Monday, March 8, 2021

Spiritual Temples Needed by Rev. Richard S. Vosko, Third Sunday of Lent 2021

In the Hebrew Bible it is written that the Israelites carried the Ark of the Covenant with them as they journeyed to the promised land. It reminded them of their agreement with God. If they kept the commandments (Ex 20:1-17) God would stand by them against all enemies. 

In time, the Israelites constructed a Temple for the purpose of prayer, praise and sacrifice. The Ark of the Covenant was permanently housed there. After Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonians, destroyed that First Temple the Israelites built a second one. Later Herod would rebuild and enlarge it. John’s gospel for today (John 2:13-25) was written decades after the Romans destroyed that Second Temple in 70 CE.

By the time of the Second Temple many Jews were scattered from Asia Minor to Europe. They were still obliged to make a pilgrimage to the Temple Mount to offer sacrifice and purify themselves in the Temple baths in preparation for Passover. Some brought their own animals for sacrifice. Others would buy them from local merchants. The area was teeming with activity like any marketplace overwhelmed by huge crowds.

Free lance journalist Tia Ghose reported that Jerusalem was a bustling metropolis at the time [of Passover] and “the city's economic heart was the Holy Temple, the only place where Israelites could sacrifice animals as offerings to God.” Apparently, archeological discoveries of dumping grounds outside Jerusalem suggest that slaughtering these animals was a big business. Passover was good for Jerusalem’s economy so why did Jesus create such bedlam in the Temple precincts?  

Jesus observed and interpreted the corruption and greed surrounding the feast of Passover as emblematic of the degradation of the Temple and its precinct. An angry Jesus protested and, in a reference to his body, shouted, “destroy this temple and I will build it up in three days!” Jesus thus signaled an end to the old order of law and worship. The new emphasis would be on the Body of Christ.

In the words of Mary McGlone “driving corruption from the temple was just the surface of Jesus' message that day.” What really annoyed the authorities was Jesus’ prophetic proclamation that “he, a human being, was the new temple … that encounters with genuine humanity offers an experience of the real presence of God.” Greek scholar Alicia Myers adds: “Jesus Christ is the location of God’s glory rather than the temple building in which he stands.” This statement also reminds us that our church buildings are not dwelling places for God. God’s presence is a spirited radiance shining within us.

What then causes us to be outraged? What cultural-socio-political-religious structures need to be torn down today to make space for reconstructing societies and religions? Some are familiar: the growing gap between wealthy and poor people, child abuse and human trafficking, white supremacy, racism, sexism, outdated immigration laws, restrictions on voting rights, climate change denial, and on the religious page, a resurgence of clericalism in church ministries. 

On the world stage Pope Francis is doing his part to dismantle injustices and corruption. His visit to Iraq was a historically and politically difficult mission. He went there to encourage Christians who have been devastated by mass killings and ongoing religious oppression. He spoke with empathy in the Syriac Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad where 48 martyrs were executed in 2010. 

The pope’s visit was ladened with symbolism and a global message about working for peace in the Middle East. He aimed to give hope to the people urging them to regain their dignity, their human rights. He focused on healing the relations between Christians and Muslims that are still severely strained.

Papal trips help shape the world view of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Francis has a far reaching vision for a safer, kinder, egalitarian world and wants his church to be an example. While we are grateful for this perspective, we wait for what also is necessary in a church based on human dignity. 

The Catholic church can be a model only when all of its members, women and men alike, are seen as equal partners and leaders in worship, mission and administration. This collegial vision is stymied by outdated doctrines, the limits placed on women just because they are women, patriarchal clerics and a traditionalist minded laity. Many have lost sight of the primal Christian commandment to treat one another equally.                                                                                                                                               Our covenant relationship with God and each other matters. We are summoned to be the temples of the holy Spirit God, living stones witnessing to the mission and message of Jesus. (1 Peter 2:4-5) As avowed members of this mystical cohort we embody and mirror God’s glory with gratitude. As spiritual temples we become mindful of ourselves and others. Then we are inspired to take action for the common good. 

