Saturday, August 5, 2023

Sr. Joan Chittister's 2004 quote on 'pro-life' versus 'pro-birth' goes viral

Sr. Joan Chittister's 2004 quote on 'pro-life' versus 'pro-birth' goes viral

Screenshot of Gigi Hadid's Instagram post


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A recent Instagram post earned supermodel Gigi Hadid nearly a half a million likes, but it wasn't a photo of herself or of the latest fashion trend. It was a quote from Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister on the importance of being more broadly pro-life, not just "pro-birth."

The quote — which Chittister confirmed she said during an interview with journalist Bill Moyers in 2004 — said:

"I do not believe that just because you are opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, a child educated, a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is."

Chittister's quote has made the rounds on various social media outlets over the years and has resurfaced in recent weeks as several states have passed laws that severely restrict most or all abortions.

No one is more surprised that she has gone viral than Chittister herself, who thought the interview was something few people would watch. Yet she stands by her critique of a single-issue approach to abortion, which she still sees as "morally inconsistent."

"Do I still stand with that statement? You bet I do, probably stronger than ever, to be frank," Chittister told NCR on May 22.

While she describes herself as pro-life, Chittister questions why some who oppose abortion only seem to care about unborn babies as the sole "defenseless life" worth protecting. After babies are born, "they're ignored," she said.

"You have babies and pregnant mothers on the border. They're innocent and defenseless, but those babies are being separated and segregated," she said.

And many pro-life leaders do not consider defenseless casualties in war, she added.

"We're not worried about pregnant mothers in North Korea or Iran," Chittister said.

Eucharistic Liturgy with Free Spirit Inclusive Catholic Community Feast of the Transfiguration Sunday, August 6th 2023, Elaine Phaff , ARCWP

Welcome  ~ *Ann;  Welcome to Free Spirit's Eucharistic liturgy.  We are one 
Community, united in prayer and in love.

Announcements:  ~ * Ann

Prayers of the Community ~   Elaine  :As we begin our liturgy, we bring to mind and heart, those beloveds for whom we pray.  In our families, neighborhoods, and various of circles.  {Pause} Let's unmute now and all together, say their names.

                  May they remain opened to light, peace, and healing

   ~ We pray for the urgent needs of our neighbors on Planet Earth: for peace between nations that begins with each one of us, for a generous and sustainable sharing of Earth's resources, for spiritual freedom and emotional well being for

               all, including those who think of themselves as enemies


                   May we live as One

Response:  * Ann :  Amen!  Let it be so.   


Opening Prayer    : * Reader 1 ~ We are gathered today in the spirit of Transfiguration, as witnessed in Jesus by the Gospel writers known as Matthew.  We lean into the phenomenal vision and experience of the ancient followers of the Way.  And we pray that we are opened to transfiguring moments in our lives.  May we recognize those times and participate to the fullest in our continuing transformation.

Response :  *Reader 2 ~ Amen!  Let it be so.

Opening Song ~ “Transformation” Van Morrison on YouTube 

                     fade at 2:06

                 Gonna be a transformation, down in your soul

                 Gonna be a transformation, now that you know    

                 Get used to righteousness if it makes you feel whole

                 Gonna be a transformation, down in your soul

                 'Member when we were downhearted, nowhere to go

                 And the wisdom of insecurity

                 Just knowin' that we know

                 Then something starts happenin'

                 Feel like you're on a roll

                 Gonna be a transformaion

                 Down in your soul


Liturgy of the Word

First Reading ~ *Reader 2 ~ {Introduction} Our first reading is a poem by Aaron Kramer, an American social activist whose lifelong writings reflect his political commitment.  The nuptial imagery in this poem may be understood as the unity within the human person evolving toward wholeness.  The bride and groom may represent the so-called feminine and masculine traits belonging to all genders.  

The poem speaks of mutual participation in the human/divine experience, the ground work of transformation.   

