Saturday, December 30, 2017

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Feast of the Holy Family December 30, 2017 Presiders: Sally Brochu, ARCWP & Janet Blakeley, ARCWP Music Ministers: Linda Lee Miska Lectors: Mary Al Gagnon & Janet Blakeley

Anointing of priest Katy Zatsick ARCWP in preparation for surgery
(Anointing of Sick attached after Communion, below)

Janet Blakeley ARCWP, Katy Zatisck ARCWP and Sally Brochu ARCWP

Let us begin in the name of our God: a God of Love, Wisdom, and Liberation.
Opening Song: “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” – (words on second-last page)
Sally Brochu ARCWP and Janet Blakeley ARCWP Presiders at Holy Family Liturgy
PENITENTIAL RITE (All raise hands extended in prayer)
ALL: God, the Father and Mother of Mercy, through his living, dying and rising, Jesus has revealed that nothing can separate us from your infinite love. May You give us pardon and peace, and may we forgive each other our failures to care for one another and our earth. We make this prayer in the name of God our Creator, and of Jesus, our brother, and of the Holy Spirit, our wisdom. Amen.
Presider: O God, your love is compassionate and merciful, yet we so often fear you. Open our eyes to your goodness and let us realize the full life to which we are called. We ask this O God of the evolving universe who invites each of us to focus on you and the beauty that rests in each of us. Amen.
ALL: Glory: sung – “Glory to God, glory, O praise and alleluia, Glory to God, glory, O praise the name of our God”
First Reading: From a letter “A Christmas Thought for our Christian Friends and Neighbors” written by Rabbi Victor Urecki, Congregation B’nai Jacob, Charlestown, West Virginia. (December 2017)
Responsorial Psalm 128 – “ Blessed are those who love the Lord and walk in his ways”.
Second Reading: A reflection “ The Incarnation Means God is in the Ordinary” by Ronald Rolheisner, OMI, President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. (December 2017)
Gospel Acclamation – #565 – “Alle, Alle, Alleluia”
Gospel: Luke 2: 22-40
Sally Brochu ARCWP proclaims Gospel and preaches Homily Starter

Homily Starter / Shared Homily
Year B - Feast of the Holy Family
December 30, 2017
Sally Brochu, ARCWP

“So G-d throws open the door of this world and enters as a baby. As the most vulnerable imaginable. Because He wants unimaginable intimacy with you. What religion ever had a god that wanted such intimacy with us that He came with such vulnerability to us? What G-d ever came so tender we could touch him. So fragile that we could break him? So vulnerable that his bare, beating heart could be hurt? Only the one who loves you to death”. Ann Voscamp

This short paragraph is what began my focus for today's homily starter. It is  actually the opening paragraph to the First Reading, where a Jewish Rabbi, reached out in love and friendship to all of us Christians. He really speaks of the entire human family, diverse in so many ways including religious traditions and beliefs, yet we can still call each other sister and brother. We are all made in the likeness of God – yes, each of us – and each person in part of the “many-faced faces that is spoken of in our second reading.

The second reading boldly proclaims that the Incarnation speaks of God's unimaginable desire for intimacy with each of us that he came as a vulnerable child. This Christ Child was born into an ordinary family and made visible God's incredible love for us. There is nothing written about Jesus and his immediate family as he grew in wisdom, yet his was an ordinary family with its struggles and disappointments, its joys and the ordinary celebrations of life in a Jewish family. Mary, although young, was a woman steeped in Jewish tradition and lead the family in Seder prayers and provided hospitality to all who visited. She was not the self-effacing, humble woman that is too often depicted in literature, but a young Jewish woman fully engaged in life.  Joseph, though not given much visibility in Scripture, must have been a good man and provider for his family, teaching his son his trade as carpenter. Scripture also speaks of Jesus having  other siblings, not an only son as many think. This was an ordinary family, like ours, not the pious, without struggle family. They were a ordinary family and yes they were holy. Jesus expanded the idea of family, not just his extended family but to include all his followers and beyond.