We cannot impatiently take off our masks while the SARS CoV-2 virus is still with us. We also cannot cover up our radiance during times that are both troubling and promising. Our enduring commandment is demanding, necessary, and simple: love one another.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Our U.S. Catholic Challenge by John Alonzo Dick , My Response- Time to Liberate God and Ourselves from Toxic Teachings, Claim our Authority As Equal Members of the Church by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP


My Response: In addition to the reasons below for the decline in Church membership in recent years , I would add:

Women have left  the institutional Church because of toxic patriarchal teachings that assert control of women's bodies in family planning. Most Catholic women follow their consciences and ignore the ban on artificial birth control. 

In the U.S. women are in top leadership positions. The Church's prohibition against women's ordination reflects the hierarchy's entrenched, centuries-old misogyny. In contrast, the majority of Catholics in the U.S.  support women's ordination. 

The international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement leads the Church today by offering a new model of priestly ministry in inclusive Catholic communities where all are equal partners in the celebration of sacraments and pastoral ministry.  We have eliminated the toxic teaching and discriminatory practices by claiming our spiritual authority to ordain women for public ministry in the Church in spite of the Vatican's condemnation.

In a society where same sex marriage is legal, the ongoing discrimination against LGBQTI is immoral. It is also unacceptable to most Catholics today because Jesus in the Gospels welcomes everyone to the Table. 

The institutional Church has failed to assert the primacy of conscience - although Pope Francis has made strides in this direction- to welcome divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharistic table.  

The hierarchy continues to resist major reforms that would welcome all God's people as equal members.  Until that sad fact changes, the numbers in the pews will decline. 

So what can Catholics who love the sacraments, the mystical and social justice tradition do? Follow Jesus' example, not the bishops!  Speak up and join alternative, inclusive, Catholic communities where all are welcome and treated as spiritual equals.  Each of us is the Church, not the pope or bishops alone. It is our  treasured faith community, all billion plus of us. Together we can  liberate God and ourselves from the toxic teachings and discriminatory laws of the Roman Catholic Church and live the fullness of our faith now. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

John Alonzo Dick - PhD, STD, Historical Theologian and ARCC Vice President.

Catholics now make up about 20% of the US population - down from close to 24% in 2007 - but the American Catholic Church is still larger than any other single religious institution in the United States. Catholics in recent years, however, have faced a number of significant challenges: an ongoing decline in membership, a shortage of priests, major financial problems, and continuing revelations of clerical sexual abuse. The US Catholic Church has experienced a greater membership net loss than any other US religious group.
Like contemporary US society, American Catholics, are also highly -- and often heatedly -- polarized. Edison Research exit polls estimate that 52% of all Catholic voters went for Biden this past November, and 47% for Trump. The Edison exit polls in 2016 showed a 46% Catholic vote for Clinton, and 50% for Trump.
US Catholic bishops, with just a few exceptions, have been strongly supportive of Donald Trump, and critical of Democrats and now President Joseph Biden. New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who gave the invocation as his inauguration, was a strong supporter of his "great friend" former president Donald Trump. Cardinal Raymond Burke, former Archbishop of St. Louis and a former Vatican official, is probably the de facto leader of the Church's conservative wing. He calls Democrats the "party of death." 
I guess it was really no surprise then that even before President Biden's inaugural ceremony had finished, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the USCCB - the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops -- issued an extensive statement criticizing Biden for policies "that would advance moral evils," especially "in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender." It is significant to note that the day BEFORE President Biden's inauguration both Cardinal Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, and Cardinal Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, had put intense pressure on Archbishop Gomez to make NO STATEMENT, as did the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre. 
Since the late 1970s, conservative US Catholics and evangelicals have been allies in the "culture war" that has shaped US partisan politics. This has been due in no small part to the conservative "reform of the reform" of the Second Vatican Council undertaken by popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and the bishops they appointed to make it happen.
Yes. Today the US Catholic Church is a divided house and it is time for institutional reformation. A change in mentality is certainly needed: one that's more open and inviting, less restrictive, and less confrontational. We need better educated leaders, who have undergone a kind of pastoral renewal with updated historical and theological perspectives.
We all need renewed perspectives. Progressives as well as conservatives. In the process we need to listen to each other with humility, respect, inquisitive minds, and compassionate understanding. No one has all the answers. We are all teachers and we are all learners. We are all believers.....We do need each other. A divided "Body of Christ" is neither life-giving nor Christian. Sooner or later divided houses collapse, but they take a lot of innocent victims with them.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy, Third Sunday of Lent, March 6, 2021, Presiders: Joan Pesce & Kathryn Shea ARCWP Readers: Mary Kay Staudohor and Lee Breyer         

