Saturday, March 12, 2016

HOMILY and Liturgy – 5-Lent-C "The Woman Caught in Adultery" (John 8:1-11) March 12, 2016 by Janet Blakeley ARCWP, MMOJ, Sarasota, FL.

Janet Blakeley ARCWP

 In a Jesuit’s formation there is a time when a man is sent to a place he’s never been – to do something he’s never done.   So our friend went from Boston to San Diego, sat on a park bench and put out his little cardboard sign that said “Spiritual Direction – 25 cents.”   He sat there – available to anyone and everyone.   It seems that all manner of people sat down next to him and told him all manner of things.   He listened, then asked them insightful questions that led them to find their own answers within themselves.   He thought it was the most meaningful thing he’d ever done – and in time he became a deeply loved spiritual director.

Jesus seems to be doing the same thing, sitting there in the Temple area, just making himself available to listen to anyone who wishes to speak with him.   That’s his style.   Spiritual direction – 25 cents.

But this time is different.   By night, he is a homeless person sleeping on the ground in the olive groves; by daybreak he is eager to be back again in the Temple grounds to converse with people.   Hi is aware that this will probably be his last visit to Jerusalem, his last chance to get his message across – that God loves us! – and his teaching probably has an intensity about it, an urgency.

As Jesus sat, some Scribes and Pharisees (come) up with a plan to trap Jesus in a dilemma, hoping his answer can be used against him.   They present a clear case of a woman whom they charge with adultery.   We are inclined to wonder what keeps Jesus from asking “So where’s the OTHER half of this duo?!?”   We must understand that laws concerning adultery were completely different from ours, and also different for men and women.   But Jesus doesn’t discuss the law or her guilt.   Instead, he remains silent.   His silence seems to point out his weariness with this judgmental attitude based on being right according to the law.   He’s heard it so often.

Law or no law, these people feel justified in accusing the woman.   They are of the mindset that women are the major source of sexual sin in their society.   That attitude developed when the Jews were captives in Babylon, for it is there that they picked up the myth of Adam and Eve as an explanation of why there was evil in the world in the first place.   As for adultery being a criminal activity, they refer to the ten commandments given to Moses by God.   Everybody knows “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

But let’s look at these so-called “commandments.”   Commandments have to do with law, and usually have severe consequences if they are not carried out.   But God’s words to Moses weren’t followed by the terrible things God would do if people “disobeyed.”   No!   It was people’s preconceived notions of a harsh God that caused them to interpret God’s words to Moses as commandments.   In fact they wereteachings from a wise God – to the people God loved – about how to be in relationship with God, and how to live a life that God knew what would make us truly happy – and our happiness would make God happy!

God could have said in a more wordy way – “Don’t commit adultery, because if you do, your spouse will be deeply hurt, you will lose the trust you have in one another, and your children will feel insecure.   And-let’s not forget the other person’s family.   They will suffer the same consequences.   Furthermore, adultery can undermine the fabric of an entire society.   So it’s better to not go in that direction in the first place. Don’t commit adultery.”   That thought survived as “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

Jesus hears the judgmental attitude of the indignant men standing in front of him – certain they are in the right because adultery is against the Law, after all.   Silent Jesus …    You wonder if he isn’t thinking, “Where does this distorted notion of God come from ?!?  How did God become reduced to a list of laws?   And look at how miserable people are because of it. What can I ever do to change it?!?”

Like a good spiritual director, Jesus asks an insightful question of the men.   They look into their hearts and know the answer.   As for the woman, he gives no importance whatsoever to her breaking the law, and he seems not to see her as a bad person. In fact, he makes a point of saying he does not condemn her.        What he sees is a person whose actions now bring her unhappiness.   Like the God of Moses, he says “If you want to live a happy life, go on, now, but don’t do this anymore.”
For Jesus, it’s not complicated.
You have to love a man like that
What law binds us today?   We are not under Jewish Law, and most of us have moved out of the range of Canon Law, following instead our informed consciences – a basic Catholic teaching, by the way. Nevertheless, we find ourselves bound by laws, sometimes unwritten and unspoken.   What our families expect and demand of us – What our local community says is the way things must be done – Even laws we impose on ourselves.   What law still binds us, making us unfree, not at peace, and not fully experiencing God’s love?
Janet Blakeley ARCWP left and Sally Brochu ARCWP co-presided at liturgy
at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community on March 12th

