Saturday, September 16, 2023

Forgive All Ways, a homily with Washington Home Inclusive Monthly Mass, September 17, 2023 by Elaine Pfaff ARCWP

Good afternoon and hello to my new friends in DC!  Your invitation to  break bread and word together with you this afternoon in WHIMM “enlarges the tent” for  us and for All who live inclusion – in & from this independent sacramental movement. We “Enlarge the Space of  the Tent”  here and now through this Eucharist welcoming All and sending us forth to be the Church and to do the work of justice and peace.  

There's a Synod of Bishops about to happen in Rome beginning October 4th Pope Francis has named it “Communion, Participation, Mission.”  In preparation, Catholics across the world held listening sessions last year.  Time and time again we expressed our desire to “Enlarge the Space of [Our] Tent” so that we  welcome and include All of Us.  So that the equality with which we honor one another inside our tent (and gardens)  flows freely outside our open spaces to be the Christ consciousness and to do the work of social justice.       


Thanks to you, the Community gathered today in person and on screen.  Your good will and hospitality is a powerful force. Thanks to the skill of tech wizards among us who make our presence to one another possible. 

We are exactly 230 miles apart just now, you at R Street  in Washington DC to me in

 Hertford NC. Add to that the distance of our Community with us on Zoom.  I think of  St Phoebe, whom we honor today, as she physically traveled over 3 times that distance, 750 miles from Cenchrea to Rome to deliver the second Reading we hear today.  Current biblical scholarship concludes that Phoebe was more than a messenger.  It's possible that Pheobe herself participated in writing what is known as Paul's Letter to the Romans.  In all probability, she read the letter to the Community and therefore had a powerful influence over its interpretation. 

( ) Dr. Beverly Roberts Gaventa

The letter is a powerful message of peace:  We belong to God!


The title of my homily is Forgive All Ways, as the author of Sirach and Jesus in Matthew insist. As Phoebe and Paul persist in the Letter to the Romans.  How fitting that these three readings come together this liturgical year during the Season of Creation.  Forgiveness is intrinsic to sustain Creation; it's taught in most world religions.  Yet, I must confess that when I hear Jesus' injunction to forgive “seventy times seven”,  I at first get tired out!  Maybe you too  have a similar first reaction.  Must we really forgive offenders regardless of the level of pain they cause us – from the relatively small matter of rudeness, perhaps – to the tragic loss of a life cut short – to a devastating betrayal in a relationship?  With all of  that, it seems we're constantly confronted with the unavoidable practice of forgiveness simply to stay alive!

And yet we must forgive  to stay alive, that is to benefit our selves in body, mind, and spirit.  Science proves the psychological and physiological benefits of forgiving others..  Findings in study after study suggest that learning to forgive improves overall wellness and protects us against future upsets.  We become emotionally stronger, experience greater confidence, with fewer feelings of depression because we become increasingly optimistic when we forgive.  (

We all know stories of heroic forgiveness, like Scarlett Lewis, the mother of Jesse Lewis who died in Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. (, Forgiving the Unforgivable.)  She and many others grieving the violent loss of loved ones speak of the self healing process of forgiving the unforgivable.  When the task seems impossible, we can be encouraged by clinical evidence that  “Even thinking about forgiving an offender” improves our cardiovascular and nervous systems. (Wiltvliet, Ludwig & Laan, 2001)

Learning to forgive is a process.  It does not mean we excuse a person's responsibility for causing harm.  It means we clear space for our personal freedom.  So let's do that – quietly, silently ~ you and I.  Think of forgiving  one person … one group …  letting go one situation … one occasion that needs  release.

 Imagine the goodness of your intention extending its energy outward.  Silently send that  

goodness  to the person on your left …. and the person on your right .. the person who may be in front of you …. and the person behind you. 

How might you name that goodness?  Is it the gift of peace growing?  Understanding? Compassion?  

Know that your goodness affects you and all around you.  You and all the Universe.

Open Sharing ~ Thank you for listening.  Please offer your thoughts on today's liturgy.  What do you experience in the readings and reflection?

