Saturday, January 9, 2016

People's Catholic Seminary Launches Contemporary Theology for the People of God at St. Andrew UCC on Jan. 9, 2016 in Sarasota, Florida, Facilitator: Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP



Text: Elizabeth A. Johnson, Abounding In Kindness (published in 2015)
Dr. Elizabeth Johnson is a popular award-winning author, speaker and contemporary Catholic theologian whose provocative presentations appeal to wide audiences worldwide.
Topics:
1     Passing on the Faith: The Banquet of the Creed
   Jesus, the Living One: Jesus Research and Christian Faith
    Remembering the Holy Spirit: Love Poured Out
4    Truly Our Sister: A Critical Reading of the Marian Tradition
5
This course offers a new inclusive, innovative educational program for spiritual transformation for contemporary believers, activists and ministers. The aim is to inspire all to be visionaries, mystics and prophets in our time.
Each topic will present a beautiful tapestry of the God of life present in all and working for justice for all. The purpose is to integrate theological insights and spiritual experiences in order to develop commonsense approaches to living a faith-filled life of contemplation, compassion and prophetic action for justice in our world today.

 The group used the "lectio Divino" sacred reading approach to reflect on the text, take a prayerful pause to let it sink into the depths of the soul, and then share insights. 


Some Highlights:
.    The creed begins by affirming that God makes and loves the entire magnificent universe.
    God is infinite, incomprehensible, holy mystery beyond imagining.
  The God who is beyond all images and beyond all telling can be described in the following images from scripture: “father, of course and also mother, midwife, shepherd, lover, artist, potter, liberator, friend, Wisdom, hovering mother bird, angry mother bear, blowing wind, blazing flame, flowing water, unapproachable light, the One in whom we live and move and have our being.”   Loving the Earth: Through time, “God was continuously empowering the cosmos’ own creative emergence.” The natural world is a beautiful sacrament of divine presence.    The task now is to develop a “life-affirming theology of earth/matter/ bodies, one that will do better justice to this world that God makes and so loves.”   We must hand on to the “next generation a faith that loves the earth.”p.9


   "The Messiah “heals the sick, exorcises demons, forgives sinners, and cares for those whose lives are a heavy burden. He practices table companionship so inclusive that it gives scandal.” MT. 11:19 He establishes divine solidarity with those who lack basic necessities. (Mt 25:35, 42) “Neglecting the least of these means turning your back on God.”
   …”Jesus death on the cross is the price he paid for his prophetic ministry…He is risen that there will be a blessed future for all the violated and the dead, cast off as if their lives had no meaning.” Contemporary theology is “moving away from the notion of the cross as a death required by God  in repayment for sin and toward an appreciation of the cross  as an event of divine compassion in solidarity with human suffering, sin and death.” P.14.
   Atonement theology comes from St. Anslem in the 11century. He took the idea of satisfaction as it was practiced in feudal times and applied it to God, namely that our sins so offend God that he demands death as recompense. “Aquinas, Scotus and others criticized this theory… but it won the day for the next thousand years.”p.13.
   Criticism of atonement theology is:
1.      It focuses on purpose of Jesus’ life was to die.
2.      Diminishes importance of ministry
3.      Glorifies suffering rather than joy as path to God
4.      Fosters domestic violence and child abuse
5.      Image of blood thirsty God placated by suffering
            
  Cross
1.      Not as repayment for sin, event of divine love
2.      Creator of world entered into contact with human suffering, sinfulness and death in order to heal, liberate and redeem from within
3.      Jesus did not come to die but to live and help others live in the joy of the reign of God.  God is not a sadistic father, and Jesus was not a passive victim of divine desire for satisfaction.
4.      Rather his suffering, borne in love out of fidelity to his ministry and his God is precisely the way our gracious God has chosen to enter into solidarity with all those who suffer are lost in this violent world, thereby, opening up the promise of new life out of the very center of death." P. 14.


Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy: Baptism of Jesus – January 9, 2016 Music Ministers: Mindy Lou Simmons & Russ Co-Presiders: Janet Blakeley ARCWP & Sally Brochu ARCWP


Deacon Janet Blakeley, ARCWP and Priest Sally Brochu, ARCWP
Opening Song: “You Have Called Us” #651, verses 1,2,3
Presider:  In the name of God, our father/mother, and of Jesus Christ Sophia, and of the Holy Spirit, our liberator.  ALL:  Amen.
Presider:  My sisters and brothers, God is with you!  ALL:  And also with you.
Presider:  Let us pause to reflect on God’s boundless love and our need for forgiveness and healing.
(Silent reflection)
(all extend hands and recite prayer of general absolution)
Presider:  May the God of love, forgive us our lack of trust in God’s Spirit moving with us, in us and through us as witnesses of God’s love for all.
ALL: Amen.
ALL:  Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth.  O loving God, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.  O Jesus, Christ, Sophia, Loving God; You take away the sin of the world:  have mercy on us.  You who are one with our God, receive our prayer.  For you alone are the Holy One; you alone are Messiah.  You alone are the Most High, Jesus, Christ Sophia; with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God.  Amen.
OPENING PRAYER
Presider:  Spirit of God, you moved over the waters breathing life, freedom and joy into creation. Fill us, bathe us, drench us with your healing, refreshing love. Make us a life-giving river spilling over and splashing justice, truth and love over all.   ALL:  Amen

LITURGY OF THE WORD
1st Reading: Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6-7
Psalm 29
2nd Reading: Acts 10: 34 – 38
Gospel Acclamation: “ Alleluia, Word of God” –  # 932
Gospel: Luke 3: 15-16,21-22

HOMILY
MMOJ – HOMILY – Baptism of Jesus, Year C – January 9/10, 2016
Janet Blakeley

Remember the story about Mary who went to visit her cousin Elizabeth –
Mary walked into the room, carrying Jesus within her,
and John – recognizing the presence of Jesus – jumped for joy!

Well, here we are – thirty years later – the two cousins face to face.
Jesus knew of John’s reputation for prophesying about the coming Messiah,
and calling people to prepare for his coming.
So Jesus comes to where John is preaching and says “Baptize me.”
John responds with “What?” -or perhaps “Why?”
John knows that he is standing in the face of holiness.
Does he intuit that Jesus is THE Messiah?

If so, why would HE be preparing for the coming of the Messiah?

That may seem like a silly question,
But I suggest that Jesus had to prepare for the coming of the Messiah – within himself.

St. Paul tell us that Jesus  “was a man like us in every way but sin.”   Now -
A human being like us does not know everything when he or she comes into the world.
and I doubt that Jesus knew who he was or the role he was to play in God’s plan – until he was baptized.
The presence of the Holy Spirit was so noticeable at his baptism that people wrote about it!
It was in receiving of the Spirit in fullness, that Jesus was compelled to retreat to the dessert to come to terms with what it meant to be God’s Beloved.  
While he was contemplating that, Scripture tells us that he was “tempted by the Devil.”
We recognize the temptations he struggled with as the temptations experienced by every human being –
            the attraction to power,
            the attraction to wealth,
            thinking of oneself as superior to others, etc.
What this shows us is that Jesus had to deal with his humanness – those parts of his humanity that made it difficult to simply accept God’s love for him.

Jesus emerged from the dessert a new man,
            with ego completely in check,
            heart locked on God.
Going through his inner hurdles, he met his divinity,
and from then on his life was lived in God.
From then on, the face he showed to the world was the face of God.


This is what receiving the Holy Spirit at baptism meant for the man, Jesus,
It is what it means for us.
This is why Jesus told the disciples to “keep on baptizing”
Most of us can’t recall our baptism, but it happened nonetheless.
We too are God’s Beloved, but much of our inner “stuff” prevents us from experiencing that love.
We too received the light of the Spirit,
We too are called to go within to come to know and accept ourselves,
to face our own weaknesses and failings,
to encounter Divinity.
We too are to emerge from our inner work, our faces shining like the sun, showing God to the world.

Ultimately, why did Jesus have to be baptized?
To show us the way to God.






Blessing of the Water:
Presider:  May this water remind us of the holiness of earth.  May the Spirit of God move in this water once again and make us a wellspring of love spilling over with compassion for all.   ALL:  Amen
Blessing of the People:
Presider:  May you be blessed and renewed in your baptismal promises to God, yourself, and the People of God! (Sprinkle all, including presider, with blessed water.)

