Saturday, January 7, 2017

Compassion and Kinship: with Gregory Boyle SJ

Monday, January 2, 2017

Mary, Mother of God “A Non-Violent Peacemaker” by Richard S. Vosko 01 January 2017

"1 January 2017 -- Mary Mother of God  — A Non-Violent Peacemaker Note: Today is is the 50th anniversary of the World Day of Peace, which was inspired by Pope John XXIII in his encyclical Pacem in Terris and established by Pope Paul VI in his letter Populorum Progressio in 1967. It is also the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of […]"

"Seed Hope. Flower Peace." by Janice Sevre-Duszynska ARCWP

Janice Sevre Duszynska ARCWP arrested at prayerful, non-violent witness for peace
Photo by Art Laffin

On December 27 and 28 I gathered with friends in the Atlantic and Southern Life Communities and other peacemakers for a retreat at St. Stephen’s church in Washington, D.C and a nonviolent witness at the Pentagon.  We were commemorating the Massacre of the Holy Innocents from the past and the present. We were also honoring Dan Berrigan, SJ, a friend and mentor to many believers of peace with justice, who died on April 30, 2016.

The afternoon began with a powerful scriptural reflection by Steve Baggarly of the Norfolk (VA) Catholic Worker Community.
Within the context of the of the birth narrative, he addressed the slaughter of the innocents by imperial Rome and Pax Romana. He contrasted the Kindom of God and the Gospel of Jesus with the behavior of the Roman Empire -- always expanding its military prowess and control much like the unrelenting violence of the US Empire today, which claims the globe as its battlefield, causing the death of the innocents. Steve’s talk prompted much discussion including how Dan Berrigan’s life continues to inspire resistance. Soon after, we read Sr. Anne Montgomery’s unpublished poem about the killing of holy innocents.

Much of the afternoon we spent talking about our action at the Pentagon during which we would use life-size cardboard figures of Dan and a banner displaying the statement of the Catonsville Nine: “The violence stops here, the death stops here, the suppression of truth stops here, this war stops here."

During the evening we celebrated a liturgy led by Nathan, an Episcopal priest with whom I talked, and Amanda who gave a captivating reflection on the resistance of the Hebrew midwives.  After the Eucharist, I was invited to read Dan’s piercing poem, “Prayer for the Morning Headlines.” It follows.

After supper we heard from several activists who had traveled to South Dakota to join in solidarity with the water protectors of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their prophetic campaign of nonviolent resistance.

As there was room at Dorothy Day CW, I spent the night there and was up a little after 5 a.m. for our 7 a.m. witness at the Pentagon. Sixteen of us walked up to the knoll area with our banners and cut-out of Dan. Eventually we made our way down to the sidewalk, blocking it in waves. I had never seen so few police officers at the Pentagon. We sang “Vine and Fig Tree” along with activists in the designated protest area. We were arrested, driven to a nearby police station and processed. Our court date is March 2, 2017 at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA.

We returned to St. Stephen’s for breakfast and a talent show we enjoyed given by the younger activists. On the ride back to Baltimore with Matt and Amy who use to live at the Jonah House, I got to sit between their infant daughter Penny and two-year-old son Eli who soon fell asleep.

Prayer For The Morning Headlines by Daniel Berrigan

Mercifully grant peace in our days.
Through your help may we be freed from present distress.
Have mercy on women and children homeless in foul weather, ranting like bees among gutted barns and stiles.
Have mercy on those (like us) clinging one to another under fire, terror on terror, grapes the grapeshot strikes.
Have mercy on the dead, befouled, trodden like snow in hedges and thickets.
Have mercy, dead man, whose grandiose gentle hope died on the wing, whose body stood like a tree between strike and fall, stood like a cripple on his wooden crutch.
We cry: Halt!
We cry: Password!
Dishonored heart, remember and remind, the open sesame:
From there to here, from innocence to us:
Hiroshima, Dresden, Guernica, Selma, Sharpeville, Coventry, Dachau.
Into our history, Pass!
Seed hope.
Flower peace.


