Saturday, September 10, 2016

Ana Maria Bidegain Presents Her Book on Catholic Women in Latin America to Pope Francis

"Women Deacons, Set in Stone" by Michael Peppard, Commonweal

..." the evidence for women deacons is on the literal rocks themselves, carved in marble or limestone, on chancel screens or tombstones.
Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek’s admirable book catalogs 65 inscriptions, as of its publication date in 2005. The vast majority of these come from eastern Christian communities (Greece, Asia Minor, the Holy Land, Syria, etc.), while only a few come from Rome, Gaul, or North Africa. Yet the geographical breadth of the findspots (from modern-day France all the way to Syria) suggests that the diaconate of women was, while concentrated in the Christian East, not merely a regional peculiarity.
A compelling example is the stone pictured above, found by workers at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem on December 8, 1903. Probably dating from the fourth century, the Greek translates as “Here lies the slave and bride of Christ, Sophia, the deacon, the second Phoebe, who fell asleep in peace on March 21st during the 11th indiction…” The inscription’s subsequent lines are broken or missing, which is especially unfortunate because line 8 likely names a presbyter (pres-) that may have helped us to date and situate the artifact.
Inscriptions can be ambiguous in their meaning, of course, just like texts transmitted through tradition can be. But the prevalence of such inscriptions nonetheless matters for several reasons. First, the ancient materiality of the objects necessitates a kind of distance from present-day motives. A critic of the contemporary push for women deacons cannot both champion fidelity to Christian historical tradition and cavalierly dismiss these clear realia of Christian lives. Second, inscriptions were the primary public texts of the ancient Mediterranean world. They communicated values and priorities of communities. The prevalence of these inscriptions demonstrates that women’s ordained leadership was not secretive or embarrassing. To the contrary, and this may be the most important point, many of the inscriptions display reverence for the female deacon named therein—after all, giving honor was the primary function of inscriptions.
Occasionally an inscription can even help us to advance our knowledge about a crucial argument. For example, the oldest use of the word “deacon” for a Christian woman comes in Romans 16:1, when Paul commends Phoebe, a diakonos of the church of Cenchreae (near Corinth). Scholars debate whether this was an “office” or merely a word for servant, with both sides marshalling evidence to make a case.
But from out of the ground, the Mount of Olives inscription also offers a comment on this debate, telling us that in the Holy Land of the fourth century—certainly a significant time and place for the Christian tradition—a real deacon named Sophia was acclaimed precisely by connection to her predecessor Phoebe. For the Christians who commissioned this public monument, the honorable status of women as deacons was set in stone."

Mindy Lou Simmons Sings "I Wish You Peace, " Prayer in Remembrance of 9/11 , Wounded Warriors, MMOJ Liturgy

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy on 15th Anniversary of Sept 11, 2001 , Co-Presiders Katy Zatsick ARXWP and Elena Garcia ARCWP , Music Minister Mindy Lou Simmons

Katy Zatsick ARCWP co-presides at Liturgy

Elena Garcia ARCWP co-presides at liturgy
Mindy Lou Simmons leads song 
Liturgy for Peace and Healing Sept 10, 2016

Co Presiders:
Elena Garcia and Katy Zatsick ARCWP
Mindy Simmons Music Minister, Russ Banner Cantor
Opening Song #648 “This is my Song” 1-3 (please sing God instead of Lord)
All: In the name of God our creator, Jesus our Living Word, and the Spirit who heals us and calls us to create and build peace. Amen. 
Opening Prayer. All: O God, we thank you for your Word that guides us and lights our way to you. We praise you for our own ability to speak, to communicate with one another, to establish understanding and to make peace. Help us never to abuse this precious gift. Give our words the power to comfort, heal, guide, and to tell the Good News of Jesus, sounding a song of creative love throughout the world. We ask this through the same Jesus Christ our Brother, your word and message of salvation to us all now, and forever. Amen.
All sing: Glory to God, glory. O praise God, alleluia. Glory to God, glory. O praise the name of our God. (x3) 
1st reading Katy Zatsick June 6 2005
I was in denial that Jason would participate fully in this war. The San Francisco Chronicle embedded a reporter with his platoon and on June 5, reported that Jason’s men had fired on and destroyed a pick-up and all persons inside. I wrote the following:

A Poem of Sorrow
A mother waits
A messenger comes to her door
The sun stops in its course across the sky
And plunges her world into night.
Sorrow so deep
Her wail so strong
It broke my heart
Here in Chicago this day.

