Friday, July 22, 2016

My Cousin Nessa's Smile Reflects God's Joy!

Today, I visited my cousin, Nessa, who lives in a group home in Anacotty, County Limerick, Ireland. We went to Castle Troy Park Hotel.

Nessa's smile reflects God's joy!

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community and Upper NY CTA Celebrate Mary Magdalene Liturgy in Troy, NY

Liturgy for the Feast of St. Mary of Magdala
Community Member: We your community bless you and thank you for leading us in prayer today.

Opening Song: Room at the Table

LEADER: The grace of Jesus, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
ALL: And also with you

LEADER: Let us welcome one another with a sign of peace.

Call to Prayer

LEADER: In every generation, like Mary of Magdala, women have and continue to faithfully and generously respond to the call to serve God and God’s holy people. They have been apostles and disciples, leaders, preachers, educators, counselors, musicians, artists, writers, comforters, pastoral ministers, chaplains and yes, priestly people offering their gifts to the Body of Christ.
Yet, our Church now suffers a poverty of spirit brought about by the exclusion of women from full participation in the life, ministry, and leadership of the church.

Today, we women and men, sisters and brothers, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers, godparents – members of the Body of Christ -- gather together as one family to pray for a Church, modeled on the inclusive practices of Jesus and Saint Paul, that is truly alive with the gifts, spirit and potential of all its members.

SIDE A: We gather in thanksgiving for and celebration of Mary of Magdala and countless other women who came before us – our foremothers in faith -- whose too often forgotten stories instruct and inspire us.

SIDE B: We gather in solidarity with the women of today whose demands for justice and inclusion call us to conversation.
ALL: We gather in hope for our daughters, the next generation, whose God-given possibility and potential compels us to work for a Church for Our Daughters.

Opening Prayer 

LEADER: Let us pray
Good and Loving God, Creator of women and men in your own image,
ALL: Create in us and in our Church a desire for the wholeness you planned;

LEADER: Word made flesh and born of a woman,
ALL: Empower us that we, like Mary of Magdala, may hear and proclaim Your redeeming truth

LEADER: Spirit companion of women throughout space and time,
ALL: Guide us as we work to build a Church for our daughters, AMEN.

Liturgy of the Word

First Reading:  A Reading by Christine Schenk in Catholic Women Speak
Contemporary biblical scholarship has uncovered important roles held by women in the early Jesus movement. Luke tells us that Mary of Magdala, Joanna, Susanna and many other women accompanied Jesus and ministered with him in Galilee. Yet this Lukan reading is rarely heard on Sunday. Mary of Magdala’s commissioning to “go and tell my brothers” that Jesus has risen does not appear on Easter or on any Sunday in the Easter Season in the United States but is relegated to Easter Tuesday.

St. Paul worked closely with women leaders like Phoebe, Junia, Lydia, and Prisca. Unfortunately, Romans 16, a passage that names ten women and identifies some of them as deacons, apostles, and coworkers, is never proclaimed on a Sunday. Nor are the accounts of women leaders in the Acts of the Apostles.

And where are the biblical stories of the strong women leaders of salvation history? Couldn’t we include the story of Shiprah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives who saved a nation of boy children, perhaps even Moses, by defying Pharaoh’s law to kill all male infants born to enslaved Hebrews?

Proclaiming Lectionary texts that exclude or distort the witness of women, particularly in a church where all priestly liturgical leadership is male, is dangerous for our daughters and our sons. Young girls can hardly avoid internalizing the notion that God must have created them less important than their brothers. If all-male liturgical leadership and Sunday Lectionary readings are subtly seeding subordination in our daughters, what is being planted in our sons?

These are the inspired words of Christine Schenk

All:  We receive them with open hearts and minds

Second Reading:  A reading from Vision and Viewpoint by Joan Chittister 

If I were pressed to say why I love him,” Montaigne wrote of his deceased friend Etienne de Boetie, “I feel my only reply could be, ‘Because it was he, because it was I.’” Friendship, real friendship, in other words, is the blurring of two souls into one where it was thought two had been. No price exacted. No interest paid.
Friendship is the linking of stories. It is a spiritual act, not a social one. It is the finding of the remainder of the self. It is knowing a person before you even meet them. I am not so sure, then, that we so much find a friend as it is that friendship, the deathless search of the soul for itself, finds us. Then the memory of Mary Magdalene becomes clear, becomes the bellwether of the real relationship.

