Saturday, June 27, 2015

Homily by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP : Ordination of Kathleen Ruth Ryan as Priest and , Kim Panero, Edmund John and Phoebe Joan as deacons

Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,
Today we rejoice because the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests is ordaining Kathleen Ruth Ryan as a priest and  Edmund John, Kim Panero, and Phoebe Joan as deacons in Albany, New York. Like the mystics, prophets and rebels in our spiritual tradition, these ordinands celebrate God’s boundless love and all-embracing presence everywhere and in everything.

As our consciousness expands of our evolving cosmos, we rejoice that there are 18 galaxies for every person and that our bodies are made of stardust. Every place we turn we join the mystical dance of creation, celebrating our connection and oneness with all living beings in divine love. 
We serve one another in inclusive, empowered, mystical and prophetic faith communities, as we work for justice and equality  especially for those on the margins. We care for one another and for our earth as co-creators with God in the community of creation.  

 As Elizabeth Johnson envisions in Ask the Beasts, the infinite creativity of God is moving within us opening up fresh possibilities. She writes: "The indwelling Creator Spirit grounds not only life's regularities, but also, the novel occurrences that open up the status quo igniting what is unexpected, interruptive, genuinely uncontrolled and unimaginably possible (p.173)."
 As pilgrims on a journey to a renewed model of priestly ministry, we have experienced many grace-filled  opportunities, challenges and many surprises. Just read our books, blog postings and visit our website to get a glimpse of  the creative Spirit at work in the chaos of our spiritual adventures and efforts to facilitate inclusive communities of equals!

Rabbi Jesus, a prophet reformer, turned patriarchy upside down when he chose women as disciples and treated women as equals in his beloved, empowered community. Like Jesus, our women priests movement is revolutionary.  We challenge the Roman Catholic institutional Church to treat women as spiritual equals in all areas of the church's life including ordination in a renewed priestly ministry.

Like the mustard seed, we too are blossoming as we have grown from the Danube 7 in 2002 to over 210 in our international movement.

Homily: Kathleen Ruth Ryan
Most often at ARCWP ordinations we will hear a gospel reading about women- Mary of Magdala-- Martha and Mary- the Samaritan Woman---so many wonderful gospel stories about women.  But today we hear the familiar gospel reading of the Mustard Seed.  The Mustard seed is very small so small that it is almost impossible for me to hold without dropping it and hard to see even if you are in the front row.   There is nothing in this mustard seed that would tell you of its abundance-its great potential-its possibilities.  Jesus compares this tiny seed to the kin-dom of God.   Each of us here today is here because of a small seed planted within…a whisper-a gentle pull- a tug at the heart…a quiet but constant yearning.

Look around at the person next to you …in front of you- behind you—perhaps there is nothing that you see outright but what potential---what possibility--- what great love there is.
This tiny Mustard seed grows into the largest of provides safety-shade  and a home for all birds.  You and I find safety and a home in the smallest of kindnesses, actions, and affirmations.
Mystics experience God/the Holy One everywhere in everything and in every person-no matter the size.  You and I are mystics when we experience the Holy One everywhere in everything and in every person…just like this tiny seed…we too have the potential with our smallness to be great in this kin-dom of the Holy One.  We stand on the shoulders of the great prophets and mystics who have gone before us. They spoke to the people of their time and still speak to us now.  Phoebe Joan, Kim, Edmund John and Hildy Gerard will reflect on the mystics then and now.

Homily: Phoebe Joan
There is no end to our work. 
As companions on our journey, I am grateful for the spirit of love that permeates our time together, and for the holding up of each of us during this precious time.
The wind comes among us and stirs our souls to respond in new ways, unforged ways, and yet ancient ways as well.  The mystics that walk with us know this; so many came before us.
Each of us here on the altar and with us in our community, responds as best we can to the call of our human beingness, and to the knowing of our spirit.

Do we see each other for who we are?  Only God can really see the whole.  And so, we continue our search, and continue our days of gratitude for just being.
In our space together, we create this momentous occasion; we share the sacred here in our midst.  My constant prayer is one of gratitude for allowing me to be here, and readiness mixed with hope for the time to come.  May we each love fully, thank graciously, and know that we are living our God-given lives to the fullest.  I follow Jesus in Peace and Gratitude.

Homily: Kim Panaro
The 19th century mystic St. Therese of Liseaux has been my companion during my ordination journey.  Therese felt called to the priesthood and wanted more than anything to be a missionary. As a young person I was able to experience mission work in Nicaragua.  I sat on the protest lines in acts of civil disobedience and briefly went to jail. I too felt called by the Gospel to offer my all to be in solidarity with the poor, the oppressed and those threatened by violence.  For both Therese and myself however, the path was moving toward a different kind of witness.

