Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Vigil Liturgy with Women Priests in Kentucky

Left to right Debra Myers, ARCWP, Tish Rawles, ARCWP, Paula Hoeffer RCWP and Rosemare Smead ARCWP, not in photo

Homily for Easter Vigil, 2017 at St. Bridget's Community by Mary Eileen Collingwood ARCWP

Music ministers Kate and Ann Klonowski with Dave Debic, and Mary Eileen processing with Gospel Book

Mary Eileen blessing the Easter water for the Assembly gathered.

Homily for Easter Vigil, 2017
In the 1998 movie, You’ve Got Mail, Tom Hanks plays an ambitious book store owner who opens one of his stores in a New York City neighborhood. Meanwhile, Meg Ryan plays the local children’s bookshop owner who goes out of business because of the big box competition that lured her sales across the street.  At one point in the film, Hanks’ interest in this woman moves him to pay her a visit.  He finds Ryan in her apartment nursing a bad cold. Charming his way in with a bouquet of daisies, they begin a conversation that develops into an interesting exchange with Hanks claiming, “It wasn’t personal.”  Ryan retorts with, “What does that mean anyway? …whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”
Our Lenten journey as members of the Community of St. Bridget started out with a personal plan.  It was suggested that we read the weekly reflections in Sr. Joan Chittister’s booklet, The Prophet in You, that follow the Gospel readings from the first week of Lent through the Resurrection on Easter, seven weeks total.  During that journey of reflection, Sr. Joan challenged us to meditate on how we can grow, heal others by our physical and spiritual touch, find a venue that would fruitfully direct our passion, discover a new vision, love deeply to the point of tears, improve the life of others so that Jesus’ face becomes clearer, and find a way to live faithfully in a hostile world. Yes, this was our personal beginning…  It left some of us feeling like the reflections before us were more like the big box behemoth in the movie that moved in across the street, and they were sucking the life out of the little we thought we had.  Yep! This assignment was a lot of work.
Leaving that aside, tonight I want to share with you a very intimate thread that weaves through the history of Christianity. Columnist Sr. Joan Roccasalvo, C.S.J. piqued my memory with her writing on this theme.   
In the Old Testament are poor people of every sort: the vulnerable, the marginalized, and socio-economically depressed, those of lowly status without earthly power, a group of people referred to in Hebrew as the anawim.  This expression is used frequently in the Bible, especially in the Psalms, and is the basis for Jesus’ belief that the poor are those blessed among us.  The anawim are a people who lovingly surrender to Holy Mystery, remaining faithful and waiting for the Holy One to fill their emptiness.
Mary of Nazareth belonged to the anawim.  Her life of fidelity and free acceptance in allowing the Spirit to work in her came to voice in the Magnificat, where she acknowledged that the Almighty had done great things for her in her lowliness.  Mary is the star among the anawim about whom Jesus later speaks in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the poor.” In a letter to the Philippians, Jesus is said to have “emptied himself,” freely choosing to give up wealth of any kind, and become poor in many earthly ways, even to the point of feeling spiritually abandoned.  Jesus and his Mother embraced their station in life knowing the embrace of the Divine in their doing so.
Our Old Testament readings tonight are messages that look toward the future, much like the anawim looked ahead and believed they would be eventually and eternally satisfied.
As we reflect on the readings offered at this Easter Vigil, religious writer Rita Ferrone sheds light that provides some clarity.  Our faith is in the creation story, showing the power of the Holy One to give life and to create a new world, always poised to act again in our liturgy.
In our Exodus reading, the events at the Red Sea underscore the Christian conviction that true freedom comes by passing through the water.
Isaiah offers us a compelling invitation to come to the water and partake of a feast.  These passages sing to us of the loving and generous promises of the Sacred Presence that holds us together.  They awaken hope and expectation not only for the sacred moments we celebrate, but for the life into which these moments welcome us. 
The passage from the Book of Baruch uses the title “Divine Wisdom” as a figure of Christ, who we now believe is among us on Earth and converses with us. 
These readings are from the past, but they tell us more than how the Divine acted a long time ago. They illuminate what that Divine Presence is still doing and will continue to do for us.  They speak of origins and destiny together.  Much like what our liturgy celebrates for us today.
In the New Testament reading tonight, St. Paul’s letter to the Romans lays out very clearly that if we follow Jesus through death, through hardships, through uncertainties and fear, we will rise with Jesus and live a new life forever.
And the best part, the Gospel story of Mary Magdalene who is charged with being the first evangelist -- the first apostle among them all -- was sent to tell the disciples that Jesus had risen.  This is indeed a saving event not only for humankind as a whole, but specifically for all women.
Tonight, there is very real reason to celebrate!  As we gather together, we are the anawim spirit.  This Community has gathered and includes those who are frustrated over the lack of vision and inclusivity in our church, who are indignant over the lack of transparency and equality in her leadership, are disappointed in the restoration of ancient prayers that do not reflect the understandings of an enlightened people, and those who are excluded from a traditional faith community because their lifestyles and those they love are not recognized as part of the Creator’s plan for life.  Women are major players in the anawim of today.  In addition to all the social and religious oppression we continually face in our world, we have endured the exclusion from lawful ordination in the Roman Catholic Church based on culturally conditioned and long documented discrimination.  Ann and I are now leading the prayer of our sacred liturgies, and there are other women tonight, spanning five continents across the planet, who are doing the same.  The anawim spirit has been resurrected once again among us and is coming to light in the face of bias, prejudice, and injustice.  The lowly have once again come into the Light!
Tonight, we are the anawim -- living examples of new hope entering our world and our church. 
My friends, we began with a personal journey that was before us, and, as was stated in the words of the shop girl character in You’ve Got Mail, “Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”  But our journey is more than personal, isn’t it?  We are a community, and, as such, we enjoy the harvest of our faith together -- our own personal resurrection and our communal resurrection in Christ.  We are truly an Easter People!  May you know and experience the effects of this sacred event as your joy and resurrected hope is shared with all you encounter. 
Happy Easter!



Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Solemn Easter Vigil Presiders: Bridget Mary and Presider Team Musicians: Mindy Lou Simmons, Cheri McDonough, & Janet Blakeley Lectors: Mary Al Gagnon & Kevin Connelly

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Prays Eucharistic Prayer Around Table. Over 50 people attended our Easter Vigil in Sarasota, Florida.

Lee Breyer lit Easter Fire, Michael Rigdon processed with Paschal Candle into Church
Michael Rigdon processed with Paschal Candle
Cheri McDonagh and Michael Rigdon sang Exultet
Kathryn Shea, Seth, Sally Bridget Mary and Janet at Presentation of Gifts/Offertory

Part 1: Service of Light

Blessing of the Fire and Paschal Candle

We will gather around the place of the new fire- in the courtyard outside the main doors of the sanctuary. Presiders will invite each person to mention the names of those who have gone before and who have ignited faith and love and wisdom in her/his life. After each set of names, the community will respond: They walk with us!

Lee: On this most sacred night, in which Jesus Christ passed over from this earth to a new life, the People of God everywhere come together to watch and pray. If we listen to the word of God and live it, and if we honor the memory of his death and resurrection, we will have the sure hope of sharing his victory over death and living a resurrected life with our Creator.

Lee sets the fire. When lit, the fire is blessed.

Lee: Let us pray. O God who, through Jesus, bestowed upon us the fire of your glory, sanctify this new fire -- and grant that, by these paschal celebrations, we may be inflamed with new hope. Purify our minds by this Easter celebration and bring us one day to the feast of eternal light.

Preparation of the Paschal Candle

Lee: Christ, yesterday and today (pause) The Beginning and the End

While saying: The Alpha and Omega (put in the first pin) - Kathryn

While saying: All time belongs to God (put in the second pin) - Sally

While saying: And all the ages (put in the third pin) - Russ

While saying: To Jesus, be glory and power (put in the fourth pin) - Lee

While saying: Through all time and all places, Amen (put in the fifth pin) - Bridget Mary

ALL: May the light of Christ - rising in glory - dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.

(Alternate sides – left and right – for each sentence)

We Rejoice. We Remember.

The Christ - a spark that lit the cosmos at the beginning of time.

We Rejoice. We Remember.

The Christ - a spark that is expanding across time.

We Rejoice. We Remember.

The Christ - a spark that was borne, sheltered and passed to us by our ancestors.

We Rejoice. We Remember.

The Christ - a spark that was fanned into flame by those who ignited our lives in love and wisdom and joy.

We Rejoice. We Remember.

The Christ - a spark that is a sacred trust held by us to pass on to generations yet to come.

ALL: We rejoice. We remember. We celebrate. Alexander J. Shaia


Cantor: Lumen Christi, light of Christ. (3 Xs)

All: Deo gratis. Thanks be to God!

Michael Rigdon & Janet Blakely; Cheri McDonough: Exultet

BMM: May God be with you. ALL: And also with you.

BMM: Lift up your hearts. ALL: We lift them up to our God.

BMM: Let us give thanks to our God. ALL: It is right to give God thanks and praise.

