Thursday, August 26, 2021

St Francis of Assisi & Blessing of Animal Companions Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy, August 28, 2021, 4:00PM Den & Jan Rigdon & Michael Rigdon Presiding, Mary Al Gagnon & Jerry Bires Reading, Peg Bowen IT Support, Linda Lee Miller, Music (See Zoom link, bring pet or photo of pet)


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

ID 851- 0809-5506, Passcode 1066

Dial 1-929-436-2866 

Meeting ID: 851 0809 5506

Password: 1066      

Welcome! (Jan) Welcome to Mary Mother of Jesus, an inclusive Catholic community in Sarasota Florida. All are welcome at our table to break open God’s Word and to break bread and share wine together. Please unmute to share during our shared homily or our community prayers, then remute when you finish. And have with you a piece of bread and a cup of wine/juice for communion.

Theme. (Michael) Christ in all creatures, all creatures in Christ

(Den) Let us begin our celebration by sharing a sign of peace with one another. Bow toward your camera with hands folded πŸ™ as we say together: (All) The peace of Christ be with you. Namaste, Namaste, Namaste. 

Please join in singing our gathering song, 

🎢 Prayer of St Francis

Make me a channel of your peace. 

Where there is hatred, let me bring your love. 

Where there is injury, your pardon, God, 

and where there is doubt, true faith in you. 

Make me a channel of your peace.

Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope. 

Where there is darkness only light, 

and where there’s sadness ever joy. 

Oh God, grant that I may never seek 

so much to be consoled, as to console, 

to be understood as to understand, 

to be loved, as to love with all my soul. 

Make me a channel of your peace. 

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, 

in giving of ourselves that we receive

And in dying that were born to eternal life.

Opening prayer. (Jan) Nurturing God, you embrace each person and every living thing with delight. May we live our oneness with all creation in your heart of love. We rejoice that you speak to us each day through earth’s creatures, especially these animal companions gathered here today and others we especially remember. We ask you to bless all in the circle of life. We ask this through Jesus our brother and the Spirit our wisdom.(All) So be it!

We break open God’s Word.

(Mary Al) The first reading is from the book of Genesis.

God spoke: “Swarm, Ocean, with fish and all sea life!

      Birds, fly through the sky over Earth!”

   God created the huge whales,

      all the swarm of life in the waters,

   And every kind and species of flying birds.

      God saw that it was good.

   God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Ocean!

   Birds, reproduce on Earth!”

   It was evening, it was morning—Day Five.

God spoke: “Earth, generate life! Every sort and kind:

      cattle and reptiles and wild animals—all kinds.”

   And there it was:

      wild animals of every kind,

   Cattle of all kinds, every sort of reptile and bug.

      God saw that it was good.

We respond to this inspired message from Genesis: (All) So be it!

(Excerpt From The Message by Eugene H Peterson)

🎢 Laudato Si’, Canticle of the Sun. Words by St Francis, 

music by Marty Haugen, performed by Michelle Sherliza.

(Michael) The second reading is from the encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, On the Care of our Common Home.  

Paragraph 190 comes near the end of chapter 5, Lines of approach and action. As you hear it, you will recognize why this idea of pope Francis has provoked criticism.

Here too, it should always be kept in mind that “environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefits. The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces.”[134] Once more, we need to reject the magical conception of the market, which would suggest that problems can be solved simply by an increase in the profits of companies or individuals. Is it realistic to hope that those who are obsessed with maximizing profits will stop to reflect on the environmental damage which they will leave behind for future generations? Where profits alone count, there can be no thinking about the rhythms of nature, its phases of decay and regeneration, or the complexity of ecosystems which may be gravely upset by human intervention. Moreover, biodiversity is considered at most a deposit of economic resources available for exploitation, with no serious thought for the real value of things, their significance for persons and cultures, or the concerns and needs of the poor.

[Footnote 134] Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 470. 

🎢 Alle, Alle, Alleluia

(Jerry) Today’s gospel reading is from the Good News attributed to Matthew.  (Excerpt From The Message by Eugene H Peterson)

Look at the birds πŸ¦… , free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

This is the Good News from Matthew, and we all respond:

(All) Thanks be to God. 

🎢 Alle, Alle, Alleluia

Blessing of animal companions. 

