Friday, October 28, 2016

Divine Energy flows through us and moves in us and in creation

"The energy in the universe is not in the planets, or in  the protons  or neutrons, but in the relationship between them.  Not in the particles, but in the space between them. Not in  the cells of organism but in  the way the cells feed and give feedback to one another. Not in any precise definition of the three persons of the Trinity as much as in the relationship between the Three. 
This is where all the power for infinite renewal is at work:
The loving relationship between them.
The infinite love between them.
The dance itself.
In  other words, it is an entirely relational universe. "
 Richard Rohr in The Divine Dance, p. 56.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

"Prayer and Compassion " by Henri Nouwen

Wedding of Rick Sapp and Nancy Fitzgerald in 2015
Both were seriously ill when they married and are now in God's eternal embrace

"Many people tend to associate prayer with separation from others, but real prayer brings us closer to our fellow human beings. Prayer is the first and indispensable discipline of compassion precisely because prayer is also the first expression of human solidarity. Why is this so? Because the Spirit who prays in us is the Spirit by whom all human beings are brought together in unity and community…. In the intimacy of prayer, God is revealed to us as the One who loves all the members of the human family just as personally and uniquely as God loves us. Therefore, a growing intimacy with God deepens our sense of responsibility for others."

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Vatican issues guidelines on cremation, says no to scattering ashes: Bridget Mary Meehan's Response: We need a more pastoral, spiritual, and contemporary theological approach!

Many Catholics have decided that cremation is their preferred option. These ecclesiastical regulations are an ill-advised attempt to control what or how loved ones keep, scatter or dispose of their own or loved one's remains. As Cardinal Mueller is aware, the practice of divvying up saints bodies was a popular church practice in the Middle Ages, and relics have been valued by the church for centuries! Now Catholics are forbidden to  share loved one's ashes in  different places. 

It doesn't make sense to me.

In the spiritual realm, my understanding of the Catholic belief in the resurrection of the body is not  that we will get our earthly bodies back, but that we will live forever as a new glorified transformed being/body/consciousness that is beyond our human understanding.

So,  why does where our ashes are, matter?

And why do we need to keep our remains or our loved ones in a Catholic cemetery? Why not in the ocean or scattered where we want or on our mantle if that gives our family comfort?  When we  pass over into eternity, we are still ourselves, but we do not take our earthly body with us. Do we think this is in the too hard box for God or what?

Perhaps, we can gain insight from people who have had near death experiences. In a high percentage of instances, they report a profound and loving experience of being outside their earthly bodies and being embraced by a divine presence that loves them beyond anything they have ever imagined or hoped.  ( See study of Near Death Experience Foundation, p. 1-29 in God and the Afterlife by Jeffrey Long, M.D.)

More than ever, in our church today, we need a profound conversation on our belief in resurrection and the afterlife that fills our hearts with wisdom, hope, joy and comfort. The insights of contemporary theology and the new cosmology are another major source of enlightenment.

In addition, it seem to me that these new  Vatican rules on cremation are a waste of time because they are not pastoral or sensitive to people who are grieving a loved one's loss. The question we should ask ourselves is what is the most loving thing to do in my situation.

Moreover these regulations appear to be a futile effort to promote burial in Catholic cemeteries which cost too much for many and have nothing to do with fostering faith in infinite love and divine presence with us in life, death and beyond.

The bottom line is like the ban on birth control, Catholics will follow their consciences on this issue and ignore these ridiculous regulations. 

This proverbial horse has left the barn long ago! We need a more spiritual, pastoral and contemporary theological approach!

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

Vatican orders an end to scattering of ashes: Pope says remains must be kept in a 'sacred' place and not stored at home, divvied up or spread out 

  • Vatican sets out rules for Catholics wanting to be cremated upon death
  • Guidelines say ashes must be kept in a sacred place and cannot be spread
  • Also add that remains must not be kept at relatives' homes or divvied up 
  • Catholic Church say burial still remains the preferred option for faithful 

