Thursday, September 19, 2019

Ireland - Hopeful News- Irish Welcome Change in Church Teaching on Homosexuality, Women Deacons and Women Priests, We Met Today with Tony McCarthaigh a leader from Community of 72 and Myra Noonan to discuss a path to inclusivity and equality in the Church

Today, 9/19/2019 we met with Tony McCarthaigh, a married priest and leader in the Community of 72, who sponsor Eucharistic liturgies in the Dublin area and Myra Noonan on right who is also a member of the community of 72. Mary Theresa and I after reading the vision- mission paper happily joined this wonderful spiritual Irish community.

"...Finally, 86 per cent want church teaching on homosexuality to be changed and that all those excluded from the church, regardless of sexuality, marital or family status be accepted as full members.
Elsewhere in the survey, respondents reported wanting married priests (81%), women deacons (80%), and women priests (69%). Denis Bradley, a former priest and columnist for The Irish News, explained further about the process and its significance:
” ‘After a very thorough period of discussion and reflection, the hundreds of people involved were given an assurance that all suggestions that emerged and that were within the competence (authority) of the local bishop would be implemented as diocesan policy.’
” ‘Suggestions that the bishop couldn’t implement without the authority of the wider church would be sent on to the Irish Bishops Conference and to the Papal Nuncio to be passed on to authorities in Rome.’ “

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Blessing and Anointing of Hildegard Haus- Dedication of Church by Bishop Mary Eileen Collingwood ARCWP and Gathered Assembly

Mary Eileen Collingwood  ARCWP blesses and anoints walls of St. Hildegard Haus on Sept. 15, 2019 in Fairport Harbor, east of Cleveland. The community also anoints walls. See pics below. 

These doors are opened wide welcoming all to celebrate and dedicate this space in honor of St. Hildegard of Bingen.  May the bronze plaques on these doors remind us of Hildegard’s spirit in our prayers and celebrations. 

As this water is blessed, so too, is this Community blessed, you who are the spiritual temples that animate this sacred space. (The entire church is blessed with holy water.)

We now anoint our Table of Friendship, a visible sign of the true mystery of Your Divine Presence among us. ( Bishop anoints and people anoint Hildegard Haus

Ireland Today- We Visited Solas Bhride Spirituality Center in Kildare

 Today Mary Theresa and I visited with Sister Mary and Sister Rita to investigate possibilities for use of Solas Bhride Spirituality Center for our future retreat/seminar work. We also prayed at St. Brigid's Well. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy for September 15, 2019 - Presiders: Donna Rougeux, ARCWP, and Kim Panaro, ARCWP

Donna Rougeux, ARCWP, and Kim Panaro, ARCWP, led the Upper Room Liturgy with the theme: The call to cultivate the gifts in ourselves and in others.

Welcome and theme
Welcome to you all. Today we are praying a special liturgy in solidarity with our friends in Ohio who are dedicating Hildegard Haus.  On September 28 one of our ARCWP priests,  Rev. Dr. Shanon Sterringer,  will be here to lead us in a retreat on the theme of Hildegard of Bingen. Hildegard  has been named a saint and a doctor of the church because she contributes unique and timeless wisdom to our understanding of the gospel.  As Hildegard House, a center for Hildegard based teaching is dedicated, we pray for the success of that ministry. We also introduce ourselves in the first reading to a piece of her wisdom. Both Hildegard and the gospel writers known as Luke challenge us to look at the need to focus on that which is in need of help, that which is lost and that which can be unseen and unattended.

Opening Prayer
We are in the presence of all that is holy and lifegiving. We need only to breathe, pay attention and listen with the ears of our heart to the wisdom available to us. We dedicate this time together to hearing the words that will challenge us to look within our own hearts and minds to illuminate the places where we need to grow in courage , generosity and understanding. Amen

Opening: We Are Many Parts by Marty Haugen

First Reading
Letter from Hildegard to Pope Anastasius IV

You, O man, who are too tired, in the eyes your knowledge, to rein in the pomposity of arrogance among those placed in your bosom, why do you not call back the shipwrecked who cannot rise from the depths without our help? And why do you not cut off the root of evil which is choking out the good and beneficial plants of sweet taste and delightful aroma? You are neglecting the King’s daughter who was entrusted to you, that is, heavenly Justice herself. You are allowing this King’s daughter to be thrown into the ground; her beautiful crown and tunic torn asunder by the crudeness of those hostile people who bark like dogs and who, like chickens trying to sing at night raise up their ineffectual voices. They are charlatans, crying out, ostensibly, for peace, but, all  the while, biting each other in their hearts, like a dog that wags its tail among those known to him, but bites the honorable knight indispensable to the king’s household…But you, O man…rise up and run quickly to Justice, so that you will not be accused before the great physician of failing to cleanse his sheepfold and of neglecting to anoint his flock with oil.

