Saturday, November 26, 2016

"The Myth About Marriage by Gary Wills

"Why do some people who would recognize gay civil unions oppose gay marriage? Certain religious groups want to deny gays the sacredeness of what they take to be a sacrament. But marriage is no sacrament.
Some of my fellow Catholics even think that “true marriage” was instituted by Christ. It wasn’t. Marriage is prescribed in Eden by YHWH (Yahweh) at Genesis 2.24: man and wife shall “become one flesh.” When Jesus is asked about marriage, he simply quotes that passage from Genesis (Mark 10.8). He nowhere claims to be laying a new foundation for a “Christian marriage” to replace the Yahwist institution.
Some try to make the wedding at Cana (John 1.1-11) somehow sacramental because Jesus worked his first miracle there. But that was clearly a Jewish wedding, like any other Jesus might have attended, and the miracle, by its superabundance of wine, is meant to show the disciples that the Messianic time has come. The great Johannine scholar Father Raymond Brown emphasizes this, and concludes of the passage: “Neither the external nor the internal evidence for a symbolic reference to matrimony is strong. The wedding is only the backdrop and occasion for the story, and the joining of the man and woman does not have any direct role in the narrative.”

The early church had no specific rite for marriage. This was left up to the secular authorities of the Roman Empire, since marriage is a legal concern for the legitimacy of heirs. When the Empire became Christian under Constantine, Christian emperors continued the imperial control of marriage, as the Code of Justinian makes clear. When the Empire faltered in the West, church courts took up the role of legal adjudicator of valid marriages. But there was still no special religious meaning to the institution. As the best scholar of sacramental history, Joseph Martos, puts it: “Before the eleventh century there was no such thing as a Christian wedding ceremony in the Latin church, and throughout the Middle Ages there was no single church ritual for solemnizing marriage between Christians.”

Only in the twelfth century was a claim made for some supernatural favor (grace) bestowed on marriage as a sacrament. By the next century marriage had been added to the biblically sacred number of seven sacraments. Since Thomas Aquinas 
argued that the spouses’ consent is the efficient cause of marriage and the seal of intercourse was the final cause, it is hard to see what a priest’s blessing could add to the reality of the bond. And bad effects followed. This sacralizing of the natural reality led to a demoting of Yahwist marriage, the only kind Jesus recognized, as inferior to “true marriage” in a church.
In the 1930s, my parents had a civil marriage, but my Catholic mother did not think she was truly married if not by a priest. My non-Catholic father went along with a church wedding (but in the sacristy, not the sanctuary) by promising to raise his children as Catholic. My mother thought she had received the sacrament, but had she? Since mutual consent is the essence of marriage, one would think that the sacrament would have to be bestowed on both partners; but my non-Catholic father could not receive the sacrament. Later, when my father left and married another, my mother was told she could not remarry because she was still married to my father in the “true marriage.” When he returned to my mother, and became a Catholic, a priest performed again the sacramental marriage. Since my father’s intervening marriage was “outside the church,” it did not count. What nonsense.
Those who do not want to let gay partners have the sacredness of sacramental marriage are relying on a Scholastic fiction of the thirteenth century to play with people’s lives, as the church has done ever since the time of Aquinas. The myth of the sacrament should not let people deprive gays of the right to natural marriage, whether blessed by Yahweh or not. They surely do not need—since no one does—the blessing of Saint Thomas."

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community 1st Sunday in Advent November 26, 2016 Co-presiders: Lee Breyer and Kathryn Shea, ARCWP Music Ministry: Linda Lee Miska Cantor: Russ Banner

MMOJ Community Celebrates First Sunday of Advent with Co-Presiders  Kathryn Shea ARCWP mand
Lee Breyer
ALL:  Advent Prayer:  by Jay Murnane (See back page)
Gathering Song:  Sing Out Earth and Skies #556.  vs.  1,3, 5
Opening Prayer. Presider:  Nurturing God, you became human in Jesus and showed us how to live life fully. You know what it means to laugh and cry, to walk and talk, to love and be loved. We know that your mothering presence is always with us. May we, like Mary, rejoice as we give birth to God within us, and in everything we say and do.  ALL:  Amen.

