IN The Beginning God Created: Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest
“In the beginning God created…. (Gen 1:1)” EVERYTHING! Chapter 1 of the book of Genesis- the first book in the Bible gives beautiful descriptive metaphors of God creating all that we know of the earth and the cosmos. I love “Waters: swarm with an abundance of living beings!” (Gen 1:20) That is amply illustrated in the picture above of a Moorhen family tending their young on little lake, and in the picture of abundant lake life below. All beings are to “be fruitful and increase…” “God saw that this was good and blessed them” is said about every aspect of creation, including humankind that is given the charge of stewardship of all that was created (Gen 1: 26). “Humankind was created as God’s reflection; in the divine image God created them; female and male God made them” (Gen 1:27). I just love the end of that Chapter “God looked at all of this creation, and proclaimed that this was good–very good”. Gen !:31).
I admit that of all of God’s creatures I am most concerned about humankind as we too often plunder and harm the most amazing creation that we exist in. We are too often horrible to each other and to all living things. We allow each other to starve and thirst and go homeless all over the world. And we continue to have wars that demolish one another and the environment. We continue to use violence rather than reasoning to solve disputes, and we are greedy and want more and more. We are too often not very good stewards. Even with this little lake we have to be careful not to fill it with plastic and landscaping products that harm it. And this is a very small scale example of what is happening all over the world.
The Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) is a group that takes stewardship of our environment seriously. My friend, Linda VerNooy gives her life to this cause and to this group. I am so moved and inspired by her. Like her father before her, she has opened my eyes more and more to what is happening in our natural world. There are local Chapters of this group (citizensclimatelobby.org) and the groups are active on local and national and international issues, particularly regarding how we are changing the world we depend upon in terms of seasons and weather and climate in general. One might sign up for the firstname.lastname@example.org. With the recent partisan struggle over debt limits many of the gains made in the past years on clean energy incentives and care for the climate are on the table. President Biden intends to keep these gains and we can be helpful with letters and phone calls to our congressional representatives.
This blog is a challenge to all of us to do all we can to preserve the beauty of Creation. I will simply show some varied beautiful things/aspects of and from my natural world, both near and far, and hope it helps you to reflect on what gives you joy too. And then inspire you to find your own ways of protecting Creation.
SPRING– Up North
The Beauty of New Life
MAY OUR LOVING GOD BLESS YOU AS YOU LOVE AND CARE FOR PEOPLE AND CREATION all around you and to cherish your favorite things,
Love and blessings,
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
Good Shepherd Ministries Fort Myers, Florida
Happy Mother’s Day: Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest
Every day should be a day that Mothers and all women (and men and youth) who are taking care of others are honored as their work is never done. Mother’s Day, this Sunday, is a special day of saying “thank you” for the mothers in our lives- but any day is a good day for a real, heart-felt thank you!
THANK YOU MOTHER GOD!
For me, this includes being thankful to Mother-God for always being there for us! When Jesus taught his disciples “The Lord’s Prayer” he spoke in his language which was Aramaic. The first line has been widely translated in English and other languages “Our Father, Which are in Heaven, hallowed be your name!” However in Aramaic there are many ways this could be translated, none of them are “our Father”. The closest translation from the Aramaic to “Our Father” is “O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos!” Please note that Jesus was speaking to his Parent and “Birther and Father-Mother” is Who he addressed (In Prayers Of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus: Translated and with Commentary by Neil Douglas-Klotz, Harper Collins, 1990: p. 12). Clearly for Jesus there is a Mother-God as well as the Father we always translate from his speech inadequately.
Jesus also identified with the feminine face of God when he said ” “O Jerusalem….how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Luke 13:34). In the Hebrew scriptures ( Isaiah 49:15) the prophet asks” Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the children she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you.” And in Isaiah 66: 13-“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you…” There is no doubt that the Scriptures honor the fatherhood of God but, just as Jesus did in his prayer, they also honor the motherhood of God. So first, for this Mother’s Day I want to thank our Mother-God for all of the abundant blessings of my life, especially the love and compassion that I experience in my relationship with God and from my closest others.
