Friday, January 20, 2023

MMOJ Inclusive Catholic Liturgy of Saint Agnes- Virgin and Martyr, Presiders: Joan Pesce and Dotty Shugrue, Readers: Mary Montavon and Jack McKillip , Prayer Leaders: Suzanne Bires , Kathryn Shea, Elena Garcia, IT Cheryl Brandi



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Dotty:  Welcome to our Zoom liturgy at Mary Mother of Jesus, an inclusive Catholic Community, where all are welcome: 

Whoever you are, wherever you are, just as you are, you are welcome here.

Our theme today focuses on the strength and resilience of girls and women all over the world.  We celebrate the life of St Agnes whose tragic death as a virgin - martyr occurred when she was 13 in the year 304.  She was murdered because of her commitment to Jesus to live as a virgin, a life of chastity refusing to marry which was required by the law in her lifetime.  Agnes was strong and resilient. Today we remind ourselves that girls and women struggle every day to have their voices heard, to be free to live according to their choices.

Joan: We invite you to pray the liturgy and respond where it says “All”.  Participants will be muted during the liturgy except for the Presiders, Readers, and Prayer Leaders. 

During the shared homily we ask you to unmute yourself to contribute your thoughts and re-mute when you are finished.

Please have bread and wine/juice in front of you as we pray our Eucharistic prayer.

Let us begin now with our gathering song:

OPENING SONG:   Beautifully Broken - Plumb


Dotty:  My sisters and brothers, as we celebrate the life of St Agnes who was honored by the Church as a Virgin and Martyr. We recognize that many girls and abused women do not receive the proper help and support to begin a process of healing.   We commit ourselves to increase our awareness this tragedy in our midst and reach out in support in any way we can.


Mary M:  

There is evil in our world, there is pain and suffering caused by all manner of rejection and non-acceptance. There is darkness.  The light breaks through the darkness and our world can be healed.  We are the Light!

ALL: Transform us, O Holy One.

There is sickness in our world, not just sickness of the body but sickness of the heart and mind.  There is darkness.  We are the Light.

ALL:  Transform us, O Holy One.

There is persecution in our world.  The persecution of the poor, the hungry, the different, the mentally ill, and so many more.  There is darkness.  We are the Light

ALL: Transform us, O Holy One


Glory to the Spirit of Life, to the Holy One who surrounds us, who lives within us, whose Sacred Word is shared by us. 

Glory to the Spirit of Life, who offers us peace; peace in our hearts, peace in our thoughts, peace with one another. 

Glory to the Spirit of Life, who cares for the health workers, postal workers, store clerks, garbage collectors and all those who serve our special needs in numerous ways.

Glory to the Spirit of Life, who sent Jesus who teaches us how to live the Gospels, who brings hope and healing to all those in need. 

O Holy One, you are one with us.  We are strong in our faith and will live life in hope and faithfulness to you, to be Church committed to the message of the Gospels.

We depend upon the ever-present Spirit to walk with us as we journey in the present and rejoice in the life before us.  

ALL:  Glory to the Spirit of Life


Reader:  Jack McKillip

A reading from the text authored by Sr. Rachael, CSA about the life and death of St. Agnes

We are told that Agnes came from a wealthy and powerful Roman family. Because of this and because she radiated a beauty that came from deep within, she attracted many who sought her hand in marriage at the early age of thirteen. Early weddings were the custom, and Agnes was often asked to give an explanation for rejecting the offers of the rich young men attracted to her.  Her response was always the same: “Jesus is my love. I am already espoused to Him.” Persecution of Christians was then at its height. Tortures by fire and horrors of personal abasement were used to weaken the followers of Jesus. When all these efforts failed, and those who followed Jesus refused to renounce him and bow to the Roman gods, they were put to death by the sword. Agnes was treated, at first with mild consideration.  To this, Agnes responded: “Put aside this pity for my youth and do not think that I wish to use such a plea to gain your indulgence. Faith resides not in the years of time but in the sentiments of the heart.”

These are the inspired words of Sr. Rachael CSA, and the community responds:  


Dotty:  The story of Dinah, the only daughter of the patriarch Jacob, recounts an episode in which as she traveled from her home to visit with the “daughters of the land.” While she was on her journey was raped, seduced, and  abducted by  Shechem, a Hivite prince who subsequently falls in love with wishes to marry her.

Second Reading:  A reading from The Red Tent - by Anita Diamant

Reader:  Mary Montavon

We have been lost to each other for so long.

