Saturday, March 13, 2021

Mary, Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy, Fourth Week in Lent, March 13, 2021, Presiders:Joan Meehan and Lee Breyer, Readers: Cheryl and Jim Brandi, Janet Blakeley and Sally Brochu, Music Minister: Linda Lee Miller         

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

ID 851- 0809-5506

Passcode 1066



              Theme: Blessed are the….us.…for ours is the kindom of heaven


[Joan M]:  Welcome everyone.  Once again, we have come together from our Zoom locations to share together the compassionate presence of God that is in us.  We know that each one of us is a unique and personal expression of the Divine Presence on our planet earth. And we understand that all of us are companions with others on our journeys. We each have the same goal of blessedness, but with different paths to that common goal.

And today, our travels on our paths will be facilitated for us by Zoom, and enabled with the hard work of our IT team.  For many of us this process will be a familiar one, and for others this may simply be a reminder of certain procedures. However, the better we understand and use the Zoom process, the smoother our liturgies will be.

[Lee]:  In Zoom, each one of us will be “mute” (or silenced) at the beginning of the liturgy and will remain that way for much of it…that is, we will not be heard by others. Then when a “reader” - that today will be Cheryl or Jim Brandi, Janet or Sally - is presenting content to us,  such as a scriptural passage or a phrase from the Prayer of Jesus, they will “un-mute” themselves so that we are able to hear them…and when they are finished with a particular part, they will “mute” themselves again.  And when we may have something to say, we will do the same thing as the readers in “unmuting” to be heard... and then “muting” when done.  For example, at the shared homily, whoever would like to make a comment will follow the same procedure:…mute, talk, then unmute for the next person.  

This muting of the community at the opening of the liturgy does not have to affect our prayerful spirits.  We certainly invite everyone to pray the liturgy where the text 

says ALL.   And when there is music, please feel free to sing along…don’t worry, you will not bother anyone; your muted “neighbor” won’t hear you.  So then, you have the freedom to sing your heart out; so make use of it. This liturgy is not just for the presiders, the readers, or anyone else. It is our community liturgy.

[Joan M]:  Let us take a few minutes now to collect ourselves as we focus our minds and our hearts on our knowledge that we are all formed as one body, by our one creator, and that we are all supported and strengthened by the same Spirit of God for the same purpose: the common good.  We are, in the depts of our being, one community.  How better to express the oneness that we have with each other than by expressing it in song: 

Opening Song

We are holy, holy, holy (3x), we are whole. You are..I am..we are…(Karen Drucker)


The Prayers of the Community for the Members of the Com-munity

Prayers for Understanding and Forgiveness, for Strength and Support 

[Lee]:  O Creator God, we thank you for our gathering here today so that each one of us can celebrate our oneness with you and with each other.  In our corporate title, Mary Mother of Jesus, we profess to be a “community” -  a “com” (with) “unity (one)”.  That is, each one of us has a relationship not solely with any given person, but with each and every other member of the group.  We are all brothers and sisters with one another.

Our care for one another is sometimes expressed in prayer or a helpful loving action; sometimes not…and that might be, for example, when some encounter of ours may have been unintentionally hurtful in some way to a brother or sister. To them, we owe an apology - by whatever title.  God of love and compassion, we ask you for your grace that we may understand the frailties of human nature more extensively so that we may be better companions for others on the road.   Grant us that, through the example of Jesus while he was on earth, we may learn to forgive each other, our brothers and sisters, for our failures to care for one another. 

[Joan M]:  There is also a large number of our family members who are outside our direct influence to do anything for them…but who are hurting nevertheless and need our help…our prayerful support. To you, Merciful God, we pray that you bring them under the mantel of your healing care.  And we make requests of our concerns to you at this time. (Please make your comment in this order: unmute, talk, and re-mute when done).

After each intercession, we respond: 

Parenting God, you know all our thoughts and actions; bless us.

[Joan M]:  That those who are bound by neglect and are suffering violence may find companionship and peace…we pray. R.

[Lee]:  That those dealing with sickness or hurtful acts may find healing and consolation…we pray.  R.

[Joan M]:  That those working in hospitals, homes, schools and service facilities may find the care and peace that they deserve…we pray.   R. 

