How do we prepare for God’s coming into our midst? Some suggest that we establish empty and quiet places in our hearts and lives, spaces that the Christ-child may fill again on Christmas and spaces that prepare for Christ coming again to establish firmly the reign of God in peace, justice and love on this earth. The suggestion of quiet and emptiness is counter cultural as people become busier and busier in the Christmas and Holiday season. Similarly, actions that risk anything at all for peace are counter cultural. But then, Jesus is counter cultural from the start. To prepare for the coming of Christ the Scriptures for Advent 1 tell us to become people of peace and not dissension or militarism.
Our Hebrew Scriptures for the first Sunday of Advent herald an age of peace when nations shall beat their swords into plowshares and study war no more(Isaiah 2: 1-5). Nations will come to God’s house on the highest of mountains for instruction in God’s ways so that we may “walk in God’s paths”. Clearly that instruction is instruction in the ways of peace and God’s path is the path of peace. (Is 2:3b) The Epistle reading (Romans 13:11-14) tells us not to live in dissension-in quarreling and jealousy. Rather we should be clothed in Christ. To do this we have to become alert and awake from our sleep. To me, waking from sleep here means conscientization-to become aware of the injustice and lack of peace in our world, near and far. As near as our hearts and homes and as far as the corners of the world where terror and exploitation reign.
Rev. Gerard Darring ( http://liturgy.slu.edu/1AdvA120113/main.html ) in discussing the day’s readings from the Perspective of Justice, suggests: Since Christ is coming at a time least expected, what if Jesus the Christ returned in 1994 when there were still nearly two and a half billion people living in countries where the annual per capita income is less than $400 or less? Or when 40,000 people died every day from hunger? Or when one fifth of the human race still do not have adequate housing? Or when billions do not have adequate medical care? Or when the neglect of the earth produced death of all sorts? What if Christ returned now ? Would we be found unprepared for the coming of the Promised One? What do we have to do to bring the kin(g)dom of justice and peace to earth right now?
Rev. Beverly Bingle has some thoughts on being prepared:
“Over at Claver House this week the conversation turned to basketball,
and one of the guests, Matt, was talking about LeBron James of the
Miami Heat, the 6’8” kid from Akron, Ohio. On the off season, Matt
told us, LeBron works hard. He trains by running uphill in the snow.
He spends his vacation time studying every play to figure out how he
could have done better. He practices. A lot. That’s why he’s ready
when the season starts, why he’s been the NBA’s Most Valuable Player
four times. There’s a lesson there for us.
In today’s Gospel Jesus tells parables about being prepared. People
are going about their daily business. Some of them focus so much on
the details that they are not alert, not aware, not ready. Not ready
for the flood. Side by side, folks are at work, out in the fields, or
inside, grinding grain. We know it’s not the end times—some are left
behind. Jesus tells his disciples—and us—to be vigilant, be
prepared. We don’t know when salvation is coming to us. But we can
be sure we’ll miss it if we’re not ready.
We know how to be prepared in everyday life. In school we think about
the subject before class even starts; we do the homework on time; we
read extra materials when we’re on break. When the test comes—even a
pop quiz—we’re ready. We don’t just hop in a car with a Highway
Patrol officer and take the road test on our 16th birthday. We spend
time learning the rules, taking the class, practicing with a licensed
driver. Or when there’s a baby coming. We read the baby books. Talk
with family and friends who’ve been through it. We get diapers ready.
Lots of them. When the baby comes, we’re not taken by surprise.
It’s like the parable of the 10 women waiting with lamps for the
wedding feast. We know that we need to have oil in our lamps. Once
the wedding party gets there, it’s too late.
During Advent we have time to make sure it won’t be too late for each
of us. The season invites us to practice so we can be ready for
Christ to be born in us, ready for the reign of God in our world here
How did Jesus get ready for the crowds, the healing, the mission? He
went off and prayed. He watched what was going on, and thought about
it, and took action. He listened, and he even changed his mind,
putting justice and compassion ahead of his own ethnic prejudices,
like when he listened to the Syrophoenician woman pleading for healing for
her daughter, and he yielded to her pleas. That’s how we can do it:
we know the way—Jesus has shown us. We just have to practice.
Now it’s true that LeBron James is a multimillionaire. He donates a
lot of money to the Boys & Girls Club and the Children’s Defense Fund.
He established the LeBron James Family Foundation, that holds
bike-a-thon in Akron every year to raise money for various causes. He
does a lot of good.
But we don’t have to be athletes, or public figures, or even wealthy
people to do good. LeBron is doing basketball right, and he’s doing
philanthropy right, but that’s not our job. Our job is getting
Christianity right. And our impact can be even greater. Our actions
can bring the reign of God to life, here and now, for everyone we
meet. We can change the world.
So let’s get ready. This Advent, let’s each of us pick one thing to
practice our Christianity on. Like setting aside some extra prayer
time. Like actively listening to someone. Like smiling at strangers.
Even smiling at friends and family, which can be a lot harder.
In the next four weeks, we’ll be putting together the decorations and
the gifts and the tree and the feast. We’ll be getting ready for
Christmas. As we do that—that everyday stuff, that holiday stuff—we
can practice being Christian—welcoming Emmanuel—God-with-us—in
everything we do and everyone we meet”.
We’ll be ready.
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Rev. Bev Bingle, Pastor
And, I add, there are some of us who have the courage to be activists for peace-who take the swords into plowshares scriptures more literally. Rev. Daniel Berrigan and his brother Philip were the sainted leaders of the Plowshares Movement for non-violent action for peace. In the early 1980’s now ARCWP woman priest Judy Beaumont then a Benedictine Sister, participated in a “Plowshares Action” called Trident Nein” to demonstrate the immorality of Trident submarines. The price of one of those could wipe out poverty in large sections of the USA or the world. She was imprisoned for several months for this crime. During her time in prison she worked on prison reform for women. Later she wrote”Prison Witness: Exposing the Injustice” in Swords into Plowshares: Non Violent Direct Action For Disarmament” edited by Arthur J. Laffin and Anne Montgomery (Harper and Row,Publishers, 1987). Currently there are several wonderful activists, including ARCWP woman priest Janice Sevre-Dusynska,(support person) who participate in Plowshares Now and have risked breaking laws and standing trial for peace. They stand for peace and against activities like drone warfare where, in the name of all of us in the USA many thousands of innocents are killed. Rev.Janice is currently on a year’s probation in which she cannot participate in another “illegal” action for peace. This is a hard sentence for those who get it, something like bridling John the Baptist. Others who have courageously acted against nuclear stockpiling with Plowshares Now here in the USA at the Oakdale Nuclear Reservation in Tennessee including elderly Religious Sister Megan Rice and Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed await trial and probably severe prison sentences. It is not easy to take this kind of stand for peace, and we are thankful for those who are doing so and keep them in our prayers especially during Advent.
