Saturday, January 12, 2019

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy Readings and Homily with Elena Garcia ARCWP

The Gospel for the Baptism of Jesus as told by a witness to the event and the life changing impact that resulted.

The warm sun is shining, and there is not a cloud in the sky. I wear a white robe, and I am standing in chest-deep water. It is the perfect temperature—comfortable and refreshing at the same time.
I have been following John for a while, and his message of repentance resonates deep in my heart. I wonder how I can apply his words—“Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight his paths.”—to my own life.
John has been baptizing people in the Jordan River, and I have seen the impact it has had on their lives. And yet, John keeps saying that someone is coming after him who is mightier and who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. Whatever that means, I believe him. He is holy, honest, and passionate.
Today is my day to be baptized—along with many others. As John places his hand on my head and speaks his words of repentance with conviction, I go under the water. I feel abundant peace in my heart, and I feel so grateful that God has brought me to this place and to these people. I don’t understand everything, but I know it is good and true.
My head is still dripping with water, and I look around at the others who have just been baptized or who are waiting for their turn. My eyes stop on one man whose turn is coming up. I think I heard someone say that his name is Jesus. It suits him perfectly. He doesn’t say a word, but he captivates me, draws me in with his peaceful presence. What is it about this man named Jesus?
He comes before John, and John’s entire countenance changes. John always has this amazing reverence for the other, but his reverence for Jesus increases exponentially. The two seem to know each other well, and John lovingly embraces Jesus. He prays over him, as Jesus goes under the water. Jesus comes up, and suddenly, the clear skies become even clearer. Is that possible? And the brightness coming from above is like nothing I’ve seen before. A great light shines on Jesus. It is a warm light that draws my heart closer to Him, even though I physically don’t move a muscle. I hear a voice, so strong and so gentle:
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11)
I can’t believe I am witnessing this miracle. I feel so privileged, so honored, like I’ve been invited to some royal event. My eyes remain on Jesus. Could he be the one John has been talking about? The one mightier than he? Maybe, but he responds to this voice with such humility and receptivity. It’s almost as if he is in prayer or conversation with this voice coming from the sky. If that is true, is this the voice of God?
I wish Someone would speak words like that to me. I wish God would call me beloved and be pleased with me. As longing for that kind of love blooms within my heart, I can’t help but grow in hopeful expectation. Perhaps since I am standing so close to Jesus, here in the water, maybe God’s loving gaze will find me, too. And perhaps if I follow Jesus out of this water, wherever He is going, maybe His Father will notice me and my proximity to His Son and be pleased with me, too. Maybe He will even adopt me as His beloved daughter.
So many questions flood my mind, and yet my heart knows without a doubt that I need to follow Jesus. The love that I feel between Jesus and this voice and the reverence that John shows Jesus convict me. I don’t need to fully understand. I just need to trust with the gift of faith.
These were the inspired words of Sarah Damm.
And we all respond:    Thank you Jesus! 

Homily on Feast of Baptism of Jesus  2019- Elena Garcia ARCWP

And this is the Marvel of Marvels, that He called me Beloved. Sit with this statement for a while and see what conclusions you can arrive at. The marvel part suggests somewhat of a surprise, astonishment, wonder and admiration. Beloved is an endearing expression of affection rarely used by us. Yet we are very familiar with the use of the word love. To the point that we use it to express our appreciation for all kinds of things. We love a movie or an ice cream or a pet or whatever offers us pleasure at the moment. Thus we may have lost the true meaning of loving and being loved. At  times when we feel the warm fuzzies toward another, we tell them that we love them. At other times we say it out of habit.  But to feel lovable we need to understand a deeper realization and meaning.

We can remain distant from the idea of being loved by God in such a way as to be called Beloved.  God is LOVE and God has first loved us. We in turn can love when we accept that God’s love makes us lovable regardless of our awareness of this phenomena.   The feeling that springs forth from us in the presence of  an infant evokes in us an unspeakable desire to hold that child, and to receive from it innocent love and acceptance. To be accepted just as we are, without discrimination or judgement. And we in turn accept that child who is pure and holy.