Vatican guidelines, which have been approved by Pope Francis, say Catholics who want to be cremated cannot have their ashes scattered or kept at homeĀ 
Vatican guidelines, which have been approved by Pope Francis, say Catholics who want to be cremated cannot have their ashes scattered or kept at home The Vatican has set out guidelines for Catholics who want to be cremated and say their ashes cannot be scattered, divvied up or kept at home.
For most of its 2,000-year history, the Church has only permitted burial, arguing that it best expresses the Christian hope in resurrection.
In 1963, the Vatican said cremation would be allowed as long as it didn't suggest a denial of faith about resurrection, although the rules were unclear.
But now new instructions, approved by Pope Francis, have been released in time for 'All Souls Day' on November 2, when the faithful are supposed to pray and remember the dead.
The document, from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, repeats that burial remains preferred, with officials calling cremation a 'brutal destruction' of the body.
But it lays out guidelines for conserving ashes for the increasing numbers of Catholics who choose cremation for economic, ecological or other reasons.
It said it was doing so to counter what it called 'new ideas contrary to the church's faith' that had emerged since 1963, including New Age-y ideas that death is a 'fusion' with Mother Nature and the universe, or the 'definitive liberation' from the prison of the body.
To set the faithful straight, the Vatican said ashes and bone fragments cannot be kept at home, since that would deprive the Christian community as a whole of remembering the dead.
Rather, church authorities should designate a sacred place, such as a cemetery or church area, to hold them.
Only in extraordinary cases can a bishop allow ashes to be kept at home, it said.
Vatican officials declined to say what circumstances would qualify, but presumably countries where Catholics are a persecuted minority and where Catholic churches and cemeteries have been ransacked would qualify.
The document said remains cannot be divided among family members or put in lockets or other mementos.
Nor can the ashes be scattered in the air, land or sea since doing so would give the appearance of 'pantheism, naturalism or nihilism,' the guidelines said.
The document, from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, repeats that burial remains preferred, with officials calling cremation a 'brutal destruction' of the body
It repeated church teaching that Catholics who choose to be cremated for reasons contrary to the Christian faith must be denied a Christian funeral.
The new instructions carry an August 15 date and say Pope Francis approved them on March 18.
The author of the text, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, was asked at a Vatican briefing if Francis had any reservations about the text, particularly the refusal to let family members keep remains of their loved ones at home.
He said: 'The dead body isn't the private property of relatives, but rather a son of God who is part of the people of God. We have to get over this individualistic thinking.'
While the new instruction insists that remains be kept together, Vatican officials said they are not about to go gather up the various body parts of saints that are scattered in churches around the world.
The practice of divvying up saints' bodies for veneration - a hand here, a thigh bone there - was a fad centuries ago but is no longer in favor.
'Going to all the countries that have a hand of someone would start a war among the faithful,' reasoned Monsignor Angel Rodriguez Luno, a Vatican theological adviser. 

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God as" Outpouring love" as we celebrate our oneness in the Divine Dance

"The God whom Jesus talks about, and includes himself in, is presented as unhindered dialogue, a totally positive and inclusive flow in one direction, and a waterwheel of outpouring love that never stops." Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance, p .43.
Bridget Mary's Response:
Our deepest reality is that we are embraced every moment of our life with God's boundless love and this energy enlivens us as we celebrate our oneness with all creation in everything we say and do. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

Spiritual Reflection by Olga Lucia Alvarez ARCWP

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 31st Sunday of OT, Oct. 30, Beverly Bingle RCWP