Mary Magdalene is the woman whom scripture calls by name in a time when women were seldom named in public documents at all. She is, in fact, named fourteen times—more than any other woman in the New Testament except Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus, herself. She is clearly a very important, and apparently a very wealthy woman. Most of all, she understood who Jesus was long before anyone else did and she supported him in his wild, free ranging, revolutionary approach to life and state and synagogue. She was, it seems, the leader of a group of women who “supported Jesus out of their own resources.” And she never left his side for the rest of his life.

She was there at the beginning of the ministry. And she was there at the end. She was there when they were following him in cheering throngs. And she was there when they were taking his entire life, dashing it against the stone of synagogue and state, turning on him, jeering at him, shouting for his death, standing by while soldiers poked and prodded him to ignominy. She tended his grave and shouted his dying glory and clung to his soul. She knew him and she did not flinch from the knowing.

The Magdalene factor in friendship is the ability to know everything there is to know about a person, to celebrate their fortunes, to weather their straits, to chance their enemies, to accompany them in their pain and to be faithful to the end, whatever its glory, whatever its grief. The Magdalene factor is intimacy, that unshakeable immersion in the life of the other to the peak of ecstasy, to the depths of hell.

These are the inspired words of Joan Chittister
All:  We receive them with open hearts and minds

Shared Homily

STATEMENT OF FAITH; EUCHARISTIC PRAYER – Celebration of Women as leaders and

I believe in one God, a divine mystery
beyond all definition and rational understanding,
the heart of all that has ever existed,
that exists now, or that ever will exist.

I believe in Jesus, messenger of God's Word,
bringer of God's healing, heart of God's compassion,
bright star in the firmament of God's
prophets, mystics, and saints.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the life of God that is our innermost life,
the breath of God moving in our being,
the depth of God living in each of us.

I believe that I am called to be Jesus' twin,
allowing myself to be a vehicle of God's love,
a source of God's wisdom and truth,
and an instrument of God's peace in the world.

I believe that God's reign is here and now,
stretched out all around us for those
with eyes to see it, hearts to receive it,
and hands to make it happen,

I believe in the community of God seekers
in all the religions, as well as outside of them,
the great prophets, mystics, and saints,
and those just beginning their spiritual journey.

I believe in a future on this earth when all
will be God-centered and God-conscious,
when we will learn to live in love and peace,
in the fellowship of brothers and sisters.

I believe that in death, life is changed,
not taken away, and that we will go
from step to step in God's life, God's love.
and God's glory for all eternity. Amen


PRESIDER 1:  Mother, Sophia, Divine Spirit that lives with and through our lives, we bring these needs, thoughts, joys, and sorrows to the table of our human beingness and your wonder light:

Please share if you want, your thoughts and needs within our community…

PRESIDER 2:  In gratitude for your amazing love and care of each of us, in wonder for your attention to our needs, we thank you and know that you bend down to hear our prayers in holiness and love.



PRESIDER 1:  Our Eucharistic Prayer is shared by all. Please, if you feel comfortable, say it with us in communal harmony as we bring our very selves to this place of holiness that we help to create.

PRESIDER 2:  We lay our stoles on the table in preparation and presentation of our community spirit.  Together, as we represent our lives, we give of ourselves as our Holy Creator gives her very self to us…

Adapted from the liturgy by Bridget Mary Meehan

ALL:  It is right that we give you thanks and praise, loving God. You created this world, that you called good, and invited us to become its stewards. Even when we betrayed your trust, you chose to call us back to yourself, over and over again.

Your Word has been spoken throughout human history through those you called as prophets – especially Mary of Magdala and other women and men whom we would disregard, but whom you empowered with your passion for our salvation.

