Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy on May 7, 2016 Presiders: Sherry Robertson and Kathryn Shea, ARCWP Music Minister: Linda Lee Miska with Videos

Artist Sherry Robertson

left to right, Kathryn Shea ARCWP, and Sherry Robertson, co-preside at Mother's Day Liturgy

Morning Has Broken #638 (All verses)

Presider: In the name of God our creator, and of Jesus our brother, and of the Holy Spirit our wisdom. ALL: Amen.
Presider: God, Birther of the Cosmos, is with us.
ALL: And with alI.
ALL: Nurturing God, You embrace each person and every living thing with delight. May, we who are stardust, be filled with awe as we experience our mystical oneness, with all creation in the Heart of Love. May we cherish every amazing day, conscious of your presence and abundance all around us. We ask this through Jesus, our brother and the Holy Spirit, our wisdom.
ALL: Amen

Pause briefly and reflect on the need to grow more in love with others and with creation
General Absolution by Community:
(All raise hands extended in prayer
and recite together.)
God, our Father and Mother of compassion,  through his living, dying and rising, Jesus has revealed that nothing can separate us from the infinite love of God. May God give us pardon and peace, and may we forgive each other our failures to care for one another and for our earth in the name of God our creator, and of Jesus our brother, and of the Holy Spirit our wisdom. Amen.


ALL: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth. Creator God, heart of the Universe, we give you thanks for the breath of the Spirit sustaining everything that exists, everywhere in the cosmos.  Holy Child of our God, you reveal the love of God that permeates our universe. You, who are one in spirit with our God, receive our prayer. We give you glory and praise through Jesus Christ, our brother, and Holy Spirit, our Wisdom.  Amen.

First Reading: A Poem by Colleen Fulmer
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51, Create In Me # 780
Second Reading: On Women Priests, by Daniel Berrigan. 1977
Gospel acclamation: Celtic Alleluia
Gospel: John 17:20-26


ALL: We believe in God, the Creator of the Universe, the fountain of life, flowing through every being. We believe in Jesus, the Christ, who reflects the face of God and the fullness of humanity. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of God in the cosmos, who calls us to love and serve without counting the cost. We believe in our global communion with all in the circle of life. Amen to loving actions on behalf of justice, healing, compassion and equality for all in our world!

Presider: Always mindful of God’s love and care for all creation, we bring the needs of the people to our loving God.
After each petition the response is:
Spirit Divine, may we work for healing for our earth and justice for all.

Presider: Healing God, we trust that you hear our prayers. May we celebrate our planetary oneness in our works for justice, equality, and peace. We make this prayer through Jesus, our brother, in union with the Holy Spirit.
ALL: Amen

Song:  We Are Called #628 vs. 1 2, 3

Presider: Blessed are you, God of all creation.  Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, this grain that the earth has given and human hands have made.  It will become for us the bread of life.
All:  Blessed be God forever.
Presider:  Blessed are you, God of all creation.  Through your goodness we have this wine to offer, this fruit of the vine that human hands have made.  It will become for us our spiritual drink.
All:  Blessed be God forever.
Presider:  Jesus, who has sat at our tables, now invites us to be guests at his family table.  Everyone is welcome around our family table.
ALL: Nurturing God, we are united in this sacrament by our common love of Jesus.  We are in communion with everyone, everywhere, who proclaims your mercy to all those who are marginalized and oppressed.  May we love tenderly, do justice, and walk humbly with you in solidarity with our brothers and sisters.  May we live as prophetic witnesses to the Gospel, supported by the vision of Jesus and the wisdom to the Spirit.  Amen.
Presider:  God dwells in each one of us.  ALL: Namaste!
Presider:  Let us give thanks to the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists.
ALL:  With hearts full of love, we give God thanks and praise.
Presider:  Holy Spirit, we realize your presence among us as we gather at our family table.
ALL:  Fill us with reverence for you, for one another, and for all your creation.
Presider:  Let us lift up our hearts.
All:  We lift them up to the Holy One, living in us and loving through us.
Voice 1:  Ever present and always caring God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks.  In you we live and move and have our very being.  Your Spirit dwelling in us gives us the hope of unending peace and joy with you.  And so, we sing your praise…
ALL sing:  Holy, Holy, Holy – Karen Drucker

ALL: Holy One, we bring you these gifts that they may become the Christ Presence.  Fill us with reverence for creatures great and small so that we may provide mothering love to all.

