Friday, March 13, 2015

Welcoming Transformation: An Invitation to Spring: by Sibyl Dana Reynolds

Dear Friends,

Are you feeling the shift in the air as winter becomes spring? I have been contemplating this threshold time betwixt the seasons. The earth is awakening from its cold long sleep to herald spring's offerings... fertility, rebirth, and resurrection.

We're nearing the time of year when bees bless their hives and the honeycomb sweetens. Spring also promises the emergence of brightly colored butterflies from their little paper-like chrysalises.

A seldom used word comes to mind...cremaster. A cremaster is the place or fastening that holds the caterpillar within the cocoon. It's the point where cocoon-making begins. The cremaster is the anchor for the miracle of transformation.

How and where will you anchor yourself this spring to encourage transformation for your life? Where is your cremaster? Are you feeling called to cocoon? Do you dream of entering the chrysalis to experience a rebirth for your creative heart and spirit?

My cremaster is my writing room, my scriptorium. I will spend the spring and early summer cloistered in my cocoon at my desk to complete my next book, The Way of Belle Coeur, a contemporary Vade Mecum (guidebook) for women.

My intention for writing a guidebook to accompany my novel,

Ink and Honey, is to provide an inspirational cremaster for the feminine spiritual and creative journey. The Way of Belle Coeur

will offer an anchoring place containing spiritual practices, prayers, and sacred wisdom. All this will be explored in depth at

The Way of Belle Coeur Autumn Retreat and Spiritual/Creative Formation Program.

The March winds rattle the windows and the cocoon holds fast to its cremaster. Safe within the chrysalis something numinous is happening. The Mystery of life unfolds and transformation is at work!

With love and anticipation,


You're invited to explore

the following opportunities...

The Way of Belle Coeur: Sacred Practices, Prayers, and Sisterhood

An autumn retreat and

spiritual/creative formation program

Request your application here

Space is limited

Free 3-day e-mail Sacred Practices for Women Who Write

Creative Mentoring for Personalized Focus and Guidance for Your Creative Visions and Projects

Visit Blossomland this spring for

Belle Coeur honey from the hive,

beeswax candles natural soaps

Inspired by the award-winning novel,

Ink and Honey

"Sibyl Dana Reynolds offers us a lush and generous gift of storytelling and immersion in the medieval culture of women monks and mystics. Her novel is filled with sensual details that make her writing and the time period come alive, while her story is compelling, drawing the reader always forward. You grow to care deeply about these characters and come to recognize something of yourself in their journeys and longings."

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, author of The Artist's Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Spirit with Monastic Wisdom

Ink and Honey

is the story of a sacred journey through the medieval French countryside with the sisters of Belle Cœur, a community of radically independent healers, visionaries, mystics and artisans who live by their wits and their prayers. Goscelin, the dedicated scribe, records her sisterhood's stories, visions and prophecies in her community's journal while surrounded by holy madness, suspicion and the imminent threat of death at the stake. The sisters guard a life-threatening secret as they navigate spiritual terrain where faith and creative passion forge the way to labyrinths and cathedrals, hidden rooms and honey drenched hives. This book is alive with women's ancient wisdom and spiritual practices to inform our lives today.

Click here to purchase Ink and Honey in paperback.

Click here to purchase Kindle e-book.

Sibyl Dana Reynolds, Author

Click here to hear the author share her message to readers and her story of her writing journey.

Be sure to visit for more information about upcoming events.

"The Real Presence": A Reflection by Denise Menard Davis, ARCWP

First, a thought or two. I suspect that in centuries past when practically everyone believed that only a priest had the power to "turn" ordinary bread into the real body of Christ through specific words and actions, they genuinely experienced real presence. Contemporary work on human consciousness reveals, quite possibly, that only through the use of such a ritual and belief system would people of that day and age have been able to experience God in that setting. However, since then, and especially within the past half century, as we have grown in consciousness , we see beyond what others once cherished. We see the "magical" implications that emerge when insisting that only those with a wand (hint-hint) may successfully transform bread into Christ's body. We also know, all to well, the pain and brokenness  heaped upon communities when anyone is excluded. How can God be fully present, we cry out, when even one "sheep" is missing? Doesn't Jesus tell us where God is at that moment - out searching for the one, leaving the 99 remaining? And so, motivated by these changes in awareness, we must seek new ways of living our sacramental reality - that not only is God always present, we can also enter into that presence whenever two or more are gathered. It seems to me that it is that search in which so many contemporary theologians, prophets and mystics, including we in ARCWP are engaging today. Given our varying gifts, passions and abilities, each of us is being led to our own discoveries. Because I have just stumbled upon a writer who best explains where I've been led, I will share a bit of her work with you. 

