Monday, June 26, 2017

Upper Room Liturgy - June 25, 2017

Debra Trees and Beth Dounane led the Upper Room's inclusive liturgical celebration on Sunday, June 25 with the theme of "light."  

The readings today help us to see in the light, from the posture of light inside and around us, and to know no fear. We are known in our very depth, even to counting the hairs on our head. Let us bring that light to everyone we encounter, and be light for each one, including ourselves. 

Santa Orlando places stoles on the presiders and blesses them as they lead the community in prayer.

Deb and Beth used the Gospel reading for the day and chose an inspired first reading from Parker Palmer printed below. 

The Light for Another by Parker J Palmer.
from Krista Tippet, On Being website, December 17, 2015

In times of deep darkness, we not only need light — we need to be light for one another. That’s a message we must take to heart as we find ourselves lost once again in the all-too-familiar darkness of America’s culture of violence.

Who better to deliver that message than Mary Oliver, in a powerful poem that re-tells the story of the Buddha’s last words. Before he died, she tells us, “He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd” and said, “Make of yourself a light.”

We are the frightened crowd the Buddha looked into as he drew his last breath. We are the people who need to be light for one another.
There are many kinds of light. There’s the light that allows people lost in the dark to find their way home. There’s the light of compassion that comforts everything it touches. There’s the light of truth-telling about ourselves that allows us to see what we are doing — or allowing — that has helped bring this darkness upon us. There’s the light that shows us the way forward toward a better world. There’s the light of courage to walk that path no matter who says “Stop!”

No one of us can provide all of the light we need. But every one of us can shed some kind of light. Every day we can ask ourselves, “What kind of light can I provide today?”

Beth led the homily starter with a reflection on the poem: The Buddha's Last Instruction by Mary Oliver. 
The Buddha’s Last Instruction
by Mary Oliver
“Make of yourself a light”
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal—a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire—
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Diane Dougherty, ARCWP "Roman Catholic Women Priests:..."We RESIST the invasion of these discriminatory policies into our communities and institutions–and stand in opposition to any teaching that interjects biased cultural and societal divisions in the name of God." Responding to Same-Se Marriage Policies Decree of Illinois Bishop Thomas Paprocki, Illinois

Invasion of the Body Snatchers-or in this case, an Invasion into the Body of Christ

In the 1954 movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, plant spores fall from space and grow into large seedpods capable of assimilating the characteristics of humans devoid of human emotion.   The latest decree by the Bishop of Illinois serves as an Invasion into the Body of Christ, by attempting to assimilate the characteristics of Catholic teaching, when in reality this instruction displaces our call to transforming humanity’s culture and societies.  The teaching  therefore is hierarchical, but not catholic and causes harms the LGBTQ  and religious community.

Illinois Bishop Thomas Paprocki has issued his “Same-Sex Marriage Policies Decree 6-12-2017 which is his guideline regarding the treatment of lesbian and gay ministers in church life. New Ways Ministry summarized in their blog, that the
Bishop is now calling pastors to refuse to bury people in same sex marriages.

Briefly, the bishop instructs church leaders that same-gendered people who are married should:
·      Be refused communion, because their relationships are immoral and against nature
·      Be refused a funeral in the Catholic Church because it gives public scandal.
·      Be refused employment in public liturgical ministry as readers, Eucharistic ministers or music ministers
·      Be refused admission into the Rite of Christian Initiation unless they leave the relationship

He goes on to say:
·      No church worker, acting in any professional capacity can participate in same-gender weddings
·      Church personnel are forbidden to bless these marriages.
·      If same gendered children are presented for the Sacraments of Initiation, due digression is needed, especially if it is a public baptism.
·      That children can be admitted to Catholic schools if they agree to the Family School Agreement

The blog notes this invasive teaching is growing in the dioceses of Philadelphia, Newark, Detroit . They have similar guidelines regarding communion and liturgical ministries, but the Illinois decree advances to funeral rites and punishment for pastoral ministers.

A teaching like this appeals to a cultural bias against a people, and promotes confusion among Catholics as this is one not shared by the conference of Catholic bishops, the Vatican or 63% of white Catholic laity in the US…yet promulgated by a few.

These policies demonstrate a leadership removed from pastoring toward cultural dictatorial rule.  Using their position to promote an unjust politic in the name of our religion, feeds into the present government’s determination to undue the civil and human rights earned by the LGBTQ community.  It offers justification of a rising elitist group seen as superior and more worthy in the eyes of God.  This teaching alone is idolatrous because it does not reflect a movement toward the gospel ideals.