(All Extend Hands) ALL: On the night before he died, while at supper with his friends, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to them saying, “Take this, all of you, and eat. Do this in memory of me.”
(Pause) In the same way, Jesus took the cup of wine.  He said the blessing, gave the cup to his friends and said, “Take this all of you and drink.”  Do this in memory of me.”
Presider:  Jesus, who was with God “in the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth,” is with us now in this bread.  The Spirit, of whom the prophets spoke in history, is with us now in this cup.  Let us proclaim the mystery of faith.
ALL: Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ lives in us and through us in the world today.
Voice Two: Christ of the Cosmos, we remember that it was you, who said: “Anything I have done in the name of the Creator, you can do, too … and even more.” So, we remember all within our world and church (Pope Francis, our bishops, and leaders, (mention names) who are working for environmental healing, human rights, church  equality, and justice for all.
Voice Three: Christ of the Cosmos, we remember Mary, mother of Jesus, prophet of liberation, and St. Francis who sang canticles to brother sun and sister moon. We remember our sisters and brothers, the great cloud of witnesses who have cared for earth’s creatures and have blessed our world with their loving service to God’s people . . .
(pause, mention names, if you wish)
May we praise you in union with them and give you glory by working for a more just and peaceful world.
ALL: Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in unity with the Holy Spirit, all glory, honor and praise to you, loving God forever and ever.  Sing: Amen.
ALL: Prayer of Jesus (“Our Father and Mother”)
(Group joins hands in circle in symbolic “hug” that goes out to the all creatures and all people as they sing this song of peace.)
“Peace is flowing like a river … Love, joy is flowing like a river.”
ALL: Christ of the Cosmos, may we live our oneness with you and all creation. Christ of the Cosmos, may we work for healing of the earth. Christ of the Cosmos, may we celebrate justice rising up in a global communion everywhere.
Presiders: This is the Cosmic Christ in whom all creation lives and moves and has its being. All are invited to partake in this banquet of love and to celebrate our oneness with all living beings on the planet
ALL: We are the Body of Christ.
Communion:  Instrumental music
AFTER COMMUNION SONG: Hail Mary, Gentle Woman #700

ALL: Lover of the Universe, fill us with awe at your extravagant love flowing through all living things. May we immerse ourselves in the beauty of nature that surrounds us each day. We ask this through our brother Jesus, in union with the Holy Spirit.
ALL: Amen
ALL: (with an outstretched arm in blessing)
May the blessing of God go before you.
May Her grace and peace abound.
May Her Spirit live within you.
May Her love wrap you ‘round.
May Her blessing remain with you always.
May you walk on holy ground.

May we continue to be the face of God to each other and may our name be a blessing in our time!  Amen.

Presiders: Go in the peace of the Cosmic Christ, and let our service continue!
ALL: Thanks be to God.
Closing Song:  Woman Spirit

Bridget Mary Meehan
Association of Roman Catholic Woman Priests

Woman Spirit
Words & Music: Marvella McPartland
& Lynn Fuqua

Woman’s Spirit is beauty.
Woman’s Spirit is deep.
Woman loves with compassion,
our perfection is complete.
Woman’s Spirit is graceful.
Woman’s Spirit is wise.
Woman’s Spirit is moving,
bringing love into our lives.
Woman’s Spirit is passion.
Woman’s Spirit is birth.
Woman’s power unfolding
to honor life on earth.
 Farewell to Charlene and Celebration of Sally's Birthday at Stewart Hall after Liturgy

For more information about our inclusive Catholic Community

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Cardinal Lehmann Promotes Opening Diaconate to Women in the Roman Catholic Church

"The Pope can not do everything alone," says the German cardinal, who turns 80

Writing, May 5, 2016 at 22:31
 "The reforms will not be so fast," he said. "There headstrong (...) in different positions"
Women Deacons, why not?/>

Women Deacons, why not?