As we gather around this table, we once again recall your breaking into our world, for our redemption, and your calling forth unlikely prophets to reveal your truth.

In joyful thanksgiving for your constant, faithful love, we join our voices in an unending hymn of praise:

Holy, Holy, Holy by Karen Drucker 

You gave us Jesus, who walked among us, trying to teach us to see as you see, to love as you love, to be as you are. Jesus listened to the cries of the people, aching for freedom. He healed those bound by cruel disease.  

He answered those who were burdened with questions. He challenged those enslaved by the law to understand its true meaning. He fed those who hungered, and awakened deeper thirsts.

He gathered a community around him, women like his friend Mary, and other close friends with whom he shared all that God made known to him. It was with these dear to him that Jesus shared a friendship meal.

As we come together in memory of that meal, we pray that Your Spirit will come upon these gifts and upon us, that we may become the body and blood of Christ.

(pause as bread is lifted)

We remember how, on the night before he died, Jesus was at table with those he loved. He took bread and blessed you, God of all creation. He broke the bread shared it with his friends and said, "Take this, all of you and eat it. This is my body which will be given up for you."

(pause as wine is lifted)

Then he took the cup of blessing, spoke the grace, and offered them the wine:
“take and drink the covenant renewed in my blood, for you and for everyone, that all captivity may cease. When you do this you remember me.”


Gracious God, we celebrate this feast in memory of Jesus, our brother. We honor the memory of those who shared his earthly ministry, were last at the cross and first at the tomb, and became the first bearers of the Christian tradition. This tradition has been passed through the ages and is now entrusted to us. We treasure our faith in the new life birthed in us.

God Most Holy, keep us faithful to your Word alive in us. Help us to hear your voice calling each of us to discipleship and to service in your name. Strengthen us to follow your call, despite sanction, ridicule, and rules that may seem to limit the possibilities before us.

We will do the work of compassion and justice so that all women and men can approach each other as equals, living in the light of your constant care.

PRESIDER 2:  Let us join together as we make our prayer as Jesus did:

Gracious God, creating all around us;
Respectfully, we celebrate our mutual existence.
Beautiful green earth life happens here and everywhere.
Since we have everything we need right here, we can share with each other
And green earth life can be less painful and more healing.
For it is through us, with us, in us, in our unity, creating with you, Gracious God, today and always. 

ALL: Glory to God! As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

PRESIDER 2:  Let us offer each other a sign of the Peace that Jesus shares with us.

Loving God, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice. We will live justly. 
Loving God, You call us to be Your presence in the world. We will love tenderly
Loving God, You call us to speak truth to power. We will walk with integrity in your presence.


PRESIDER 1:  Let us share the deep reality of universal communion. Let us eat and drink deeply of Passover and self-giving love. Give glory to the living God whose covenant with us we have experienced in Jesus. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love.

ALL:  Jesus, you invite us to receive you and become you for others. We are the Body of Christ. May the Source of Life whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, be given glory through all generations. Amen

DISTRIBUTION OF BREAD AND WINE: You are the Body of Christ. You are the Blood of Christ.

Communion Song:  One Bread, One Body

Closing Prayer

LEADER: My friends, as we go forth into the world to help build a Church for our daughters, we reflect on the courage, faithfulness, and ministry of Mary of Magdala and call upon our good and loving God to bless us for the work ahead

LEADER: Mary of Magdala traveled with Jesus and the other disciples in a small community, learning about God’s new reign of justice and love.

ALL: God of Wisdom, lead us to that community of faith where we too can learn and grow.

LEADER: Mary and the other disciples persevered with Jesus, even when he was persecuted by his own religious leadership and government authorities.

ALL: God of Strength, help us stand in Jesus’ truth and healing love especially when we experience persecution for justice’s sake.

LEADER: Jesus sent Mary to proclaim the Good News to the Apostles even though they would not believe them.

ALL: Rabboni, teach us how to proclaim the miracle of your Risen love in a disbelieving world.

