Saturday, April 26, 2014

"You Will Receive Power When the Holy Spirit Comes Upon You" CONFIRMATION HOMILY by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan confirmed sixteen Catholics, 8 adults, 8 youth today from Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Ft. Myers, Florida at a liturgy with Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community at St. Andrew UCC.

Pastor Judy Lee on left, Bridget Mary in middle, Pastor Judy Beaumont on right.
One of the Confirmandi was baptized by Judy Lee before he received Confirmation and First Eucharist at this liturgy.

Jesus said: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, then you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria and even to the ends of the earth.” (Acts of the Apostles 1 :7-8) On the day of Pentecost the apostles including Mary, mother of Jesus and the women who followed Jesus received the Holy Spirit as Jesus had promised.  They also received the power of sharing the Holy Spirit with others and witnessing to their faith in Jesus.
Today we rejoice because God will pour out the Spirit anew on you. When you, the children of Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, were baptized , your parents and godparents brought you to church  and pledged their support as you began your faith journey in the family of God. At your confirmation, you are making a decision to follow Jesus and live God’s love in loving service to others. For the adults seeking confirmation, you are embracing a new depth of faith as you follow Jesus and take it to the next step in your witness to justice and compassionate service to all. 
I know that your Pastors Judy Lee and Judy Beaumont have been preparing you for receiving the sacrament of Confirmation.  Around the church, we have beautiful posters displaying the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Sacraments of the Church  with examples of their meaning for today.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit give us power to be witnesses for Jesus. Sometimes, for example, you may need courage to stand up when your classmates are being bullied or wisdom to say no to alcohol and drugs and other negative influences. Today you are all saying YES, I have decided to follow Jesus! Today, the adult confirmandi among us are completing their initiation into the faith community and making a commitment to use their gifts to build up the Body of Christ.
As you celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation, you are saying, “yes’, it is my choice to live fully my new life in Christ in the family of God. You are saying , “yes”, I am open to receive a new outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to strengthen me.  You are saying, ‘yes”, I am God’s beloved son or daughter and God's Holy Spirit dwells within me. You are saying, “yes”, God will continue to speak, act, love and serve others through me.

In a few minutes, the entire community will join me in extending hands in blessing you as we pray that the Holy Spirit may gift you with new life. Then I, your bishop, will anoint  each of you with holy chrism and pray that you may be sealed with the Holy Spirit .
We will pray that the Holy Spirit may fill your hearts with the love of God and work within you to witness Christ and set the world on fire in loving service to all.
So now, before you receive the Spirit, I ask you to renew the profession of faith you made in baptism or your parents and godparents made in union with the whole Church.

"Jesus and Women, You are Set Free" by Elizabeth Johnson CSJ

..."Women bring to this work a new perspective, asking questions that arise from the life experiences – and suffering – of women. This type of theology is commonly called feminist theology, from the Latin femina, meaning woman. It sees faith with women’s eyes. It sees what is wrong or missing in the way faith has been presented insofar as it ignores or burdens women. And it searches the tradition for powerful liberating elements that can transform life today.The vision which guides feminist theology is the one that Jesus preached, centered in his frequent use of the symbol “the kingdom of God.” This reign of God brings about a new form of community where people live in mutual respect with each other and the other living creatures of the earth. The goal is not reverse discrimination, a community where women dominate men; this would just continue injustice in a new form. Rather, women dream of a new heaven and a new earth, with no one group dominating and no one group being subordinated, but each person cherished and participating according to his or her own God-given gifts, in genuinely reciprocal relations. With this hope, the work of feminist theology today emphasizes a new appreciation of the meaning of Jesus Christ for human beings who are women."
[Elizabeth A. Johnson, CSJ, is the Distinguished Professor of Theology Fordham University, New York City, N.Y.]

Homily for Second Sunday of Easter at Holy Spirit Catholic Community by Rev. Beverly Bingle, RCWP