  • Karl Lehmann
  • Women Deacons, why not?
Cardinal Karl Lehmann , one of the most influential dignitaries of the Catholic Church in Germany, insisted in an interview with dpa on the need to open the diaconate to women.
"Unfortunately is spending too much time for Rome to make a decision on the permanent diaconate female" lamented Lehmann, who has asked the pope Francisco to withdraw from the Archbishopric of Mainz when youturn 80 years soon.
"To be honest, I do not see a way for women priests in our church" , Lehmann, who chaired the German Bishops Conference of 1987-2008 said.

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community, Ascension, May 8, 2016 by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

Today, as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord,
we hear scriptures about Jesus ascending into heaven
that are obviously not literal.
We know that it's another one of those stories that is true
but didn't actually happen,
an experience of Divine Presence
that the followers of Jesus tried to express
in language and story that fit the world view of their time.
There are some obvious clues
that lead us to see these
as expressions of faith experience
instead of historical fact.
Among other scripture scholars,
Fr. Raymond Brown points to
the developed theology of Paul's letter to the Ephesians,
written between 60 and 63 AD,
about 30 years after
the disciples experienced the resurrection and ascension.
Paul uses metaphors of his time and place—
metaphors familiar to the Greco-Roman socio-political culture
—to express the truth that Jesus has been lifted up
and lives in God for ever.
He describes Jesus as above all earthly powers,
head of the church,
Lord of creation.
Those are images that fit his time.
Twenty to forty years after Ephesians,
an unknown author wrote the two pieces of scripture
that we know as Luke's Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles.
Our New American Bible
has a footnote showing that they can't be historical
because the ascension happens
on Easter Sunday night in the Gospel,
then forty days later in the Acts of the Apostles.
So, while the Bible is true,
these stories are not factual recordings of historical events.
Another way we know that the ascension stories
are attempts to tell about Jesus' meaning
rather than relate history
comes in that there are three forms of the final commission
that Jesus is shown as giving to his disciples.
One is found in Matthew (28:18-20),
one in John (20:22-23),
and one in Luke (24:44-48) and Acts (1:8).
Scholars make other observations
that point to the evolution of thinking about Jesus
as the Christian community grew.
For example, Luke has Jesus say,
“These are my words that I spoke to you
while I was still with you,
that everything written about me
in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms
must be fulfilled.”
Scholars say that Luke wrote those words
as a basic summary of the early Christian idea
that the Torah and the prophets foretold
Jesus' life, teaching, death, and resurrection.
They were trying to reconcile
what they thought about Jesus
while he was alive and preaching
with what had happened to him
with their continuing experience of his presence with them.
Another example is that the commissioning in Luke,
telling the disciples to preach the good news to all the nations,
expresses the goals of the early Christian community
as they ponder the significance of Jesus for them.
Those disciples, as the scriptures tell us,
mistakenly thought Jesus was a Messiah
who would take charge of the state,
set up a government,
reign as king... like David.
But then he was crucified,
and they began to understand
that his kingdom was not a worldly one.
They met and broke bread and remembered,
re-telling their memories
and continuing to experience his ongoing presence with them.
Imagine them getting together and talking.
What did Jesus do?
What did he say we should do?
What does that mean for us now?
And they recognized him in the breaking of the bread.
That's what we do, still, today.
We listen to the scriptures.
We ask ourselves what they mean.
We ponder our own experiences of the Spirit among us
in light of the experiences recorded by our ancestors in faith.
We express our own experiences of the Spirit of God
in ways that make sense to us,
given our understanding of science and humanity.
One of the messages we hear
in today's reading from the Acts of the Apostles
is that Jesus lives in God.
Another message that we hear is that,
as followers of the way of Jesus,
we are commissioned to spread the good news
throughout the world.
That good news is
that all of creation—
including Jesus, including us—
lives with God and in God, eternally.
Thanks be to God!

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

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

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mindfulness Meditation with Bridget Mary Meehan before Ladies Luncheon at Oakwood Manor, Sarasota, Florida, May 4, 2016

It was a honor to share mindfulness meditation with women in Oakwood Manor, Florida.