Luke 15:1-10

Meanwhile, the tax collectors and the “sinners” were all gathering around Jesus to listen to his teaching, at which the Pharisees and the religious scholars murmured, “This person welcomes sinners and eats with them!”

Jesus then addressed this parable to them: “Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, doesn’t leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and search for the lost one until it’s found? And finding it, you put the sheep on your shoulders in jubilation. Once home, you invite friends and neighbors in and say to them, ‘Rejoice with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent.

What householder, who has ten silver pieces and loses one, doesn’t light a lamp and sweep the house in a diligent search until she finds what she had lost? And when it is found, the householder calls in her friends and neighbors and says, ‘Rejoice with me! I’ve found the silver piece I lost!’ I tell you, there will be the same kind of joy before the angels of God over one repentant sinner.”

Donna’s Homily Starter:  Lost and Found

This strong letter from Hildegard to Pope Anastasius IV vividly names central Christian truths that were being lost. What was being lost was proper focus to what matters.  She courageously laments a lack of compassion to lost ones and says that evil is “choking out the good and beneficial plants.” She is pointing out the need to take care of the lost but more importantly she challenges us all to look at why people are lost in the first place. Hildegard sees the need for healthy spiritual and physical growth of individuals and communities who are like plants in a garden. The implication is the pope needs to be a leader in inviting all people to the table and to be a strength spotter instead of a fault finder. Belongingness, talent finding and nurturing are core elements of a heathy community.

Her message to the pope is the solid wisdom that we today still find challenging and are called to implement. We must begin with the care we give ourselves then expand that care to others.

It is challenging to nurture our own strengths and talents when we listen to negative voices inside ourselves that say we are not thin enough, smart enough or not doing enough. We must replace these thoughts with positive awareness of what God has given us. When we are able to nurture our own strengths, we become equipped to spot and focus on the talents of others. This then emerges into a desire to nurture our community by asking and encouraging others to share their unique strengths.

To be better strength spotters we need to identify the uncelebrated gifts like a listener who doesn’t interrupt, or one who sets up the chairs and makes the coffee, the one who remembers to pray for those in need, the one who looks up and smiles and says “hello” to a stranger. Generosity of time, presence and hospitality are foundational to these uncelebrated talents.

As we reflect on Jesus’s lost and found parables we must ask ourselves if we are part of creating lost people, lost gifts and lost growth or are we part of celebrating found people.  We must celebrate the way our community flourishes when all are invited to the table and all are using their unique talents. This is the way we build the kingdom. We are many parts but one body which means that we each need to see ourselves and the other though the eyes of the creator who bestowed these qualities on us.

What did you hear? What will you do? What will it cost you?

Communion: St. Teresa’s Prayer. Sung by John  Michael Talbot

Closing: City of God by Dan Schutte

Opening Homily - Dedication of Community of St. Hildegard by Shanon Sterringer ARCWP

September 16, 2019

In the Gospel we just heard, Jesus tells his disciples, they will expel you from the synagogues. I have told you these things so that when the time comes, you’ll remember that I told you ahead of time. 

While preparing for this liturgy, my husband asked me if I was going to start the homily with a joke. I thought about it and here goes: “They will expel you from the synagogues” – and then they will send you letters of excommunication and post your name in parish bulletin… 

History has shown us time and time again, no individual or institution, regardless of its perceived power, can stop the work of the Holy Spirit. 
On May 10th of this year, when criticized for again dragging their feet on making a decision regarding the reinstatement of the female diaconate – for which solid evidence supports existed in the Roman Catholic Church for centuries, Pope Francis responded that the Catholic Church is not going to ordain women – but, and this is a direct quote, “If someone wants to make another church, they are free to do so." And here we are! On September 10, just a few days ago, when criticized for the fact that the Catholic Church is breaking off into a number of different factions today – conservative and liberal, Pope Francis replied that while he does not like it, he is not afraid of break-away groups. The pope stated, “There has always been a schismatic option in the church, always.” I fully agree with Pope Francis in that the whole history of the Church has been the result of very diverse factions struggling to find common ground, battling with one another over who has the truth. The Roman Catholic Church was built as the result of a schism. Jesus and his disciples, initially known as “The Way”, broke off from traditional Judaism. Jesus was a Jew, he died a Jew, and he loved his Jewish faith, but by Jewish standards he was not a very good Jew – he dissented and as we know, Holy Week resulted. So much of Jesus’s vision and ministry has been lost and distorted over the last two thousand years, shaped into nationalism, clericalism, sexism, and many other “isms” that were not a part of his message. Let’s jump ahead to the Protestant Reformation – Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk and a Catholic priest. He loved his faith, but he reacted and resisted the injustices of the institution. The prophetic act of hammering his 95 Theses was intended to reform the Church from within. But, instead, he was expelled, and had he not had the proper protection, he would have been killed. Martin Luther did not set out to create a new denomination – he set out initially to reform the Church that he loved. He was not well received by the hierarchy and as we know from history, his expulsion did not stop the Protestant Reformation, but rather it planted the seeds for a new generation of Christianity. A new way of being Church.

