You have called me to your Priesthood
to carry on the work which You began
Fit me/I pray You/for this
task with such faith that through my
voice even the disbelieving may listen to your word
With such hope that through my hands even the despairing may be held fast to your grip
And with such charity that
through my heart even the despised
may know that You never cease to love them. Join me so deeply to
Yourself that no one I meet shall lie beyond Your saving reach.
This is a beautiful prayer/poem about the priesthood anonymously written on a wooden plaque and given to me and Pastor Judy Beaumont by our then bishop Bridget Mary Meehan shortly after my ordination as a Roman Catholic Priest through Roman Catholic Women Priests in 2008. It was given to Bridget Mary when she was ordained a priest in 2006. It is on the wall in the room Rev. Judy Beaumont,RCWP used as an office. She truly lived it and read it daily and every time I pass it I stop and pray it again. But it is not only a prayer for ordained priests and for ordinations, it is a prayer for all of us who, as Peter says, come to Christ, the living stone, (I Peter 2: 5 and 9-“you are a royal priesthood, a chosen people, a people belonging to God”.
As women priests we cherish our awesome charge and try to live up to it, however hard it may be. (The ordination within RCWP is valid as it is ultimately through a line of bishops in good communion with the church but illicit as the Roman Church has not yet caught up with Jesus in his inclusion of women and all people as disciples and apostles). [See for example Women Find A Way: the Movement and Stories of Roman Catholic WomenPriests, edited by McGrath, Meehan and Raming, Virtualbookworm.com Publishing Inc. (2008)]. But we also believe strongly in the priesthood of all believers and share the job description written so beautifully above with each one. (Below is Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan with Pastor Judy Lee and Natasha Terrell and Brenda Cummings, two members of Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida).
These are unsettling times. The other day, tired of staying home and worried about health and human injustice all around especially toward black people and toward the LGBTQ community and other things, I heard myself humming an old hymn: “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand…” I felt safe and secure on my Rock surrounded by many others called “church” , but also recognized that the winds of adversity and trouble may and often do still blow strong no matter where we stand. And in the strong wind( I remember the sound of Hurricane Irma passing by over my home a few years back- like a deafening roaring of a huge train passing over) we may become focussed on personal survival rather than on reaching out to one another with the message of God’s inclusive love-for everyone. The challenge to who we are as followers of Christ is to keep on building the kin-dom of God , and not to become just self and survival oriented.
The Apostle Peter in his Epistle (I Peter 2: 4-10) tells us that as we find our shelter in Christ, the living stone/structure rejected by mortals but approved by God we become the stones of the spiritual edifice of which Christ is the cornerstone. We, (not a building made of stone,glass and steel) become the place where God can dwell and where others can find the love and comfort of God. Peter quotes the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 28:16-17a) ” I am laying a stone in Zion a block of granite, a precious cornerstone , a solid foundation.Those who put their trust in it will never be disappointed. I will make justice the measuring line,and integrity the plumb line…” But the quote in I Peter 2:9 falls short of including the mandate of justice as our work. Peter says ” But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood,a consecrated nation, a people set apart, belonging to God, that you may sing the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into the wonderful divine light…” And, if we go back into the section of Isaiah that Peter is quoting, that clearly means to hold up the light and the measure of justice and integrity as it applies to all people . Yes, Black Lives Matter. Yes your life matters with this loving God. Yes, no matter who you are by virtue of birth, race, gender, sexual orientation, culture or class- justice must reign for all and you matter- to our Loving God and to all who stand upon the rock. Reach out your hand and pull someone up onto the solid rock as they feel they may be slipping away due to injustice and hatred. We are given the essential job of priests, we are ALL challenged to live our lives as living sacrifices for Love and justice. Let us live our lives to bring the kin-dom of God on this troubled planet. Amen.
Some of the members of Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community with Pastor Marina Teresa(Gold top) and Pastor Judy Lee.