For ourselves, we can study how our nation is currently making war and support those candidates and leaders who truly are peacemakers. In our own lives we can be peacemakers, turning away from malicious gossip and tensions that divide families and communities and the people of God and those who serve the people of God. We can support Pope Francis in his pleas for peace and for priority on the poor while turning away from the ways in which those in power in the church and in the governments represent the interests of the rich and powerful, and embody them. We can embody peace, tolerance and radical love in all that we do and say. That is enough challenge for this advent season. Even so, Come Christ Jesus, Come. As Rev. Bingle says “we will be ready”.
Some of Our Children Gathering For Church-Happy To Be In God’s House
The children hurried in to the church. They were early and after greeting us warmly asked me “Pastor, can you come into the room with us?” “The room” is their Sunday School room and as we had a little time, I went. Each one grabbed her favorite item,tambourine included, and started singing: “Jesus Loves Me”. I sang with them and told them they were right,Jesus did love them very much and I do too! They asked help to start little art projects and settled down freeing me to vest. Well, almost. Donnie ran up to me and hugged me with her usual joy, she told me about a fall she had and asked prayers for herself and her husband who was recently hospitalized. Another mother arrived with her family and we talked quietly about her grief for a hospitalized and seriously ill young adult child. She asked me to meet with the family after church and join them at the bedside later. Tania arrived smiling broadly and thanked Pastor Judy B and me for shepherding her all day Friday. We signed her out of the psychiatric hospital where she had spent over ten days “getting herself back”, as she said, with the help of medications. We were with her until, surmounting many problems almost miraculously, she got an apartment, with her electricity turned on and a bed top sleep on. She wanted to tell the church that God did not abandon her and will not abandon them. Nancy came with the baby we baptized now walking and everyone was so glad to see her. Our member Judy Alves, a retired lawyer arrived with the hot meal and got it ready for serving after church. Dr. Joe Cudjoe helped her, and his wife Pearl and I talked about her Junior class. Some of our old friends returned today. Hank Tessandori began the hymn as we vested. The 40 or so chairs were soon filled and we were ready to begin, Several new homeless people joined us and were warmly welcomed.
The sacrament of the church, the people of God, prepared to meet the sacrament of Christ with us, the body of Christ becoming the body of Christ. They came in joy and sorrow, in exhaustion and in expectation. And we, the priests, the pastors, the women God has called for this job were once again humbled beyond words and in awe of Christ with us. The songs were sung with enthusiasm. The prayers were said and the readings were proclaimed. Our High School senior, Natasha, has become an excellent lector. The homily was given with time for the people to join in. Mr. Gary, our elder, had lost a son to violence last week and shared how his faith was what got him through this. For him, and for Tania and Tim and Nate who spoke Christ is not only their shepherd king who showed us how to serve one another, but a best friend who is always there with and for them. Our time of intercession included prayers that wrenched from the hearts of those who were hurting and sprang from the lips of the faithful. Our hearts stirred as our six year old Joelle prayed fervently for a sick relative and as Nate prayed “to God, our Mother and Father” for Mr. Gary’s grieving family and all of our sick members. Dr. Joe prayed for peace in the troubled places of the world and Hank prayed for the healing of the church.
As Pastor Judy B. prepared us for the Eucharist she welcomed each one there to the Table and explained the significance of the water, ourselves, in the wine-one with Christ. Once again as we served communion we were in awe of the transformation of ourselves and our people through and into the body and blood of Christ in service to one another and the world. I cannot describe the holiness of these moments, experienced at each Eucharist. And the people sang with all their hearts, “Thank you , God, thank you God, we just want to than you God. Eucharist!
After the final hymn we asked our teens Keeron and Keeondra and also Robert an older gentleman to stand for a birthday blessing and to receive gifts from the congregation. Shy but delighted they beamed as we sang “May the good Lord bless you…”.
Then the church was transformed into a dining room and our second eucharistic meal was served and gratefully received.
As the meal was served about ten other homeless and hungry individuals joined us. And here we had the miracle of the loaves and fishes. We would not have had enough food for the last ten people but Judy Alves’ husband, Jim Pelstring ,saw the need and hurried to buy enough to meet the need. All were fed and there were leftovers to take away!
I mingled with our members and with several more new guests arriving.
Old friends and new friends
After Sunday School I met with our dear family who faced the critical illness of their young member. We talked and shared feelings that had been pent up. We held hands and prayed. Later we joined them at the bedside in the hospital where seven family members gathered. All prayed as we anointed with blessed oil and prayed with this young person who rallied with this healing rite, and love. As there was already a baptism scheduled and missed because of illness, we all decided to go ahead and baptize then and there. All present took part. I cannot describe for you the peace and joy that supplanted the fear, anxiety and grief-words are not sufficient. The gloom was literally lifted like a dark cloud rising and light and joy replaced it. We sang, “Take Me To The River To Be Baptized” adding a stanza-“This one is the righteous and shall see God!” We ended with “Oh Happy Day” and much closeness and love.
Three Sacraments in one Sunday-Eucharist and eucharist; the healing rite and baptism. No, five, the sacrament of the church, the people of God, and the sacrament of love included. How blessed are we. How amazed and moved we are to be called to this priesthood, the priesthood of all believers. How thankful Judy B and I are for the privilege of serving God’s holy people. Thanks be to God! Happy Thanksgiving to all.