What we are experiencing today, in this liturgy, is a historical event. Historical not only in the sense that we are creating something new - though it feels new - but historical in the sense that we are reclaiming our divinely ordered place – a place given to women, by Jesus himself. Contrary to popular belief, Jesus did not select and ordain twelve men at the Last Supper. Jesus did not ordain anyone. Throughout his ministry he called many women and men to follow him. To lead others to God by modeling what he himself witnessed – humility, understanding, compassion, forgiveness, radical acceptance, and selfless love.  Jesus did not sit down with Peter and compose the Code of Canon Law – Canon Law developed in the middle ages From the scriptures we know that during his life, Jesus himself repeatedly broke the religious laws of his day by the way he loved those the institution had deemed unlovable and he charged his disciples to do the same. Love God and love one another – this is the only law Jesus established – the ten commandments, Jesus said, are encompassed in this one command - LOVE.  

Sounds simple enough. Yet, here we are, two thousand years later, with a Code of 1,752 Canons to enforce unjust, unloving, man-made laws, several of which unfairly expel faithful Catholics from their parishes and diocese. Like many of you here today, I am a cradle Catholic. Catholicism is in my blood. I have been a Roman Catholic minister – seminary trained – for two decades. Like you, I have always been taught that Catholics do not build or open our own Churches – that is what the other Christians do. Rather, we go to Church and we follow the rules and we do what the priest or bishop tells us to do. The problem with this, is not only that the rules are often unjust, but the institution is not even following its own rules.  Certainly, there are good priests, we are blessed to have one here in Fairport Harbor. However, we are all well aware that our parishes and dioceses are inundated with scandals, dysfunction, and toxic leadership – this is evident simply from turning on the news. In the last 15 years, dozens of dioceses here in the U.S. have filed bankruptcy, a diocese filing bankruptcy – its astounding - as a result of paying out compensation for criminal acts. Like so many other moments in history, as Pope Francis himself acknowledged just a few days ago, sometimes we are left with no other option but to be expelled and create something new. 

The readings for today were selected because they capture St. Hildegard’s charism and her understanding of the integral relationship between the sacred and mundane. Every part of creation – from inanimate stones to angels – all are a part of God’s divinely ordered universe. St. Hildegard of Bingen, as you may know, was a creative genius. She was a visionary (many of her visions are depicted on our walls, including her vision of the fallen stars here in the sanctuary), a mystic, a theologian, an artist, a musician, a preacher, a philosopher, a natural healer, a prophet, a letter-writer, and honestly, she was a pain in the ass to the hierarchy of her day. She challenged the law – religious and secular – when it contradicted the Gospel. She took her faith seriously and when the institution, entrusted with protecting, preserving, and passing on the faith failed in its mission, and we know it often fails, she did not hesitate to challenge it with scathing letters, profound preaching, and prophetic witness.  And yet, Pope Benedict XVI, in 2012 not only canonized her, but named her the 4th female Doctor of the Church, putting her on the same level with the male doctors of the Church, including St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, and St. Anthony of Padua.

I would like to read an excerpt from one of St. Hildegard’s letters to the “Shepherds of the Church” aka the bishops, around the year 1163AD. This letter was a copy of a homily she preached in Cologne:
“The one who was, and is, and is about to come, speaks to the shepherds of the Church… The trumpet of the Lord is the justice of God which you should meditate upon zealously in holiness, and make it known to the people at the proper time with holy discretion, rather than pounding them mercilessly with it. But you are not doing this on account of the waywardness of your own will. Thus the luminaries are missing from the firmament of God’s justice in your utterances, as when the stars do not shine, for you are the night exhaling darkness, and you are like people who do not work, nor even walk in the light because of your indolence. But just as a snake hides in a cave after it has shed its skin, you walk in filth like disgusting beasts…” 