LEADER: Because of her witness, Mary of Magdala is known as the Apostle to the Apostles.

ALL: Help us, O God, to accept our apostolic call to go and tell our brothers and sisters of Jesus’ power to heal, even wounded structures which exclude.

LEADER: Today, women are called to discipleship and leadership in our Church and faith communities.

ALL: Healing Spirit, help our Church welcome the women leaders and ministers you send us today.

LEADER: That our daughters may know radical inclusion and justice, equality without qualification, and a Church institution that transforms oppression into love without bounds

ALL: Spirit of Transformation, guide us as we work to build a Church for our daughters.


LEADER: And may God bless us who is Source of all Being, Eternal Word, and Holy Spirit

Closing Song:  We are Called

Liturgy from Future Church, Bridget Mary Meehan and the Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community of Albany, NY

St. Mary of Magdala Two Inspirational Videos

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Compassion: Bringing Pain of Others Into Our Hearts, Full of Love, Full of God by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Compassion is bringing the pain of others into our hearts and loving each person in the heart of God. 

In the depths of our souls, we are full of God and full of love.

Gregory Boyle writes, "Be compassion as God is compassionate means dismantling barriers that exclude." (Tattoos in the Heart)

In our Roman Catholic Women Priests' Movement, there is a room at the table  of sacramental celebrations for everyone. Our hallmark is inclusivity.

Divine Power is everywhere.

Divine power is in each of us.

Divine power fills us full of God and full of love


Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

Christina Moreira Vázquez, ARCWP Woman Priest - Remembers Witness in Rome Italy

Rome, City of Stone
by Christina Moreira Vázquez

The first thing that overwhelms and astonishes someone who has never set foot in the Vatican – I already knew Rome but I had always refused to visit the manly Vatican State - is its stony, gray material and its elliptical design that provides a sense of grandeur for what, in the end, is nothing but a small plaza with supports, as they would say in my country.

My partner Janice Sevre-Duszynska and I arrived on an overwhelmingly hot Saturday, with lodgings and a mutual search through the streets of Trastevere to stop where we were dining. It is so important to see each other face to face in order to love and appreciate each other.  I had met her briefly in Pennsylvania at the ordination of the bishops.

Before I met her I had time to savor a Eucharist celebrated in Santa Maria in Trastevere, according to the rite of Saint John Chrysostom, a liturgy that I had studied at the faculty but had not ever heard sung. It sounded like a beautiful God who works his way in deeply, yet one who is at the same time distant and tremendous; one cooked up by a few men who understood those elaborate rites and who served up the result of their liturgical labors. I was only able to contribute my ears, an attentive heart and my sense of Mediterranean irony about how far my dear and beloved community was, the one where we can smell each other, see each other's eyes and share parts of our lives and even sometimes give each other the flu and the joy of a good snack ... although it is true that we do not sing so well.

During those Roman days, the feeling of time travel was always present, with questions about whether it was the classical, high medieval, late medieval period... maybe, but not much more. It was entering the Trastevere and feeling transported far away. At the same time, with open eyes, I would occasionally mumble: "Here and now I'm a priest and that will never change." Whenever I met with my partner Janice every morning in the garden of the inn for breakfast, the certainty was complete because one person may have hallucinations but not two of them. Perhaps that is why the Lord commanded his disciples to go in groups of two...

One day she came with a large envelope in her hand, it was a Tuesday, the eve of the jubilee of the priests, and said "Today we are going to the Vatican." In that pilgrimage we were both witnesses to the presence and light of the other, materialized, sweaty, not as well-groomed as we would have liked, or hungry, or jumping for joy. On that day we felt carried on the shoulders of a thousand generations of women of God who snuggled us; we were remembering their names as we walked through the courtyard of the building of the Curia. We did not miss the joke about the establishment of the firefighters, on the patio we were crossing: "If a single spark of the fire of the Spirit lights up, they will put it out, just in case," I joked. 