A Beautiful Homily on Peace by Marie Dennis: World Day of Peace Rooted in Justice and Non-Violence

"Meet the captain of the realists on the Church and women" by John Allen, Bridget Mary's Response to Lucetta Scaraffia at the Vatican

Bridget Mary's Response:

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP with microphone at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Liturgy

Until women are priests- equals at the altar and in all decision-making roles in the church- the Roman Catholic all boys' club will dominate and oppress women in every aspect of ecclesial life.
Katy Zatsick ARCWP and Elena Garcia ARCWP preside at Liturgy for New Year at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community

Lucretia makes important points about unshackling decision making at top levels from ordination. She gives the Vatican Curia a wake-up call on their treatment of women in the back rows from her experiences as a prominent leader. “But these synod fathers are in the habit of thinking that in the Church, what women do and think doesn’t count for anything...“It’s before the eyes of everybody,” she writes, “that there’s an enormous gap between the real role women have in the work of evangelization, and their almost total absence in decision-making moments.”

Her argument provides some positive improvements that would incorporate women's voices in ecclesial structures. 
  • "Leadership by women in the departments of the Roman Curia within the Vatican."

While we need women in decision making in the Roman Curia, the hierarchy also needs a complete heart transplant that embraces women's full equality spiritually and theologically- which challenges sexism at its core by affirming women as equal images of the divine fully capable of making decisions guided by the indwelling Spirit, including about issues like birth control. Women's voices are the voice of God in our church that have not been heard for far too long. 

Until Catholics experience women preaching, presiding and celebrating sacraments in an inclusive, non-clerical model of priestly ministry, one with their sisters and brothers in faith communities where they live, we will remain unbalanced spiritually and a liturgically deprived Church. 

Like a bird who cannot fly on one wing, the church cannot function without half of its members being fully equals. God is calling women to serve as priests.  Women Priests are living their call today in the international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement.  

The bottom line is that the full equality of women in the church and in the world is the will of God in our time and in all times.

Jesus called women and men to be disciples and equals. He provided an example of a companionship of empowerment. This is the vision we need to affirm for the 21st century!  Women do not need to wear clerical collars, (I don't have one!) but they do need to bring all their gifts to the table, including their call to serve as deacons, priests and bishops. 