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community

Fifth Sunday of Lent – March 12, 2016
Co Presiders: Janet Blakeley ARCWP & Sally Brochu ARCWP
Music ministers: Cheri McDonough
Lectors: Bob & Pat MacMillan

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

GATHERING SONG: “I Love You, God” (see song sheet)                                                                           WELCOME

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”
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.  LITURGY OF
THE WORD First Reading: Isaiah 43:16-21 Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 27 – Response: “Our God is our light and our salvation, of whom shall I be afraid”                                                                                                                                                    
Second Reading: Philippians 3: 8-14 Gospel Acclamation: (Spoken) Praise, honor and glory to our God. Be compassionate as God is compassionate, praise honor and glory to our God.
Gospel: John 8: 1-11 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 (names), 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: (spoken) Our Father and Mother . . .
THE SIGN OF PEACE Presider: God of Peace and Compassion, grant us your peace and unity beyond all words can express. Let us as a community extend a sign of peace to one another.
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)
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
CONCLUDING RITE 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.
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: “I Love You, God”
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.

GRITA LA VIDA, GRITA LA TIERRA! : Olga Lucia Álvarez Benjumea ARCWP*

"Bright Morning Stars Around Us"

Friday, March 11, 2016

Homily: "I Am Doing Something New" by Rev Dr. Judy Lee RCWP

Did you ever wonder where the man who was also caught in the act of committing adultery was when the religious leaders of Jesus’ time hauled the woman off to Jesus to trap him in his knowledge of the law? The Law is pretty clear (In Leviticus 20 and Deuteronomy 22-24), that most instances of adultery demand a strong response to both the man and the woman.  Could this have been the rare case where only the woman was to be punished,that is killed, or were the leaders remiss in their own understanding of the law? Or, most likely, could it be that in their patriarchal society that women were punished much more than men, no matter what the Law said or intended? That is truly the case in many societies today as the recent documentary short “A Girl In The River: The Price of Forgiveness”, Oscar winning Short film by Pakistani producer Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, demonstrates. I will comment on this excellent film in a moment.
For this 5th Sunday in Lent we see the religious establishment of Jesus’ time enforcing laws on sexual behavior and trying to trap Jesus in his understanding of the Law  (John 8:1-11). We see a woman “caught in adultery” brought before Jesus and a community armed culturally and religiously to stone her. Now,  There is something wrong with law when it does not provide justice and there is something wrong with those who enforce laws when they act unjustly. The plaintive cry”black lives matter” addresses a level of  that injustice in the USA. It is the job of the prophet to call us on it when either of these things happen. According to the prophet Isaiah, in the first reading, God is asking God’s people not to dwell in the past but to see that God is “doing something new”!( Isaiah 43:16-21). And, what we see in today’s Gospel Jesus is doing something new.  If one reads Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22-24 we see the complexity of theTorah/Halakah on matters of sexual behavior and infidelity. While the law is clearly stacked against the woman in this patriarchy there is some sense of fairness. In most cases both the man and women are to be punished. Yet, in this event only the woman is brought before Jesus.  