I began with a brief overview on mindfulness meditation, and its benefits to health and well-being.

There is no right or wrong way to meditate.

Each of us has the breath of life.

In this meditation, we simply are aware of our breathing in and out.
You could use a mantra or prayer word to help you   center in your soul space.
Some examples are: love, peace, or a word from your faith tradition.
Do not worry about distractions, Simply be in the moment.
Relax, let go, breathe and they will go away, like logs gently floating down a river.
We will try this meditation for 10 minutes and then I will close with a reflection for Mother's Day.

Then I will take questions about your experience.

My books are available for free to this community. They are on the table if you wish to take them.

10 Minutes of Mindfulness Meditation.

Breath in and out...
Prayer for Mother's Day
Questions and Answers

Bridget Mary Meehan

Pope Francis' Agenda: "A Church the House that Welcomes All and Refuses No One.", Roman Catholic Women Priests?

 Pope Francis said " No one can be excluded from the mercy of God: everyone knows the way to access it and the Church is the house that welcomes all and refuses no one. Its doors remain wide open." (Pope Francis Homily at Announcement of the Year of Mercy. March 13, 2015)

Let us pray that Pope Francis will continue his work to make "the Church the house that welcomes all and refuses no one," including Roman Catholic Women Priests.
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

"Confirmation Homily Lacked Advice for Girls" by Jack and Helen Duffy

On Sunday, Bishop Robert Morlino celebrated the confirmation service and Mass for about 100 area high school students at Maria Goretti Church. The service usually celebrates and prays for a new and deeper connection with the Holy Spirit.
The bishop used the greater part of his lengthy homily as a sales pitch to the young men -- ages 13 to 17 -- to encourage them to choose to enter training to become Catholic priests. This helps to perpetuate what has proven to be the most egregious and deepest fundamental problem corroding the already shaky foundation of the Roman Catholic institution: the celibate male-only clergy.
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I wonder what my 16-year-old granddaughter, and the other approximately 50 young women being confirmed, expected in career advice from Bishop Morlino. Some of these young women may have been carrying a deep and long-suppressed calling to become a priest and serve God and the church.
-- Jack and Helen Duffy, McFarland 


The Church has ignored the female contribution to Catholic culture in
 recent years, 
according to an editorial in a new women’s magazine published by the 
Vatican’s semi-official newspaper. 

Bridget Mary's Response:
I applaud this as a new beginning and hope that future editions  
will feature articles by a wide array of feminist theologians and 
Roman Catholic Women Priests who are charting 
a new course of renewal for the church today.
Lucetta Scaraffia, the co-ordinator of Women-Church-World, 
the new monthly magazine published by L’Osservatore Romano, 
said that a “hidden revolution” had taken place during the last century 
with women making an increasingly important contribution
 to the intellectual life of Catholicism. 
But this, she explained, had been “almost ignored” by the Church 
even though it had intensified in the years following the 
Second Vatican Council when more and more women started to
 study theology. 

Bridget Mary's Response:
I also recommend articles by ordinary women in diverse occupations 
who are living generous lives of loving service to their families, 
neighborhoods, communities and countries. 
he has dedicated to women, starting with their role in the family 
and including those forced into slavery and
 those suffering sexual violence.   

Bridget Mary's Response:
I appreciate Pope Francis' prayer/pledge to support the dignity
 of women as images of God and this campaign to stop the abuse 
of and  violence toward women. However,  the church must make 
the connection between its discrimination against women in 
decision-making at the top levels of our church including 
 its failure to affirm women priests and the abuse of and
 violence toward women in the world.

Of Priests, Women, Women Priests, and Other Unlikely Recombinants: A Diary Daniel Berrigan S.j., edited by Mary Condren

Published in Movement Magazine: Journal of the Student Christian Movement of Britain and Ireland, in a special supplement “Why Men Priests” edited by Mary Condren, (Dublin: SCM Publications, 1977): pp 8- 10).

