Saturday, December 5, 2015

Homily for Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida on Second Sunday of Advent, Dec. 5, 2015 by Mary Murray and Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

St. Photios Greek Orthodox Chapel, St. Augustine', Fl. 

*Mary and Bridget Mary shared paragraphs in dialogue style, followed by community conversation on homily starter questions below.

1.    On Tuesday we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception centers on the belief that Jesus’ mother, the Virgin Mary, was conceived without sin. Pope Pius IX issued an apostolic constitution, known as the Ineffabilis Deus, on December 8, 1854, amidst a situation of seeking to preserve papal power.

2.    We believe that the deep meaning of this feast is not only that Mary was filled with grace from the first moment of her existence, but all of us were filled with grace from the first moment of our existence too. Theologians today refer to this as the theology of original blessing. Original sin is a concept that was developed to understand the presence of evil in our world.  No longer does the church teach that babies who die who are not baptized go to Limbo, so we have made progress in the understanding that from the first moment of our existence we are infinitely loved and called to love.

3. Since our community is named after Mary Mother of Jesus, we wanted to share a brief summary of what theologians are offering today to restore Mary to her rightful place as disciple and companion on the journey.  Mary struggled with a unplanned pregnancy. She knew what it meant to be homeless and a refugee, and she was forced into exile in Egypt because of the threat of violence.
4. While it is true that Mary took over the shrines and titles of the Mother Goddess, Mary is not divine, but human. God needs to have her own maternal face. Patricia Fox, Australian theologian refers to God as Mother of Mercy.  This is especially significant during this Holy Year. Mystics like Julian of Norwich calls God, our mother as did the late, John Paul 1. Meister Eckhart, the medieval mystic, reminds us that God needs to be born in every era. Like Mary, we are called to be mothers of Christ today.

5. Neither is Mary the ideal woman whom women should emulate, obedient and subordinate. From medieval times, this image has been dangerous to women’s well-being and resulted in abusive relationships. Think about trying to emulate Mary by becoming a virgin mother: in order to accomplish the one, a woman must sacrifice the other. Not a reasonable goal!
6. Mary was a Jewish woman of faith, a friend of God and prophet. Elizabeth Johnson suggests a beautiful image: “Mary lighting Sabbath lamps as Joseph blesses the bread and wine to begin the Sabbath meal.”  There are many similarities between her life and the lives of poor women today who struggle to feed and clothe their families in tough times.
7. For example, Mary faced the challenges of homelessness. She gave birth in a barn and placed her baby in a manger. This was not a romantic setting in spite of Christmas cards. If you have ever been in a stable, you know it is smelly and filled with creepy, crawly critters.  Shortly after Jesus birth, they became refugees, fleeing for their lives to Egypt. Today, we have millions of people seeking asylum, a similar situation, under grave threat to their lives and well-being.
8. In her book, Abounding in Kindness, Elizabeth Johnson reflects on Mary’s words: “They have no wine.” “” … far from keeping silent, she speaks, far from being passive, she acts, far from being receptive to the wishes of the leading man, she contradicts and persuades him otherwise, far from yielding to a grievous situation, she takes charge, organizing matters so that a bountiful abundance soon flows to those in need.”
9. In our world today we still have as Johnson observes “no wine, no food, no clean drinking water, no housing, education of health care, no employment, no security from rape, no human rights… As her words propel Jesus into action at Cana, her challenging words address the conscience of the church, the Body of Christ in the world today. They have no wine, You have to act.”
10. Mary is the first priest. She is the first who could say: “This is my body and this is my blood.”  So Mary is a visible reminder of the priesthood of the people because all of us can and do say “You are the Body of Christ as we share the Body of Christ with our sisters and brothers, the Body of Christ.
11. Today we focused on Mary, as a model of discipleship as we prepare the way for our God this Advent and the question is how are we doing this?
Homily Starter Reflection Questions for Dialogue:
1. How are we being called today to speak out for and to take action for justice, for peace, for abundance for others?
2. Were there times when you were able to identify a need and take charge in order to help another person or persons?

3.  Where are the places today in which “they have no wine and we have to act?”

Will Pope Francis Lift Excommunications Against Catholics Who Follow their Consciences in the Holy Year of Mercy?

Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

I  pray that  Pope Francis, in this Holy Year of Mercy, will lift the excommunication decree against Roman Catholic Women Priests,  our supporters, communities and all Catholics who faithfully dissent from Church teaching and follow their  consciences in loving service to the people of God. 

Our movement has grown from the Danube 7 and now numbers approximately 215. We are not going away. We are presiding at sacraments where all are welcome at the Banquet of Christ's love. We are not leaving our beloved church. We are leading our church into a more loving , inclusive community of equals who live the Gospel in our local grassroots communities. 

It is time for the Vatican to change its teaching that men resemble the image of Christ more than women do , which is their argument against women's ordination. When the Vatican affirms the call of women to be priests and opens the top leadership jobs to qualified women, the church will reflect Jesus' vision of  a community of equals.  Until then, the all-male clerical structure that privileges men as superior and women as inferior within church governance and liturgical worship, will remain. 

Until women are equals in the church, the full equality of women in the world will not be a reality. It is my hope that Pope Francis will make the connections between poverty, oppression, and violence toward women in the world and the discrimination against women in the church. 
This article indicates that Pope Francis is moving in the right direction, but much more needs to be done to promote women's equality now.  What a blessed opportunity for our Catholic community to grow in deeper oneness in our church and in our world! Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,
..."According to Sailer's own research, there are about 750 women working in the Vatican, which means that one fifth of Vatican employees are women."And they are not doing the cleaning jobs, moreover, as those are done by men. Most of the women are academics," she added.
The percentage of women working in the curia is particularly high. Women work as archivists, art historians, office heads and journalists. The number of women in leading positions is also on the increase. The film archive, the maintenance department of St. Peter's Basilica and the German edition ofL'Osservatore Romano are all headed by women now, Sailer said..."

Liturgy for Second Sunday of Advent at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community, Sarasota, Fl. Co-Presiders; Mary Murray and Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, Music by Mindy Lou Simmons

Liturgy for Advent/Christmas
*On Second Sunday of Advent, we honored Mary Mother of Jesus as disciple and companion showing us how to prepare for Jesus birth. See homily post on blog.  We substituted Sing of Mary, contemporary words for opening, Offertory, What will do with Mary?  by Mindy Lou Simmons, Communion: Hail Mary, Gentle Woman, Recessional: Woman Spirit Rising, Chant: "She is here" before liturgy and during Communion. 

Opening Song
Advent: Carol At The Manger,
Marty Haugen
Christmas: "O Come All Ye Faithful"
Bob Murray, Minister of Hospitality

PresiderNurturing God, you became human in Jesus and showed us how to live life fully. You know what it means to laugh and cry, to walk and talk, to love and be loved. We know that your mothering presence is always with us. May we, like Mary, rejoice as we give birth to God within us, and may we give birth to God in everything we say and do.  ALL:  Amen.

ALL:  Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth.  O loving God, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.  O Jesus Christ, holy Child of our loving God; You fill us with joy in your presence. You who are with our God, receive our prayer.  For you alone are the Holy One; you alone are Messiah.  You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ; with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God.  Amen.

First Reading
Response: Prepare ye the Way of our God/Godspell/ “Go tell it on the Mountain”
Second Reading
Gospel Acclamation:  ALLELUIA!  (sung)
Reader: A reading from the Gospel according to ...   ALL:  Glory to you O God.
Reader:  The good news of Jesus, the Christ!
ALL:  Glory and praise to you, Jesus the Christ!
Dialogue HOMILY

Profession of Faith:  ALL:  We believe in God who is creator and nurturer of all. We believe in Jesus, the Christ, who is our love, our hope, and our light. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of Wisdom Sophia, who energizes and guides us to build caring communities and to challenge injustices.  We believe in the communion of saints our heavenly friends, who support us on life’s journey.  We believe in the partnership and equality of women and men in our church and world.  We believe that all are one in the community of creation. We believe that God who calls us to live fully, love tenderly, and serve generously.  Amen.

Presider:  For a deeper coming of Christ in our world, let us pray.  
Response: Nurturing God, hear us.
Presider:  That we may experience the coming of God anew in our lives, we pray.  R.  Presider:  That people who suffer from destitution and despair may experience the mothering comfort of God we pray.  R.
Presider:  That the sick and suffering may receive the nurturing, healing love of God, we pray.  R.  Presider:  That those who have died may rest in God's eternal embrace, we pray.  R.
(Other Intentions)
Offertory Hymn:
“Angels We Have Heard On High”
Presider:  Blessed are you, God of all life, through your goodness we have bread, wine, all creation, and our own lives to offer. Through this sacred meal may we become your new creation. 
ALL:  Blessed be God forever.