The religious leaders are angry at Jesus for doing something new-in this case, for being inclusive of women in his ministry and in his healing and teachings. Not only did they blame Jesus for hanging out with sinners and even hated tax collectors, but for hanging out with lowly women as well! Luke 8:1-3 names several women who followed Jesus along with the male disciples,including Mary of Magdala who was the first to see Jesus after his resurrection, and to tell of his resurrection thereby becoming the apostle to the apostles. The meaning of this Gospel is, as Rev. Beverly Bingle  so wisely,says beyond adultery to learning how to judge, but it is also about the injustice toward women perpetuated by both the Law and society that Jesus, in his every action prophetically exposed,challenged and and changed. He allowed Mary to anoint his feet, that is to actually touch him,(it was forbidden to women to touch a man and a rabbi at that), he healed a woman with endless menstrual flow(“ritually unclean”), talked with a Samaritan woman who then preached the good news, and he was friends with Mary and Martha and Mary of Magdala among others. I bet the religious leaders very much wanted to get him to participate in the stoning of a woman!!! This would help put women back in their place, and it would make a teacher of nonviolence participate in violence at the same time. They thought they really had him this time! And yet he would remind them of the spirit of the Law, of the Torah, with its fair, though by our standards, harsh, intent. “Let the one among you  who has not sinned, cast the first stone!” Some of the ancient manuscripts said that what Jesus wrote on the ground was the sins of each one there who held a stone.  There was no one left to condemn her and, advising her not to sin again, he did not condemn her. She was free. what an upset to the world that was so eager to stone her.
In the Oscar winning  Documentary “A Girl in the River:The Price of Forgiveness”, a young Pakistani girl named Saba, from a small village runs away to marry a young man that she loves. As only the father is to arrange marriages, this girl has broken the law (both Quranic and local) and has sinned big time. It is noted that the Quran has many more complexities and fair intents than the local law. The family and the village justifies the father and brother killing the girl and dumping her in the river. (Every year over a thousand girls in Pakistan are killed for the honor of the family when they refuse the marriage contracts the father wants to arrange).  Miraculously, however, Saba, though scarred, lives and is able to start a life with her husband and her in-laws. The father and brother are jailed but to get them out with no further punishment and to make peace between the families the girl is asked by village elders (all male) and both families to forgive them.  She is initially advised by lawyers who believe in justice for women and want then punished. But her lawyer is changed by the elders.  She is pressured on all sides to forgive them and does so with words but not within her heart. Injustice, letting the men and the society off “Scot-free”  is seen as the price of forgiveness although reconciliation with her mother is a precious gain for her especially as she expects her first child. She bravely hopes it is a girl who will be able to be free. This moving and insightful expose of today’s injustice to women under religious and societal laws was well deserving af an award. But it leaves us with questions about the meaning of forgiveness and the place of women all over the world in the 21st Century. The story of Malala Yousefi , the girl who was shot for championing education for girls is another case in point. Malala, Saba and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy are prophets in their own time. The courage they display is amazing. Even as the courage Jesus displayed in taking on the religious and political establishments of his time was amazing and indeed dangerous. Thank God for doing something new -something that sorely needs to be done. Thank God for Jesus who treated women equally as his friends and followers.  Thank God for showing us the path to justice, compassion and mercy. May we, including our religious establishments, try harder to live it.
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,RCWP

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 5th Sunday of Lent C, March 13 ,2016 by Beverly Bingle RCWP

