Saturday, February 20, 2016

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Second Sunday of Lent – February 22, 2016 Co Presiders: Janet Blakeley ARCWP & Sally Brochu ARCWP Music ministers Linda Lee Miska and Cheri McDonough Lectors: Roman & Theresa Rodriquez

Liturgy for Holy Year of Mercy: Journey into the Heart of Compassion by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

GATHERING SONG: “May It Be a Sweet Sound in Your Ear” (see song sheet) 


Presider: Let us begin in the name of our God, a God of Love, Wisdom, and Liberation. ALL: Amen PENITENTIAL RITE Presider: God of tender compassion, You are our peace.
ALL: Now and forever, we will be your peace.  Litany of Peace by Dan Schutte (sung): “Let us be your peace” OPENING PRAYER
Presider: O Lover of All, in this journey into the heart of compassion, we celebrate your love unfolding in the healing and wholeness of everyone and of every living thing. You call us to see goodness and beauty everywhere and to live in harmony with creation. You call us to heal the wounds of hatred and violence, discrimination and oppression in our world. You call us to warmly welcome everyone who comes through our doors as your presence among us. In communion with Jesus, our brother, and in the power of the Your Spirit, we will live your love poured out each day. ALL: Amen. 
First Reading: Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18 Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 27 – Response: “Our God is our light and our salvation, of whom shall I be afraid”                                                                                                                                                    
Second Reading: Philippians 3:17 – 4:1 Gospel Acclamation: (Spoken) Praise, honor and glory to our God. Be compassionate as God is compassionate, praise honor and glory to our God.
Gospel: Luke 9:28-36 Reader: The good news of Jesus, the Christ! ALL: Glory and praise to you, Jesus the Christ!


CREED: We believe in a God of extravagant love who dwells within us, rejoices with us in our blessed selves and who weeps with us in our struggles, losses and sufferings. We believe that we are one with all creatures great and small in a dynamic, evolving cosmos.  We believe in Jesus, whose life, death and resurrection, shows us how to live fully and joyfully and to serve others especially the outcaste and heavy burdened.  We believe in Your Spirit, who works through us for justice and peace and to overcome oppression of all kinds whether based on gender, sexual orientation, race or class. We believe that we are called to live in mutual respect as disciples and equals in inclusive communities of empowerment.  We believe that we are forgiven, healed and whole in the heart of divine mercy. We believe that we are united forever with all who have gone before us in the communion of saints.
GENERAL INTERCESSIONS Presider: With hearts filled with loving compassion, we lift up the needs of our community at this time.  Presider: That those who suffer abuse, may be healed and empowered, we pray.
Response: God of all compassion, love through us. Presider: That those bound by hatred, hostility, and violence will be set free, we pray.
R.  Presider: That the sick may be healed, especially (mention names), we pray.
R.  Presider: That the dead may dwell forever in God’s presence, we pray. R. (Other Intentions) Presider: We hold these and all our unspoken intentions in our hearts as we gather around the Banquet Table today.
OFFERTORY: Spirit of the Living God (see song sheet)