Bridget Mary Meehan and Mary Murray, Co-presiders

Presider:  God is with you.  ALL: And also with you.  Presider:  Lift up your hearts.  ALL:  We lift them up to God.  Presider:  Let us give thanks to our God.

Voice One:  Mothering God, you brought forth all creation from your Life-Giving Womb. O Love of the Ages, we praise you and leap for joy in your presence.

Voice Two: Holy One of ancient Israel, you revealed yourself in Mary's womb, in a shining star, in humble shepherds, in a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. You embrace us with infinite love in every situation and relationship. You dwell in the depths of our hearts.

Voice Three: We invite you this day to deepen our awareness of your boundless love as we gather around the table of abundant life. With grateful hearts, we proclaim your praise:

ALL:  Holy, Holy, Holy, Creator of heaven and earth.  All beings are pregnant with your glory. Hosanna in the Highest. Blessed are you who  dwell in all things. Hosanna in the Highest.

Voice FourPraise to you, all-giving God, born of Mary. You are the body and blood of woman. We glorify you, nurturing God for the dawning of the sacred promise of God's Anointed, fulfilled in Jesus, the Christ.

Voice Five: We celebrate the birth of Jesus, our newborn Emmanuel , who came to give us the fullness of life. During this holy season we share the bread of freedom and lift the cup of salvation.  

(raise hands toward bread and wine for Invocation of the Holy Spirit)
All:  Come Holy Spirit deepen your Presence within us and in these gifts of bread and wine, that they may become the Body of Christ.
Presider:  As Jesus gave birth to the New Covenant, he took bread, gave thanks, broke the bread, and shared it with all those present saying:
ALL: Take this all of you and eat it. This is my body.
PresiderThen Jesus took a cup of wine, blessed you, Loving God,  shared the cup with all those present saying:
ALL: Take this all of you and drink from the covenant, poured out for you and for everyone. Do this in memory of me.
Presider:  Let us proclaim the sacred presence of our nurturing God:
ALL: Christ, by your life, death and rising, you have blessed us with abundance that will never end.

Second Invocation of the Holy Spirit: (Place hands on each other's shoulder)
All: God of all people, You call us "beloved." Give us courage to accept your faith in us and to live your compassion in the world. You infuse us with Sophia, Holy Wisdom, to serve you in the last and the least.

Voice Six:  As we wait with joyful hearts for the fulfillment of your loving presence in our lives, we remember the prophet,martyrs and saints who have gone before us: Deborah, Isaiah, Mary of Magdala, Peter, Martha, Bishop Oscar Romero, Ita Ford, Maura Clark, Jean Donovan and all those we remember as heros and heroines in our church who inspire us today. (Community names mentors whom they want to remember, living and dead. This list is only partial. Each community needs to create their own according to custom and culture.)
Voice Seven:  God of our dreams, may we give birth to the Word Made Flesh in us everyday. May we give birth to the church of our dreams and hopes. May we give birth to a deep reverence for earth and live in harmony with all creatures on the earth.

ALL:  Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, all praise and glory are yours, Holy God, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

ALL:  Our Father and Mother ...

Presider:   Let us join hands and hearts and pray for peace in our world as we sing “Peace is flowing like a River”, love, joy, alleluia…., or other suitable hymn

ALL:   Loving God, You call us to speak truth to power.  We will do so.  Loving God, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice.  We will do so.  Loving God, You call us to be Your presence in the world.  We will do so. 

Presider:   This is Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, loving us forever. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love.  ALL: May we be who we are the Body of Christ.   
Presider:  Let us share the Body of Christ with the Body of Christ!   ALL:  Amen.

"Silent Night"
PresiderGod of new beginnings, thank you for nourishing us in your sacrament. May your tender presence continue to open our hearts to the daily miracles of life that surround us each day, through Emmanuel, God-with-us.
ALL: Amen.

Presider:  Our God is with you.
ALL:  and also with you. 

(everyone please extend your hands in mutual blessing)
ALL:  May our loving God fill us with radiant joy.  May our nurturin God fill us with  deep peace, and may our compassionate God bless us always with strength to serve the broken and excluded.  Amen.