[Cheryl]:  That those who have gone ahead of us and now dwell forever in their heavenly homes may experience the love for what they were created …we pray.  R.

[Lee]:  And for whom - or what else - do we pray today…  Please unmute yourself to be heard by the others, then mute back. 

[Lee]:  (at the end of the petitions….)  God of love, bless our concerns for our brothers and sisters here and everywhere, especially at this time in history. We, in your Blessed Community, hold these vocal petitions and all the unspoken intentions in our hearts as we continue our prayerful service in your loving presence today.  Amen. 

Profession of Faith

[Joan M]:  We believe in God, Creator of the expanding universe, one who dwells within us, one who rejoices with us in our “good days” and who weeps with us in our struggles, strains, losses and sufferings.

[Lee]:  We believe in Jesus, whose life, death and resurrection showed us how we are to live fully and joyfully and to serve others, especially the outcasts and those who are heavily burdened.

[Cheryl]:  We believe in the Spirit who works through us for justice and peace in the world and whose grace helps people to overcome oppression of all kinds, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, color or class.

[Jim B]:  We believe that we are a Blessed People, created that way when we were born on earth and will be so until we are called to our home with you in heaven.

[Sally]:  We believe that we are forgiven, healed and made whole in the heart of divine mercy.

[Janet]:  We believe that we are called to live in mutual respect as disciples and equals in inclusive communities of empowerment. 

[Joan M]:  We believe that we are united forever with all those who have gone before us in the communion of saints.

Liturgy of the Word

[Lee]:   Having heard of our oneness in our community ….; 

  having asked for forgiveness from all of our fellow members for any of our actions that may have been hurtful ….; 

  having expanded the understanding of our community beyond our local groups to include our brothers and sisters who are need ….;

and having expressed some of our commonly-held beliefs….

…. we will now hear what Jesus has told us - from a mountain top no less - how we should live, not only in our actions in the MMOJ Community, but also in any other communities in which we are a part, now or ever.  

We will hear the words of Jesus - proclaimed by CHERYL - from Matthew’s gospel, chapter 5, verses 1 to 14.  And following his message to the crowd, Jesus himself was so moved by what he had said to both his followers then - and us today – that he descried both groups to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.”  

[Joan M]:  This is the passage to which Lee just referred…. 

[Cheryl]:   When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up to the mountain side.  And when he reached the top and, after his followers and disciples had gathered around, he began to teach them. This is what he said…

[Jim B]:  Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, the kindom of heaven is theirs.

[Cheryl]:  Blessed are those who are mourning, they will be consoled.

[Jim B]:  Blessed are those who are humble, they will inherit the land.

[Cheryl]:  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, they will have their fill.

[Jim B]:  Blessed are those who show mercy to others, they will be shown mercy themselves.

[Cheryl]:  Blessed are those whose who are pure in their hearts, they will see God.

[Jim B]:  Blessed too are those who work for peace, they will be called Children of God.

[Cheryl]:  Blessed are those who are persecuted because of their struggles for justice and peace, the kindom of heaven is theirs.

[Jim B]:  You are fortunate when others insult you and persecute you, and when they utter every kind of slander against you because of me.  Be glad and rejoice, for your reward in heaven is great.  They persecuted the prophets before you in the very same way—you are not alone.

[Cheryl and Jim B]:  These are the words of Jesus to us through Matthew, and we express our gratitude for it by saying:  Thanks be to God!

Shared Homily and Community Reflections

Lee Breyer

We need to BE the BE-attitudes in all that we do, all that we say, and in all that we are -- as members of the world-wide Community of God.

Offertory Prayer

Please raise up your bread and wine for this blessing. Then you can put them back down when we are finished with the prayer.

[Lee and ALL]:  Beloved God, we - your community of people – are united in this sacrament by our common love of Jesus, your son and our brother.  We are in communion with everyone, everywhere, who shares your gifts of compassion, especially all those who are marginalized and oppressed.  May we love tenderly, do justice, and walk humbly with you in solidarity with all our sisters and brothers everywhere.  May we live always as prophetic witnesses of the gospel of Jesus.  We ask for the strength of the Spirit that we may be worthy of those many blessings in the Beatitudes; we ask that they may be obvious in our attitudes and actions.  And so that we may merit being called a “light of the world.”   Amen.

