Thursday, March 30, 2023

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy of the Palms, April 1, 2023 Presiders: Kathryn Shea ARCWP and Jerry Bires ,Lectors: Jim Brandi and Luca Cruzat, Prayer leaders: Maryal Gagnon and Joan Meehan, Music Minister: Linda Lee Miller

Zoom link:

Meeting ID: 815 3407 5389
Passcode: 803326

Theme: Unitive Seeing     

(Kathryn) We warmly welcome you to the inclusive Catholic Community of Mary Mother of Jesus.  All are welcome here.  We invite you to pray the liturgy where it says “All.”  And please sing your heart out!  Everyone will be muted during the service.  Presiders, readers and anyone wishing to participate in the shared homily, please remember to unmute and re-mute before and after reading or speaking in order to avoid confusion and overlap of voices. Please have bread and wine or juice with you as we pray our Eucharistic Prayer.

Whoever you are, 

Wherever you are, 

Just as you are, 

You are welcome at this table. (Integral Christianity by Paul Smith)   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   (Jerry)  We begin our joy filled celebration together in the name of the Holy One, Source of all Being; Jesus, Eternal Word; and Holy Spirit Sophia, our Wisdom within. Amen.  

(Jerry) God is with you.    All: And also with you.

Opening Song: Hosanna Palm Sunday Maranatha

Opening Prayer 

(Kathryn)  We are grateful, O Holy One, for this opportunity to gather as Christ’s Body. During this liturgy may we endeavor to focus our minds and our hearts on our knowledge that you formed us all as one body, and that we are all supported and strengthened by the same Holy Spirit for the same purpose: the common good.  We are, in the depths of our being, one community.

Liturgy of the Word

(Luca) A reading from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.  

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

   Love never gives up.

   Love cares more for others than for self.

   Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.

   Love doesn't strut,

   Doesn't have a swelled head,

   Doesn't force itself on others,

   Isn't always "me first,"

   Doesn't fly off the handle,

   Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,

   Doesn't revel when others grovel,

   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

   Puts up with anything,

   Trusts God always,

   Always looks for the best,

   Never looks back,

   But keeps going to the end.”

These are the words of the Apostle Paul, and we respond, “Thanks be to God!”

Excerpt From: Eugene H Peterson, The Message.

Response to reading. Ubi Caritas et Amor


(Jim B) A reading from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  2:5-11

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. Christ Jesus had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, Jesus set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, Jesus stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. Jesus didn't claim special privileges. Instead, living a selfless, obedient life and then dying a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted Jesus high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Teacher of all, to the glorious honor of Abba God.

These are the words of the Apostle Paul, and we respond, “Thanks be to God!”

Excerpt From: Eugene H Peterson, The Message.

Gospel Acclamation:  Spirit of the Living God:

(Luca)  A reading from the Gospel of Mark: 11:1-11 

When they were nearing Jerusalem, at Bethpage and Bethany on Mount Olives, Jesus sent off two of the disciples with instructions: "Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you'll find a colt tethered, one that has never yet been ridden. Untie it and bring it. If anyone asks, 'What are you doing?' say, 'The Teacher needs the colt, and will return it right away.’”

They went and found a colt tied to a door at the street corner and untied it. Some of those standing there said, "What are you doing untying that colt?" The disciples replied exactly as Jesus had instructed them, and the people let them alone. They brought the colt to Jesus, spread their coats on it, and Jesus mounted.

The people gave him a wonderful welcome, some throwing their coats on the street, others spreading out rushes they had cut in the fields. Running ahead and following after, they were calling out,


   Blessed is he who comes in God's name!

   Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David!

   Hosanna in highest heaven!

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?” And the crowds replied, “This is Jesus the Prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Jesus then entered the Temple and looked around, taking it all in. By now it was late, so Jesus went back to Bethany with the Twelve.

These are Gospel writer Mark’s words, and we respond, “Thanks be to God!”

Excerpt From: Eugene H Peterson, The Message.

Gospel Acclamation:  Spirit of the Living God:   

Shared Homily:  This homily is adapted from a sermon delivered by Rev.Lisa G.Fischbeck on Palm Sunday and posted in The Advocate. It will be read by Jerry Bires at this liturgy.

Profession of Faith. 