(Michael) Introduce your animal companion(s) if you wish. Those present and those remembered. 

Mutual blessings—

(All) First of all, we thank our animal companions who bless us every day with their unconditional love and affection. 

(Michael) As we bless our companions now, you may want to sign them with a cross ✝️ or lay your hand on their head. 

(All) We pray for our companion’s health and happiness. May they experience in our caring and affection God’s love for each of them.

(Michael) If you wish, please unmute to share a special prayer for your companion or a thought about our celebration today. 

Profession of Faith. (Michael & All) 

We believe in God, the fountain of life, 

flowing through every being. 

We believe in Jesus the Christ, 

who reflects the face of God and the fullness of humanity. 

We believe in Spirit Sophia, the breath of God in the cosmos, 

who calls us to care for the earth 

as the common home we share with all creation. 

We believe that every living being is our sister and brother 

and a reflection of God‘s goodness in the circle of life. 

Amen to loving actions on behalf of environmental healing and transformation.

Prayers of the Community. (Den) We bring to the table the needs of our community, our country, and our world. 

(Response: Holy One, you hear our prayer)

May each of us contribute to the health and sustainability of our Mother Earth, we pray.

May we support organizations and leaders who address climate change, we pray.

We bring to the table community members with health problems, especially Donna Marcantonio who suffered a head injury and is slowly recovering from neurological damage. And we pray for Cheri’s son Michael.

We bring to the table our many fellow citizens who are suffering from the wildfires in our western states and from the impact of tropical storms. We pray.

Joan will bring to the table petitions in our community prayer book. 

And for what else shall we pray today? 

Holy One, we bring these needs to you in faith and hope. 

All: Amen

We offer our gifts πŸ₯– 🍷 

🎢 Seed scattered and sown

Our communion prayer. 

(Den) Our loving God, who speaks to us through wild flowers, butterflies and our beloved animal companions, dwells on earth…

(All) And in every living being. 

(Den) Lift up your hearts.

(All) We lift them up to our Creator in whom all beings live.

(Den) Let us give thanks for the Source of Life. 

(All) It is right to give the Living God thanks and praise.

(Jan & All) Holy, holy, holy God, Spirit of love of peace,

Earth’s abundance reflects your glory. 

Hosanna in the highest. 

Blessed are all living things who reflect the beauty of God. Hosanna in the highest.

(Michael) Holy One, we bring you these gifts πŸ₯– 🍷 that they may become the Christ Presence. Fill us with tenderness toward our sisters and brothers, our animal companions here with us today and those we fondly remember. 

(Den & All, with hand extended) On the night before he died, while at supper with his friends, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to them saying, “Take this all of you and eat. This is my very self.  (Pause)

(Jan & All) in the same way, Jesus took the cup of wine. He said the blessing, gave the cup to his friends and said take this all of you and drink. This is the cup of my new covenant with you. When you do this, remember me.

The Mystery of Faith. (Mary Al) We are one body in Christ, in communion with all creation.

Litany for the breaking of the bread

(Michael & All) 

Christ of the cosmos, may we live our oneness with you and all creation.

Christ of the cosmos, may we work to heal the earth. 

Christ of the cosmos, may we celebrate justice rising up in the global communion everywhere.

(Jerry & All, lifting the bread & cup) 

This is the Cosmic Christ in whom all creation lives and moves and has its being. All are invited to partake of this banquet of love. And to celebrate our oneness with all living beings on the planet. We are the body of Christ.

(All receive communion now)

🎢 Irish Blessing. Bill Leslie. 

(Michael) Christ of the cosmos, we remember those within our world and church who are working for environmental healing, human rights, and justice for all.

(Den) Christ of the cosmos, we remember St Francis who sang canticles to brother sun and sister moon. We remember our sisters and brothers who have cared for earth’s creatures and have blessed our world with their loving service to God’s people most in need. We praise you in union with them and give you glory by working for a more just and peaceful world.

(Jan) Lover of animals, we are filled with awe as we behold our animal companions and give thanks for all living things. May we immerse ourselves in the beauty of nature that surrounds us each day. We ask this through our brother Jesus, in union with Spirit Sophia. (All) Amen

Prayers of thanks.