PREPARATION OF THE GIFTS 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.  Presider: God is with us, loving and healing through us.
ALL: Namaste  Presider: Lift up your hearts.
ALL: We lift them up in tender love, open to serve. Presider: Let us give thanks to our God.
ALL: It is our joy to give God thanks and praise.
Voice One: Gracious Wisdom, You embrace us with extravagant affection in our blessedness and brokenness. We thank you that in this festive meal, your Spirit continues to be poured out among the circle of disciples gathered here in our giving and receiving forgiveness and offering the gift of your shalom/peace. We join with the angels and saints and people of every race, faith and nation to glorify your presence as we sing:
ALL: Holy, holy, holy. Karen Drucker
Voice Two: We especially thank you, Nurturing God, for Jesus, Your anointed, who shows us how to love with a peaceful and courageous spirit. In Jesus, you show us how to care for those who face illness, and grief and how to help those who experience rejection and marginalization. 
Voice Three: God of tenderness, Jesus showed us the heart of mercy when he preached good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, healing to the broken. Jesus called women to be apostles and disciples and treated them as equals in his circle of companions. 
Voice Four In response to people’s sufferings, Jesus broke rules and violated religious taboos. He shared meals with women, saved a woman from being stoned and said that prostitutes would enter heaven before religious leaders. He healed the sick and comforted the lonely. He challenged the priestly class and political leaders of his time and so they ridiculed, tortured and put him to death. 
Voice Five: In faithful love, You raised the crucified Jesus, radiant and glorious to new life. Like the holy ones throughout the ages, Moses and Miriam who led their people from oppression to freedom, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection shows us how to live freely and joyously in the midst of injustice, darkness and evil and death. 
(Please all extend hands as we recite the Epiclesis and Consecration together)  All: May your Spirit, present in these gifts and in us, fill us with a new outpouring of love that makes us more deeply one Body in the Cosmic Christ living the fullness of your compassion.
Presider: On the night before he was betrayed, Jesus gathered with his friends for a meal. he took bread into his hands, broke it and said
ALL: Take this all of you. This is my body. Do this to remember me.
Presider: In the same way after supper, Jesus took the cup, raised it with love beyond all telling. Jesus gave thanks and shared the cup with those at table and said:
ALL: Take this all of you and drink from it. This is the cup of my life blood, of the new and everlasting covenant. Every time you drink of it, remember me.
Presider: Now then, in sacred memory, let us proclaim the mystery of our faith:
ALL: In every creature that has ever breathed, we see your tenderness; in every living being that has passed on before us, we see your goodness; in everything yet to be, Christ will come again! In our breaking of the bread of earth, Christ of the Cosmos is being re-membered!
Voice Six: Holy One, your transforming energy is always moving within us and working through us. We give thanks for all holy women and men who have been your face in our lives. They showed us how to forgive self and others, let go of guilt, refrain from judging others and see the good in people who irritate us. Let us pause to remember and name some of these holy women and men aloud or in the silence of our hearts. 
Voice Seven: God, who opens doors and hearts, enlighten our religious ministers and political leaders. May they welcome refugees, transform poverty into plenty, and work for human dignity and justice for all. We pray for our pope and bishops, especially _____ , and all God’s holy people. 
Voice Eight: We remember those who are sick and suffering. May they be healed and strengthened, and filled with every blessing in your loving presence. We remember Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary Magdala, Peter, Paul, Junia, our patron saints and all the saints and angels who surround us with loving prayer each day. We remember our loved ones and all those who have died into your embrace.
ALL: Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, all praise and glory are yours, Loving God. Amen. THE
PRAYER OF JESUS ALL: Our Father and Mother . . .
THE SIGN OF PEACE Presider: God, grant us peace and unity beyond all words can express. Join hands in a circle of love and sing “ Peace before us, Peace behind us, Peace under our feet, Peace within us, Peace around us, let all around us be peace.” X2
LITANY FOR THE BREAKING OF BREAD ALL: Loving God, You call us to live mercy, we will do so. Loving God, You call us to live justice, we will do so. Loving God, You call us to live equality, we will do so.
Presider: This is Jesus, who calls us to open doors that are closed and share our bread on the altar of the world. All are invited to eat and drink at this sacred banquet of love.  ALL: Jesus we are worthy to receive you and to be your compassion in our world. We are the Body of Christ. 
Presider: Let us share the Body of Christ with the Body of Christ! ALL: Amen. Communion Song: “The Face Of God” – (See song sheet) PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION
Presider: O God of Compassion, Jesus showed us how to love one another and heal our hearts. Through the power of Your liberating Spirit at work within us, we will give and receive forgiveness, live joyously, and work for healing, justice and equality for our earth and for all God’s holy people. ALL: Amen Prayers of Gratitude / Introductions / Announcements
Presider: Our God is with you. ALL: and also with you. 
BLESSING (Everyone please extend your hands in mutual blessing) ALL: May the God of Abraham and Sarah, the Blessed One of Jacob and Rachel, Sophia, Holy Wisdom, walk with us and all created life on our journey into the heart of compassion! Amen.
DISMISSAL Presider: Go in the peace of Christ. Let the service continue! ALL: Thanks be to God.  Recessional: “Take the Word of God With You” (see song sheet)
Song Sheet for Second Sunday of Lent – February 20, 2015
Gathering Song: “May It Be a Sweet Sound in Your Ear”
I love you, God, and I lift my voice                                                                                                                  
To worship you, Oh my soul, re-joice      
Take joy, Oh God, in what you hear                                                                                                            
May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear.
Offertory Song: “Spirit of the Living God”
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me;                                                                                                  
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me;                                                                                                      Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.                                                                                                            
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
Spirit of the Living God, move among us all;                                                                                          
make us one in heart and mind, make us one in love:                                                                        
humble, caring, selfless, sharing.                                                                                                             
 Spirit of the Living God, fill our lives with love.
Communion Song: “The Face of God”
(Words: Reverend Karyl Huntley & Karen Drucker music: Karen Drucker)  You are the face of God I hold you in my heart                                                                                                                                                         You are a part of me You are the face of God…  You are the face of love I hold you in my heart                                                                                                                                               You are my family You are the face of God…