Profession of Faith: ALL:  We believe in God, the creator and lover of all. We believe in Jesus, the Christ, who shows us how to live in the fullness of God’s love. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of God, who empowers us with spiritual gifts for loving service of our sisters and brothers. We believe in Shekinah, God’s dwelling among the people. We believe in Sophia, Holy Wisdom, leading us to justice, and equality.  We believe in Christ Sophia, nourishing us with abundant life as the Body of Christ at the table, on the table and around the table at the Banquet of love.
GENERAL INTERCESSIONS
Presider:  That we may be faithful to our promises to the People of God, we pray… Response: Hear us, O God!
Presider:  That we may use earth’s resources wisely, we pray…R.
Presider:  That the Spirit of God, like Living Water, would break down resistances and barriers between people and between groups of believers, we pray…R.
Presider: For what else shall we pray?

Presider: Loving God, we have spoken of our needs and hopes and some of them remain silently in our hearts. Listen to the fullness of our petitions and help us to effect these changes for the better in our world.
ALL:  Amen
Offertory – #61 “Come to the Water”, verses 1,2,4

PREPARATION OF THE GIFTS
Presider:   Blessed are you, God of all life, through your goodness we have bread, wine, all creation, and our own lives to offer.  Through this sacred meal may we become your new creation.
ALL:  Blessed be God forever.

Presider:  God dwells in you.  ALL:  And also with you.    Presider:  Lift up your hearts.  ALL:  We lift them up to God.
Presider: Let us give thanks to our God.   ALL:  It is right to give God thanks and praise.

Everyone is welcome to join us around the altar and to receive Holy Communion

EUCHARISTIC PRAYER
Voice 1:
We praise you, Wellspring of Love, in whom we live and move and have our being. You have sent Jesus, Sophia’s child, the Wisdom of the Ages, to show us that the heart of religion is worshipping you in spirit and in truth. You revealed your identity to the Samaritan woman at the well. You continue to reveal your identity to us today. You embrace every nation, race, creed and culture as your own.

Voice 2: O Divine Companion, you look at each of us with great tenderness. May we see ourselves loved by you totally. God of relationships, you reveal yourself in other people.  Holy One, Compassionate One, Gracious One, your glory embraces heaven and earth. Like sun-drenched waters that sparkle, all human faces reflect your radiant splendor. You love each of us as if we were the only person in the world. Blessed is Jesus who comes in the name of Sophia! Hosanna in the highest.

Voice 3:
O surging Ocean of Grace, you energize us with Spirit and passion, connecting us with all creatures in the depth of your unending love. You wash us clean of resentment and hostility and scrub away the debris that pollutes our spirits. We ask you to make us new as you did in the waters of our baptism. Immerse us in the Love that dances for joy in your presence. We gather to celebrate our sacred stories as we welcome all people around this banquet table. We remember Jesus-Sophia who invites us to come and drink of the waters that will quench our thirst forever.

(please all extend hands as we recite the consecration together)

ALL:  The night before pouring forth his love for all people, Jesus took bread, broke it and shared it with his beloved companions, saying:
Take this, all of you, and eat it. This is my body which will be given for your healing.

Then, looking with tender warmth on his friends, Jesus took a cup of wine, praised Sophia, and shared the cup, saying:

ALL:  Take this all of you and drink from it; this is the cup of my blood, the blood that will satisfy the longings of human hearts for all times. It will be poured out for the healing and wholeness of all creation. Remember always you are a reflection of divinity.

Presider:
Let us proclaim the mystery of our dying and rising in Christ:   ALL:  Jesus-Sophia comforts us in our losses, cries with us in our sorrow, and promises that our innermost beings will flow with rivers of living water, even in the midst of our suffering and pain.

Voice 4: As we share this holy meal, we remember the holy men and women who drank from Wisdom’s well and showed us how to live as courageous disciples: the prophet Miriam, the woman at the well, Paul of Tarsus, Prisca and Aquila, Clare and Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day, Ita Ford, Bishop Oscar Romero and all those companions we cherish and who bless and challenge us on our faith journey…..whose names we now name……..

Voice 5:
May the Church be anchored in the still waters of your presence where abundant blessings flow forever. O Holy One who lives in our hearts, we celebrate your radiant image in men and women everywhere. Your creativity flows through our beings. Your joy fills us. Your blessings are the wellspring of grace all around us. Your mercy is fresh, like dew, every morning. Your healing liberates us from all darkness and oppression. Your empowerment bubbles up inside us.