Today's Gospel is not about adultery.
It's about how to judge.
Jesus' message is not that we should not judge
but that we must make considered moral decisions
when we do judge.
We must form opinions through wise and careful discernment,
with reason and common sense
and most of all, with heart.
It's about good judgment and bad judgment,
about judging others and judging ourselves.
It's about merciful forgiveness.
The scribes and Pharisees are all riled up…
at the woman… and at Jesus.
And he puts the brakes on their anger
and their self-righteousness at her
and their wily attempts to use her to trap him.
He stops and considers.
Then he gives them a response
that reminds them of a passage in Deuteronomy
about casting the first stone.
They think about it
and change their minds about stoning the woman
and they leave off their attempt to trap him.
Tuesday is primary election day here in Ohio,
and we all have some judging to do.
How will we decide
about whether to vote for or against a tax increase?
How will we decide
about who to nominate to run in November
for County Commissioner or District Court or U.S. Senator…
or President?
Jesus has a lot to say about how to judge.
In this Gospel passage, Jesus says,
"Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone.”
In Matthew's Sermon on the Mount
he teaches to “stop judging.”
Earlier in John's Gospel, in Chapter 5,
he teaches that what makes a judgment just
is first to listen to the facts and opinions and witnesses
and then to follow God's will, not our own.
That doesn't mean we are to imitate the terrorists in the Middle East
who murder people who don't agree with them
and claim to be Muslims doing God's will.
Nor does it mean we are to imitate
the demagogues in our own country
who denigrate people who disagree with them
and claim to be Christians doing God's will.
The Presidential race has been headline news for months,
accusations from all sides
tweeted around like sparrows on steroids.
But we have to judge.
It's our responsibility as human beings and as citizens…
and it's our responsibility as Christians.
We are called to exercise faithful citizenship,
to enter into a process of conscientious discernment
for justice and the common good.
In our discernment process
we are blessed with the long tradition
of the principles we call Catholic Social Teaching,
yardsticks to help us judge rightly,
all based on the right and dignity of the human person.
So we listen to how each candidate talks
about the economics and law and policy
that affect human rights and human dignity.
We listen for the impact that candidates' ideas have
on the common good and the well-being of all,
whether they will help or harm the poor and vulnerable.
We listen to what they say
to find out if their policies will protect human rights.
We pay attention to whether a candidate's platform on the economy
will serve people,
and not the other way around.
We want to see that they respect basic rights to productive work,
to decent and fair wages, to unionize, to a safe workplace.
And we look at candidate positions
to see if they reflect the fact
that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers,
one human family regardless of national, racial, ethnic,
economic, religious, gender, or ideological differences.
We check out each candidate's policies
on caring for our common home.
And then, this coming Tuesday, and again in November,
we will judge.
We'll make serious choices,
keeping in mind that every person is precious,
that people are more important than things,
and that the measure of our society
and of our own soul
is whether we choose to threaten or to enhance
the life and dignity of every human person
and the earth we call home.
Glory be to God, this is a holy business we're about!

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)


By Luz Galilea, an apostle of Jesus Christ to his call and Catholic priest, to serve him and to serve you.

I greet first all women, my sisters, who will read me today, and all men of good will, unified beings who know that souls have no gender and who live in harmony with their bodies the truth of their being, and all other people who are still on their way.

I have chosen to share a piece of my small life as a gift for this Women's Day.

I celebrate in the coming days the first anniversary of my priestly ordination. Since March 14, 2015, the question that I have been asked most frequently concerns my "disobedience" of the Church, of the law, of the Code of Canon Law, of Tradition, and probably of manners which means that one does not disturb. The eleventh commandment being "do not disturb".  

I apologize in advance to them whom I bother, who will get angry or will feel challenged; I sincerely regret these circles in the water which disturb the mirror that could, for an instant, send you an image of things and of yourselves and of the Church that do not correspond to what you expect, especially since I cannot promise that it will one day regain its contours. I have no regrets but I would like such suffering not to happen, and if it happens, for it to carry life, to give birth to a new horizon. Thank you to those of you who still continue to read despite it all.

Baptized shortly after my birth, I do not remember having heard the priest say "you're a priestess, a prophetess and a queen. You now belong to the great family of the Church, the Body of Christ." The fact is that my family, not a practicing family, took little care to speak to me about this.

So as someone who did not attend church, I went back on my own initiative, in search of the family promised me in the cradle, when at the age of 15 I discovered the living presence of Christ and his love overflowing in a journey that was completely lonely.   The sharing, the celebration, the praise with other companions and fellow travelers were to me a pressing need. I chose the Catholic Church; in fact it was she who chose me, but it's too long a story ... This time I became Roman Catholic intentionally, in peace and with the living hope to remain there.

When I repeat to anyone who will listen, and that happens frequently, that I love my church, that I have chosen it as one chooses a fiancé, a love for life that is a part of me, these are not empty words. I could have gone elsewhere, but I loved that this bell calling me on Sunday morning with all its bells ringing wildly, which during the week reminded me of the presence at my side of this new family, seen in the early morning fog on the way to high school, like a lighthouse filled with light that gave me strength for the day, accompanied me. I loved the singing, the smell of the banks muddied by the birds who were singing louder than us and whom no one wanted to chase away.

I loved it all up to the last liturgical gesture learned on the path, and most of all I loved the faces of my brothers and sisters in prayer, those moments when I felt connected beyond what can be  expressed to the human family . I could go on and on to infinity, such loving expansion of this passion that still burns just as strongly here and now. Once the presence of the Divine Breath, the beloved Spirit, was recognized, how to give it up, and above all, how to depart from it, how to cut the bonds that human beings have established if I am but a human being.