Blessings and Love,
Pastor Judy Lee
Rev. Dr. Judith Lee, RCWP
Good shepherd Ministries of Southwest Florida
- in Birthday, Catholic Social Justice Teachings, George Floyd, Ahmad Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Inclusion is the Gospel, Life is God's, operationalize the Golden Rule, Pentecost, racism,classism, gender and prejudice and discrimination, Roman Catholic Woman Priests, women priests reflections
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Today is Pentecost in the church, the day we celebrate God’s Spirit falling on ALL of the disciples including women and families that gathered in the Upper Room. As Rev. Roberta Meehan, RCWP points out it is the Church’s red letter day- and the church’s birthday-OUR Birthday. It is also the purifying-as by wind and fire- gift of God to empower us to live out the mission Jesus sent us on of preaching the gospel-living the gospel of love-to all people.
Today we need Pentecost more than ever.
Here we remember and keep in our hearts and prayers these three African-Americans who are recent representatives of far too many killed by police brutality and hatred, and their families: George Floyd, Ahmad Arbery and Breonna Taylor-and all who have suffered their tragic fate. We also pray for all who are entrusted to be our police officers who risk life and limb every day and who act justly toward all people. And we pray for those who do not act justly and who do not know deep within that we are all children of our loving God and it is a brother or sister that they are meeting in the line of duty.
Breathe on us Breath of God, until all can breathe!!! Until all can breathe without the fear of a knee on the neck, or foot in the back, or a door slammed shut, or rejection and second class citizenship due to color, gender, sexual orientation,class, culture or language or any other difference form the “dominant group”-until all that dominates is the fresh breeze of love and caring for one another. Breathe on us Breathe of God until hate is burned away and only love still stands. Until hatred is no longer spread like wildfire in the name of legal authority or by disregard or ignorance. All kill. The liturgical color today is red. Red seems a happy color and it is happy on Pentecost. But, red in church language is usually the blood of Christ. Red also is the blood of all the holy innocents who died or failed to live in the air of superiority spread by any group, including so called Christians in our history.
I refer you to one of the readings for Pentecost Sunday, I Corinthians 12:3-7,12-14. The essence of this reading is that by One Spirit strong>ALL of us partake of God’s love and are baptized into ONE Body. Yet how easily it seems that parts of the one body are even literally lopped off until it is disabled. The Church as it is now is a disabled church. It is not fully filled with the Spirit of our living and loving God. Hence we need the RENEWAL of God’s Spirit so we may become the ONE Body God intends us to be. The first verses here say “It is for this reason that I want you to understand that no one can be speaking under the influence of the Holy Spirit and say,”Curse Jesus”; by the same token, no one can say, “Jesus Christ reigns supreme,” unless under the influence of the Holy Spirit. ” (TIB) Indeed, no one can say or enact “Curse someone else” , kill or damage another and claim to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit; and no one can live a life of Love without God’s Spirit. If we show love and inclusion it is due to God’s spirit within us, and if we spread evil and discontent or disregard of others who are different the Spirit of God is not yet filling us-rather the spirit of this world , of the almighty importance of Self, and preference for only those who are like us, and even hate of those who are perceived by us to be not like us. If we go back to Genesis, to the Garden, the first narrative is to have domination over all of creation, but the second is to care for all of creation, to live in relationship with all living things. There is a distinct choice there- let us ask God to fill us with the spirit of caring and love for ALL creation – not domination and subjugation of any creature, human, animal, or environmental. Let this red day become a truly green day- with deep respect of ALL Life which comes from the infusion of God’s Holy Spirit, and let us recognize and affirm God’s spirit in life everywhere.
And so on this day, we pray for God’s Spirit to renew and refresh us to revive us again. To teach us to love not only in word but in deed. To recognize abuse of power whether it be legal power, secular power or church power, and to speak truth to power- to all power, especially that which stifles breath and life within each and every of God’s children and of all of God’s creation.
Spirit of the Living God, Fall fresh on us!