As the child develops and grows we then begin to acknowledge the individual personality and a strong attachment to a parental figure, accepting and often demanding that all its needs be provided by that person or persons. And so the bond between them grows and makes it possible for the loving parent  and the loved child  to overcome challenges together and to share that love with many as their circle widens exponentially, throughout their lifetime.

 And how do we know instinctively about responding to nurturing love, pure and holy? This celebration of The Baptism of Jesus gives us a bit of an  insight into how this love thing works.
As I meditate on this I am reminded that Jesus and His parent had such a relationship. Adoration, obedience, admiration, and joy.

I remember that at the time I entered the convent in my youth, I felt so loved that I chose for my motto, “To live in the joy of being loved.” That motto has been a reminder to me of my relationship with the Great I AM.  I am a child of God.  Dearly beloved sisters and brothers we are all a child of God. !
Yes we are the beloved and God is well pleased with us. Holy Love accepts us just as we are, unconditionally. And we, do we strive to have that same relationship that Jesus had with his  Imma/Abba?  Do we live in the joy of that love?

And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called us Beloved!

Questons for Homily Sharing
~  How has your life been impacted as a beloved ?
~  Does God’s love compel you to marvel?

WITNESS AGAINST TORTURE ACTIVISTS ARRESTED FOR SIT-IN AT SENATOR MCCONNELL’S OFFICE, Janice Sevre Duszynska ARCWP One of Witness Activists Arrested at Senator McConnell's Office

Alice Sutter and Janice Sevre Duszynska ARCWP on right

Don Cunning and Pamela Stoner

Above: Witness Against Torture enters Senator Mitch McConnell’s office, January 10, 2019. Photo by Steve Pavey.

Witness Against Torture sitting-in at Sen. McConnell’s office, January 10, 2019. Photo by Steve Pavey.
Four human rights activists were arrested today and charged with unlawfully demonstrating inside Senate office buildings after sitting-in at the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. They were among a group of about twenty-five Witness Against Torture activists who entered the office at 3:00 p.m. Many were clad in orange jumpsuits resembling those worn by prisoners in Guantanamo. They delivered a letter requesting McConnell’s assistance on two matters concerning human rights violations.
The letter asks him to “schedule a vote on the War Powers Act to end U.S. military involvement with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the terror attacks on the people of Yemen.” The letter also asks that he use his influence to close down the prison facilities at Guantanamo.
Two of McConnell’s aides listened to the activists’ concerns for an hour.
The four who were arrested had remained seated in a conference room inside the Senator’s office. They said they were prepared to wait in McConnell’s office until he is able to meet with them and confirm that he will take action on a vote on the War Powers Act regarding Yemen and initiate a process to close down the prison at Guantanamo.
The four arrestees were released around 8:45 PM after being charged with demonstrating inside the Russell Senate Office Building.  They are scheduled to appear in court in February.  Below is a copy of the letter the activists wrote to Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell.