In her book, God's Ecstasy, Beatrice Bruteau does a wonderful job of describing the gifts of contemplation, connecting them, in fact, to a trinitarian understanding of God. She first describes the "enstatic" reality of a person, the part of us that is beyond limit, definition or description. It is, in fact, the aspect of us that is made in God's image. To access that enstatic self, we must practice indwelling, going within silently and in stillness. When we do so, we learn that we are so much more than what we could ever expect, as well as gaining the ability to recognize and affirm the enstatic reality of everyone else, to communicate that they, too, in having been created in God's image, are beyond description and definition - limitless! If we are able to exist within that enstatic awareness, only then, Brutea u writes, does agape love become possible. (Whenever we describe/define another, we see him/her as object, thus preventing us from loving without self-benefit in mind.) She goes on to say that whenever agape love is shared, one other requirement is present: the necessity to allow that love to pour forth into the world. If it is locked within an exclusive exchange between two individuals, the love turns each into objects as definitions and descriptions arise. Oh my, my heart sang, as I've read this book.... Finally, I have a means of explaining why I have been drawn more and more to a contemplative stance these past ten years. This is what I'm seeking... this is also what I've begun to experience.... But what about real presence? 

Last night, at Antioch, a friend of mine and I were invited to lead the labyrinth. Now, let me say that more than anything else the willingness and spiritual grounding of those present contributed most to our experience, but yet, as we spoke to them as we introduced the process, I couldn't help but notice a distinct change in attitude and countenance. First, we acknowledged the universal similarities of our hearts (our enstatic realities), that all of us long so deeply for union with God, but yet, distractions abound. And then as we settled into our places, we remembered that we are "nowhere but now here" so we were free to release the worries, concerns, frustrations of our daily lives. Finally, after doing the repetitive chant using "Be still and know that I am God" (ala Richard Rohr), we invited all to begin the labyrinth, the path of which was actually a simple one marked by numbered papers that led them around pews and up and down the center aisle of their church to the altar. (Of course, they retraced steps from that point.) Even as I sat meditating with my eyes closed, I could feel "real presence" as it grew and grew, finally to the point where the host minister rea lized as she walked that she didn't need to close the experience with a physical anointing of each as she had intended. Clearly, she later told me, she could see that each and every person was anointed as they walked, as they rested in God's presence, and even as they returned to their pews. 

I share this with you not to announce "Aha! This is it... this is the way!" It is one way, yes, and maybe without my Catholic sacramental awareness being  present, they would have reached such depth: clearly it is a loving and genuine community. But this I know: I was humbled and blessed to have been present to such a powerful experience of real presence. Yes! my heart sings. Yes! 