Pastor Judy Lee, ARCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community,
Fort Myers, Florida
This Sunday the church celebrates Christ the King. In our post-modern era we know little about kings and value democracy and participatory forms of government. There are examples of ‘good kings’, but for us ‘kings’ are synonomous with dictators. But when Jesus was born corrupt kings and puppet kings like King Herod were alive and well. The Hebrew people wanted a king to conquer Herod and the Romans and restore Israel.
What kind of King was Jesus, the Christ? Did he accept kingship as his mission? Our gospel today is from the cross where Jesus suffers greatly, is crowned with thorns, and still tells the thief who recognized his power beyond death ” “today you shall be with me in paradise”. (Luke 23;43) This is the king with the power of life, including eternal life and every encounter with Jesus is life-giving, now and forever. Paradise, according to George Lamsa, (Idioms in the Bible Explained… p.59) is a Persian word for a beautiful garden; a place of harmony and tranquility”. The kingdom or kin-dom (family) of God on earth and forever is a place of harmony-a peaceful kingdom. The old adage, if you want peace work for justice applies. The operative word is “WORK” for the reign of God to come. As Samuel anointed David a king to shepherd God’s people, Jesus teaches us by word and deed what a good shepherd is and does, and what a shepherd king does.
On Palm Sunday Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Zephaniah 9:9 “Look here your King comes to you; he is just and a savior,meek and riding upon an ass, upon a coal, the foal of an ass”. Only the poorest of people in the Near East would ride on a donkey-never a prince or nobleman as an ass usually signified disgrace, rejection and humiliation. Jesus chose to ride the colt because he represented the old ideas of the Israelite rulers who lived among the people in meekness and humility not as overlords”. (Rocco Errico “…And There Was Light, pp. 133-135). He would not fulfill the hopes of some for political victory or military might but he would fulfill his destiny in showing the way of truth, no matter what it cost him. (John 18 37 a). In John’s Gospel he says that his kingdom is not “of this world”,not political or military, but it is the peaceable kingdom coming into the world through radical love and justice for the poor, exploited, outcast and left out. What a wonderful leader,our servant king.
Rev. Bingle and I agree that Jesus is not a king of domination but a king of serving one another. In the women priest movement we rarely use the word “Lord” because of the connotation of “lording it over” that goes with it and Jesus was never one to “lord it over” anyone, as. Rev. Bingle says he became upset with his disciples when they wanted power for him and for themselves. He was not about power but he was about transformation of people and nations. That took a whole different kind of power. The power of radical love.
Rev. Beverly Bingle’s Homily:
” If there’s one thing that history teaches us for sure, it’s that it’s
easy to stray from Jesus’ message. While he was still walking among
them, even his closest disciples gave him problems. They struggled
with who he was. His way was outside their understanding—above all
they had even dared to think, beyond anything they had ever hoped. He
showed them God’s presence. It was a heady experience.
They saw him feed 5,000 people by sharing five loaves and two fish.
They wanted to make him king. Jesus said no—I’m not a king and don’t
want to be—and he went into hiding.
Peter suggested kingship, and Jesus called him a devil for suggesting
that Jesus would want to be exalted to use power and force over
James and John wanted seats at the right and left hand of power, and
Jesus was disturbed at them. He told them it couldn’t be that way
with them because those in power who don’t know God try to lord it
over others. He told them that the one who leads has to be the
servant of all.
Jesus taught jubilee justice—a “year of favor” that comes when we
share what we have, reach out to heal and comfort, befriend the weak
and forgotten, lift up the poor. In the Sermon on the Mount he
praised the peacemakers and applauded the folks who work for justice.
His message was clear: Jesus preached the dignity and worth of every
person, and that threatened the powerful in church and state. Those
rulers had to be #1. They wanted to be on top, and they would do
anything to stay there. Jesus was too much for them. So they arrested
him and executed him. After he died, the disciples continued to
experience his presence still with them, to remember what he had said
and done. They re-told the story, trying to describe this
extraordinary man who showed them the way to a place of peace and
justice on earth. Their experience of Jesus was beyond words, but
they had to use words to describe it. Ironically, from the very
beginning they chose the word that Jesus himself had rejected: king.
People are still alive who remember when this Solemnity of Christ the
King was set in stone, back in 1924, at the end of World War I, to a
people devastated by the killing of millions by the violent powers of
states around the world, by a Pope living in the midst of kings and
carnage. It was a statement that called for allegiance to God and
turning away from the violence of that war and the earthly kings who
had caused it. The Church was trying to make clear that the world
that counts is God’s world, the power that counts is God’s power. Not
land. Not stockpiles of oil or corn or gold. Not Wall Street. Not
Main Street. Not the power of guns and bombs. That kind of
domination leadership—the kingship of oppression—is still with us.
“Watch out for good ol’ number one,” we hear. “Take care of yourself;
nobody else will.” Like the disciples, we miss the point.
Last month the Eagles football team at Olivet Middle School in
Michigan chose to use their power the way Jesus did. Unknown to their
coach, the 8th graders put their heads together and came up with a
play that gently nudged their Downs Syndrome teammate into the end
zone for a touchdown. Not only did the team’s action lift Keith Orr,
it helped them, too. As one of the team members said, “I kind of went
from being somebody who mostly cared about myself and my friends to
caring about everyone and trying to make everyone’s day and everyone’s
life.” They gave up their glory and used their power for someone
We have that kind of power. Some of us have political power—to write
to Congress, to cast a vote for the common good. Some of us have
economic power—to hire help, to spare a couple of bucks. Some of us
have personal power—to smile, to say hi, to phone a friend, to visit a
hospitalized neighbor, to take a welcome cake to a new neighbor.
Every time we send the price of a pizza to a charity—every time we
stand aside and open a door for someone—we use our power for good.
When we do that—when we love and serve others—we get Jesus’ message
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Mass at 2086 Brookdale (Interfaith Chapel):
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 9 a.m.
Mass at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
Rev. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Following King Jesus Pastor Judy Lee
Following Jesus means to imitate Jesus, and that is hard to do.
Like the disciples, we often misunderstand what Jesus said and did. He hung out with sinners and outcast people, he accepted women as equals, he reversed the order of things-the last shall be first- and he put the poor and oppressed, the outcast and the stranger and foreigner ahead of the religious and arrogant folks of the times. As Rev. Bingle said he threatened the powers that be and they nailed him to the cross. Yet, death could not hold him.