The last three Wednesdays I've stopped downtown at Oneida Farm
and spent two or three hours
poking tiny seedlings out of flats
and transplanting them into 3" pots.
I didn't plant the seeds, and I won't harvest the vegetables.
But I know that someone planted those tiny seeds,
one at a time in the 1/2 " diameter holes,
and someone else will pick up the plants next month
and plant them in a community garden somewhere,
and someone will have fresh vegetables
right in the middle of Toledo
where there used to be a vacant lot full of trash.
I believe it will happen that way
because it happened that way before.
Unless some disaster hits town before August,
it will happen again.
So all things being equal, it will happen.
In today's Gospel the evangelist John
describes a parallel type of belief.
The disciples gather,
as was their way before Jesus died,
on Sunday evening.
They are afraid, but they get together anyway.
And, just as before,
they experience Jesus' presence in that locked room.
They are filled with peace:
the peace that Jesus taught them fills them again.
They had run from Golgotha and hidden in fear,
but now they are filled with a sense of being forgiven,
the forgiveness Jesus preached.
The experience is real--
Jesus lives on with them and among them--
and they spread the good news to those who had lost hope.
The following Sunday evening they gather again,
and they experience Jesus' presence once more.
What are these signs of Jesus' presence
that cause them to believe?
For the author of this Gospel,
the signs are peace and forgiveness.
The author of Acts describes wonders and signs--
actions of daily life,
like sharing their resources
and breaking bread
and praying together.
Those simple, ordinary actions were miracles,
brought about through the disciples' teaching and example,
causing them to live in reverent awe
and attracting people to join them.
Day by day more people were being "saved"--
that is, more people were being set free
from their fear and self-centeredness
and deciding to follow the Way of Jesus.
"There is," as the first letter of Peter puts it,
"cause for rejoicing here."
The signs of our times call for the same rejoicing.
Take Los Angeles.
Fr. Greg Boyle, who spoke at Lourdes University last week,
became pastor of Los Angeles' St. Dolores parish in 1986,
where his compassionate response to gang members
planted the seeds for training, work experience,
and the opportunity for rival gang members
to work side by side.
The result, known as "Homeboy Industries,"
has become the largest gang intervention,
rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the United States.
Certainly, cause for rejoicing there in L.A.
Or take Boston.
Last Monday the running of the Boston Marathon bought to light
countless stories of miracles
in the lives of the families of those who were killed
in last year's race
and those who were seriously injured.
They suffered--
and they rose from the devastation to a new freedom
and brought the City of Boston along with them.
Cause for rejoicing there in Boston.
Or take Toledo, designated Friday as a City of Compassion.
Just three years ago a small group of inner city pastors
formed the Toledo Community Coalition
to speak truth to power in our town.
Their efforts have led to collaborative work
to combat racism and racist systems.
Cause for rejoicing here, in Toledo.
Each of these people, each of these groups of people,
overcome their fears and walk forth in freedom.
They have hope that they can make a difference,
and they take action.
In that they are saved--set free--
and they make miracles happen.
So do we.
This weekend we'll gather after the 5:30 Mass
to consider the first steps we will take
to make a difference in the systems
that degrade our environment
and threaten the lives of people around the world.
Back in July of 1963,
I recall President Jack Kennedy quoting Lao Tzu;
he said, "A journey of a thousand miles
must begin with a single step."
So there's cause for rejoicing here:
one step, one seed, one hand reaching out.
The miracles continue.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Mass at 2086 Brookdale (Interfaith Chapel):
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 9 a.m.
Mass at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sainthood Miracles No Longer Needed For Canonization? Pope Francis Waives Church Law For John XXIII

..."But for John XXIII, Francis decided to waive the church law that requires a second miracle in order to be named a saint. Asked how John XXIII could be named a saint without the required second miracle, the Vatican’s chief spokesman said “no one doubts his virtues.”
With that rare, if not unprecedented, move, Francis has rekindled a years-old debate in Catholic circles, with some asking whether miracles are really needed for sainthood anymore.
“I think it is time to drop the miracle requirement,” says the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest who is a senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter.
“It is sufficient to look at a person’s life and ask, did this person live the life of a Christian in a special or extraordinary way that can be held up for admiration and imitation by other Christians?...”
Bridget Mary's Response:Anyone who makes it to heaven is a saint! They are part of the communion of the saints. So, my guess is there is a whole lot of saints up there including many of our family members and friends. It is ok with me if Vatican moves away from the two miracle requirement. I was surprised that Pope Benedict canonized two excommunicated nuns:Mother Theodore Guerin and Mother Mary McKillop. Let's celebrate that Catholicism is really a big tent where popes and rebel nuns, condemned by the hierarchy are held up as models of holiness. We should rejoice and celebrate all the saints in heaven, not just the canonized ones who have the Vatican good house-keeping seal of approval known as canonization! Now I wonder how long it will take the Vatican to canonize some Roman Catholic Women Priests! Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

Tom, The Rambling Man Has a Home-Thanks Be To God!