Zoom link for video- 4:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

ID 851- 0809-5506

Passcode 1066

                           Theme:  Listen with your Heart”


(Joan) Welcome to our liturgical gathering on this Saturday afternoon. We thank our readers and IT team for being part of our liturgical team today. When speaking please unmute and re-mute yourself. During the shared homily we ask you to unmute yourself to contribute your thoughts and when you are finished, remember to re-mute yourself. Have bread and wine/juice in front of you for communion and a lighted candle to remind us that God is always present. And now, let us quiet our hearts so that we may fully hear the words of our Creator. 

Welcoming Song: Come As You Are – The Many

Opening Prayer

(Kathryn) Oh Holy One, we are delighted to gather with you today as we share this sacred space and as we celebrate our oneness in you.  You said to us, “Pay attention to how you listen!”  As we gather today, may we ever be more mindful of how we listen; to ourselves, to others, and to you, our Holy One.  May we also pay greater attention to the many ways in which you speak to us so that we are better able to listen to the messages from the trees, the animals, the wind, and the clouds.  You are alive in all that we see, smell, taste, touch, and hear on this Earth.  May our hearts be open to listen to all the ways that you speak to us and through us.  We live with the comfort of knowing you reside in our hearts and ours in you.  And to this, we say, AMEN.

Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: A Reading from The Art of Spiritual Listening by Alice Fryling

(Mary Kay)  When we listen to people who are in doubt and spiritual pain, we listen to them, and we wait with them.  We wait attentively to see how God will minister to them.  

Our presence, our attentiveness, our questions, our responses are all important, but we need to remember that we are primarily observers.  “Intense listening is indistinguishable from love, and love heals.  This kind of listening means that the people receiving attention are allowed to be the experts of their own pain.” We are companions to the one who is on the journey.  It is not our journey.  But our presence is vital for the one who is walking by faith and not by sight.

By our presence and love for our doubting or troubled friend, we are affirming the love and presence of God who spoke through the prophet Jeremiah:

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares our God, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray with me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you.” {Jeremiah 29:11-14)  

These are the inspired words of Alice Fryling and we affirm them by saying, Thanks be to God.

Responsorial: The Law of the Lord

Gospel:  John 2:13-25

(Lee) Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, 
as well as the money changers seated there.
He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, 
and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, 
and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, 
and you will raise it up in three days?”
But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 

Then, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing.
But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, 
and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.
He himself understood it well.

These are the inspired words of the Gospel writer, John, and we affirm them by saying, Amen. 

Profession of Faith

(Joan and ALL):  We believe in the Divine Mystery, beyond all description and understanding, the heart of all that has ever existed, that exists now, or that will ever exist in this expanding universe.

We believe in Jesus of Nazareth, the human Jesus … an enlightened soul who carried the message of God’s Word everywhere he went.  Jesus showed us how we could heal ourselves from our spiritual weaknesses. Jesus is the heart of God’s compassion.  He is the bright star in the firmament of God’s prophets, mystics, and saints.  And it is through him that we have become a new people.  We are can share an important and key teaching of his message: that we are all holy, we were born holy, and we shall be holy forever.

We believe in the Spirit, the one who inspires our innermost life.  She keeps the Holy One present to all those who are searching for meaning and wholeness in their lives.  She strengthens our call to follow Jesus as a vehicle of God’s love.  She is the one who helps each one of us reach deep within ourselves so that she can energize us when our spirits grow weary.

And we believe that God’s kin-dom is “here and now,” stretching out all around us and it is experienced by those with eyes to see it, hearts to receive it, and hands to share it with all those with whom we come in contact.

Prayers of the Community

(Lee)  With heads and hearts mindful of God’s unconditional love that is embedded in each one of us, let us all bring our needs and those of everyone here with us today.  After each intercession, let us respond: Healing God, grant us your blessing.

That those who are suffering with Covid-19 may find some degree of comfort in their suffering.  Healing God….

