Friday, July 20, 2018

Liturgy for St. Mary of Magdala, with Gospel of the Beloved Companion July 22, 2018, Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP and Mary Theresa Streck ARCWP

GATHERING SONG Sing a New Church

Presider:  In the name of God, our mother and father, and of Jesus our brother, and of the Holy Spirit, our wisdom.  ALL:  Amen.
Presider:  Holy One, you accompany us as we work together for partnership, justice and equality for women in church and society! 
ALL:  Alleluia.

Presider:  O God, we see your feminine face in our female ancestors and in all women.   
ALL:  May we open our hearts, like Mary of Magdala, to the Risen Christ.  

Presider:  We see the divine reality in the person of a woman especially in women who are called to serve and minister as equals.
ALL:  May we, like Mary of Magdala, proclaim the Good News that we are face of God in our world today.

All:   We forgive ourselves for our lack of trust in your Spirit Sophia moving with us, in us, and through us, as people of faith, living courage, healing and empowerment.   ALL: Amen.


First Reading:  Wisdom of Solomon 7:22-28
Response: Litany of Women for the Church 
Leader: Holy One, creator of women in your own image, born of a woman in the midst of a world half women, carried by women to mission fields around the globe, made known by women to all the children of the earth, give to the women of our time the strength to persevere, the courage to speak out, the faith to believe in you beyond all systems and institutions so that your face on earth may be seen in all its beauty, so that men and women become whole, so that the church may be converted to your will in everything and in all ways. We call on the holy women of the Early Christian Church who went before us and who stand beside us, channels of Your Word in testaments old and new, to intercede for us so that we might be given the grace to become what they are and have been for the honor and glory of God. 
Sing:   Jesus, in your spirit we renew our Church (with gestures)
       Father/Mother God, pray with us.
       Jesus Wisdom, pray with us.
       Christ Sophia, pray with us.
       Holy Spirit, pray with us.
Sing:   Jesus, in your spirit we renew our Church
       Holy Mother Mary, pray with us.
       Mary of Magdala, pray with us.
       Deacon Sophie, pray with us.
       Deacon Eugenia, pray with us.
       Deacon Paula, pray with us.
Sing:   Jesus, in your spirit we renew our Church
       Deacon Phoebe, pray with us.
       Deacon Basilissa, pray with us.
       Deacon Theoprepia, pray with us.
       Deacon Posidonia, pray with us.
       Deacon Agatha, pray with us.
Sing:   Jesus, in your spirit we renew our Church
       Priest Julia, pray with us.
       Priest Vitalia, pray with us.  
       Priest Epikto, pray with us.
       Priest Ammion, pray with us.
       Priest Flavia, pray with us.
       Priest Atrimadora, pray with us.
       Priest Kale, pray with us.
Sing:   Jesus, in your spirit we renew our Church
       Bishop Alexsandra, pray with us.
       Bishop Veneranda, pray with us.  
       Bishop Theodora, pray with us.
       Bishop Brigit of Kildare, pray with us.
Sing:   Jesus in your spirit we renew our Church

Second Reading: Romans 16:1-7, 16

Gospel Acclamation:

Reader:  We will pause at various points in our reading as asymbol of Mary of Magdala is brought forward.

A reading from the Gospel according to John 20:1-2, 11-18  and Gospel of Beloved Companion  41-42    ALL:  Glory to you O God.
41: 1 At the end of that week, when all the disciples had gathered in the house at Bethany, Mary of Magdala came to them and told them what she had seen and what Jesus had said. 

41: 2 But they were grieved and wept greatly, saying, “How shall we go out and preach the Gospel of the kingdom of the Son of Humanity? If they did not spare him, how will they spare us?”

41: 3 Then Mary of Magdala stood up, greeted them all and, raising her right hand, said to her brethren, “Only from the truth I tell you, do not weep and do not grieve or be irresolute, for his grace and that of the One who sent him will be entirely with you and will protect you. But rather, let us praise his greatness, for he has prepared us and made us truly human.”

41: 4 When Mary of Magdala said this, she turned their hearts to the good, and they began to discuss the words of Jesus. 

41: 5 Peter said to Mary of Magdala, “Sister, we know that he loved you more than any other among women. Tell us the words of the Rabbi, which you remember, which you know and understand, but we do not, nor have we heard them.”

42: 1 Mary of Magdala answered and said, “What is hidden from you, I will proclaim to you.” And she began to speak to them the words that Jesus had given her.