There was no indication that I would receive, within the same church, as part of the preparation of a catechesis for children preparing for their first communion, a call that went unanswered for 30 years. Ah! this habit that the Lord has of speaking as he wants, to whomever he wishes and to come and find us in the middle of our daily work, at the risk of changing everything. It was easy for me to say a thousand times, "Look at me, what could I do with my woman's body?  See with your Father who created me... where is the mistake? I perceived his compassionate and bitter smile; I heard again and again his call to "do this in memory of him." 

You can imagine all the questions I asked myself, including whether I had to stay in the Roman Catholic Church. But I know, I always knew that this was my place. So I continued to love him with all my heart, to serve where my skills would allow me ... and I continue. You do not leave those you love just like that. Even in suffering, in revolt, living my story as an anomaly or an injustice – in my opinion and in the opinion of the people who would be deprived of my gift of words I could transmit, of all the prayers that rose from my heart and that would have to remain silent in the assembly, all the blessings pronounced in me by Infinite Love which remain secret, all consecrations invisible to the naked eye ... even in suffering I loved this church; and I love it, I cannot not remain there.

This is so simple. Had theology, which I know, canon law, common sense, philosophy, psychology and all the human sciences together said the opposite, and God is my witness that I consulted all of these, nothing could still sweep away this love, all these cherished family ties.
This is why, when I learned, after a long and painful solitary march for several decades, that I was not the only one, far from it, that others were walking with me and had found the means to take a step towards answering the call - a step in obedience to God, and disobedience to men ... and not disobedience to the Church because the Church is not the property of men or of male clergy. When the evidence of the materialization appeared, in my lifetime, of my YES strangled in my throat, that I could give birth and give to the world ... without ceasing to belong to my beloved family, then I said yes.

I was ordained a presbyter; this is what we have people call us because the only Priest is Jesus Christ, from whom we obtain the call and response, the service to our brothers and sisters, preferably for the smallest, the ones excluded on all sides , those who are the favorites of the Divine Heart. Since then I have not stopped responding in all the ways within my reach, and they are becoming more numerous.

Yes, my ministry is useful and fruitful, way beyond all expectations. My brothers and sisters have confirmed me in my vocation and thank me. Often, during the universal prayer, at Mass, someone says "thank you Lord for the ministry of the woman who today helped me to connect to Jesus" (letter from someone in my community that prays and meditates on my homilies [for which I created my blog] every Sunday while I'm away). Each time, I also thank Him and say "this one prayer, even if it shouldn’t have been this one, justifies my entire path of misery, and my commitment beyond human standards, it justifies anything that is yet to come."

I hear you argue that I have broken the unity of the Church. Really! What do you mean? Do you know that these Roman Catholics are the ones that call out to me? Do you know the number of those left behind that live subject to the weather, on a square beaten by the rain and the wind; do you know how many of the baptized cannot or do not want to step over the threshold of a church? Look for them, you'll cry, but it's such a worthwhile thing to start looking, to have the eyes wander "outwards..."

A young boy passing a church with his group of teenage friends, to a female friend who said "I am going to do my confirmation, would you like me to show you my church?" to which he gently replied "I won’t enter, I'm gay and I am not liked in there" and the others decided "if they do not like you there, we will not enter either." A very small example that you can easily extrapolate.

The Code of Canon Law was recently amended to include more serious, very serious “Delicta graviorum" provisions (under Benedict XVI) to punish and halt the sins committed against children.  Well played! And right on the heels of that, they took the opportunity to add in the same order of severity that it was necessary to include the ordination of a woman (as if Article 1024 of the Code was not enough) ... and other crimes against the Eucharist, etc.  I'll let you read it here:

I smile now because many think that I do not know the law. But it is precisely when I learned about these senseless norms against women (no, ordaining a woman who wants to serve God and his people cannot do as much harm as that caused by the rape of a minor or anyone else!) that I decided to apply to be admitted as a candidate for priestly ordination.