You have to taste life, a real taste, bitter and sweet together before you can celebrate life. This seems plain fact, truth of the soul, on the face of it. But what to make of all those liturgical experts who year after year, gather to tell one and all what motions to go through, and when and why, around the cold altars?
The dominant mood, in public and private, in church and state, is something deeper than depression; a stupefaction. People go in circles, sleep walk, blank faced. There are no maps. Most plod along in the old track, interminably. Or they go where forbidden. The old taboos fall in the name of freedom, sexual or psychological, a kind of mauve scented slavery. And Big Bro grins his wolfish grin.
Women who want to enter the priesthood, or who are already ordained, have at least some inkling of the stalemate within the ranks. The truth of being woman is a good boot camp for being a nobody; in culture, in church. And ‘nobody’, ‘non person’ is a good definition of a priest today, female or male, given both church and culture. Properly, soberly understood. Some say the scripture says that’s where we belong.
from left to right, Jane Via, RCWP, Janice Sevre Duszynska ARCWP, Roy Bourgeous, peaceful vigil at Vatican Embassy on Holy Thursday, 2016

A non person. You don’t signify. They look you over, but you don’t meet acceptable standards. Or the big boys meet, make big decisions, plans, projections. You aren’t invited. Or rather, you’re disinvited. World without end.

Priesthood? One could huff and puff about mystery, sacrament, sign, moments of grace. These I take to be realities. I am also consoled that they are out of our grasp, control, consuming.
And this is the Day of the Consumer. The Day of Seizure; Don’t Forget It. Above all, don’t forget it, women. The caste implications, the control units, are humming. If you come in and join up, the machos will know how to deal with that too. Which is to say, the penal implications of the penis ought not he misread. To be deprived is to be a ‘case’, a patient, a freak, an example. It is To Be Dealt With.
When something is working badly for those it was designed to work for, what solution? Commonly culturally speaking, do more of the same. Multiplied mistakes cancel out the initial mistake; the sublime logic. What then to say to women who want to join the Early Mistake? mistaken identity? One has to think of starting over. But whether women can correct the massive and multiplied misservices of the Hippos On High—this seems to be matter for valid questioning.

We do well in a bad time not to multiply the bads. Men I respect in the priesthood aren’t particularly happy in thinking male. They feel miserable under the weight of life today, just as women do. That ‘just as’ needs of course to be treated carefully; women are outside, men in, the difference is not slight.
At the same time, it’s worth saying that spite gets us no where. And on the question of priesthood, the ‘in’ male and the ‘out’ female meet on a ground that’s fairly familiar to each; one barely making it meets another not making it. To say that life isn’t offering a great deal to any of us, doesn’t heal the long untended wounds.

A better beginning might be the common admission of a common plight, male and female, in the effort to be faithful to a human vocation; violation, insults, jail, the beetling brow of the law. Each has the right to kick and scream until we have 1) a common share of our common patrimony (matrimony)— which certainly includes equal access to ministry, pulpit, sacraments, right up to bishoprics and papal tiaras (for those who feel called lo such bric-a-brac), and 2) a vote on where and how our lives get lived, used, spent, given.

Access to the mysteries, the good news made both good and new. Need I tell anyone we are being drowned in bad news; certainly bad, hardly new? I think on the contrary, good news waits on women; I think it waifs on men. It waits on each of us, reborn.

Please don’t wash us in hog wash. A big case is made in anti-priest-women polemics, of the huge shift in symbols required if women are to stand at the altars. This is to say the least, reading history through the rear view mirror. Such ‘scholarship’ is always late, always after the fact, invariably in service to special interests. It loves to act as though those in command just arbitrarily appear there, wide eyed innocents, open to every prevailing or contrary wind, nothing on their minds except disinterested service of the truth. Thus the scholars become apologists, indifferent to injustice; and the apologists become ideologues. They prefer historical jousting to a simple look at manifest injustice. A fascist stalling tactic.