That those who find themselves in a quite sad state of aloneness resulting from the safety and healing processes of the virus.  Healing God…

That those who are in housing or financial difficulties find the means needed to relieve at least some of the painful results of their challenging situations.  Healing God…

That those in broken homes and families, especially those living on our borders, find physical and mental relief.  Healing God….

And for whom or what else do we pray today ……  (“I bring to the table….” please make your intentions here) 

Joyful God, we know you attend to our prayers and respond with your wisdom and love.  In you, we place our faith.  ALL: Amen.

Offertory Prayer

(Kathryn) Please lift up your bread and fruit of the vine for this short blessing, then you can put it down.

(Joan): Blessed are you, Jesus of Nazareth. It is through your goodness that we have this bread and wine and our own lives to offer.  Through this sacred meal may we gain our strength to live the new lives that we are called to in our current temporary settings. 

ALL: Blessed be God forever.

(Kathryn):  Divine Presence, we believe that you are always with us, loving in each one of us, and healing others through us.

ALL: Namaste (with a facing hands and a nod gesture)

(Joan) We are grateful for our many blessings, especially that we are able to gather together. 

Eucharistic Prayer

(Mary Kay)  Ever present and always caring, loving God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks. In you we live and move and have our very being. Your Spirit dwelling in us gives us the hope of unending peace and joy with you.  Your gift of the Sprit, who raised Jesus from the dead, is the foretaste and promise of the paschal feast of heaven.  We join together with all those who have gone before us and now live in the eternal now, as we sing…

SONG:  We are holy, holy, holy …you, I, we.

(Lee)  We thank you, God, for the gift of Jesus in history – and the gift of Jesus in faith.  You raised him up from among your people to baptize us in your Spirit.  His life was moved by his vision of your presence among us.  He burned with insight and truth, revealed you in his life well lived and He showed us, through his example, not only how we should live but also for what we may die.

(Joan)  When his time had come, Jesus suffered for what he deeply believed and taught – namely, that it was his conviction that love is stronger than death.  And then, as a model of the depth of his belief in that for those in ages to come, he opened wide his arms and died.  The Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead showed us that life is eternal and love is immortal. Jesus is with us today and he will be though the end of time.

Joan and ALL:  O God, let your Spirit of life, healing and wholeness come upon these pieces that were gathered from vines and the fields and are with us today as we celebrate this liturgy. May She have them become for us the Body and Blood of the resurrected Christ, our brother.  (Please extend an arm toward your bread and wine as we pray the Consecration together).  

(Kathryn)  We remember the gift that Jesus gave us on the night before he died.  He gathered with his friends to share a final Passover meal. And it was at that supper that he took bread, said the blessing and shared it with them saying: take this, all of you, and eat it.  This bread is you; this bread is me. We are one body, the presence of God in the world.  When you do this, remember me and all that I have taught you.  This is the new and everlasting covenant.

In the same way, Jesus took a cup of wine, said the blessing and gave it to his friends saying: take this all of you and drink it.  This wine is you; this wine is me. We are one blood, the presence of God in the world.  When you do this, remember me and all that I have taught you. This is the new and everlasting covenant.     

Let us proclaim this mystery of faith…

Kathryn and ALL: Jesus has died.  Christ has risen.  The cosmic Christ lives in and through us in the world today 

We believe that the Spirit of God works through us, She can and will do more than we could ever know or even imagine. The Spirit gives us the strength to be compassionate carriers of the Gospel message. Amen.       

The Prayer of Jesus

Joan and All:  THE LORD'S PRAYER

An adaptation for our times by Lenora Rand 

God of Love, who we experience as mother, father, friend, lover,

our deepest longing, our best thought, our solid ground,

the sacred soil from which everything grows, our greatest hope.

Your love covers the entire earth, holding us all in your embrace.

You hold everything together. We want to know what your vision for the world is - help us. We want to live in that vision - guide us.

Everything we eat and drink, everything that gives us life and joy,

it all comes from you.

We want to thank you for your mercy. You hold nothing back.

Help us be that open and generous with others and with ourselves.

Help us forgive each other. Deep in our hearts we believe that this is your world

and that you love us all. Help us live with you and with each other in that powerful love. 