42: 2 “My Rabbi spoke thus to me. He said, ‘Mary, blessed are you who came into being before coming into being, and whose eyes are set upon the kingdom, who from the beginning has understood and followed my teachings. Only from the truth I tell you, there is a great tree within you that does not change, summer or winter, and its leaves do not fall. Whosoever listens to my words and ascends to its crown will not taste death, but know the truth of eternal life.’

Reader:  These are the inspired words of Mary of Magdala 
ALL:  Glory and praise to you, Jesus the Christ!

Homily for the Feast of Mary of Magdala – MTStreck 2014
My homily for the feast of Mary of Magdala is a blending of thoughts from two significant theologians within the Catholic Church, Sister Joan Chittister and Hans Kung.
 In her book, A Passion for Life, Fragments of the Face of God, Sister Joan devotes a section to Mary of Magdala, providing a historical glimpse into the life of the woman referred to as the apostle to the apostles. 

In his book, The Catholic Church, a short history, Hans Kung describes the early community of believers, those who followed Jesus, and committed themselves to him and to his cause.  Mary of Magdala, along with a number of men and women, were the first to join Jesus in a kinship community and it is to this type of community and its structure that I believe we need to return as we renew and revitalize our church.
So I will begin with Kung’s account of the early community.  
The community was committed to the teachings and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. 
Jesus who...
1.  did not proclaim a church, (he was Jewish and was about reforming Jewish practice from within)
2. did not proclaim himself (he was a servant leader), but he did proclaim the kingdom of God as here and now.
3.    And he called for the fulfillment of the commandments of the Old Testament in commitment to one’s neighbor through benevolent love.
The followers of Jesus believed in his core message – love God, love your neighbor and live the beatitudes. There weren’t a lot of rules and regulations. They were not Christians – they were observant Jews who heard the sometimes-radical message of Jesus and even though it was in conflict with their cultural religion, they knew the message to be true. This was a very brave position for a small band of followers who were probably ostracized by their local hierarchy and who were eventually excommunicated in Antioch from the synagogue.
And there, in the midst of this radical band of men and women believers, was Mary of Magdala, traveling with Jesus and tending to the community…
As I was preparing this homily, I was trying to imagine what it was like to be in that early community of believers. I’m sure it was somewhat similar to the gatherings we are now experiencing in our small house churches. We study scripture and we talk about how it is relevant to our lives today. We question and challenge each other about what it all means. We talk about the injustices in the church and how we can live a new model. We talk about the consequences of living a new model and the consequences if we don’t.  We care about one another and inquire about what is happening in our families and our jobs….and we always share food together. Our hearts are burning within us as we meet and the joy follows us long after we disperse.
I imaging that the first community of believers was very similar. It was from their experience with this Jesus, conduit of God’s love, luminous soul, face of the Living God, that their hearts began to burn within them.
According to Hans Kung, membership in the post resurrection community was very simple and the disciples understood that they had within their local communities all that they needed for human salvation: (1) The message of Jesus to proclaim, (2) baptism in the name of Jesus as a rite of initiation, (3) the celebration of a meal in grateful remembrance, and  (4) the recognition and commissioning of various gifts and ministries of each member within the community. 
That’s it. All the rest of the church trappings were added much later in the Church’s history.  In the first kinship community, there was no hierarchal, patriarchal structure. No relationship of domination.  Instead, in earliest Christianity, a term was used for which Jesus himself set the standard when he said, “Let the leader become one who serves” (Lk. 22,26). The disciples understood that the purpose of the community was primarily for service and the well-being of all. This kinship of women and men disciples became a community practicing social solidarity: openness to the poor, the wretched, the desperate, those who were discriminated against and outcast.
This was the community in which Mary of Magdala played a central leadership role. And, I would like to conclude by focusing on Mary of Magdala, both then, in that early community, and now, as an icon for the 21st century.
Sister Joan Chittister writes of Mary:
Scripture is very clear. In the early community, Mary of Magdala is a new kind of woman completely. She is the one who becomes the first woman minister, who risks her status in both synagogue and society for the sake of her faith in Jesus who had confounded both the synagogue and society.
Mary of Magdala is the witness who recognizes Jesus in his earliest moments and stays with him to the end. She is a leader among women and a person to be reckoned with by men.
Mary of Magdala is the woman who becomes companion and friend to Jesus and who stands beside him all the way the cross.
Mary of Magdala is the woman who is sent by Jesus to be the disciple of the resurrection to the disciples who had missed it. She is indeed the apostle to the apostles. (p.44)
That was then….this is now:
Sister Joan Chittister refers to Mary of Magdala as an important icon for the 21st century:
Mary of Magdala calls women to listen to the call of the Christ over the call of the church.
She calls men to listen for the call of the Christ in the messages of women.
She calls women to courage and men to humility.
She calls all of us to faith and fortitude, to unity and universalism, to a Christianity that rises above sexism, a religion that transcends the idolatry of maleness, and a commitment to the things of God that surmounts every obstacle and surpasses every system. (p.46)
Mary of Magada is a shining light of hope, a disciple of Christ, a model of wholeness for all of us who long for a renewed church. For the early community she was the Face of the Living God, heart burning with the love of Jesus, whose spirit was enlivened and empowered with a love that moved mountains. 