*Reader 3 ~  Promothalamium, by Aaron Kramer


                  Come all you who are not satisfied

                  As ruler in a lone, wallpapered room

                  Full of mute birds, and flowers that falsely bloom, and closets

                           choked with dreams that long ago died!

                   Come, let us sweep the old streets – like a bride;

                   Sweep out dead leaves with a relentless broom;

                   Prepare for Spring, as though he were our groom

                   For whose light footstep eagerly we bide

                   We'll sweep out shadows, where the rats long fed;

                   Sweep out our shame – and in its place we'll make

                   A bower for love, a splendid marriage bed

                       Fragrant with flowers aquiver for the Spring.  *begin Birdsong

                   And when he comes, our murdered dreams shall wake;

                   And when he comes, all the mute birds shall sing.    

Birdsongs:   *fade at 46secs

“Sing of a Blessing”  by Medical Mission 

                                    Sisters * fade at 1:01

Gospel:  *Reader 4   A reading from the Gospel of Matthew: 17: 1-9 

Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by

themselves.  And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared d to them, conversing with him.  Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 

This telling is from the early writers known as Matthew.  We listen to the Voice of Life and Love.

Response:  *Reader 5 ~  Amen.  Let it be so!

Continue “Transformation” YouTube; begin at 2:06

          But like a river keeps on wantin' to flow

          Keeps on advancing with the wisdom you know

         Time has a rhythm when the love is the love

         Love is forever, baby, down in your soul

        Gonna be a transformation, baby, down in your soul

        Gonna be a transformation, now that you know

        Get used to righteousness, 'cause it make you feel whole

        Gonna be a transformation down in your soul.

Homily starter *Elaine 

Transfiguration ~ a Homily with Free Spirit Inclusive Catholic Community

August 6, 2023 ~ by Elaine Pfaff

Today we reflect on the remarkable story of Jesus' transfiguration.  As I prayed with this passage this time,  I became aware again that the phenomenon  recounted here is a communal experience.  Radiant light is made evident to the Community represented by the three disciples and tended by the patriarchs who have gone before them. The matriarch are unnamed; yet they too are in the land of the living made manifest on the mountaintop. Heaven and earth through eternally living beings are present in the transfiguration.

So my first thought is ~ Transfiguration is not limited to Jesus alone. Though Jesus is our prototype for unitive consciousness, we participate in the transfiguration vision and its radiation among us.

Secondly for me, I'm thinking that perhaps transfiguration is not limited to the visual alone, whether we're in a vision using our physical eyes or spiritual sight.  We can sense a vision, feel it as light or warmth – energy between bodies and spirits attuned to God.  Even when it's dark in our personal journeys and in the material world, there is light beyond our physical and  spiritual senses.  We can trust both the light and holy darkness. The passage tells us that guidance came through the “bright light” casting its “shadow” on our ancestors.  

Light, we know, is energy.  We live and move through fields of energy.  And we can grow in sensitivity to the restorative, creative energy in the Universe.  Right now, for example, we who unite in the force of prayer that opens us, we  are drawn into one another's presence whose shared intention is for God.  We can see on the screen and feel the good will and love that touches us and forms us anew.  We are in an energy field together.

I want to share a dream with you.  It came to me at a stressful time when I saw no resolution to a problem.  In my dream, a group of people were asking me for help, for accompaniment to their emotional and spiritual well being.        

My mind went to books and resources that could help me with the work they were choosing to do in their journey.  The titles of hundreds of books appeared in my dream, flying by as though on a rolodex or slot machine at Vegas.  Too fast to read and in a language I couldn't read.  Finally, the spinning stopped.  And there, clear and bold as daylight, appeared the title Addiction and Grace by the late Gerald May who was a psychiatrist, contemplative theologian, and driving force in the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation.

I'm studying it again.  

Dr May defines addiction as “any compulsive, habitual behavior that limits the freedom of human desire.”  We can talk about that definition extensively!  It is the work of therapy and the bedrock of spiritual direction.  For now, we can as ourselves:  

What does addiction have to do with transfiguration? 