My name means nothing to you. My memory is dust.  This is not your fault, or mine. The chain connecting mother and daughter was broken and the word passed to the keeping of men, who had no way of knowing. That is why I became a footnote, my story a brief detour between the well-known history of my father, Jacob, and the celebrated chronicle of Joseph, my brother. On those rare occasions when I was remembered, it was as a victim. Near the beginning of your holy book, there is a passage that seems to say I was raped and continues with the bloody tale

of how my honor was avenged.  

It’s a wonder that any mother ever called a daughter Dinah again. But some did.

Maybe you guessed that there was more to me than the cipher in the text. Maybe you heard it in the music of my name: the first vowel high and clear, as when a mother calls to her child at dusk; the second sound soft, for whispering secrets on pillows. Dee-nah.

These are the inspired words of Anita Diamant a member of Sister of St. Agnes and the community responds by saying:  


Psalm:  Adaptation of Psalm 23 

Shelter Me by Rev. Michael Joncas (c. 2020)

Joan Pesce   A reading of the Gospel from the apostle called Luke, chapter 8 vs 42 - 48

As Jesus moved along, the crowd almost crushed him. In the crowd was a woman who had suffered from hemorrhages for twelve years and had found no one who could heal her. She came up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of his cloak, and immediately the bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When no one nearby responded, Peter said, “Rabbi, it’s the crowd pressing around you.”  But Jesus said, “Someone touched me. I felt power leave me.”

When the woman realized that she had been noticed, she approached in fear and knelt before him. She explained in front of the crowd why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

These are the inspired words of the apostle called Luke and the community responds:




                                 HOMILY STARTER: 

Elena: Our Profession of faith:

We believe in our Creator who has not forgotten us and is ever and always present with us.

We believe in Jesus, prophet and teacher, who journeyed on the earth, blessing the sick, making whole the broken, healing many, instilling faith in his followers so that they insure his legacy till the end of time.

We believe in the Cosmic Christ, the everlasting Presence, one with the universe.

We believe in Sacred Spirit, the breath of wisdom Sophia, the power of the winds enwrapping us in glory.

We believe in the communion of saints, our heavenly friends who walk with us in love, who are never far from us, who are separated from us by a mere veil, always near opening our minds to what is difficult to see

We believe in the partnership and equality of women and men in our Church and our world.  Here we live our prophetic call of Gospel equality.


We pray that the Holy One renew in our hearts our commitment to journey always in faith and hope as we reach out and support, comfort and love those closest to us, and all the needs of the people of the earth and beyond.  

ALL:  Holy One, heal us!

We bring to the table all those girls and women, all over the world, who suffer from abuse that has traumatized their lives and need resources to begin the processing of healing.  

All:  Holy One, heal us!

We bring to the table all those who need healing from cancer.  We pray especially for our dear Peg and Mary Kay and all members of our community who are struggling with this terrible disease that they shall be “healed, whole and cancer free.”  We hold them in our hearts our prayers that they may grow strong knowing they are greatly loved.

ALL:  Holy One, heal us!

We bring to the table, our dear friends, Jim and Cheryl Brandi and their family as they mourn the transition of Jim’s brother, Tony. We offer them our love and support.

ALL:  Holy One, heal us!

We bring to the table the children, women and men seeking asylum in our country and our government keeps them living in deplorable conditions.

ALL: Holy One, heal us!


             And what do you bring to our table today  

Joan P.  Holy One, as we contemplatively and reflectively ponder the needs of our world we trust in the power of Divine Spirit to bring hope to others through us. 

And together we say,


OFFERTORY:  Truth I Am Standing On – Leanna Crawford

This is the truth I’m standing on

Even when all my strength is gone

You are faithful forever

And I know you will never

Let me fall

Right now, I’m choosing to believe

Someday soon I’ll look back and see

All the pain had a purpose

Your plan was perfect all along

This is the truth I’m standing on

Mary M.  May today there be peace within. May we trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May we not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May we use those gifts that we have received and pass on the love that has been given to us. May we be content knowing we are a child of God. Let this presence settle into our bones, and allow our soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us. The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too”. (adapted from the writings of Teresa of Avila)

Our commitment to respond in faith and action will reveal the power and presence of the Cosmic Christ.  May all of humanity gain strength and peace of heart.