(Jim B and All)   We believe in God, the creator of the universe, 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 the Holy Spirit, the breath of God in the cosmos, who calls us to loving service without counting the cost. We believe in our global communion with all in the circle of life. Amen to loving actions on behalf of justice, healing, compassion and equality for all in our world! We are called to be light to the world!

Prayers of the Community  

(Maryal)  With heads and hearts mindful of God's unconditional love embedded in each one of us, let us bring our needs and those of our community forward. After each intercession, we respond: Res: Holy One, we offer these prayers.

~That those who suffer abuse, may be healed and empowered, we pray.             Res: Holy One……..

~That those who are bound by hatred, hostility and violence will be set free, we pray.            Res: Holy One……

~That the sick may experience healing of mind, spirit and body especially Peg Bowen, Ann Cooke, Mary Kay and all those identified in the Community Book for Prayers, we pray.     Res: Holy One……

~That those family members and friends who have gone ahead of us will dwell forever in their heavenly homes, we pray.                                                                                                       Res: Holy One……  

~That those family members and friends who have gone ahead of us will experience the fullness of the Divinity and be a constant reminder of our union as one in Jesus.                       Res: Holy One……   

~For what and for whom else do we pray at this time?                                                           Res: Holy One…… 

~ We lift up these and all our intentions that remain in the silence of our hearts.                 Res: Holy One, we offer these prayers.  

Offertory Song:  Wheat scattered and Sown  

(Joan M)  Gracious Wisdom, you embrace us with your extravagant affection in both the times of our blessedness and our weakness. You are always with us and live in us and we live in you, our Blessed One. You are our gift of shalom, our peace. In solidarity with all believers who have gone before us we lift up our hearts and sing out in joy the blessing that you have given us.

Holy Holy  Holy
 (by Karen Drucker)

Eucharistic Prayer. 

(Luca and All) with hands extended in blessing:

As we do in this place what you did in an upstairs room, send down your Spirit Sophia on us and on these gifts of bread and wine that they may become for us your body, healing and making us whole. And that we may become for you, your body, loving and caring in the world until your kindom comes. Amen.

(Jerry and All)  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, and eat. This is my very self.”


Jesus then raised high the cup of blessing and offered them the wine with these words, “Take and drink of the covenant made new through my life for you and for everyone. Whenever you do this, remember me.”

(Jim B and All) Remember, gracious God, your Church throughout the world. Open us to welcome everyone. In union with all people, may we strive to create a world where suffering is diminished, and where all people can live in health and wholeness. Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit, all glory is yours, gracious God. 

Great Amen: Linda Lee Miller    

(Joan 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 

Prayer for the Breaking of the Bread:                                                                                           (Maryal and All)

O God of Courage, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice. We will live justly.
O God of Compassion, You call us to be Your presence in the world. We will love tenderly. 

O God of Truth, You call us to speak truth to power. We will walk with integrity in your presence.


Sign of Peace. 

(Jerry) Jesus, you said to your disciples, “My peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” 

(Joan and All) Look on the faith of those gathered here and grant us your peace. Following the example of Jesus and with the strength of the Spirit, may we live in peace and harmony with everyone.

(Joan) Let us wish peace to each other and to all members of our community!  Namaste 3x

(Kathryn) This is Jesus, God with us, loving us forever. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love.  All: We are the Body of Christ. 

 **Please share Eucharist with the words “You are the Body of Christ”, “You are the Face of God”. 

Communion Meditation
                          Irish Blessing by Bill Leslie                                                                                        

Prayer of Thanksgiving (Didache, Instruction, 100CE)

(Joan and All)  For the thanksgiving, give thanks this way: First, for the cup: We thank you, Abba God, for the sacred vine of David your son, whose meaning you made clear to us through our brother Jesus, yours ever be the splendor. 

And for the bread fragment: We thank you, Amma God, for the life and wisdom whose meaning you made clear to us through Jesus, yours ever be the splendor. 

As this fragment was scattered high on hills, but by gathering was united into one, so let your people from earth’s ends be united into your single reign, for yours are splendor and might through Jesus The Christ down through the ages.

Prayers of Thanksgiving. Introductions. Announcements. 

Final Blessing. With hand extended in prayer:  

(Maryal and All)

Peace before us, Peace behind us, Peace under our feet

Peace within us, Peace over us, Let all around us be Peace.