For most of us, there is little persecution and no threat of death, but it is still necessary and often difficult to put serving God’s people first and to put the poorest among us, justice and peace above self-interest. The story of Oscar Romero is an inspiration to us as we try, as he did, to imitate the life of Christ. Romero lives again not only in the Salvadorian people but in all who work and risk for the kindom of God to come on earth, the kindom of love and justice for all, the “peaceable kingdom.”
This is by Brother David who is quoting from a book by Robert Ellsberg cited at the bottom. With Archbishop Romero may we believe in and strengthen “the church of God, the people” so it will rise again from the ashes and never die.
“At the same time he (Romero) seemed to draw strength and courage from the poor campesinos, who embraced him with affection and understanding. “With this people,” he said, “it is not hard to be a good shepherd.”
“When you hear the voice of the man commanding you to kill, remember instead the voice of God. Thou Shalt Not Kill”
The social contradictions in El Salvador were rapidly reaching the point of explosion. Coups, countercoups, and fraudulent elections brought forth a succession of governments, each promising reform, while leaving the military and the death squads free to suppress the popular demand for justice. As avenues for peaceful change were systematically thwarted, full-scale civil war became inevitable. In 1980, weeks before his death, Romero sent a letter to President Jimmy Carter appealing for a halt to further U.S. military assistance to the junta, “thus avoiding greater bloodshed in this suffering country.” On March 23, 1980, the day before his death, he appealed directly to the members of the military, calling on them to refuse illegal orders:
“We are your people. The peasants you kill are your own brothers and sisters. When you hear the voice of the man commanding you to kill, remember instead the voice of God. Thou Shalt Not Kill….In the name of God, in the name of our tormented people whose cries rise up to heaven, I beseech you, I beg you, I command you, stop the repression.”
The next day, as he was saying Mass in the chapel of the Carmelite Sisters’ cancer hospital where he lived, a single rifle shot was fired from the rear of the chapel. Romero was struck in the heart and died within minutes.
Romero was immediately acclaimed by the people of El Salvador, and indeed by the poor throughout Latin America, as a true martyr and saint. For Romero, who clearly anticipated his fate, there was never any doubt as to the meaning of such a death. In an interview two weeks before his assassination, he said:
“I have frequently been threatened with death. I must say that, as a Christian, I do not believe in death but in the resurrection. If they kill me, I shall rise again in the Salvadoran people.
“Martyrdom is a great gift from God that I do not believe I have earned. But if God accepts the sacrifice of my life then may my blood be the seed of liberty, and a sign of the hope that will soon become a reality… A bishop will die, but the church of God – the people – will never die.” “
Sincere thanks to Robert Ellsberg
for permission to use this chapter from his book All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses From Our Time. “Since soon after it came out; I have used this book for daily spiritual reading and still find it inspiring.” —Br. David
Blessings to all as we celebrate Christ the Servant King’
Pastor Judy Lee,ARCWP
This is Pastor Judy Lee with Joann in the Hospital on Thurs. 11/13/13-The laying on of hands
Sometimes illness hits hard and we are unprepared. How can we ever be prepared for that which is unknown and perhaps life threatening? At that times it is so good to call upon those who can pray with us and simply be with us. When I get those calls these days, after my own bout with a rare slow growing stomach cancer and thankfully successful surgery in February of this year, I respond empathically from the deepest level within me. I respond in the Spirit of our loving God. Pastor Judy B. who has gone through, and thankfully through, three cancers responds from the same place. Perhaps that was gift that God has given us as we struggled and overcame with our own illnesses,
Our first call on Thursday was from Joann, nearly 80, who has suffered with many illnesses. We have ministered to and with her and her family for almost fifteen years. We stood together in this same hospital just a few years ago when her beloved husband said good-bye to her and embraced life forever with God. Depleted and dehydrated she was admitted to the Hospital for hydration and study. She is frightened but a woman of strong abiding faith.We visited and discussed her condition and her concerns. We anointed her with the rite of the Church and this brought her great comfort. In the profound quiet of silent prayer in the laying on of hands there is a power beyond description. The above noted picture captures but a bit of it. There is a being with that surpasses any words. Anxiety turned to peace before our eyes.
The reading from the book of James (Chapter 5: 14-15) is shared at the beginning of the rite of anointing. It is such a good one to guide us in this: “Are any of you sick? Then call for the presbyters(translated elders or priests) of the church,and have them pray over those who are sick and anoint them with oil in the name of Christ. And this prayer offered in faith will make them well,and Christ will raise them up…” It is Christ that raises up the sick and all of us.
Our second hospital call was a difficult one as a young person was involved, one we had known since she was twelve years old and I ministered in the Middle schools. She is now 22 and recently diagnosed with HIV+. She and her family are overwhelmed by this news. And while people now live with HIV+ like a chronic but treatable disease, this young woman has become very ill and is already symptomatic. The adults in the family are in mourning and some are in denial. The young people and children are anxious and worried although the whole family shares a strong faith. We prayed and maintained presence with this brave young woman although she could hardly speak. We took the family in our arms and prayed with them. Prayer and presence makes the difference in hope and despair. May each one feel our loving God with them every moment of the day.
Before we went on to our last visit in another hospital we stopped to visit with some of our children. Maintaining loving presence with our children is a priority with us. “Then small children were brought to Jesus so he could lay hands on them and pray for them.The disciples began to scold the parents but Jesus said, let the children come to me and do not hinder them, the kindom of God belongs to such as these. And after laying hands on them,Jesus left that town” ” (Matt. 19: 13-15). Again, we see and feel the power of the laying on of hands and prayer. The triplets have just had their fifth birthday and were excited to see us. Keion was resting after school but his smile made our day!
Our last visit was to Tania in the Psychiatric Hospital. Last Tuesday we helped her in her admission there and we now followed up with her possible discharge planning. She is now homeless and has nowhere to go and and was also struggling with accepting her medications again. After we prayed she felt happiness and peace. She took her medicine to the relief of Staff and we involved the Discharge planner in discussing her options. We are hopeful that she will accept and enjoy the housing we have found for her.