Don Cunning (NJ), and Janice Sevre Duszynska (MD) review a letter they delivered to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office. Photo by Steve Pavey.
Witness Against Torture — or @witnesstorture
Witness Against Torture will carry on in its activities until torture is decisively ended, its victims are fully acknowledged, Guantánamo and similar facilities are closed, and those who ordered and committed torture are held to account.
January 10, 2019
Senator Mitch McConnell317 Russell Senate Office BuildingWashington, DC 20510
Dear Senator McConnell:
We are members of Witness Against Torture <>, and we are seeking your assistance on two matters, both of which concern human rights violations.  We would like to meet with you as soon as possible to discuss these issues with you, the Senate Majority Leader.
First, we feel it is extremely important that you schedule a vote on the War Powers Act to end U.S. military involvement with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the terror attacks on the people of Yemen.  Immense human rights violations are being committed by these two countries with the assistance of the U.S. military and U.S. weapons contractors.  You are quite aware that the situation in Yemen worsens on a daily basis, and thus we feel it is urgent to seek a meeting with you. On August 9, 2018, for example, the Saudi-led coalition conducted an airstrike in Yemen that destroyed a school bus and killed some forty children – using armaments allegedly provided by the United States. This attack took place more than three years into a conflict that has resulted in thousands of civilian casualties and a situation where 22 million people require humanitarian assistance.  Besides the famine, Yemenis are dealing with a health crisis as diphtheria and cholera are at epidemic proportions.
Our second issue is the US detention center at Guantánamo Bay which has been open for over 17 years. Forty men remain imprisoned, five of whom are cleared for release. Witness Against Torture is working to raise awareness about their torture and indefinite detention. We’re also working to combat Islamophobia across the U.S. Playing to Islamophobic fears of Muslim peoples, Guantanamo was founded with the lie that it houses only “the worst of the worst” terrorists.  It continues to hold exclusively Muslim men, many of whom were severely tortured, without charge or trial. 
   Other detained men face prosecution in the legally-flawed Military Commissions.  The unworkable Commissions have failed to provide due process for the accused or justice for the victims of terrorism.
Guantanamo has been a place of physical and psychological torture, the imprisonment of innocent men, brutal forced-feedings to break hunger-striking prisoners, and the pain of indefinite detention without charge. 
    The prison remains a profound violation of law. It is a threat to U.S. security and a blow to our ideals.  It is an insult to the world, to the tenets of all religious faiths, and to the idea of human rights. We are asking you to use your influence to close down the prison facilities at Guantanamo.
   These two issues are so critical that we are prepared to wait in your office until you are able to meet with us and to confirm that you will take action on a vote on the War Powers Act regarding Yemen and that you will initiate a process to close down the prison at Guantanamo.  Thank you for giving these matters your urgent attention.
In peace,

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Dr. Imogene Ann Steward Rigdon Obituary

Dr. Imogene Ann Stewart Rigdon passed away on January 3, 2019. Imogene was born on April 2, 1937 in St. Joseph, MO, the daughter of George and Mary Stewart. Early in her life she was a staff nurse at Catholic Hospital in Birmingham, AL and then Director of Nursing at St. Marys Hospital in the burn center, Milwaukee, WI. She received her Ph.D. in nursing in 1985 from the University of Utah. She was Dean of Nursing at Westminster College from 1987-95, where she established a Masters degree program for family nurse practitioners. Dr. Rigdon concluded her career as Associate Academic Dean of Nursing at the University of Utah College of Nursing 1995-2002. Imogene was a founding member of Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community that meets weekly at St. Andrew UCC. She is survived by her husband, Michael, daughter Mary and her sister Mary Jane Stewart Tabor.

Memorials will be in Sarasota, FL on Friday January 18, 10am at Bay Village and Saturday 4pm at St. Andrew United Church of Christ.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations be made to the Mary Byrne Stewart Graduate Fellowship at Missouri Western State University. 
Mail to: 4525 Downs Drive, Spratt 111; St. Joseph MO 64507 Please write in the For” Imogene Rigdon.
Online: (Under the Purpose menu please select Other" and enter Imogene Rigdon.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

ARCWP Newsletter- Leading, Winter 2019

Five Witness Against Torture Activists Arrested for Bannering on the Supreme Court Steps as Part of “Stop Torture” protest -Janice Sevre Duszynska ARCWP

Activists Participate in weeklong fast calling on the U.S. to Stop Support for the Murderous War in Yemen and Close the Prison Camp at Guantanamo 

On January 9, 2019, five human rights activists protesting all forms of torture were arrested while bannering on the Supreme Court steps. Their banner stated: “We Target. We Torture. We Terrify,” followed by the question “Who Are We?”  
Joining them were dozens of protesters who formed a tableau to denounce US-backed war on Yemen and call for closure of Guantanamo.
Alongside the banner, 36 children’s bookbags were scattered atop bloodied shrouds.. Each backpack bore the name of a Yemeni child killed on August 9, 2019 when a Saudi warplane dropped a Lockheed Martin 500 lb. laser guided bomb on their school bus. Remembering the nine prisoners who died in Guantanamo, activists clad in jumpsuits and hoods laid down on bloodied shrouds, across from the backpacks.
While Supreme Court security guards handcuffed those holding the banner, supporters sang: 
“Know where you stand. No more war. Know where you stand and stand there.”
 Explaining why she chose to risk arrest, Ellen Graves, a social worker from Western Massachusetts said she is troubled by grotesque practices that have starved, maimed, dismembered and traumatized Yemeni children. Graves and many of the other activists have gathered for a week of fasting and action that marks January 11, the seventeenth year since Muslim men have been imprisoned in Guantanamo. “The misery of Muslim people continues,” said Dr. Maha Hilal after reading the names of the Yemeni children being commemorated along with the names of nine Muslim men who have died in Guantanamo. 
Photo caption: Witness Against Torture activists demonstrate at Supreme Court
Photo credit: Steve Pavey

