Saturday, March 30, 2013

David Steindl-Rast, A Catholic Mystic by John Horgan

"It was obvious by this point that Steindl-Rast is not a conventional Catholic. He excoriated the Catholic church, calling it too centralized, authoritarian, sexist, "the last absolute monarchy left in the world." The church in its present incarnation is "doomed to die" as a result of its rigidity.

Steindl-Rast chose not to become an ordained priest in part so that he would not be part of the church hierarchy; as a monk with no flock, he is freer to speak his mind.

He hoped the church would soon allow women to serve as priests. But ultimately, Catholics should not require churches, priests or any of the institutional trappings of worship. Steindl-Rast recalled Jesus’s declaration that "wherever two or three are together in my name, I am in the midst of them." He envisioned a day when Catholics celebrate mass, carry out baptisms and marry in their own homes.

I asked why we need Catholicism or any religion to sustain our spirituality. Can’t art serve the same function in a more benign fashion? Steindl-Rast gave me the same response to this question that Huston Smith did. Art is a vital component of Catholicism, Steindl-Rast pointed out. "Look at the cathedrals! Look at the liturgy! I feel like an opera singer who has the privilege to sing every day, and dance. It’s not elaborate, but it’s real dancing and singing. This is art." Those who want to reform the church should emphasize these elements rather than theological doctrine. "That is what we should focus on and should cultivate and develop into the future."

Steindl-Rast seemed more personally committed to monasticism than to Catholicism per se. When Steindl-Rast first met Buddhist monks, he said, he felt an instant bond with them. Eventually, with the permission of the Vatican, he left his monastery to spend time at Zen monasteries in New York City, California and elsewhere. He felt as at home in these Zendos as he had at Mount Savior. "Sometimes I had to almost pull my ear to become aware that I was not in a Christian monastery," he said. "It was just another way of doing the same thing, being in an environment where everything is geared toward mindfulness..."

..."For the past several years, Steindl-Rast had been living alone in a cottage on a Quaker retreat. After so many years of traveling, he felt that he needed to catch up on his solitude. He hoped to stay in touch with the world through an interactive website that would encourage people from any and all faiths to explore the spiritual benefits of cultivating gratefulness..."

Despite Censures, Womenpriests Movement Grows/Washington Post Article/March 29, 2013

Despite censures, Womenpriests movement grows
By Megan O'neil| Religion News Service         

"If heading a religious community is a lonely job for any woman, a Catholic Womenpriest might be the loneliest of all. Yet the ordination of Catholic women within the Womenpriests movement, which flaunts Roman Catholic Church law forbidding the practice, continues to grow, as members demand greater inclusion of women in the institutional church..."

Friday, March 29, 2013

"Losing My Religion For Equality" by Jimmy Carter

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.
I HAVE been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.
This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.
At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.
The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.
In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.
The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.
It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.
I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.
The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”
We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.
The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.
I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.
The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Video of Janice Sevre-Duszynska at the Vatican on Yahoo News/ Great video!

Good Friday Homily by Pope Francis
"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Thank you for having taken part in these moments of deep prayer. I also thank those who have accompanied us through the media, especially the sick and elderly.
I do not wish to add too many words. One word should suffice this evening, that is the Cross itself. The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world. Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness. It is also reveals a judgment, namely that God, in judging us, loves us. In judging us, he loves us. If I embrace his love then I am saved, if I refuse it, then I am condemned, not by him, but my own self, because God never condemns, he only loves and saves.
Dear brothers and sisters, the word of the Cross is also the answer which Christians offer in the face of evil, the evil that continues to work in us and around us. Christians must respond to evil with good, taking the Cross upon themselves as Jesus did. This evening we have heard the witness given by our Lebanese brothers and sisters: they composed these beautiful prayers and meditations. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to them for this work and for the witness they offer. We were able to see this when Pope Benedict visited Lebanon: we saw the beauty and the strong bond of communion joining Christians together in that land and the friendship of our Muslim brothers and sisters and so many others. That occasion was a sign to the Middle East and to the whole world: a sign of hope.
We now continue this Via Crucis in our daily lives. Let us walk together along the Way of the Cross and let us do so carrying in our hearts this word of love and forgiveness. Let us go forward waiting for the Resurrection of Jesus, who loves us so much, who is all love. The preceding is an English translation of Pope Francis' remarks at the conclusion of tonight's traditional Good Friday Way of the Cross at Rome's Colosseum."