Part II: Liturgy of the Word

The first Reading is the Story of Salvation History – (adapted from the books of the

Hebrew Scriptures). – (Proclaimed by Mary Al Gagnon, Kevin Connelly, Pat and Bob McMillian)

These are the inspired words of our prophets. ALL: Thanks be to God.

Responsorial: Sung ‘Alleluia’ – Russ Banner

The Gospel according to John (20:1 – 18) – (Proclaimed by Lee Breyer)

Response; Glory and praise to you, Jesus, the Christ.

Responsorial: Sung ‘Alleluia’ – Russ Banner

Homily Song, Video and Reflection
Chant: “Come Be Beside Us” – Jan Philips

Come be beside us, come be around us,

Come be within us, Come be among us. X5

Video/Homily Starter - Bridget Mary

We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our prayer.
The Risen Christ lives on in us and loves through us each today.

In our hopes and dreams, our dying and rising, the Risen Christ speaks through us, heals through us, and empowers through us.

In her homily on Easter theologian Margaret Farley said: that Christ rejoices in the resurrection. Why?  “Because the joy of Jesus is for us–no less than his suffering, no less than his labor, no less than his death.  Everything, if we can only receive it, is for us and all creation: his love, his incarnation, his divinity, his truth, his pain, his glory, his Spirit, his life in time and eternity. “

Like the faithful women who encountered the Risen Christ and were sent to spread the good news of the Resurrection, the core belief of Christianity, the Risen Christ arises in us and in all creation each day to bring new life, compassion and justice to the world.!

Let us rejoice in our call to be Easter people, living our Alleluia each day!

Question for Community Sharing:
What does it mean to be Easter People in our world today?

Musical Chant: “Come Be Beside Us” X5

Part III: Liturgy of Baptismal Water

Blessing of the Water

Kathryn & Seth: May God renew us and keep us faithful to the Spirit we have all received.

ALL (with arms extended):

God, our Father and Mother, we know you are with us as we recall the wonders of creation. Bless this water that you have made a servant of your loving kindness to us. Your Spirit, “in the beginning of the universe, hovered over the surface of the waters” so that its very substance would take on the power to sanctify. Through water, you set your people free from bondage and quenched their thirst in the desert. With water, your prophets announced a new covenant that you would make with humanity. By water, you made holy by Jesus in the Jordan. Let this water remind us of our baptism and of our covenant with all of creation. Amen

Kathryn: Holy people of God, through the Pascal Mystery we have been buried with Christ in Baptism and we now walk with our God in newness of life. And so let us renew the promises that brought us to this point in our lives and will support us until we walk with our God in the next.

Hymn: “Come to the Water” #609 (during the water sharing rite)

Renewal of Baptismal Promises (adapted from Jay Murnane)

Janet: Let us renew the promises we made in baptism and try to fulfill in the years since.

ALL: I promise to see what is good for my sisters and brothers everywhere, rejecting injustice and inequality, and living with the freedom and responsibility of the family of God.

I promise to work for the realization of God’s vision of harmony and right relations among people, rejecting the idols of money, property, race, gender, and position.

I promise to seek peace and live in peace in one human family, rejecting prejudice in every form, and all barriers to unity.

I promise to cherish the universe and this precious planet, working creatively to renew and safeguard the elemental sacraments of air, earth, and water.

I believe in God, the Creator, in Jesus, the teacher of justice and love, who lived among us so that all might live with abundant fullness;

I believe in the Spirit, the breath of God, who continues the work of birthing and blessing, of forgiveness and reconciliation, of challenge and hope, so that together we all can continue the work of creation.

Janet: God has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and forgiven all our sins. May God also keep us faithful to Jesus the Christ forever and ever. Amen.

Profession of Faith

Janet: Now that we have renewed our promises originally made years ago, let us now express the beliefs that give us strength and courage today.

ALL: We believe in God, the fountain of life, flowing through every being. We believe in Jesus, the Risen Christ, who reflects the face of God and the fullness of humanity. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God in the cosmos, who calls us to love and serve without counting the cost. We believe in our global communion with all in the circle of life. Amen to loving actions on behalf of justice, healing, compassion and equality for all in the cycle of life. In all of this, we surely do believe.

Part IV: The Prayer of the Faithful

Sally: Always mindful of God’s love and care for all creation, we bring the needs of the people to our loving God. Response: Loving God, hear our prayer.

Sally: For what shall we pray?

Sally: Healing God, we know that you hear our prayers. May we celebrate our planetary oneness in our works for justice, equality, and peace. We ask this through the risen Jesus, our brother, and the Spirit, our sanctifier. Amen.