Joined together forever are we
One son gave an order
One son died
We are one in our tears.
I am sorry our cultures say, “War is the answer.”
I am sorry my son says, “Fire”

I hold your son in my arms
And pray for your healing
And may the world be reconciled
To know that we are one.

On October 15, 2005 while on patrol, Jason lost his eye and arm to a road side bomb. He was flown to WRAMC where he spent a year healing from his injuries. I spent 8 months living at Walter Reed holding my son and praying for his healing. While there I ministered to wounded military members, their family members, and Walter Reed staff. This too is an inspired word. All: Thanks be to God

Response: Psalm verses (adapted from Nan Merrill “Psalms for Praying an invitation to Wholeness.”)
All: You bless us and raise up new hope; you awaken our hearts to love
Men: Let the nations turn from war, and encouraging one another as good neighbors. O Blessed and Compassionate Friend, melt our hearts of stone, break through the fears that lead us into darkness, and Guide our steps toward the way of peace. (psalm 51)
All: You bless us and raise up new hope; you awaken our hearts to love
Women: Leaders of the nations and all peoples, young and old, give praise! Unite together in all your diversity, that peace and harmony might flourish on earth! For all are called to be friends, companions to the true Friend, giving their lives joyfully as co-creators and people of peace!. (psalm 148)
All: You bless us and raise up new hope; you awaken our hearts to love
Men: Surely new life is at hand for those who reverence Love; O, that harmony might dwell among the nations. Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will embrace one another. Wisdom will spring up from the ground and truth will look down from the sky. (psalm 85)
All: You bless us and raise up new hope; you awaken our hearts to love
Women: Divine Love brings peace to the heart, peace that is beyond our knowledge. Divine Love cuts through the ignorance that fosters greed and arrogance, humbling and breaking open the heart...May everyone awaken to Divine Love, that peace and integrity and assurance may be born again in every land. (psalm 147)
All: You bless us and raise up new hope; you awaken our hearts to love
All: Yes, the Eternal Giver will grant what is good, and the lands will yield abundantly. Mercy and compassion are Love's way; You will guide our footsteps onto the path of peace as we recognize with open hearts that You are our Peace. (psalm 85)
All: You bless us and raise up new hope; you awaken our hearts to love
2nd reading: from Pope Francis (Angelus address, Sept 1 2013)
Today, dear sisters and brothers, I wish to add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! The inspired voice of Pope Francis. All: Thanks be to God.
Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 25: 34-40
The ruler will say to those on the right. “Come, you blessed of my Abba God! Inherit the kindom prepared for you from the creation of the world! For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me; naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you comforted me; in prison and you came to visit me.” Then the just will ask, “When did we see you hungry and feed you, or see you thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you as a stranger and invite you in, or clothe you in your nakedness? When did we see you ill or in prison and come to visit you?” The truth is, every time you did this for the least of my sisters or brothers, you did it for me.” The Good news of Jesus our Brother. All: Blessed be our God.
Shared Homily
Henri Nouwen asks these questions for the end of our day “Did I offer Peace today?”
Did I bring a smile to someone's face? Did I say a word of healing? Did I let go of any anger or resentment? Did I forgive a hurt? Did I love? These are the real questions.”
Profession of Faith
We believe in our God of Evolution who is Nurturer of all and in whom we live and have our being. We believe in God who is our Creator, Sustainer, and Receiver of all that exists. We believe in Jesus our Cosmic Christ who is our Love, our Hope and our Light. We believe in the Holy Spirit the breath of Wisdom Sophia, who energizes and guides us to build caring communities to minister for healing, peace and justice in our families, neighborhoods and the world. We believe that God loves each of us and all of us unconditionally and forgives us everything. We believe in the Communion of Saints our heavenly friends who support us on life's journey. We believe that all Peoples and all of Creation are One in the Heart of God. Amen.
Presider: Mindful of God’s unconditional love for all creation and desiring peace for us, we bring the needs of the people to our merciful God.
Response: All: God of Mercy and Compassion, hear our prayer.
Presider: Healing God, we ask you to strengthen us in our care for one another. We ask you to support us in our works for justice and equality so that we may be healed in order to promote a culture of peace without violence. We make our prayer in the name of Jesus our Prince of Peace and your Spirit Sofia our Wisdom and courage. All: Amen 
Offertory Song: Chant by all We let the Love wash over us, repeat: we let...we let...we let...
Preparation of the Gifts:
Co-Presider: Blessed are you, God of all creation, through your goodness we have this bread to offer which earth has given and human hands have made.  This bread is our faith community seeking reconciliation with all. May we individually and as a community live your vision of peace and healing for all the Peoples of earth. This will become for us the bread of life.
All:  Blessed be God forever.
Co-Presider: Blessed are you, God of all creation.  Through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. This drink is our desire to be your Compassion for all our brothers and sisters and your earth. This wine will become our spiritual drink.
All:  Blessed be God forever.
Co-presider: My sisters and brothers let us pray together that our gifts may be acceptable to God our Creator and Love.
All:  May God accept these gifts from our hands, for the praise and glory of God's name, for God's compassion within and through us for all the Peoples of the earth. Amen.
 Eucharistic Prayer.
Co-Presider: We are gathered around the table for our community meal for peace and healing.
(The prayers are adapted from Diarmud O Murchu Eucharistic Prayer for Healing).
All Sing: We are holy holy holy (x3) We are whole. You are holy… I am holy… We are holy
First Invocation of the Spirit to come upon us:
All: We ask you to awaken anew in our hearts the empowering grace of your abundant Spirit, who infuses these gifts of bread and wine with the transforming energy of life, to nourish and sustain us in our time of need for healing and peace.
Invoking the memory of our Christian tradition:(Please extend your hand for the consecration)
That same bread, Jesus takes and breaks to restore the unity of our broken world. Jesus blesses you, God of healing and hope, then, along with the cup, Jesus shares the bread with those at table and we here now saying: Take this all of you, eat and drink:This is my body which will be given up for you.
Then offering the cup of libation, poured out for the liberation of all, Jesus gave thanks and shares the cup in a spirit of mutual solidarity saying: Take this all of you and drink from it; This is the cup of my life-blood, the life of the new and everlasting covenant. In prophetic solidarity, it is poured out for you and for all. Sustain one another in the power of sacred memory.
Eucharistic Acclamation of life within our Loving God
All: In faith and hope we are sustained, in grace our dignity reclaimed, In praise we thank our God.
Presider: As we are gathered around this Eucharistic table, we recall God’s blessing and love from ages past, and we celebrate anew the gift of life which we share among us at this Eucharistic feast for peace and healing for our communities, for families, and all Peoples throughout the world.
Second Invocation of the Spirit to come upon us:
All: May Sofia Spirit of life and wholeness, who transforms the gifts we present, transform us, too, that we may be refreshed in our inner being and be empowered to bring mercy, peace and healing to those whose lives we touch.