And together we will sing of your mercy and grace and power, forever and ever, Amen.

Sharing the Peace of Christ

Kathryn:  In Christ, we are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters to one another.  We have been given the gifts of compassion and peace.  

As members of Gods Blessed Family, let us share those gifts with one another always in our actions and extend a sing of peace to one another.

Communion: as we eat the bread and wine that we consecrated

Lee: Loving God, you call all us to live the Gospel of peace and justice.  We will live justly.

Mary Kay: Loving God, you call us to be Your presence in the world. We will love tenderly.

Joan:  Loving God, you call us to speak truth to power. We will walk with integrity.

Kathryn:  And, in all these things, we will live with our lives and listen with our hearts.  .

Kathryn:  We have Jesus with us here in the Bread of Life and the cup of the new Covenant.  Let us now eat and drink the Sacred Meal.

(Please take/share Communion at this time saying: “The Bread of Life” (when taking the bread.) and “The Cup of Compassion” (when taking the wine)

Communion Song: 

Listen With Your Heart - Oribel Joy Divine

Prayer of Thanksgiving after Communion

Joan & ALL:  Let us go forth in compassion and peace, holding fast to what is good and rejoicing in the power of the Spirit. May we always be the Face of God to the world reflecting well God’s compassionate and caring presence in us to everyone we meet.  May we always listen to ourselves, our neighbors, and our Creator with our hearts. 

Gratitudes - Introductions – Announcements

Closing Blessing   (please extend an arm in mutual blessing)

Lee:  May our gracious God bless all of us gathered here for our Celebration.  We ask this always in the name of our God – our Creator, in the name of Jesus – our Model, and in the name of the Holy Spirit – our Sanctifier, as we minister to one another and to all those we meet on our journeys.  Be with us as we all continue on our paths and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  May we be the listening heart to the world.

Closing Song

The Spirit Is a-Movin’ – by Carrie Landry

Performed by Linda Lee Miller


Help MMOJ Move Forward!

If you are interested in being part of a team to investigate

expansion of Zoom/technology for post-Covid liturgies,

please send email to Joan Pesce,

Would you like to be part of Liturgical Team to Plan Easter Vigil?

If so, please join us on Friday, March 12, 10:30 AM- Noon.

Visit Bridget Mary's Blog to Review Liturgy for 2020 as a starting point for our discussion

Zoom Link for Liturgical Planning Meeting on March 12th, Friday, 10:30Am- Noon

Join Zoom Meeting

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Bridget Mary Meehan


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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Rejoice, Pray, and Be Grateful in this Time of Pandemic, Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. " 1 Thessalonians 5;16-18

In Living Well Through Lent 2021, Robin Brent makes an important point about this passage: 
"Scripture encourages us to be grateful in all things, not necessarily to be grateful for all things."

I don't think anyone would say that we should be grateful for a year-long pandemic that resulted in millions of deaths worldwide and unimaginable suffering for those who lost loved ones, jobs, health and finances. 

However, at the same time, we can be grateful that good things have  happened in this dark time of chaos and struggle. 

 In response to COVID 19  there have been major medical breakthroughs in the production of several effective life-saving vaccines. Now, millions are receiving vaccinations. 

We have witnessed the heroism of health care workers, first responders and essential workers who have risked their lives and well-being on a daily basis. 

Maps have shown a decrease in the pollution of our Earth because of less green house gases emitted from motor vehicles. 

New technologies, like Zoom have helped us to connect with loved ones and provided platforms for sharing.  In the last year, my faith community, Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community expanded our members more than two-fold because participants could celebrate inclusive liturgies with us on cyberspace from around the country and the world. 

While the future is unknown, there is much to be grateful for as we work together to eradicate COVID 19, to  grow more connected, and to heal our planet. 

Today and everyday, i will rejoice, pray and be grateful in these circumstances, knowing that grace, courage and compassion abounds.

Monday, March 1, 2021

A Deeper Dive with An Angry Jesus Inspires Us Today to Come Together to Challenge Injustice Everywhere by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

 I don't know about you, but an angry Jesus sometimes makes me nervous and other times energizes me to be part of what folks today call "good trouble", doing actions that promote justice and equality in our Church and world.