Most Catholics ignore or run away when these invasions occur, but in our time, one group resists-The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests  Our goal is to transform the Catholic Church by creating inclusive structures that will renew the church.  As validly ordained women, we RESIST the invasion of these discriminatory policies into our communities and institutions–and stand in opposition to any teaching that interjects biased cultural and societal divisions in the name of God.  In our Inclusive Catholic Communities, we validly marry, bury, offer sacraments and pray with any and all in need.  We preach, teach and deliver a gospel of good news. We encourage others to RESIST, because programs and policies like this constitute a cultural invasion into the Body of Christ.  What divides the body makes us all sick.

As ordained clergy we stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community.  We join all people as we continue to instruct our hierarchical leaders promoting divisions to cease and desist.  If wee believe we are equal in the sight of God, our Church structures must be designed to give witness to that equality.  The LGBTQ community is supported and welcomed…this is a Catholic value.


Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community,Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,Co-Presiders: Kathryn Shea, ARCWP and Lee Breyer Music Ministers: Mindy Lee Simmons and Russ Banner

Lee Breyer and Kathryn Shea ARCWP

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

12th Week in Ordinary Time

June 24, 2017

Theme: We are sacred people

Opening Expression

Co-presider: Welcome, all of you. As we gather here this afternoon for our liturgy, let’s take a look at today’s theme…”We are sacred people.” I think we all know what “sacred people” means and I assume “we” includes each one of us. Let’s acknowledge this commonly shared sacredness in our community, in one another and in ourselves. What could be a better song to express this than Karen Drucker’s “We are holy.” So, let’s sing it…. We are Holy

Co-presider: And let us now focus our minds on our purpose in this gathering of God’s sacred people.

Opening Hymn: We Gather Here to Celebrate (Mindy Simmons)

Opening Prayer

ALL: Holy One, you have created all that exists, all that lives and all that doesn’t, in our cosmos. You have done so out of your very being…love, unending love. May we experience our mystical oneness with everything that is not “us.” May we cherish every amazing day, conscious of your presence in and around us. Help us to recognize your goodness and beauty everywhere and to live in harmony with all creation…so we may be your compassion in healing the wounds of hatred and violence, discrimination and oppression anywhere in this, our planet, home. We realize that what is not of love is not of you. Loving God, bless all of us gathered here and all those of our community who are not with us today. We ask this of you, our brother Jesus, and our Wisdom Sophia. Amen.

Penitential Rite and Community Forgiveness

(Pause briefly and reflect on the need to grow more in love with others and with creation.)

Co-presider: Compassionate God, to you all hearts are open, no desires unknown, and no secrets hidden. We thank you for sending your Spirit to us so that we may live more fully according to your will. Through your grace, all peoples, wherever they may be on this earth, are one family …and you have made all of us – with no exceptions – worthy to be called your sacred people.

ALL: Christ Jesus, we ask for the grace to realize our continual need to grow in understanding, compassion and caring for ourselves, for others, and for our planetary home. We ask you teach us the virtues of pardon and peace so that we may – in turn – learn to forgive our brothers and sisters, whoever and wherever they may be. Give us the strength to extend your merciful and forgiving presence that is your gift – through us – to all those with whom you share your unending love. We ask this in the names of Jesus, our brother, and the Holy Spirit, our healer and comforter. Amen.

Glory to God

Co-presider: let us give glory to our loving Creator.

(Sung) Glory to God, Glory, O praise God, alleluia. Glory to God, glory, O praise the name of our God. (3x)

Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Deuteronomy 7: 6-11 ALL: Thanks be to God

Psalm 103 Responsorial: Our God is kind and merciful; merciful is our God. #803

Second Reading: 1 John 4: 7-16 ALL: Thanks be to God

Gospel Acclamation: ALL: Alleluia (Celtic version)

Gospel: Matthew 10: 26-32 ALL: Thanks be to God

Homily starter: Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
June 24, 2017
Where God is, there is heaven…