In such matters, it helps to stay with a few simple ideas, and see where they lead. But some critics make history (in this case male history, a bad start) into the enemy, adversary, obstacle to a better human arrangement. They also mistrust people, including their fellow Christians; the majority of whom do not sit in endowed university chairs announcing the facts of life to those ‘below.’ (A little like life guards scanning the sea beaches from chairs the height of The Empire State building)
Would Christians accept the ministry of women alongside men? My experience is that immense good will is available; people adjust quickly, even with excitement, to new arrangements, especially when these are presented as forms of requital, righting of wrongs. ‘How sensible; I never thought of that before’ is a common reaction in such matters, from the pew or the church door. But from pulpit or podium, the process is infinitely more tortuous, the minds inverted, lost. Out of touch.

Ours was a church of outsiders, from the start. This is often said. The implications are just as often ignored or sidestepped; because the ‘outside’ character of our beginnings is of course, taught by insiders.
Still, a cold comfort is better than none, considering common shortages. We might ponder Jesus; who, it could be argued, is still shivering on the lintel of this or that sublime chance! He cannot be washed hands of, he will not go away. A perpetual embarrassment to grand and petty inquisitors alike.

In all this, it won’t do to comfort ourselves with ‘Well in any case, it’s psychiatrically verified that sons (daughters) always kick out the old man in order to come into their own...’
Their own? The old man? But Jesus didn’t come on, in the first place, as big daddy at all; but defenceless, otherworldly, an artisan, a worker, a friend, a ne’er do well, ambitionless really, empty of hand and pocket, a non belonger and no joiner.
It seems to follow; all who wish to meet him must do so on his ground. He won’t come in. Won’t be assimilated. A Jew is a Jew, take it or leave it. You want to meet him? Step outside, into the dark. But who wants to hear such talk?
The healing of woman bent double, in Luke 13. Nuanced and delightful. I cannot for the life of me, find anyone who treats it adequately; so here goes a try.
She was bent over, Luke says (and he ought to know) by a diabolic spirit. Could it be that she was fated to dramatize in her frame, the fate of women, in that culture, in every culture? No one says so. Males write history generally; then to place things beyond doubt, they write male commentary. But Luke steps aside from all that; or better, Jesus does. In freedom, he walks over those puerile taboos and drawn lines. He takes the initiative with the woman; ‘He called her over when lie saw her condition..’ Then he ‘laid his hands on her. And simply announced her cure. She straightened up. And ‘she gave glory to God.’ How sublime! A woman bent double (bent doubly) under the burden of hideous culture and worse religion, is healed of this evil spirit.’ For a spirit is at work in her, not a disease; or better, a diseased spirit. The culture, the religion, are rightly regarded by Jesus as demonic. The woman must be exorcised, of culture, or religion. Then she stands upright, then with all her wit and will, she responds to God. Can you see her face at that moment?
The keepers of the status quo are of course outraged. If we know anything, we know why. The miraculous is of no account to them Religion is business. The rule is business as usual. Business is good.
But something deeper than tins is in question; the healing of——a woman. Her face alight with hope and joy, is an affront to their consecrated gloom, the atmosphere of a sanctuary which is a counting house.
Would they, have struck back with such irrational fury, had a man been healed under the same circumstances? One is allowed to doubt it. In any case, Jesus is at pains to note that he has liberated not a man, but a ‘daughter of Abraham’ This is her dignity. He refers to it, against all custom. A daughter of Abraham stands, upright; stands up, as we say, for her rights.
In the gospel, the title is unique, where macho ‘sons of Abraham’ abound. In the Jewish bible, the title is unthinkable.
But no commentator notes these things, as far as I can find.
There’s little doubt that when the gospels got written, people leaned quirkily, stormily, on charisms, resonances, right speech, a passion to serve, the ictus that went further than plod, wisdom and wisdom’s outreach. And not to forget in a spineless time, courage, raw as a wound. Jail experience and savvy, street smarts. The range of eye was wider then, the understanding more worldly, they had more