As I imagine an angry, wild Jesus,I see a loud, messy scene of overturned tables, fleeing animals and people running in every direction in the Temple.  I see grateful animals and unhappy vendors scattering for cover and then  going off to complain to the nearest religious or civil authority about this mad Jewish rabbi.

Scholars  today tell us that this disruption led to Jesus' tormented death on the cross.


Read  contemporary biblical scholars like John Dominic Crossan and Amy Jill Levine if you want to go down this path of exploration. 

As I took a deeper dive today into this Gospel, I am nervous and energized because I know there are tables to overturn and work that is messy and uncomfortable to do in the days and years ahead.

My strength is that  I am not alone. We are in this together. 

 All of us together of- no faith and every faith can work together  to challenge oppressive rules and rituals that religions impose, to confront religious and civic leaders that oppress people and abuse their power to serve the well-being of all, and to do something  to alleviate suffering and inequity in our communities, nation and world.   Jesus lit a fire of passionate anger and overflowing love for justice that energizes us today. 

My prayer is that we may all embrace our call to be  "good trouble."

Friday, February 26, 2021

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Community Liturgy – Second Sunday of Lent- Presiders: Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, Jill Striebinger ARCWP, Music Minister Linda Lee Miller Feb. 27, 2021

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Community Liturgy – Second Sunday of Lent- Presiders: Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, Jill Striebinger ARCWP, Feb. 27, 2021         

Zoom link for video- 4:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

ID 851- 0809-5506

Password 1066      

                                     Credit: Unsplash: Ben White

Theme: Listen to the Holy One and Follow Jesus Today


Jill: Welcome to our liturgical gathering on this Saturday afternoon.We thank our readers and IT team for being part of our liturgical team today. When speaking please unmute and re-mute yo urself. During the shared homily we ask you to unmute yourself to contribute your thoughts and when you are finished, remember to re-mute yourself. Have bread and wine/juice in front of you for communion and a lighted candle to remind us that God is always present.

Opening Song: I Am the One Within You


Bridget Mary:

In these hard times, we commit ourselves to listen with open hearts and to respond to the needs of our sisters and brothers by loving service.

ALL:  We will follow Jesus.

In this time of racism, sexism,  violence and poverty, we commit ourselves to listen with compassion and to respond by working to change unjust structures.  

ALL. We will follow Jesus.

In this time of  divisiveness and hostility 

we commit ourselves to listen deeply to the struggles and conflicts, and respond by fostering unity, community, and diversity. 

All:  We will follow Jesus.

Opening Prayer: (Jill)

Holy Mother, how difficult it must have been for you to remain silent and trust that the child you gave birth to knows what God needed him to do.  In order to allow our children to grow and be independent, we sometimes encourage, we sometimes admonish, and we sometimes stay silent, hold our breath, watch, and exhale a prayer for our child’s higher good.  As Jesus modeled The Way, so have you modeled the motherhood of Jesus.  May God give us the wisdom to know when it is right to be silent and when it is right to speak up.  May God grant us the grace to listen with open hearts to maintain compassion for ourselves and others.



First Reading: Ann C.

Spirituality of Listening by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Time and again in the last month of his life Moses told the people, Shema: listen, heed, pay attention. Hear what I am saying. Hear what God is saying. Listen to what the Holy One wants from us.


Speaking and listening are forms of engagement. They create a relationship. We can enter into a relationship with God because we are linked by words. In revelation, God speaks to us. In prayer, we speak to God. If you want to understand any relationship, between husband and wife, or parent and child, pay close attention to how they speak and listen to one another. Ignore everything else.

There is something profoundly spiritual about listening. Listening lies at the very heart of relationship. It means that we are open to the other, that we respect him or her, that their feelings matter to us. A good leader listens to those he or she leads. Listening does not mean agreeing but it does mean caring. Listening is the climate in which love and respect grow.

Listening is the prelude to love.

These are the inspired words of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and we affirm them by saying, Thanks be to God.

Response: Be still and know that I am God by Shaina Noll

Second Reading: Donna N.

The Art of Silence from Aspects of the Heart by Sister Joan Chittister

“Silence is where we must go when we want to be truly spiritual people. Only there does God speak to the heart. But learning how to keep silent and when to keep silent—and when not to—is a great spiritual art.