Eucharistic Prayer

[Janet and ALL]:   Ever present and always caring, Loving God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks.  It is in you that we live and move and have our very being.  Every day you show us your love; may we be alert enough to recognize it. Your Spirit dwelling in us gives us the hope of unending joy with you. She is a foretaste and the promise of the paschal feast of heaven

[Sally and ALL]:  We thank you for the gift of Jesus in history and the gift of Jesus in faith.  Through him, you breathe life into us.  On earth Jesus burned with insight and truth.  He revealed you to us in his life well lived.  He showed us not only how we should live, but also for what we might even die.

[Joan B and ALL]:   And when his time on earth had come to an end, Jesus – aware of and accepting his destiny – gave up his life for the values that he deeply believed, lived and taught... namely, his conviction that love is stronger than death.  And then, in providing an example of the cost of his wisdom for everyone in ages to come, he “paid the price,” he opened wide his arms on a cross…and died.  Then the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead showed us, through him, that life is eternal and love is immortal. And that same Spirit that lived in Jesus will be resurrected in each one of us.  The Jesus of history and faith is with us today…as he will be through the end of time.

 [Lee and ALL]:  (Please stretch out an arm as we pray the Consecration together.)  

We remember the gift that Jesus gave us on the night before he died. He gathered with his friends to share his final Passover meal. And it was at that supper that Jesus 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.  (pause)   In the same way, Jesus took the 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.  

[Joan B]:   Jesus, who was with God “in the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth,” is with us now in this bread.  The Spirit of whom the prophets spoke in history, is with us now in this cup.  Let us proclaim this mystery of our faith.

[Joan B and ALL]:  Jesus has died.  Christ is risen.  The cosmic Christ lives though us in the world today.

[Lee and ALL]:  We believe that the Spirit of God is always at work in us and through us, and that She will do more than we could ever know or even imagine.  And now, in recognition of this Sacred meal and this Holy blessing, let us all take a deep breath and exhale a good “amen”.  AMEN

The Prayer of Jesus

[Lee]:  And today, we will use a text I used not too long ago here.  It uses the phrases with which all of us are familiar.  However, this expression of the “Prayer of Jesus” is more inclusive than others.  So, let us pray….

[Janet]:  Our God who is in heaven…and in all of us here on earth, the rich and the poor, the well-satisfied and the hungry, the free and the oppressed, the leaders and the marginalized, and everyone in our broader community.  Blessed are your names… Jesus, our Comforter... and Spirit, our Sustainer.

[Janet and ALL]: May your kin-dom come.

[Sally]:  May your kin-dom com and your will be done…in our actions as we struggle with the complexities of this world - especially COVID and its effects - and as we try to confront greed and the desires of power in ourselves, in our nation, and in the entire global community

[Sally and ALL]:  May your kin-dom come.

[Janet]: Give us this day our daily bread… bread that you have given us abundantly, bread that we are called upon to share to those in need, and bread that we should distribute fairly, nourishing the health and welfare of all your holy family, with no exceptions.

[Janet and ALL]:  May your kin-dom come

[Sally]:  Forgive us our trespasses…for those times that we have turned away from the struggles of so many other peoples and countries, and for those times we have thought primarily - and sometimes even only – of our own selves and our own situations.

[Sally and ALL]:  Strengthen us in times of temptation…the temptation to close our minds, our ears and our eyes to the unfair global systems that create ever-wider and longer-lasting gaps between the rich and the poor, this ethnic group and the others, the temptation to think that it is just too complex and difficult ta problem to have even any serious idea of alternatives.

[Janet]:  May your kin-dom come; may your will be done… so peace would inhabit the world.

[Cheryl and ALL]:  Deliver us from evil…the evil of a world where violence happens even in Your name…where the wealth of a few is more important than the economic rights of all and where gates, walls, and other barriers between peoples are seemingly too hard to bring down than building up a society of justice and peace for the free.

[Jim B and ALL]:  May your kin-dom come, O God, for yours is the kin-dom and the glory.  You will bring about peace and justice in some blessed time to come. May we “listen with our hearts” so we do not miss that Blessed time when it arrives

 [Jim B and ALL]      And for this, we all say….Amen.