Voice: The bread we break and the cup we share are symbols of our world of abundance where all are invited to partake of the fullness of life. But that life we often impede by our greed and selfishness, and by our exploitation of other people and their lands. 

Voice: So grant, that in union with all peoples, living and dead, we may strive to create a world where suffering and pain are diminished, where justice and peace are restored, and where all people can live in health and wholeness, united in acclaiming the God of life, whose abundance is offered to each and to all, ‘til the Kindom arrives in the fullness of time.
All: Remember, gracious God, your Church throughout the world. Make us open to receive all believers. In union with all people, may we strive to create a world where suffering is diminished, and where all people can live in health and wholeness.
Doxology: (lifting up the bread and wine)
All: This prayer we make in the name of our God of healing and reconciliation, through, with and in whom we offer these gifts, sources of life, love and mercy, now and forever.  All: Amen (sing) 
Prayer of Jesus (Sing “Our Father and Mother”)
All: This is Jesus who liberates, heals and transforms us and our world. All are invited to partake of this banquet of love. We are the Body of Christ.
All Sing: Holy gifts for holy people; come, you hungry, and believe. Come and take Christ’s body offered, come and be what you receive. (Repeat x2)
When passing the bread and wine. “You are the body of Christ” “You are the Blood of Christ”
Communion: Instrumental music Mindy
Prayer of Thanksgiving (Didache, Instruction, 100CE)
Men: For the thanksgiving, give thanks this way: First, for the cup: We thank you, Abba God, for the sacred vine of David your son, whose meaning you made clear to us through our brother Jesus, yours ever be the splendor.
Women: And for the bread fragment: We thank you, Abba God, for the life and wisdom whose meaning you made clear to us through Jesus, yours ever be the splendor.
All: As this fragment was scattered high on hills, but by gathering was united into one, so let your people from earth’s ends be united into your single reign, for yours are splendor and might through Jesus Christ down the ages. 
Prayers of Thanksgiving. Introductions. Announcements. 
Closing Blessings hand extended in blessing:   All: May you go forth recognizing that you are “Gospel itself, the joyful good news” of love, healing and peace. As you go forth from this sacred space, may you reach out and touch those you meet, always with the purpose of enhancing life and awakening within them the spark of the Divine. Amen
Presiders: Go in the peace of Christ, let us share Peace and healing with all! All: Thanks be to God. Alleluia!
Closing Song “I Wish You Peace” by Mindy Simmons
Chorus All:
And I wish you Peace, and I wish you well
Peace to the World, Peace for ourselves
And I wish you Love, And I wish you friends
1st x (peace and Amen) until we meet again
2nd x (Shalom to you) until we meet again
3rd x (Namaste) Until we meet again.
Remembering Sept 11, 2001
MMOJ Sept 10, 2016
Homily Starter
The Jesuits taught us that reflection includes starting from one's own experience, reading the teachings of the RCC, and reading the scriptures understanding all in the context of one's culture and events. This reflection is the intersection of these resources. As I began to prepare for this liturgy 15 years out from September 11 2001, I found that we have a new source as a reference for our reflection on the meaning of 9/11. It is Ilia Delio's “The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution and the Power of Love” Some of us studied the book together at MMOJ.
Using Delio's work, my words are a beginning theological reflection on “what is the meaning of 9/11 and its aftermath” for us today. The moral and ethical challenge is to hold all those involved in this War on Terror in the love of God arising from the knowledge of Evolutionary processes and our Christian faith.
Delio describing evolution: The foundation of things is not so much a ground of being sustaining its existence from beneath as it is a power of attraction toward what lies ahead. (pg 18 italics author's emphasis). Teilhard's insights on love as the core energy of evolution provide a new basis to understand cosmic nature. “If being is intrinsically relational, then nothing exists independently or autonomously. ...Since being is existence towards another, being is relational and exists for the sake of giving. I do not exist in order that I may possess; rather I exist in order that I may give of myself, for it is in giving that I am myself. Cosmic life is intrinsically communal.” (pg 45)