So on this Feast of the Holy Family, we need to broaden our concept of family to include all of the world's families, including ours. Now you might say “ You don't know my family! They are anything but holy!” To some degree that might be true, however, if we could see them as God sees them, then we could see the goodness, the hurt, the incredible pain, the disappointments, the hopelessness and yes, deep down, the need to be loved and seen as lovable, even when that is hard for us to see.
Today's Gospel is what Rabbi Urecki spoke of as one of our sacred stories, “stories that unite us and inspire us to look for G-d. But it isn't just looking for God in these scriptures but in our ordinary, every day living, within our families, our friends, our country, our world. This is what Ron Rolheisner spoke of as the domestic church where “every home is a monastery, every child is the Christ Child and all food and drink is a sacrament”. These are powerful and challenging words. It is really seeing as God sees, and loving as God loves, and seeing the multi-faced faces of God in all whom we meet. It is seeing the ordinary as holy. The world would be so different if we all could live with this in mind.
Presider: Let us now proclaim our statement of faith:
All: We believe in God, the Creator – the source of everything that exists in the universe. We believe that God’s divinity infuses all life, in all forms, everywhere with holiness. We believe in Jesus, the Christ, through whom we have become a new people, called beyond the consequences of our brokenness. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Breath of Life in the cosmos and the One who keeps the Christ vision present to everyone, searching for meaning and wholeness. We believe that you energize those people whose spirits may grow weary in the process. We say: Amen to courage, to hope, to the spirit of truth. We say amen to the partnership and equality of all persons, genders, and colors. We believe in justice and peace for everyone, everywhere, with no exceptions. In all of this, O God, we surely believe.

Presider:  Aware of God’s unconditional love for us, we, as people of faith, lift up our needs to our gracious God.
Response:  Let the Christ within us, respond in love.
Presider: We pray for peace in our world , and in our hearts.
Presider: We pray for wisdom and courage to discern more wisely your call to us in the circumstances
of our daily lives

Presider: We pray that we will choose to act justly and courageously in confronting the pain and
suffering that desecrates the Earth and its peoples

Presider: And for what else shall we pray? 
Presider:  Healing God, we ask you to strengthen us in our concerns for one another, here and throughout the world. We ask you to bless our efforts for peace, justice and equality so that, with our sisters and brothers, we may promote cultures of peace and nonviolence in our world.  As we always do, we make these prayers to you, O God, our Creator, to Jesus the Christ, and to the Holy Spirit,  our Wisdom Amen.
Offertory Song: #700 – “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman”  

Presider: Blessed are you, God of Creation, through your goodness we have this bread to offer…this grain of the earth that human hands have prepared for our use.  It will become for us the bread of life.

All: Blessed be God forever.

Presider: Blessed are you, God of Creation, through your goodness we have this wine to offer…this fruit of the vine that human hands have prepared for our use.  It will become for us our spiritual drink.

All: Blessed be God forever.
 Presider (the invitation is to all):  Jesus, who has often sat at our tables, now invites all of us to join him at his.  Everyone is welcome to share in this meal. Please join us around our family table.
Presider:  Let us give thanks to the Creator of all that exists.
All: With hearts full of love, we give God thanks and praise.
Presider:  Let us acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit among us gathered at the family table.
All: Help us develop our respect and reverence for you, for one another, and for all creation.

Presider:  Let us lift up our hearts.
All: We lift them up to the One who lives in us –  and loves others through us.

Presider: Christ dwells in each one of us.
All: Namaste!