Hard and bitter silence refuses to allow another person the chance to change the position that has hurt me. It refuses, as well, to allow me to understand the needs of those around me. Soft and pliant silence makes it possible for the other to speak. More than that, it enables me to see the world from someone else’s point of view.

Calm and receptive silence invites the ideas of those around me. It gives them dignity and value. It gives me another side to my personality.

Silence that is cowardly appears to agree with everyone but in the end contributes more to division than to unity. It questions nothing, understands nothing, advances nothing in a group. It is more about safety than it is about growth. “Sometimes,” the graffiti artist wrote, “silence is not golden–just yellow.”

Silence requires us to attend to the turmoil within us. It refuses to allow us to ignore our own greatest questions in life. The silence that seeks to bury our secrets from ourselves only eats away at our own souls.

There is no virtue in keeping silence in the face of injustice. That kind of silence only makes us either the accomplice or the thrall of those who refuse to allow another truth to be spoken. The silence we keep in the company of evil is evil. Truth spoken out of the hot center of the cave of silence is always a gift.”

These are the inspired words of  Joan Chittister  and we affirm them by saying, Thanks be to God.

Gospel Acclamation:  Spirit of the Living God- Linda Lee Miska

 Gospel: Jack D.

 A reading from the Gospel of Mark

Mark 8 31-37

Jesus began explaining things to his disciples: “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.” He said this simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it. 

But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! You have no idea how God works.” 

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You are not leading; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

These are the inspired words of the Gospel writer, Mark, and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Homily Starter 


Peter gets admonished, chewed out by Jesus because Peter tried to take away Jesus’s autonomy, his power, his vision of a God of love  whose life giving Spirit within us gives us the ability to change the world.  

Peter’s intention was good.  He cared deeply for Jesus. But Peter has no authority to make choices for Jesus and that was why Peter was rebuked.  

In contrast, Jesus’s own mother, Mary stood by silently.  Why? Because she birthed Jesus in a state of grace and awareness. Jesus grew up with a mother who challenged injustice poverty and prayed for the well-being of the oppressed.  She knew that it was her job to make choices for him when he was a child and it was her job to teach him how to make his own independent choices. 

This physical birthing is synonymous to our spiritual birthing as this physical death that Jesus exemplified is synonymous to our spiritual death.  Jesus showed us that once you are dead you cannot be killed again.  Jesus gave us a Way to birth ourselves.  By his resurrection, he showed us that we are born into a new reality that is aligned with God. 

Bridget Mary:

Like Peter, Christians for centuries, have struggled  to understand why Jesus suffered an unjust tormented death. 

“Contemporary theologians,” Elizabeth Johnson writes,   “offer a shift from the cross as a sole, violent act of atonement for sins before an offended God, to the cross as an act of suffering solidarity that brings divine saving power into intimate contact with human misery, pain and hopelessness. “

 In a world torn apart by hatred, violence, grief and greed,  unless we confront the Peters in our world, who maintain structures of domination, we will not be able to live as  equal and beloved images of God. “Sadly, it seems that until the freedom of the powerful is inconvenienced by the oppression of the marginalized, they will remain silent and impotent,” writes Rev. Dr. irie Lynne Session, “Sometimes, we’ve got to shout it out? Sometimes, we’ve got to speak up! Sometimes we must move out of the comfort zones of silence.” (  The Gathering, A Womanist Church, p. 119.

 In times when we experience our own fragility, in times when our only prayer is help, in times when we weep and wail,  the Voice of God  speaks within us and within others. 

In the 1970’s when I was on my first mission as an IHM Sister, in Philadelphia ,  my Dad was hospitalized with life-threatening pancreatitis. I prayed my heart out and finally when I was at my wits end, I  heard a Voice within me saying:  “ I love your Dad far more than you do,  I will take infinitely better care of him than you can imagine.”   

In my journey through the ups and downs with cancer during this past year, I have felt  the Christ Presence speaking to me in the healing prayers and embraces of family, friends, and through you, my dear MMOJ community. My journey is lead me to a deeper listening to the heartbreaking sufferings of others in similar situations and a powerful experience of the healing power of love. 