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

Meet the captain of the realists on the Church and women
The cover of "Dall'Ultimo Banco" by Lucetta Scaraffia. (Credit: Marsilio.)
No matter where one stands on women priests in the Catholic Church, the issue obviously isn't going anywhere, and real progress on empowering women thus must come elsewhere. Nobody makes tha
ROME - "Two months ago, an important Vatican milestone passed in basic silence. Oct. 15 marked the 40th anniversary of Inter Insigniores, a document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued under Pope Paul VI, which spelled out the reasons why women cannot be ordained as Catholic priests.
It came in response to the first ordinations of female clergy in the Anglican communion, and ever since it’s remained the basis for the Church’s position, although it was amplified and developed in St. Pope John Paul II’s 1994 document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, in which the pontiff couldn’t have been more clear: “We declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”
For the last forty years, the debate on women in the Church has largely revolved around a “yes” or “no” to these documents, i.e., yes or no to women priests.
Setting aside the rights and wrongs, here’s the political lay of the land. There’s a sizable portion of the Church that considers the exclusion of women from the priesthood a vestige of patriarchy, a glass ceiling, and they’ll never be convinced the Church is serious about equality unless that ceiling is shattered.
There’s another camp, also not small, which believes the whole discussion about a “women’s problem” is a canard, something cultured despisers of the Church use as an ideological weapon, and that, in reality, Catholic women are just fine.
In the middle is probably the largest chunk of folks, who grasp that arguing over women priests right now is a waste of breath, but who nevertheless recognize that Catholicism’s rhetoric about the “feminine genius” is not always matched by making women part of the decision-making process, and who regret that often the system at the top remains a “boy’s club.”
That group wants to talk about what can be done in the here-and-now to promote leadership by women in ways that don’t always come down to pointless theoretical disputes over a question that’s already been answered.
The problem for that realist constituency is that they’ve never quite had an effective champion, a serious intellectual with feminist credentials who can’t be dismissed as a stooge, and who also has a gift for sound-bites and effective argument.
Not, that is, until the emergence of Lucetta Scaraffia as possibly one of the ten or so most interesting figures in the contemporary Catholic Church.
Lucetta Scaraffia. (Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.)
Lucetta Scaraffia. (Credit: L’Osservatore Romano.)
Scaraffia is a veteran journalist and historian in Italy, forming half of a power couple, since her husband is the well-known journalist and intellectual Ernesto Galli della Loggia. Among other things, since 2012 she’s directed a special edition on women published by L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.
Earlier this year she published a book called Dall’Ultimo Banco: La Chiesa, Le Donne, e Il Sinodo, which translates as, “From the Last Row: The Church, Women and the Synod.” It offers her reflections on the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the family, to which she was invited as an auditor, and the title refers to the fact that she was literally seated in the very last row of the synod hall.
(Alas, the book is not yet available in English, but for those who read Italian it can be found on Amazon in Kindle format.)
In some ways, it’s hard to believe Scaraffia is kind-of, sort-of on the Vatican’s payroll, because she’s absolutely scathing in her indictment of the hierarchy’s failure to take women seriously.
Here’s a typical passage: “It’s before the eyes of everybody,” she writes, “that there’s an enormous gap between the real role women have in the work of evangelization, and their almost total absence in decision-making moments.”
Scaraffia is also tough on the Synod of Bishops, accusing prelates of tossing around abstract concepts developed in largely ecclesiastical contexts, without any real sense of history or of the lived realities of the family in the early 21st century.
Among other things, she recounts a conversation with a missionary nun with long experience in northern Africa during the synod, after several speakers had extolled Natural Family Planning. The nun, she said, explained that many African women can’t convince their husbands to have sex only during their infertile periods, and so for them the prohibition of the pill is a very practical burden.
“Yet the synod fathers didn’t seem interested in distinguishing situations, reducing everything to a merely theological problem,” she says. “It’s not their skin, not their bodies.”
She also scoffed at some of the defenses of the traditional family offered by prelates from the Middle East and Africa.
“In reality, these traditional families often exercise an oppressive power over women, and perhaps for that reason it’s not really a good idea anymore to propose them as a model,” she writes. “But these synod fathers are in the habit of thinking that in the Church, what women do and think doesn’t count for anything.”
Yet Scaraffia is no typical Catholic feminist, at least of the progressive sort. She strongly defends the Church’s basic position on artificial birth control, its stance on abortion, and on many of the other fronts of the sexual revolution.
She also regards the debate over women priests as a distraction, insisting, “The emancipation of women in the Church can, indeed must, be realized without passing through the priesthood.”
As Scaraffia sees it, Christianity actually has been history’s great motor force for the liberation of women.
In the early Church, she notes, many of the most important converts were wealthy widows who saw in Christianity a route to liberation, and the Church’s early patrimony was largely based on their property. The Christian understanding of marriage instilled a concept of equality between the partners, and over the centuries, women have played key leadership roles - Hildegard of Bingen preached in the Cologne cathedral, she notes, and St. Catherine of Sienna spoke at a synod where she was taken seriously indeed.
Putting on her historian’s hat, Scaraffia claims that writing a history of women actually is only possible “within the lone institution that took them seriously, that is, the Church. With abbesses, educated nuns and writers, the founders of orders and the saints, we have many sources that simply don’t exist for women in the secular world.”
All that began to change, Scaraffia says, only in the 19th and 20thcenturies, when the press for women’s liberation got intertwined with the drive for sexual emancipation, which meant the Church and the leading women thinkers of the day found themselves progressively estranged.
Yet for 20th century examples of overcoming that estrangement, Scaraffia cites St. Edith Stein; Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare movement; and Adrienne von Speyr, the longtime theological collaborator of Hans urs von Balthasar.
So what would power without priesthood look like today? Almost offhand, Scaraffia cites several possibilities.
  • Participation by women, both religious and ordinary laity, in the General Congregation meetings that precede the election of a pope.
  • Participation by women, again both religious and lay, in meetings of bishops’ conferences around the world.
  • Leadership by women in the departments of the Roman Curia within the Vatican.
  • More regular consultation by the Vatican of the International Union of Superiors General, the umbrella group for leaders of women’s religious orders. Although its headquarters is just a stone’s throw from the Vatican, Scaraffia notes with evident sarcasm that it’s a “merely topographical closeness,” and that in fact the “contacts between the Holy See and the association are practically null.”
Though she doesn’t mention it in the book, Scaraffia floated another intriguing idea some time back: The pope could create a council of lay advisers composed of both men and women, analogous to his “C9” council of cardinal advisers, to ensure that the voices of laity and women are regularly part of his deliberations.
None of these possibilities have anything to do with priestly ordination. The fact that none of them has been taken up in a serious way, therefore, may speak more to ecclesiastical sociology and psychology than any limits imposed by Catholic doctrine.
The bottom line is this: Whatever one thinks of women priests, the status quo isn’t changing, a point Pope Francis has made repeatedly. If there is to be progress, it thus has to come elsewhere.
Right now, nobody’s showing what forward movement might look like better than Lucetta Scaraffia - who is herself, by the way, living proof that you don’t need a Roman collar to matter in Roman Catholicism."