Part V: Liturgy of the Eucharist

Preparation of the Gifts

BMM: (raise the bread and the wine): Ever gentle God, as co-creators of our planet, we offer you these gifts of bread, wine and our lives. May we celebrate our oneness with all creatures, large and small, in your earthly family. We ask this of you through Jesus, our brother, and Sophia, our wisdom. ALL: Amen

Sally: Pray that we become more aware of our oneness in the Cosmic Christ through the grace of the Risen Jesus.

(Please join us around the altar)

ALL: We are gathered as a community to celebrate the gift of life pulsating in the glories of Nature everywhere.

Eucharistic Prayer

Janet: Holy One, You stirred the waters of creation, and you dwell in us.

ALL: And in every living being.

Kathryn: Lift up your hearts.

ALL: We lift them up to our Creator in whom all are one.

Lee: Let us give thanks for the Breath of life in all forms throughout the Universe.

ALL: It is right to give glory to God, present everywhere and in everything, with thanks and praise.

ALL (sing): We are holy (3x); You are holy (3x); I am holy (3x); We are holy (3x). (Karen Drucker.)

ALL: Holy One, we bring you these gifts that they may become the Christ Presence. Fill us with reverence for all creatures, great and small.

ALL: (extend arms): On the night before Jesus died, while at supper with his friends, he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to them saying: Take this all of you, and eat. Do this in memory of me. (Pause)

In the same way, Jesus took the cup of wine. He said the blessing, gave the cup to his friends and said: Take this all of you and drink. Do this in memory of me.

Elena: Let us proclaim the mystery of faith.

ALL: This bread is you; this bread is me. We are one body in communion with all creation.

Voice 1: Christ of the Cosmos, we thank you that our bodies are made of stardust and that every place we turn, you are present, loving us. You invite us to join the dance of creation in a mystical celebration of our oneness with all living things in your divine love.

Voice 2: Risen Christ, we remember that it was you who said: “Anything I have done in the name of the Creator, you can do too…and even more.” So we remember all those in our world who are working for environmental healing, human rights and justice for all.

Voice 3: Christ of the Cosmos, we remember Mary, mother of Jesus, faithful disciple, and we remember St. Francis who sang canticles to brother sun and sister moon. May we praise you in union with them and live your compassion now.

All Presiders: Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in unity with the Holy Spirit, all glory, honor and praise to you, loving God, forever and ever. ALL: (sung): Amen (5x)

ALL (sung): Our Father and Mother, who are in heaven….

Sign of Peace

Lee: Risen Jesus, you said to your disciples, “My peace I leave you, my peace I give you.” Look on the faith of all those gathered here.

ALL: Grant us your peace. Help us to spread your peace throughout the world, always and everywhere, no exceptions. Amen

Elena: May the peace of God be always with us, and we will start by offering a sign of that peace among ourselves. Let us experience that in a group hug.

Peace hymn: “Peace is Flowing Like a River” - #501

Litany for the Breaking of the Bread

ALL: Christ of the Cosmos, may we live our oneness with you and all creation…may we work for the healing of the earth…may we celebrate justice rising up in a global communion everywhere. Amen.


Sally: This is the Cosmic Christ in whom all creation lives and moves and has its being. All are invited to share in this banquet of love and celebrate our oneness with all living beings on the planet.

ALL: We are the Body of Christ.

ALL (sing): You are the face of God; I hold you in my heart. You are my family; you are the face of God. (Chant by Karen Drucker)

Communion: Instrumental-

Communion Hymn: “Oh Great Love” – Mindy Lou

O Great Love - YouTube

Prayer after Communion

Kathryn: Lover of the Universe, fill us with awe at your extravagant love flowing through us. May we immerse ourselves in the beauty of nature speaking to us each day. We ask this through our brother Jesus, in union with the Holy Spirit. ALL: Amen.

Concluding Rite

Kathryn & Seth: The Risen Christ is with us. ALL: and loves through us.

ALL: Christ has come back as spring comes back out of the ground, renewing the earth with life, to be a continual renewing of life in our hearts, that we may continually renew one another’s life in his love, that we may be his Resurrection in the world. We are the resurrection, always on going, always giving back Christ’s life to the world.

Caryll Houselander, The Risen Christ.

Closing Community Blessing

All (with arms extended): The blessing of God is upon us as we go in the peace of the Cosmic Christ to live justice! Thanks be to God.

Kathryn & Seth: Let us go forth in peace and share the good news: The Risen Jesus is with us today and for all time.

ALL: Thanks be to God. Let it be so!

Closing hymn: “We are Marching”

We are marching in the light of God, we are marching in the light of God.

We are marching in the light of God, we are marching in the light of God.

We are marching, we are marching, we are marching in the light of God.

We are singing in the light of God, etc.

We are dancing in the light of God, etc

We are rising in the light of God, etc.