One can put in the words “Spread Like Wildfire-Pentecost” or just Pentecost into the search box of this blog and see other interesting and challenging reflections on Pentecost. One can also check out another reflection by RC Women Priests and the Upper room Community of Rev. Mary Teresa Streck in Albany, New York in:
Be blessed this Pentecost-be filled with the Spirit of the Living and Loving God,and,in truth, love one another.
Amen! Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP
Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida
Two Roman Catholic Women Priests Reflect on Seeing As God Sees: For The 4th sunday in Lent-March 22,2020
Here, two Roman Catholic Women Priests share their thoughts on the important and provocative readings on how we see and how God sees, on our blindness, for the Fourth Sunday in Lent. Rev. Beverly Bingle,RCWP from Ohio and I have each written our thoughts so that you can participate in the Liturgy of the Word at home at a time when actual meetings are not possible. This is the link for Rev. Beverly’s beautiful homily courtesy of Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan,ARCWP’s blog where it is published. We are deeply thankful to Rev. Bingle for sharing this with us.
Like many other churches that draw crowds during this time of “social distance” to prevent the Covid-19 virus from spreading, our Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers will not be able to meet this Saturday afternoon. Many members and friends have conveyed their sadness at this and asked to read our reflections here. So this is our “virtual celebration ” of sorts. We will still miss our worship time together and just being together in person to celebrate the recent happenings of this community. So I will mention a few highlight events here.
First our March and April Birthdays: On March 3rd our beloved Ann Palmer turned 90 years old. Her family gave her a huge surprise birthday party that Judy Alves and I attended for our Good Shepherd Community. The love she sowed in her life was so evident as so many whose lives she touched as a lifelong Fort Myers resident gathered round her expressing their gratitude. Remarkably, Ann is devout and traditional in many beliefs of the Church but she has warmly embraced women priests and our community since we began in 2007. and And on the same date, our twins Jakeriya and Jakein Maybin turned 18 years old. Raised and baptized in The Good Shepherd Church, we are so happy to see them arrive at their majority and congratulate them on remaining in High School and moving forward at a very hard time for them after the death of their mother in 2017. Our faithful church member and frequent cook and caterer Cyrillia Rismay also had a big birthday on March 18th and we send her birthday blessings on this very day. Timothy Vanderwarf who has also been with us since the beginning has a birthday on the 31st of March. We assured him that we will not forget his birthday. And April 3rd brings the 12th birthday of our dear Joelle White who has been with is for all of her amazing young life. What a joy to see her grow into a lovely and bright young woman who continues to love singing and acting and school. April 8th is Awsha Sanders’ birthday and we remember her as well. She has moved temporarily out of the area but always remains in touch.
BIRTHDAY BLESSINGS TO ALL!
We also say thank you and offer prayers for Pastor Judith McKloskey,RCWP from Kansas City, Missouri as she and her husband Dan drive back home from their winter here,in Bonita Springs. Our congregation will miss her caring warmth and music leadership.
We also give our condolences to Michelle Landino who lost her partner Nancy Callo, 57 years old, to sudden death in her sleep last week. They were a part of our GS community from 2013-2015 before they moved out of the area. A blessed Easter Rising to Nancy and our compassion for Michelle and Nancy’s family in their loss.
The pictures above are of Ann Palmer, 90 with Judy Alves and Joelle White,who will turn 12.
Seeing As God Sees– Introduction-
We have been travelling with Jesus toward the cross and beyond to his resurrection this Lenten season. We have been looking at our own lives and taking stock of where we,like the religious and his disciples fail to know and see and emulate Jesus. Jesus has been healing the sick and engaging with the outcast of his world including the Samaritan women with whom he entrusted the good news of his identity. He has been teaching and feeling frustrated with the religious who try to trap him and with the disciples who sometimes fail to see who he really is. This week we witness Jesus healing a man born blind. As we listen to Jesus we can identify with the religious critics and the disciples who “don’t get it” although, hopefully, we can also identify with the man who was blind but now can see.