Rita Lucy ARCWP - Best Letter Writers: Letter Cited as Inspiring Example by Orlando Sentinel

"The Gamut from Pro-Guns to Women Priests"

Rita Lucey ARCWP(Red Huber / Orlando Sentinel)

"You might recognize the letter writers’ names below. Sometime in 2016, we published their comments, and today we offer them once more as inspiring examples of the best efforts of the year. In an age where careless 140-character comments can be spewed worldwide within seconds, these readers have invested precious time to compose, and maybe even recompose, letters up to 250 words that are especially thoughtful, clear and on point. We thank everyone who has written to us this year, and we hope this annual recognition will help inspire more commentary. "

Rita Lucey (Red Huber / Orlando Sentinel)
Pope, women priests
Nov. 8 — A great deal has been said in the opinions put forth on the issue of ordaining women as priests in the Roman Catholic tradition. There seems to be the mistaken notion that this is a doctrine of the church, especially when the words "never" and "forever" are used.
Actually, this is simply an approach, a practice or discipline stating that only men can be ordained. In the Jewish culture of Jesus' time, this would have been anathema. Crucifixion would have happened much earlier had this man Jesus suggested such an abomination.
It's now 2,000 years later. Our understanding has changed, based on Paul's epistle "there is neither male nor female ... we are all equal" — except in the eyes of a patriarchal hierarchy who incidentally is here because we "unworthy" women birthed him.
Pope Francis did not use the "chair of Peter, " known as "ex cathedra, " to make this pronouncement. Therefore, it is not infallible and can be changed - if not by him, then by the next generation of cardinals in a council in union with the pope, where the teaching authority of the church exists.

The Rev. Rita Lucey is retired from AT&T. A human-rights advocate who writes letters when she sees social inequities, she presides over (liturgies) The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, (which) ordained her last year. Her interests include education, human rights, family and lifetime learning.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

January 1 - Celebrating the Feminine Face of God - Upper Room Liturgy, Albany NY

Lindy Sanford, ARCWP and Kathie Ryan, ARCWP presided at liturgy today at the Upper Room. The theme for the liturgy was, "Celebrating the Feminine Face of God." Lindy wrote the beautiful homily starter and Eucharistic prayer below.

Lindy's Homily Starter:
Today many Christian calendars focus on Mary, Jesus’ mother, known in her day as Miriam.  So why are we honoring the life of a woman we know so very little?  What is the most important thing we know about her?
What did Mariam do after she found out she was having an important baby in a profound mystical experience?  A baby who would teach us how the Divine wants us to live?  
You and I would probably have felt overwhelmed.  Probably would pull away from everyone and everything ...trying to get it all figured out…
That is not what Miriam did…In the midst of all this she heard her cousin was pregnant.  Elizabeth needed help,,,so Miriam went... and helped…
Little else is recorded about Miriam.  Some bits are of what she did in the hardest experience of her life.  Each time, she goes and helps, often by just being with someone else facing crisis.