Thank YOU Mother Mary/Mariam
I am also so thankful for the lessons of Maryam, or Mariam of Nazareth, Jesus’ dear mother (Mary in Greek) who took him from birth and infancy through the launching of his ministry, and then his horrendous death, and resurrection. She was always there for him. And that is what we must be for each other, especially for those we care for. She is our Mother in the faith. Below is an 19th century photo of a woman and child from Hebron in the Middle East near where Jesus was raised. Mariam would have been a Middle Eastern mother as well. The picture beneath is an artist’s rendition of the Visitation of Mary and Elizabeth, her cousin. Here we see the love of two Middle Eastern women supporting each other in sharing the good news of pending birth. The reader might also want to search The Almighty Has Done Great Things For Me on ETSY with the Art of Maria Lang, or Jump For Joy with Art by Corby to get a sense of what Mary and Elizabeth may have looked like. We are so thankful for the relationships that sustain women throughout life.
You may be a mother, God Mother, foster, adoptive or other mother, a grandmother,an aunt, a sister, a cousin, a niece or a friend. You may be in a care-taking profession, a doctor, a social worker, a teacher, a counselor, a nurse, a nurse’s aid, a Home health aid, another way you help others, or a pastor or priest. You may be more than one of the above! And you may love any or all of the above.
Since male priests are called “Father”, some people ask me if they should call me “Mother”. I supply my name, usually my first name, and add that they could also call me Pastor or, what is comfortable for them. Most call me Pastor Judy but some call me Mother in my priestly role, and some call me Mother from my care-taking of young and older throughout my life. Some say “thank you” often in a variety of ways and some never say it. But it is very true that there is a need for acknowledging that another’s care-taking has been important and special in your life. As you approach Mother’s day, you might want to let someone know how important they were and are in your life.
Even when our own mothers, grandmothers and care-takers are home with our loving God, a time to remember is good for us and days like Mother’s day afford us this remembering opportunity. I am so grateful for the Mother and Grandmother that lovingly raised me and shared the love of God with me and for the Aunts and Uncles that helped them out. My mother, Anne, was always by my side, even when she had to pick me up at the bus stop late at night after my evening job at 17, so I would not have to walk home alone. Below she is with me at my Junior High School Graduation. She had a most beautiful gentle spirit and was an artist in her later years. My Grandmother, Ella, did a lot of my day to day care as my mother worked to support us. I remember laughing with my Nana so often, here she is tickling me as a friend takes my picture with my stoop full of my well worn dolls, mostly gifts of my mother except for the largest one that my Nana saved up for and bought for me from a Catalogue. I also learned to read (and think) along side of both my mother and my grandmother. Nana made sure we read all the way through the Bible together more than once by the time I reached fourteen. I am reminded of a hymn we sang in my all girls High School: “Faith of our mothers, holy faith, we will be true to thee til death”.
“Other Mother” is a valid title in the cultures I was brought up with in inner city Brooklyn, New York. Here are some special pictures of some of the ” Other Mothering” in my life and ministry. The first and second pictures are of the Maxwell children, siblings, Perdita, Marley and Chanel that my life partner Judy Beaumont and I raised while in Hartford, Connecticut- individually and together for varying lengths of time except for the smallest one, Felice Rismay (and her sister Maya) who did not live with us due to Felice’s severe allergies to animals. It was a joy having them to live with us. When we moved to Florida in 1998 the youngest, Chanel, also lived with us here for a year as she prepared for High School. We were blessed to share them with their working Mom, Cyrillia, and to be mothering presences in their lives. And now we can be grandmotherly presences for their children and that is great fun.