From Delio “Bohm's theory includes this important emphasis “...being is intrinsically relational and exists as unbroken wholeness in a system...Each part is connected with every other part at the quantum level. Thus, the whole is the basic reality; primacy belongs to the whole.” (pg 28) Thus, we are not individuals, nor individual nations or any other separate distinction, we are One. (Pat sent our a site discussing the findings the genetic is teaching us about our Oneness.)
After 9/11 America entered Endless War. Estimates say 203 million* people died in the 20th century because of war*. Is ongoing destruction of humanity and needed resources to sustain life the goal of evolutionary processes for humanity; for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters across the world? Delio “...(our) creaturely agency plays a role in evolution. We are more than our genes; we are our relationships” (pg 34.) Delio: “If wholeness is at the heart of life, then behavior itself will ultimately depend on love if a species is to survive.” (pg 54)
In the first reading, I experienced the Oneness of being with the mother of those who died in the pickup truck. She and her son will be a part of me as close as I am to my own son Jason. I do not know how many times in the 10 months Jason was in Iraq he gave the order to Fire but I am bound in relationship with all the Iraqi families and with each military member who served or is serving in the military now. As each of us is within the family of humanity-we are One.
From Delio Evolution unveils a depth of integrated wholeness that is open to more unity, centricity, and consciousness” continuing “Evolution, ... is a cosmic birthing process toward personal unity by which the whole is gathered together in love. (pg128) . We see this clearly in our second reading, Pope Francis in his homily speaks with the voice of Love our Oneness. “...from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! He decries war “Never war again” “We want a peaceful world” Pope Francis is conscious of and pulled by the direction and goal of human evolution with Jesus the Christ as our Alpha and Omega.
Let us now look at our Gospel  from Delio, “For Teilhard, love is a passionate force at the heart of the Big Bang universe, the fire that breathes life into matter and unifies elements center to center; love is deeply embedded in the cosmos, a “cosmological force” (Pg 43)
...essential condition of God's capacity to be the personal summit of a universe that is in process of personalization; love generated as evolutionary Word expressed in Spirit-energy reaches its summation in Jesus Christ, in whom we see the direction of evolution.” (pg 125)
Although the evolutionary nature of personhood is complex, we can say that divine love comes to explicit consciousness in a way that belongs entirely and originally to the person, Jesus of Nazareth. Divine love explodes in the person of Jesus in an explicit way so that he is recognized as the Christ, the cosmic Person, the paradigm(or archetype-Katy) of relationality.” (Pg 122 italics author's emphasis)
Jesus is our Christian model of God living in the world. We are called to come to consciousness to awaken in our souls that each of us is a beloved child of God, Energy of Love for evolution. Delio says this IS “The Unbearable Wholeness of Being” Our actions count, every thought, feeling, decision counts if we are to consciously participate in human evolution to our Omega-to be Christ in the world.
In our Gospel Jesus clearly outlines the Way, our Path of human evolution.
What is the Path of human evolution?
When I was hungry...
When I was thirsty
When I was a stranger..
When I was naked..
When I was in poverty...
When I cried out for peace...
When I suffered from war...
And Jesus closes his description of the Way of human evolution with “The truth is, every time you did this for the least of my sisters of brothers, you did it for me.”
I close with our challenge to follow Jesus and to evolve human consciousness; from Delio “Faith in Christ should move us to be loving and free,to create new wholes, and in doing so, to create a new future for the human person, for society, and for the whole earthly community.” (pg 131)