ALL:  For you are the Love that dwells in our depths, the Wisdom of the Ages that speaks through us, the Divine Connection that makes us all one  Amen.

THE PRAYER OF JESUS
ALL:  Our Father and Mother… (Spoken)
Presider:  Deliver us, God, from every evil and grant us peace in our day.  In your mercy keep us from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
ALL:  For the kin-dom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.
THE SIGN OF PEACE
Presider: Peaceful Waters, we share the abundant love that flows among us as we embrace each other with open hearts.  Look on the faith of all and grant us the peace and unity of your kin-dom where you live forever and ever.  ALL:  Amen.
Presider:  May the peace of Christ Sophia be always with you.  ALL:  And also with you.
Presider:  Let us offer each other a sign of peace

LITANY FOR THE BREAKING OF BREAD
ALL:   Loving God, You call us to speak truth to power, have mercy on us.   Loving God, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice, have mercy on us.  Loving God, You call us to be Your presence in the world.  Grant us peace.

Presider:  Let us share the Body of Christ with the Body of Christ!   ALL:  Amen.

Communion: Instrumental (“Jesus, Come to Us”)
Communion Song:  #400, “Jesus Come to Us”, verses 1,2,3

PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION
Presider:  O God, thank you for refreshing us in your sacrament. May we experience your life-giving waters welling up within us as we serve others with glad hearts.   ALL:  Amen.

CONCLUDING RITE
Presider:   Christ Sophia is with you   ALL:  and also with you.
BLESSING
(Please extend your hands in mutual blessing)
Presider:  May the Spirit who moved over the waters of creation renew the earth. May Jesus Sophia satisfy our thirst for living fully. May the God of play fill our hearts to overflowing this day with our hearts’ delights.
ALL:  Amen.
DISMISSAL & CONCLUDING HYMN
Presider:   Go in the peace of Christ Sophia.  Let the service begin!  ALL:   Thanks be to God.
Closing Hymn: #651 “You Have Called Us”

(With gratitude to Bridget Mary Meehan for the use of this liturgy)

Carrie Newcomer- Room at the Table, Wonderful Song for Inclusive Communities



Witness Against Torture by Janice Sevre Duszynska, ARCWP

Janice Sevre Duszynska, ARCWP


This January 2016 begins the 14th year of illegal imprisonment and torture by the U.S. government of the men held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo. Recently, President Obama announced the release of 17 men. 104 of the original 779 remain. We of Witness Against Torture await the release of the remaining men and the permanent closure of Guantanamo. http://www.witnesstorture.org/events/


In January 2015 I took part in the Witness Against Torture gathering in Washington, D.C.
Eleven of us -- ordinary citizens and members of Witness Against Torture – exercised our First Amendment Rights on January 12, 2015 just a little over a month after the release of the U.S. Senate Torture Report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program at Guantanamo.

In the Senate Chamber Gallery, we called out: “U.S. Torture! It’s Official! Prosecute Now! Waterboarding…Rectal Feeding….  For reminding our Senators of their preeminent responsibility to uphold the Constitution by prosecuting the torturers of the men at Guantanamo, we were charged with disorderly conduct. Perhaps the CIA, Department of Defense, former President Bush and the officials of his administration wanted to avoid the publicity.

On Monday morning June 22, 2015, the day of our trial,  the U.S. prosecuting attorney announced that the government wasn’t ready for the trial and our case was basically dismissed. Now, I’d like to share the notes in preparation for my testimony…

I followed my conscience when I spoke out in the Senate gallery.  As a woman priest, I celebrate the Eucharist around the country: A Eucharist is re-membering the face of Christ in each person, including our Muslim brothers at Guantanamo.

On Thursday, June 18, 2015, our Republican-led Senate took a historic bipartisan vote to end CIA torture by voting 78-21 for the McCain-Feinstein Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  As a person of faith this vote expresses the moral principle that torture is always wrong.