Prayer and presence, being with and raising up. Thanks be to God!
Pastor Judy Lee, ARCWP
This is Colombian woman Priest Olga Lucia Alvarez (second from left) with Priests Judy Lee and Barbara Duff and Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan at a gathering of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
Acclaimed Latin American Theologian Consuelo Velez has written a very good article about women in the church related to the hopes of Pope Francis to find another level of service and not servitude for women in the church. She points out that the Pope is aware of theology of women and the efforts of women theologians. The only lack in this fine article is that she seems unaware of the existence of Roman Catholic women priests. As there are already two in her own country of Colombia, and more on the way, we would hope to dialogue with her and let her know that the hope for the ordination of women who are called and prepared has already happened, and is continually happening.And, perhaps of equal importance. ordained women are renewing the church, sharing with the priesthood of all believers and serving the poor and outcast as Jesus did. Inclusivity is what we learn from Jesus. The established Roman Catholic Church in later centuries moved away from what Jesus did and taught toward exclusivity and our renewal is critical to church survival and evangelism.
The article is shared by our ARCWP Priest in Colombia Olga Lucia Alvarez and from the blog of the Barefoot Church/ Iglesia Descalza
Posted: 12 Nov 2013 10:24 AM PST
November 9, 2013
Among the many “different” things Pope Francis has said are his references to women. He said that it pains him that often women’s role in the Church is “servitude” and not “service” and he has stated the need to do a “theology of women” so that the latter can hold more significant posts within the Church since “the Virgin Mary was more important than the apostles, bishops, deacons and priests, and women are more important than bishops and priests.” (interview granted on the flight back to Rome after WYD-Rio) He has also highlighted the role of women as mothers and the feminine dimension of the Church, but he has said the role of women is not reduced to their maternity, although they must not renounce it in favor of getting other roles in society.
It’s good that the Pope is talking about this because it confirms that when we women refer to the situation of women in the church, we are right and it also gives us more freedom to talk about it in the face of some of the voices in the Church who get “irritated” or think it’s unnecessary to address these issues.
How do we make it possible for women’s role in the Church to be their rightful one? For the time being, it would be very important for women’s theological work to be better known, studied, and evaluated. It’s not that there is no theology of women. There’s a lot of it and it’s very good. It’s possible that there isn’t a theology of women that is accepted by the Vatican that promotes more substantive changes and that must be what the Pope meant when he stated the need for a theology of women. In fact, when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he endorsed the holding of the First Congress of Latin American and German Women Theologians in 2008 and, undoubtedly, he knows about many other events and publications along that line.
But what is this theology of the woman that is already being done? We should highlight the Biblical work that has reclaimed the presence of women in the Bible and their role in the constitution of the early Christian communities. But there’s also work in other fields of theology such as theological anthropology, Christology, ecclesiology, sacraments etc… In these topics, the feminine face of God –so often forgotten — and God’s saving message for men and women concretely and according to their specific reality, are reclaimed. For example, it’s not the same to speak of gift and sacrifice to women as to men. In a patriarchal society such as the one that still persists, that argument has led some women to the “servitude” that Pope Francis is criticizing, denying their dignity and suffering the tragedy of domestic violence, among others. Women’s theology works to regain the dignity of women so often denied by patriarchal society and supported in some ways by a “distorted” religious view, and it substantiates that this is not God’s will but that, on the contrary, God’s plan of salvation proposes a “community of equals” where gender differences would not be the reason for the subordination of either of the genders to the other one.
Although all this seems obvious, it’s still not a reality in Church practice. It’s enough to see the ministers of Holy Communion giving out the Eucharist. There, one notices that the faithful prefer to receive the Eucharist first from the priests, then from laymen, and often, the line for the woman [minister of Holy Communion] is empty. Thus they reproduce the clerical style that impedes a Church of communion. And though many more women than men go to Church and they lead catechism and apostolic groups, their words and initiative are often not acknowledged by the ordained ministers, and real parochial councils, where the priest recognizes the voice of the laity — and women, of course — in the journey of the ecclesial community, aren’t promoted.
It has always been said that change comes from the grassroots. But in this case it seems that the roots of the Church are very passive and that it’s the will of a leader — the Pope — that is raising awareness and making us see that things could be different. In any case, change will come from working together and that’s why we have to be responsible in the face of these challenges and ask ourselves sincerely: What is the effective participation of women in decision-making positions in our local communities? How much credibility are they granted? Are the theological works of women taught in the seminaries and schools of theology? Is there enough humility to acknowledge the difference between what ought to be and the reality of women in the Church? Will we review our praxis and correct the mistakes?
This is a task we have pending in this Church we love and that needs to be renewed according to the will of God, in this specific case, seeking to make effective that in Christ Jesus “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free person, there is not male and female.”(Gal 3: 28)
Consuelo Vélez has a PhD in Theology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with post-doctoral studies at Boston College. She is professor of Theology at the Pontificia Universidad Xaveriana in Bogota, Colombia.
Judy Lee, ARCWP
We as Roman Catholic Women Priests are moved by the plight of Australian Priest, Fr. Greg Reynolds who put himself on the line for the ordination of women priests. We now share the same fate-excommunication. But we agree that no one can separate us from the love of Christ or from the real church-the people of God. We thank him for joining Roy Bourgeois as one of the few male priests who have risked it all publicly for the equality of our calls. God calls who God calls…
We are validly ordained women, we are here, we are serving God’s people,
Thanks be to God!
This is an article about this courageous man from the blog of the Concerned Catholics of Montana, posted by Rosemary.The original article is in the North Queensland Register. It is well worth reading.
The Outsider: Father Greg Reynolds
Many of us remember Paul Harvey and his radio segment “and now for the rest of the story”. That’s what came to mind when I read this piece on recently excommunicated Father Greg Reynolds.
| by Thom Rigney | November 9, 2013 | North Queensland Register |
His support for the ordination of women and an incident over the Eucharist saw Greg Reynolds excommunicated from the Catholic Church. But as Stuart Rintoul discovers, this rogue priest is not giving up without a fight.