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 oppression, exploitation and injustices.  We believe that God loves us passionately and forgives us everything.  We believe that we are radiant images of God who calls us to live fully, love tenderly, and serve generously.  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 and world.  We believe that all are one in the Heart of God.  We believe that women’s liberation is human liberation.  Here we dwell in loving relationships.  Here we live our prophetic call of Gospel equality.

PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL (from resources :Future Church)
Lector 1:  Jesus healed St. Mary of Magdala of a very serious illness and then she followed him, supporting his mission with all of her resources.  Thank you O Christ, for all the ways you heal us.  Open our hearts to receive your healing grace and let us, like St. Mary of Magdala, put all we have at your service.  For this we pray.  
Response:  Loving God, hear our prayer.
Lector 2:  Mary and the other women and men disciples persevered with Jesus, even when he was persecuted by his own religious leadership and government authorities.  God of Strength, help us stand in Jesus’ truth and healing love especially when we experience persecution for justice’ sake.  For this we pray. 
Response.     Lector 1:  Because of her witness and fidelity, St. Mary of Magdala is known as the Apostle to the Apostles.  Help us, O God of Righteousness, to accept your apostolic call “to go and tell our brothers and sisters of Jesus’ power to heal… even wounded structures which exclude.” For this we pray. 
Response.    Lector 2:  Women were faithful disciples of Jesus and significant leaders in the early Christian communities.  Help us Most Inclusive One, to reclaim our baptismal call to leadership.  For this we pray. 
Response.     ALL: Amen


Presider:  Blessed are you, O God, Creator of all.  Through your divine providence we have this bread to offer, it will become for us the Bread of Life. 
ALL:  Blessed be God forever.   Presider:  Blessed are you, O God, Creator of all.  Through your divine providence we have this wine to offer, it will become our spiritual drink.  ALL:  Blessed be God forever.  Presider:  Nurturing God, we are united in this sacrament by the love of Jesus Christ in communion with Mary of Magdala, who proclaimed the Risen Christ. Like Mary, may we discover the liberating power of Woman-Spirit in our midst.  We ask this through Wisdom Sophia, Jesus, our brother, and the Holy Spirit.  ALL:  Amen.

Presider:  God dwells in you.  ALL:  And also with you.   Presider:  Lift up your hearts and pursue justice.  ALL:  We lift them up to God, Pursuer of Justice.   Presider: Let us give thanks to the Creator of all.   ALL: It is right to give God thanks and praise.

(all Eucharistic Ministers gather at the altar and everyone is invited in the space in front of and around the altar)

Part One:  O loving God, O blessed Holy Three, in your presence we birth the world of our dreams of mutual respect and partnership. In you, with you and through you, we act justly and work collaboratively to change systems that keep people poor and marginalized in our society. We thank you for the women and men who are working for justice and equality in our church and world. Your gift of the Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead, gives us hope that one day all will be one at the eternal banquet of heaven. With thankful hearts in the company of the angels and saints, we praise you, God of Abundance and Welcome.

ALL: (sung)  Holy, Holy Holy

Part Two:  You are holy indeed O Mothering God. You are the Heart of Love. You affirm women’s bodies as holy and women’s stories as sacred.  You pour out your Spirit upon all who work for justice and equality.  You  pour out your spirit upon this bread and wine so that we may become the body and blood of Jesus, the Christ, in whom we have all become your daughters and sons.