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Beautiful Chant on Divine Feminism- Woman of the Wisdom.. Mother of Eternity.. Dancing in the Unity We Long For

This track can be downloaded separately under the title of 'Tara -- Seven Petalled Lotus Mantra' at You may also wish to enjoy the CD Fierce Wisdom that it was originally taken from: Please visit to find out more about the music and work of Chloe Goodchild & The Naked Voice.

"In Benevolent Remembrance of Anna Kolesárová: A Voice of Love Engages A Murdered Girl" Mary Sue Barnett ARCWP

A Prayer

Loving Voice: The look in the soldier's eye
Anna: was from an elsewhere darkness 

Loving Voice: The sound of his voice
Anna: violated my soul

Loving Voice: The threats he muttered at you
Anna: were erasing my life as I still breathed 

Loving Voice: The gun he pointed at you
Anna: stirred my desperation to live 

Loving Voice: You knew his intentions
Anna: cruel and dehumanizing 

Loving Voice: You found strength and courage Anna: to fight back because I loved myself

Loving Voice: A fight you could not win
Anna: but for my family 

Loving Voice: A strength that held you
Anna: it was like a Breeze

Loving Voice: A peace that soothed you
Anna: She vanquished the terror 

Loving Voice: A love that filled you
Anna: He welcomed me

Loving Voice: Rest in endless love 
Anna: you are my witness

Loving Voice: Rest in endless peace, brave one
Anna: I am, beloved friend

Note from Mary Sue Barnett: I co-wrote this prayer with a friend (who remains anonymous) as a loving, healing alternative to the September 2018 beatification of a Slovak girl, Anna Kolesárová, in which she was classified as a martyr in defense of her virginity. She was murdered by a Russian soldier would-be-rapist in 1944 in her home in front of her family. 

It is painful to see that the current Pope, the leader of the largest Christian denomination in the world, endorses the thinking that it is holy for a girl to fight unto her death to avoid being raped, that it is better for a girl to be murdered than to be sexually violated. This thinking cannot possibly come from a living God. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Reflection on Roman Catholic Pyramid Model of Power Over People- Epiphany 2019 by John A. Dick, Ph.D., S.T.D, Association for the Rights of Catholics

My Response: Highly recommended, thought-provoking essay! Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP
"For better or for worse, 2018 is history. We cannot change history. We can, however, learn from history and shape the future.....