Here in This Place by Christopher Grundy

Joan P.  Place your bread and cup of wine before you on your table as we pray the Offertory Prayer 

Kathryn:  “Reflect upon the providence and wisdom of the Holy One in all created things and praise the Holy One in them all. Truth suffers, but never dies.  In this distress, present in our world, in our homes, your words alone, O Holy One, were enough to remove my fears, and give me perfect peace: ‘Be not afraid, my daughter: it is I; and I will not abandon you. Fear not.  

Elena:  Christ has no body now, but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.  

Kathryn:  Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul.  You pay God a compliment by asking great things in prayer.  Reflect upon the providence and wisdom of God in all created things and praise God in them all, to have courage for whatever comes in life — everything lies in that.  We need no wings to go in search of the Holy One but have only to look upon the Holy One present within us. The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.”  

                  (Eucharistic Prayer is taken from the writings of Teresa of Avila

                               model of the strength and vision of women even today)  

(Hold your hands over the bread and the wine):  

Dotty:  In this sacrament of breaking bread and blessing wine, we pause now and call upon Sacred Spirit to bless this bread and wine which is made sacred through our faith.  We celebrate with one another as we remember Jesus walked this same earth we walk today.

Kathryn:  During Jesus’s life on this earth, he lived and died loving the poor, healing the sick and challenging the injustices within society.   Because of his ministry Jesus was feared by the authority of his day.

Joan:  Jesus met with his closest friends on the evening of the Jewish Seder.   

The meal was prepared but first Jesus spoke to his friends reminding them of what he had taught them saying “Love others as I have loved you.”

He then knelt before each of them and washed their feet as an act of love.

Dotty:  Jesus returned to his place at the table and took the bread provided for their meal, He lifted the Passover bread, and spoke words of blessing. He broke the bread saying these words:

“Take and eat. This is my very Self.  Do this in memory of Me.”

Joan P:  Jesus then lifted the cup filled with wine. He spoke the blessing and said:

“Take and drink of the covenant made new again through my life for you and for everyone.  Whenever you do these things, remember Me.”


            WITH ON ANOTHER


Song:  My Prayer For You - Alisa Turner

Lyrics Verse: For anyone who’s prayed a thousand prayers And still can’t find the answer anywhere Fighting off the lie that no one cares For anyone who’s out there losing hope Feeling you’re forsaken and alone Clinging to the last strands of your rope Chorus: May God give you eyes to see He’s still greater Courage to rise and believe He’s able May God be your peace in the fire you’re walking through This is my prayer now This is my prayer for you Verse: For all of those with tired and weary souls But still have faith to ask for miracles Choosing to believe He’s in control Bridge: May your eyes be ever on the Lord, your helper May you find your refuge in the Lord, your shelter May you find Him closer than a brother all your days All of your days                    

Elena:  It is through learning to live as Jesus lived,

And why he lived, and for whom he lived,

That we awaken to your Spirit within, moving us to celebrate life with you,

life-giving Creator Spirit at this time, and all time, and in all ways.  

As we celebrate the memory of Jesus in our sharing of Eucharist, we remember all those people who walk with us in search for the Divine. We remember worshipping communities everywhere who gather praising the Holy One and praying for one another.

Suzanne:  Let us pray in the manner that Jesus taught his companions to pray:

ALL:  O 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, Miriam Therese Winter, MMS)

Kathryn:  It is through living as Jesus lived, we are awakened to the Spirit and give thanks and praise for all gifts given.

Peace will only reign if we can learn to love. Love destroys pursuit of self, pursuit of power, pursuit of wealth, and so many other desires that can so easily be foundations of violence and conflict. Sometimes we may feel like we will never see peace in the world. We must persevere in prayer for peace. Nothing is impossible with God. 

We look to St. Agnes to be a source of strength for all girls and women neglected, misunderstood and uncared for.   St. Agnes is an example of freedom from fear and the profound belief that the Holy One is protecting her.



Dotty: Raise your hands in blessing for All

May the blessing of the Holy One hold us on our journey.

May the blessing of Spirit of Life give us a new faith to conquer all evil.

May the blessing of Divine Mystery protect all life in our world and beyond.


Joan P.  We are all committed to put into practice all that we have heard here today as we bring the message of the ministry of Jesus to all those we meet.