Love before us, Love behind us, Love under our feet

Love within us, Love over us, Let all around us be Love.

Christ before us, Christ behind us, Christ under our feet,

Christ within us, Christ over us, Let all around us be Christ!

(Jerry)  Go in the peace of Christ. Let us bring God’s reign of peace and compassion to all those we meet.  All: Thanks be to God. 

Final Song:    Hosanna Hosanna  

The liturgy for today was written by Elena Garcia with adaptations made to the liturgy written by our dearly beloved sister, Sally Brochu for Palm Sunday in 2020.  



Please send donations to:

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community
5342 Clark Road #3079
Sarasota, FL 34233

Please send intentions for our community prayer book to Joan Meehan.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

It’s time for a Catholic ethic that sees sexuality as a gift not a curse by James F. Keenan

It is time for the institutional Church to  change its toxic, negative teachings on sexuality. The good news is that Catholic theologians for decades have been developing " a Christian life-giving, love-oriented sexual ethics worthy of its name." As  James F. Keenan points out, it is enlightening to know how this negative teaching on sexuality that has damaged the spiritual life of Catholics through the centuries evolved, and to chart a positive, life-giving teaching that is rooted in an ethic of  Gospel love, oneness in body and soul, mutuality, and justice.  Cardinal McElroy's article  on radial inclusion challenges the Church's official teachings on human sexuality and supports the development of  more holistic theology rooted in  the Gospel and  sensus fidelium- the lived experiences of loving, sexually active, holy people everywhere.  Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

"In the recent discussions raised by San Diego Cardinal Robert McElroy on "radical inclusion," for LGBTQ people and others in the Catholic Church, one obstacle posed is the consistent teaching of the church in sexual ethics. As a moral theologian, I believe it is worth knowing how and why those teachings were formed in the first place. History helps us to see that underlying that "consistency" are a number of matters that convey an overriding negative estimation of human sexuality.

Christian moral teachings on sexuality evolved somewhat haphazardly over the centuries, with successive generations appropriating earlier positions that often had been based on very different premises. In general, a series of fairly negative accretions were added one upon another until, in the 17th century we have basically an absolutely negative estimation of sexual desires. Thus, with reason, historian James Brundage claims in Law, Sex, and Christian Society in Medieval Europe: "The Christian horror of sex has for centuries placed enormous strain on individual consciences and self-esteem in the Western world."

For the most part, the teachings derive from the concerns of celibate men who, while pursuing a life of holiness, found sexual desires to be obstacles rather than aids in that pursuit. These sexual desires were not understood as belonging to or needing to be included into a broader understanding of any particular dimension of human personality. Rather they were as random and as precipitous as they were for anyone who does not have an integrating concept like "sexuality." As arbitrary, powerful feelings, there was little about their nature that lent to their being conceptually incorporated into an overarching, integrated reality. The idea of these venereal desires was as unstable as the desires themselves were felt.

Language, too, hindered any tendency to understand these desires as belonging to something more integrated or holistic. In his The Bridling of Desire: Views of Sex in the Later Middle Ages, philosopher Pierre Payer reminds us:

A contemporary writer dealing with medieval ideas of sex faces a peculiar problem of language. Treatises entitled, "On sex," are nowhere to be found, nor does one find talk about "sexuality," because medieval Latin had no terms for the English words "sex" and "sexuality." In the strictest sense, there are no discussions of sex in the Middle Ages. … The concept of sex or sexuality as an integral dimension of human persons, as an object of concern, discourse, truth and knowledge, did not emerge until well after the Middle Ages.

Of course, the development of these teachings is so different from the positive language of the body that helped early theologians to continually articulate teachings on the resurrection of the body, the Incarnation and the Eucharist. As I argue in A History of Catholic Theological Ethics, our tradition on the human body expanded the depth and range of the Christian vocation. Indeed, whether we talked of the body, the family or the virtues, we considered each of them as gifts. Our tradition in those areas is indeed complex, but it is also rich, affirming and cogent.

The same cannot be said for the church's teachings on sex.