In the Good Shepherd Ministry
Some of our church members gather after a Mother’s Day Mass. In this Mass there are several candles on the altar table as family members lit them for their departed loved ones. The first picture above is of our dear Good Shepherd members, Jolinda Harmon and Kathy Roddy. Grandma Jolinda Harmon wears a special tee shirt for her departed daughter Linda Maybin/Neicey, whom we lost to cancer. Quay, Linda’s son, in the picture on the right is wearing a similar shirt wishing his Mom a Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven. Several other siblings are outside in similar shirts as this picture is taken. One can also note that Grandma Harmon herself is fighting cancer. I met Quay and Mrs. Harmon when I did part time work in a local Middle School several years before our Church began. They became among the founding members of our Good Shepherd Church and Grandma Harmon brought over 25 of her family members to worship regularly with us over the years. We baptized and Confirmed Grandma and Linda and many of the young people. The whole church loved them and mourned their loss. Grandma continued leading her family and our church three years after the passing of Linda. The mourning of her loss was and is great but so is the faith that she is with our Loving Mother God. I am so glad that we were members of the Body of Christ, the Church, together for over ten years. We still say of Grandma Harmon “She is the mother of the church”.
Ann Palmer, left below,was another dear mother of our Good Shepherd Church until she passed in her early nineties. And Deacon Hank Tessandori standing between her and Pastor Judy Beaumont was a loving father of our church until he moved with his wife Claire to be near family. So we will wish him a happy Father’s day now, and Claire a happy Mother’s Day! Also in the picture are Harry Gary , our Elder and Judy Alves and Phyllis Williams, other beloved parents of our church.
And then there are our PET Parents
ABOVE is my beloved Mother with me and a few of my pets when I taught at NYU School Of Social Work in New York City in the early 1980’s. I am so happy that my Mom passed her love of animals on to me. When she could no longer have pets in her Senior Housing she smuggled in hamsters that she dearly loved! Below is our Good Shepherd member Brenda Cummings with her dogs Scrappy and Turbo. Our Ministry helps members to care for their pets and Brenda is getting them a yearly examination at the Vet’s Office here. Dr. Terry Sutton, DVM has helped us with many members’ pets as part of her caring ministry.
Below is Gaspare, one of our Church members who helps me, along with his mother Lili, to take care of my rescue kittys.
This beautiful mosaic is in the ancient Aachen Cathedral in Germany. It is a Christ-figure of a pelican feeding her chicks, after the Lukan text cited above that Jesus wanted to gather God’s people under his wings like a hen gathers her chicks.
This blog remembers our beloved mothers and it is for all who gather chicks, their own or someone else’s, and provide care for others,
A BLESSED MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL,
Love and Prayers,
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
Rev. Dr. Judith Lee, Good Shepherd Ministries of SW Florida May 12, 2023
From time to time this blog will use pictures more than words to convey meanings. The meanings will be your own and if you wish to share them we will add them to the blog. Be blessed! Pastor Judy
These beautiful flowers greeted me on my morning walk. What a way to start the day!
The Good Shepherd-Carried and Called : Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest
For the last three days our Scripture readings have included the “Good Shepherd” readings from the Gospel of John. Yesterday’s Gospel includes:
“I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me….and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd….” (John 10:14-16)
I am ,as always, moved by the intimacy and inclusion in these words of Jesus. His relationship with the sheep is one of caring and trust. His love extends even to “laying down his life” for the sheep. They are called by name and the sheep know his voice and do not follow strangers. And he is not parochial, he is including those of other folds. There is a genuine relationship there. How blessed we are to be part of that huge diverse flock!
I have always felt drawn to Jesus, the Good Shepherd. As I sit here at my desk to my left is a depiction in embroidered cloth obtained and made a long time ago, of Jesus carrying a little lamb and reaching toward another sheep. And on my right on my other desk is a Bible that a Good Shepherd church member gave me, opened to the 23rd Psalm describing God as ‘My Shepherd” who leads me into green pastures and by the still waters, and “restores my soul”. In the accompanying picture is Jesus on a mountain- side carrying a lamb and leading the sheep. Although the Jesus figure is not accurately Middle Eastern in appearance, the care for the sheep is heart warming. Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 43:1 “I have called you by name and you are mine!” How blessed it is to be called by name by our loving God.
In my autobiographical book “The House on Sunny Street: A Tale of Two Brooklyns…” ( PublishAmerica Press, 2013-Amazon.com-Kindle copies) I share that when I moved to Florida over 25 years ago needing a professional change, I wandered away from addresses the Real Estate Agent gave me and and saw this house with a little lake right behind it. When I stood by the lake I knew that God, my Shepherd was still leading me by still waters to gain rest for my soul. We bought that house! Also in the book is a story of getting lost as a small child after church and one of the men of the church finding me and carrying me to my frantically waiting mother. Mr. Leopold Dyce was from Jamaica, in the West Indies, and yet I felt that he was the arms of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, for me that day.