Closing Song: “Take the Word of God With You”
Take the love of God with you as you go.                                                                                                  
Take the seeds of God’s love and make them grow.                                                                                            
Go in peace to serve the world, in peace to serve the world.                                                                    
Take the love of God with you as you go.
Take the peace of God with you as you go.                                                                                                
Take the seeds of God’s peace and make them grow.                                                                                 
Go in peace to serve the world, in peace to serve the world.                                                                  
  Take the love of God with you as you go.
Take the joy of God with you as you go.                                                                                                      
Take the seeds of God’s joy and make them grow.                                                                                     
Go in peace to serve the world, in peace to serve the world.                                                                  
Take the love of God with you as you go.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Homeless Sleep in Pews in San Francisco Parish, National Catholic Reporter by Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter

A man sleeps in a pew at St. Boniface Church in San Francisco
Photo by Jeanette Antal
...."Speaking of inspirational, more than one reader called our attention to the outside-the-box outreach in San Francisco, The Gubbio Project, based at St. Boniface Church in the heart of the city's Tenderloin -- a roughly 40-square block patch of poverty known for drugs, prostitution, homelessness and crime.
Heading into its 12th year, The Gubbio Project's signature activity is opening the back two-thirds of St. Boniface Church on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. to those living on the streets so they can sleep or rest in safety and security. Meanwhile, the two daily Masses are celebrated in the front of the church nearer the altar.
"The aspect of the ministry that I like the most is that it happens while the church is open and Masses are being celebrated. Too often, poor people, if they are allowed space at all, are given space that is not being used. Here, the parish is using the space and is inviting the homeless people to come and share the space with them," Laura Slattery, The Gubbio Project executive director, told NCR.
"The fact that two Masses occur while 110 people are sleeping in the back two-thirds of the pews, sends a powerful message to the people who are worshiping at Mass that their community includes those who are marginalized, cold, transgender, mentally ill, and very poor," Slattery added.

"And, at the same time, it sends the message to those who are homeless that they are welcome, that they are not invisible, and that they have as much right to beauty -- St. Boniface is gorgeous inside -- warmth, calmness, and sacred space as anyone else. So much healing happens because of that. "
Slattery said the project "sees an average of about 250 people a day -- with about 110 sleeping or resting at any given time in the morning and about 75 in the afternoon. Others come in to use the bathroom, talk to a volunteer or chaplain, or to access some emergency or essential supplies such as toiletries, socks, blankets, aspirin, Band-Aids, razors or plastic bags."
Staff also provide referrals to multiple agencies and organizations for specialized help. 
Asked how their guests might spend the balance of their days, Slattery said, "Everyone is different. The vast majority stay on the streets. ... Some are working, others are attending to appointments ... or standing in line to get food. Some spend time at the library when it is open, or at the drop-in center at Hospitality House which is around the corner."
St. Boniface also participates in the San Francisco Interfaith Council's Winter Shelter program for men. Only about a 10-minute walk away, St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral also takes part. The two Catholic congregations are joined by nearby St. Mark's Lutheran and First Unitarian as the winter program's four overnight sites.
In a kind of poverty-level moveable feast, 60 to 100 men are provided nightly dinner and breakfast at one of those four sites from the last Sunday before Thanksgiving through February. For example, St. Boniface was the first host site from Nov. 22 to Dec. 11.
St. Mark's opened its facilities to the men for the next four days, and then St. Mary Cathedral welcomed 100 men through Jan. 16. St. Mark stepped back into the picture and hosted the men until Feb. 6. First Unitarian is the final winter location until the end of February. 
The interfaith operation depends on a coordinated effort among the four host-sites, 40 meal-providing congregations, shelter staff provided by Episcopal Community Services and the San Francisco Night Ministry, and San Francisco's Human Services Agency.
Ironically, St. Mary Cathedral came under global media glare last March when a local television broke the story of the church having installed a water sprinkling system to discourage persons from sleeping in church doorways. The archdiocese apologized and the water system was dismantled. Few of the news reports mentioned the cathedral's long-standing role in the homeless shelter work.
[Dan Morris-Young is NCR's West Coast correspondent. His email is]
Editor's note: "The Field Hospital" blog series covers life in U.S. and Canadian Catholic parishes. The title comes from Pope Francis' words: "I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. …"
If you have a story suggestion, send it to Dan Morris-Young ( or Peter Feuerherd (

Lilian Calles Barger on Liberation Theology

Pope Francis Approves of Contraception in Response to Zika Threat:, Missing is Primacy of Conscience , Women's Experiences and Baptismal Equality by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP
Georgia Walker, ARCWP with women  released from prison in Kansas City

Pope Francis' statement that contraception can be condoned in response to the Zika crisis is a positive pastoral response to a global epidemic. He said that "avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil."