Presider:  Let us birth Christ anew in our world today. Go in the peace of Christ.  ALL:   Thanks be to God.

Advent: "0 Come, 0 Come Emmanuel" , Joy to the World, Go tell it on the Mountain
Christmas:” Joy to the World”

Bridget Mary Meehan
Association of Roman Catholic Woman Priests

Members of MMOJ went out to dinner after liturgy
Left to right: Mary, Bob, and Charlene
Left to right: Marie, Cheri, and Mary Al
left to right: Bridget Mary and Marie

Left to right; Mary Al, Sally and Janet

Friday, December 4, 2015

Love Triumphs Over Evil, From Affirmations from Heart of God, by Bridget Mary Meehan and Regina Madonna Oliver, Part 3

Our lives are a mystical journey accompanied by the Beloved, who loves us totally and passionately. This is an unearned love, gratuitous and unconditional—the gracious gratis of our Divine Parent. In our being and our becoming, God seeks, guides, appreciates, and affirms us throughout life. As God reveals in Genesis, both in the first Creation story (Gen 1:28–31) and in God‘s covenant with Noah (Gen 8:8–17) and confirms with the sign of the rainbow, a pledge of God‘s many-splendored gifts: human beings are the peak of God‘s work in Creation, called to be the glory of God in the world, but also to be responsible for its well-being.

Indeed, today‘s thinkers articulate for us a growing awareness of the interconnectedness of

all created things, showing the interdependence of ecology, psychology, theology, and

spirituality. Thomas Berry, cultural historian, calls this ―the New Story.‖ Like all things new,

however, we find his insights a rediscovery and reiteration of more ancient awarenesses: as

found in the religious sensitivity and response to nature present in Native American and Celtic

cultures. For us, Berry gives word to something that is being sensed by the generation now

moving into the twenty-first century: the God-given role of human beings to respect and care for

the earth and all her creatures. Whether I savor Berry‘s insights, or thrill to the earthy music of

Celtic pipe, or vibrate to the rhythm of the drumbeat of a rain dance, this awareness arrives at

the same point. We know that we are a significant part of a created whole and, therefore,

integral to—not separate nor apart from—all that surrounds us, from one another, from those

Jesus calls ―the least of these‖—nor are we even separate from the Architect of it all. Whether

we use massive telescopes which can scan our galaxy and even detect other galaxies or search

the skies with our limited human vision, we are bound to stand in awe in the glow of the brilliant

night sky. We can‘t help but ponder, just as others have done before us, the immensity and

complexity of the created universe, and the awesomeness of our charge to be its caretakers.

The reality is that God may succeed in luring us to be responsible as the ones to whom

Creation is entrusted, and in drawing us, through the awesomeness of nature, to God‘s very self

with varying success. Some will respond sooner to the challenge; some, later. Our response will

depend upon the goodwill and affirmative choice to love which is our freely given answer to

God, who says: ―Come!‖—to God who waits for each person to say: ―Yes!‖

While we live out our lives attempting to live up to God‘s invitation, let us not be so scandalized by  the failures to love that we see in and around us, nor so immobilized by the accumulated evil that amasses into the grossest of social sin, that we lose sight of the Love of God still
beaming out amidst the darkness of human error like a lighthouse beacon. The Spirit of God is
inventive to the utmost, and the ―word that goes out [from God] shall not return to me

(That is God‘s promise in Isaiah 55:11—NRSV) ―It shall accomplish that which I purpose,‖ says

God, ―and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.‖

Judaism‘s awareness is that Yahweh is faithful and Yahweh will triumph! Ultimately! The

resurrection message of Jesus is the same: God will triumph! But in both traditions, the

meantime will have its thorniness.