Even as a child I felt called to follow the Good Shepherd, and to be the arms of the Good Shepherd for others-to help shepherd the flock. I was happiest inviting friends to church. Throughout my life, no matter how old I was I could see Jesus lifting me to his breast as a little lamb, and I could feel him finding me and bringing me home as an adult when I strayed away from the flock. (It was not easy to stay with the flock when some strong members rejected me for the gayness I embraced in my thirties). I would find other flocks and somehow Jesus always kept me close to Him.
Hence, when my life partner Judy Beaumont and I started our ministry in Fort Myers, Florida in 2003 by buying a house where a homeless woman and her family could live, we easily agreed to call our ministry The Good Shepherd Ministry. When I was ordained a Roman Catholic Woman Priest in 2008, we were ministering with the homeless and hungry in a local park (since 2007) with the support of many who chose to assist this ministry. In 2009 we bought a building to be our Church Home and a shelter for the homeless that we called Joshua House, Jesus’ House. More than a hundred people left homelessness behind once they entered those doors. We came together to become The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Church located in central Fort Myers. Those who served and those who were served became one serving church.
Below are some pictures of our Good Shepherd Community. Like the sheep Jesus taught about we are diverse, all colors and sizes and shapes. Each one different and each one called by God to follow. In the second picture below some of our members are joining several from earlier years in electing to be Confirmed as followers of Jesus. Over 30 people of all ages and walks of life were baptized in our church. In the last picture we are meeting outside during Covid, Pastor Marina Teresa Sanchez-Mejia is standing next to our Church elder, Mr. Harry Gary and myself. Like sheep we have developed a wonderful mutual aid and friendship community. It is good to know that sheep are actually smart creatures who form friendship groups, know each other and care for one another. Our community exists to the present time even though early deaths and moving have diminished our numbers from over 70 to about 30. Semi-retired now, I am not able to offer regular Mass. Pastor Marina is working full time in a Hospital and has a separate Hispanic ministry. We meet as we can but are still a community. We would do well to emulate sheep in developing non-hierarchical mutual aid communities where young and old are cared for. I enjoyed the research on sheep by Tamsin Cooper, Online, 2022, and in Countryside Sept, Oct 2020. I am happy to be one of the sheep!
Bless you as you seek to follow the Good Shepherd,
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
Good Shepherd Ministries of SW Florida 5/3/2003
“Do Not Be Afraid”: Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest
Whether you find your life full of goodness and faith today or a constant negotiation of difficulties, whether there is mostly sunny days, or sun finally pierces the darkness, or you can just see the light at the end of the tunnel, or if this is a deeply dark time for you, listen now to Jesus saying ” It is I. Do not be afraid”(John 16:20). Jesus is offering his presence and help. Fear is a common,usually appropriate, sometimes even helpful but most often awful feeling. But Jesus is there with us. “It is I”- “I AM” is there with us. Our loving God is there with us when we are sore afraid. For all of us, fear is a part of living that must sometimes enter our hearts. Fear is a feeling that sometimes freezes you, pierces your heart and soul, causes anxiety, even panic, and challenges our faith. Perhaps that is why Jesus so often says, “be not afraid” as he lovingly offers his strength and support. Perhaps we can recall and pray for the rainbow after the storm. But during the storm we hunker down and try to “get through it”. That is when, if we listen, we can hear Jesus saying “Be Not Afraid”!
Most especially Jesus is there in our most stormy times of life. There are so many kinds of stormy times in our lives. When the Synogogue leader, Jairus, faced the shocking news of his daughter’s death as Jesus was delayed by healing a desperate woman who had been suffering for years as they went toward Jairus’ home, Jesus says “Don’t be afraid, just believe”. Jairus must have done so as they entered the child’s room and Jesus took her hand and told her to get up! She immediately did to the astonishment of all there (Mark 5:21-43). Oh thank God for the Risen Jesus! While we face our worst fears or experience devastating losses, Jesus is still there taking our hands and helping us to get up.