Not long after Greg Reynolds was born, he contracted pneumonia. The doctor did not hold out much hope and told his mother, Patricia, to send her other children away for a while and throw open the windows to the winter air. “If he’s going to survive, he’s just got to fight the elements,” the doctor said. The boy recovered, although for a long time he was weak and spindly. His mother, a devout Catholic, always believed that he had been saved by God for a purpose.
Sixty years later, Greg Reynolds sits at a kitchen table in a small rented apartment in Melbourne’s south-east, speaking quietly in a soft laconic drawl. His excommunication from the Catholic Church is on the table between us, slipped neatly into a plastic folder to keep it straight and clean.
Written in Latin, a language he never learnt, it comes from the Congregatio Pro Doctrina Fidei (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition) and carries the authority of Summus Pontifex Franciscus, Papa (Pope Francis). It convicts him of heresy (Canons 751 and 1364) and blasphemy (Canon 1369), which he has been told relate to his support for the ordination of women and his celebration of the Eucharist after his priestly faculties were withdrawn, and excommunicates him in accordance with Canon 1367, which refers to a person who “throws away the consecrated species or takes or retains them for a sacrilegious purpose”, which appears to relate to a strange incident where a dog received communion.
Reynolds has been defrocked and excommunicated “for the good of the church”. He shakes his head and says he feels like an ant who has been hit by a hammer. “How can they, who are so big and so powerful, be so frightened of me?” He notes that paedophile priests have been defrocked, but not excommunicated: “How can they see this as so much more serious than that?”
Greg Reynolds’s trouble with the Catholic Church began three years ago, when he made up his mind to support the ordination of women. But his journey began in May 1953 when he was born, the third of four children, into “a pretty average Catholic family” who lived in a mile-long middle-class street in East Bentleigh, in Melbourne’s south-east.
His father, Ralph, converted to Catholicism to marry his devout wife. Greg and his two older brothers, Paul and Phillip, were altar boys and went to Catholic schools. Greg’s friend from that time, Chris White, recalls that he was always studious, gentle and kind, but says that he was surprised when Reynolds became a priest because he also liked to go to ballroom dancing to meet girls.
After completing an economics degree at Monash University, Reynolds started questioning whether there was more to life. A friend of his mother’s suggested he enter the seminary, where others were surely grappling with such questions.
“I went into the seminary not even sure that God existed,” he says. “I didn’t put a time frame on it, but it was certainly just going to be a temporary arrangement, ’til I got a few answers and then I’d get out.”
He enjoyed it and began to think that he could be a priest. “But it’s a bit awkward if you don’t believe in God,” he says laughing. “So I gave God, if She’s [sic] out there, a bit of time, saying, ‘You’re going to have to sort this out because I can’t go on here indefinitely.’ ”
One restless night, he broke down in tears of frustration. “Nothing happened, the darkened room did not light up, but, looking back, from that day the sense that there is a God began to grow.” In the months that followed, he prayed and meditated and gradually “the whole spiritual reality opened up to me, not in any dramatic way, but just that subtle but deep sense that God is out there and Jesus is the way”.
In 1977, he travelled to India and Nepal with four other seminarians and came back with a strange story. He told his family how he was waiting for a bus one day in Kathmandu when a boy came and stood beside him, begging. Reynolds brushed him aside, got on the bus, looked out the window and his eyes locked with the boy’s. “They were the eyes of Jesus looking at me,” he said to his family. “He asked me and I let him down.”
Consumed by guilt, he gave away material things. Years later, after his parents died, he gave away most of his inheritance to the needy.
Reynolds was ordained in 1979. He spent three years as a curate in Sunshine, in Melbourne’s west, working with an elderly Irish priest, then became a chaplain to the deaf for four years. For two of these, he lived at the presbytery in South Melbourne with the irascible priest Bob Maguire, who enjoyed a thorny relationship with his archbishops.
While working with the deaf, Reynolds stepped towards solitude, asking Archbishop Frank Little for permission to become a novice at Tarrawarra Abbey. One of Australia’s most closed and contemplative monasteries, Tarrawarra, in the Yarra Valley north-east of Melbourne, is home to a community of Cistercian monks, the Trappists.
He read the works of the New Zealand-American monk Thomas Merton and, after three years, went back to Little with the “hare-brained idea that I was being called to be a hermit”. Little made him a chaplain at the Mercy Hospital for two years, then relented and gave him permission to live as a hermit for a year – which became a decade.
For the first three years, he lived in a bush shack at Longwood, in central Victoria. He spent the next five in a one-room brick hut built for potato diggers at Trentham. There was no electricity, an open fireplace, tank water, single bed, desk and chair. From there, he went to a shack at Warburton, in the Yarra Ranges east of Melbourne, for two more years.
He celebrated Mass alone, read and meditated and passed more than 10 years with the grudging support of Little and his successor, George Pell, who was “extremely supportive”. “It was great, just felt right for me,” he says. “It’s a very unusual calling, but it has always been there in the history of the church.” He says he can think of nothing in his background that drew him into silent contemplation. “It seems as odd to me as to anybody else.”
On a soft autumn day in October, we return to Trentham and spend some time with Tom and Mary Walsh, the elderly parishioners who allowed him to stay there in the potato diggers’ hut. Asked what she thinks of the path Reynolds has taken and his excommunication, Mary Walsh replies, with Irish equivocation, “Well, of course we are traditional Catholics, but we have always been very fond of Greg.”
Reynolds returned to parish life a less conformist priest. At Donvale, in Melbourne’s east, he irritated traditional parishioners and delighted others by saying “in the name of the Mother” rather than “in the name of the Father” at the end of Mass. The pastoral associate there, John Lazzari, describes Reynolds as “a priest of a deep spirituality” and “a very good man” and says his excommunication is “clearly wrong”.
By 2010, Reynolds was parish priest at Western Port, on the Mornington Peninsula, and it was there that he decided to speak out in favour of the ordination of women. Friends advised him to be cautious, but he would not be persuaded. He thought, “Damn it, I’m going to say it.”
He wrote to Archbishop Denis Hart, informing him of his intention and then at three Masses across the parish said he believed it was God’s will to have women priests and that denying women the right was “obstructing the work of the Holy Spirit”.