 Most  Catholics  would not agree that avoiding pregnancy is any kind of evil. 

Sorely lacking in Pope Francis' statement is any awareness of  women's experiences of contraception as a holy and life-giving decision! 

According to statistics over 90 percent of Catholic women have used contraception during their child-bearing years.The reality is, avoiding pregnancy is a often a woman's most loving and responsible choice in light of her relationships and circumstances.

The  Catholic Church teaches primacy of conscience in all moral decision-making, and this applies to artificial birth control. Women are free moral agents and obligated to follow their consciences in decisions that impact their bodies and well being and this principle applies to their reproductive choices to prevent pregnancy.

While I am a big fan of Pope Francis, an all male celibate  clergy cannot continue to make decision that affect women's lives because their decisions do not reflect the lived experience of women in the church or in the world.  

The Vatican needs to hear  from the millions of women who practice contraception and get a reality check on family life, rape, violence and domestic abuse. 

The recent Synod on the Family did not come close to achieving this benchmark because women did not vote on any of its decisions. 

 I applaud Pope Francis' stance on justice for the poor and oppressed, and I hope that he connects the dots between the Vatican's sexist policies that discriminate against women in the church and its fallout,  injustice toward women in the world.  A church that  treats women as second class citizens does not reflect the example of  Christ in the Gospels. It is toxic for everyone and every living being with detrimental social and political consequences not only for women, but also, plays a role in the depletion of earth's resources as a result of over population. 

Going forward, Pope Francis should  appoint women in top decision making roles so the church can  learn from women's experiences, honor women as free moral agents and treat women as equal members of the baptized.

Until women are treated as equals, the voice of God will not be heard in our church or world. 

It is time, Pope Francis, for justice to rise up for women in the Catholic Church! 

Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 2nd Sunday of Lent C by Beverly Bingle RCWP

Thus story of Jesus' transfiguration
shows up in four of the canonical scriptures—
the three synoptic Gospels
and the 2nd century letter of Peter—
and all of the writers re-shape the story
to fit their own narrative.
Most agree that Mark's version is the first of these four.
Luke shapes his version—today's Gospel—
so it is parallel to his later scene
of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Some scholars think
that both the transfiguration and the ascension
come from the one and the same experience of Jesus
by his followers.
What really happened, and what does it mean for us?
We can be fairly certain
that Jesus often went off alone to pray,
just as he regularly went to the synagogue.
That he was a man of prayer comes across loud and clear.
We know, from own experience and observation,
that periods of meditation and prayer
can have visible results.
Sometimes we see that a change has taken place in a person,
like after a retreat.
Sometimes we see people
acting on decisions or commitments or re-commitments
that they made while at prayer.
So what's going on here?
Jesus goes apart to pray and has a profound experience,
hearing God deep in his being, affirming him:
“You are my chosen one,” he hears;
“In you I am well pleased.”
Jesus has been working hard to bring extraordinary change
to the way people live,
the way they act toward one another,
the way they share the goods of the earth with all
instead of accumulating them for themselves.
Jesus finds the strength to continue on that path.
He feels God’s affirmation and is transformed by it,
so enlivened that Peter, James, and John
see the change in him—
he's literally glowing.
We know the truth of this story
because it has happened to each of us at some point.
We've had that uplifting experience,
that moment of clear vision
and firm commitment
and affirmation.
Maybe it was at graduation,
confident and ready to head into a career
that was before only a dream and a hope.
Or when we stood at the altar and said “I do,”
committing our life and love in marriage.
Or when a child was born.
We don't have words to really communicate
what we feel at times like that.
Like walking on air.
Like being in a cloud.
It's surreal.
We are changed, and so are the people around us.
Jesus feels God’s affirmation and is transformed by it,
so enlivened that the disciples see him literally glowing
Peter wants to stay in the moment—
put up some tents to keep everything where it is,
capture that time
and live there forever.
But he has to leave the moment behind,
leave the mountain,
go forward,
continue on the way.
We have to go forward, too.
Graduation day passes into job hunting.
The wedding turns into marriage.
The baby needs a diaper change,
gets an ear infection.
The affirmation we experienced in prayer
becomes an imperative to action.
We know what we have to do,
and now it's time to go on and do it.
For Jesus, life with God means going to Jerusalem,
continuing in God’s way of peace and justice.
For us, life with God means the very same thing.
Lent can be one of our times on the mountain,
a time to pray and reflect,
to get ready for those next steps along the way.
And on that path, on the way with Jesus,
we, also, will be changed.
We will be transfigured.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
Holy Thursday, March 24, 5:30 p.m.
Holy Saturday, March 26, 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

Live as a Spark of the Holy Spirit: A Prayerful Call to Action" by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

(This prayer exercise can be done alone or in family or in a community setting.)