Pope Francis Washed Young Women's Feet in Detention Center on Holy Thursday/ Angers Conservatives/Gives Hope to Women
Bridget Mary's Response:
I was heartened by the image of Pope Francis washing the feet of young women in a juvenile detention center on Holy Thursday. In my view, this what Jesus would do It is a positive sign that indicates that the new pope sees women as beloved sisters and equal images of Christ! That is my prayer and hope! Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp,

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Thursday/"The Eucharist: God as Shared Food"/ Inclusive Eucharist- All Are Welcome

Today is Holy Thursday. We celebrate the Last Supper when Jesus called us to remember him in this sacred feast of Passover that celebrates his journey through death to Risen Glory.
When we gather weekly, Mary Mother of Jesus Catholic Community celebrates an inclusive Eucharistic Banquet. All pray the words of Institution/Consecration together. We, the Body of Christ , share the Body of Christ at the table with the the Body of Christ around the table. In our communities,  all are welcome to receive Eucharist.
We pray the following prayers  as we prepare to receive Eucharist, "Jesus, you make us worthy to receive you." We are the body of Christ."
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp

The following is Richard Rohr's meditation on Eucharist.

Holy ThursdayGod as Shared Food
Meditation 33 of 52
"When we start making the Eucharistic meal something to define membership
instead of to proclaim grace and gift, we always get in trouble;
that’s been the temptation of every denomination that has the
Eucharist. Too often we use Eucharist to separate who’s in from
who’s out, who’s worthy from who’s unworthy, instead of to declare
that all of us are radically unworthy, and that worthiness is not even
the issue. If worthiness is the issue, who can stand before God? Are
those who receive actually saying they are “worthy”? I hope not. It
is an ego statement to begin with. In fact, we Catholics even say
“Lord, I am not worthy” right before we come to the altar. I guess
we don’t really mean that, and it is just a pious bluff. 
The issue is not worthiness; the issue is trust and surrender. It all
comes down to “confidence and love,” as Thérèse of Lisieux said.
I think that explains the joyous character with which many celebrate the
Eucharist. We are pulled into immense love and joy for such constant and
unearned grace. It doesn’t get any better than this! All we can do at
Eucharist is kneel in love and then stand in confidence. (St. Augustine
said that the proper posture for prayer was standing proud and erect,
because we no longer have to grovel before God or fear God, if God is
like Jesus.) "

Adapted from Eucharist as Touchstone (CD, MP3)

Marriage Equality, the Supreme Court, and the Bible

Some people claim that biblical passages condemning homosexuality should be the basis for the law of the land. However, the bible condoned slavery, rape, polygamy, the killing of first-born children and animal sacrifice. Leviticus prescribes the death penalty for adultery and for those who curse their parents. The Purity Code in Leviticus lists all kinds of abominations including eating shellfish and game birds, "every creature in the water that has neither fins nor scales is detestable to you." (chapter 11:12) and "do not lie with a person of the same sex in the same way as you would lie with a person of the opposite sex." (18:22).  
 Today the majority of Christian believers do not follow the Purity Code in the Old Testament, but rather  Jesus' law of love and compassion. 
 Marriage equality is a human right. All God's children are beloved images of the divine called to covenant love and fidelity in all their relationships.
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Death Penality is Worthless and Unjust