We are a sacred people; this is hardly a new idea to us nor was it to the people of 3,000 years ago when the books of Deuteronomy were combined into one.  As we just heard, Moses told his people that they were a holy people, not because of who they were or whatever they did.  It was because of God’s love for them, his intense love for them.  John reminded his readers, including ourselves, of that too.  “God dwells in us and we in God.”
We opened this liturgy with recognizing our common holiness (with Karen’s lyrics) and Mindy invited us to celebrate our divinity (in her music).  We all know, from possibly widespread experiences, that it is one thing to “know” something and another to “really know” or act on it.  That difference is exhibited in
dealing with both “God in us” and “us in God.”  So this reminder is timely, timely to bringing “having the belief of our unity with God” in our mind — and timely to think about what it means to us in our daily lives.
Helping me to prepare an entrance to today’s homily discussion was a Carmelite sister in a piece she wrote almost 500 years ago.  What I will read is something that was “sort of edited a bit” by a former Carmelite almost 50 hours ago.  The author is St. Teresa of Avila (I mention that for believability of the passage), one of only four female Doctors of the Church in history; she was the first of the four and named such in 1970.
This is a selection from St. Teresa:
Now consider what Jesus said in his keynote prayer—“Who are in heaven.”  Do you think that it’s of little importance to know what heaven is and where you must look for God in your life?  Well, it is very important not only to believe truths in your minds but to strive to understand them by your experiences.  Meditating on this difference is one way of greatly slowing down the mind, focusing attention, and recollecting the soul.
You already Know that God is everywhere.  It’s obvious, then, that where God is there is also the court.  In other words, wherever God is, there is heaven.  Without a doubt, you can believe that where God is present, all glory is present. [ St. Augustine, searching for God, ultimately found God within himself.]  So do you think it matters little for a person with a wandering mind to both finally learn and understand that there is NO need to go to heaven to find God.  God is always near enough to hear us; God knows what we want to say before we do.  All one needs to do is look for God within oneself.
Let’s see…where are we?  Teresa says that we, with God in our very being, are in heaven … So, we are there!  Already in heaven!!  Then what did Jesus mean when he taught us “may your kindom come”?  What did Teresa miss?  Sally and Janet earlier this month and Pat last week touched on it… that is, to state it in my terms, Jesus could use help having the human scene conform more to the sacredness of the “kindom of God” for which we all pray.  When we are doing what the gospels spell out for us to do… by being the love and compassion of Jesus demonstrated in his human existence…. we are “making the kindom come” on earth.  We must love both the earth and ourselves enough to be part of making each of them what God created each to be.  In short, in doing so we are exhibiting or showcasing the kindom of God that we will enjoy forever.
Question:  How can we, as individuals or a community, call on our particular attitudes, behavior, and strengths to share with one another so that everyone can be better examples, marketers or sales people for the kindom of God on our earth?

Lee Breyer
Lee Breyer and Kathryn Shea ARCWP-Co-Presiders

Shared Homily/Community Reflections

Profession of Faith

ALL: We believe in God, the divine mystery that is beyond all description and understanding. We believe that God, the Creator, is the very heart of all that has or ever will exist in the universe. We believe in Jesus, the Christ, the touch of God to humankind, the sacred messenger of God’s word, a carrier of God’s healing and the soul of God’s boundless compassion. We believe in the Spirit, the breath of God in the cosmos who strengthens us to be an instrument of peace and justice in the world. We believe that the whole law of the scriptures is summed up in love. God – who is love – is our model and mandate for our living. We believe that God’s kindom is here with us now and will always be for those with eyes to recognize it, hearts to receive it, and hands to make it known to everyone.

Prayers of the Community

Co-presider: We are a people of faith; we believe in the power of prayer. We are mindful of God’s unconditional love and care for each of us. And so, we bring the needs of the people to our merciful and gracious God. After each intercession, please respond: Compassionate God, we ask you to bless our petitions. (intentions)

Co-presider: Healing God, we ask you to strengthen us in our concerns and care for one another, here and throughout the world. We ask you to bless our efforts for justice and equality so that, with our sisters and brothers, we may promote cultures of peace and nonviolence in our world. As we always do, we make these prayers to you, O God, in the names of Jesus, the Christ, and the Holy Spirit, our Wisdom. Amen.

Offertory Procession and Song: “Anthem“ #509 vs. 1 & 3

Co-presider: Blessed are you, God of Creation, through your goodness we have this bread to offer…this grain of the earth that human hands have made for our use. It will become for us the bread of life.

ALL: Blessed be God forever.

Co-presider: Blessed are you, God of Love, through your goodness we have this wine to offer…this fruit of the vine that human hands have prepared for our use. It will become for us our spiritual drink.

ALL: Blessed be God forever.