He tells me that as “an insignificant little parish priest” he lacked the profound theological training to contradict papal teaching, “but some things you just know in your heart, in the core of your being”. At each Mass, he says, there was strong applause.
It did not extend into the Cathedral. Hart responded, by email, that he should recant or resign. Reynolds replied that he intended to do neither, but resigned nevertheless as the parish priest a year later, in August 2011.
By then, he had made up his mind to become a priest for the disaffected – those who thought of themselves as Catholic, but were at odds with the church on women’s ordination and homosexuality, as well as victims of clerical abuse and those who were divorced.
He was inspired by the outspokenness of Peter Kennedy, a priest for 40 years who was defrocked in 2009 and founded St Mary’s in Exile in south Brisbane, and had closely followed the battle of American priest Roy Bourgeois, who was laicised last year after a five-year battle over women’s ordination.
Michael Kelly, a former Franciscan seminarian and organiser of the Rainbow Sash movement -which campaigns for acceptance of homosexuals in the Catholic Church – had met Reynolds around 1998 through a network of people who were attempting to live “contemplative lives”. He regarded Reynolds as a man of “deep and simple spirituality”. When he learned Reynolds had resigned from active priesthood, he advised him to “build a community”. Reynolds established the group Inclusive Catholics.
On the first Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011, Reynolds celebrated the group’s first illicit Mass. He said his actions were founded on justice and compassion. Conscious of the implications, he preached, “I take comfort from the words of St Thomas Aquinas: ‘I would rather be ex-communicated than forced to act outside my conscience.’ ”
Then in August last year, the consecrated bread of the Angels, the Eucharist, was given to a dog during communion. The Age religion editor Barney Zwartz reported it this way: “A first-time visitor arrived late at the Inclusive Catholics service in South Yarra with a large and well-trained German shepherd. When the consecrated bread and wine were passed around, the visitor took some bread and fed it to his dog. Apart from one stifled gasp, those present showed admirable presence of mind – but the dog was not offered the cup!”
Reynolds says he did know the man had shared the Eucharist with his dog, and he would never have given communion to a dog, but that it was “just one of those odd things that happen” and “a bit of a non-event”. He was sorry to hear that the dog died not long afterwards.
The Catholic Church did not regard it so lightly. Hart described it as an “abomination”. He demanded Reynolds cease acting publicly as a priest and disassociate himself from groups acting in defiance of Church authority. The following month, Reynolds was advised that Hart had begun the process to have him defrocked.
But conservatives demanded more. The Catholic blog Australia Incognita fulminated, “Why haven’t Fr Greg Reynolds and ‘Inclusive Catholics’ been excommunicated yet?” Criticism was directed not only at Reynolds, but also at Hart. In England, conservative priest Ray Blake said he felt angry and sick and criticised Hart for tolerating an “anti-Church” preaching heresy to dissidents. “I really cannot understand why this priest, having celebrated the sacraments whilst suspended, was not excommunicated,” he wrote.
In the middle ages, public excommunication was sometimes accompanied by a ceremony in which a bell was tolled, the Book of the Gospels was closed, and a candle snuffed out: condemned “with bell, book, and candle”. Reynolds’s excommunication was much more prosaic.
In September this year, he received a phone call from the Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, Reverend John Salvano, “inviting me to come and have a chat about some canonical issues”. They met on Wednesday September 18 at the presbytery. He expected to be defrocked.
Reynolds thought Salvano, whom he knew from seminary days, seemed uncomfortable. Salvano handed him the decree, gave him a “rough translation” of the Latin, and discussed the canonical violations. He told him he was the first priest in Melbourne to be excommunicated and that it was not sought by Hart but by unknown people who had contacted the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which requested Reynolds’s file.
Salvano said that Hart was shocked and presumed the excommunication was based on a misunderstanding of the dog and the Eucharist incident. The meeting lasted half an hour, and when they rose the two men shook hands, and Reynolds drove home. In quick time, Wikipedia added his name to a list of people excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church that includes heretical theologians, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Henry IV of France (who retaliated by “excommunicating” the Pope), Napoleon, Fidel Castro and Australian saint Mary MacKillop. Excommunication means Reynolds is forbidden to have a ministerial role in the celebration of any sacraments or acts of public worship, receive any sacrament, exercise any Church ministry or hold any office in the Church.
When we first speak, soon after the excommunication, Reynolds says he feels “indifferent” to it. “I just don’t take it too seriously, really,” he says, but adds that it seems “excessively heavy-handed” and that Church reformers will be concerned that it has been done under the seal of the new pope.
Bob Maguire, forced into retirement last year at age 77, is appalled by Reynolds’s excommunication, but had warned him against putting his head in the lion’s mouth. “It’s all bullshit, isn’t it?” Maguire says. “Catholic bullshit.”
He describes Reynolds as “a man of principle” and “a good bloke”, from a family that was “true-blue Roman Catholic”. Reynolds, he says, has been denied a fair hearing and drummed out of the church by an ecclesiastical “kangaroo court”. “His tour of duty, I would have thought, entitled him to better treatment. I would love to see the transcript of evidence. It is outrageously draconian. In secular society you wouldn’t get away with it.”
At Geelong’s St Mary of the Angels parish, priest Kevin Dillon, an outspoken advocate for victims of paedophile priests, says it is concerning the church’s most severe penalty has been applied in circumstances clouded by a lack of disclosure: an invisible accuser, unspecified charges, no opportunity for defence, no right of appeal. Dillon was the vocations director at the seminary when Reynolds began his journey into the priesthood and was his parish and school priest. He says while he does not agree with Reynolds on all things, he is “a fine and compassionate human being”.
At Inclusive Catholics, Irene Wilson, a “cradle Catholic” who has led the liturgy at the group’s illicit services, says that what has happened to Reynolds is “absolutely horrendous”. “He is such a good man, working for a church that we all love so much, to make it more relevant, where all are welcome and women can be ordained,” she says.
In a 500-word statement, which the Melbourne archdiocese says will be its only comment, Vicar General Monsignor Greg Bennet says the decision “by Pope Francis to dismiss Reynolds from the clerical state and to declare his automatic excommunication has been made because of his public teaching on the ordination of women contrary to the teaching of the church and the fact of his public celebration of the Eucharist when he was forbidden to do so and the manner in which the celebrations occurred”.