In my approach, an area of defiance, of provocation, neither of bitterness nor hatred but an indescribable compulsion to tell the world "those who welcome me welcome Him who sent me, and those who do not welcome me do not welcome Him who sent me. " You know the author.

My decision was made after stringent discernment and education, which continues; it is required of me. I'm not a beginner in the field of doctrine, tradition, teaching or theology.  More now and for a long time.

No, I am not outside the Church; no one has the authority to eliminate the connection provided at baptism.

Yes, I am in communion because communion originates from a reality as to which the law can do nothing, which the law is powerless to govern. It is my only Master, Jesus of Nazareth, who taught it to me.

As long as I'm within the love and in obedience to the Love, I can sin the same as everyone and I blunder everyday – guaranteed- but I remain in communion with God, with my brothers and sisters from the church and from humanity, with all of creation. And above all, as long as I love the church, I will stay. Needless to emphasize, I deeply respect and have an affection for sister churches, but I return to them as if it involved “rebel" trucks that do not serve ecumenism. They deserve respect because they often are ahead of us in obedience, dear Catholic friends, we should not deprive ourselves of their lessons.

Disunion? Whose fault is that?

I would ask you to pray with me so that my brothers and sisters who are ordained in our RCWP and ARCWP associations, according to the Roman rite and in the strictest apostolic succession, are never in a spirit of rupture, because they are not and they have never claimed to be anything but a community.

Let us pray so that the great institution that is fully male and slow in understanding agrees to receive our gifts, our word, our ministry, agrees to receive us at the table as we receive their beloved parents, with biscuits and a small hot coffee.

Pray especially for the poorest, those left out, the unloved who find our help and our warmth when they seek us, we the lovers of the poor and naked Christ on the cross, that they may find us at the table and at the yard.

Pray that stupidity is pushed aside a bit to let the light come through and that we stop inventing doors to close them better, dear Pope Francis, this is for you.

Pray that the divine breath flows freely in our hearts and in our assemblies, including in the mouths of women.

Pray for the Church, the one within, snug in its convictions, and especially the one without, which works with abandon.

I dedicate this article to all souls of good will, and to Mary our Mother, the first and the only one who never had the right to say "this is my blood, this is my body" and to all those who nowadays struggle discreetly but effectively so that the feminine infinitely tender face of God,  is restored in this world.

I publish more in Spanish because at the present time, this is the language of life and work in the country where I live. French is my native language, the one in which I still conceive most of my ideas, thoughts and prayers.

A more detailed article in Spanish is being prepared for my ministry to Catholic women priests; I will share it at the time of publication. So today, the very first fruits in French.

With love,
your sister

Luz Galilea, Presbyter
Translated into English by Silvia Brandon Perez, ARCWP

Sally Brochu's Presentation of Janet Blakeley for Ordination in ARCWP

Women priests are often challenged on their preparedness for ordination, This speech, by Sally Brochu, shares an excellent example of how our lives, ministries and spirituality prepare us for a renewed model of priestly ministry in a community of equals in the Roman Catholic Church.  

As Irish theologian Mary T. Malone writes in her book, The Elephant in the Church :
 "... the experience of the ordinary day-in day-out women of Catholicism can begin to be respected as among the primary bearers of the Faith, and respected, heard and treated as the significant theologians that they are. They can also be recognized and respected as the foundation stones of many a parish community, for without the presence and ministry of women, these communities would not exist.  For women have always done theology and ministry in word and deed.  " (p. 171.)