(Unsplash/Sandy Millar)

(Unsplash/Sandy Millar)

The tradition on sexual ethics led us not to greatness but to negativity and minutiae. Anything we added to the tradition only cast human sexuality as more and more negative. For instance, Paul's simple injunction that those who could not remain celibate should marry (1 Corinthians 7:8-9) led later to the Stoics' claim that marital intimacy needed to be validated not by the marriage, as Paul suggested, but by purposing the intimacy for procreation. That led later to Clement of Alexandria's judgment that sex for pleasure even in marriage was sinful. Why did we problematize marital love as we moved from Paul to Clement? Why did we need to validate marital love when Paul did not?

A likeness of St. Augustine is seen in stained glass at Caldwell Chapel on the campus of The Catholic University of America May 25, 2021, in Washington. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

A likeness of St. Augustine is seen in stained glass at Caldwell Chapel on the campus of The Catholic University of America May 25, 2021, in Washington. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

Still, a look at the patristic period is not as problematic as later periods. In fact, Augustine's theology is less negative on matters of sex and marriage than both his contemporaries or worse, his 16th- to 19th-century successors. The negativity emerges more after than with Augustine.

For instance, we could examine the so-called consistent teaching on masturbation, which excepting Clement, was never assessed as a sin until John Cassian (360-435) and Caesarius of Arles (470-542) made it one, but only for monks and nuns who, violated their vows of chastity by masturbating.

Still, eight centuries later when Pope Innocent III imposed upon the entire church the Easter duty in 1215 requiring an annual confession of all Christians, sexual teachings change. Now masturbation is considered gravely sinful for all. The genesis of masturbation as sinful was precisely dependent upon the vow of chastity of those who chose the ascetical life. What was a sin for a 40-year-old monk in the eighth century became, however, the same sin for a 13-year-old boy or girl in the 13th century. Worse, as we will see, we made it a very grievous sin.

While there are many other topics, not least how the sexual experiences of women were assessed (or not), I propose three teachings that by building on each other bring the evolution of sexuality into an ambit completely defined as inevitably an occasion of sin. These teachings are known as "sins against nature," "intrinsic evil" and "parvity of matter."

Sins against nature were so named by St. Ivo, bishop of Chartres, as "always unlawful and beyond doubt more flagrant and shameful than to sin by a natural use in fornication or adultery." The sin was "to use the member for an illegitimate use."

In Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists, Judge John T. Noonan Jr., describes these language games: "There is never any attempt to provide a biological description of the acts condemned. Medical terms are eschewed. The vagina is usually described as 'the vessel' or 'the fit vessel.' Ejaculation is often described as 'pollution.' The term 'coitus interruptus' is never employed, but the usual description is 'outside the fit vessel'."

What links all these sins together is basically that the semen went elsewhere than the "fit vessel" and by going elsewhere the sin was "unnatural."

From Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas until the 20th century, the moral treatises distinguished between sexual sins "in accordance with nature" and those "contrary to nature." While the former could include fornication, adultery, incest and even rape, in general the latter sins (solitary or mutual masturbation, contraception, anal or oral intercourse, bestiality) were considered more grievous, such was the obsession with the finality of semen and the "fit vessel." That masturbation was so long and consistently taught to be more grievous than rape might give us pause about the argument from consistency. And, it might also suggest how inadequately grievous rape was considered by the celibate theologians.

The sins against nature received further treatment by being coupled with two other conceptual categories: "intrinsic evil" and "parvity of matter." "Intrinsic evil" comes from the 14th-century Durandus of St. Pourcain (1270-1334), the anti-Thomist detractor. The term described a particular type of action as absolutely, always wrong regardless of circumstances. As I have written, this a priori evaluation removed from consideration any question of the moral legitimacy of such actions. They were described as such either because the action was against nature and/or the agent had no right to the exercise of such activity. All sexual acts against nature were now also classified as intrinsically evil. As intrinsically evil, all sexual acts against nature were now unequivocally exceptionless. No circumstance could mitigate their sinfulness.

Nonetheless, the history of sexual teachings became even darker when moral theologians entertained whether any sin against the sixth commandment could be considered light matter, that is, not mortal. Here emerged the question whether under the sixth commandment there was any "parvity" (lightness) of matter. Was any sexual sin ever venial?

In the 15th and 16th century some moralists began asking questions about lesser matters. They asked what was the moral quality of a kiss that aroused a person or a passing fantasy that was not repelled but, rather, allowed to stay, what they eventually called a "delectatio morosa." Were all these actions mortal sins? For some time, moral theologians were divided on this question.