Tom In Front of His New Home
Tom has been a rambling man all of his life. He travels light and the bag on his shoulder is most of what he has. He is from New England and has lived much of his life in the Northern New England States. He left home as a teenager and eventually entered the Marines. Yet, he could never stay in one place very long. He battled alcohol and depression since he was sixteen and with the help of faith based programs often won the battle for periods of time. He also lived in the West- in California, Oregon and Washington. He worked in concrete and at other jobs until an accident and other events qualified him for Disability in the 1990′s.  He lived in single room situations and in shelters for the homeless all across the country.
This Fall he decided to leave the cold weather behind and move to Southwest Florida. He could not afford market housing and much of the time here he was again homeless,sleeping outside in the bushes.  Unlike some of the places where Tom stayed, Fort Myers does not have a Men’s Emergency Shelter. It has some drug and alcohol related programs where working is necessary and Tom cannot work any longer. Yet Tom wanted to stay here.  Tom’s hope in staying here was Senior housing. Tom turned 62 this month and one Church based Residence for those 62 and over lets our ministry know when they have an apartment available. Thanks be to God, an Efficiency apartment became available a week after his birthday. Tom got the apartment and signed the lease and moved in today.
This is Tom signing his lease with the Property Manager Margaret Sousa and Pastor Judy Beaumont
Tom is delighted to have HUD assisted affordable housing. Good Shepherd Ministries is paying his Security, Electric deposit and pro-rated monthly  fee as he will get his check on the First and pay his first months rent then and take it from there.
This is Tom about to put his key in the door of his new home
Margaret, the Manager who truly cares about the residents, was able to provide a bed for Tom, and Good Shepherd provided the bedding and furniture through our own cost free “store” and the generous donations of our friend Ginger Delerme. We also set him up with a full cupboard.
Tom and Pastor Judy B. going over how to pay his electric bills
Tom relaxing in his new chair. He said he feels like a king on a throne!
We blessed every corner of Tom’s new home, and more importantly, we blessed Tom and assured him that he also has a church home.
Tom says that he likes to be social and is glad that he is not alone anymore. We love his shirt-”What Recession”?
For Tom, thanks to this wonderful Senior housing and a caring church, housing is now affordable. The rambling man has decided to settle down. He says that he has found the right place to do it: thanks be to God!
Pastor Judy Lee and Pastor Judy Beaumont, ARCWP
April 24,2014

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Eighteen Catholics to be Confirmed by Woman Bishop in Sarasota on Sat. April 26th/St. Andrew UCC, 4 PM

Press Release: April 22, 2014
Eighteen Catholics to be Confirmed by Woman Bishop in Sarasota
Pope Francis, You Asked For Evangelism, These are Christ's and These are Yours
Pastors Judy Lee and Judy Beaumont: 239-454-7426
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan: 941-955-2313

On Saturday April 26th, 2014 at 4PM in the St. Andrew Church in Sarasota, Florida eighteen people will celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church with Rev. Dr. Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP. These are members of the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida. Good Shepherd Pastors Rev. Dr. Judith Lee and Rev. Judith Beaumont, who are women priests with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, will be presenting them as Confirmands who are ready after a lengthy process of whole church catechesis and faith formation for the younger members.
Nine young people will be confirmed. Eight of these range in age from 12-18 and there is one seven year old who has been a bright star with us since her baptism four years ago. Nine adults are also choosing to confirm the promises of their baptism and promise to serve the Christ who welcomes all to the Table.
All of the Confirmands have been worshiping with the Good Shepherd Church for several years and many have experienced homelessness, unemployment and many of life's hardest struggles. All want to share the love of Christ with others and be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in Confirmation to do this. They have heard the call of Pope Francis to evangelize and will continue doing this with the poor and outcast of the community.

Urge Pope Francis to Speak Out Against Uganda’s Anti-LGBT Bill!