Passing the Peace of Christ in the Community

[Lee and ALL]:  In Christ, we are all mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters to one another.  We are a Community.  To us have been given the gifts of compassion and peace to share with everyone…no exceptions.

[Joan M and ALL]:  As members of God’s Blessed Family, let us share our gifts with one another in our “community of today”.  Now let us do that with a popular peace song…”Let there be peace on earth.”

Peace Song:  Let There Be Peace on Earth.

Communion in the Community 

… we consume the bread and wine that we consecrated

[Lee]:    Loving God, you call us to Spirit-filled service and to live the gospel of peace and justice, we will live justly.

[Joan M]:   Loving God, you call us to be your presence in the world and to be bearers of understanding and compassion, forgiveness ad healing everywhere in your name.

We will love tenderly.

[Jim B]:  Loving God, you call us to speak truth to power.  We will walk humbly with you.


[Cheryl]:  And in all these things, we will live with the grace of God, supported by the   strength of the Spirit. 

Post Communion Prayer of the Community

[Joan M and ALL]:  Ever present God, may the Eucharist in which we shared Christ’s love deepen our oneness with you and with one another. We know that you are in us and that we are in you.  We do ask that we may reflect you in everything that we do and say, with everyone we meet today.  May your grace fill us with knowledge, understanding, compassion and experience of our being a member of your Sacred Community.  As always, we ask this in the name of our brother, Jesus the Christ.  Amen.

Introductions,   Expressions of gratitude,   and Announcements

Closing Community Blessing

(Let us extend an arm as we ask for blessings of one another)

[Lee and ALL]:  May wonder and thanksgiving fill all of us in this sacred celebration.  May our lights shine for all to see. And may the name of our gathering here today – namely that of the MMOJ Community – so inspire us that, to everyone with whom we share our blessed time, we are recognized as the Face of Christ wherever we may be.  

[Jim B]:  As we close this holy event and continue our daily lives, let us be the people that God created us to be.  Amen.

Closing Song

The Greatest Thing


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,

If you want to add an intercession to our MMOJ Community Prayer book, please send an email to

If you want to invite someone to attend our liturgy, please refer them to the day’s liturgy at Or 

To support our community, please send your check to:

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community

St Andrew UCC, 6908 Beneva Rd, Sarasota, FL 34238

Thursday, March 11, 2021

COVID-19 Relief for Women a Matter of Gender Justice for Flourishing of All Families by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, Sarasota Herald Tribune


Michele Onley-Okonkwoa lost her job in October and has yet to receive unemployment compensation.

She was a part-time janitor with the New Jersey Port Authority. Here she is photographed in her home with her 9- year- old daughter, Lee.

NorthJersey.ComUSA Network

COVID-19 relief: a matter of gender justice

Kathy Silverberg’s March 6 column “Women are still fighting for equality,” sheds light on the critical need for the COVID-19 relief bill to be signed into law. It is an issue of gender justice for working women, who have lost jobs because they are caring for and educating their children.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women lost close to 1 million more jobs than men during the first 10 months of COVID-19. 

It is time for all of us to unite to treat women as equal partners with men to foster the flourishing of all families.

Bridget Mary Meehan, Sarasota

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Global Ministries University Provides Community Chaplaincy Training Program - An Ecumenical Approach Outside Religious Institutions to Meet Spiritual Needs Today

Unsplash- Claudia Wolff

 "People are Hurting, Our Systems are Hurting, Communities are Wounded,  Be an Agent of Healing, Become a Community Chaplain​"

Boston Globe Article:

As traditional religious practice recedes, many New Englanders are increasingly turning to a different kind of pastor when and where they’re needed. 

By Jonathan D. Fitzgerald

"To meet spiritual needs when and where they arise, we’re turning to chaplains, people trained to work outside the structure of religious institutions. As church attendance nationally also declines, “the need for chaplains will only increase,” says Shelly Rambo, an associate professor at Boston University School of Theology.

The rise of chaplains isn’t necessarily a Christian trend, or even a religious one. The term is being adopted by other faith traditions, says Preeta Banerjee, Hindu adviser in the University Chaplaincy at Tufts University. Her role exists because there is now a need for “chaplaincy for different faiths” she says, as well as for people who don’t belong to a religion, often dubbed the nones. Indeed, the new breed of chaplains is distinctly ecumenical — ministers for the “spiritual, but not religious” set."