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests' Preparation Program affirms life experience, spirituality and ministry as valid theology. Through the People's Catholic Seminary, we offer courses for candidates without degrees to equip them for inclusive, prophetic, sacramental and spiritual ministries in a renewed model of priestly ministry within a community of equals in the 21st century. 
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Sally Brochu's Presentation of Janet Blakeley for Ordination in ARCWP
Janet Blakeley’s ORDINATION – Sally’s Witness
Bishop Bridget Mary and all gathered here today, it is with so much joy that speak today of Janet’s qualifications for ordination to the priesthood. I speak not just from my viewpoint because I am blessed to experience her goodness every day, but I believe I speak for members of MMOJ and ARCWP and also for family and friends.
Janet has been in ministry for most of her life and she has had a positive impact in so many lives, many of whom are here today. Even before the day she was baptized a Catholic at age 23, she has sought and grown in her love of God: learning, studying, experiencing and always helping others in their spiritual journey. She has a curious mind and a keen intelligence that prompted her to expand her horizons. She married and she and her husband, a University Professor, and their 2 adopted children lived and traveled in Europe and Africa. When they returned to the US, they adopted a third child in Boston.
While living in Switzerland, Janet attended the University of Fribourg and was privileged to study with men who would become the periti of Vatican II. Family life was very busy and once back in the US, she sought a Master degree in Ecclesiastical Music at Boston University and took Theology courses at Boston College. She received a Master in Clinical Pastoral Counseling from Emmanuel College in Boston in 1994. She was the first non-religious woman to graduate from the Jesuit-run Center for Religious Development, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She worked at various Retreat Centers in New England as a Spiritual Director and with individual directees for over 20 years. There again, she saw how awesome God was in the lives of the many whom she accompanied on their spiritual journeys.
Throughout her earlier years in the Boston area, she was a teacher and later Vice-Principal in a Catholic School; ran the Parish Center of a large Quincy parish; directed a Archdiocesan Program for poor inner-city grandmothers raising their grandchildren; directed another Boston Archdiocesan Program that brought orphaned children from Haiti, and found adoptive homes or connected the children with family members already living in the US. Able to speak Creole, she could communicate with these children and families. You’re wondering how she learned Creole? In the early 80’s, a very poor parish, St Boniface, in Quincy, began an outreach to their parishioners. That expanded to include a sister parish in a poor hamlet in South Haiti that had no access to healthcare. They raised money, but were told they had to bring it down, because the money would never get there. Janet was on the second of these trips, where she helped the much-loved pastor, envision and design a healthcare clinic. After eight working trips to Fond des Blancs, Haiti, Janet saw St Boniface-Haiti Medical Center grow and flourish. Today this expanded facility cares for over 70,000 people a year. Janet always speaks with such respect and awe of the Haitian people who are so poor, yet they have a deep faith, resilience and such joy-filled hearts like none she had ever met. Like her involvement in the Charismatic Movement, her Haiti experience was life changing.
As she moved into retirement, she faced a major life-challenge. Her daughter was killed in a car accident. Janet became the Legal Guardian to her four grandchildren, ages 7 -20. We raised them for 10 years. They are all adults now and we are so proud of them. Eden is with us today.
This brief overview of Janet’s story speaks of her compassion and outreach to the poor, not just local but a global outreach; her intelligence & leadership skills; her enlightened teaching and preaching skills; her deep faith and love for God; her remarkable listening ability and keen insight; her magnanimous heart and love for people; her genuineness and generous hospitality. She has so many gifts and life experiences that she brings to ministry to God’s people. Many feel that her ordination today is the formal recognition of her priestly ministry that she has lived throughout her lifetime.
We rejoice today but even nature rejoices. On our lanai, we have two Christmas Cacti. Today, both, for the second time since Christmas, are in full bloom! I think this is a visible sign of God delighting in her and smiling upon her this day.
Sally Brochu 3/5/2016

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

"A New Look at Mary of Magdala," Video with Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, Reflects Contemporary Biblical Studies

See Bridget Mary Meehan's book Praying with Women of the Bible available online. 

Women share struggles at Vatican event, skirting issues of ordination, governance Joshua J. McElwee | March 9, 2016