When financial worries threaten your livelihood and well being, or your daily life is scary and difficult, reach out for that hand. When it seems your heart is broken in failing relationships, take his hand. Or as you care endlessly for a loved one who is deteriorating in every way, and you feel you have been used up and can give no more, hear him say “Do not be afraid” and “Come unto me all who are weary and burdened (heavy laden), and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11; 28). “Do not be afraid, but believe”-and reach out for that hand. And sometimes as you do you will find other hands there ready to offer you care, guidance and support.
We may sometimes feel God is asleep on the job as the disciples did when Jesus, exhausted, slept in the rear of the boat as a storm at sea threatened to capsize it. When he calms the storm saying “Quiet, Be Still” we are relieved and can begin to breathe again. (Mark 4: 35-41). Yet, in this Scripture reading the disciples remained afraid even after the storm stopped as they were in awe of what Jesus had done! In still another storm Jesus hurries toward the disciples saying “Take courage, It is I. Do not be afraid”, and when he climbs into the boat with them the wind dies down. The disciples are still afraid, of who Jesus is and how he can calm storms.
Sometimes our faith wavers too. We do not believe our problems, our storms, can be calmed by Jesus. We just keep on carrying them as if he has no power or presence in such storms. We fail to invite him into the boat with us. But if we are aware of the nuances in the storm, it is often clear that Jesus did get into the boat with us anyway and calm is happening in ways we did not expect. A loved one’s support makes it possible to keep going on. A new friend or resource appears with another way to deal with it, or it just seems to improve. New information is helpful. Perhaps we gain in understanding and it seems more bearable. Jesus is in the boat.
IN John’s Gospel (John 6:16-21) When Jesus said to the disciples who were in rough waters in the darkness, “It is I; don’t be afraid” they were then willing to take Jesus into the boat and immediately the boat reached the safe shore. Dear friends, He is there, invite him into the boat, and do not be afraid. There will probably not be immediate or easy solutions but it will be all the difference to have Him in the boat.
FACING MY OWN FEARS
Presently I am fearful because I have taken some tests that I take periodically since my bout with cancer ten years ago. That was a hard time for me as I went through major surgery. The good part was that because of that successful surgery I did not have to take chemo or radiation. I was so thankful to go on with life. A different cancer got me again five years ago and that too was handled by surgery. I am so thankful for good oncologists and good surgeons but I don’t want to face cancer again. It is five years later. And I am fearful that there could be another cancer as tests are delayed for further consultations. And these days it is impossible to speak to your Doctor until there is definite news. The time of uncertainty is a stressful time. It has been six days since the tests and I have taken my own spiritual advice and shared my fears in prayer, and with those closest to me. By the fourth day I had invited Jesus into the boat and am holding His hand. I am acutely aware of his calming Presence. My fears are not all gone but they have subsided and now I deeply feel, “whatever the news is good or bad, God and I will handle it together.” Oh yes, I still hope for good news, but now I am ready to accept it come what may.
Life is full of mountains and valleys. The harsh winds blow and we hold on. God is there beside us. Storms come and go and we carry on our daily lives. I am so thankful for my life. I am thankful for the sun on my back as I walk outside by my little lake. I am thankful for the good air I breathe AND the beauty all around me. The beauty of people and animals and all of creation. I am especially thankful for those who love me and walk with me no matter what comes. I am thankful for the difficulties I have already come through and the assurance of Presence as I deal with all aspects of my life that are uncertain and wearying. I am thankful for the health and strength I have by God’s grace and for the resources to handle whatever comes.
I am thankful that Jesus is in the boat.
Amen, and may you too reach out your hand, put it in His and ask him into your boat.