 As Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and reached out with compassion so each of us is a living Spark of the Holy Spirit, called to serve the suffering among us.  

1. Light a candle. Be aware of the flame shining brightly.

2. Breathe deeply and become aware of the Holy Spirit's Presence illuminating  and permeating your entire being with a sense that you are loved and that all people are God's beloved family....  

3. Place your hand over your heart. Feel divine compassion filling your heart with tenderness toward ____________(Name a specific person or group  in need of a service that you can give such as visiting the sick, tutoring a student, calling or visiting someone who lonely, grieving in prison, nursing home, etc.)

4. Be aware of anything you can do to help alleviate his/her/their suffering....

5  Repeat one or more of the following affirmations as a chant or prayer phrase that you can use to pray for healing of self or others:

As a  living Spark of the Holy Spirit filled with love. I will do____________ today to help ___________

As a  living Sparks of the Holy Spirit, filled with love. We will do__________today to help ________________

Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Look, Listen and Be Transformed! A RC Woman Priest Homily for the Second Sunday in Lent by Judy Lee, RCWP

As I write this homily Pope Francis, in the spirit of Lent and living the year of Mercy,  is visiting the prisoners in a “Social Rehabilitation Center”/Prison in  Juarez, Mexico on the Border of Texas and Mexico. First he greets and hugs women and men who approach him individually. Many are crying. Then he addresses them and their faces say that they are hanging on every word he says.  He tells them that they are precious to God and can turn their lives around and the test of this will be on the outside.  He prays that sentences may not be for whole life as those who turn their lives around will be powerful messengers of God in society. As he closes, he asks them to pray and to ask that their hearts may grow to include the forgiveness of  society. He then blesses them and many are weeping openly. As he passes by the band and musicians they come forward to touch his hand and pray. Some kneel and still holding onto his hands weep uncontrollably. This is the spirit of God working powerfully in them, transforming their hearts. I believe this visit will transform many lives. May it be so for each one of us as we continue to walk our Lenten journey. May our touch and words transform lives and may we too be transformed.
Our first reading for this Sunday is Genesis 15:5-12 and 17-18 where we see God making a Covenant with Abram who is asked to look up and see the endless number of stars in the dark night sky, promising him that his descendants will be as many as the stars of the sky and the land will be theirs. Abram was transformed from Abram to Abraham, meaning father of his people as he looked, listened and loved God, and trusted and believed God’s promise.  Indeed adherents of the three faiths springing from Abrahamic roots are “like the stars in the sky”. Looking and seeing and having faith in God’s promises transforms the believer from hopelessness to hopeful. As we live with hope our lives touch and can help transform other lives.
Many things happen in life and ministry that transform us. Both things experienced as negative and as positive can do this, perhaps equally so. In the last few weeks I have experienced both. We had to leave a large family in God’s hands as we had done all we could to help them. We could continue with them in prayer and emotional support but we could not make all things better for them, too many things were wrong, including possible drug addiction and the inability of the parents to listen and hear beyond what they already knew and wanted. It was beyond our ability to do any more. Another agency is finally offering shelter and trying to help.  We learned to gently place them in God’s hands. This was transforming as we have felt that we had to do it all ourselves and that we could. Learning that we could not, but God could, strangely gave another kind of peace. IMG_0004.JPG
The positive experience was experiencing the Spirit intervene in the life of an older woman who was living in the woods for almost ten months with her cat. Often it takes many months to help such a person come “inside”. But this time there was a readiness and our resources matched the need. This woman, “Peg” was praying every day for God’s help. She was increasingly frightened in the woods although many nice people helped her in little but important ways. The unpredictable weather, the sound of the newly arrived coyotes and men in the woods nearby made nights very hard.  The help came when she sought help for her cat and our Veterinarian brought her to our attention and when a man who lived in our hospitality space was simultaneously ready to move on to his own place. As soon as Peg understood that we could accommodate her dear cat with her and that we would also help her apply for Senior living but she could stay with us until her name came up on the list, she was ready to move.  In less than a week she was able to move inside and her gratitude and appreciation was evident as she attended church with us. She cried and cried and whispered “I am home at last”. She had also prayed for a way back to God and to church. She told us and anyone who would listen that God heard both of her prayers and gave her a home AND a church home at the same time! Her joy transformed us from seeing so much of what we could not do and affirmed what we could do with God’s help.  She was also able to help us care for a dog that the large family had to leave behind. Peg’s faith and joy touches all around her. (Below-Peg ,in green jacket on Ash Wednesday, with new friends Brenda and Nancy, and kitty ,Sarah. )

