesus, where all are invited and included.

In Pope Benedict's letter to clergy, he states that the example and teachings of St. Jean Vianney should serve as a 'significant point of reference' for today's clergy and quotes the saint's teaching, 'Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put Him there in that tabernacle? The priest.... After God, the priest is everything!' In fear of their escalating loss of credibility and influence, this dangerous mentality can only be described as the hierarchy's desperate attempt to latch onto outdated doctrine used to oppress the people of whom they should be focused on serving.

Simply declaring this 'the year of the priest' cannot and will not rebuild credibility. From sex abuse scandals, to threats of excommunication, to denying that condoms are effective in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, ordained men have obliterated their moral credibility with the people of God.

Since 1975, the Women's Ordination Conference has worked for women's full inclusion in the church, especially as priests, deacons and bishops, and for inclusive, participatory church structures where all Catholics take part in decision-making within the Church. We celebrate the countless women and men who make a positive difference in our churches and communities every day. Right now in every diocese, lay ecclesial ministers are working for justice and responding to the spiritual needs in our communities. There are over 31,000 lay ministers in the U.S.A., surpassing the 29,000 diocesan priests in the country. It is important to note that 80 percent of these ministers are women.

Though the Vatican may call on us to praise our priests this year, we will not turn back the clock on our vision for a discipleship of equals. When women are full and equal partners in every aspect of the Catholic Church, only then, will the Roman Catholic Church be associated with accountability, transparency and justice rather than hierarchy, exclusion, and scandal. Until then, we will continue to raise our collective voices and organize actions that will bring our church closer to the gospel values of Jesus."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Roman Catholic Womenpriests: Judy Lee Presides at Celebration of Baptisms and First Communion in Ft. Myers Community, Florida

This was a joyful day of new beginnings in our Church of the Good Shepherd: An Inclusive Catholic Community. During our regular Mass in the late afternoon of June 13th, 2009 two young people were Baptized and four ,including the two newly baptized, received their first Holy Communion. They were welcomed warmly to new life in Christ and to our Community with a rousing A-men ! ( Hear this as sung by Sidney Poitier in Lilies of the Field-but with even greater gusto and warmth).
The girls Maria, 15, Marcella ,7, Marina,13 and Josefina, 11 completed a preparation process of several months and deeply understood the steps they were taking in following Jesus. Lucy Conley, our Master's student from Adelaide, Australia and Lauretta Rasmussen, a resident of our Joshua House, and Kathy McGhan, a volunteer, assisted me in preparing the group. The parents who initially asked for the Sacraments for their children also participated in some parts of the preparation process and the whole community was supportive and involved. The families, traditionally Roman Catholic, one Hispanic and one Italian, had been denied Sacraments in the institutional Church due to marriage situations and had responded by delaying the Sacraments for their children, and one by non-participation in the Church since before her children were born. You can understand the joy of these parents at finding a church home to include them within the renewed Church.
The picture of the larger group standing outside of the Church are some of the community members and God-parents who stayed to celebrate with the families. After the Celebration we had a festive community meal, and in the last picture we see Carl, Jasper and Nate having seconds at the food table. Carl and Nate also live at our Joshua House, a Guest Residence for formerly homeless men and women making the transition to permanent housing. Carl is our head Usher and Nate is our Lector. Mr. Harry Gary ,standing next to me in the large picture is our Church Elder.
Our gathering hymn ,led by Hank who also is our Community Music leader and Artist, was "Let The River Flow" and its words were so true today. "Let the poor man say I am rich again..let the blind man say "I can see again-Oh,oh, let the river flow". The families and the
whole church of the poor and non-poor together was blessed by the waters of Baptism and the faith of the children on this beautiful day.
Judy Lee+, Priest of the Poor in Fort Myers, Florida