Uganda’s Parliament has passed a bill which would criminalize homosexuality, including life imprisonment for those considered repeat offenders, and the president is considering whether to sign it.
As Catholics are the largest denomination in Uganda, making up over 40% of the population, it is imperative that Pope Francis speak out against this terrible human rights development. Uganda’s bishops have been ambivalent, which means Pope Francis’ strong moral leadership condemning this bill can greatly impact Uganda.
Your voice is needed in urging the pope to speak out in defense of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people’s human rights. Take action today by tweeting Pope Francis, sending him an email, or writing him a letter!
.@Pontifex Please condemn Uganda’s anti-gay bill as you defend human rights for all! #PopeSpeakOut.@Pontifex As a voice for the voiceless please publicly condemn anti-gay laws! #PopeSpeakOut.@Pontifex Please urge Nigeria to stop arresting gay and trans people! Please save our lives! #PopeSpeakOut
Tweet: .@Pontifex Being gay is not a crime! Please speak out against Uganda's anti-gay bill. #PopeSpeakOutTweet: .@Pontifex Please condemn Uganda's anti-gay bill as you defend human rights for all! #PopeSpeakOutTweet: .@Pontifex Be a voice for the voiceless & publicly condemn Uganda's anti-gay bill! #PopeSpeakOut

Email Pope Francis

Dear Pope Francis,
In less than a year, you have done as St. Ignatius asked of us and “set the world on fire” by creating greater welcome for gay and lesbian people in the Catholic Church.
Unfortunately, not all have heeded your call to love each other regardless of a person’s sexual orientation, and several nations have passed laws which criminalize being gay. Currently, Uganda’s political leaders are considering such a law.
For the World Day of Peace, you wrote that fraternity can lead us to a more peaceful and just society when we recognize other human beings as our brothers and sisters under God. Help us to stop discrimination, hate, and violence against gay and lesbian people by condemning Uganda’s anti-gay bill and similar efforts in other nations.
Please defend the human rights of gay and lesbian people in Uganda and elsewhere, for their very lives may depend on our witness as Catholics to speak Christ’s love.

Click here
 to send this email to Pope Francis!

Write Pope Francis

His Holiness Pope Francis
Apostolic Palace
Vatican City State, 00120
Share #PopeSpeakOut on Twitter               Share #PopeSpeakOut on Facebook

"Opposition to Pope Francis Mounts Within Roman Curia" by Michael Sean Winters,The Tablet/Pope Francis Proposes "Just Attention Toward Women"

 "Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, whom Pope Francis has tasked with overseeing reforms of the Church and the Vatican, warned that curial opposition to Pope Francis’ efforts to create a “new way of being church” is mounting.Cardinal Rodriguez was addressing a meeting of Franciscan provincials on 8 April in St Petersburg, Florida, and a copy of his remarks was obtained by the US-based National Catholic Reporter.“We have to be prepared, since this beautiful but strange popularity is beginning to strengthen adherences, but equally to awaken opposition not only in the old Curia, but in some who are sorry to lose privileges in treatment and in comforts,” the cardinal said. “Expressions like ‘What can it be that this little Argentine pretends?’ or the expression of a well-known cardinal who let slip the phrase, ‘We made a mistake,’ can be heard,” Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga said.The Honduran archbishop, who chairs the Council of Cardinals (C8) that advises the Pope, said Francis “feels called to construct” a Church that is, among other things: “At the service of this world by being faithful to Christ and his Gospel; free from all mundane spirituality; free from the risk of being concerned about itself, of becoming middle-class, of closing in on self, of being a clerical Church; able to offer itself as an open space in which all can meet and recognise each other because there is space for dialogue, diversity and welcome in it.” Francis also wants a Church that pays “just attention and gives importance to women in both society and its own institutions”, the cardinal said.The C8 is set to have its fourth, three-day, meeting early next week."
Bridget Mary's Response:
 Amen to Pope Francis' decision to raise the issue of justice to women in church and society!
An invitation to dialogue, openness and diversity is a breath of fresh air.
Pope Francis is dealing with the reform of clericalism which is essential to the well-being and renewal of the church in our world today. This is a positive step forward!  No matter what how opposed the Roman Curia is, the full equality of women in the church and society is an issue of human rights, justice and equality.  As Martin Luther King reminds us "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
The international Roman Catholic Women Priests initiative is beginning a healing process of centuries-old deep misogyny in which spiritual power was invested exclusively in men. Women priests are visible reminders that women are equal images of God. I pray that Pope Francis leads the institutional church on a path toward justice for women in an inclusive church that affirms the baptized as a community of spiritual equals. This would be a welcome change for millions of Catholics worldwide! 
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

"Francis also wants a Church that pays “just attention and gives importance to women in both society and its own institutions”, the cardinal said."