(Unsplash/Elizabeth Tsung)

(Unsplash/Elizabeth Tsung)

As theologian Jesuit Fr. Patrick Boyle reports in his Parvitas Materiae in Sexto in Contemporary Catholic Thought, in 1612 the superior general of the Society of Jesus, Claudio Acquaviva, condemned the position that excused from mortal sin any slight pleasure in venereal desires. Not only did he bind Jesuits to obey the teaching under pain of excommunication, he imposed on them the obligation to reveal the names of those Jesuits who violated even the spirit of the decree. As I have noted, these and other sanctions dissuaded moralists from entertaining any of the circumstantial exceptions as earlier casuists had.

By 1750 the moral manualists locked into place the teaching that all sexual desires and subsequent activity were always mortally sinful unless it was the conjugal action of spouses who assured that their "act" was in itself left open to procreation. Therein they assimilated into the tradition the claims that sins against the sixth and ninth commandments had no parvity of matter. Notably this position did not apply to any of the other commandments.

"Parvity of matter," "intrinsic evil" and the "sins against nature" combined to isolate venereal desires absolutely as such. In effect, just as the monk in the first millennium sought through ascetical practices to integrate himself body and soul but at the cost of dispensing with his own sexual desires, so too, in the second millennium after the imposition of the Easter duty, celibate church theologians managed to take away from the laity any sense of the legitimacy of sexual love and any sense that those desires could ever lead to anything good except under certain very clear conditions for procreative marital relations.

It is important to note that no other set of issues had such an unequivocal intolerance in the moral tradition, let alone such an elaborate set of linguistic concepts to "subdue" and condemn the activity. Even the prohibition against abortion allows certain indirect therapeutic exceptions (e.g., in the cases of women with a cancerous uterus or an ectopic pregnancy). And even then, there was never anything like the issue of "parvity of matter" that pursued people who considered an abortion or confessors who may have responded to questions about abortion without absolute severity.

It is important to note that no other set of issues had such an unequivocal intolerance in the moral tradition, let alone such an elaborate set of linguistic concepts to "subdue" and condemn the activity.


The other near absolute issue is lying. Yet, even though lying was named by Augustine as always in itself sinful, not everyone in the tradition at every time concurred, particularly on the matter of lying to protect the well-being of another. In fact, two distinctive trajectories of teaching on lying emerged. Only the teachings on sexual ethics were absolute, severe, extensive and without any exception.

The cover of the book "Sex, Love and Families: Catholic Perspectives," edited by Jason King and Julie Hanlon Rubio (CNS)

The cover of the book "Sex, Love and Families: Catholic Perspectives," edited by Jason King and Julie Hanlon Rubio (CNS)

The Gospel summons to love and the early church's call to be one in mind and body developed well throughout the centuries but they never really influenced the church's later teachings on human sexual desires. In order for Christianity to advance, it did so by isolating and morally quarantining sex.

Until St. John Paul II introduced the "theology of the body," sex remained definitively the Catholic taboo. Now we can move on and take up where he left off, by articulating a theology of sexual ethics that sees sexuality as a gift and not a curse. But as we do, we might also consider the questions from Cardinal McElroy regarding the severity of these teachings that kept so many Catholics away from the sacraments and how we might begin a process of reconciliation for all those, who like ourselves are never worthy to approach the altar, but are by grace nonetheless invited.

Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley (CNS/Courtesy of Yale Divinity School)

Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley (CNS/Courtesy of Yale Divinity School)

Indeed, there are other signs that we are moving in the right direction, In Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, ethicist Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley proposed a sexual ethics of love founded on justice. Though the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a notification that it "risks grave harm for the faithful," it has become a staple in the writings of most theologians. More recently, the award-winning 25 essays in Julie Hanlon Rubio and Jason King's edited collection, Sex, Love, and Families: Catholic Perspectives provides a model for a responsible and loving sexual ethics.

A church that is trying to make itself right in the light of its record on sexual abuse needs to look not only at what it did and did not do, but also at its teachings that guided it in its judgments. Indeed, if anything is clear here, it is that the experiential wisdom of the laity needs to be fully engaged in the articulation of these much-needed teachings. Then, we may have a Christian life-giving, love-oriented sexual ethics worthy of its name."