Gathering of the Gifted

Co-presider: Jesus, who has often sat at our tables, now invites all of us to join him at his. Everyone is welcome to share in this meal. (The invitation is to everyone to join around God’s family table.)

ALL: Loving and caring God, we – your people – are united in this sacrament by our common love of Jesus. We are in communion with everyone, everywhere, who shares your presence and your gift of compassion especially to all those who are marginalized and oppressed. May we love tenderly, do justice, and walk humbly with you in solidarity with our sisters and brothers. May we live always as prophetic witnesses to the gospel of Jesus. Amen.

Co-presider: Friends, let us recognize the presence of our God who is with us here now.

ALL: Fill us with reverence for our Creator, for one another, and for all creation.

Co-presider: Let us lift up our hearts.

ALL: We lift them up to the One who has gifted us with love so that we may be an expression of that love to all others, with no exceptions.

Co-presider: God dwells in each one of us.

ALL: Namaste! Namaste! (twice)

Eucharistic Prayer

ALL: Gracious God, through us you have set the banquet table and invited all of us to the feast. Here we celebrate your divine love beyond what words can describe. Here your divine compassion connects us to the young and the old, the most and the least, the first and the last…your whole creation.

Voice 1: Ever living and loving God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks. In you we live and move and have our very being. That Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead, is the foretaste and promise of the paschal feast of heaven. Her dwelling in us gives us the hope of unending peace and joy with you. And so, in gratitude, we sing with thankful praise….

ALL: Holy, Holy, Holy God, God of power, God of light. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed are all who come in the name of our God. Hosanna in the highest.

Voice 2: We thank you for the gift of Jesus in history – and the gift of Jesus in faith. On earth, Jesus burned with the constant vision of his mission. He revealed you to us through his compassionate life well-lived. And he showed us, through his example, not only how we should live, but also for what we could die. Through him, you continue to breathe life into us in your service.

Voice 3: And when his time on earth had come, Jesus – aware of and accepting his destiny – gave up his life for the values that he deeply believed, lived and taught…his conviction that love is stronger than death. And then, providing an example of this wisdom for all people in ages to come, he opened wide his arms…and died. Then the Spirit, who raised him from the dead, showed us that life is eternal and that love is immortal. Jesus is with us today as he will be through the end of time.

ALL: O God, let your Spirit of life, healing and wholeness come upon these gifts that we gathered from fields and placed on our table – this simple wheat and wine. May She make them become for us the Body and Blood of Jesus, our brother.

ALL: (With an outstretched arm, let us pray the consecration together): We remember the gift that Jesus gave us on the night before he died. He gathered with his friends to share a final Passover meal. And it was at that supper that Jesus took bread, said the blessing and shared it with them saying: take this, all of you, and eat it. This bread is you; this bread is me. We are one body, the presence of God in the world. Do this in memory of me. (Pause a moment))

In the same way, Jesus took the cup of wine, said the blessing and gave it to them saying: take this all of you and drink it. This wine is you; this wine is me. We are one blood, the presence of God in the world. Do this in memory of me.

Co-presider: Jesus, who was with God “in the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth,” is with us now in this bread. The Spirit, of whom the prophets spoke of in history, is with us now in this cup. Let us proclaim this mystery of faith.

ALL: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ lives in us and through us in the world today.

Voice 4: May all of us who share this sacred meal be strengthened in our unity by the grace of the Holy Spirit. And may that Spirit, that Wisdom, that moved in Jesus move just as freely in our lives as She did in that of Jesus.

Voice 5: God, remember your church throughout the world, help us grow in love, together with Francis, our Pope, Bridget Mary, our Bishop, and all your sacred people everywhere – especially those who live on the margins of church and society. We remember, as well, the entire communion of saints, both those living and dead, who touched our lives and left your footprint on our hearts. We remember especially …(pause as names are mentioned).

ALL: Through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, Creator God, forever and ever… (and everyone sings)…Amen. (5x …?)

ALL: (holding hands): Our Father and Mother, who are in heaven, blessed is your name…

Co-presider: God, we have just prayed that “your kindom may come among us.” Strengthen in us your grace and love so that we may open our hearts to make it real – and our hands to serve one another.

The Sign of Peace

Co-presider: Jesus, you said to your disciples, “My peace I leave you; my peace I give you.” Look on the faith of those gathered here today and …

ALL: …. grant us that peace. O Loving God, following the example of Jesus and with the strength of the Spirit, help us spread that peace throughout the world, to everyone, everywhere, no exceptions. Amen.