ALL: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth.  O loving God, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.  O Jesus Christ, holy Child of our loving God; You fill us with joy in your presence. You who are with our God, receive our prayer.  For you alone are the Holy One; you alone are Messiah.  You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ; with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God.  Amen.

Liturgy of the Word
First Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122. Responsorial.  ALL: How I rejoiced when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of our God.”
Second Reading:  Romans 13:11-14
Gospel Acclamation (ALL: Sing): Celtic Alleluia!
Gospel Proclamation: Matthew 24:37-44
Response. ALL: Glory and praise to you,       Jesus the Christ!

Kathryn Shea

Poem for South African Women
Commemoration of the 40,000 women and children who,
August 9, 1956, presented themselves in bodily protest against
the “dompass” in the capital of apartheid. Presented at The
United Nations, August 9, 1978.
Our own shadows disappear as the feet of thousands
by the tens of thousands pound the fallow land
into new dust that
rising like a marvelous pollen will be
even as the first woman whispering
imagination to the trees around her made
for righteous fruit
from such deliberate defense of life
as no other still
will claim inferior to any other safety
in the world
The whispers too they
intimate to the inmost ear of every spirit
now aroused they
carousing in ferocious affirmation
of all peaceable and loving amplitude
sound a certainly unbounded heat
from a baptismal smoke where yes
there will be fire
And the babies cease alarm as mothers
raising arms
and heart high as the stars so far unseen
nevertheless hurl into the universe
a moving force
irreversible as light years
traveling to the open
And who will join this standing up
and the ones who stood without sweet company
will sing and sing
back into the mountains and
if necessary
even under the sea
we are the ones we have been waiting for
from Passion (1980)
and from Directed by Desire. The Collected Poems of June Jordan.Copyright 2005 by the June M. Jordan Literary Estate Trust

So, when I think about our readings today, for me they remind me of God’s vision for our world; “the kindom that will come.”  But who is to bring us this kindom on Earth?  I believe it is us.  As Sally said several weeks ago, Jesus doesn’t’ need to come again.  He came already to show us how to live and bring God’s kindom to our world.  Jesus is here, alive in us, every moment of every day.  For me, it’s about standing up to injustice and inequality, taking responsibility for bringing the kindom.  It’s about staying alert, being vigilant, and wearing the armor of light.  We surly are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Let’s take a moment to quiet ourselves and meditate on our readings.  And then, share how the readings speak to you.

Dialogue Homily

Profession of Faith. ALL: We believe in God who is creator and nurturer of all. We believe in Jesus, the 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 and to challenge injustices.  We believe in the communion of saints, our heavenly friends who support us on life’s journey.  We believe in the partnership and equality of women and men in our church,our society and our world.  We believe that we are all one in the community of creation. We believe that God  calls us to live fully, love tenderly, and serve generously.  Amen.

Community Petitions.
Presider: For a deeper coming of Christ in our world, we pray.
OUR Response: Nurturing God, hear us.
Presider: May we experience the coming of God anew in our lives, we pray. R.  Presider: May people who suffer from destitution & despair experience the mothering comfort of God, we pray.  R.
Presider: May the sick and suffering receive the nurturing, healing love of God, we pray. R.
Presider: May those who have died rest in God’s eternal embrace, we pray.  R.
Presider: What other Intentions do we have?

Offertory Song: You Come, You Come, Emmanuel (words on last page.  Tune of “O Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel)

Presider: Blessed are you, God of all life, through your goodness we have bread, wine,  and our own lives to offer. Through this sacred meal, may we become your new creation.
ALL:  Blessed be God forever.

Presider: God is with you. ALL: And also with you. Presider: Lift up your hearts.  ALL:  We lift them up to God.  Presider:  Let us give thanks to our God.