news to call good. Passion was in the air, firm claims, symbols pushed hard. It was faith erupting into history, not airlifted; the underground was surfacing, not lava.
That passion shaped us, But then we cooled. People once died for beliefs; killed others too. But we come swaddled in something called security; from cradle clothes to shroud. And who today dies for anything at all, anyone at all? we don’t die ‘for’; we die ‘of’; decline and fall. The martyr is now the patient.
I believe we were created for ecstasy. And redeemed for it, at considerable cost. Certain vagrant unrepeatable moments of life tell us this, if we will but listen. Such moments moreover, are clues to the whole native structure and texture of things; not merely are such glorious fits and starts meant to ‘keep us going’, a fairly unattractive idea; but ecstasy fuels and infuses us from the start, our proper distillation and energy of soul. One could dream the world, the poet says, and one could even dream the eye; but who can imagine the act of seeing? We will never have enough of this, we will never have done with it.
If tomorrow or the day after, women stood toe to heel, with men at the altars of the church, and in the pulpits—what then? Would we have the same old church? We would probably have the same old world. And that, in the old phrase, ought to give pause.
If all those destructive cuts and thrusts had disappeared in Christ, as Paul says they were meant to; if all those divisions and hatreds and put downs (a few of which Paul helped along, on the side)— if these disappeared tomorrow, and if this vanishing of the old disorder of things were made clear heyong doubt, were reflected in service, worship, office, dignity—why, what then? We would probably have the same old world.
Probably. But at le
ast one element of that world, which thinks of itself a~ drawn forth from that world, differing from that world, opposed to that world’s rule and conduct—at least that element, that yeast, that little flock, that tight knit unfearing witnessing knot of trouble makers—at least this would once have spoken and been heard, would be something to turn to. (Would, (take it or leave it), be something else than the fitful, selfish, death ridden world. And in this sense the world would no longer be the same. It would have lost all claim over us,

There is nothing more crushing in fact, and most revolting to the moral nostril, than a church which ignores the outcry of the disenfranchised. We’ve all suffered under it, our flesh torn asunder with the sense of nightmarish unreality, the wound in the very nature of things. Let the world act in such a way, let the megacorporations or the armed forces or the state departments act this way. It is the way of the world; dog eat dog, devil take the hindmost. But what shall we do, what is to become of us, when this mechanized macho spirit infests the church and turns on us, claw and tooth? We go hoarse, talking to statuary with chipped ears; we lose spirit, we give up. And we bring home bad news, too often for our own good; we begin to look as though it were true.

Those who are lucky (my own luck is good) find a few friends who help cut the knots, free up the soul. And try as best we may, to do good work ourselves; that news gets around.
I wish someone could draw us out of trivia, where many are trapped. I wish someone could draw us out of trauma. Sanity? We have a monstrous public scene, inhuman authority, the dance of death, people reduced to a quivering jelly. And then the trivial, much of it in the name of religion; the children’s hour at church, extended to 24 hours per day. Adults treated like children.

I wish someone could help us get sane, or stay sane.
I wish someone could cleanse and heal our eyesight, help us turn our wooden heads away from non questions, false questions, destructive questions. I mean the questions that a straight faced straight jacketed culture keeps pushing like crazy. Like, how many millions can we kill and still get away with it. Or, why not a bit more experimentation on prisoners. Or, let’s go back to capital punishment, that’ll show those muggers, crooks, killers once and for all. Or, let’s cut the welfare system, there are too many chiselers among the poor. Or, let’s sell the latest lethal toys to both sides of a dispute; that way, we get the buck and they get the bang. Or, let’s get massive abortion going, there’s not enough food and housing and jobs around for people (which is to say, for us, our bottomless bellies)—let alone for the unborn.