Friday, September 15, 2023

Speaking in person in Rome 'Human Rights in the emerging Catholic Church' - Your lay-led synodal assembly

 I am honored to be one of the speakers for this lay-led Synod in Rome on October 13th at Casa Bonus Pastor. Visit site for list of speakers and to register.

I will speak  on Oct. 13 at 14:10-14:30, Joan Chittister at 17:00-17:55,
Mary McAleese at 18:05-19:00

There will be a hard copy printed program with photos and biogs of all the speakers on 13-14 October.

Register at for online week-long event October 8-14:

Spirit Unbounded- -an international organization, seeking reform in the Roman Catholic Church is presenting a lay-led assembly featuring 100+ Voices from across the world sharing their lives and thoughts on "Human Rights in the Emerging Catholic Church."

Spirit Unbounded programs will be online all week during October 8-14, 2023 and live in-person on October 13 and 14 in Rome and in Bristol. Wherever you are in the world, you can participate on YouTube, with language subtitles, so you don’t miss anything.

To register, click on this link:

Here is the program schedule for Oct. 13-14th that features Sr. Joan Chittister, Mary MacAleese and Bridget Mary Meehan, on the topic of a discipleship of equals."

The Synod Could Change Whether Women Can Be oOdained as Deacons or Priests. These women are hopeful.

  Please note that Catholic women are being ordained as deacons and priests through the international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement.,

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

See National Catholic Reporter article in full and quote below:

.."Most of the Continental Assemblies and the syntheses of several Episcopal Conferences call for the question of women's inclusion in the diaconate to be considered. Is it possible to envisage this, and in what way?"

Duignan, of Women's Ordination Worldwide, welcomes that conversation, but notes that "the synodal dialogue will be painfully incomplete and dishonest if it does not adequately address the widespread calls to open all ordained ministries to women."

"While the working document does not set out any foregone conclusions, by intentionally ignoring the hundreds of documents submitted to the synodal office calling for women to be ordained as priests, we can see that the synodal process may allow for some progress but in a very controlled and limited way," she said.

McElwee said many longtime members of WOC have a "healthy skepticism" about the possibility of change but theirs is a "long-haul movement."

"The Vatican doesn't have a lot of credibility when it comes to creating spaces for inclusion for women," she said. "And our members are aware that the pace of synodality is quite slow in terms of the urgent injustices in the church. But we hold that tension, believing in the movement of the Holy Spirit and living in hope."

"As long as conversation continues, that's a reason for hope," she said. 

Edge Walking by -A Meditation by Richard Rohr

 My spiritual journey has been a journey in edge-walking with many companions who cherish the mystical, justice and sacramental treasures in Catholicism but live their prophetic call in violation of Church laws and outdated dogma. I am grateful to Richard Rohr for this inspirational meditation.

Edge Walking


Cofounder of the Wild Church Network, Victoria Loorz introduces “edge walkers” who connect across faith traditions: 

My personal spirituality is rooted in the Christ tradition—a term I prefer over Christian, which is a label I find difficult to swallow these days. Rather, I see myself as an “edge walker,” wandering along the hemlines of the Christ tradition. I stand at the inside edge of a tradition that has brought many people, including me, deep pain and has also brought many people, including me, deep joy and meaning…. I’ve adopted this term, edge walker, from nature writer Terry Tempest Williams. [1] The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature describes her edge walking as traveling “the narrow space between the religious tradition she credits for having ‘forged her soul,’ and her direct and very personal experiences in nature that have revealed a truth of their own.” [2]  

Perhaps you are an edge walker too. Edge walkers occupy a thin space and are by definition a bit lonely. Most people inhabit the vast spaces on both sides of edges. But those of us called to the thresholds—the edges between—live in this thin space and recognize one another when we meet. The edges between biosystems are called ecotones. These thresholds usually contain the most biodiversity and therefore are the most resilient….  

The time is coming soon when the edges we inhabit will start to redefine the center. And we will need to lean on and learn from one another as we, together, engage in the work of that redefining. Each of us is characterized by our own unique gifts, communities of influence, and a particular bio-region. But we cannot behave as silos. The more diverse our relationships are, the more resiliently we can hold our own individual edges.  