The thorniness of life keeps us ever mindful that, in this interim, until God‘s purpose is fully

achieved, evil abounds because of choices made not to love. The choice to not love infects and

impinges negatively upon our lives. To be blind to this damaging consequence would be the

utmost of naivete. The Judaeo-Christian answer to the philosophers‘ quest to understand the

coexistence of good and evil in the world is not to propose, as some philosophies and religions

have, a dualism in the Creator nor dual Creators. It is, rather, to proclaim with Saint John in his

epistle, and with the psalmist, and with the insightful rabbis who first scribed in writing their

Judaic understanding of God, this conviction: ―Yahweh, both transcendent and immanent, is

All-Good, and the source only of good!‖

Evil, the rabbis suggest in Genesis, cannot be explained as the Babylonians did, as the

negative side of fickle and humanesque gods. Genesis suggests that evil can only be seen in

the failure of human beings to choose to live attuned to the Love that creates them as free

agents. Contradicting Babylonian mythology, then, the rabbis of the Old Testament present evil

as the result of humankind‘s fragmented efforts to be, not the created people of a loving God,

but the creators! Evil comes when humans try to dominate, control, and abuse, imagining that in

doing so they are godlike! But the power of God is creative, freeing, and wholesome. Saint Paul

defines the Love that is in and of God in First Corinthians 13:4–8:

Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, and it is not

snobbish; it is never rude or self-seeking; it is not prone to anger, nor does it brood over

injuries. Love…rejoices in the truth. There is no limit to love‘s forbearance, to its trust, its

hope, its power to endure. Love never fails.

To be independent of the caring, loving, parenting God, to try to be totally self-contained,
self-sufficient, and dominating, is then, ironically, to be totally ungodlike! And so the Genesis
writers relate the snowballing effect of evil in the world through story: Cain murders Abel; wars proliferate; and human beings mistakenly seek the height of heights in Babel. Finally, in the story of Jesus, the New Testament proclaims that the human venture involves the perfect
balance of Providence with human freedom and responsibility.

Although Christian theologians have struggled with the mystery of evil, theologizing can only
go so far in explaining what is, in fact, a mystery! One has only to look at a crucifix to come face to face with the grotesqueness of evil. One has only to visit Dachau or Auschwitz to be

reminded of the almost inconceivable depth of depravity in the souls of human beings. No! One

has only to read the morning paper, on most days at least, to encounter the ultimately

inexplicable reality of evil in its many manifestations.

No mental gymnastics by theologian or philosopher has been able to explain to our total
satisfaction the presence of evil in a world fashioned by the All-Good God.

 But, through and with Jesus, Christianity proclaims that God is total Goodness and Love.
 Jesus proclaims in his very living and dying, the goodness of Abba, and the 
abomination of evil. He confronts evil; and is victorious over it, 
because He faces it, absorbs its fury, and overcomes itgiving back only love. 

God’s great ―Amen‖ to Jesus’ testimony that ―God is Love,‖ reaches its climax in the Resurrection event! Jesus makes visible to us in himself, the Goodness that is Abba who transforms the worst evil every human person fearsdeath as extinction—into the graphically depicted promise of a transformed, eternal life. And, God lets us see the Promise in the Resurrected Jesus! 

What we can‘t verbalize, we see with eyes of faith. More than that, we
experience the Living, Risen Jesus as present to us, now, guiding us, safeguarding us, and communicating intimately with us! 

The Resurrection isn‘t an event of the past that Christians read about with curiosity; it is a Real Persona real person whom we experience in the depths of our being and in our loving relationships with others.

Ultimately, beyond all this explication of our Judaeo-Christian grappling with the mystery of
why bad things sometimes (often) happen to good people, we get down to the pastoral
nitty-gritty. A particular couple turns to the presider as they stand beside the casket of their dead
two-year-old with the grief-stricken query: Why did God let this happen?‖ or ―How can God be a
good God, and allow this tremendous loss?‖ And here we are, back to the inexplicable that can
only be accepted by a faith that stubbornly clings to the conviction: ―Our God is a good God. Our
God will bring good out of every event, no matter how negative. And, our God will overcome!‖
There will be ―joy in the morning.‖ God will ―turn our sorrow into joy.‖ (But right now, the pastoral
heart says to the grieving couple: ―In this present moment, I understand that you hurt terribly. I
hurt with you. I cry with you. God cries with you. I don‘t understand why bad things happen; but I
know and believe that God is Love and God is here, with us, in this sadness, telling us: ‗Come;
cry on my shoulder.
One consolation Christians have is the awareness that, in Jesus‘ present moment on Good
Friday, Jesus hurt terriblybut continued to proclaim the Goodness of the God he called by a
tender name of love and affection, Abba.

During Advent Season, I will share stories and prayer practices for healing and wholeness from  Affirmations from the Heart of God  with my blog readers. On Nov. 10th, I shared the introduction to the book on this blog as Part 1.