Co-presider: May the peace of God be always with us, and let us extend that peace to one another as we join hands in a circle of love and sing Let there be peace on earth #532 using the following:

( “… with God as creator, family all are we …” and “With every breath I take, let this …” )

Litany for the Breaking of the Bread

Co-presider: Loving God… All: you call us to Spirit-filled service and to live the Gospel of peace and justice, we will live justly.

Co-presider: Loving God… All: you call us to be your presence in the world and to be bearers of understanding and compassion, forgiveness and healing everywhere in your name. We will love tenderly.

Co-presider: Loving God… All: you call us to speak truth to power and live equality. We will walk humbly with you.

Co-presider: This is Jesus, who liberates, heals, and transforms us and our world. He calls us, his sacred people to open doors that are closed and share our bread on the altar of the world. All are invited to partake of this banquet of love. ALL: We are the Body of Christ.

Pre-Communion Prayer

Co-presider: Gracious God, as we come to share the richness of your table, we cannot forget the poverty of so many of our brothers and sisters, our families and neighbors.

Men: We cannot eat this bread and forget those who are hungry. O God, your world is one world and we are stewards of its nourishment for all your people.

Women: We cannot drink this wine and forget those who are thirsty. O God, this very earth and its people cry out for environmental justice.

ALL: We cannot listen to your words of peace and not grieve for the world at war’s doors.

Communion: Instrumental

After Communion Song/Reflection: “There is only Love” by Karen Drucker, sung by Mindy Simmons

Prayer of Thanksgiving after Communion

Co-presider: Loving God, may this Eucharist in which we share Christ’s healing love deepen our oneness with you and with one another. May we reflect, like Mary, your liberating, mothering love for all your people everywhere. And may wonder and thanksgiving fill us with our knowledge, understanding and experience of your love and compassion in us, your sacred people. We ask this in the name of her Son, Jesus the Christ. ALL: Amen.

Introductions, Gratitudes, and Announcements

Closing Community Blessing

(Let us all extend an arm to one another in mutual blessings)

ALL: May our gracious God bless us all gathered here today, in the name of our Loving Creator, in the name of Jesus our messenger and in the name of the Spirit our inspiration. May we be their reflection as we care and minister in love to one another and to all those whom we meet on our journey. May we always remember, with gratitude, that we are the face of God to the world. Amen.

Closing Community Commissioning

Co-presiders: As we leave here in the peace of Christ, let us be the sacred people that God created us to be. Let our service continue.

ALL: Thanks be to God. Let it be so!

Closing Hymn: “Let Your Light Shine in Us” – Kathy Sherman

Let your light shine in us. (3x) and we will be light for the world.

Let your light shine in us. (3x) and we will be light for the world.

We will be one and the kin-dom will come.

Let your heart beat in us. (3x) And we will be love for the world.

We will be one and the kin-dom will come.

Let your joy sing in us. (3x) And we will be hope for the world.

We will be one and the kin-dom will come.

Let your peace live in us. (3x) And we will be one for the world

We will be one and the kin-dom will come.

Let your light shine in us (3x) and we will be light for the world.

Let your light shine in us. (3x) and we will be light for the world.

We will be one and the kin-dom will come.

Friday, June 23, 2017

"Bishops Say Rules on Gay Parents Limit Freedom of Religion" by Laurie Goodstein, New York Times

"Roman Catholic bishops in Illinois have shuttered most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in the state rather than comply with a new requirement that says they must consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents if they want to receive state money. The charities have served for more than 40 years as a major link in the state’s social service network for poor and neglected children.The bishops have followed colleagues in Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts who had jettisoned their adoption services rather than comply with nondiscrimination laws.For the nation’s Catholic bishops, the Illinois requirement is a prime example of what they see as an escalating campaign by the government to trample on their religious freedom while expanding the rights of gay people. The idea that religious Americans are the victims of government-backed persecution is now a frequent theme not just for Catholic bishops, but also for Republican presidential candidates and conservative evangelicals.“In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated,” said Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., a civil and canon lawyer who helped drive the church’s losing battle to retain its state contracts for foster care and adoption services..."

Bridget Mary's Response: The bishops' discrimination against same sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents is deeply troubling. Their stance indicates that their consciences trump the consciences and religious freedom of same sex-couples.  Their discrimination damages an entire charitable system that helps lots of at risk children. Tragic!
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