"Apostolic Transgression ‘Why Priests?’ by Garry Wills" Book Review by Randall Balmer/New York Times
..."Jesus never claimed for himself the mantle of priesthood, nor did he, a Jew, hail from the priestly tribe of Levi. The sole reference to Jesus as priest in the New Testament, Wills says, occurs in the Epistle to the Hebrews, an enigmatic letter of unknown provenance. The writer of the letter introduces the notion of Jesus as priest not in the line of Aaron (Levite) but in the tradition of Melchizedek, the obscure Canaanite king of Salem who makes a cameo appearance in Genesis and is mentioned again briefly in Psalm 110...Jesus, moreover, understood himself as a prophet, not a priest. “Jesus was acting in the prophetic tradition when he cleansed the Temple, driving out the money changers,” Wills writes. “Though he attended the Temple, as any Jewish layman would, he performed no priestly acts there; presided over nothing; did not enter the Holy of Holies; made no animal sacrifice,” according to Wills. “He excoriates priests, and priests in return contrive his death.”
So, to quote the book’s title, “why priests?” The standard Roman Catholic teaching is that all priestly authority derives from Peter, to whom Jesus bestowed “the keys of the kingdom”; the authority of every priest, according to Catholic doctrine, can be traced through a line of “apostolic succession” back to Peter, the first bishop of Rome. The teachings of Jesus, however, were radically egalitarian: “The last shall be first, and the first last.” Neither Jesus nor his followers claimed to be priests, Wills maintains, and “there is no historical evidence for Peter being bishop anywhere — least of all at Rome, where the office of bishop did not exist in the first century C.E.”
Having attributed the abiding conundrum of the priesthood to “the Melchizedek myth” propagated in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Wills writes that this new priestly class began over the centuries to arrogate to itself powers and prerogatives unimagined by Jesus and his disciples. Although Jesus had instructed his followers not to “address any man on earth as father,” priests demanded that very ­honorific.
Central to the priestly claims to authority, Wills says, was the importance of the sacraments, especially celebration of the eucharist, which could be performed, the church declared, only by priests. “The most striking thing about priests, in the later history of Christianity,” the author writes, “is their supposed ability to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”
This exclusivity, according to Wills, derives from Thomas Aquinas rather than Jesus. The Thomistic view of the eucharist understands the Mass as re-enacting the sacrifice of Christ, from which all other graces devolve to the believer. The church, following Aquinas, vested the power of transubstantiation — the bread and wine of holy communion actually becomes the body and blood of Christ — in the priesthood. With that magical power, the priesthood increasingly set itself apart from the laity...Wills argues that an alternative understanding of Jesus and the eucharist, one more consonant with the New Testament (Hebrews excepted) and informed by Augustine, sees Jesus as coming to harmonize humanity with himself. The eucharistic meal remains a meal (as it was in the first century), not a sacrifice, one that celebrates the union between Christ and his followers. “One does nothing but disrupt this harmony by interjecting superfluous intermediaries between Jesus and his body of believers,” Wills writes. “When these ‘representatives’ of Jesus to us, and of us to Jesus, take the feudal forms of hierarchy and monarchy, of priests and papacy, they affront the camaraderie of Jesus with his brothers."Randall Balmer, an Episcopal priest, is chairman of the religion department at Dartmouth College. He is completing a biography of Jimmy Carter
Bridget Mary's Response:
I think that Gary Wills has done an excellent job of dismantling clericalism. Roman Catholic Women Priests are offering the church a new model of priestly ministry in a community of equals in which the people of God take their rightful role as celebrants of the sacraments. We are building a bridge between the institutional church as it is today and the discipleship of equals to bring the church full circle to its beginning, the Body of Christ sharing the Body of Christ with the Body of Christ. 


Ugandan Bishops Support Anti-Gay Law While Others Call Pope to Condemn it

,,,"Meanwhile, around the globe, more and more commentators have been calling upon Pope Francis to make a clear statement condemning Uganda’s law and other laws like it that have been appearing in other countries.
National Catholic Reporter columnist Jamie Manson cited the #PopeSpeakOut campaign as a way to encourage the pope to make a statement against these laws.  Manson wrote:
“Anti-homosexuality legislation is quickly becoming a global threat to human dignity. These laws do not simply violate human rights; they foster a climate of rage, scapegoating, and violence against LGBT people.
“This situation brings to the forefront the ongoing debate among progressive Catholics about the efficacy of the Pope Francis’ kinder, gentler papacy. Some believe Francis’ expressions of compassion will eventually lead to greater inclusion for LGBT Catholics while others argue that Francis’ words are not substantive enough to amount to real change.
“These repressive laws offer an opportunity for the pope’s now-legendary ‘Who am I to judge?’ comment to actually translate into action. No one is asking Pope Francis to change doctrine or create a revolution. We are only asking him to honor the catechism’s teaching that gays and lesbians should be ‘accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.’ “
And in Australia, the head of Rainbow Sash, a Catholic LGBT organization, last week called on Pope Francis to use Easter as the occasion to speak out against anti-LGBT laws. The Star Observer quotes Michael Kelly as saying:
“The whole experience of Easter is about moving from slavery to freedom for persecuted people.
“It would be the perfect time for Pope Francis to make a statement that could be heard around the world about justice for people being persecuted right now in Africa. . . .”
“You can see the seeds of what could be genocide so people abroad have to stand up.”