He says that Hart and others sought “in a spirit of pastoral and fraternal concern to encourage Greg Reynolds on repeated occasions to cease his activities contrary to the teachings of the church but without success. The possibility remains open for the excommunication to be lifted upon Reynolds manifesting through his actions and teaching a serious commitment to return to full communion with the Church.”
On a quiet Sunday afternoon, Reynolds stands at a pulpit, preaching to a congregation of Inclusive Catholics in a Protestant church hall, a green Catholic stole draped across his shoulders. There are about 150 people in the hall, more than usual. He says his excommunication is complex, but that God has a talent for turning mess into goodness.
“We are only here really because we love the Church,” he says. “It is our Church and we are not walking away from it, we are not going to abandon the Church, because we are the Church. We can’t walk away from ourselves.”
These are some of our members,including myself, who have risen again and are still rising. On the left is our Elder and worship leader Mr. Harry L.Gary whose testimony is new every Sunday. Also Roger and Len.
In our Gospel today (Luke 20;27-38) Jesus says that God is the God of the living, all are ALIVE to God! We are assured that we can and will rise again. Hallelujah!
If you know Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah! hear it and sing it with this prayer.
In a few hours we will celebrate together. Our inclusive Catholic Mass is at 2PM on Sundays. No day is ordinary and we pray that all may be full of God’s life today. And now I pray as I take in the events of the day. Join me in prayer as you go through your day.
I pray as I look at our little lake with wonder. The algae blight that covered the lake this summer is now almost completely gone and the ducks and coots and egrets have returned. Hallelujah!
My neighbor Imogene is a prayer warrior who sits facing the lake with her prayers and Scripture reading every day.If you are on my prayer list she may have prayed for you too. She is getting more frail in her mid eighties but she still feeds the ducks and birds and tends her garden. The algae bloom saddened her heart as it did mine. Everyone we called said there was nothing that could be done. They spoke about fertilizer use and warm waters. She kept on praying. See her smile now that it is gone! Hallelujah!
I pray as I shepherd my rescued cats through their morning ins and outs in separate groups. “Hiss” says Potsy, the newest. “I am not ready for all these others yet.” ” Ahhh,m’row” he says as he returns to his safe room and bed. But he will not die on the streets (he is FIV Positive and stress is a killer for him, and so are attackers and cars since he would sit right in the middle of the street). He sniffs Star and Silver at the door. He will be ready soon. I pray for all beings that have to live outside when they were designed for indoor homes.Hallelujah!
I think of Len who could easily lose his home as he ignores things like paying the bills and is debating whether we can help him with this. I think of Rich mowing lawns and living in a shed. I think of Don living outside. I pray we can work together to get each of these truly housed. I think of Sally who had her “rest” in the Psychiatric Hospital, I pray that she is stable enough to get started in housing again. She is living in her car until she can face the reality that she will not own her own home but live in a small Efficiency on her income. They may all be in church today, I pray for homes and God’s abundant grace for them! Hallelujah!
I am shocked at the morning news. The news about the typhoon in Central Philippines affecting 4.3 million people and the direct hit on Tacloban City, in the Philippines is overwhelming. Possibly over ten thousand people killed in the Tacloban area. “My God!” we cry together. This must feel like the end of the world for them. Like the reading from 2 Maccabees today about horrific torture, rising to God is the only good part of the story. We pray for each one who died in this terrible natural event. It is not an act of God, but of nature and it overwhelms us like the roaring sea and wind.We pray for the loved ones of all who perished. We pray for all of the survivors, and all those whose lives and hearts are broken. We pray for quick aid. We pray and we sing Leonard Cohen’s broken and holy “Hallelujah”!
The Philippines is very dear to me as Filipina Methodist Deaconess Virginia Maniti Williams shepherded me from my youth and Filipino Pastors like Emerito Nacpil and others also served at Bethany church in Brooklyn encouraging our youth when they visited. Deaconess Virginia went home often with beloved Rev. Mel, and she returned alone after his rising to God. She helped and we did as well in the building of a new Methodist Church. She returned home to serve her people before her own illness brought her Stateside to live with her daughters, then in an Assisted Living home in California. For the health and strength of Deaconess Virginia Maniti Williams we sing a holy “Hallelujah!”
We pray too for all those wounded warriors from all walks of life who in losing limbs and sight and mental health to war have to fight to rise again. We pray for the members of the Wounded Warriors Band that appeared on CBS Sunday Morning Show this morning.With the guidance of the acclaimed Roger Waters they make beautiful and astounding music out of the wrecks of their bodies and lives. They truly rise! And we pray for those wounded soldiers who are studying music with Arthur Blum and visiting stars like YoYo Ma at the Walter Reed Hospital. We pray that each one will continue to rise. We pray for their return to full life, for their resurrection. And we pray for all wounded warriors who have not yet found a way to rise, that they will find it. Hallelujah!
We pray for Tim Donley the marvelous lead singer of the Wounded Warriors Band-that he may continue to rise! His testimony this morning was astounding. His signature song is Leonard Cohen’s melancholy and profound Hallelujah. We will quote some of it as we end our prayer. Tim said that when he lost both legs he was broken but he still had his right hand. He was okay. Then he lost the use of his right hand. He said “Every dream was broken and I didn’t know where to turn. In that place God said to me,”Do you still trust me to have what’s best for you?” It may be the best is now for me. That made me understand Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.”
Amen to our brother and Amen to all who rise again and sing “Hallelujah”. I am going to get The Wounded Warriors Band rendition of Hallelujah to share with my people and all who are rising again.
This is two stanzas from Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah! It is a story about the Hebrew King David and also about all of us who have fallen or been wiped out and need to rise again.
There’s a blaze of light
in every word
it doesn’t matter what you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah.
Hallelujah, hallelujah (4x)
….And even though
it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the lord of song
with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah.
Hallelujah, hallelujah (8x)”.
And so we end our prayers today with a broken and a holy Hallelujah! May we all rise again. Amen and Hallelujah!