Final Blessing (Den & All) 

May our nurturing God bless all gathered here 

in the name of the creator, 

in the name of Mary‘s child, and 

in the name of the spirit 

as we serve one another and 

care for our animal companions and the earth.

Commission (Jan & All) Let us go in the peace of Christ. Let our service begin. 

Final 🎢 All Things Bright and Beautiful


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

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

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

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Has belief really vanished in Ireland? by Gladys Ganiel, Women Are the Untapped Resource,' Ordain Women as Pastoral Leaders in Inclusive Faith Communities

This week, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell made headlines with his assertion that ‘evidence of Christian belief in Ireland today “has for all intents and purposes vanished”.’

Farrell made the comments in an interview with SΓ­olta (Seeds), the journal of the national seminary in Maynooth.

Farrell painted a bleak picture of declines in vocations, financial free-fall, and a younger generation increasingly lost to faith. His remarks were covered in major news outlets like the Irish Times and the Irish Independent, but readers had to persevere to the end of the articles for a surprise ending: Farrell claimed that he was ‘not pessimistic’ about the future of the Church, adding:

“This time of reduced numbers may well afford us an opportunity to be creative and to reimagine the institutional Church. We have not been abandoned by God. God is to be found in this situation.”

Those comments reminded me of the words of American Methodist theologian Stanley Hauerwas, who once asserted that the church in the West wasn’t dying, God was killing it. For Hauerwas, this was because the churches had become so caught up in exerting power that they had neglected their mission of love and service.

While Farrell is right that Christian practice in Ireland has declined rapidly, it is something of an exaggeration to claim that belief has ‘vanished’. Ireland still ranks among the most religious nations in Western Europe.

A 2018 Pew Research Center report ranked Ireland the third most religious country in Western Europe. And a study of European Social Survey data among 16 to 29 year olds found that Irish young people were among the top four of 22 countries for regular religious attendance. Rates of religious attendance and affiliation in Northern Ireland have dropped but remain higher than in the Republic, so when an all-island approach is taken religious decline is more nuanced.

This may be cold comfort for the Catholic Church, which is still struggling to recover from the stunning loss of trust caused by the abuse scandals. But the stubborn persistence of the faithful few may form the basis for Farrell’s cautious optimism. Faith in Ireland has not completely vanished, and to say that it has is probably something of a disservice to those who still care about it and may be called on to rekindle it. It also is possible that Farrell overlooks the untapped potential of women to help renew Christian ministries.

In addition, religious practice has been impacted by the pandemic, with many church services moving on-line during lockdown. Some clergy and churches have used online resources with energy and enthusiasm, reframing them as an opportunity for renewed mission and a chance to make inroads in a secularising society.

But some churchgoers still have not returned to in-person services, and it is not clear if they will do so.

Last month, an Iona Institute survey of pre-pandemic massgoers in the Republic found that 54 percent had not returned, up from 64 percent who had not returned in September 2020. Among the top reasons people had not returned were:

Why have you not returned to mass? July 2021

Concerns about COVID-19 and public places62%
The restrictions on numbers and the need to wear masks etc are off-putting33%
I prefer to watch the mass on TV, online or on the radio nowadays19%
My faith isn’t as strong as before Covid-196%
I have health or other issues that prevent me from returning to Mass6%

Moreover, one in five of those who were attending mass regularly before COVID say they do not know if they will be back. This figure remains roughly unchanged from when the same question was asked in September 2020.

The Iona survey also confirmed that financial contributions are down. Among regular massgoers before COVID, 36 percent are contributing less, 46 percent the same, and 9 percent more, with 9 percent who don’t contribute to collections.

Trends of reduced attendance and financial contributions will certainly force churches to be ‘creative and to reimagine the institutional Church’, as Farrell says. I titled a report on my own research among Irish clergy during the pandemic ‘Something Other than a Building’ to capture an emerging shift in mindset away from the church as a building to a group of dedicated people serving others in the wider community. I think Farrell is getting at something similar.

It remains to be seen if the Irish churches – Catholic and Protestant – can adjust to changes in religious practice emerging from the pandemic, ministering to the faithful and reaching out to serve the community beyond. The stakes are high: vanishing or flourishing.

Image: church ruins in Howth, Co Dublin.