The question of alternatives today. People ask, with varying degrees of despair, where they might go. The question is all the more grievous, as voiced by people of stature, merit, intelligence; who love the church, long to give of their lives. And they witness the imbecility, connivance, wheeling, base politics, neglect of the poor, defamation of Christ’s spirit. Where to go, when in good conscience, one can hardly stay? Up till recently, it was publicly titillating, a story’, news, when one ‘left the church.’ Now the meaning of the phrase is clouded, the act brings yawns of ennui.
Part of the trouble is that so few who walked out, landed anywhere. Frying pan to fire, they left the church and the culture swallowed them whole. It seems better as a rule, to hang around where one was born, trying as best one may, to make it with a few friends, family, to do what one can in the common life; instead of launching out in the wilds, by and large more savage and unresponsive than the church.
Unless of course, there is manifest injustice, against one’s person, one’s convictions. In which case, one is advised to take chances, yell, loud and clear, and walk out yelling. (But have a landing pad as well as a launching pad!)
But the weight is in favor of hanging on, I think.
I’m struck that the women are battering at the church doors, just when everything in church and culture, is announcing an ‘end of things’. Not the end of the world maybe (though that could he argued too, soberly discussed as it is by the nuclear bandits.) But certainly the end of the culture as we know it, as we were born into it, and came to self understanding by resisting it...
Women have always washed corpses and prepared them for burial. Women are in charge of delivery rooms—in more ways than one. A metaphor for today? Women will make the death decent and birth possible.
Sunday at St. Stephen’s in Washington. This is one of very few parishes that took in street people during the cruel winter months, housed and fed them. They also welcomed the peace community from Jonah House, when they sought a place to pray and plan for Holy Week. So it was quite natural and moving and befitting that I be invited to preach; a homecoming.
The eucharist was conducted by women. And they invited me to serve communion, along with several others. Black, white, young, old; and women orchestrating, setting the tone, announcing with authority, reverence, verve, the Lord’s body and blood.

It was overwhelming. (Most worship today is crashingly underwhelming.) It was like a quiet expedition of a few friends, to the other side of the moon, from this clamorous and polluted side. Solvitur ambulando. The absurd sexist knot of the centuries, tightened by macho muscle and muddle, was cut.
And all so naturally. The children wandered quietly about, the folk prayed, talked up, sang, took communion. No one seemed to think of anything that moment, beyond the sublime faith and bread and death and hope that were on the air, was taking place. I wondered if a bigger stir would have gone through us, if Jesus had walked through the chancel door. I doubt it

How did all this come about, how did great changes get proposed, accepted, even rejoiced at! One could note the absence of hyperpsychologizing, expertise, sensitivity session, expensive gurus imported for hot and heavy breathing, shrinkings, touchy feely follies, inflations of spirit—all that plague of self indul- gence. No, the people met with their pastor, they prayed together, struggled, things were worked through. One notes something else. Liturgy here is no fetish or idol; the god is not fed on the hour, Enshrined, to deplete and suck off life energies. The same parish that welcomes women ministers, feeds and houses the homeless and hungry. The parish also blesses and helps those who prepare for non violence at the pentagon, in defense of life. The main business of the parish is not maintaining a nest, womb, space station, esthetic cave for the middle class. It is stewardship and service, up close, day after day, blow hot, blow cold. Such conduct I think, accords with, and confers sanity.

Thus what might be considered audacious, innovative elsewhere, is taken for granted here. I saw no boasters in the assembly; people had the look of those who work at their faith. And the media were absent. Two good signs.

On despair; it is utterly rational, it can offer 50 perfectly plausible reasons why it should be in everyone’s better home and garden. Beginning with this one; Made In America. Hope on the other hand, offers no reason for its existence, no come on, no commercial. It has no goals, no five years plans, no assurance it will be around tomorrow. IF is (like God) essentially useless. Hope will not ease life nor make money while you sleep; it is neither an energy pill nor a (non addictive) sleep inducer.
Despair is a cultural conclusion, deductive. Anyone can own one; time payments, easily arranged. Read the clock on the cover of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the stock market report, the rising index of food costs, the........
Hope is something else; a gift Paul calls it, a grace. Its highest expression is an irony; ‘hoping against hope.’ You take all the reasons for giving up, you admit their weight, you grant their crushing power, you wince and cry out—then you toss them off your back. And you go on.
I think of these things; Philip in jail once more, a six month sentence for the Holy Week blood pouring at the pentagon. This month is the tenth anniversary of Catonsville. He’s now served over four years in jail, speaking truth to power. Has the country changed, has anything changed! Have people struck out on a new path, are they giving a new example? The questions seem to me an invitation to despair. The proper answer is, things are worse than ever.

But that’s beside the point. The point of hope; which is, Philip has been faithful, so have our friends. So would I be. Hope on!

(Philip Berrigan was Dan Berrigan’s brother who predeceased him).