At age four, Therese felt the sting of death because of the death of her mother. She felt the loss of her older sisters leaving to join the convent before her. She entered the cloister at Carmel at 15. In order to do this she had to break some conventions and rules. She found the courage to confront the patriarchal authority of her father, her uncle, her local bishop and finally the pope himself.  Once she entered however, Therese found that her life was not going to be about grand gestures but rather smaller daily acts of kindness. Finally, she faced the shattering truth that she would die a painful and early death of tuberculosis. She developed a belief that the heart of the church is love and so ultimately her vocation was love.
During the last 18 months of her life she was able to explore her shadow sides. The ways in which atheism made sense to her, the fear that religion is a colossal joke with no ultimate truth, the ways in which physical pain would have tempted her to kill herself but for her faith and the need to die constant , small and invisible deaths to her ego are but a few of her themes.  She considered her death at age 24 a gift because 24 is the age she would have been ordained had she been male.
Like Therese, the last few years of my life have involved a level of physical, mental and emotional pain that I have sometimes wondered if I have the faith and courage to endure. I sometimes lack the amount of time, energy, stamina or clarity that I want.  

 Therese has helped me understand that it isn’t about what I think I “should” do but rather how I act on my faith that matters. I can take whatever strengths and limitations I have and use them in to be more compassionate and loving. Whether it is a pat on the back for one of my students, a listening ear for a friend, or sharing my certainty about the loving presence of God in my life, I am called to be of service out of my love of Christ. The one thing I know without any doubt is that we can never be separate from the Spirit of the God of the Cosmos.

 My ordination is my promise to serve with love, with a willing and open heart. God calls us to respond to the circumstances of our lives. This is the call of Therese and all mystics. It’s the challenge for all of us in this room today. As other’s have said, the purpose of life is to find something so important to you that you would die for it, and then live for that. We find strength for that, like Theresa did, in the Divine and through one another.

Homily: Edmund John
Mechthilde of Magdeburg, a mystic of the 13th Century, had visions every day for 31 years beginning when she was 12. At the age of 20 she left a very comfortable life and moved to Magdeburg where she joined a group of Beguines, communities of women who lived and worked among the poor and sick of society.

Her writings describe God’s deep desire to connect to each soul. They speak to the caring, loving relationship each person has with God.  They present how we are to live that same love in our everyday life.  Mechtilde writes: 
 “When are we like God? I will tell you.
In so far as we love compassion and practice it steadfastly,
to that extent do we resemble the heavenly Creator
who practices these things ceaselessly in us.”

As I have reflected on these words, it makes me think of the many times that Jesus touched or was touched by those to whom he showed compassion.  It is the intimacy of connection that brings change allowing the other to believe that they are healed.  Jesus lived his ministry to assist others to see that they were deeply loved by God, by Amma, and that her love knows no bounds.

I chose Mechtilde because I believe that each of us, like Jesus, are capable of touching others with compassionate love, assisting them in realizing that “I who am Divine am truly in you…however far we be parted, never can we be separated, I am in you and you are in me.”  It is the Good News that each of us is part of the Divine nature of God. 

The message from Mechtilde of Magdeburg, for us gathered here today, is to be open to the love and longing that God has to connect to our souls, while calling us to be messengers of the Good News, to be healers to the world, to be prophets in our time, to be mystics hearing and sharing the voice of the divine. In Mechtild's words:
“Have you heard the singing, the song of God serenading the universe? From break of day to fall of night, this God-song sings in my heart”.

 Homily: Hildy Gerard
When I first learned of Hildegard of Bingen, I was astounded by her boldness and courage, yet she expressed so much more than those qualities.   As a little girl of five, she experienced powerful visions which probably scared her and caused those around her to question her.  Supported and educated by Jutta during her spiritual formation, she developed the focus and strength to listen to the God within her who was calling her to speak, paint, write, compose, sing, preach, heal and lead.

Hildegard was anything but a saintly, submissive and passive woman.   We can learn from her.  I do.  When I struggled through grief and depression, I thought of her often.  She struggled too and yet God called her and allowed her to develop into the woman she was called to be.  Each of us is called to something and that call is not to perfection.  These four people standing before you today are publicly responding to a call away from what Hildegard described as spiritual ‘lukewarmness’ and towards spiritual courage.  I am awed to witness their courage and commitment.

As a 12th Century woman, Hildegard stood up to corruption and patriarchy wherever she saw it – in the church, in the kingdoms of her time and in all places of power.  Hildegard also said “I want to be useful.”   That simple statement reflects my call as well.  It is a response to live in recognition of my own gifts and to use them, surrounded by community, to serve. 

So in Hildegard’s own words, “Spirit of Life, bless us as we enter this new time, and as we bless one another in peace.”

 Conclusion: Bridget Mary
Now we rejoice that our mustard seed movement is growing in the New York State Capital Region as we ordain Kathie, Phoebe Joan, Kim,  and Edmund John . Let us live as co-creators in the community of creation with the mystics, prophets and rebels of all ages!  Each of us is the face of God in our world!

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