Love and blessings,
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
The Good Shepherd Community in Fort Myers, Florida
Alleluia! Happy Easter! Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest
This is the real Easter, the rising of Jesus the Christ from the darkness of the tomb, and it never gets old. This is not bunnies and chicks and baskets of goodies although we love them. This is not the egg hunt. This is not new Easter clothes and sunrise services, or even joyful singing in the church. All these events and memories from childhood and years past are wonderful and our happy memories are a treasure. And yes, we should and do cherish them. But Easter challenges us to take hold of life in a new way each year. It challenges us to believe the unbelievable and embrace the living Christ-NOW. And so, we want to cherish more than memories of Easter past, we want to live Easter present. We want to LIVE!
My friend lost a beloved family member this year. It, and her responsibilities for burial, left her with the awful feeling:”everyone is gone now”. For the first time she felt too sad to host an Easter gathering for her nearby children and grandchildren. Her love and gratitude for them in her life was undiminished but her heart was too broken to “hide eggs and give out chocolate bunnies”. She hoped her children would understand. She was summoning the energy to attend to the burial in the near future. And so we talked about the new life of her family member and her hope of reunion with all her family some day. We talked about our stage of life in which so many loved family members and loved ones have gone before. We talked until we found the Alleluia represented on the card I gave her this Easter. It was the only Easter symbol she had up in the room. Bright and large letters on a black background. proclaiming “Alleluia!”- He Lives. As much as life was heavy for her just now she embraced the Christ who lives now, and the hope of the Resurrection for those gone before, and for us in our time. She could not give out Easter Bunnies, but the hope of the real Easter could still live in her heart.
Still another friend was down because significant others had moved away and the usual celebrations would not happen this year. Another was in pain with her health condition getting worse. While still another is cooking for all of her neighbors to celebrate Easter and another is throwing a party. Another friend is sharing his beautiful photography of nature with his friends. We each face life differently now. Many face this day without the joy it deeply represents. Yet, the hope of eternal life brings a peace beyond what words can say.
So, wherever this Easter finds you, may you find new life again in the truth of the Risen Christ!
In Pope Francis’ Urbi et Orbi of Easter 2021 he says:
“The Easter message speaks concisely of the event that gives us hope that does not disappoint: Jesus who was crucified is risen. It speaks to us not about angels or ghosts, but about a man, a man of flesh and bone,with a face and a name: Jesus. The Gospel testifies that this Jesus, crucified under Pontius Pilate for claiming he was the Christ, the Son of God, rose on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, just as he had foretold to his disciples. The crucified Jesus, none other, has risen from the dead. God, the Father raised Jesus….and now Jesus the Christ lives forever….The witnesses (in the Gospel of John Chapter 20) report an important detail: the risen Jesus bears the marks of the wounds in his hands,feet and side. These wounds are the everlasting seal of his love for us. All those who experience painful trial in body or spirit can find refuge in these wounds and, through them, receive the grace of the hope that does not disappoint.”
You might like to read some of my past Easter reflections- for example:
or any in judyabl.blog that you find under Easter with the Search function
May God bless you with hope and life this Easter Sunday!
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP,
Rev. Dr. Judith Lee-Good Shepherd Ministries, Fort Myers, Florida
Carrying the Cross: Good Friday Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest
“Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth…” Isaiah 53:7
“….For this I was born, and for this I came into the world,to bear witness to the truth.” John 18:37
Matthew 26 and 27
“Were you there when they crucified my lord?….” African American Spiritual
Dear Friends and Sisters and Brothers,
Jesus bears witness to the truth of God’s love for us today. Jesus is in unity and solidarity with all who bear their crosses to death and suffering today and throughout history. Suffering can be on so many levels including and never minimizing the physical level, and Jesus suffered all of these, hunger and thirst, exhaustion, betrayal, denial, abandonment, misunderstanding, false accusations and persecutions. One of the truths Jesus bears witness to today is the truth of injustice. On this holiest of days evil seemed to win as Jesus’ life was tortured and taken from him. His enemies thought that death was the end-but he was to show them that it was not, but a new beginning.
IF you too long for a new beginning, here are some questions for you to consider.
WHAT CROSSES ARE YOU BEARING TODAY? Can you tell God how it hurts?
CAN YOU GIVE YOUR CROSS TO JESUS TO CARRY? Do you want the weight lifted from your shoulders, or heart?
