Saturday, September 23, 2017

Baptismal Ceremony for Alexander and Amelie Simms in San Diego, California, September 23, 2017, with Priest/Minister Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP


Bridget Mary: Welcome. It is with great joy that we join with Ann and Christopher to welcome their son Alexander and daughter Amelie into the Christian community. 

Bridget Mary:  Let us begin our ceremony with a prayer to the Source of all Life. 

O Holy One, you continually remind us that you love your creation by sending us brand new possibilities in the form of daughters and sons.  May these children grow in their understanding of your infinite love as they learn the meaning of faith through service. May they come to appreciate their responsible place as co-creators of their lives in You. Amen. 

Bridget Mary: Introduction to Rite of Baptism
The Rite of Baptism begins with a statement of intent on the part of the parents and godparents. The children are too young to speak for themselves, so their parents and God parents speak for them. 


Reception of the Child

Bridget Mary: I invite parents and godparents to stand together

Bridget Mary: (to the parents) Ann and Chris what do you ask of this Christian Community?

Ann and     We ask that our son Alexander and our daughter Amelie be welcomed into the Christian community through the sacrament of Baptism. 

Bridget Mary: By asking for Baptism within the Christian community, you are promising to teach your children to live justly, to love tenderly and to walk with integrity for all to see and celebrate. You are promising to teach her about her brother, Jesus, and his message of love.  Do you promise to do this to the best of your ability?

Parents: We do.

Bridget Mary: (to the godparents)Jackie and Neelesh, do you promise to help Ann and Christopher as they teach their children about the Source of All Life and about Jesus, our brother?

Jackie and Neelish We do.

Baptismal Ritual

Bridget Mary : In our ritual today, we use many sacramental symbols and signs. We continue the baptismal ritual with a blessing of the water and the oil. 

Ann: O Holy One, Source of all that is, we experience your grace through sacramental signs, which tell us of your unseen presence. 

Christopher:At the dawn of creation, Your Spirit breathed on the waters making them the wellspring of all holiness.

Godmother Jackie: The water of the Red Sea, through which our ancestors traveled, is a symbol of our liberation from all that holds us captive. In the waters of the Jordan River, our brother Jesus was baptized by his cousin, John, and anointed with your Spirit.

Godfather Neelesh After the resurrection, the disciples of Jesus celebrated baptism in water and the Spirit with those who answered Your call to holiness.

Ann: From age to age, oil has been used to anoint the priests, prophets, leaders and visionaries. 

Bridget Mary: (to all present)  Please extend your hands in blessing the water and oil .
O Holy One, you call us to be co-creators of a world filled with blessing and abundance. As co-creators with you, we bless this water and oil as a symbol of your grace filled presence in our community.  (pause)

Baptismal Promises 

Bridget Mary In this part of the baptismal ritual, Ann and  Chrisopher tmake baptismal promises for their children. I invite anyone who wishes to renew their baptismal promises to respond, “I do,” to each of the following:

Do you promise to see what is good for your sisters and brothers everywhere, rejecting injustice and inequity, living with the freedom and responsibility of children of God?

All: I do.

Bridget Mary: Do you promise to work for the realization of God’s vision of harmony and right relations among all peoples, rejecting the idols of money, property, color, sex and position?

All: I do.

Bridget Mary: Do you promise to seek peace and live in peace in one human family, rejecting prejudice and half-heartedness in every form, and all barriers to unity?

All: I do.

Bridget Mary: Do you promise to cherish the universe, and this precious planet, working creatively to renew and safeguard the elemental sacraments of air, earth, water and fire?

All: I do.

Bridget Mary: Do you believe in the Holy One, the Source of all life, in Jesus, our brother who loved and lived among us so that all might live with abundant fullness; in the breath of the Holy One’s center, the Spirit who continues the work of forgiveness and reconciliation, birthing and blessing, challenge and hope, so that together we can continue the work of creation?

All: I do.

Bridget Mary: Parents and godparents, please bring the children to the baptismal font.

Pouring of Water
Bridget Mary: (as the parents pour water over the children’s head)
We baptize you, Alexander/ Amelie
-       in the name of our God who is the Source of all life,
-       in the name of our God revealed in Jesus, our brother, and in our own humanity, 
-       in the name of our God whose Spirit invites and inspires us as co-creators. Amen.

Anointing with Oil

Bridget Mary: (as parents anoint each child’s head))
Alexander/ Amelie you were created in love and welcomed to life with love. We anoint you with this oil in recognition that human love is sacred, that you are sacred. 