Voice: Wise and faithful God, you have birthed us in goodness,
gifted us with life and cherished us in love.
In the heart of our being, your Spirit dwells;
a Spirit of courage and vision, a Spirit of wisdom and truth.
We are Holy,Holy, Holy, etc. (You, I, We) (Karen Drucker)
Voice: Creator God, we see around us the work of your hands,
the fruit of your wisdom and love. The unfolding story of
creation witnesses unceasingly to your creative power.
We, your creatures, often deviate from that wisdom,
thus hindering your creative presence in our midst.
Voice:Sending among us Jesus, you birth afresh
in our world the power of Sophia-Wisdom, and in the
gift of the Spirit, your creative goodness blooms anew,
amid the variety and wonder of life.
Voice: That same Spirit we invoke upon the gifts of this
Eucharistic table, bread of the grain and wine of the grape,
that they may become the body and blood of Jesus –
to nurture afresh in us the discerning gifts of
wisdom, light and truth.
ALL: Invoking the memory of tradition:
Gathering the disciples around the table of shared wisdom,
Jesus took bread; blessed you God of all good gifts,
broke the bread and along with the cup
handed to those seeking nourishment,
with these words: Take this all of you, eat and drink:
This is my body which will be given up for you.
ALL: After the meal, Jesus took another cup,
poured out in a spirit of solidarity and empowerment.
Jesus gave thanks and shared the cup with his friends,
saying: Take this all of you and drink from it;
this is the cup of my life-blood,
the life of the new and everlasting covenant.
In prophetic solidarity, it is poured out for you and for all.
Sustain one another in the power of sacred memory.
Voice: In the power of this Eucharistic meal, bless us afresh
with the gift of the Spirit, that our hearts may be open
and receptive as you invite us into the fullness of life.
ALL:In the wisdom of our triune God, Creator, Liberator, and Holy Spirit,
we are blessed with the gifts of this Eucharistic table, and with all
the good things bestowed upon our world, now and forever.  .
Amen: (sung) #936 “Amen, Amen, A—men”
ALL: (sung) Our Father and Mother…………
Sign of Peace
Presider : As we prepare to bring our gifts in the celebration of this Eucharist, let us strive to be faithful to the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.  And where we struggle, may God transform us to be a healing balm of love.  Divine healer of all, we pray.
All: Amen.
Presider: Let us share a sign of peace with one another as an expression of our recognizing the Christ that lives within each of us.  
Intrumental: “Silent Night”
Presider: Let us join then with the disciples of all ages, as we pray together:
ALL: Loving God, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice. We will live justly.
Loving God, You call us to be Your presence in the world. We will love tenderly.
Loving God, You call us to speak truth to power. We will walk with integrity in your presence.
Presider: This is Jesus, who called women and men to be partners and equals, and who liberates, heals and transforms us and our world. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love.
Presider: Jesus, you invite us to receive you and become you for others. We are the Body of Christ. May the Source of Life whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, be given glory through all generations. Amen
Distribution of Bread and Wine: You are the Body of Christ. You are the Blood of Christ.
Communion Song: Instrumental and moment of silence
After Communion Song: “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (Words on back sheet)
Prayers of Gratitude, Introductions, Announcements

Anointing of Katy Zatsick ARCWP by Mary Mother of Jesus Community
before Removal of Hardware surgery on January 5, 2018

Presider: All are invited to gather around Katy as we invoke God’s grace and blessing on her and her surgical team.

ALL:  Glory be to you Source of all being, Eternal word and Holy Spirit Sofia, as it was in the beginning is now and will be forever. Amen

Presider: Loving Mother and Father God, from our mother’s womb you pronounced our names and you have soothed us saying, “Do not worry about tomorrow”.

Voice 1: We thank you that you pour out your Spirit upon us within each day.
Voice 2: We thank you that your loving blessings are sufficient for us within each moment that we live.

ALL: We Pray for our beloved sister Katy that she will know your peace in her heart as she waits to undergo hip surgery in January.  We ask for a peace that surpasses all understanding and guards her heart and mind. A peace offered by Jesus every minute of every day.

Voice 3: May she rest into your promises and lean back into your love for her with total confidence in your loving providence. Remove from her heart all painful anxiety. 

Voice 4:  Holy Spirit guide the hands and hearts of the nurses and surgeons who will work with Katy, giving her hope, relieving her pain and bringing restoration.

ALL: We believe with a most lively and unlimited confidence that we are safe in the arms of your Divine Providence when we are most vulnerable.

Presider:  Katy, the same spirit that moved in Jesus dwells in you and fills you with love and peace beyond all imagination.  All of your loved ones in this community and the communion of saints join us in prayer. In their name and in the name of God we now anoint you for your healing journey.  (anoint Katy’s forehead and hands)

ALL: Katy, you are embraced by the Holy One and by all who are praying for you.  May you feel the power of divine love healing, comforting and strengthening you. In the name of God our Creator, Jesus our Brother and Holy Spirit Wisdom. Amen.