I came to the Senate Chamber to remind legislators that they reflect the conscience and soul of the nation when they make its laws. By violating basic human rights, our nation has lost its integrity and its right to challenge human rights violations in other countries.  This must be remedied, because it has an impact even on our children, so they do not resort to violence.
We must uphold the Senate Torture Report, prosecute those responsible and return the men at Guantanamo to their families.  Our own children, and the world, are watching.
I am a Roman Catholic Woman Priest, ordained on Aug. 9, 2008, Feast day of Franz Jagerstatter, an Austrian father of four who was inducted into the NAZI army, but refused to fight because he obeyed his conscience: that place inside our soul where we hear truth, the voice of God.
The Catholic Church teaches us to be faithful to the primacy of conscience. The NAZIS beheaded Jaggerstatter for following his, but during the Nuremberg trials, which gave rise to the Nuremberg principles that are now international law, it became clear that a moral choice is as important as a legal choice. 
The International Bill of Human Rights, which includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and which our country signed after World War II, is international law, and we are bound as members of the United Nations, to uphold international law.  This principle is embedded in our constitution and our foundational documents. 

My mother’s parents migrated here from Poland at the turn of the last century when it was still divided among three foreign nations.  In 1959, at age 9, I got my first look at this nation which gave birth to the Solidarity movement. I watched the documentary of the death camps during the NAZI occupation.

Today we have death camps in Guantanamo and the new documentary is the Senate Torture Report.  Today, the US is terrorizing the Muslim people of the Mideast.

Poles are outraged that the U.S. operated a black site in Poland and tortured two Muslim men: Abu Zu bay dah and Abd al-Ra him al-Na shir ri.

In July 2014, the European Court of Human Rights formally ruled that so-called "enhanced interrogation" is torture, and ordered Poland to pay $250,000 restitution to these men tortured at a CIA black site there. 

I was raised to respect people of other ethnicities and faiths. I learned what anti-Semitism did in Poland.  In Guantanamo we are seeing the same principles in action: homophobia, hate crimes against Muslims, the abuse of the Koran and not allowing the men to wear their turbans which is part of their religious tradition (just as I’m wearing a sacramental stole and others wear their collars).


For 15 years, I taught English as a second language as a public school teacher to children from 65 countries, all the world’s “hot spots”. I heard the stories from my children from Rwanda whose fathers were tortured in front of them and whose mothers were raped and disappeared…like the men at Guantanamo who have been sexually abused. I’ve seen my Palestinian students jump five feet in the air when a door slams like the men at Guantanamo when their interrogators storm into their cells.

As a peace activist, I’ve learned about torture at the annual Vigil at Ft. Benning in Columbus, GA at the School of the Americas, where torture techniques are taught. Here torture victims from Latin America (human rights organizers, labor activists, mothers and fathers) share their stories.  At Guantanamo it’s the Navy and US soldiers, not foreign ones, who torture, with sadistic techniques exported to Abu Ghraib under General Miller.

In 2006, I journeyed into the wilderness in solidarity with my indigenous children from Mexico and Central America.  With the Christian Peacemaker Team I walked for six days and five nights covering 75 miles into the Sonora Desert as part of the Migrant Trail Walk. Here, I learned how people die in extreme temperatures from our border policies in the same way as people die in Guantanamo naked in freezing cold rooms or holding onto their humanity by not eating like Tariq Ba Odah.

In front of the White House during a Witness Against Torture action I read poetry by the men held in Guantanamo subjected to torture. I experienced their breadth and depth of soul…. I ask, what has happened to the soul of this country? I testify in ways that show the humanity of the men at Guantanamo.


It’s been 13 years now. For the mothers who have sons in Guantanamo, Jan. 12th is the13th anniversary of their separation from their sons. As a mother who’s lost a son, my heart aches for these women. They have no date to look forward to when they can hug their children again. I also cry for us… and the heartless men and women described in the Senate Torture Report. (rest)

With the SOA Watch delegation I traveled to El Salvador and heard a campesino speak about the Dirty Wars and the death squads. In the Romero Chapel at the University of Central America I gasped in horror at the charcoal paintings on the wall of the torture victims just as I do when I see photos of our tortured Muslim brothers at Guantanamo.