Reviewing 2018 events, I have been struck again by how some news-making Christian leaders have not empowered people but exercised their power OVER people: Roman Catholic ordained ministers, who support women's ordination, have been quickly removed from their ministry. Highly qualified and respected gay people, after announcing they are getting married, have been fired from teaching or parish ministry positions. Theologians offering new insights and or critical observations about institutional leadership have been sidelined or fired. And of course continued sexual abuse of children, men, and women. Yes there is a very warped RC institutional understanding of human sexuality; but the key issue here is power. In a vertical power pyramid, the guys on top take advantage of those beneath them. The most recent revelations, hitting the news this week, are about a decades-long sexual abuse of nuns in India by RC ordained ministers, while their bishops looked the other way. In the ecclesiastical pyramid the old boys club remains very powerful. The patriarchal pyramid.
Nevertheless, POWER OVER PEOPLE is not a Christian virtue; and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
As we begin 2019, I have four short reflections about Christianity and power: (1) a bit of history, explaining how Christian leaders became power bosses; then (2) two Gospel readings about Jesus empowering people; (3) some contemporary observations; and (4) a bit of self-defense.
(1) Historical Reflection:
In the fourth century, Christianity emerged as an accepted and welcomed part of the Roman Empire. Ironic to say the least. As the Christian religion, with strong Roman Empire support, developed a more defined institutional structure, a major paradigm shift was underway. Sometimes people and institutional leaders neither see nor understand the long-term implications of what they are getting into.......
In the autumn of 312 CE, Constantine and his soldiers, according to the old legend, had a profound military-religious experience, encouraging them to fight under the sign of Christ. Fighting under the insignia of Christ, at the Battle of the Tiber's Milvian Bridge, Constantine's troops defeated his major rivals, especially fellow emperor Maxentius, whose head was triumphantly carried through the streets of Rome. Constantine became the single Roman Emperor. He converted to Christianity (but was not baptized until shortly before his death in 337). Historians wonder if he really became a Christian or very pragmatically used the growing Christian religion to tie together his unsteady empire......
Constantine was certainly pragmatic and hoped to unify the Roman Empire by promoting just one religion for all. In 313 he issued the Edict of Milan, making Christianity one of the legally recognized religions in the Roman Empire. Then, in 325, he convened a council of all Christian bishops in Nicaea (now İznik, Turkey). They formulated the Nicene Creed - still used today - and demanded that all Christians accept it. For Constantine it was another step in unifying his empire. Although Constantine died in 337, forty-three years after his death his dream was realized with the 380 CE Edict of Thessalonica, which declared Nicene Christianity to be the ONLY legitimate religion for the Roman Empire. Church and state were becoming one. Church leaders became imperial leaders in power, influence, courtly attire, and imperial protocol. The bishops of Rome gloried in it.
Curiously, the Nicene Creed of 325 said nothing about what Jesus had taught, beyond the idea that God is a Father. It said nothing about loving one another, about compassion, or forgiveness, or helping the poor and needy, or renouncing violence, or building bridges with one's enemies.
Thanks to Constantine and the Council of Nicaea, institutional Christianity shifted its identity focus from correct Christian conduct to doctrinal fidelity and institutional obedience. It was indeed a major shift.
(2) Gospel Reflections:
We begin with Luke chapter 7:19-23: "And John, calling two of his disciples, sent them to Jesus, saying 'Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?' And that very hour Jesus cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits. To the blind he gave sight. Jesus answered and said to them, 'Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news preached to them.'"
Jesus did not OVERPOWER people. Jesus EMPOWERED people.
Jesus taught by example not dogmatic decree. See Luke 10:25-37: "Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. 'Teacher,' he said, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' He said to him, 'What is written in the law? What do you read there?' He answered, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.' And Jesus said to him, 'You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.' But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' Jesus replied, 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.' Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?' He said, 'The one who showed him mercy.' Jesus said to him, 'Go and do likewise.' "
(3) Contemporary Observations:
If fidelity to Christian doctrine is the sign of an authentic Christian, rather than correct Christian conduct, some very strangely behaving people carry the label "Christian." They can say "I believe" and continue oppressing the poor, denigrating women, mishandling immigrant children, and destroying the environment. When Christian leaders ignore the ethic of Jesus, they become strange proclaimers of the Gospel. Right now I am thinking about those USA evangelical pastors who see Donald J. Trump ushering in the second coming of Christ. They proclaim as well that opposing DJT policies is satanic.
We need Christian leaders but not self-protective and ignorant power bosses. The church is a community of faith. The church is the People of God. The church is a life-giving community of men and women with active concern and lived-out conviction.
(4) Offering critical reflections is hardly anti-Christian
Despite what some occasionally suggest, I am neither anti-Christian nor anti-Catholic. Church criticism, indeed, must be constructive; and it should be characterized by objectivity, informed understanding, open conversation, and constructive dialogue."
Throughout the coming year I hope we can better appreciate the full picture of what it means to be a Christian. I hope we can become better informed, more collaborative in our decision-making, and more courageous in our critical words and constructive actions.
Warmest regards and every good wish for 2019.
John A. Dick, Ph.D., S.T.D. (ARCC Vice President and Treasurer)  is a historical theologian - Catholic University of Leuven and University of Ghent