Monday, July 27, 2020

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - July 26, 2020 - Liturgy in Celebration of Mary of Magdala - Presiders: Dennis McDonald, ARCWP, and Rosie Smead, ARCWP

Mary of Magdala Liturgy

Theme: Dennis: In every generation women, like Mary of Magdala, have and continue to faithfully and generously respond to the call to serve the Holy One and all holy people. They have been apostles and disciples, leaders, preachers, pastoral ministers, chaplains and yes, priestly people offering their gifts to the world.

Yet, the Roman Catholic Church now suffers a poverty of spirit brought about by the exclusion of women from full participation in the life, ministry, and leadership of the church.

Today, we feminists -- women and men -- gather together to pray for a Church, modeled on the inclusive practices of Jesus, that is truly alive with the gifts, spirit, and potential of all its members.

Rosie:  We gather in celebration of Mary of Magdala and countless other women who came before us – our foremothers in faith -- whose too often forgotten stories instruct and inspire us.

We gather in solidarity with women throughout the world, whose demands for justice and inclusion call us to conversion.

We gather in hope for our church, that - with our help - it might become a place of radical inclusion and justice, and equality without qualification.

Opening Song: Sing a New Church


Rosie: Good and Loving God, Creator of women and men in your own image,
Create in us and in our church a desire for the wholeness you planned;
Word, made flesh and born of a woman,
Empower us that we, like Mary of Magdala, may boldly proclaim the truth of our experience;
Holy Spirit, animator of women throughout space and time,
Guide us as we work to create more just and inclusive structures in our Church and world. AMEN.


A reading – in celebration of feminism and the social mission of the church union – from Diane Hayes:

As Christian women who believe in our God-given right to become whoever and whatever we are capable of becoming, womanists challenge not only the black Christian churches but all of Christianity to live out the true, liberating message of Christ, for the truth will set us all free. To be a Christian is to be about the salvation of the world, not through forced conversions, not through the oppression of those who differ in skin color, gender, religion, economic status, or sexual orientation, but through somehow loving a new world into life, a world in which all people can live free.

We must live the life we sing about, challenging ourselves to never be reconciled to any doctrine or ideology that renders us less than human, silent and invisible. We must dismantle the master’s house, if necessary, using new tools forged from our own discovery and recovery of our long lost and stolen pasts as women of every race and nation and build a house of God that has “plenty good room” for all to sit down.

These are the inspired words of Diana Hayes, which the community affirms by saying, Amen.

Hayes, Diana. “Speaking the Future into Life: The Challenge of Black Women in the Church” The Church Women Want: Catholic Women in Dialogue, edited by Elizabeth A. Johnson, The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2002, p. 94.


A reading from The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, Apostle to the Apostles

Page 9: 5-20; Page 18:13-17

Having spoken, the teacher departed. The disciples were in sorrow, shedding many tears, and saying, “How are we to go among the peoples and announce the Good News of the Kin-dom of a new Humanity, embodied in our Teacher? They did not spare his life, so why should they spare ours?

Then Mary arose, embraced them all, and began to speak to her brothers, “Do not remain in sorrow and doubt, for his Grace will guide and comfort you. Instead of lamenting his loss, let us praise his greatness, for he has prepared us for this. He is calling upon us to become fully human.”

In this way, Mary turned their hearts towards the Good, and they began to discuss the meaning of the teacher’s words.

These are the inspired words from the Gospel of Mary which the community affirms by saying, Amen.

Shared Homily
Diana Hayes states “As Christian women who believe in our God-given right to become whoever and whatever we are capable of becoming, womanists challenge … all of Christianity to live out the true, liberating message of Christ.” And that true, liberating message of Christ is “loving a new world into life, a world in which all people can live free.”
Our theme today speaks of the Church suffering “a poverty of spirit brought about by the exclusion of women from full participation in the life, ministry, and leadership of the church.” It also says that we gather together with all women to call for justice and inclusion for all women across the world. 

For the women and men within the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, this call begins with a cry for justice and inclusion within the Church, that the call to priesthood heard and embraced by women be recognized and celebrated by the Church.  But these women and men, in solidarity with women throughout the world cry out for more.  They cry out for justice against domestic violence, against enslavement, against human trafficking, against all forms of discrimination and violence against women.

This is what we call the Church to, the recognition of the value and dignity of women in today’s world.  Unfortunately, the Church has a long history of denigrating women, seeing them as less than, perhaps even being frightened of their gifts, their intelligence, their spiritual power.

Elizabeth Berne DeGear in her Mary Magdalene Sermon in 2019 said, “as a Doctor of Psychology and religion I know that we tend to fear the spiritual power that comes through women’s authentic personal experience. The very human reaction to that fear is to denigrate the person whose creative power and authenticity frightens us.”  She goes on to wonder if this is why Mary Magdalene was maligned over the centuries, was slowly minimized in the role she played in the early days of The Way.  She was declared a prostitute, a sinner, a woman possessed.  This is the woman recognized in all four gospels as the first to experience the Resurrection of Jesus.  She is the one who Jesus ordained to proclaim to the others the Good News that he had been raised from the dead.

We do not have to look far to realize that this approach continues today with the condemnation of women rightly claiming their call to priesthood, and their role in proclaiming the Good News.  For this they are excommunicated, with a claim that what they do is more damaging to the faithful than priests who have sexually abused children. That “crime” does not warrant excommunication in the eyes of the Church. The misogynistic, patriarchal approach toward women is alive and well in today’s Church. 