Presentation of Stole, baptismal garment

Bridget Mary: (as Godmother Jackie presents stoles) Alexander/Amelie, we present you with this stole. May it remind you that you carry in the depths of your being the Spirit of Life and Love itself.  

Lighting Candle

Bridget Mary: (as Godfather lights each child’s candle from Parent’s candle)Alexander/Amelia, may this candle remind you of Jesus, who opened peoples’ minds and hearts to see the “light” of God’s presence within them. 

Final Blessing

Bridget Mary: Please stand as we pray a blessing for our newly baptized children
Ann: May the Spirit of Air inspire you to see the world through fresh, open eyes, to be a soulful visionary, and to lend optimism and hope to all you encounter.

Christopher:  May the Spirit of Fire transform all you touch with Light, and grant you courage and protection as you go forth in your Divine Life Mission.

Godmother Jackie: May the Spirit of Water bring you purity in body, mind, and spirit to nurture you as you nurture others, to support your inner knowing and intuition as you navigate the seen and unseen worlds.

Godfather: May the Spirit of Earth grant you wisdom as you seek Divine Truth, Integrity of thought and action, and fortify you with the strength you need to shine your Divine Light in the physical world as only you can.

Bridget Mary: And May you always remember, the Source of All lives as a Divine Spark within you to inspire, renew, and uplift you and all that you meet along your journey.  Amen. (This blessing was written by Mary Anne Nolan Gianino for baptism of daughter Sofia)
Presentation of Child to Community
Bridget Mary: (Parents and Godparents hold children up)) It is with great joy that we welcome Alexander and Amelie to the Christian Community and extended family.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Befriended by the Light by Eileen Knoff

photo by Joan Everitt, Rexford, NY

Befriended by the Light

May autumn’s light,
now subdued,
ease your struggle

as does the presence of anam cara;
May autumn’s glow befriend you
body and soul.

May this light guide you to the Divine Light
Who will be your Anam Cara,
drawing forth your own radiance,
casting shadows that you do not fear
to look upon with understanding

and with gratitude for all that has been
and all that is,
and all that will be.

by Eileen Knoff in Seasoning the Soul (Redmond, WA: Spiritual Directions LLC, 2012. Revised 2016), p. 104.

"Pope admits Catholic Church waited too long to respond to clergy abuse crisis" Sep 21, 2017 by Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has admitted that the Catholic Church waited too long before taking reports of clergy sexual abuse seriously, suggesting that the former practice of moving priests accused of abuse to new ministries instead of reporting them to authorities kept the church numb to the scope of the situation.
In his first formal meeting Sept. 21 with the now three-year-old Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the pontiff also called "prophetic" the men and women who urged the church for decades to face the problem.
"I know it has not been easy to start this work," the pope told the members of the commission in off-the-cuff remarks notable for their frankness. "You have had to swim against the current because there is a reality: the church has taken consciousness about these crimes in a delayed manner."
"When the consciousness is delayed, the means for resolving the problem are delayed," said Francis. "I am aware of this difficulty. But it is a reality. I’ll say it so: We have come to this late."
"Maybe the old practice of moving people around, of not facing the problem, kept our consciousness asleep," the pope suggested. "Thanks to God, the Lord sent prophetic men and women in the church … who got others involved and began this work to face the problem head-on."

"Give Peace a Chance" Vatican Radio!/1338095

(Vatican Radio) International Day of Peace observed around the world on 21 September focuses this year on engaging and mobilizing people throughout the world to show support for refugees and migrants.
Fr. Cedric Prakash sj, a human rights activist from India and now working for JRS Lebanon  reflecting on the theme of the current year “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All”  says that the theme  is based on the TOGETHER global campaign that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes in search of a better life. TOGETHER brings together the organizations of the United Nations System, the 193 member countries of the United Nations, the private sector, civil society, academic institutions and individual citizens in a global partnership in support of diversity, non-discrimination and acceptance of refugees and migrants.
Expressing his deep concern for the people suffering in different parts of the world and the insensitivity of the world leaders towards refugees, minorities and weaklings of the society he says that  it is therefore necessary to remind ourselves that each one of us is called to be a channel of peace and that we need to have the courage to hold our leaders accountable in ensuring peace for all.
Pope Francis he says  has consistently and unequivocally asserted the need for peace.  He further quotes the Pope’s  letter to the International Meeting “Paths of Peace” held in Germany from September 10th to 12th  in which he wrote, “what we may not and must not do is remain indifferent, allowing tragedies of hatred to pass unnoticed, and men and women to be cast aside for the sake of power and profit.  Your meeting in these days, and your desire to blaze new paths of peace and for peace, can be seen as a response to the call to overcome indifference in the face of human suffering. I thank you for this, and for the fact that you have gathered, despite your differences, to seek processes of liberation from the evils of war and hatred. For this to happen, the first step is to feel the pain of others, to make it our own, neither overlooking it nor becoming inured to it. We must never grow accustomed or indifferent to evil”.
The General Assembly has declared this day as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. 