Last summer I stood by the bay in Montevideo, Uruguay where the bodies of tortured Argentinian activists would wash ashore. In the Museum of Memory of human rights atrocities, I stood under a canopy of photos of the tortured and disappeared. President Pepe Mujica of Uruguay –who was tortured and incarcerated in solitary confinement for 12 years –invited six of the men from Guantanamo to live in his country…

In Buenos Aires, we walked through the secret torture rooms at EMSA, the Naval Station, and I saw the room for the pregnant women whose babies were torn away from them. I learned that the SOA taught torture here. Patricia, our guide in Buenos Aires and a good friend of Christina the President, was tortured for 27 months, beginning at the age of 15, at a nearby police station. She and others eventually took their seven torturers to trial and they are serving long sentences. Two died in prison. When will we prosecute the torturers of our Muslim brothers at Guantanamo?

I’ve been a delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women three times for St. Joan’s International Alliance, a 104- year -old Catholic feminist organization that has worked through the League of Nations and the UN to stop the sexual torture of girls, female genital mutilation which reminded me of rectal feeding – rape of the men at Guantanamo. I learned that U.S. torture of detainees at Guantanamo violated International Law, Human Rights Law and our own Constitutional Law.

Every human being, including so-called “aliens,” is entitled to habeas corpus, equality and equal protection under the law. Like Pilate, we torture and murder people who have never been tried or condemned. But instead of purple cloaks, we’ve dressed them in orange jumpsuits and black hoods.


In Guantanamo, these men are contained and the global community is appalled and supposed to look the other way because they’re suspect of terrorism…and they’re being held and tortured without due process…outside the law.


From an international perspective, Guantanamo is everybody’s concern. From the UN point of view, the US Senate Report must be legally binding. We want people prosecuted: the CIA, the Department of Defense, President Bush and officials of his administration need to be held accountable.
If people are not held accountable, this makes people’s lives unlivable.

Modern day prophet Sr. Megan Rice who entered the tortuous and insane Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex at Oak Ridge, Tennessee said. “All citizens are required to expose and oppose known crimes.”


We didn’t disrupt the Senate Chamber Gallery. We interrupted legally.  And by finally voting against torture in overwhelming numbers, the Senate has affirmed our action.

An Epiphany with Wise Women? by Christine Schenk, Jan. 7, 2016, National Catholic Reporter


http://ncronline.org/blogs/simply-spirit/epiphany-wise-women

Epiphany," ©2003 Janet McKenzie, www.janetmckenzie.com, Collection of Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, IL
Thanks, Sister Chris, for this wonderful, scholarly article! Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

...."a renowned authority on the Gospel of Matthew, Dominican Fr. Benedict Thomas Viviano, believes it entirely possible that women could have been among the Magi portrayed in the Matthean birth narrative. Viviano is professor emeritus at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He also wrote the commentary on Matthew in The New Jerome Biblical Commentary.Matthew is the only Gospel that says anything at all about Magi. You may be surprised to learn that this Gospel does not ascribe number, gender or royal status to the Wise Ones from the East. The traditional number three was deduced from the three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, and the idea that the Magi were kings didn't appear until the fifth century. Matthew's use of the Greek masculine plural magoi for magi can be used inclusively, just as the English word "men" often includes women.But there is more to Viviano's wonderfully provocative claim than grammar. Matthew's Gospel was meant for a Jewish audience. Viviano specializes in examining the book of Matthew in light of its literary connections to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). It is upon this analysis that he bases his arguments about female magoi.According to Viviano, "The main reason to think of the presence of one or more women among the magi is the background story of the queen of Sheba, with her quest for Israelite royal wisdom, her reverent awe, and her three gifts fit for a king."




The first book of Kings, Chapter 10:1-29, narrates the visit of the queen to King Solomon with gifts of gold and spices such as myrrh and frankincense.
Viviano believes viewing the Solomon-Sheba background as a close biblical parallel to the Magi story opens up some "previously neglected possibilities" such as the "wisdom and feminine aspects of the narrative."He points to the Israelite tradition of personifying wisdom as female (Proverbs 8:22-30, 9:1-6 and Sirach 24) and notes that for Matthew, Jesus embodies wisdom (Matthew 11:19, 25-30).Even more compelling to me is that in the Middle East it would have been inconceivable for men to be in the presence of a woman without the presence of other women. Joseph is conspicuously absent when the Magi visit. This is surprising, since Matthew's infancy account normally narrates events from the point of view of Joseph. (In Luke's account, Mary is more prominent).The phrase "the child and his mother" is used five times in the Magi-flight-into-Egypt narrative (Matthew 2:11, 13, 14, 19, 21). For Viviano, "The presence of Jesus' mother Mary is an explicit statement of the presence of a woman at the time of the magi's visit. It is a question of attending to the feminine resonances in the text."
Scholars tell us that the magoi were a caste associated with the interpretation of dreams, astrology, Zoroastrianism and magic. In support of Viviano's thesis, Zoroastrianism allowed women to serve as priests and in ancient Persia there were female astronomers and rulers....."
[A Sister of St. Joseph, Sr. Christine Schenk served urban families for 18 years as a nurse midwife before co-founding FutureChurch, where she served for 23 years. She holds master's degrees in nursing and theology.]