Thursday, March 12, 2015

Homily: "What's Love Got To Do With It", 4th Sunday of Lent B. by Judy Lee, RCWP

’It's all About Love"
Opening Prayer: Our God of the second chance, God of love, thank you for loving us into life now and forever. Help us to love you with all our hearts, and to love all of our neighbors especially those who are most difficult to love.  We ask this through Your Beloved Jesus, who lives with You and the Holy Spirit, One God forevermore. Amen.
Liturgy of the Word
(I am using The Inclusive Bible translation by Priests For Equality.)
2 Chronicles 36:14-17, 19-23   “…for God had compassion for the people…”
Psalm 137 “May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I forget You”
Although the people in exile cannot joyfully sing their much loved hymns they remember God
Ephesians 2:4-10 “God, loving us so much, brought us to life in Christ”…We are “God’s work of art…”
The Gospel John 3:14-21 God’s great love transforms us into light for the world
The readings for this fourth Sunday of Lent are about God’s boundless love for us. God’s love can transform our lives so that we can reflect the love and light of God. How good it is to have a God of love and not a God of vengeance or indifference. How good it is to be loved.  And yet, I wonder, how do we really know, embrace and experience this love and make it known to others beyond empty words?  Do we have a relationship of love or of obligation or negotiation with our God?
A rousing yet plaintive and jaded Tina Turner song goes: “What’s love got to do with it? What’s love but a second hand emotion?” Well, dear friends, love has everything to do with it, and it is way beyond any type of emotion.  It is the fullest giving of self and the very acts we engage in with one another and for justice on behalf of the least of us. It is what we long for and what God has freely given to God’s works of art-to each one of us.
The reading from the Hebrew Scriptures (2 Chronicles) causes us to ponder our infidelity to God while God is faithful to us. We learn that, like the Hebrew people, we may wander in exile but there is a way to go home again. For those who have had ruptures in family and community life that have felt like exile, going home again is all the more sweet. Even as our loving God is home for the outcast, the Church must also be home. Yet so often it is the church that rejects. How sweet it would be to be able to go home to our church families when they have initially rejected us.
I think with much compassion about those we minister to and with. I think of some of our families who have members who belong to gangs that live by gun violence. The families are in a bind-they simply do not know how to love these youth without condoning the violence that is then brought down on the heads of all in the family. I think of the struggles of families with mentally ill members who are loved and accepted and those where they are cast out.  (The book Behind the Wall by Elin and Mary Widdifield tells the revealing and poignant stories of parents struggling with the mental illness of beloved children of all ages).  I think also of the gay youth I have known who have been all but banished from families. I think of those who ended their own lives unable to negotiate their “gayness” or gain acceptance in their families. I think of those who were happily able to reconcile with families and restore loving bonds.  I think too of PFLAG parents, those parents who come together to give and gain support as parents of gays and those on the GLBT spectrum. I think of the PFLAG group here in Southwest Florida who were told they could no longer meet in their parish hall by Bishop Dewane of the diocese of Venice.  Until the church grows in love there will be no going home again for so many. (The picture of the Franciscan Saint is Fr. Mychal Judge, a gay priest who died saving others on 9/11).
The Epistle reading is particularly poignant and full of meaning: “God loving us so much brought us to life in Christ”. God’s ultimate giving of Self in Christ gave us life. We are literally born of love, God’s love for us. And it is forever. Wow! Yet so many seem unaware of this deep and abiding love. In part they do not see it reflected in human eyes or feel it in human touch, and, in part, when it may be there they can’t see it.  I am ministering to a woman who is so depressed that she can see no hope or light- all is darkness. She often says “My life is over”. Practical situations are hard for her to solve because she can only see the downside of everything. Similarly a young man I am counseling has made a great deal of progress in conjunction with psychiatric treatment and medications but he still states that life is not worth living. There are many people who feel as these two do and it is a challenge to love them into life- we must try with all our hearts but perhaps ultimately only God can do that. Yet, if we can see God’s “work of art” in all people, perhaps we can help those who are in exile to find their way home to God’s loving arms again.
God’s Works of Art   IMG_0023IMG_0014IMG_0027IMG_0059100_4061IMG_0150 - CopyIMG_0016IMG_0030IMG_0175100_4075100_4016IMG_0100IMG_0025IMG_0070
This is the heart of our Gospel text today: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” According to Pope Francis in his homily on the Wednesday in the Domus Sanctae Marthae on 4/10/13:
“The Lord saves us by His love: not with a letter, nor with a decree, but with his love, a love so great that it led him to send his Son, who, ‘became one of us, walked with us,’ and this saves us.”
While our loving God is so much more than the pronouns ‘he, his or him’, encompassing all that is best in female and male, our loving Father/Mother is in love with us and we are created as God’s works of art according to Ephesians 2:10, and this gift of special life carries with it the responsibility and the ability to not only be but to do good works ourselves. Wow!
Indeed in Jesus’ walk on this earth he lived inclusion, compassion and healing. He welcomed the stranger and the outcast, calling women and ordinary folks and outcasts into fellowship and discipleship. Jesus saw virtue in those dismissed by religious authorities. He opened eyes and brought light into darkness both literally and metaphorically. He also spoke truth to power, so much truth that they had to kill him.  Christ showed us how to live and through his death and resurrection Christ lives in us. We are fully alive in Christ. But it is not about words, right words or right thoughts about God, it is all about love and the power of love to dispel darkness and to heal the broken-hearted. The more broken we are by life, the more God is there to make us whole again. In the Gospel we are asked to “believe” in Christ to gain eternal life. But the word “believe” here is more like hold as “beloved” in the Aramaic language of Jesus. To believe in God, in Christ, is to LOVE God, to believe in as a spouse or parent or best friend believes in the beloved person in their lives- not to have a set of correct beliefs or thoughts. To believe in is to “belove” God. To have faith in is to be faithful to and to deeply trust God, not to recite right words. Loving God and one another must come from deep in our hearts and not from our heads. And that kind of loving transforms our deepest selves. We then can reflect the love of God and the light and love of Christ to others, even those who are not easy to love for whatever reasons.
When the father of the epileptic boy that Jesus healed in Mark 9 said, “I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24) he taught us how to pray in the midst of ignorance and doubt. We might in the context of John 3 and Ephesians 2:4-10 say “Christ you are my beloved, help me to learn to love”. Then we may be transformed into the art work we were designed to be, and become the light and love that others so desperately need. Let us love and let us live so all may live, now and forever. Amen.