Loorz reminds us that mystics stand at the edges:  

Every religion has an edge where the mystics live. I once attended a conference organized by Ed Bastian, a Buddhist mystic whose calling is defined by his deep respect for and encouragement of interfaith spirituality. He gathered spiritual leaders from diverse traditions to consider what we had most in common: living on the same planet….  

We talked about how our faith traditions could connect us with the actual soil and water and creatures of Earth. And how that connection could be a spiritual foundation for the environmental movement. What I remember most was a golden thread of mystical connection with divine presence that all of us expressed in our relationships with the natural world. Even in our diversity, we all felt that we had more in common with one another—edge walkers from other traditions—than we did with people more firmly planted in the center of our own faiths.... 

There have always been edge walkers: those who didn’t follow along with the status quo, who didn’t swallow the version of religion offered by those on top of the hierarchy as The Only Way. And at that edge, spirituality and nature are in unbroken relationship.  


[1] Benjamin Webb, “In Search of Our Fugitive Faith: Terry Tempest Williams,” in Fugitive Faith: Conversations on Spiritual, Environmental, and Community Renewal (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1998), 163. 

[2] Sarah McFarland Taylor, “Williams, Terry Tempest,” in Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, vol. 2, K–Z, ed. Bron R. Taylor (New York: Continuum, 2005, 2008), 1752.  

Victoria Loorz, Church of the Wild: How Nature Invites Us into the Sacred (Minneapolis, MN: Broadleaf Books, 2021), 14–16.  

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Izzy Spitz, momentary peace (detail), digital oil pastels. Taylor Wilson, Transfiguration (detail), cyanotype. Taylor Wilson, Madonna and Messiah, ink. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image

Transformation happens on the margins (the edge of the inside), and so, like this bird, we are freed. 


The Prophetic Path 

A winding path with four tufts of grass.

Practice with Us

Two hands in near clasp.

Explore Further

A foldable geographical map opened.

Meet the Team

Three abstract portrait images connected by a hanging line.

Story From Our Community

Over the past year, my experience of God and faith have been evolving. I was feeling adrift when I realized that I could no longer pray to the God I had been taught about. I started searching for a new way of understanding my faith. The Center for Action and Contemplation has been my main source for unlearning and new learning in reading the Daily Meditations and listening to various podcasts. The truths the CAC shares have become my anchors. I am so grateful to be on a path that includes a much bigger, more inclusive God than the one I worshipped for so many years.
—Hilary L. 
Share your own story with us.


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Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Homily by Bill Kelly SJ at Holy Trinity Catholic Community in Georgetown, Washington D.C.

Roman Catholic Women Priests are walking in the footsteps of women -like Phoebe- in ordained ministry as equals in the community of the baptized. Bridget Mary Meehan 

 Homily at Holy Trinity on Sept. 3, 2023 
It’s painful
 to watch, isn’t it, as our Churcstubbornly squanders so much energy, talent, and grace in our refusal to welcome equal partnership with women in ministry and leadership?


Are we condemned forever to endure this injustice which grieves so many Catholic women – and the men who respectthem – and, more calamitously, drives from our community innumerable others who refuse to tolerate such discrimination any longer? Is there any hope for our recalcitrant Church? Well, perhaps there is a glimmer.


Four weeks from today the long-awaited Synod will begin in Rome. For the past two years, Catholics around the world have been preparing for this momentous gathering. Among the 364participants will be the “usual suspects, of course: cardinals, bishops, and priests. But for the first time in history, those clerics will be joined by numerous lay women and men – all with full voting rightsIn fact, more than one-quarter of all the voting members will not be bishops.


The synod agenda – which has already been published – assures us that the concerns voiced by an overwhelming number of Catholics will be discussed, including our yearning for a more welcoming Church, one that reaches out to people who feel estranged. Church that is more affirming of those who have been marginalized, especially members of the LGBTQ community. And an insistence on a Church that recognizes the equal dignity of women, and invites them to serve in leadership positions, including ordained ministry…”