Luke's story about Zaccheus has some lessons for us today.
One lesson is what not to do—
not to cheat people,
not to take more than my fair share,
not to grow wealthy at the expense of the poor.
Another lesson is what to do—
admit that I've been wrong,
change my ways,
and make up for the bad things I've done.
And then there's the lesson that undergirds all the rest:
love my neighbor.
Zacchaeus is neighbor to each of us.
And we look down on him.
He's a tax collector—
the IRS, ready to pounce on us
if we leave anything off our tax return,
hitting us with dunning letters and fines.
He's wealthy—
a government job, making money for himself
by taking it away from people like us.
Even more, he's shorter than we are.
Really short.
The average Semite man at the time of Jesus,
archaeologists tell us,
was 5'1” and weighed about 110 pounds.
So if Jesus was of average height,
the top of his head would come to about where my nose is.
And Zacchaeus was really short.
He had to climb a tree to be able to see Jesus walking by.
But Jesus looks up to him, up in that sycamore tree.
Jesus lives the truth of that first reading.
He knows that God loves all that lives,
that God's “imperishable breath fills every one of them”...
including Zacchaeus.
So he ignores the derision of the crowd
and shows Zacchaeus great respect
by accepting his hospitality.
We pick up those lessons of inclusion and exclusion early in life.
There's family, and there's not family.
There's friend and there's acquaintance.
There's neighbor, and there's stranger.
There's us... and there's them.
As we grow, we learn reasons for including some people
and excluding others.
Back in the '50s, when I was in grade school,
I learned the kid version of exclusion.
If you were good-looking,
you made fun of the kids who looked ordinary.
If you had nice clothes from Joseph's,
you didn't make friends with the kids
who wore out-of-date styles from the thrift shop.
If you were athletic, you'd never choose the kids who weren't
to be on your side for recess games.
If you had money to buy lunch in the cafeteria,
you'd never sit with the kids who had to pack their lunch.
But I also learned lessons of inclusion.
I remember the Hungarian Revolution of 1956,
when a dozen new students came to St. Ann's School,
displaced from their home country,
couldn't speak English, and wore odd clothes.
Some kids just stared at them.
But some of the kids smiled at them
and helped them learn the strange Fremont ways,
just as they had chosen friends
from both rich and poor, black and white,
no matter how they dressed
or where they lived
or what they ate for lunch.
By the time high school rolled around,
we had for the most part learned to gather with our own kind.
Without consciously thinking about it,
we began to separate ourselves
by neighborhood, religion, race, class, and gender.
We learned that befriending a classmate
who was different in any way
would put us out on the fringes along with them.
If we wanted to be part of the in-group,
we went along with the crowd.
The patterns are set early,
and all of us have a bias of some sort,
an unexamined assumption about others
that needs to be challenged.
Over the years we all have had to work hard
to overcome the prejudices of our society.
Our Catholic Social Teaching tradition,
as our Bishops describe it,
is clear that our faith calls us
to welcome the stranger among us,
to find unity in diversity.
They tell us that we are to “welcome the newcomers
in our neighborhoods and schools,
in our places of work and worship,
with heartfelt hospitality, openness, and eagerness
both to help and to learn from
our brothers and sisters
of whatever religion, ethnicity, or background.”
The need for welcoming the stranger
is overwhelming in today's world.
Every minute of every day last year, 24 people were displaced.
At the end of 2015 the total of forcibly displaced people worldwide
reached 65.3 million—one out of every 113 people on Earth
[according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees],
more than any time since record-keeping began.
If those displaced millions were spread evenly around the world,
there would be 2,498 Toledoans forced to leave their homes.
Thank God we don't suffer war or persecution here.
We don't suffer daily bombings of our cities and hospitals.
We are are privileged with the freedom to speak our opinions,
practice our religion, and vote as we choose.
Here at Holy Spirit we welcome the stranger.
Everyone who walks in the door is welcome…
welcome to come in,
welcome to celebrate with us,
welcome at the table.
As a community we work
on racial justice with the Toledo Community Coalition
and Dialogue-to-Change,
on refugee resettlement with UStogether,
on religious tolerance with the MultiFaith Council,
on homelessness with Beach House
and Tent City and 1Matters.
Today's scriptures encourage us to keep on keeping on…
to keep on loving
every one of our neighbors
on this planet.

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 43608-200

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pope Francis is out to change the church Pat Perriello | Oct. 24, 2016, National Catholic Reporter

"...For me, one of the big problems with Catholicism is it is often more interested in being Catholic than it is in being Christian. When an issue arises, clergy and laity look first to church teaching, church rules, and practices rather than looking to the Gospels for direction. Sometimes it seems we almost forget that we are called to follow Jesus and not rules derived by theologians. Our theology builds on centuries of church tradition which is a positive, but sometimes we fail to see how each generation can take us farther and farther away from the core of the Christian message."

Fresh Demand for End of Celibacy Rule as Ordinations Fall in Germany

Anti-Nuke Roman Catholic Priest Witness for Justice
Anti-nuke priest still is spreading the word — and red paint

"God and the Afterlife" by Jeffrey Long, An Inspiring Read on Family Vacation

"God in near death experiences is often described as profoundly loving...."

"I felt the presence of  pure love. This is very hard to describe... "

"Everything makes sense. God exists. God is love, we are love and love creates all that is..."

"There are no stepchildren in the family of God.... God loves us all infinitely..."

"I was surrounded by God's unconditional love, which was so much greater than human love...
No human can ever love with that love. It is all-consuming, all forgiving. Nothing matches it. It is like the day you looked into the eyes of your child for the first time magnified a million times.
It is indescribable..."
"The entire encounter was about God, the ultimate power of God and God's forgiveness. The message was 'Love is the greatest power in the universe.'"... p. 50.

Family Vacation
This year I celebrated two major milestone anniversaries: my 50th reunion with my band (class) who entered the Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary - Philadelphia branch and the 50th anniversary of my graduation from Bishop Dennis J. O'Connell High School in Arlington Virginia. 