Kathryn Shea, ARCWP, Awarded Social Worker of the Year by Sarasota/Manatee Unit of the National Association of Social Workers

CONTACT:                                                                                                                                                           FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michelle Moreno, VP of Marketing & Communications                                                                                            
(941)371-8820, Ext.1025
Shea awarded Social Worker of the Year
March 12, 2015 (Sarasota, FL) Kathryn Shea,  President & CEO of The Florida Center for Early Childhood was awarded Social Worker of the Year by the Sarasota/Manatee Unit of the National Association of Social Workers  for her demonstrated leadership, commitment and dedication to social justice for children and all vulnerable people.
As stated by Ruth Brandewine,  Kathryn Shea exemplifies the best in social work.  She has consistently maintained the values and ethics of the profession and is a worthy role model for all social workers.  Her clinical, administrative and advocacy skills make her most worthy of the Social Worker of the Year Award.
As President and CEO of the Florida Center for Early childhood, Kathryn has provided leadership in mental health, child welfare and legislative advocacy.  She started the state’s first Fetal Alcohol Diagnostic and Intervention Clinic providing statewide diagnostic assessments and training.  While Chair of the Legislative Committee of the Sarasota Community Alliance, Shea founded the annual Sarasota Legislative Summit for community collaboration to identify local legislative priorities which are then presented to the local delegation at the annual Legislative Breakfast.  Kathryn was recently elevated to Chair of the Community Alliance Steering Committee. 
Shea is widely respected by her social work colleagues, doctors, psychologists, nurses and public officials.  She is unfailingly positive and personifies the caring professional who believes in the dignity of all and demonstrates it in her daily work with children, families, colleagues and political leaders.
For over 35 years, The Florida Center for Early Childhood has been serving our community’s children and families. The Florida Center provides a seamless delivery of services for the whole child and his or her family. Today, The Florida Center for Early Childhood is a nationally accredited, community-based agency that provides early childhood education, developmental therapies, mental health therapy, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders diagnostic and intervention services, training, and home-based child abuse prevention services.
For more information about The Florida Center visit or contact Michelle Moreno at 371-8820, ext. 1025.

Kathryn will be ordained a priest on May 23rd by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests in Sarasota, Florida.

We are delighted that Kathryn has been honored by her peers with this prestigious award in social work.  Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

Two years Pope Francis (13 March, 2015) Epochal change in the Roman Catholic Church?

