Sunday, October 25, 2015

Homily by Bishop Mary Eileen Collingwood, at Ordination of Carol Giannini as ARCWP Priest in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Oct. 25, 2015

Mary Eileen Collingwood - homily at Carol Giannini's Ordination

Carol Giannini, newly ordained ARCWP priest, Bishop Mary Eileen Collingwood, ARCWP, Mary Bergan Blanchard, ARCWP presiding at liturgy of Ordination
Good Afternoon, Albuquerque!
Looking out at the Sandia Mountains this afternoon as we celebrate the ordination of Carol Ann Giannini, let us consider other ones who stood on the mountainside, where Moses and Jesus became the voice of God.
As Moses delivered God’s law to the people at Mt. Sinai preparing them for life in the Land, so Jesus goes to the Capernaum mountainside to explain to the people of God how to live.  He settled that day on the gentle slope rising above the city where nature had carved a natural amphitheater, choosing a spot that he could effectively address a large company of people.  And we are here today nestled in the basin of the Sandia mountain range.  Let’s settle in, and allow ourselves to be inspired as we discover our God of Surprises!

The Beatitudes are addressed to a people who have been longing for the dawn of God’s kin-dom —that relationship with the Divine that will last forever.  This was a people who had been longing for the intervention of God in history and in their personal lives.

Carol Giannini, ARCWP prostrates at ordination

Blessed are those who are poor in spirit—those who know their need of God!
Blessed are those who are mourning—those who are grieved by prevalent injustice, persecution, and loss!
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice—those who hunger and thirst to do what is right!

Jesus speaks of those who ARE such persons—those who ARE blessed because of who they are.  Notice he does not command his listeners TO BECOME such persons.  It appears that the gifts of love come before the responsibilities of that love.  Jesus reaches across our lives and puts the message together for us in an entirely new way!

The blessings described here will be experienced. These words of Jesus point to the reality of blessedness that was experienced by the people who followed him then, and who follow him today.

Each instance points to the activity of God.  “Blessed” means to be congratulated in a deeply religious sense with more emphasis on Divine embrace than on human happiness.  And there is a future dimension to those blessings—the kin-dom of heaven is theirs—they will live in the Eternal Presence of God.  They will be consoled, they will inherit the land, they will have their fill, they will be shown mercy, and they will see God.  All of these blessings point to a future reward, the future sense of experiencing God’s Presence in eternity.

Carol Giannini ARCWP Mary Eileen Collingwood, ARCWP, and Juanita Cordero, RCWP

The Beatitudes are an invitation to those who are indifferent, those who misunderstand God’s character, those who are hostile—for it is for them that the kin-dom of God shall be established.
God initiates these blessings where there is no sense of need or expectancy, and Jesus offers hope to evoke them—to bring them about.  What makes a person “blessed” is not one’s poverty of spirit—the condition out of which one calls upon God—but by one’s being rightly related to God.

The Gospel today speaks of “salt” and “light.”  What are the nature and function of these elements?  Do they function separately, or as one?
In Jesus’ vision, when his followers demonstrated the qualities of being salt and light to the world, they were considered the salt and light for the world.
Followers of Jesus are called to be the preservative in a corrupt society. One of the qualities of salt is that it keeps things from going rotten.  In the Israel of Jesus’ day, this statement is made in light of the corrupting influences of the religious leadership.  It was so then, and it rings true in our own day.  We are called to act as a retardant against the natural tendencies of societal and church culture that are built on faulty ground to fall into decay.  If our traditional church does not recognize that the equality of women is constitutive to the gospel message, all its efforts to right the wrongs in our church will be built on sand.

Carol Giannini stands before us this day of her ordination as priest.  It is Carol’s calling by the Holy Spirit that leads her here.  Her entire life has been one of serving others.  And how did she serve?  She listened, she noticed, she reflected, she prayed, and she acted.  Every situation she has ever experienced in her lifetime has been an opportunity to serve the people of God, some with very distressing faces, in very distressing places.  Yet because of her continued interest and yearning to continue her education and spiritual formation in order to serve with the greatest compassion, knowledge, and insight, she comes to us today officially recognizing that her life’s preparation in ministry was also a preparation for being a prophetic witness as a woman priest.
Her good works embrace her witness to the quality and vision of life she expresses.

Jesus focused on the disciples’ “being,” not on their striving—he wasn’t interested in someone striving to become “light,” because he believed they already were light.  Their good works merely let their light shine.  If the light is not hidden, if what we really are is seen clearly, the witness will occur. This is what Carol has done her whole life.  Her light shines today because she has chosen to serve others.  For, the gifts of love—the light within her-- comes before the responsibilities of that love—living out of that light—a life promoting equality and justice in our church and world.

Does salt and light function as one?  As followers of Jesus, we embrace both together, becoming a living witness to the compassionate God whose Spirit guides us in our mission and illumines our path.

The women priest movement is built upon such a foundation.  We are the heralds in the desert calling for justice, equality and inclusiveness in our church.  And our prophetic witness provides a model that embeds those qualities in the church today for generations to come. 

Welcome, Carol, to this amazing calling!  Know that you will be supported and encouraged by your sisters and brothers within the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, the entire women priest movement, and your supportive local community.  You honor us with your presence as a companion on the journey!

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