I am having a wonderful visit with my family in the Northern Virginia area and a delightful vacation at the Outer Banks in North Carolina with my brother, Patrick and sister-in-law, Valerie and their two energetic dogs, Skippy and Rocky. See photos of family and vacation below. 

God and the Afterlife is one of the inspiring books I am reading on vacation which I highly recommend!

I believe with all my heart that as St. Augustine once said, "God loves each of us as if there are only one of us."

Patrick, my brother, on porch in Duck, North Carolin

Brothers Patrick and Sean at breakfast at City Diner in Falls Church  (left to right)
Nancy, my sister-in-law, next to me, Sean and Patrick at City Diner in Falls Church , VA. before trip to North Carolina

Patrick and Valerie with dogs Skippy and Rocky on  beach at Duck, North Carolina
Skippy and Rocky (left to right) running on the beach

Duck, North Carolina

Monday, October 24, 2016

Global Sisters Report on Migrants at Mexico Border

Prayer for Leadership this Election Season by Sister Joan Chittister

Prayer for leadership this election season

Give us, O Holy One, leaders whose hearts are large enough to match the breath of our souls, and give us souls strong enough to follow leaders of vision and wisdom. In seeking a leader, let us seek more than development for ourselves - though development we hope for – more than security for our own land – though security we need – more than satisfaction for our own wants – though many things we desire.

Give us the hearts to choose the leader who will work with other leaders to bring safety to the whole world. Give us a government that provides for the advancement of this country without taking resources from others to achieve it.

Give us insight enough ourselves to choose leaders who can tell strength from powers, growth from greed, leadership from dominance, and real greatness from the trappings of grandiosity.

We trust you, O Holy One, to open our hearts to learn from those to whom you speak in different tongues and to respect the life and words of those to whom you entrusted the good of others of this planet.

We beg you, O Holy One, give us the vision as a people to know where global leadership truly lies, to pursue it diligently, to require it to protect human rights for everyone, everywhere.

We ask these things with minds open to your word and hearts that trust in your eternal care.


Joan Chittister, OSB

Homily by Christina Moreira ARCWP

"Charting a New Course, Changing the Conversation", My Response on Vision of Ordained Ministry for Future

"The American family is changing. In the United States, today, there are nearly 13.6 million single parents raising over 21 million children. Single fathers are far less common than single mothers, constituting 16% of single-parent families. The number of American adults who have never been married is now at an historic high. Two-parent households are on the decline. Divorce, remarriage, and cohabitation are on the rise. So, what is our appropriate response? We can shake our heads or we can be supportive of people living in changing times. It is a called ministry and outreach. Healthy social movements and positive social evolution are launched and maintained by compassion, support, and collaboration.

Christianity is there to pick people up not push them down and ignore their plight. The historic Jesus understood this. He did not condemn the woman at the well, the woman about to be stoned to death, nor the good Samaritan...

Another important element in changing our conversation must be inter-religious dialogue. As we chart a new course, we need to start building bridges with Islam. In our churches, we can and should have Muslim/Christian discussion groups and adult education programs. Why not have an adult ed. presentation on "Understanding the Qur'an: Islam's Holy Book." 

Projections about our world, over the next four decades, suggest that while Christianity will remain the largest religion, Islam will probably grow faster than any other major religion. By 2050, the number of Muslims in our world will nearly equal the number of Christians. Muslims are not Christians, but they are sons and daughters of the same God; and they are indeed our brothers and sisters in the Abrahamic tradition. It is time we get to know and respect each other. It is not enough simply to change our conversation about them. We need to change our conversation with them. 

The Millennials, young adults born after 1980, are the new generation to watch. They have already surpassed Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) as the largest U.S. generation. In many ways, they differ significantly from their elders. They are the most racially diverse generation in American history: 43% of Millennial adults are non-white, the highest share of any generation. They are much less interested in institutional religion and very supportive of LGBT issues and same-sex marriage.  

A colleague suggested recently that we need to do a "better job of educating the Millennials." I am all for good education, and my friend may have a point. Charting a new course and changing the conversation, however, means first that WE must start LISTENING to the Millennials. We need to hear and learn from them about their life realities, their experience of church, their hopes, their frustrations, and expectations for tomorrow. 