WHAT DO YOU FEEL SEPARATES YOU FROM GOD? Instead can those very things draw you closer to the Cross?
CAN YOU NAIL IT TO THE CROSS WITH JESUS?
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT AFTER THE CROSS YOU TOO CAN RISE AGAIN?
Here is a beautiful prayer that Pope Francis wrote on Good Friday, 2019, will you join me in praying it today?
“Lord Jesus, help us to see in your cross
all the crosses of the world:
the cross of people hungry for bread and for love;
the cross of people alone and abandoned
even by their children and kin;
the cross of people who lack the comfort of faith;
the cross of the elderly who struggle under the weight
of years and of loneliness;
the cross of migrants who find doors closed in fear
and hearts armored by political calculations;
the cross of little ones, wounded in their innocence and purity;
the cross of humanity that wanders in the darkness
of uncertainty and in the obscurity of
the cross of families split by betrayal, by the
seductions of the evil one or by homicidal
levity and selfishness;
the cross of our weaknesses, of our hypocrisy,
of our betrayals, of our sins and of our
many broken promises;
the cross of your church that, faithful to your Gospel,
struggles to spread your love even
among the baptized themselves;
Lord Jesus, revive in us the hope of resurrection
and of your definitive victory over all evil
and all death. Amen!”
If you would like to read my reflections of other years with pictures of our church on Good Friday Stations of the Cross go to
https://judyabl.blog/ and put Good Friday into the SEARCH box.
Bless you as you watch and pray today,
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
Rev. Dr. Judith Lee
Good Shepherd Ministries of SWFL, Fort Myers, Fl
Good Friday April 7, 2023
The Holiest of Weeks Approaches: Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest
Every week is holy for every moment we live is a gift from God and life is most sacred and holy. Yet,this is an especially holy time of year for people of faith. On Thursday the 6th of April the Jewish Community celebrates Passover. (The same holy day that Jesus celebrated on the eve of Holy Thursday this week). Meanwhile the Muslims are already fasting and praying through the month of Ramadan culminating in the happy day of Eid.
In Christendom, this is the holiest of weeks where Jesus, the Good Shepherd of all of us, lays down his life for His beloved sheep. This is the the week where he is brutally crucified, is dead and buried, and, oh thank God, on the third day after rises from the dead, soon appearing to Mary of Magdala, his other disciples and many others. We long to be there with Him and accompany Him through this awful week. Easter and rising from the dead will come- but we cannot rush through our sufferings and trials to get there…with God’s help we go through our sufferings to our own rising again- just as Jesus did. This week we can bring our sufferings and trials before God in a special way, united with those of Jesus. Yet, moving away from ourselves too and focusing only on Jesus.
This is the week when we focus on the passion of Jesus, as after a triumphant ride through the city on the back of a donkey (Palm Sunday- Matthew 21:1-11) he is arrested and faces his ridiculers and accusers and is tortured and hung on the cross to die. This is the week we see the greatest expression of God’s love as Jesus washes the disciples’ feet ( John 13: 1-17) and celebrates Passover with them on Thursday even as he institutes the Eucharistic celebration, in the midst of their holy communion. When holding up the bread he gives thanks and says:” Take eat, this is my body given up for you”, and holding up the chalice of wine he says: “drink from it all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant which is poured out for you….” (Mark14:22-24; Matthew 26: 26-27; and Luke 22: 14-20). After this Jesus said echoing the prophet Zechariah (Zech 13:7) ” This very night you will all fall away, for it is written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the of the flock will be scattered”. The disciples (not fully understanding or heeding his forewarnings) were enjoying a happy Passover, a good meal with Jesus and their loved ones but Jesus is preparing them for what lies ahead. He is preparing them again for what Christians call Good Friday- the day of the Crucifixion. Indeed they are challenged to stay with him through what will come, and they mostly flee.
Can we stay with Jesus through this week?
Following the Gospel of Matthew is one way to stay with Jesus the Christ through this week of pain and suffering:
PALM SUNDAY Matthew Chapter 21- Triumphal entry to Jerusalem–for this special Sunday (April 2nd) first appreciate the joy of the moment of triumph. Later review what will come in the week ahead-the Passion of Christ.