For this Lenten Sunday we would have two opening hymns- a warm-up with the brief chant our congregation uses called “Revive us Again” that acknowledges that we need to be brought to life in Christ once again. And “All Are Welcome” for once again that is the message of the day-the blind, the lame, the sick, the deaf, the well, the poor , the well- to-do of all cultures, races, classes, sexual orientations and genders. ALL are welcome to Jesus’ Table-no exceptions.
Our Opening Prayer is: Our living, loving and forgiving God, we come before You with contrite hearts mindful of the ways we choose darkness rather than light. We pray that You will be with us and our troubled world, now plagued by a frightening health scare, and bring us guidance,healing and peace. We seek to see as You do, we seek to find You again in this Lenten season….”
Liturgy of the Word
First Reading 1 Samuel 16:1,6-7,10-13. the prophet Samuel goes to choose a king for Israel from Jesse’s sons. Samuel looks at Eliab, an handsome young adult. But God guides him to David, the youngest son and says to him” Do not judge from appearance…God does not see as people see: I look at the heart”
Responsive Psalm 23: God is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want”. We respond with the chorus of the hymn Shepherd Me O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears from death into life
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14- Live as Children of the light.
– shine with goodness, justice and truth.
Before the Gospel Acclamation we chant and claim the ground we stand on and ourselves and our neighbors, pointing at each, as Holy Ground.
Acclamation: Praise to You, Jesus Christ, who reigns in endless Glory.! “I am the light of the world, the one who follows me will have the light of life” Praise to You…
Gospel: John 9:1-41 “work for the night is coming…I am the Light (so you can see the work that needs to be done…)” “I came into the world so that those who do not see may see…”
The Gospel is read in English and in Spanish, the latter by our associate Pastor, Rvda Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia who will also do a translation of the homily.
Today Jesus heals the blind man and he sees the light. Although both he and Jesus are ridiculed, he sees who Jesus is-The Messiah, the Son of Man, the Light- and has both faith and sight restored. To have faith, to believe and to affirm what Jesus has done and who he is is to “see”. The Pharisees would rather debate Jesus and try to trip him up than to see his light. They have no compassion for the man born blind. They see him as a sinner and a loser. But imagine how he feels as he sees for the first time-light, color, his parents, trees, flowers, people… his life is completely changed in an instant. I have a friend who had a cataract operation recently with a complicated condition. She could not stop describing light,textures and color. The religious of the time can not see what Jesus did only what they want to see- a man breaking Sabbath law by healing on the Sabbath. The man who suffered and begged as Jesus walked by on the Sabbath is of NO concern to them. They say they can see-but they are the ones who are blind. Jesus tells them that directly.
So we must wonder: what is it that we cannot see? Where are we also blind? What are our blind spots even if we can “generally” see Jesus? Are certain people or certain groups of people of no real concern to us? Are we blind to their situations-their experiences- to their suffering? Are there things people try to show us that we can not see? Are our own religious, social, economic, political or other beliefs thick lenses that blind us to the way God would see others? Do we look on the appearance rather than on the heart? Are we so worried about our own fears and wants that we cannot see others? Oh Dear Jesus, help us to see and own our own blind-spots. Help us to see others, to see You and to see the world as You see it, and act accordingly. Be the light for us….AMEN.
The Communion Hymn we would have had this week with Pastor Judith MCKloskey singing and leading us was “Change our Hearts” by Rory Cooney Copyright 1984 spiritandsong.com,a division of OCP. All rights reserved. “Change our hearts this time, your word says it can be. Change our minds this time,your life could make us free. We are the people your call set apart,Lord, this time, change our hearts.”
During Holy Communion we would sing the Spiritual softly “It’s me,it’s me, it’s me oh Lord, standin’ in the need a prayer” and “Thank You, God, Thank You God…You been so good…You been my friend…”
And after our Mutual Blessing of one another at the ending before the Deacon tells us “The Mass is over, go and serve one another” we would sing “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”, hopefully more resolute in this desire than when we began our worship.
May God Bless you on the 4th Sunday of Lent, and bless you with light, now and always, AMEN.
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community , Fort Myers, Florida
Rev. Dr. Judith Lee
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