Ugandan religious leaders thank President Museveni (far right) for signing the nation’s anti-gay law. Catholic Archbishop Charles Lwanga stands next to Museveni.
Writing in The Atlantic Matt Ford pointed out that Arcbhisop Charles Lwanga of Kampala, the head of the Catholic Church in Uganda, offered a closing prayer at a rally staged by the country’s President Yoweri Museveni to celebrate the signing of the anti-gay law. Many other national religious leaders took part in the event, even giving a plaque to the president to thank him for support of the law.
Yet, Ford also notes that, significantly, Pope Francis has turned down an invitation to visit Uganda to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the canonization of the Ugandan Martyrs, who resisted a native king’s homosexual advances.   Perhaps it was good that Pope Francis rejected the invitation to the event since it could easily have been used to suggest his support for the new law.  But, as Ford points out, Francis can not be silent forever:
“This time around, it seems, Pope Francis is not taking Uganda’s Catholic leaders up on their invitation to visit the shrine—at least not yet. But regardless of whether he travels to the country, will he take a public position on the debate over homosexuality in Uganda—and similar debates taking place elsewhere in the world?
“The pontiff’s tenure, now in its second year, has so far been characterized by two themes: greater compassion on social issues in the developed world, and greater outreach to and inclusion of the developing world. Until now, these goals have rarely clashed. How he bridges the divide between the two in Uganda, if he chooses to try, will be one of the great challenges of his papacy.”
You can help urge Pope Francis to speak out by participating in the #PopeSpeakOut campaign.  Send him an email or a tweet today!
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

by Melanie Nathan, April 20, 2014
...."The Bishop of the Jinja Diocese of the Catholic Church, Bishop Rt. Rev. Fr. Charles Wamika, in today’s Easter Message  delivered at St. Chalres Lwanga Catholic Church, praised the Members of Parliament for the Anti-Homosexuality Act that provides life in prison for gay (LGBTI) people in Uganda. The Bishop called for a blessing for Uganda’s Christians who worked so hard to ‘free the land of gays.’  The Bishope also asked for parents to hand over their gay children to authorities, so they would be rewarded in heaven. I would call that a statement praising and calling for a genocide.."
Now a young man in hiding, challenges the Pope, Pope Francis, as the Catholic Church’s official stand in Uganda, on this Easter Sunday seems to send a message of extreme hate, exacerbating the terror felt by gays in hiding.
As this law in Uganda seems to copy the course of Nazi Germany, the scapegoating, and the forcing of a minority into camps and death, the Ann Franks of Uganda remain in terror, questioning whether the Pope will repeat the mistakes of the Catholic Church during the Hitler Holocaust?
Bridget Mary's Response:
The world, including the all religions, should unite in an outcry of condemnation of this call for genocide against gays. All people are God's beloved people.  I hope that Pope Francis removes this bishop immediately and reiterates his statement: "Whom I am to judge".  All of us must step up in solidarity for justice for gays, lesbians, transgender and call for the immediate removal of the Ugandan bishop who preached this message of hatred toward our sisters and brothers. Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Homeless No More: Kris and Hootie Get A Home-Thanks Be To God! -