Psalm 27 then asks us to see the goodness of God in the land of the living . God is our light and our salvation now, and forever. Of whom or of what should we be afraid? But it is often harder to see God’s goodness here and now in the midst of daily struggles and not just hope for it in eternity. Seeing God’s goodness here and now is transforming.
Just as reasons for greater fear entered Peg’s camp site, God provided an inside home. WOW-whom shall we fear! I also had another cause to fear in the last few weeks. A routine mammogram revealed a mass that was not palpable. I had to have a biopsy that turned out to be a difficult procedure, and then settled in to await the results. The memory of my first cancer, this same time of year three years ago, a stomach cancer,sarcoma, called a GIST, flooded my memory and struck my heart with fear. Was it to be another major surgery? That cancer was taken away with surgery but I live with its aftermath, having very little stomach left, daily. Yet,  after the first shock and deep recognition of mortality, I was thankful to be alive and able to continue with life and ministry. Now, for a while, I returned to fear. Friends and our church members prayed and supported. Mary, one of our church members who just had a mastectomy shared her journey with me on another level realizing I was facing what she has just faced. We prayed together in  a new way. We truly understood each other’s pain, though mine may be less than hers. She told me “Pastor, you paid your dues with the first cancer, this one should be only a little one”. I hoped so too.  Yet as I lived with it, I realized that God still “had my back”. Once again I am relieved,  that while it is cancer it is contained and “the little one” Mary hoped  for. I will lose at least the mass and surrounding tissue, I will not lose my life. Once again I am to be spared. And I am so thankful.  I found myself at peace today and no longer anxious or frightened. I will be okay. Of what should I be afraid?  I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living. 
In the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians (3:17-4:1) Paul challenges Christ’s followers to stand firm in Christ Jesus, and not to let their bellies become their Gods, as some have. Paul is moved to tears as he thinks of those who say “Yes” to following Christ but actually transform nothing in their lives, keeping their own desires as most important. He is encouraging them to allow themselves to be transformed by Christ. As Pastors we are most often moved and heartened as we see our people grow in Christ and in the giving of themselves to others. Sometimes, though,we are disheartened as bickering and anger and selfishness breaks up families and relationships, and self interest looms much larger than community interest. We want them to be transformed. But that takes time and so we pray for our patience and for ways to teach without words. If I am honest, I must say, I am more frustrated with myself than with others as I do not transform so easily either! And so we pray.  
In the Gospel of Luke (9:28-36) we see Jesus transformed/”transfigured”/appearing in a new way, on a high mountain top with James and Peter. Jesus often went to the mountains to pray and to commune with Abba God. He also preached in the hills and mountains. All three synoptic Gospels record Jesus taking Peter, James and John up the Mountain where they experienced who he was and saw his divinity in a new way. The other sources are Matt 17:1-9 and Mark 9:1-9)
In the Gospel  Jesus is presented in divine light and connected to Moses and Elijah who suffered greatly even as they led God’s people. Jesus is seen on par with them and as the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets.  He looks different.  His very appearance is radiant/dazzling white including his clothing, indicating their perception of his divinity. The disciples are amazed and frightened. Then in the cover of the misty mountain cloud they hear God’s voice affirming Jesus as also happened in Jesus’ baptism:  “This is my beloved, my Own, My Chosen One, Listen to him.” Now there is divine authority to do what Jesus asks, to follow him. To be transformed we are asked to listen to Jesus. We are also asked by the intent of the text to look around us and see God and  things and people and ourselves in a new way. See the light of God in everyone and in everything. And where it seems not to be, look the hardest and listen with your “third ear” the ear of compassion and understanding, of empathy.  We are asked to be transformed with Jesus, the Christ.
 In his   Angelus talk on the 2nd Sunday of Lent, March 16, 2014 this is what Pope Francis said about the Transfiguration/ the transformation on the mountain top: 
“We need to go to a place of retreat, to climb the mountain and go to a place of silence, to find ourselves and better perceive the voice of the Lord. We cannot stay there, however. The encounter with God in prayer again pushes us to come down from the mountain and back down into the plain, where we meet many brothers and sisters weighed down by fatigue, injustice, and both material and spiritual poverty.”
We who are transformed by looking and listening and trusting God can transform the world. And toward that end, this is our prayer:
“Our loving God, Help us to see You and hear You. Your words come in many ways. Teach us to see and listen to the gentle breeze and the Gulf winds as well as the howl of the storms of upheaval; to the birds chattering and the babies, to the children and the old folks, to those who have little and to those who have much, to the teacher and the preacher, and to all of Your creation. Help us to trust You and Your promises when we read them for ourselves in the Scriptures or hear them read, or shared by the testimonies of others or experienced in our own lives. We believe, help our unbelief and thereby transform us. Amen.”
Love and blessings,
Rev. Dr. Judith A.B. Lee, RCWP
Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Ministries, Fort Myers, Florida