A Call to Action for Justice: Email Governor Scott to Suspend All Executions, Florida is Most "Mistake-Ridden in the Nation"

Phone: (850) 488-7146
Email: Rick.scott@eog.myforida.com

DEATH WARRANT!
Less than 24 hours after the execution of Oscar Bolin, Gov. Rick Scott has ordered the state killing of Mark Asay for March 17 at 6pm. 
Mike Lambrix is scheduled to be executed on February 11 at 6pm.
The U.S. Supreme Court is to rule sometime before June if Florida’s death sentencing scheme is unconstitutional. It is unconscionable that executions would be carried out while awaiting the high court’s decision. 
Florida’s death penalty program is the most mistake-ridden in the nation. Since executions resumed in the 1970’s, Florida has executed 92 people while at the same time 26 people were exonerated and released from Death Row. That’s a rate of more than one exoneration for every four executions. 
Contact Gov. Scott and ask him to suspend ALL executions.
Phone: (850) 488-7146
Email: Rick.scott@eog.myforida.com

The statewide coalition to end executions needs your help now.  Please make the work possible by making a donation today. 
Sent by:
Mark Elliott
Executive Director

Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, fadp.org
FADP
P.O. Box 82943
Tampa, FL 33682

Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is a coalition of organizations and individuals united to abolish the death penalty in Florida

FADP works to build a strong, diverse statewide grassroots movement which:
* Opposes executions
* Supports reforms aimed at reducing the application of the death penalty until it is abolished
* Protects the humanity of all persons impacted by the death penalty
* Educates Floridians about the death penalty
* Provides concrete action steps for individuals and groups

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Catholic Story: Conservative vs. Progressive by Tom Reese/ Sexism in the Catholic Church is One of the Many Reasons for the Decline of Young Catholics in the Pew

http://ncronline.org/blogs/faith-and-justice/catholic-story-conservative-vs-progressive
Bridget Mary Meehan and Alicia Bartol Thomas  co-preside
at liturgy with Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community
in Sarasota, Florida,
www.marymotherofjesus.org


Bridget Mary's Response:
I agree with Tom Reese's  basic analysis. Read full article, click on link above. 
The Roman Catholic Church treats women as second class citizens.Young women and men will not put up with a sexist church that excludes women from priesthood and from decision-making in teachings that affect their lives. Our international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is changing the church one  inclusive, egalitarian, renewed grassroots community at a time. We are in 35 states in the U.S. and in North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. The full equality of women in the church is the voice of God in our time. Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP www.arcwp.org



"...Many American conservative Catholics downplayed Catholic social teaching because it went contrary to their political and economic views or because they felt it would distract attention from the culture wars. They ignored or spun what John Paul and Benedict had to say about war and peace and economic justice. 
I agree with Douthat that the conservative narrative is undercut by the sexual abuse crisis and the continued exodus of people (especially young people) from the church under John Paul and Benedict. I also agree that the progressive narrative is undercut by the rise of the Evangelicals and the decline of the mainline churches. While half those who leave the church become unchurched or "nones," about a third become Evangelical. Few in comparison join mainline churches.
Neither the conservative nor the progressive narrative has a good explanation for the Catholic exodus. My personal belief is that it has little to do with theology and more to do with a desire for emotionally charged worship services and a sense of community, which are absent from most Catholic parishes. 
Narratives are important for explaining the world to ourselves and others. These competing conservative and progressive narratives help define the church of today. Can we have a conversation about them without name calling and stone throwing? I hope so."
Next week, my column, "Welcome to the cafeteria, Ross," will also be on Douthat's piece.
[Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. His email address is treesesj@ncronline.org.]