The International Movement We Are Church, in view of the second anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, calls to all the forces of reform to continue to support a consistent course of reform in line with the Second Vatican Council and to counteract the growing resistance within the church. The cardinals and bishops here especially have the duty to ensure that the epochal change, launched 50 years ago by the Council, can succeed in the Roman Catholic Church.
With the sentence: "How I wish a poor church for the poor", Jorge Mario Bergoglio, elected pope two years ago on March 13, 2013, at the first press conference after his election, established connections to that what Pope John XXIII had formulated as his vision before the beginning of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) . A vision that survived in the Latin American church, but that many martyrs had to pay for with their lives - as the Archbishop of El Salvador, Oscar Romero, who was murdered on 24 March 1980 at the altar, and whose beatification process Pope Francis has reopened.
After the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Francis now drives ahead with the renewal course in many areas. It is a fundamental cultural shift that finally tries to implement now what the Second Vatican Council intended 50 years ago, regarding intra-ecclesial reforms, participation of the faithful, opening to the world, ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue. This cultural change will also bring a change of structure. For this, however, people of the Church and the theological sciences need to be much more actively included by the bishops to participate and need to continue to call themselves for this participation.
Instead of making decisions "from above", Francis triggers processes and deliberately chooses the "synodal way" as in the double Family Synod 2014 and 2015. This change from "ban-mode" to "interactive mode" is unfamiliar for many in the Catholic Church, but corresponds to the direction of the Second Vatican Council! The list of newly appointed cardinals from around the world in February 2015 shows that global diversity is promoted. A decentralization of the church structure must follow. The cardinals and bishops, especially the consultants for the reform of the Curia, carry a great responsibility to ensure that this reform course of Francis will be successful.
We ask the Pope to reinstate lay people, theologians, women and others removed unfairly from engagement in the Church in the last years. At the same time we call for direct and permanent dialogue with the Pope to express to him our concerns and our beliefs about issues facing our Church.
But the strength of the resistance to any kind of reform within the Vatican itself, is shown by the fact that Pope Francis was forced once again to express sharp criticism to the Roman Curia at his Christmas greetings, 2014. This alarming wake-up call was directed not only to the senior members of the Curia, but to all cardinals and bishops of the universal Church, who still show far too little support the intentions of Francis.
Since the beginning, however, Francis to a large extent has received the support of the people in the pews. In December 2014, the US-based Pew Research Centre released impressive numbers. The survey in 43 countries shows a high level of support for Pope Francis with an average of 60 percent. Particularly high approval ratings have been found in Europe (84 percent), United States (78 percent) and Latin America (72 percent) (
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Janice Sevre-Duszynska ARCWP and 120 Peace Activists Witness to Stop Drones at Creech AFB/See Video

From March 4-6, about 120 peace activists from across the country gathered at Camp Justice across from Creech AFB, 50 miles outside  Las Vegas, Nevada to participate in a Mass Mobilization to Stop Drone Wars -- A Convergence for Peace in the Nevada Desert. We are community from Catholic Workers, CodePink, Veterans for Peace, Voices for Creative NonViolence, etc. I arrived on Tuesday March 3rd and funded ARCWP sponsorship. We gathered to name and nonviolently stop drone warfare and targeted assassinations that originate at Creech where the robot drones fly every few minutes with the scenic mountains in the background . Here is the belly of the beast where sensor and drone operators train and push the buttons of Predator and Reaper drones that incinerate babies, children, mothers, fathers, elders on the otherside of the planet. Because of the cold weather and thin sleeping bags, a number of us shared hotel rooms in Las Vegas, then caught rides to the morning vigil (6-8 a.m.).  I wore my "Children of the World Stole" and carried my "desconocida" cross as the workers entered the base and left (3-5 p.m.).  "Listen to your conscience. You are not a robot!" I called out. Local communities brought in our meals. My first night we watched the play "Grounded" about a female drone operator. Well written and acted, this one-woman play carries a prophetic message that brought us to tears. In April it will begin its Off Broadway run starring Anne Hathaway. My hope is that it will awaken citizens to the immoral, illegal and de-stabalizing proliferation of drone warfare which at present is unregulated and unconstrained.