Eucharistic Prayers.
Voice: Mothering God, you brought forth all creation from your life-giving womb. O Love of the ages, we praise you and leap for joy in your presence.

Voice: Holy One of ancient Israel, you revealed yourself in Mary’s womb, in a shining star, in humble shepherds, in a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. You embrace us with infinite love in our every situation and relationship. You dwell in the depths of our hearts.

Voice: We ask you this day to deepen our awareness of your boundless love as we gather around this table of abundant life. With grateful hearts, we proclaim your praise:

ALL: Holy, Holy, Holy, Creator of heaven and earth.  All beings are pregnant with your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed are you who dwell in all things. Hosanna in the Highest.

Voice: Praise to you, all-giving God, born of Mary. You are the body and blood of woman. We glorify you, nurturing God for the dawning
of the sacred promise of God’s Anointed, fulfilled in Jesus, the Christ.

Voice: We celebrate the birth of Jesus, our newborn Emmanuel, who came to give us the fullness of life. During this holy season we share the bread of freedom and lift up the cup of salvation.

All (with arm extended to invoke the Spirit):  Come Holy Spirit, deepen our awareness of your Presence within us and in these gifts of bread and wine. May they may become the body and blood of Christ.
Presider: As Jesus gave birth to the new covenant, he took bread, gave thanks, broke the bread, and shared it with those present saying: ALL: Take this all of you and eat it. This is my body.
Presider: Then Jesus took a cup of wine, blessed  it, and shared the cup with those present saying: ALL: Take this all of you and drink from the covenant, poured out for you and for everyone. This is my blood. Do this in memory of me.
Presider:  Let us proclaim the sacred presence of our nurturing God in all we say and do.
ALL: Christ, by your life, death and rising, you have blessed us with abundance that will never end.

Second Invocation of the Spirit: All (with hand on next person’s shoulder): God of all people, you call us “beloved.” Give us the courage to accept your faith in us and to live your compassion in the world. You infuse us with Sophia, Holy Wisdom, to serve you in the last and the least.

Voice: As we wait with joyful hearts for the fulfillment of your loving presence in our lives, we remember the prophet, martyrs and saints who have gone before us: Deborah, Isaiah, Mary of Magdala, Peter, Martha, Bishop Oscar Romero, Ita Ford, Maura Clark, Jean Donovan and all those we honor as heroes and heroines in our church and society who inspire us today. (Community names those they would like to… living or dead.)

Voice: God of our dreams, may we give birth to the Word made flesh in us everyday. May we give birth to the church of our dreams and hopes. May we give birth to a deep reverence for our earth and live in harmony with all of your creation.

ALL: Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, all praise and glory are yours, Holy God, through the power of the Spirit.  Amen.

Our God’s prayer  ALL: Our Father and Mother….

Sign of Peace. Presider:   Let us join hands and hearts and pray for peace in our world as we sing “Let there be peace on earth”

Litany for the breaking of the bread.  ALL:   Loving God, you call us to speak truth to power. We will do so. Loving God, you call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice.  We will do so. Loving God, you call us to be your presence in the world. We will do so.

Presider: This is Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, loving us forever. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love.  ALL: May we be who we are, the Body of Christ.
Presider:  Let us share the Body of Christ with the Body of Christ!   ALL:  Amen.
During Communion Song:  instrumental

After Communion Meditation Song: ALL:
Christ Circle Round Us. #54.  vs. 1, 4,& 6

Prayer after Communion. Presider:  God of new beginnings, thank you for nourishing us in your sacrament. May your tender presence continue to open our hearts to the daily miracles of life that surround us each day, through Emmanuel, God-with-us.
ALL: Amen.


Closing Blessing. ALL (with arm extended in prayer):  May our loving God fill us with radiant joy.  May our liberating God fill us with deep peace, and may our loving God bless us always with strength to serve those who are marginalized in church and society, the poor and the broken.  Amen.