Closing Song:   

Chiquitita! By Annalie Johnson of One Voice Children's Choir and her sister Abby

(end Minute 4:35)

Chiquitita, tell me what's wrong
You're enchained by your own sorrow
In your eyes there is no hope for tomorrow
How I hate to see you like this
There is no way you can deny it
I can see that you're oh so sad, so quiet

Chiquitita, tell me the truth
I'm a shoulder you can cry on
Your best friend, I'm the one you must rely on
You were always sure of yourself
Now I see you've broken a feather
I hope we can patch it up together

Chiquitita, you and I know
How the heartaches come and they go and the scars they're leaving
You'll be dancing once again and the pain will end
You will have no time for grieving

Chiquitita, you and I cry
But the sun is still in the sky and shining above you
Let me hear you sing once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita
Try once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita

So the walls came tumbling down
And your love's a blown out candle
All is gone and it seems too hard to handle

Chiquitita, tell me the truth
There is no way you can deny it
I see that you're oh so sad, so quiet

Chiquitita, you and I know
How the heartaches come and they go and the scars they're leaving
You'll be dancing once again and the pain will end
You will have no time for grieving

Chiquitita, you and I cry
But the sun is still in the sky and shining above you
Let me hear you sing once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita
Try once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita
Try once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Janice Sevre Duszynska ARCWP Witnesses for Justice and Peace in Ukraine outside John Hopkins University, Baltimore

Janice with her friend Max demonstrate weekly for non-violence and justice. Their banner reflects our hopes for the end of the horrific killing of innocents in Ukraine. 

Blessings to you, Janice, for your prophetic witness on your birthday!

 Bridget Mary

Monday, January 16, 2023

Remembering MLK’s urgent and still timely critique of the U.S., the church by Joe Nangle


Joe Nangle

The institution of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in 1983 speaks to the enormous impact this Black preacher had on life in the United States. At the same time, areas in this country use the day to minimize King’s greatness. In Mississippi and Alabama, for example, the day is officially recognized as honoring Robert E. Lee as well as Dr. King! In Florida and Tennessee, the King Day is observed on Lee’s actual birthday!

These aberrations, together with ploys to mitigate the impact of this prophet on U.S. American life — such as naming the holiday “Civil Rights Day” or “Human Rights Day” — reemphasize the ongoing opposition to King’s accurate critiques of this country. More on that later.

Dr. King was a visionary, a person who had a dream, a desire, a conviction that the United States could become its better self despite our terrible failings.

This weekend we will rightfully enjoy and celebrate once again Dr. King’s soaring rhetoric in his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech. To listen again to its delivery, unscripted and with the inimitable cadence of this Black preacher, is to thrill to its vision for the U.S.:

“I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (sic) are created equal.”

At the same time many are calling for reflections that go beyond those inspiring words. They point to Reverend King’s observations about U.S. life which continue to infuriate people, like those in the so-called Freedom Caucus of Congress or those who describe themselves as MAGA adherents.

For this year’s celebration of our nation’s prophet it will be useful – even necessary — to reflect on those observations in the light of our country’s current history. They are as relevant today as they were 60 years ago.

§  “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” [The recently confirmed federal budget allocates an astounding $847 billion for “defense.”]

§  “We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the positive affirmation of peace.” [In addition to the $28 billion spent on arming Ukraine, how much investment has our country made in achieving peace there?]

§  Capitalism: “…with this system a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level.” [720 billionaires in the U.S./total population of 333 million; 2,700 billionaires worldwide/total population of 7.8 billion.]

As a religious leader Dr. King was scathing in his assessment of the churches in the U.S. This strikes one as equally relevant to the churches today – and for us in particular as members of the U.S. Catholic institutional church.

§  “So often the contemporary Church is a weak ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound…so often it is an arch defender of the status quo.” [Where is the voice of the Catholic hierarchy in the face of the current scandalous divisions in U.S. society?]

§  “…called to be the moral guardian of the community, the Church has at times preserved that which is immoral and unethical; called to combat social evils, it has remained silent behind stain glass windows.” [A commentary on our “feel-good” pastoral approach to ministry.]

Two final thoughts. First, the recent custom of calling the third Monday in January “a National Day of Service” with squads of volunteers doing public cleanup work across the country is both fitting and practical. However, let it not distract us from recalling King’s still-relevant analyses of the U.S. Second, in the face of a largely domesticated Church, Pax Christi USA continues to have the obligation to sound a King-like prophetic word today..

Joe Nangle OFM is a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace. As a member of the Assisi Community in Washington, D.C., he is dedicated to simple living and social change. Joe also serves as the Pastoral Associate for the Latino community at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Arlington, Virginia.