From eleven o'clock until 6:30 pm we were walking and looking, standing in line under a sun of justice, being checked, registered and guided, at times misguided as in a twisted treasure hunt... until, at last, to the office where we were received, with love and respect, -again I repeat to myself, "here and now, in the heart of what was and is the center of the Christian world, we are clergywomen and we occupy these seats in peace."  I will always remember that trio who understood each other in Spanish and English. I have in mind Janice’s testimony, her plea for our cause that is not ours but that of the motherly Ruah, her evoking of many friends’ names and faces before the Monsignor, always attentive and responsive, Janice reeled them off like a litany, I was struck by your face, Janice, my companion, full of love and hope, I will never forget it. The great Lady Magdalene was also coming up. A few days later her celebration would be officially proclaimed as a feast day and no longer as a memory, one more saint in pantheon. We will never know if our visit had any influence on this, what matters is our joy that it happened.

While Janice was providing her details in the role designed to facilitate the task of Francis if he decided to call us, and I expected my turn to provide mine, I spoke with our host. In our common mother tongue I told him how I felt about receiving such a big punishment only for wanting to serve the Lord and his people; among other things, I said "that cannot be punished just because we are women."

The next day, at the Jubilee Mass of the priests in St. Peter's Square, during communion I remembered and gave thanks. They knew we were there; Janice and I had our albs on, purple scarves that were gifts of the WOW women to alleviate the confiscation of our stoles by police just before entering. They knew who we were and they gave us communion. This data will be recorded in history and will not also be deleted. I said to the television that from that moment I considered my latent excommunication to be eliminated, and that of all my companions. I felt a complete reconciliation, also in the spiritual dimension.

I also felt the length and difficulty of the path that lies ahead of us. When my daughter asks me from Spain if all goes well I say "they just took away our stoles" and she says "Mom, it is not as if they were guns!" This is how it is; the men of stone understand stoles as instruments of power, that is why they cannot allow us to use them, and they are angry because in our ordinations we can be seen with the stole over the chasuble. Someone recently told me "that's not right." True, it is not liturgical but is it liturgical to usurp the power and place of the Lord when He is the one who celebrates and calls us? Is it lawful? These and more questions give an idea of ​​everything we need to dust, clean, polish, renew and perhaps discard. What does not work to serve, simply does not work.

At Mass, while I concelebrated strictly following the brochure and joining in prayer with the people present, from the last chair near ours, to the top of all the scaffolding, and also with those people who were absent, both alive and dead, I felt in communion despite it all. I am aware, sisters, that we have come a long way and we are light years ahead of all the institutional trappings anchored in the stone of its massive gray and sad columns; but I feel able even of loving that church, as one loves a grandmother of years and memories, who loses her marbles and gives you the dessert fork to eat the soup. You smile and you get up to find the spoon. These people are neither worse nor better than we are. 

I did not attend the Mass as an activist without further ado, my intention was to act from the heart and from my faith, so I did and, I confess, I felt homesick and wanted to be received as a daughter and sister because there we would fill everything with flowers, we would remove the barriers and the guards, we would figure out how to plant trees so that people could be in the shade and even lie on the grass for snacks and to talk. We would find a way for people to participate and make their voices heard in the celebrations. We would organize right there, where our martyrs gave their lives, some talks and discussion groups, social gatherings and circles always open on issues of life and faith, social and political, with coffee and rolls and water available and also daycare and catechesis for the children. You would hear upbeat music and NOBODY, EVER AGAIN, would be excluded. And you know what? If not there it will happen elsewhere; it is happening and they are missing it all. 

The Kindom has already approached us and it has come to stay.

Thank you sisters for your support, for your prayers and your confidence, for having facilitated in so many ways these moments and this story; we have all been in Rome, I attest to that. Thank you also to the sisters and brothers in heaven whom we have called upon and who have responded.

Thank you, Janice, my teacher, may your light continue to shine, I have not finished learning all you have to teach but give me time. It was a fully shared sisterhood. A treasure.

Thank you Divine Mother, because at no time did your care and encouragement fail us. Thank you because you love us and that alone is true.

Christina Moreira Vázquez, ARCWP woman priest

A Coruña, Galicia, July 14, 2016