Presider: Let us birth Christ anew in our world today. Go in the peace of Christ.
ALL:   Thanks be to God.

Closing Song: ALL Let Your Light Shine In Us.  Kathy Sherman.  (words on last page)


Advent Prayer
by Jay Murnane (Jay, who is now deceased, was the spouse of Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP and a priest in the Diocese of Albany.)
Living One, you are continually creating the universe,
continually giving birth to all of us.
We sense the need to do the same,
to set ourselves free from a sense of emptiness and barren hopelessness.
The signs of our times are frightening
and often we hear only the confusing sounds of Babel –
all the lies and the anguished cries
of a wounded earth and its wounded creatures.
Your wisdom invites us to draw on our tradition,
as old as the stars,
shining through Sarah and Abraham,
shining through your prophets in every age and every culture,,
shining through
Miriam of Nazareth.
If we can blend that enlightening, enlivening tradition
with what we are,
we can risk fidelity to a dream:
Filled with your spirit, we can give birth in our day
to your living word,
for the sake of hope
enfleshed in
creativity and confrontation,
healing and reconciliation,
universal and unconditional love.
Let it be!

You Come, You Come, Emmanuel
You come, you come, Emmanuel,
You gather all who stumbled and fell.
You share your life, you share your love;
Your dawn breaks forth in wondrous light above.
Rejoice, rejoice, O people of the earth!
In God’s great love we comprehend our worth!
You come, with grace, O Source of Light,
You teach us to find courage in the night.
Your way is justice, mercy and peace,
Your wisdom is the path to true release. Refrain.
Let your Light Shine in Us – Kathy Sherman
Let your light shine in us. (3x)   and we will be light for the world.
Let your light shine in us. (3x)   and we will be light for the world.
We will be one and the kin-dom will come.
Let your heart beat in us.  (3x)   And we will be love for the world.
We will be one and the kin-dom will come.
Let your joy sing in us. (3x)    And we will be hope for the world.
We will be one and the kin-dom will come.
Let your peace live in us. (3x)    And we will be one for the world
We will be one and the kin-dom will come.
Let your light shine in us (3x)     and we will be light for the world.
Let your light shine in us. (3x)    and we will be light for the world.
We will be one and the kin-dom will come.

Supper at Panera's

Will the Catholic church ever earn women’s forgiveness? Joanna Moorhead, The Guardian

Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican
 ‘Popes tend to be old men, and Francis is 80 next month, so even if he does want to implement great change, time is against him.’ Photograph: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters

It’s a measure of how out of step the leaders of the Catholic church are that what was perceived as an “act of mercy” this week came across, to many, as a reassertion of its hard lines on social issues.
When Pope Francis decided to enshrine, universally, that women who have had an abortion can seek forgiveness from a priest (instead of needing to confess to a bishop), there was an outcry from many people in the west who were outraged that abortion is perceived as sinful, never mind that the church deigns to allow women to seek forgiveness for it.
There’s more than a morsel of irony in the fact that the church is declaring itself willing to forgive women, given how much women – now and historically – have to forgive cardinals, bishops and priests for: deep-seated sexism, a failure to include women properly in Catholicism’s power structures, and an inability to properly represent women or their concerns and viewpoint at almost any Vatican event. In addition, of course, there are the even graver sins of widespread child abuse by men in positions of power and authority to consider.