Kris and Hootie in their new home
Kris has been homeless for many years. When he could he worked temporary odd jobs and sustained a room in someone’s house. He was a good painter and helped paint the ministry house in 2008.  At that time he was caring for a beloved senior dog and spent most of his pay on dog food and Vet costs.  We would also assist him with this.  He was bereaved when his dog died in 2011.  After serious injuries he could no longer lift his arm to paint or to do most odd jobs. He lived on porches, or when possible, slept on someone’s floor. While sleeping on an open porch Kris met a small black kitten, one of the many feral cats surrounding this house. He shared his food with her and patiently and lovingly befriended her. He called her “Hootie” because she turned her head like an owl.
Kris has no medical coverage and it has been hard to document his disabilities so his case is currently with a lawyer. Our church member, Doctor Teresa Sievers,MD saw him pro bono as it is her offering to Christ, and gave him a complete physical with testing for range of motion, etc. It was clear that he is disabled and that was finally documented.  With no income housing is impossible except with HUD subsidized housing like Goodwill Industries Housing for the physically disabled. Kris had been on a list for one of their Units for over four years and had forgotten that he applied.
The miracle happened in March, his name finally was at the top of the GWI List.  He could not contain his joy when on Friday April 11th he moved into his first home, a wonderful townhouse that was handicapped accessible. One of our church members, Judy Alves supplied all of his furniture, a gift from her sainted mother who went home to God the same week. We supplied a bed and other household items.
Kris in front of his home

Hootie could not move right in, however, she had to be spayed and have her shots first.  On Friday April 18th our church member Linda Maybin taxied Hootie and Kris back and forth to Eastside Animal Hospital who helped us with a reduced rate. Kris could not wait for Hootie to join him in their home. His joy is complete as he describes her nestling in beside him and playing and even watching TV. This is a joy for both of them. “Now my buddy is here”, he said, adding “there is nothing like being loved” and “thank you, Good Shepherd Church and Pastors Judy and Judy”. We are delighted to house Kris and Hootie in a forever home.
Hootie and Kris and Hootie’s special corner in the background-Thanks be to God!
Ending homelessness in Fort Myers  one person at a time,
Pastor Judy Lee and Pastor Judy Beaumont,
Good Shepherd Ministries of Fort Myers, Florida
April 23,2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New Catholic Bishop of Scotland Chooses to Live in Deprived Housing
"As Scotland’s newest Roman Catholic bishop he could easily have opted for the opulent residence set aside for a man in his position...But Bishop John Keenan, who grew up in a high-rise in Maryhill, Glasgow, has shunned the more comfortable address to move into a parish house in a housing scheme in an area of multiple deprivation. Explaining his decision, Bishop Keenan said the Catholic church was going through a cultural shift and would have to “adapt and change in order to be close to the people of our times." 

A New British Bishop with the “Smell of the Sheep” April 16, 2014 Pope Francis made major headlines when he chose not to live in the Vatican palace, but in smaller rooms at……, to carry his own luggage, and to drive a battered used car. This is fully in keeping with the Gospels and the practice of the early church – but in marked contrast to the ostentation and sumptuary of some of his predeccors, and some bishops. He has recommended similar simple lifestyles for his bishops, saying that he preferred them as shepherds of the faithful, to have on them “the smell of the sheep”. Not all bishops have yet taken on board this new corporate culture, but here’s one who very decidedly does – Bishop John Keenan, newly appointed to the see of Paisley, Scotland: New Catholic bishop chooses to live in deprived housing scheme
"As Scotland’s newest Roman Catholic bishop he could easily have opted for the opulent residence set aside for a man in his position...But Bishop John Keenan, who grew up in a high-rise in Maryhill, Glasgow, has shunned the more comfortable address to move into a parish house in a housing scheme in an area of multiple deprivation. Explaining his decision, Bishop Keenan said the Catholic church was going through a cultural shift and would have to “adapt and change in order to be close to the people of our times." 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Homily – Easter Sunday – 20 April 2014 – The Face of the Risen Christ by Richard S. Vosko

EASTER SUNDAY 2014 - THE FACE OF THE RISEN CHRIST Did you ever wonder what the face of the risen Jesus looked like?  Painters in the western world have created images in our brains mostly showing the risen Christ as a European male with a fair complexion even though he was a Mediterranean Jew. Icon […]

Homily Holy Saturday 2014: Rev. Mary Sue Barnett, ARCWP

John 20: 11-18
Rev. Mary Sue Barnett
April 19, 2014
Betty Smith, Mary Sue Barnett, Denise Menard Davis from Christ Sophia Inclusive Catholic Community in Louisville

Yesterday was Good Friday.
Good Fridays, they come and they go.

Most of us here have lived long enough to have experienced many Holy Weeks, and with that, many Good Fridays.

Over all the years there have been cloudy, cold and dreary Good Fridays, as well as years of warm, breezy, sun-drenched Good Fridays, like yesterday.

Over the many years of our lives we have probably placed ourselves in a sanctuary on Good Friday where it is quiet, dark and somber,
where there is a recalling of the passion narratives and
where there are crosses large and small draped with red or black cloth.