A dozen women from around the world shared compelling and sometimes harrowing stories of their struggles for peace, education and equality during a Vatican event Tuesday, with some calling for better representation and women's leadership at the highest levels of the Catholic church.
The event, organized as an opportunity for women to share their voices from the center of the church bureaucracy on International Women's Day, was careful however to skirt the issue of women's governance in the Catholic community, choosing to speak instead of women's capabilities to share leadership.
In fact, one of the most prominent speakers at the third annual Voices of Faith event said that the focus of conversations about women's roles in the church around questions of ordination is "unfortunate" because it causes suspicion when any issue relating to women is raised in church circles.
Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, said that when women speak there is a lingering question: "Is this a slippery slope so that everything women want is eventually to the priesthood?"
"I think because so much of the conversation, particularly the dominant conversations and the loudest conversations, have focused on women's ordination -- which is off the table -- [that] whenever women plead, or speak, or recommend, or propose there's this skepticism or suspicion," said Woo. "Is this conversation leading to ordination?"
"I think that is unfortunate because along the way we fail to hear ... the voices of the mothers, of the single mothers, of the lay pastoral associates," she said.
Woo was one of a dozen women and several men taking part in Tuesday's event, put together as an opportunity for women to share their stories of faith on the yearly day focused on them.
Organized by the Liechtenstein-based charitable trust Fidel Götz Foundation, the event was web-streamed around the world from the Vatican's Casina PioIV, an iconic marble building that is home to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
The CRS president was speaking as part of a panel discussion during the event that was described as a multigenerational conversation on expanding women's leadership in the church.
The comments made by the members of the panel were notably softer than those made during a similar panel at last year's Voices of Faith event, where several prominent speakers tackled issues such as women's ordination and using inclusive language in the church's liturgies.
While speakers at the panel this year spoke again of women's leadership in the church, the word ordination arose only once -- when Woo said the discussion around the topic was unfortunate.
The panel discussion was the conclusion of the four-hour event and was moderated by Jesuit Fr. ThomasSmolich, the international director of Jesuit Refugee Service. Other speakers on the panel included:Geralyn Sheehan, director of the U.S. Peace Corps in Colombia; Petra Dankova, a Czech living in the U.S.; and Nicole Perone, a master's student at Yale Divinity School.
Dankova, a postulant with the Sisters of the Holy Redeemer, started the discussion by saying she did not want to speak in a dualistic way.
"I think it's really dangerous that we would look at the church in this dualistic view of this men-dominated institution, to which women are somehow external," she said. "In my own experience as someone was has converted to the Catholic faith as an adult, I know that the church I converted to was a community."
Perone mentioned how women are now leading in society as heads of government and CEOs, saying that "women can succeed in any sphere" and asking: "Why is the church the last frontier on that?"
The Yale student particularly mentioned that the two Vatican offices most devoted to women -- the pontifical councils for laity and family life -- are not led by women.
"It baffles the mind why a non-lay person would be running the pontifical council for the laity," she said. "This is just logic."
Woo, who has led CRS since 2012, said that women today are knocking at the doors of the church.
"The generation of people that follows us ... they will stop knocking," she said. "There will come a day when there will be the silence of people not knocking. That the young women who follow us, they cannot imagine the life behind that door. They begin to not see that door at all."
"I think the great fear for me is that we're knocking right now, but a generation will come where they may not knock," she said. "And I think that's what the church faces."
Woo also called for an expansion of papal teaching toward women, noting that several recent pontiffs, including Pope Francis, have praised what they have called the "feminine genius."
"A lot of times that term is evoked to mean women's sensitivity ... women's ability to attend to others, to nourish and to care," she said. "But what about women as social critics or social activists like Dorothy Day?" she asked. "What about women who are scandalous like Dorothy Day and Mary Magdalene and the woman at the well?"
But the CRS president also said that she is "not totally comfortable that a lot of the conversation is about titles."
"Pope Francis has this sort of teaching against the lure and the temptation of clericalism," said Woo. "I don't think women should be going after that, which is the sense of privileged status."
Tuesday's event began with a sharing of stories from different women around the world. Topics ranged from trying to build peace during and after the Croatian War, to struggling against the dictatorial Marcos regime in the Philippines, to trying to overcome the practice of allowing for child brides in Kenya.
Cecilia Flores spoke of being a political prisoner under Marcos and to giving birth while in prison.
"This is a dream for me," said Flores. "To stand in the heart of the Vatican, to know the doors are opening."
"Freedom is a choice," she said. "A choice to do something ... a choice to make a difference. And I'm inviting you to be a part of it."
[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]