This is a time of crisis in our world.  In our families, our communities, our country.  World wide crisis.  Her example seems important ...what do you think?

Eucharistic Prayer

Presider 1: As we prepare for this sacred meal, we lay our stoles upon the table as a sign that just as Jesus is anointed, so each of us is anointed.

Presider 2:We pray acknowledging God’s Spirit here with us. Standing in solidarity with our sisters and brothers, we bring our many needs and concerns to the table.
(Please feel free to voice your concerns beginning with the words, “I bring to the table…”)

Presider 1: (Lifting the bread)We praise You, Creator, and thank you.Your love has given us everything we need.
We offer you this bread, made of grain sown within this beautiful earth .  We ask You to feed us in a way only You can. Make this bread our Spiritual Food.

Presider 2: (Lifting the cup)We praise You, Creator, and we thank you.Through your goodness we have this wine to offer.
Juice from the fruit You created and we pressed.Make it our Spiritual Drink.

All: We praise you, Creator, and thank you. Your love has given us everything we need.

Presider 1: Jesus washed the feet of his friends as a servant would. We are told his mother, Miriam, chose to help whoever she could, even if all she could do is be with them. Ever-gentle Creator, today we chose to follow their example of service to all around them as an act of inclusive love.

All:   Again, we praise you, Creator, and thank you. Your love has given us everything we need.  With joy we sing:

Holy, Holy, Holy
(Words and music by Karen Drucker)
We are whole.

Presider 2 : ( Invites all to extend hands over bread and wine in blessing)We ask that You bless our gifts and transform them for us into the body and blood of Jesus as we celebrate this Eucharist in his memory. Through him, with him, and in him we will accept Your love and pour it out onto all around us.

ALL:  On the night before he died, Jesus gathered the people closest to him for supper. Like a servant, he washed their tired and dusty feet.

Presider 1 breaks the bread in half and lifts it.

ALL: Back at the table, he took bread, spoke the grace, broke the bread and offered it to them saying:  Take and eat, this is my very self. (Pause)

Presider 2 lifts the wine:

All: He took the cup of wine, spoke the grace, and offered it to them saying:  “Take and drink of the love the Creator made visible through the life I have shared with you.  Whenever you do this, I am among you.” (Pause)

ALL: Creator, we also remember our brothers and sisters who have gone before us and all the saints.  Our memory of their choices helps us as we make our own. Thank you for pouring Your love out on them and all of us throughout eternity.

Presiders hold up bread and wine:

All: Through Jesus, we have learned how to live.
Through Jesus, we have learned how to love.
Through Jesus, we have learned how to serve.

Presider 1:Let us pray together as Jesus taught us

All: O Holy One, who is within, we celebrate your many names. Your wisdom come. Your will be done, unfolding from the depths within us. Each day you give us all that we need.  You remind us of our limits, and we let go. You support us in our power, and we act with courage. For you are the dwelling place within us, the empowerment around us, and the celebration among us, now and forever. Amen.
The Prayer of Jesus as interpreted by Miriam Therese Winter.

Presider 2:
May our Creator’s peace and joy be with you. Please share a sign of peace with each other.

Presider 1:Loving Creator, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice.
All: We will live justly.

Presider 2: Loving Creator, You call us to be Your presence in the world.

All: We will love tenderly.

Presider 1: Loving Creator, You call us to speak truth to power.
All: We will walk with integrity in your presence.
Presider 2:  This is Jesus, the Bread of Life. We are blessed to be called to this table.

All: What we have heard with our ears, we will live with our lives; as we share communion, we will become communion, both Love’s nourishment and Love’s challenge.

Presiders break the bread

Presider 1:As we share this Bread and Wine, one with the other, please say, “You are a Spark of the Divine.”  
Join us in singing our Communion Song:
Presider 1: Loving Creator, may we pour out Your love on each other. May we like Jesus and his mother, Miriam,  pour out that same love onto everyone we meet!

All:  Amen

Closing song:


New Year Blessings

Happy New Year! Today God is blessing you and enfolding you with joy and fullness of life beyond imagination. May your heart be filled with tenderness and kindness. May we companions walking in solidarity toward justice, equality and partnership in our church and our world.