Perhaps there have been Good Fridays in our lives that have coincided with our own personal losses and suffering when the rawness of the crucifixion cuts right through to our own weak and weary hearts.

Maybe there have been Good Fridays in our lives when we have felt righteously, fiercely disturbed by the violence of the crucifixion because we are so disturbed by the same violence in our own day.

Perhaps we have spent Good Fridays away from a sanctuary for being estranged from the church.

What was Good Friday like for you this year? Just yesterday it was Good Friday.

Today is Holy Saturday.
This year, 2014, the skies are blue and the day is sun-drenched and warm. And we are here together in a sanctuary.

Holy Saturday follows Good Friday with a profound quiet.
It holds within it an inexplicable silence and stillness.
The kind of silence that settles in.
A silence beyond silence.
It is a muteness that follows violence and trauma.
A life has been poured out and taken
So the human breath is gone.
There is vigilance at the tomb----
an unlikely place where the deepest mysteries of our faith begin to unfold.

The readings chosen for today's liturgy can guide us into the mystery of Holy Saturday.

The opening words of John's Gospel read:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. The Word was in the beginning with God. All things came into Being through the Word, and without the Word, not one thing came into Being."

Theologically, this passage can be also be read as follows:

"In the beginning was Sophia, and Sophia was with God, and Sophia was God. Sophia was in the beginning with God. All things came into Being through Sophia, and without Sophia, not one thing came into Being,"

The "Word" and "Sophia" are identical in meaning.
They refer to Divinity, to a Divine Principle that orders the Universe,
to a Divine Force for Transformation.

The "Word" and "Sophia" also refer to the Divine as Beloved One,
the Beloved One Who yearns, to be sought, to be found, Who is fiercely passionate to be in connection with people and the world in the deepest possible ways.
In the book of Proverbs, Sophia is revealed as a Female Who speaks in first person:
"When God established the heavens,  I was there, before the mountains had been shaped, I was there-----I delight daily in God's presence and in humanity."

So Jesus is the "Word."
Jesus is "Sophia."

When Mary Magdalen loses Jesus to a violent death, when she goes to the tomb, shaken and lost, she is led and carried by the Divine Love shared between Jesus and herself, carried by the passionate, transforming force of the Divine Beloved that defined their earthly walk together.

When Mary goes to the tomb, heart-sick and grief-stricken, her connection with Jesus is not lost.

The connection has changed.

The transforming force of Love between them reaches from Mary Magdalen on the earth to a different realm where Jesus has become the Risen Christ----the Christ Sophia.

In the Gospel of Mary Magdalen (a "non-canonical Gospel discovered in 1896) Mary Magdalen and the disciples experience the presence of Christ Sophia who greets them saying, "Peace be with you, may my Peace arise and be fulfilled within you!
Be vigilant, and allow no one to mislead you.
It is within you that the Blessed One dwells.
Go! Seek! Find! Walk Forth! Announce the Gospel!"

The Gospel of Mary Magdalen goes on to say that,
"The disciples were in sorrow, shedding many tears, and saying:
'How are we to go out there and announce the Gospel?
They did not spare Jesus' life, so why should they spare ours?'
Then Mary Magdalen arose,
She embraced them all, and began to speak to her brothers:
'Do not remain in sorrow and doubt, for the Teacher's Grace will guide you and comfort you. Instead let us praise the Teacher's greatness who has prepared us for this. The Teacher is calling us to become fully human. Thus Mary turned their hearts to the Good, and they began to discuss the meaning of the Teacher's words."

Cynthia Bourgeault, an Episcopal priest and writer says that the crucifixion did not destroy the intimacy that Mary Magdalen and Jesus experienced. Rather, the intimacy spanned the realms. Mary Magdalen walked forth from the garden on Easter morning a transformed woman.
She walked forth from the garden on Easter morning, fully human, intimate with Christ Sophia, determined to slip into holy souls and to make them friends of God and prophets.

Here we are on Holy Saturday, 2014.
Sun-drenched and warm.
In a quiet sanctuary.

All in all, the mystery of Holy Saturday remains a mystery.
It is inextricably connected with Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Perhaps we are left with the paradoxical words of the Teacher in the Gospel of Mary Magdalen:
"It is within you that the Blessed One dwells.
Go! Seek! Find! Walk Forth! Announce the Gospel!"

And perhaps we are left with the paradoxical truth that Mary Magdalen, a woman who suffered the violent loss of her intimate companion, is the one who is fully human and who carries into the world a transformational force.