Hildegard’s courage to stand strong in her convictions did not come without a personal cost and consequences. She spent several months during the last year of her life under an interdict which was only lifted shortly before she died. An interdict is another form of expulsion - she and her entire convent were forbidden from singing the liturgy of hours or participating in the sacramental life of the church, including receiving communion. At the age of 80 years old, she traveled from Bingen to Mainz to hand deliver a lengthy letter to the bishops regarding the interdict. In this letter she wrote:

And I heard a voice saying thus: Who created the heavens? God. Who opens the heavens to the faithful? God. Who is like God? No one. And so, O men of faith, let none of you resist God or oppose him, lest he fall on you in his might and you have no helper to protect you from his judgment. This is a womanish time because the dispensation of God’s justice is weak. The strength of God’s justice is exerting itself, a female warrior battling against injustice, so that it might fall defeated.

Eventually the interdict was lifted, thanks to her friend, Philip, the Archbishop of Cologne who advocated on her behalf. What was the reason for the interdict? She broke Church law. She buried an excommunicated soldier who had died in her infirmary in the abbey cemetery and refused to exhume the body when ordered by the bishops to remove it from sacred ground. She showed the soldier love and in return she and her sisters were punished. Hildegard’s faith was stronger than her fear. She fiercely believed in the presence of Living Light, the greening power of viriditas, and the potential for personal, social, and ecclesial transformation in every circumstance. 

Something new is unfolding all around us. In the words of St. Hildegard, it is a womanish time. New life – viriditas – is bursting forth through every crack and crevice waking us up to a new way of understanding what it means to be human, to be in relationship with one another, with God, and with all of the created world. As old systems are crumbling, there is a lot of debris, dust, and mess creating chaos and fear. Fear of change. Fear of ambiguity. Fear of letting go of the way we have always done things.  Fear causes us to desperately grab on to whatever remnants of the old remain.  During times of change, there is always a temptation to fall back on rigid rules and unyielding policies because they provide a false sense of security. 

The readings for today paint a beautiful image of a recreated world. Where the walls of the new Jerusalem are shining with gemstones and precious metals. A place where the sun and moon are no longer needed because God’s Living Light is perpetually shining brightly. We are being called to build this place through radical, selfless, unconditional love. It is risky, awkward, uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous, but it is the only way. Love one another as I have loved you. This is the only mandate Jesus gave to us. No other rules, no Canon Law, no fine print. Jesus did not, and does not, expel anyone from the synagogues or any faith community.    

I am only able to stand here in front of you today, as an ordained minister, in spite of an institution that stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the vocation of women to holy orders, because of the love and support of so many, in places I did not even realize existed. The Hildegard Haus simply would not be a reality without the work of so many hands within the community. Every aspect of this space – from the vestments I am wearing to the table we are about to consecrate, came from members here in this congregation and I sincerely thank all of you.  

At this time, we will bless the altar. As part of the blessing we would like to invite anyone who would like to participate to come forward and either lay hands on the wood or anoint it with some of the salve here in this bowl. This salve was made only a few days ago with beeswax and honey from our hives and biblical oils. Blessing this altar is not the task of the ordained ministers. It takes many hands, and it will take many more hands to continue to create something new, vibrant, and sustainable here in this sacred space. Bishop Mary Eileen will lead us first in the prayers of dedication and then we invite you up a row at a time to join us in consecrating the Eucharistic table we will share. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Media Interviews in Ireland with Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

Bridget Mary Meehan, based in Florida in the US, is speaking at the event. Explaining the purpose of the association, Meehen said: “It is a renewed ...

Radio Interview with Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, Ordaining Woman on

Radio Interview with Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, Ordaining Woman on

Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan is an ordained Bishop and Priest with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, .

 Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

While the Vatican has decreed formally that a woman who attempts to be ordained a Catholic priest and the person attempting to ordain her are automatically excommunicated, Dr Bridget argues that her ordination and those of here fellow women priests are valid because of the mystical connection that we all have with the divine, recognising that we are all one. She also sees the women priests’ movement as linked to global justice and  a revival within the church of the original message of Jesus – reaching out to the most marginalised and oppressed. She rejects the idea that anything or any institution, even the Vatican, can cancel the baptismal connection that she feels she has with the mystical union of oneness.
Dr Bridget will be holding a conference in the Maldron Hotel Sat 14th from 2pm to 4 pm on strategies to empower women on their way to justice and equality. Other panel members are Mary Theresa Streck from the ARCWP in the U.S.A. and Angela Hanly-theologian and author from Athlone.