Being a disciple of Jesus today may take us places that we  never have imagined. As we pray together, love one another and act together for justice, Jesus walks with us, Mary walks with us, Peter walks with us, the entire Communion of Saints walks with us. We are never alone.

What more could we ever want?

Shared Homily- Reflection Question: 

What did you hear in today’s readings, music and homily starter about deep listening to the Holy One and following Jesus?

Jill and all:

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.

Prayers of Community:

Cheryl:  As we prepare for the sacred meal, we bring to the table our intentions. 

(Katy reads intentions from our Book)

Jim: You are invited to share your intentions now with these or similar words: I bring to the table…..)

Cheryl: O Holy One, you know our needs before we even speak. We hold the needs of our sisters and brothers in our hearts and will walk with them in prayerful solidarity in the days ahead.  Amen.

Offertory Prayer

Please lift up your bread and wine and pray together:

(Bridget Mary  and all): Blessed are you, Jesus of Nazareth. It is through your goodness that we have this bread and wine and our own lives to offer.  Through this sacred meal may we live as the Body of Christ in our world. 

ALL: Blessed be God forever.


Cheryl B. and All:

O Divine Listener, we hear you speak to us in all who suffer and grieve.  We hear you speak in all living beings for healing of our Earth. We trust that you work through us for the well-being of all. Trusting in your infinite love present everywhere, we sing:

Holy, Holy, Holy:  by Karen Drucker 

(We are holy, holy holy, you are holy, holy, holy, I am holy, holy, holy.)

Jim  B and all: We thank you for our brother, Jesus, and for all our sisters and brothers who have  done what is right and just instead of what is easy and comfortable in times of turmoil. 

Bridget Mary and all: (Please extend your hands in blessing).

Loving God, intensify the presence of Your Spirit in these our gifts, as they, and we, become the Body and Blood of Jesus the Christ for our holiness and the wholeness of all creation. 

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


(All lift the plate and pray)

Jill and All: When he returned to his place at the table, Jesus lifted the bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it to them saying: 

Take and eat, this is my very self.



All lift the cup and pray:

Then he took 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.


Jill and all: Let us proclaim the Mystery of Faith:  Nurtured by your Word, nourished by your food, called anew to be your people as we journey through Lent, we acclaim your praise.

Cheryl B.. and All: Loving God, we join our hearts with all who are working for justice, equality and peace.  We pray for wisdom for leaders in our religious and world communities. 

Jim B. and All: We believe that the entire Communion of Saints, Mary Mother of Jesus and all our beloved saints cheer us on as we listen more deeply to the Holy One’s call to follow Jesus today.

Please hold cup and plate and pray:

Cheryl B and all: For it is through living as Jesus lived that we awaken to your Spirit within, moving us to love you and to serve others each day, we sing, 

Great Amen: Linda Lee Miller

Jim B. and all: Let us pray as Jesus taught us: 

Holy One, you are 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 that 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.  

Adapted by Miriam Therese Winter 

Sign of Peace:

Jill:  Let us offer one another a sign of Peace.

Breaking of Bread:

Bridget Mary and all: Loving God, you all us to live the Gospel of peace and justice.  We will live justly.

Jill and all: : Loving God, you call us to be Your presence in the world. We will love tenderly.

Bridget Mary and all:  Loving God, you call us to speak truth to power. We will walk with integrity.

Let us now eat and drink the Sacred Meal. Please receive communion saying: I am the Body of Christ.

Communion Song: Abide with Me – Carrie Newcomer


Closing Prayer : 

Jill: Holy One, may we respect the autonomy of each individual by allowing them the grace to follow God in The Way they are called to follow.  May we always speak up when we or those in vulnerable positions need advocacy for self-determination.  May we be like mothers to ourselves and others by following Mary’s example – discerning when to advocate and when to stay silent.

Gratitudes, Introductions, Announcements


Jill and all: Please extend your hands and pray our blessing:

As we leave our celebration today, let us consider how very special each of us is as Jesus’ disciples in our world today. 

All: Amen

 Bridget Mary and all: May we listen deeply to God’s call to love , heal, comfort and bless others as Jesus did .


Jill: Go in peace, my sisters and brothers!

All: Thanks be to God.  

Closing Song: You Raise Me Up

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