"Archbishop Bans Pro-Equality Politician from Addressing Catholic Social Workers" by Bob Shine

Archbishop Bans Pro-Equality Politician from Addressing Catholic Social Workers

"A pro-marriage equality politician in Australia has been barred from addressing a meeting of Catholic social service providers by Melbourne's Archbishop Denis Hart.
Australian MP Cathy McGowan was asked last November to give the the Mary MacKillop Oration at a conference sponsored by Catholic Social Services Victoria at the end of this month, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.  St. Mary of the Cross MacKillop was an Australian nun who founded a community of sisters to serve the rural poor.
But McGowan's unrelated support for equal marriage rights, including co-sponsoring a marriage equality bill introduced to Parliament last year, disqualified her from speaking in the eyes of Archbishop Hart.
Shane Healy, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Melbourne, said keynote speakers must adhere to Catholic teaching "on that very important topic" and denied that any "malice" had been shown towards McGowan. Officials with Catholic Social Services Victoria defended the archbishop's move. Executive Director Denis Fitzgerald said his organization should have "factored in all relevant issues" before inviting McGowan.
As for McGowan, who is Catholic, she has said she is "really disappointed" and "very sad" about not being able to speak. She explained to 3AW the reason she had been invited, which unrelated to LGBT rights:
" 'The reason I was invited to give the oration was because of my knowledge of rural and regional Australia and social justice here, and because of the really good work the church is doing to work with people, particularly homeless people and those without a voice.' "
McGowan noted, too, the irony of being silenced from giving speech whose namesake, Mary MacKillop, infamously "got in trouble with the bishops." MacKillop, Australia's only canonized saint, was excommunicated by her local bishop at one point for insubordination.
Archbishop Hart's actions against MP McGowan are especially disappointing because he recently allowed students at Catholic secondary schools to bring same-gender dates to formal dances. Bondings 2.0'Francis DeBernardo called this decision "one of the healthiest and most realistic ones that I’ve heard a church official make regarding LGBT issues in a long time."  Hart's latest decision is puzzling, given his accepting attitude toward same-gender dates.
Somewhere in this controversy involving Denis Hart, Cathy McGowan, and Mary MacKillop, there is a lesson for LGBT advocates: our church acts in decades and centuries, not months and years. Mary MacKillop suffered at church leaders' hands as she founded a religious congregation, expanded Catholic education, and protected children from abusive clergy. Despite being rehabilitated and now recognized as a saint, she was harshly expelled from the institutional church for a time. Cathy McGowan joins the latest generation of lay Catholics whose challenge to the church draws episcopal ire and sanction.
But, step by step, the faithful's efforts are truly transforming the church. Archbishop Hart's split decision on LGBT issues in 2016 signals not only how far we have come, but how far we have to go. "
--Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Sister Joan Chittister - The Divine Feminine: The Foundation of the Abrahamic World, YouTube Video "What We Do Is What We Become"

 Notes from  Dr. Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP
Two frames for this lecture: (1) our pictures of God and (2) the influence they have on our lives: national, cultural, international, personal.
·         How have we come to see and accept the natural denigration of women as the will of God?
·         What is this saying to us so called “religious” people?
·         The fundamental relationship to all of the women’s questions is the subject of the feminine dimension of God.
·         What we think of the Divine Feminine will determine what we think about everything else in life.
Four questions that need to be dealt with:
1.    Why is the concept of the Divine Feminine important? (Can a woman really image God?)
2.    Where does all of this talk come from?
3.    What are the signs and proofs, if any, of its authentic role in the spiritual life?
4.    What does that have to do with us?

Clearly language affects what we see.
The names we give God, the way we see God, determines how we see ourselves.
·         If we fail to nurture both the masculine and feminine side in us, the lack of inclusiveness will stunt the growth of our souls.
·         We need to make the respect of the feminine an equally important part of the social fabric of our lives.
·         If we see God as only male, then maleness becomes more god-like than femaleness.  
·         If we limit ourselves to the divine masculine, we will never see the divine feminine in God or in ourselves.