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Big Vagina Energy: the Return of the Sheela Na Gig" by Jenny Stevens, Finding Sheela Na Gigs in Ireland by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP


This excellent sheela stands just above the late medieval entrance in the south wall. There are traces of incised ribs on the sheela's right hand side. Her hands appear to meet just above the vulva. Local tradition believes it represents the first abbess and founder of the monastery Inline Bait. Ballyvourney in Cork is another church where a sheela is thought to represent the local saint associated with the church. Just inside the doorway is a carving from the romanesque period.

My Response: When Regina Madonna Oliver and I did research for our book, Praying with Celtic Holy Women in Ireland, we discovered sheela-na-gigs on the ancient monastic ruins of St. Gobnait's Shrine in Ballyvourney, County Cork, on the side wall of the Rock of Cashel, in Killinaboy Church in County Clare  under tomb at entrance of St. Brigid's Cathedral in Kildare, * you have to bend over to see it as it is on the bottom of tomb at entry way and  the most surprising find
* on an ancient stone on a farm house building in the midlands.


I believe the sheela is a sacred symbol of the Ancient Mother, Birther of Life. As we inquired about the sheela na gigs in Ireland we discovered  two views - 1) ancient fertility symbol and 2)Mother Church through whose womb new Christians are birthed through baptism.  However our guide in Cashel had never "seen" the sheela on the side wall there and this sheela was not mentioned by either or guide or was not in tour material of the Castle. Interesting! Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,,

A 12th-century sheela na gig, Kilpeck church, Herefordshire
A 12th-century sheela na gig on the outside of the chancel apse of Kilpeck church, Herefordshire. Photograph: Mick Sharp/Alamy

Some say the explicit medieval carvings were fertility symbols; others that the figures were meant to ward off evil. Now a group of Irish feminists are bringing them back – as a reminder of women’s struggles.

..."The carvings are found on medieval churches, castles and even gateposts in Ireland, the UK and much of mainland Europe. They seem to have their origins in the 11th century; the oldest discovered in the British Isles so far dates back to the 12th century, the youngest to the 16th. Yet their beginnings are an enigma. Early theories from art historians claimed they were grotesque hag figures to warn against the sins of lust – a way of keeping the minds of churchgoers and monks pure. Others suggest they are a talisman against evil: the act of women flashing their genitals has been believed to scare off demons as far back as the ancient Greeks. More recently, researchers have leaned towards the idea that the sheela is a pre-Christian folk goddess and her exaggerated vulva a sign of life-giving powers and fertility. Even her name is an enigma – although one theory is that “sheela” could mean an old woman or crone, and “gig” was slang for genitals.

Freitag travelled widely through England and Ireland and found that “they were obviously figures that had nothing to do with the church originally. They were found predominantly in rural areas, and we have quite a lot of documents showing that people there guarded these sheelas with their lives against the priests, in particular here in Ireland, who were trying to destroy them – and did destroy them. There are various decrees from bishops saying they should be hacked off walls.”

When Freitag visited communities where sheelas were present, “fertility was always the first word that came up”. One of the women she spoke to told her that, at lambing time, farmers still present a ewe to the sheela in the hope that it would lead to a fertile spring. They are rural phenomena, because those people “relied on life-giving powers”.

A sheela na gig carving at the Watergate in Fethard, Co Tipperary
A sheela na gig carving at the Watergate in Fethard, Co Tipperary. Photograph: Maurice Savage/Alamy

The notion of sympathetic magic – that you can touch an object and receive its power – is key to understanding the sheelas, Freitag believes. “In medieval times, there was such a high maternal mortality rate that you wanted a big vulva to ensure the child came out as quickly as possible, because a long, protracted birth could well mean the death of the child and the mother.”

Medieval childbirth aids “were about making the vulva flabby and big – such as putting butter in the vagina to help the baby slide out quicker,” she says. So it makes sense that the sheelas would act as a talisman to aid childbirth.

Ireland has by far the highest concentration of sheela na gigs, with more than 100 of them, as documented by enthusiast Jack Roberts and his Sheela Na Gig project. But they have also been found as far and wide as England, Wales, Scotland, Italy, France, Spain and Norway..."