(please all extend hands as we recite the consecration)
Presider:  On the night before he died, Jesus came to table with the women and men he loved.  Jesus took bread and praised you, God of compassion. He blessed and broke the bread, gave it to his friends and said:    ALL:  “Take, eat, this is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. 

Presider:  After supper, Jesus poured the final cup of wine and blessed you, God the Creator.  Jesus shared the cup with his friends, and said:    ALL:  This is the cup of the covenant of my love poured out for you.  As often as you drink of it, remember me.

Presider:  Let us proclaim the mystery of faith: (sung)
ALL:   Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ is with us now

Part Three:  In memory of Jesus, who showed us the path to liberation and empowerment, we offer you, Loving Creator, the bread of life, this saving cup. We give thanks that we live in your Enfolding Presence and serve you with grateful hearts.  May all of us who share in this sacred banquet of Christ be brought together as one in the Holy Spirit and be filled with courage to live Gospel equality in inclusive communities working for justice and peace in our church and world.

Part Four: Holy One we remember your  people throughout the world, make us one in love, together with Francis our pope, our female and male bishops,  and all God’s people. We remember our sisters and brothers, who face oppression, discrimination and joblessness, who have lost homes, partners, and hope.  We remember all those who work for justice, who have given their lives for the needs of people who suffer injustice.  We remember all who have gone to their rest in the hope of rising again, bring them and all the departed into your everlasting arms.

Part Five: We are one with Mary, Mother of Jesus, our sister and champion of the oppressed, and the apostles through the ages, especially Mary of Magdala, Junia and Andronicus, and all the holy women and men who have done your will throughout the ages. Their courage inspires us to confront patriarchal systems that discriminate against women. May we be free at last from all bondage and injustice, and give you glory through Jesus the Christ.

ALL:  Through Christ, With Christ and In Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, may our work for justice, peace and equality give You glory and honor, Holy God forever and ever. 
(sung)    Amen (Lilies of the Field)

ALL:  Our Father and Mother…

Presider:  We dismiss all anxiety from our minds as we walk with Mary of Magdala and the cloud of witnesses who lived in joy  the fullness of  divine love.
ALL:  For the kindom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.

“Prayer of Peace” (David Haas)
Peace before us, peace behind us, peace under our feet.   Peace within us, peace over us, let all around us be peace.    Love before us…     Christ before us…

(Sung)  Loving God, you call us to speak truth to power as we serve our sisters and brothers in prophetic witness.
Loving God, you call us to live the gospel of justice and peace as we walk in solidarity with the oppressed in our world.
Loving God, you call us to be your presence in the world as we live love each day.

Presider: As we share in this sacred meal, we celebrate the presence of  Love in everyone and everything. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love.  ALL We are the Body of Christ.

Communion Song
"Peace is Flowing Like a River"   (Carey Landry)

Peace is flowing like a river, flowing out of you and me.   Flowing out into the desert, setting all the captives free.

God's love is flowing like a river. . .

God's healing's flowing like a river. . .

Al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia . . .
God’s peace is flowing like a river . . .

Copyright © 1975 Carey Landry & North American Liturgy Resources. All rights reserved.


Spoken Communion Meditation
The Magdalene's blessing
for Easter Day
By Jan Richardson

You hardly imagined
standing here,
everything you ever loved
suddenly returned to you,
looking you in the eye
and calling your name.

And now
you do not know
how to abide this hole
in the center
of your chest,
where a door
slams shut
and swings open
at the same time,
turning on the hinge
of your aching
and hopeful heart.

I tell you,
this is not banishment
from the garden.
This is an invitation,
a choice,
a threshold,
a gate.

This is your life
calling to you
from a place
you could never
have dreamed,
but now that you
have glimpsed its edge,
you cannot imagine
choosing any other way.

So let the tears come
as anointing,
as consecration,
and then
let them go.

Let this blessing
gather itself around you.

Let it give you
what you will need
for this journey.

You will not remember
the words –
they do not matter.

All you need to remember
is how it sounded
when you stood
in the place of death
and heard the living
call your name.

From Circle of Grace, p.157
(Period of Silence)

Announcements and Thanks

Presider:   Our God is with you. 
ALL:  and also with you.

 (everyone please extend your hands in mutual blessing)
ALL: We bless one another in the spirit of Mary of Magdala, and all our sisters and brothers, who are our companions on the journey. 
Presider:   Go in the peace of Christ.  Let the service for justice and equality continue! 

ALL:   Thanks be to God.