Question 1: Why is the concept of the Divine Feminine important? (Can a woman really image God?)
·         Without the awareness of both the masculine and feminine aspects of God we will never know the fullness of ourselves.
·         Churches that refuse to mention the feminine aspect of God are depriving us of the whole Spirit of God.
·         Seeing God as only male promotes the servitude of women.

Question 2: Where does all of this talk come from?
·         More than just a current fad?
·         Deep and radical roots in our tradition? Every major tradition carries with it at its core an awareness of the divine feminine. Hindu Shakti – great mother – source of all, Tara – Buddhism, I AM WHO AM in Jewish Tradition.
·         I AM WHO AM: I am the essence of all life, I am the spirit that breathes in everyone, I am in whose image male and female are made. I am ungendered, unsexed, pure spirit, pure energy, pure life, ineffable, not able to be defined. (But we do!!)
·         No single image will suffice. Make no graven images – no partial images of God.
·         In Hebrew Scripture, God is neither male or female. God is of the total essence of both and both are of the essence of God.
Hebrew Scriptures are full of the female attributes of God:
·         Isaiah 42: God cries out as a woman in labor.
·         Psalm 131: God is a nursing woman
·         Hosea 11: God is a mother who takes Israel in her arms
·         Ezekiel 36: God is a washerwoman
·         Genesis 3: God is a seamstress
·         Job 10: God is a cook who has poured Job out like milk…
·         Proverbs 8 and 9: Wisdom / Sophia raises her voice in the streets, is there with God from the beginning…

God is not mother, nor is God only father either. God is neither masculine or feminine, God is pure spirit, pure being, pure life, WHO AM, and both of them in all of us.

Question 3: What are the signs and proofs, if any, of its authentic role in the spiritual life?
Who are the women raised up by God and what do they have to say to us?
·         Mother of Moses – due to her feminine intuition, a people was saved.
·         Shiffa and Pua – Women save Israel
·         Queen Esther – model of feminine strength -  Is willing to sacrifice her life for the safety of her people.
·         Sarah was open to “more than the rational” to solve a problem. When the impossible happened, Sarah was open to it. Receptive
·         Naomi, Ruth ….
·         Women have been an essential part of God’s economy of salvation forever.

Question 4: What does this Divine Feminine dimension have to do with us?
·         Full dignity of life
·         A place at the table
·         The chance to be listened to
·         The fullness of moral agents everywhere
·         A public role to be reckoned with
·         The right to be heard

Society has devalued the feminine side of all of us.  Men are frightened of their feelings. Women are so uncertain of their strength.

God the Father, Avenging Judge, Warrior, Lawgiver, Perfectionist have overwhelmed the image of God.  We run the risk of creating a distant and emotional God, all rational and all powerful, all male, exercising power over everything. 

Confusing – why all the natural disasters and God does nothing about it?

This is the God defined by Plato and Aristotle who argue that this distant Father God is perfect and unchangeable and therefore cannot be moved by our sufferings. Or this would cause God to change.

This is not the God of scripture. We have lost sight of God our Mother who formed us and influences us and encourages us, not to be perfect, but to do our best.

God our Mother, who gave us free will, prefers to share power with us rather than power over us, not rendering us human victims and our human responsibility nihil.

The divine feminine in God leads us to understand natural evil, both the storms within and around us, and supports us through them, enables us to survive them, encourages us to get up and go on, to repent and repair them.

To understand God as divine feminine, is to realize that all creation is her creation.
God did not create nuclear bombs and we can uncreate them any time we want to.
Anytime we decide that power is only half the answer to human relations we can stop giving ourselves over to ruthless power.

To believe only in a “power over” God is to assume that the evil we create, God is required to uncreate or be less a God.

God is the mother who enables us to face the fact that the fate of the earth, and all its people, is indeed, largely in our hands.

The fate of the earth and all her children, all her women being burned, and buried and married off is indeed largely in human hands.

The divine feminine is as much about heart as it is about rationality.
More than a harsh, punishing God, our God is a gentle mother who loves us for trying.
The divine feminine is not here to judge but to enable us to change what must be undone in order to bring us to the height of our humanity.

The God who is both feminine and masculine energy not only raises the standards, but helps us over the bar and feels compassion for us, feels our suffering, feels anger and joy and is concerned with our fears and when we struggle.

With God we are creating this world and we are feeling the pain of the world -  to recreate it.
Protective and nurturing

Plato’s god is deficient – is distant and lacks love.
The patriarchal God keeps us under control, lacks feeling.

The feminine God of the mystics relates to us and is everywhere and in everyone.
God does not “fix” the world for us. Awareness of the fullness of God is the reality that requires us to fix it.

Until we see all humans as equal, the fullness of God is only half alive in us.