In the transfiguration of Jesus, we glimpse  union with God made possible for all of us.  Such union is at the heart of our deepest desires embedded in our most authentic selves. An image might help illustrate.  Some people see spiritual  hunger thourgh this imaginative narrative:   Before we were born, God kissed us on the lips ~ And we spend the rest of our lives getting back to that kiss. 

So, companions on this journey ~ how do you experience your hunger for the good we call God?

Let's take 3 minutes of silence to get in touch with our feelings.


Focus questions for sharing:  

Where do you witness moments of spiritual freedom?  {In another present or past?  In yourself? } 

 How might that freedom relate to the transfiguration?     



Universal Prayer ~ based on John Dominic Crosson, The Greatest Prayer (2010)

*Reader 5 ~

O Cosmic Householder, Source of our wisdom, whose generous provisions are meant for All, naming all for holiness and justice,

In the Companionship of Empowerment, spread throughout the entire creation, willed by Holy Wisdom ~

May all be sustained by daily food, and relieved of the burden of crippling debt and exploitation

Through our loving efforts to co-create with You the kin~dom of divine vision and generous intent


Deliver us from all forms of oppression and violence at all times!

Transform us to our truest nature in You, the Mystery we call God

For together we are the empowering desire to radiate on earth and in the universe

The justice of enduring hope.

Response * Reader 6 ~ Amen; let it be so!

Liturgy of the Eucharist

Ann ~ We are gathered to acclaim our thanks and praise

           Called into birth and gifted!

           When we were young, our growth was protected

           Blessed with maturity, we are guided through our transitions amid the changes

                 of life

*Reader 5 ~ We are called to be people of faith, to see and  embrace our world with a new vision

*Reader 6 ~ With gratitude in our hearts, we thank You, Source of Light and Goodness ~

                         for companioning us on the journey with one another

*Reader 5 ~ And in union with all who lift their voices in joy, we too, acclaim our song

                        of praise

         The Community prepares tables with bread & wine while

Ann  sings:  You are holy, holy, holy

                      You are holy, holy, holy

                      You are holy, holy, holy

                      You are whole

                      We are holy, holy, holy   etc

Elaine:  Please extend your hands in blessing over the bread and cup

*Reader 6 ~  And so we celebrate this empowering Presence for which we hunger

                    In Jesus, our friend and liberator, revelation of our humanity uniting

                            with the divine    { gesture sign of the Cross over the gifts}

*Reader 5 ~ Blessed with that same Spirit, which we invoke upon all gathered here

                      to celebrate the transformative energy

                     Symbolized in our gifts of bread and wine,

                     Given to nourish and sustain us into the fullness of life.

*Reader 6 ~ {lifting bread & cup} While sharing at table, Jesus took bread, prayed the blessing, broke the bread, and along with the cup, shared it among friends and said

*Reader 5 ~ Take this all of you: eat and drink

                     This is my very self, given in love for you

The Community receives Communion with the words said by Reader 6:  Amen!  And so

      we are!

“Transformation” Van Morrison – play to completion

Closing Prayer ~  * Reader 2:  Let it come to fruition – this life giving Communion.  May our sacred meal here energize our actions in the world as we go forth: to love

unconditionally as God loves.  And to serve God's People as Christ.

*Reader 1:  Amen!  Let it be so!

Blessing  ~ *Reader 1:  Please extend your hands to one another for the blessing while

                        we sing together:

                  Share now, share in a blessing

                  Share now, share in a blessing

                  Share now, share in a blessing

                  A blessing of hope

                  A blessing of courage

                  Love will increase

                  Love will increase

                  A blessing of Peace

                 Live, live, live as a blessing

                 Live, live, live as a blessing

                 A blessing within 

                   A blessing among us /   A blessing among us

                   Love will increase    Love will increase

                   A blessing of peace

                   Send forth, send forth the blessing

                   Send forth, send forth the blessing

                   A blessing to All  / A blessing to All

                   Now and forever / Now and forever

                   Love will release / Love will release

                   A blessing of peace / A blessing of peace