MONDAY Matthew Chapter 22- Questions from Opponents
TUESDAY Matthew Chapter 23 – Final woes and warnings-and Jesus’ wish to gather us in
WEDNESDAY Matthew Chapters 24 and 25 Jesus’ final teaching to his disciples- serve the least of these..
HOLY THURSDAY Matthew Chapter 26 The Last Supper and trial
GOOD FRIDAY Matthew Chapter 27 The Roman Trial and Crucifixion
HOLY SATURDAY/ EASTER SUNDAY Matthew 28 The Resurrection and commission
Can we stay with Jesus in this week of all weeks? Can we take time to read the Scriptures, and pray, and give to the least of these God’s children?
Can we feel what Jesus went through that we may live now and forever?
Pope Francis said this in his Palm Sunday Homily of 2014 and it applies for this week’s journey:
“This week continues in the mystery of Jesus’ death and his resurrection. We have listened to the Passion of our Lord. We might well ask ourselves just one question: Who am I? Who am I before my Lord? Who am I, before Jesus who enters Jerusalem amid the enthusiasm of the crowd? Am I ready to express my joy, to praise him? Or do I stand back? Who am I, before the suffering Jesus: Am I like Pilate? when I see that the situation is difficult, do I wash my hands and dodge my responsibility, allowing people to be condemned–or condemning them myself: Am I like that crowd….. Where is my heart: Which of these persons am I like? May this question remain with us throughout the entire week.”
Whether or not we stay by his side, he stays by ours.
Pope Francis also said in his Angelus, January 2, 2022: “….If we are not ready and willing to receive him, he prefers to come anyway. And if we close the door in his face, he waits. He is truly the Good Shepherd. And the most beautiful image of the Good Shepherd? The Word that becomes flesh to share in our life. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who comes to seek us right now where we are: In our problems, in our suffering..He comes there. ”
May God bless you as you go through this Holy Week with Jesus who goes through life with you.
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
Rev. Dr. Judith Lee
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community of Fort Myers, Florida
“We Will Fight You For It”-Says a Roman Catholic Woman Priest Ordained in 2021
Above pictured is one of the newer woman priests in the Roman Catholic Church. Her name is Angela Nevitt Meyer of Indiana and she is 42 years old, a wife and mother, and a dedicated health care worker specializing in maternal and infant health. She is also a Scripture scholar. She was ordained to the Diaconate in 2019 and to the Priesthood in 2021 in Brownsburg, Indiana by RCWP Bishop Nancy Meyer (no relation) where Rev. Angela Meyer co-pastors a church, the Brownsburg Inclusive Catholic Community. Rev. Angela Nevitt Meyer is the primary subject of the thought provoking article cited below.
On 3/21/2023 there was an excellent article entitled “We Will Fight You for It”: Can Womenpriests Save the Catholic Church?” by Fran Quigley in the Religion and Politics Journal- the News Seeker : a Project of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis.
This is the URL ( after clicking below look to the right and this is the first article cited for its popularity):
Mr. Fran Quigley is a clinical professor and director of the Health and Human Rights Clinic at Indiana University McKinney School of Law. He is also the author of Religious Socialism: Faith In Action For a Better World. He attends Masses with Roman Catholic Women Priests in the Indianapolis area.
I hope you will take the time to read the whole article. It is exciting as it captures the history or herstory of the Roman Catholic Woman Priest Movement very well and also tells Rev. Meyer’s story. I was taken with Rev. Meyer’s resolve to confront repression by the clerical hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church that denies priesthood to women, she says: “this is our church, the church of the people. And we will fight you for it!” I love her spirit , I love her courage and resolve. And, most of all I am happy to stand beside her as a Roman Catholic WomanPriest.
She concludes ” The Church has changed many times….and it can change again. For the Body of the Church, the whole self is suffering. The Good News is that we have the ability to sing a new Church into being, to heal and become whole. More than having the ability we are doing it.”
Bless you, as you open your hearts to learning and action,
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP,
Rev. Dr. Judith Lee
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers, Florida