Namaste,” the God in me, greets the God in you. Together we are One.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Inclusive Language Welcomes All as Spiritual Equals ; Bible and Christian Tradition Affirm Feminine Face of God by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community, Sarasota, Florida
Our community in Sarasota, Florida, Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community uses inclusive language so that all feel welcome and included in a community of equals. Each of us is created in the divine image so we employ both masculine and feminine metaphors to describe Divine Presence.

God is love. Each person is the beloved of God so in our language we use words and metaphors that embrace a fuller and richer understanding of the Holy One in our midst. We know that God is not two guys in the sky and a bird!  God is pure spirit, not a male being.   Yet, in our Catholic worship and hymns, we often refer to God as exclusively male.  

While God is beyond all names and images,  every image we use is limited including father and mother. The Aramaic word that Jesus used, often translated as “Abba,” or “Daddy,” can also be translated as “Birther of Life.”

We try to avoid use of dominator or militaristic/war terms that reflect oppression of one group or by one person – including God – such as King, Master, and Lord.

Since women and men are created in the Divine image, we can use words and images from women’s experiences to express God’s compassion, love, and justice.  In the Bible and Christian tradition, there are female images of God. We utilize these metaphors in our liturgies.

Biblical metaphors including mother, midwife, womb of God, mother hen, baker woman, washer woman describe divine activity and help us experience the mystery of God in deeper ways as well as reflect the beauty, power and strength of the feminine face in God and in ourselves.  For example, saints like Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Julian of Norwich, and Hildegard of Bingen wrote about the Wisdom of God as our Mother.

 Inclusive language fosters justice and aids in the  transformation of patriarchal structures that that have oppressed, and discriminated against women for centuries. The steady diet of exclusive masculine images for God and (for people) in the institutional Roman Catholic Church's liturgies contributes to a theology that views women as inferior. Official teaching claims that a priest must bear a physical resemblance to Christ.  Therefore women are excluded from  ordained ministry and decision making by the Vatican. 

In the Jewish tradition, the Spirit of God was described by the feminine image, “Shekinah,” which means “dwelling.”   Shekinah designates God’s presence dwelling among the people and is spoken in a number of texts.   (Exodus 25:8, 29:45-46).   The Shekinah, God’s powerful feminine presence, appears in light, cloud, and fire, accompanying the Israelites as they journeyed through the wilderness.  

The Greek word for Wisdom is “Sophia.”   The books of Proverbs and Wisdom in the Biblr personify the feminine aspect of God as a woman.   The Bible describes Wisdom as female portraying her as a mother, sister, female lover, hostess, preacher, a woman of strength, knowledge and justice.   She is part of the ongoing creative process.   “She deploys her strength from one end of the earth to the other, ordering all things for good.”  (Wisdom 8:1) (Proverbs 4:1,2,5,6).

According to a number of New Testament texts, Jesus is Sophia, the Wisdom of God.   In Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus speaks words similar to Sophia.   Paul speaks of Jesus as the Christ, then identifies Christ with Sophia.  

“We are preaching a crucified Christ who is the wisdom (Sophia) of God.” (1Cor. 24-25).   The description of Logos in John is similar to the description of Sophia in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Sister Sandra Schneiders, a theologian, reminds us that “Christ is not exclusively the glorified Jesus, but the glorified Jesus animating his body which is the Church.   Christ said to Paul, ‘Why do you persecute me?’ (Acts 9:40) because the literal fact is that the Christ is composed of all the baptized.