During my previous visit to the Nevada Desert Experience three years ago last August, I met CODEPINK's Co-founder Medea Benjamin who was introducing her book, Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. That week we did die-ins and I wailed over the victims as I've done at the NSA, CIA, White House, etc. By luck and grace I got a media pass from NCR into the Drone Convention at the Mandalay Hotel where I was one of only several women of the 8,000 men who attended workshops sponsored by DARPA and others about the use of drones (surveillance and targeted killings), autonomous robots, commercial drones etc. In the hall filled with 5,000 exhibits from the weapons industry, I recalled the words of my Old Testament teacher Walter Brueggemann: "Follow the money" to the source of injustice. Recently, I've completed a review-essay of Drones and Targeted Killings: Legal Moral, and Geopolitical Issues, a volume of 14 essays edited by legal scholar Marjorie Cohn.

On Thursday we planned our Friday actions in various affinity groups as the Thunderbirds demonstration squadron flew over us zigzaggin through the skies. Here I met friends from from various Catholic Workers, East and West. Our group planned to shut down Creech's West Gate as others (Franciscans Louis Vitale and Jerry Zawada, Voices' Brian Terrell and former Col. Ann Wright crossed thru the commercial (main) entrance. Meanwhile our affinity group, mainly women, carried placards of photos of the victims and processed toward the West Gate parallel to the cars entering. Ellen Grady from Syracuse and I lay down in front of the lead car. After a few minutes we all decided to proceed to the West Gate where our die-in took place. In the video above you'll see me in the purple jacket carrying the white cross and wailing over the dead. We shut down Creech at least for awhile! Janice

Primacy of Conscience is Official Catholic Church Teaching Even if the Hierarchy Fails to Affirm it in Practice by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

For Catholics who dissent on the hot button issues including contraception, homosexuality, divorce and remarriage in the church and women priests, etc., there is good news. Official Catholic Church teaching states that Catholics must following their conscience always in all circumstances, even if their consciences are in error.
As you know institutional church’s theology today reflects St.  Thomas Aquinas's theology in many areas of its official teaching including conscience. In recent years, especially during the papacies of John Paul 11 and Benedict,  the primacy of conscience was not emphasized.  Catholics who dissented were punished by church authorities! Even today, under Pope Francis, Catholic school teachers must sign loyalty oaths in some dioceses on issues of sexual morality. 

One wonders why the hierarchy, including the Vatican, violates a core teaching of the Church?
Thomas Aquinas, in his book of Sentences IV, 38, 2, 5) affirmed the authority of conscience in all situations. Here is the quote.
“Anyone upon whom the ecclesiastical authorities, in ignorance of the true facts, impose a demand that offends against his clear conscience should perish in excommunication rather than violate his conscience.”
 St. Thomas of Aquinas explained that even of one’s conscience was in error, it must be followed. He  taught that it would be better to be excommunicated then to violate one’s conscience. 

For centuries, this has been the official teaching of the Catholic Church, but, how many sermons have you heard on it?

 I once had a banner on my wall that quoted Thomas's affirmation of conscience and excommunication. "I'd rather be excommunicated then violate my conscience."

When the press asked me  how could I become a priest and disobey Church law? I responded that I was following my conscience and  cited St. Thomas Aquinas and Cardinal Ratizinger's quote ( below) on the primacy of conscience.   
Fast forward to Vatican 11’s “Decree on Religious Freedom”
“ In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience faithfully, in order that he may come to God, for whom he was created.  It follows that he is not to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious.” (no. 3)
Even though the language is not inclusive, this teaching is normative Catholic teaching that applies to all people. 
Conciliar teaching reflects the highest level of church teaching.
Joseph Ratzinger, during the time when he was a theologian at Vatican 11, wrote about the primacy of conscience. (During his papacy,  however, he did not apply this important teaching to dissenters from official church teaching . Many theologians were censured, women priests and our supporters were punished, dissenters were fired from positions in Catholic institutions.)
 “Over the pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority there still stands one’s own conscience which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. Conscience confronts (the individual) with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even of the official church.”
It is time for Catholics to  send a clear message to the hierarchy, that they must follow the Church's teaching on the primacy of conscience!

Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pope Francis's Greeting For International Women's Day May Not Have Hit The Mark /An Open and Frank Response by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

The conference also touched on the taboo subject of women's ordination, which recently resulted in excommunication for Georgia Walker, an American woman who got ordained in an unsanctioned ceremony under the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. 
Bridget Mary's Comment: The full equality of women in the church is the voice of God in our times and this means- women priests now serving empowered, inclusive communities of equals!
Georgia Walker in the center holding the chalice on her ordination day in Kansas City
The Roman Catholic Church has a gaping soul-wound from centuries of sexism in which women were called "misbegotten males" and treated as second class citizens! 
Our international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is leading the church toward the full equality of women now. Until the institutional church allows women to take their place around the altar as priests, this soul wound will deepen and the alienation of the next generation of women will grow.
It is time to shut down the old boys club. 
It is my hope that Pope Francis takes a step forward by lifting the excommunication of women priests, and  our supporters.  I believe that  Pope Francis is leading the church in the right direction in many areas, especially his stance  in soldarity with the marginalized, the least and the last in our world. 

However, our beloved pope  does not make the connection between abuse and violence toward women worldwide and discrimination against women in the church. Women cannot be separate but equal at the altar. We need to see women as sacred images of God, as spiritual equals to men, and that means everywhere, including leading sacramental liturgies. When women preside at the altar, speak out for justice for all and minister  in inclusive, egalitarian communities, the joy of the Gospel is a reality! It is my prayer that Pope Francis will soon make this connection.

"We are told that the question of ordination is ruled out,"

Bridget Mary's Comment: Why? Our women priests movement is growing and most Catholics in the West and in some Latin American countries support women priests. Please don't trot out the old argument blaming Jesus for discrimination. Read Luke 8:1-3 There were many women in his discipleship of equals! 

 Tina Beattie, a noted theologian at the University of Roehampton in London, said on Sunday. "If we're asked to accept that and respect it, we have to see that in every single other situation, there is full and equal participation of women's leadership in the church -- that every single position that does not require ordination is equally filled by men and women." Women make up just 18 percent of staff at the Vatican, according to Vatican Radio, though as of 2012 there were 702,529 sisters and nuns compared to 55,314 religious brothers and roughly 420,000 priests and bishops...In  2014 the pontiff appointed Mary Ann Glendon to the supervisory board of the Vatican bank, and Sr. Mary Melone wasnamed rector of the Pontifical University Antonianum in Rome.
Bridget Mary's Comment: Here Francis gets credit for appointing a few women to top positions at the Vatican, but women theologians are more than "strawberries on the cake"!  Obviously from the statistics below, there is long road to equality ahead! If  Francis is serious about moving the church toward full and equal participation of women in leadership positions, then, he needs to change canon law that links ordination and decision-making in church practice.  Now that would really shake up the church! Just what we need a big holy shakeup and soon!
Bridget Mary Meehan, Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

"Vatican Event Tackles Women's Equality, Inclusion and Ordination" in National Catholic Reporter

"While the theme of women as second-class citizens was not addressed directly by the panel of women speaking about their roles in the church, Gajiwala said in a separate NCR interview last week that the church's link between ordination and governance leaves women without decision-making roles.
"I hope that some time, if the structure is going to remain the way it is ... then at least that they will de-link governance and ordination so that women can be part of decision-making."
"Right now, what happens is that we are there mainly as consulters," Gajiwala said. "Yes, we do influence decisions, but the decision is not ours. This is a fact."
On Sunday, Beattie called for a church where women are full partners with men.
Beattie, a convert to Catholicism, said Pope Francis' apostolic letter, Evangelii Gaudium ("The Joy of the Gospel"), showed "the church that I dream of -- the messy, free, faithful, joyful community that when I joined the church ... I glimpsed very strongly."
Bridget Mary's Response; The fact that this conference was sponsored by the Vatican is hopeful. However, until either the link is broken between ordination and governance in canon law, women will remain second class citizens in our own church and until women are partners and equals in all areas including priestly ministry, the joy of the Gospel  will be an illusive dream, not a reality. Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 4th Sunday of Lent B, March 15th by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