But although Rome is still a pretty depressing place for a feminist Catholic, this latest papal edict is a sign that, ham-fisted though Francis may often be when it comes to women (he once received an admonishment from Angela Merkel after describing Europe as “a grandmother”, “haggard” and “no longer fertile”), he is nonetheless taking baby steps in the right direction.
What Francis is prepared to recognise, publicly, is something Catholic leaders have always been candid about behind the scenes, but determinedly unwilling to voice in public: that life is messy; people often have to grapple with a “least worst” option; perfection is not a typical human trait. The true colours of human experience are not black and white, they’re every shade of grey – and to give him his due, Francis is prepared to stand out from the popes of the past, by standing up for the grey in the world.
The subtext of what he’s saying is: abortion happens, and as a church we need to face up to that. In a similar vein, he’s also spoken of the pain of divorce and of remarried Catholics, who have been barred from receiving communion at mass. One of his recent documents, Amoris Laetitia, seems to many to suggest that local arrangements should be made to enable those who are in this situation, but who genuinely want to go to communion, to do so.
Needless to say, diehard conservatives in the Catholic church, from cardinals down, are daggers drawn and spend their time poring over his declarations, trying to encourage him to “clarify” statements he’s deliberately left ambiguous. It’s all a bit of a fudge, and the hardliners certainly aren’t rolling over – but crucially, it’s a fudge that’s going in the right general direction, and they probably aren’t going to be able to halt its progress.

So far, so hopeful, but in the Catholic church there’s a big gap between a liberal pope and a reformed church. Popes tend to be old men, and this one is 80 next month, so even if he does want to implement great change, time is against him. And while any acknowledgement of the reality of life, and women’s lives in particular, is welcome, the fact is that no pope in history has put women at the top of his agenda – despite women and girls making up well over 50% of those who worship in Catholic churches every Sunday.
So even if Francis does seem to be making the right noises (he recently created a commission to investigate whether women could be ordained as deacons, which would be a seismic change in a church that has reserved the priesthood for men throughout its history), the likelihood is that, before too long, he’ll be replaced by a pope who knows little about women, and reform will be knocked back another generation.
Interestingly, one of the first rumours to surface in the current pontificate was that the new leader might create women cardinals. There was no reason, some theologian worked out, why they couldn’t be appointed to that office. It hasn’t happened, of course. But that’s the sort of spectacular move Francis needs to make if he really wants to prove, where women are concerned, that he genuinely means business.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Eve Reflections on Gratitude by Rev. Jennifer Marie Marcus ARCWP, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving celebrations are filled with many memories and family traditions, which make this holiday special.  We here at Nativity would like to start a new family tradition by inaugurating this First Annual Thanksgiving Eve Outreach Pie Fest. We hope this celebration will provide us with the opportunity to express our gratitude to God and each other in a special way through prayer, community, food and outreach.

Our gathering in prayer helps us reflect and be thankful for  the many blessings we have received from our loving and generous God .As we reflect on those blessings we come to realize that they come in many forms and at times not always readily understood . Events, circumstances, gains, losses can sometime seem anything but blessings. But through those seemingly negative experiences we acquire new insights about life and ourselves .

They become an opportunity for growth and enlightenment. The famous Jesuit Spiritual Director and Retreat Master , Anthony De Mello in his book The Way to Love  in his chapter on “Suffering and Glory  “ wrote : Here is a simple truth of life that most people never Discover .Happy events  make life delightful but they do not lead to self-discovery ,and growth and freedom. That privilege is reserved to the things and persons and situations that cause us pain. Every painful event contains in itself a seed of growth and liberation.” While it’s true that often we need the perspective of time to gain that awareness and find the light and the courage to be grateful for those negative experiences. “

Speaking for myself I have had such experiences that were life altering, illuminating and enriching. One such experience occurred when I was a young attorney in my first real law job after passing the BAR, I was confronted with an ethical problem precipitated by one of the partners in the firm. I had to become a whistleblower and because of it  I lost my job with the firm .and all he received was slap om the wrist from the State Bar.  It took me several months of hustling cases and court appointments before I was offered a steady reliable job with the City of Hazel Park as its CETA Director and Assistant City Attorney .Those positions provided me with the opportunity to acquire greater trial and administrative  experience in Labor and Employment Law which became my sought out specialty and was a segue in my securing a good position at FOMOCO  a year and a half later.