"Earlier this month, Maryland voted to abolish the death penalty.  Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley took to the pages of Politico to explain and defend this decision.  His article provides a succinct and compelling case for abolishing a practice that should no longer exist in this nation.
His main points include:
  1. The death penalty is not an effective deterrent.  O’Malley notes, “In 2011, the average murder rate in states where there is a death penalty was 4.9 per 100,000 people. In states without it, the murder rate was lower. It was 4.1 per 100,000 people.”  It is simply not a more effective deterrent than life in prison without the possibility of patrol.
  2. It’s a waste of money.  O’Malley correctly states that there is a responsibility “to stop doing things that are wasteful, expensive, and do not work.”  The financial costs associated with maintaining capital punishment are extraordinarily high, and steps to curtail them would almost certainly result in executing the innocent.  Given the state of the budget and the need to make increased investments in other areas to promote the common good, spending recklessly and needlessly to maintain a death row is a terrible allocation of resources.
  3. The company we keep in executing our own citizens is appalling.  O’Malley cites the fact that the majority of public executions now take place in just seven countries: Iran, Iraq, China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the United States of America.  If you care about human rights, that’s probably not a list you want your country to be on.
  4. It is fundamentally incompatible with authentic justice.  It’s not simply that our country was not founded on the principles of revenge and retribution, as O’Malley states, but more importantly, that these are unacceptable motives for the use of force by the government.  Justice is about the common good, creating conditions that correspond with human dignity and allow for human flourishing.  It must be rooted in love-based justice, not hate-based bloodlust.
  5. It is unfairly and capriciously applied.  The color of one’s skin, the color of the victim’s skin, one’s socioeconomic status, and one’s gender all impact the likelihood of a death sentence.  Conversely, the gravity of the crime often does not determine whether one will or will not receive the death penalty.  Justice demands a basic level of fairness.  These discrepancies and the ultimate arbitrariness of the death penalty’s application make it unjust and provide good insight into why it does not work as an effective deterrent.
  6. It is impossible to remove the specter of killing innocent people.  O’Malley notes, “Between 2000 and 2011, an average of 5 death row inmates were exonerated every year.”  Does the government really want to execute innocent people when doing so is unnecessary to prevent or deter future crimes?
In others words, it is an indefensible practice that must end.  Hopefully other states will follow Maryland’s lead. "

Pope Francis Shakes Up Business as Usual at the Vatican!


"Pope Francis has decided not to move into the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, but to live in a suite in the Vatican guesthouse where he has been since the beginning of the conclave that elected him, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.
“He is experimenting with this type of living arrangement, which is simple,” but allows him “to live in community with others,” both the permanent residents — priests and bishops who work at the Vatican — as well as guests coming to the Vatican for meetings and conferences, Father Lombardi said March 26.
The spokesman said Pope Francis has moved out of the room he drew by lot before the conclave and into Suite 201, a room that has slightly more elegant furnishings and a larger living room where he can receive guests.
The Domus Sanctae Marthae, the official name of the guesthouse, was built in 1996 specifically to house cardinals during a conclave.
Celebrating Mass March 26 with the residents and guests, Pope Francis told them he intended to stay, Father Lombardi said. The permanent residents, who had to move out during the conclave, had just returned to their old rooms. "
Bridget Mary's Response
Oh my, I bet the residents were surprised to find they have a new neighbor!
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Discipleship and the Civilly Disobedient Jesus/ Raises Issue of a Discipleship of Equals and Speaking out for Justice for Women in the Church

"So the Synoptics make it clear that Jesus' final civil disobedience in the temple led to his arrest a few days later, his jailing, trial and brutal execution. This is a great challenge to anyone who seriously wants to follow this Jesus. Are we willing to give our lives to resist empire, injustice and the oppression of the poor? How seriously do we want to follow him?
But turns out there was one more final act of civil disobedience left to come: The Resurrection."

Bridget Mary's Response:
I agree but would add that Jesus was revolutionary in including women in his inner circle as disciples and equals. Social justice activists need to clearly name the injustices in their own house. I am grateful to priests like Roy Bourgeois who has put his priesthood on the line for justice for women in the church!
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp

The Holy Women at the Cross and Tomb/Faithful Disciples/What is Jesus Saying Today to Women in the Church?

The women were there for Jesus during his Passion and death and the first to receive the good news of the Resurrection. They were his faithful disciples. Unlike Peter who denied him three times, the women accompanied Jesus through the horror of his sufferings.
In Luke's Gospel, on the way to Calvary, Jesus stops and speaks to the women.  "Daughters of Jerusalem! Do not weep for me. Weep rather for yourselves and for your children! The time  is coming when it will be said: "Blessed are the childless, the wombs that have never given birth and the breasts that have never nursed." Then people will say to the mountains, "Fall on us and to the hills, "Cover us up!" For if they do these things in the green wood, what will happen in the dry?"

What is Jesus saying to the faithful disciples, many of whom, are women in a church and world that treats them as second class citizens? What is Jesus saying today to all those who oppress or marginalize their sisters and brothers? What is Jesus saying to women today?
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp

Monday, March 25, 2013

"Theology has Consequences" by John Chuchman

There is something perverse

about opposing condom use
and then washing the feet of people with HIV/AIDS.
There is something suspect
about opposing reproductive health care for women
who may not want to get pregnant
and then generously insisting on the legal baptism of children
whose parents are not married.
There is something dubious
about calling the hierarchical church to a simpler way of being
and ignoring the many women
whose ministerial service would enhance its output.
The Spanish expression that comes to mind is
“what you give with the wrist, you erase with the elbow.”
This seems to be the Jesuitical pattern.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people kill themselves
because Catholic hierarchs tell them
that their sexuality is “intrinsically morally disordered.”
Women die from unsafe, illegal abortions
because the Catholic hierarchy spends millions of dollars
opposing legislation that would make their choices safer.
Survivors of sexual abuse by clergy live tortured lives
because the cleric-centric structures of the church favor their abusers.
While a few nuns famously ride the bus,
the Vatican’s current crackdown on women religious
makes most of them feel as if they have been thrown under the bus.
 Theology does indeed have consequences
by John Chuchman
Bridget Mary's Response:
I pray that our new pope may understand that current church teaching  has consequences that are contradictory of the spirit of the Gospel, and this theology must be changed so it reflects the love and compassion of Jesus in the Gospel who stood with the marginalized and declared the good news of healing, justice and the liberating Spirit in our midst.
Our theology must reflect the love in the heart of Jesus, this is my prayer for Pope Francis.
Bridget Mary Meehan, arwp,

Pope Francis- A Glimmer Hope for Change in the Church- like Oscar Romero and John XX111

"As an unlikely choice for Pope, mostly due to his age and health, Francis reminds me of another unlikely advocate for the people – a man chosen to be Archbishop because of his passivity and his ill-health – Oscar Romero.  Romero surprised the people who placed him in office and stirred things up when he became a staunch advocate for the people that he served.  Romero’s “moment of conversion” revealed something spectacular that changed Latin America.  In his role as leader, he found his voice and became a defender for the poor and oppressed.  It is because of Romero that I am hopeful hat Francis will provide (or at least start the wheels in motion to provide) changes to the Catholic Church.
It should also be noted that another unlikely choice for Pope was Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the Archbishop of Milan, who was not even a Cardinal.  Roncalli became known as John XXIII:  a Pope who saw that the Church was in need of change and who took unprecedented action to convene the Second Vatican Council.  Again, this story fuels my optimism.
483697_169874703162280_371106000_nI, like most Catholics, was (pleasantly) surprised when I saw the new Pope appear.   In stark contrast to his two predecessors, Francis emerged in a simple white cassock, and his face that seemed to reflect humility and kindness.   Then another surprise came; before he extended the traditional Papal blessing on the crowd, he asked the people to bless him and bowed his head toward the people.  A glimmer of hope sparked..". 
Comment by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

People of El Salvador Celebrate Bishop Oscar Romero's Witness for Justice/March 25th/Anniversary of his Assasination

Janice Sevre-Duszynska,, Roy Bourgeois with SOA Delegation to Celebrate Oscar Romero's life and Legacy