Presider: Let us pray as Jesus taught us.
ALL: Our Father and Mother…

Chant: “All is Well” (by Karen Drucker)

All is well. I can rest. I am safe. All is well. (Repeat)
Final Blessing (all extend hands)
Presider: As we go forth from this sacred space, let us purposefully look with new eyes and hearts, always with the purpose of enhancing life, as we recognize the Christ within all whom we meet, all of us members of the human family.
All: Amen
Closing Song: “# 385 – “Take Christ to the World (Sing twice)

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

  It came upon a midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the Earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the Earth, good will to all,
From heaven’s all gracious King”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.
O humble God, in Jesus born,
You know our human stress:
You felt our pains, you cried our tears,
You lived our loneliness.
May we know you in all who hurt,
In strangers ’round our Earth;
Exploited lives; and those who ache
For food, a home, self-worth.
  Will we go out to seek the Christ
To find God manifest
Within all people south and north,
In children east and west?
Yet in our search to find God’s gift
Amid the clam’ring din,
Will we acknowledge God in us,
The Christ who dwells within?

Little Town of Bethlehem

  O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie,
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light,
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

No longer dreamless, Bethlehem,
You bear the wounds of war;
Can words of peace make conflict cease,
When freedom is no more?
No! Therefore work for justice,
Let swords thrust none apart.
When all are free, the world may see
Christ born in every heart!

Teach us to live the trusting life,
To act with humbleness;
To rid our souls of pride and hate,
In all things thee to bless;
Make us in thine own image,
To serve our human race, 
Fair stewards of the priceless things,
True justice, hope and grace.

Make us content with simple joys,
Free us from willful waste,
No longer ruled by avarice,
Slaves to a worthless taste,
Give minds and hearts to seek
No treasures but from thee,
And share with us a boundless faith
Displayed in charity.

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community continued the celebration of Holy Family Liturgy with some of the members of our "holy family" at Red Lobster. All who attend our liturgies are always invited to join us for supper after liturgy.  

"Bringing Darkness to Light" by Sr. Linda Romey OSB

(Unsplash / Brendan Church)