The Gospel of Mary portrays Mary of Magdala as a leader and a spiritual mentor to the other disciples.  Jesus shares with her truths that no one else has heard.  She then shares them with the others, moving them to be filled with confidence and courage to share the Good News. 

Like Mary, the women who have embraced their calling to priesthood are leading the way to a new vision.  It is a vision of a world where all are treated with respect and dignity, a world where women are recognized and celebrated for the gifts they bring to, not only the Church, but to the world in which they live. These women call out the injustices against the oppressed and downtrodden. They speak out against climate change and environmental destruction.  They speak against tyranny and misogyny.

These women know that the Church has no power over them. They reject excommunication, since they know that a higher power has called them to ministry.  It is the same power that called forth Mary Magdalene, and like her they have witnessed a new dawn, a new day that empowers them to go forth and proclaim the Good News.

Statement of Faith
Dennis: Please join in praying our statement of faith
We believe in the Holy One, a divine mystery
beyond all definition and rational understanding,
the heart of all that has ever existed,
that exists now, or that ever will exist.

We believe in Jesus, messenger of the Divine Word,
bringer of healing, heart of Divine compassion,
bright star in the firmament of the Holy One's
prophets, mystics, and saints.

We believe that We are called to follow Jesus
as a vehicle of divine love,
a source of wisdom and truth,
and an instrument of peace in the world.

We believe in the Spirit of the Holy One,
the life that is our innermost life,
the breath moving in our being,
the depth living in each of us.

We believe that the Divine kin-dom is here and now,
stretched out all around us for those
with eyes to see it, hearts to receive it,
and hands to make it happen.
Dennis: As we prepare for the sacred meal, remember that just as Jesus is anointed so is each of us.  And, we bring to this table our blessings, cares, and concerns.  (Dennis reads the intentions)
We invite you to silently add your own intentions (Pause……..)
For these and all unspoken intentions, we pray.  Amen.
Rosie:  O loving God, O blessed Three in One, who brings to birth the world of our dreams for mutual respect and partnership, we do well always and everywhere to give you praise.  Give us courage to 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 the church and world. Your gift of the Spirit, raising Jesus from the dead, gives us hope that one day all will be one in the divine realm of Love. With thankful hearts in the company of the angels and saints, we praise you, God of Abundance and Welcome.

ALL: Sing: Here in This Place by Christopher Grundy

Holy One, may your presence here
open our minds
may your Spirit among us
help us to find
you are rising up now
like a fountain of grace
from the holy ground
here in this place.

Holy, holy, holy God
of love and majesty
the whole universe speaks of your glory
from the holy ground here in this place. Here in this place.  (Repeat)

Dennis: 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.  Pour out your Spirit upon all who work for justice and equality.  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.

Your Spirit is upon the gifts of this Eucharistic table, bread of the grain and wine of the grape. They are gifts of wisdom, light and truth which remind us of our call to be the body of Christ to the world.

Rosie: 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.

All lift their plate and pray the following:

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.
(pause, consume bread)

All lift their cup and pray the following:

He then raised high the cup of the covenant, spoke the grace, and offered it to them saying:

Take and drink. Whenever you remember me like this, I am among you.
(pause and drink)

Dennis: 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.

Remember your holy people throughout the world, make us one in love, Remember our sisters and brothers, who face oppression, discrimination and joblessness, who have lost homes, partners, and hope.  Remember all those who work for justice. Remember those who have passed from this world, may they be forever embraced by Divine Love.

Rosie: Make us 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.  May their courage inspire us to confront patriarchal systems that discriminate against women.  God, may we be free at last from all bondage and injustice. May our work for justice, peace and equality give You glory and honor, Holy One, forever and ever.  Amen.

Let us pray together the prayer of Jesus:

O 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)

Communion Meditation: Oh Mother God by Karen Drucker

Oh Mother God flowing through our hearts.
We give thanks for the bread of our lives.
For the hands in the earth and the fruit of your womb.
Oh Mother God, blessed be. Oh Mother God, blessed be.

Oh Mother God thank you for this day.
For the love that you wash over me.
And this joy in my heart I will share with the world.
Oh Mother God, blessed be. Oh Mother God, blessed be


Dennis: O Divine Love and Compassion, just as you called Mary of Magdala, you also call us to go forth and to tell the Good News.  We answer you as people who are often unsure of our desire to be so embraced.  Guide us closer to You and to each other.  Strengthen us in our walks of life and seal us with the Spirit of your promise.  We ask this through our Holy Sophia.  Amen.


Rosie: Please raise your hands in blessing:
May the fire of the Holy One's love warm our hearts.  May we live justice and equality in our church and world.  May the love of Christ fill us and radiate through us forever.
May Mary of Magdala be our model of courage and faithful service.  By her example may we delight in the presence of Jesus and shout with joy:  "I have seen my Rabboni!" Amen.

Closing Song: Power of Women by Karen Drucker

It's the power of women - United we stand
We're making a difference when we join hands
It's the power of women who will heal this world
The power of women – the power of women…

1. It's the Goddess, it's the matriarch, it's the maiden, it's the crone
Every color, every race through the ages it's been shown
That women have compassion, women show the way
To a world that's filled with peace and love let me hear you say


2. As we stand in this circle feeling our connection
We can feel the power move as we state our intention
To bring peace to this world and right all the wrongs
Joining now in sisterhood we lift our voice in song and sing

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