But to get to that stage of awareness for being grateful for a difficult situation requires practice on a daily basis .It is not just a one day event on Thanksgiving. We need to try to become mindful in seeing most events and circumstances in our lives as having more than one facet. A thankful way of being opens perspectives, new points of view, and leads to hope. It leads to wait and see , to preserve in expecting a good of some kind to surface  even in the most difficult of times and circumstances. Blessings can be disguised as problems at first. But time can manifest the good buried in those negative events and circumstances which we all face at one time or another. 

Psychologists tells us that gratitude is the healthiest emotion we can express even greater than love .Because love in a relationship can be painful and it can also be very stressful. But gratitude begets a peaceful heart, an open mind and hopeful .expectant attitude on life.
Another important form and expression of gratitutde that becomes a blessing   is when we are able to share our goods, food, time, assistance, attention and assistance to others.  As the prayer of St. Francis reads” It is in giving of ourselves that we receive, in loving that we are loved ,in forgiving that we are forgiven.”

In sum, God gives us a variety of abundance so that we can be blessed by sharing our gifts, and in times when we are experiencing scarcity,  we become  blessed by receiving  gifts from others.

So, in this harvest time of year may we become grateful people who give and receive a variety of gifts. May we see God’s loving care and compassion as gifts we have to share.  May we come closer each day to living our thankfulness as our way of being. May this annual Thanksgiving Day celebration make us mindful to give thanks to recognize our blessings and to share our gifts with others.  May gratitude become a way of life and not just celebrated one day a year.

Finally, I would like to state that when we pray in  Gratitude for the simplest things in life it becomes  the highest and most powerful form prayer we can offer to our loving  Creator .

In conclusion , I would like to  quote from St. Basil The Great:  the Greek bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor He was recognized as a noted theologian and Doctor of the Church.
 “When you sit down to eat, pray. When you eat bread, do so thanking God   for being so generous to you. If you drink wine, be mindful of that the Holy One   has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness. When you dress, thank God  for the Holy One’s  kindness in providing you with clothes. When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars, throw yourself at God’s feet and adore God  who in the Holy One’s  wisdom has arranged things in this way. Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises, when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God, who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love and praise their Creator.”

Women Leaders Were Annointed by the Holy Spirit to Proclaim the Gospel by Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea ARCWP

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"Bringing Forth Christ in the Midst of Division and Hostility", Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

On November 27th, Christians will begin the season of Advent. It is a time of preparing for the coming of the Christ Presence in our world, which encompasses the birth of Jesus in history, the living of Christ's Presence now, and the second coming of Christ at the end of time. Our liturgical leaders in my faith community decided that "bringing forth the Christ Presence" would be our Advent theme.

In the midst of deep division, polarization, anger and hatred in our country and world, it is a soul-stirring and spiritual -energizing challenge. 

Here are 4 affirmations to illuminate our path toward healing and transformation:

First, affirm every person as the face of God with a spark of the divine in their souls, and refuse to demonize those who oppose us.

Second, affirm all people as God's family and offer respect and solidarity to all who work for justice, peace and equality in our world.  

Third, pray daily for our elected leaders, and be conscious that prayer moves mountains because God is with the people, no matter what happens.

Fourth, give thanks that our oneness in God is deeper than anything that divides us, and let go of anxiety because we strive to live the golden rule in our blessed and diverse world. 

"Christianity teaches that everyone broken, sick and lonely-everyone beneath our notice or beneath our contempt- is somehow Christ among us. 'He is disguised under every type of humanity that treads the earth,' said Dorothy Day. I suspect this also applies to Trump supporters -or-never-Trumpers, depending on your political proclivity. "Those people" are also "our people." We show civility and respect, not because the men and women who share our path always deserve it or return it, but because they bear a divine image that can never be completely erased. No change of president or shift in the composition of the Supreme Court can result in the repeal of the Golden Rule." (Michael Gerson, "For Evangelical Christians, a tunnel at the end of the light," Washington Post, Nov. 22, 2016)

 The Tradition of Advent 

Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas (or sometimes from the 1st December to Christmas Day!). Advent means 'Coming' in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas.