Sunday, November 17, 2019

Liturgy at The Wellness Connection Retreat Center - Presiders: Santa Orlando and Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP

Santa Orlando and Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP, led a Eucharistic liturgy of Thanksgiving at The Wellness Connection Retreat Center in Waterford, NY. The theme of the liturgy was "Gratitude Amidst Chaos." Mary Theresa's homily starter is below the readings.

Opening Reflection:
Written by Santa Orlando

Give thanks...
Perhaps for family and friends? For all Loving relationships?
For good health and economic stability?
For safety? For security? 
For Nature which provides food for body and soul?

So much to be thankful for.

Disturbing times require more Thanksgiving-
More compassion, less ego,
More empathy , less dualism,
More tolerance, less anger.

Amidst the struggle is HOPE.
And what is it we hope for?
Is it for courage to bear witness to the pain and struggle?
Is it for awareness that prompts us to change our ways?

Or, is it for openness to love more deeply and unconditionally?

Who is the recipient of our Thanks and What is the source of our Hope?
So many questions…..

Turn to the essence of love.
Perhaps together we will find the answers.
Opening Song: We Come to Your Feast by Michael Joncas


First Reading: Gratitude by Joyce Rupp 

To be grateful for what is,
Instead of underscoring what is not.

To find good amid the unwanted aspects of life,
Without denying the presence of the unwanted.

To focus on beauty in the little things in life,
As well as being deliberate about the great beauties
Of art, literature, music, and nature.

To be present to one’s own small space of life,
While stretching to the wide world beyond it.

To find something to laugh about in every day,
Even when there seems nothing to laugh about.

To search for and to see the good in others,
Rather than remembering their faults and weaknesses.

To taste life to the fullest,
And not take any part of it for granted. 

To find ways to reach out and help the disenfranchised,
While also preserving their dignity and self-worth.

To be as loving and caring as possible,
In a culture that consistently challenges these virtues.

To be at peace
With what cannot be changed.

These are the inspired words of Joyce Rupp and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Response: Psalm 139 sung by Kathryn Christian 

Alleluia – Eightfold Alleluia sung by Jan Phillips 

Gospel: LK 21:5-19 

While some were speaking about the temple,
how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God,
Jesus said, “As for the things you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another, all will be torn down.” 

They asked him, "Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?"

Jesus answered, "Beware that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he,' and 'The time has come.'
Do not follow them! 

When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified;
for such things must happen first, but the end will not follow immediately."
Nation will rise against nation, and empire against empire.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.

Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will bring you before rulers and governors
because of my name.
This will be your opportunity to give testimony.

Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I will give you words and a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.

You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives."

These are the inspired words of Luke and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Homily Starter by Mary Theresa

The theme for today’s liturgy is “Gratitude Amidst Chaos.” We just heard a beautiful reading by Joyce Rupp on gratitude and then we heard a disturbing Gospel by Luke that foretells a time of chaos in the Jewish community. Jesus warned his followers that their revered temple, a place that symbolized their connection to the Divine and their connection to each other, would be destroyed. It seems that they were not surprised by Jesus’ words but instead wanted to know how soon all of this was going to happen. They were accurately reading the signs of the times.

The Gospel sure sounds like the chaos we are experiencing right now in our world community. Countries are rising against each other and revered religious institutions are losing their credibility. The political and religious institutions are in chaos.

In the Gospel, Jesus reminds his followers, then and now, to stay true to what he has taught them – take care of one another – especially the poor and marginalized. Confront the systems of oppression with non-violent prophetic witness even if it puts you at odds with revered political and religious institutions.

So how do we prepare ourselves for this type of conflict? Jesus tells his followers to keep their focus on him and they will be fearless. How do we do that? What practice(s) help to keep your heart steadfast on the Gospel message? Meditation? Prayer? Reflecting on a good book? A beautiful poem? What feeds you and leads your feet to prophetic non-violent witness of the Gospel?

In the first reading, Joyce Rupp provides meaningful, prayerful practices in one brief passage. Deepak Chopra says, “Gratitude is good for you; it creates a biochemical shift in the body. The brain responds to positive input and sends life-enhancing messages to every cell.”

Emerging scientific theories are confirming what mystics have known – we are one – not just all human beings, but all creation, the entire universe. So when we send out those grateful prayers, or any prayers, we are affecting not only ourselves but others as well. We are creating a less chaotic world.

What are your thoughts about the readings?


Holy One, we stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history – a time when humanity must choose its future.

As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future holds both peril and great promise.

May we recognize that, in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms, we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. 

United with our vast universe, with our Mother-Planet and her people everywhere, with one another and You, Holy One, our spirits dance and sing this song of praise: 
Holy Holy Holy... sung by Karen Drucker

We give grateful thanks for those who came before us, for all those who gave from their hearts, who gave from their lives, that there might be a better world, a safer world, a kinder world, we pray for peace in their name.

And for the children, that they may live, that they may have children of their own and that it will go on - this great blossoming that is meant to go on and on – we pray for peace, in their name.

And for all peoples of this earth who have no voice in this,
For the animals that have no voice in this,
For the plants, the trees, the flowers that have no voice in this,
For all who share this earth with us, we pray for peace in their name.

We thank you for our brother, Jesus who showed us so simply, so tenderly, how the world is in our hands. He had nothing in this world but your love, companions on the journey, and his very self. Together, that was more than enough, and that remains our clarity in the midst of confusion: the miracle of healing, new hope, nurturance, nourishment, liberation and life.

We invoke Your Spirit upon the gifts of this Eucharistic table, bread of the grain and wine of the grape, that they may become gifts of wisdom, light and truth which remind us of our call to be the body of Christ to the world.

On the night before he faced his own death and for the sake of living fully, Jesus sat at the Seder supper with his companions and friends. He reminded them of all that he taught them, and to fix that memory clearly within them, he bent down and washed their feet.

When he returned to his place at the table, he lifted the Passover bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it to them saying:
Take and eat, this is my very self. 

Then he took the cup of blessing, spoke the grace, and offered it to them saying:
Take and drink.
Whenever you remember me like this, I am among you. 

Loving Source of All, we have looked for others to save us and to save our world. Yet, we are called, and consecrated and sent into the world to establish justice and show the blessed fulfillment that comes with simplicity and the giving of ourselves in love. We will make new our commitment to the harmony of the original vision of creation. 

We will open up wide all that has been closed about us, and our small circles. Like Jesus, in all openness, we will be filled with your own Spirit and renew the face of the earth.

For it is through learning to live as he lived, and why he lived, and for whom he lived, moving us to worship you truly, at this time and all time and in all ways. AMEN!

Let us pray as Jesus taught us:

Holy One, who is within, around and among us,
We celebrate your many names.
Your Wisdom come.
Your will be done, unfolding from the depths within us,
Each day you give us all 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 (Miriam Therese Winter) 

May the Peace of the Holy One be with each of you. 

Peace Song: Blessing Song byJan Phillips


This is the bread of life and the cup of blessing. Through it we are nourished and we nourish each other.

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.

Communion Song: Song of Thanksgiving by the Dameans


May wonder and thanksgiving fill us, may compassion penetrate us, that we may penetrate the numbness that continues our society’s injustices. May we know that we are loved.
May we continue to be the face of the Holy One to each other and may we be a blessing in our time! Amen.

Closing Song: May the Longtime Sun by Sara Thomsen 

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