"Why Men Who Oppose Trafficking Must Fight Patriarchy" by Rebecca Katz, CBE International
My Thoughts: This outstanding article is a must-read for everyone. 

..."Between one in five to one in six men in the US self-report purchasing a human being for sex.[1] The numbers are most likely even higher because many more will not admit to this. This statistic does not include men who spend their bachelor parties at a strip club or their Sunday evenings with their laptops open, masturbating to men’s sexual abuse of women in porn.
In other words, we’re looking at a church that claims to be outraged by sex trafficking while contributing significantly to the demand that sustains it.
Sex trafficking is a tale as old as time. It is even depicted in the Bible, under a different name. Female victims of male exploitation were blamed and dismissed as sinful harlots, while the men that bought and sold them as chattel were never questioned or held accountable.
Now that the world is more aware of the problem of sex trafficking, the church has become very vocal about its desire to “rescue” victims.
Though well-intentioned, rescue does very little to help victims in the long run. If every single victim of trafficking were “rescued” today, trafficking would persist because of the demand for millions more bodies tomorrow.
Not only does the demand remain, but so do the reasons women are trafficked in the first place. Rescuing victims, on its own, neither eliminates the demand nor does it challenge an exploitative, male-centric culture. The conditions (both individually and structurally) that fuel sex trafficking have not changed.
While rescue makes the rescuer feel good and powerful, it leaves the victim still vulnerable. After she (or he) is rescued, then what? She can’t go back to the home where she was originally abused. She has no place to live. She doesn’t have a job. And if she has a criminal background, finding either is extremely difficult. She may not have an education or marketable skills.
She still lives in a world where her value is determined by men. She still lives in a world where men feel entitled to use and abuse her for selfish gratification. And they do. I believe this is primarily why, even after being rescued, some victims go right back to the people and systems that exploited them...
Victim/survivors, and all women, deserve more than short-lived, feel-good acts of chivalry or performative rescue missions. We need men to radically step out of their comfort zone and use their existing relationships and platforms to promote resistance and build long-term solutions.
I need more than grand acts of glory. I need to see men uphold the dignity of women in smaller moments that matter:
  • Speak up when a friend or family member makes a sexist remark
  • Challenge other men in your church or small group who endorse male authority, one-sided submission, or benevolent sexism
  • Raise your sons to resist gender roles and stereotypes
  • Refuse to use pornography
  • Vocally and financially support egalitarian ministries and feminist women’s activism
  • Use your platform to speak about misogyny, men’s violence, and the harm of patriarchy
  • Give up your pulpit to women
  • Ask women around you how you can be a safer presence to them
  • Ask others to hold you accountable and call out your sexist behavior
  • Don’t get defensive or make excuses when people do call you out; change your behavior
  • Educate yourself and learn from women by reading egalitarian and feminist writing
  • Volunteer and donate to trafficking, sexual, and domestic violence centers
  • Confront your pastor if she/he reinforces gender stereotypes or makes a joke about women
  • Invite a speaker to preach about patriarchy, rape culture, or egalitarianism/biblical equality
  • Respect women’s boundaries (don’t pressure, guilt, or make women in your life feel obligated to do something you want)
  • Counter sexist cultural messages that define girls/women’s value in domestic, sexual, and reproductive service to men
  • Start or join a men’s group that promotes awareness and takes action to end men’s violence
  • Believe victims; ask survivors how you can support them; and refuse to blame victims
  • Take political action—protest unjust laws or practices; write letters; call; and lobby with public officials to support policies that promote justice for women and freedom from men’s violence and exploitation
Meaningful male resistance must be centered in personal responsibility and social accountability. I want to see men taking deliberate action against patriarchy—not for glory, praise, or “social justice cookies,” but because patriarchy is evil; justice is right; and women deserve better.
[1] “Percentage of Men (by Country) Who Paid for Sex at Least Once: The Johns Chart”,, January 6, 2011. Accessed September 15, 2017.