This meant that Christ, in contrast to Jesus, is not male or, more exactly, not exclusively male.   Christ is accurately portrayed as black, old, Gentile, female, Asian or Polish.   Christ is inclusively all the baptized.”   (Schneiders, Women of the Word, chapter 2, p.54)

In a community that welcomes all as spiritual equals and promotes justice, our language reflects our belief and experience that each of us is the beloved of God and a reflection of the face of God in our world.  While no image or metaphor can  adequately express Divine Mystery, a variety of images for the Holy One will present a fuller and deeper reflection of the face of God in all. As Catholics committed to gender justice and equality in our church and world, it is imperative that we contemplate the feminine face of God and celebrate it in our inclusive liturgies. 

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP
www.bridgetmarysblogspot (http://w.bridgetmarysblogspot)
author of Delighting in the Feminine Divine, Heart Talks with Mother God and Exploring the feminine Face of God.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Celebrating Mary's Birthday, Happy Memories of Pilgrimages and Religious Life by Bridget Mary Meehan SFCC, ARCWP

St. Anne and Mary Statue in Trinity Chapel in Adare, County limerick, Ireland
In  the Holy Year in 1975 my parents, Jack and Bridie and I visited Lourdes and the Marian shrine in Knock, County Mayo. My mother kept small fonts  filled with holy water near the doors in our home. On more than one occasion, she would remind us to bless ourselves!   
I remember one time a skeptical customs' officer in Boston asked Mom about the contents of the clear liquid in the small bottles. Smiling, Mom proudly announced "holy water,' ready to open it up and bless him! Mom also brought back sods of turf from the bog and Irish sausages and rashers. Luckily, these treasures were not examined or confiscated.

I loved visiting shrines. So did Mom. We rented a car which Dad drove. We toured all over Ireland visited family,  and stopped at Knock for prayer and to stock up on our holy water supply.

  As I prayed in these sacred places, I was inspired and deeply touched by the depth of people's faith, especially the ones with disabilities and their compassionate care givers who accompanied them. As we walked around and prayed, we were part of hundreds, sometimes thousands of pilgrims who were also praying. It felt like a tonic for the soul that was healing and renewing.

In his book, When Mary Becomes Cosmic, David Rocho describes Mary's healing power as present in all of us: "to say that Mary is the Health of the Sick is to say that we all contain the energy of the feminine archetype of healing. Sickness is not limited to the narrow literal meaning of physical illness. It means deficiency of any kind-  our disabilities in loving, in talents, in vision are meant to be directions to our destiny of giving. We look at our deficiencies and feel compassion for others like us. We design an apostolate of works of mercy that are aimed at the people who are suffering as we are. if we are sick, we help the sick. f we are ignorant, we help the ignorant. If we are in an oppressed minority, we join our fellows in raising consciousness of equality for all." (When Mary Becomes Cosmic, p.114.)

Today the Roman Catholic Church  commemorate Mary's birthday. This brings back wonderful memories of my convent days as an IHM. The  IHM's, Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, celebrate all the Marian feast days and so do I. 

Many religious orders schedule entrance day for new postulants on September 8th, but our "band"/class entered on Sept 15th because the new Immaculate Heart of Mary Mother House in Immaculata, PA. was not finished. So, 90 of us bid our family goodbye at the College across the street and walked over a wooden plank on Sept. 15th (to avoid the mud from rain and construction work in the front of the building) the feast of the Sorrows of Mary.  

I was 18 years old, when I passed through the convent door and into a whole new world. Feeling both sad, saying goodbye to my family, and excited about what lay ahead in learning the ropes of how to be a good nun, I am so grateful  now for  my 15 years in the IHM Order. I learned a lot about the spiritual life from these wise women. Later this month some of the members of my IHM band will gather to celebrate our 50th anniversary. What a joy it will be to see these women and to catch up on our lives and recall so  many memories! 

In 1995, I made a transition to the Sisters for Christian Community (SFCC)a new paradigm of religious life. Our  vision is "that all may be one" as Jesus prayed in the Gospels. Our aim is to be  leaven of Christian community wherever we are, united  with the people of God in our diverse ministries. SFCC is not under Vatican jurisdiction so I am affirmed as a Roman Catholic Woman Priest. Several of my sisters , including my soul sister, Regina Madonna Oliver, attended my ordination and several of our SFCCs are Roman Catholic Women Priests. 

We are blessed companions on the journey in a community of equals to bring about a more loving, compassionate, just and inclusive church.

Bridget Mary Meehan SFCC, ARCWP