Today John the evangelist gives us the picture of Nicodemus,
a religious leader who searches in darkness
and shows up—at night— to find out what Jesus is all about.
Later in the gospel John will show us
that Nicodemus has begun to walk in the light.
When he asks forbearance
from the Sanhedrin as they debate what to do with Jesus,
Nicodemus takes on the role of the prophet.
They don’t listen.
After the crucifixion, Nicodemus provides spices for Jesus’ burial.
So John makes the metaphor of dark and light
live in human bodies:
the people who prefer dark and evil works hate the light;
those who look for, and live, the truth, like Nicodemus,
come to the light.
In our first reading the Chronicler tells us
that both the rulers and the people ignored the prophets.
King Zedekiah did “what was evil in the sight of God,”
while “all the leading priests and the people likewise
were exceedingly unfaithful.”
The prophets warned them, but they didn’t listen.
Disaster destroyed their homeland and led them into slavery.
What do these prophets do?
What’s their role, their purpose?
Prophets aren’t fortune tellers.
They watch what’s happening around them
and pray and reflect on it.
They point to the signs of the times and call for action.
They speak truth to power, regardless of the consequences.
We know them in our time—
prophets who name oppression… and call for justice;
prophets who name war… and call for peace.
Some of them are nationally and internationally known,
very famous people,
and some are well-known only in their own communities.
We all know of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Most of us here lived through those years.
Young Americans today are learning about him
through the movie Selma.
They’re also learning these days
about the ongoing struggle for civil rights
through the news reports of young blacks
killed by police in Ferguson and Madison.
But does anyone remember the BGSU students
sitting in the street
to block the intersection of Main and Wooster
in a show of sympathy with the marchers in the South?
Anonymous people with a passion for equality
and a commitment to solidarity with other human beings.
People remember Fr. Dan and Fr. Phil Berrigan
and the Vietnam War protests,
the Ploughshares Movement of the 1980s.
Only the families and close friends of conscientious objectors
know of the sacrifices they made to protest the war.
Only a few are aware of faithful protestors
like Carol Falquette at the School of the Americas Watch.
Or the hardy group of folks in the Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition
who stand on our street corners every Sunday
with their peace posters.
Ordinary people with a passion for peace.
The prophetic call of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
in their book Half the Sky
and the PBS documentary on human trafficking
based on their book is known around the world.
Hands-on workers like Toledoans Lee Ann Campbell
and Ursuline Sister Sandy Sherman at Rahab’s Heart
rouse people here
but are hardly known outside northwest Ohio.
Ordinary people
with a passion for the rights and dignity of every human being.
We are blessed with many local prophets speaking truth to power.
On war and peace, the Pax Christi movement
with Sister Paulette Schroeder in Tiffin
and Josie Setzler in Fremont
and a whole slew of folks in Toledo.
On justice for Palestinians in Israel,
Anne Abowd and Lucy Abu-Absi and scores of others.
On labor rights, especially for farm workers,
we have Baldemar Velasquez,
the founder of the Farm Labor Organizing Council.
On gun violence, Toby Hoover of Perrysburg,
the founder of the Ohio Coalition against Gun Violence.
On love of neighbor, the Compassionate Community movement,
the MultiFaith Council, Toledo Area Ministries.
We here at Holy Spirit, each in our own way,
have a passion for justice and peace
that we work for day by day as best we can,
everything from cuddling babies in the neo-natal ICU
to volunteering at Hospice,
from praying to writing our legislators
to donating time and money
to marching in the streets.
. As a parish community we share a passion for life on our planet
that we are expressing in our effort to plant trees
to mitigate climate change.
Twenty years from now,
when those trees and shrubs are breathing in CO2
and breathing out oxygen,
it’s unlikely that anyone will remember our names
and what we started.
It’s like Jonah’s prophetic message to the Ninevites—
they listened, and they were spared.
We are engaged in prophetic action
that will help avert the disaster
that is disrupting our planet.
We do well to remember, as Paul tells the Ephesians,
that it’s not our good works that save us;
it’s God’s grace.
In that letter we hear that we are the handiwork of God,
called to do good works,
graced with a passion to help others.
But we have to be open to the call to follow the Way of Jesus.
We have to walk in the light.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006