I am not a misogynist. I do want to see women exercising every type of ordained ministry. I suggest however that we need to change our conversation about "women deacons" and "women priests." Changing the conversation means that we consider the more basic questions about the meaning of ordained ministry. How should we understand Christian ministry today? What is the specific nature of ordained ministry today? What should it be? What structures and institutional roles and behaviors are appropriate for contemporary Christians? What is a proper - appropriately Christian - understanding of power and authority in the church? Is it not possible that the "ordained" have more than once misunderstood and misused their "power and authority"? I suggest that in many ways we need to chart a new course for ordained ministry. A new course will necessarily involve new parochial and ministerial structures. I can imagine for example that a parish could have a ministry supervisor (pastor) who would not necessarily have to be ordained. Within the parish there could be a great number of ordained ministers (women, men, married, single, gay and straight): ministering in schools, hospitals, youth groups, neighborhood and home visitations, college campuses, etc. ..."

Bridget Mary: I agree that this may be the church of the future! Roman Catholic Women Priests are building a bridge to a more inclusive, empowered, egalitarian church that honors the gifts of the people of God and calls everyone to minister according to their gifts in service of the faith community. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

Colombian Women Say Yes to Peace

Britain's First Female Bishop on Why She's Leading the Charge Against Negative Body Image

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Upper Room Celebrates the Divine Dance

The Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community in Albany, NY celebrated its final gathering in Troy before moving next week to a new location in Albany. The theme for today's liturgy was "Come, Dance With the Divine!"

Bridget Ball Shaw and Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP, led the liturgical celebration. Mary Theresa provided the following homily starter based on the readings below.

"Our first reading is a beautiful interpretation of Psalm 34 written by Nan Merrill in Psalms for Praying. We are more familiar with verse 8 of the traditional text that reads: Taste and see that the Holy One is good.

I find myself drawn to Merrill’s interpretations of the psalms because she uses the word beloved for the Holy One. Beloved is a tender, intimate word. When I think of the word beloved, I call to mind all those who tenderly touched my life – and the experiences with them that transformed my soul. In this beautiful psalm, I can picture the young David with his harp, singing a song to the Holy One, who he experiences as tenderly touching his life and transforming his soul. He is in communion with the Beloved.

In the second reading, William Paul Young writes the passage as part of an introduction to Richard Rohr’s new book, The Divine Dance. Like David, Young is expressing his experience with the Holy One. And I thought, what would this look like if Young had written it as a psalm to the Beloved?
So here is a Psalm to the Holy One based on the inspired words of William Paul Young:

O my Beloved, in the deep places of our souls,
you have invited us to a great celebration.
You raise a toast to us, and we can scarcely believe it.
You reach out your hand and
Lead us in the Divine Dance.
You whisper in our ears
that we were always made for this.
Your tender kiss awakens our sleeping hearts to life.
O my Beloved, you made us for this
And we are found in your relentless affection.

This is communion. What do you think?"

First Reading: Psalm 34 as interpreted by Nan Merrill

I will bless the Beloved at all times;
a song of praise will I sing.
My soul speaks to the Beloved continually;
let all who suffer hear and be glad.
O, open your hearts, friends,
that your pain and loneliness
be turned to love;
and then, we shall rejoice in the Beloved together!

When I searched for Love, the Beloved
answered within my heart,
and all my fears flew away.
Look to the Beloved, and your emptiness
will be filled,
your face will radiate love.
For when you weep, the Beloved hears
and comes to companion you;
your burdens are eased by love.

The Beloved sends angels when you
call upon these messengers
for guidance and light,
for their gracious inspiration,
One with love, you are never alone!

Happy are all who dwell in the
Beloved's heart!
Abandon yourself into Love's hands,
O you holy ones,
for those who give themselves
to the Beloved,
lack no good thing.

Everyone separated from Love is empty
and hungry within;
but those who open their hearts to
the Beloved,
are filled to overflowing!

Oh come and see, come and hear,
how we honor the Beloved.
Many there are who desire Life,
who yearn for fulfillment,
who covet the wisdom of Truth.
Keep your heart open and free,
take time to dwell in the Silence,
become a peaceful presence in the world.

For the Beloved sees the deeds
of our hearts, and
hears our innermost thoughts.
The Beloved is kind and merciful and
remembers not our transgressions.

The second reading is from the forward to Richard Rohr’s book, The Divine Dance

There is a rising rumble, like a midnight train approaching through the wastelands. Not only do we hear it from the distance, but we can feel it if we put our hands on the ground or in the water or in the torn bread and poured out wine. The rumor in the deep places of our souls is that there is a party going on, and we can scarce trust our invitation. Could there ever be a toast raised to us? Might a hand reach out and lead us into the divine dance, whispering in our ears that we were always made for this? And so we wait for the kiss, the breath in and out that awakens our sleeping hearts to life. We were made for this, utterly found within Relentless Affection!

These are the inspired words of William Paul Young