"That is what our church has taught for centuries, breeding misogyny on the bad theology and bad biology to which it still clings, the teaching of Jesus notwithstanding."
"I watched a video about religious life for men and women in the same congregation; when I got to the end, something felt “off.” So I watched it again and here’s what I realized.
The men religious were portrayed differently than the women, even though they both profess the same vows. I suspect that the differences weren’t intentional, which makes it more distressing because that reflects a much deeper and troubling perception of how we understand the place of women and men.
Images moved over the narrated script: an image of reverent, prayerful members in a men’s community on a walkway with prayer books, followed by an image of members of the women’s community carelessly chatting on a sidewalk, carrying coffee mugs and a bright shopping bag.
Images of men gathered for conversation in formal — even ornate — sitting rooms. Women in conversation sitting outdoors on a patio in plastic chairs. Scenes of women doing physical work. Shots of men lighting candles around the altar. Only men were shown in conversation with non-members and in teaching roles.
Without even considering the script, the images alone presented a strong message. Although both men and women are called by God, women are called to something lesser. They aren’t as capable or deserving of the “higher” things; power and authority aren’t the realm of women.
It is this devaluation of women, carried through to the nth degree in the sexual harassment of and violence against women, that we are now beginning to name publicly, call out, stand against. Once-powerful men are being toppled by women who are no longer willing to be objectified, sexualized and silenced. Centuries — millennia even — of forced acquiescence and every kind of violence against women are being unmasked for what they are.
The Book of Daniel tells of two elders, appointed judges of the people (men, of course), who plotted how to get the beautiful Susanna alone after they “began to lust for her.”
When they trapped her and were caught, they accused her of being with a younger man, were willing to let an innocent woman go to her death to hide their crime.
The cultural messages that devalue and objectify women and the definition of women’s role as silence and submission are ingrained in us — in our families as we grow up, at every level of our educational system, in workplaces, in sports and in entertainment. And in our churches and religious communities.
The messages, like those in the video, are subtle. I spent a semester at the Mexican American Cultural Center in San Antonio, preparing for work in Latin America in the mid-1980s. At that time, the center and the diocesan seminary shared a campus. I became friends with a seminarian and we spent long evening hours talking at the edge of the pool during that hot San Antonio summer.
After I left the center, I received one letter from that seminarian in which he thanked me for not seducing him. The implication of his words stunned me even then. I was the temptress; responsibility for his good standing or downfall was on me, not on him. It would have been my fault if he couldn’t control himself.
That is what our church has taught for centuries, breeding misogyny on the bad theology and bad biology to which it still clings, the teaching of Jesus notwithstanding.
So why am I writing this, other than for therapeutic reasons? Because I believe that what we are seeing now — as woman after woman tells her truth — is a glimpse of light in the dark night of our collective soul. Maybe only the equivalent of 20 seconds of enlightenment in a lifetime of prayer and listening, but nevertheless a clarion call to fullness of life and, even more, the claiming of that fullness.
And I’m writing because I believe religious women continue to have an important role to play in this process.
Religious life is a prophetic vocation to the church as well as to the world. We have spoken and continue to speak truth to power, to stand with and advocate for the oppressed, the poor, victims of injustice and greed — who are disproportionately women and children.
We do it by creating soup kitchens and shelters for abused women; working to end human trafficking; protesting war; and fighting for equal pay and affordable health care. We do it when we demand inclusive language and full participation in church leadership and corporate boardrooms, and when we model for our sons as well as our daughters that women are made in the image and likeness of God.
More than ever it seems like our entire world is sunken in that dark night. Carmelite Sr. Constance Fitzgerald wrote in 1984, “Dark contemplation is not a validation of things as they are ... but a constant questioning and restlessness that waits for and believes in the coming of a transformed vision God; an affirmation of the self as woman that comes from deep inside and the consequent maturing to wholeness as a complete person; and a new and integrating spirituality capable of creating a new politics and generating new social structures.” 
More than 30 years later, we still work for a new politics and new social structures. Change comes slowly. But now we are witness to its coming.
I know because I walk in the company of 20-something-year-old women who refuse to be bound by a church or a society that denies them — or anyone else — full personhood because of gender and sexual and ethnic stereotypes. They are seekers who find community with us, who protest injustice and serve the poor alongside us.
Although not necessarily called at this time in their lives to vowed religious life, they look to us, their elders and mentors, for wisdom and guidance as they figure out their place in the shaping of the world. But also, in their questioning of our practices and rituals and lifestyle, they are in their own way participating in the re-creating of religious life.
I also know change is coming because so many of the guests who come to our monastery tell us, “There is something different here,” something different from their daily life experience.
Yes, the monastery is a peaceful environment and the grounds are beautiful. But the difference goes much deeper. What guests experience but often cannot articulate when they visit is that our language is inclusive, including in prayer and liturgy. The women who welcome and interact with them are strong women who lead and direct their own lives and ministries.
We are a community whose leaders encouraged the education of its members when education of women wasn’t a value. We are religious who claim our role as prophets, who know we are about bringing humanity to fullness. The difference is in how we live all this together, how we pray and work together. It is about unmasking what isn’t of God so that we can live more fully what is of God. And our guests feel that.
Yet, religious life is much bigger than we are. It is bigger than its inaccurate definition as “labor force” for the church. As women, we must continue to see ourselves — and enable others to see themselves — as full human beings and claim our full humanity as well as our divinity.
There is no “Yes, but ...,” no looking for both sides of the issue, no justification for misogyny in any shape or form. Like a Möbius strip, the Gospel of Jesus has only one side, and that is fullness of life."
[Linda Romey is a Benedictine Sister of Erie, Pennsylvania, and is the community's web developer/designer. She does marketing for them, Monasteries of the Heart and Benetvision. Prior to entering the Erie Benedictines, she worked seven years in Colombia. She is a former marketing and advertising manager for the National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company.]