Sunday, December 17, 2017

Catholic Women Preach: Joan F. Neal, DECEMBER 17, 2017 THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Today’s readings have a distinct theme.  The Prophet Isaiah says “I rejoice heartily in the Lord.  My God is the joy of my soul.”  St. Paul tells us to “Rejoice always.”  In the responsorial psalm, we hear Mary’s words: ‘My soul rejoices in my God.’
In case you haven’t gotten the message by now, today is Gaudete Sunday, the 3rd Sunday in Advent when the Church and Scripture call us to add a new dimension to our waiting and watching – the experience of joy that is the reason for the season. 
Even though we are still in the midst of Advent, waiting patiently – or impatiently as the case may be – for Christmas, the Church tells us it’s not only OK to rejoice but that we must do so because the One Who has changed and will change everything is on the way!
That was Isaiah’s message to the Israelites and Paul’s command to the Thessalonians.  These two Scripture writers told their communities, despite whatever was going on around them, to ‘hold on’ and to wait in joyful hope for the coming of the Lord.
Today, these readings give us that same message. 
Now some of you may be thinking – easy for them to say.  Life was simpler then.  They didn’t have Christmas shopping to do in those times.  They didn’t have to figure out how to pay huge electric bills as a result of burning Christmas lights for two months.  They didn’t have children with Christmas lists longer than they are tall. Easy for them to say ‘rejoice!’.
They probably didn’t have to think about a relative who wouldn’t be joining the rest of the family for Christmas dinner because of a debilitating drug addiction or because they are unfairly and unjustly imprisoned.  They probably didn’t have to worry about a son or daughter being killed by random gun violence while in school or by police brutality while driving the family car.  They probably didn’t have to be concerned about losing the healthcare coverage they only recently were able to afford.  Or to have their whole world turned upside down overnight by the fear of being dragged away and deported back to a country from which they long since fled.
Easy for them to say ‘rejoice’.  They didn’t live in our crazy world -- a world where things seem to change minute by minute, making it hard just to keep up.  Where we are constantly inundated with so much bad news that our reality has become distorted and it’s difficult to see a way out.
Truth be told, with what is going on all around us today, many of us, including myself, find it awfully hard to see a reason to rejoice.  With our world and our country seeming to be so out of control, it’s a challenge to rejoice today, let alone always!
Yet, you might say, we should rejoice, for who among us wouldn’t appreciate more joy in our lives?  Not just fleeting happiness but the real thing – a deep and abiding sense that all is well and all will be well.  The question is how?  How do we find and consistently sustain joy in the midst of our everyday hassles?  How do we find joy in the face of human suffering?  What are we to do?
What are we to do when the number of homeless and displaced people in this country and around the world continues to rise and no new, affordable options are made available?  What are we to do in light of the growth of hate groups and hate crimes in our country? In the face of the growing impatience, incivility and rage in our society that stands in total opposition to our professed Christian and American values?  What should we do when so many people struggle to put food on the table for their families while many with abundance simply ignore their plight?  What are we to do when our children are so influenced by social media, movies and other people that they have lost all sense of morality, of right from wrong?  How do we find and maintain joy in our lives when our society is so out of balance? 
Well, St. Paul offers us his 5-step process.  He says that we should ‘pray without ceasing.’  ‘Give thanks in all circumstances.’  ‘Do not quench the Spirit.’  ‘Test everything; and retain what is good.’  ‘Refrain from every kind of evil.’  Putting these practices into place will most certainly change our lives for the better. 
But personal transformation is not enough.  Pope Francis, in The Joy of the Gospel, provides some more concrete actions to restore right relationship in our world.  He says, ‘work on behalf of those who are poor, eliminate the structural causes of poverty’; ‘promote the integral development of all people’; ‘work for access to education, healthcare and full employment, and against the idolatry of money’; ‘uphold the dignity of every human being, privately and in the public square.’ But most of all, share the ‘Good News of God’s saving love in the person of Jesus, the Christ.’   This is not only the essence of The Good News and the basis of our Christian faith but the way we find joy and peace.  This is indeed how we experience and share joy – the Joy of the Gospel. 
My friends, our God is faithful and Jesus is the source of our joy.  No matter what is going on around us, we are called to hold on to the joy of that vision Isaiah described.  We are called to announce that that vision is being inaugurated on this earth, in this day and at this time. The vision where people are poor no longer, where those whose hearts are broken are healed; where captives and prisoners are set free from whatever is binding them, where there is a year of favor from the Lord and a day of justice and vindication by our God.   We are called to bring about that vision on earth and to return to right relationship with God and with one another.
Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like the kingdom of heaven on earth to me. 
And that is surely a reason to rejoice!   Amen!

My friends, our God is faithful and Jesus is the source of our joy. No matter what is going on around us, we are called to hold on to the joy of that vision Isaiah described. We are called to announce that that vision is being inaugurated on this earth, in this day and at this time. The vision where people are poor no longer, where those whose hearts are broken are healed; where captives and prisoners are set free from whatever is binding them, where there is a year of favor from the Lord and a day of justice and vindication by our God. We are called to bring about that vision on earth and to return to right relationship with God and with one another.

Mindy Lou Simmons Sings Peace Like a River at Third Sunday of Advent Liturgy, Dec. 16, 2017

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Celtic Woman: Home for Christmas YouTube Music Video

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (revised translation) by Barbara Billey ARCWP

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel 
Verse 1      
O come, O come, Emmanuel 
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here 
until the Son of God appears.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel. 
Shall come to you, O Israel.

Verse 2                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
O Come, O Wisdom, Love within creation, 
breathe Your power into our nations; 
to us the path of wisdom show, 
and teach us in Your ways to follow.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel. 
Shall come to you, O Israel.

Verse 3
This holy season calls us to see,
that now, with Christ, we share humanity.
Our women priesthood heralds new birth,
with You, our God we recreate our Church.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Our freedom is near.
The Dawn of Justice shines within us here. 
Barbara J. Billey, M.Ed., M.A., D.Min.,
Registered Psychotherapist

Canadian Certified Counsellor
Registered Canadian Art Therapist

Two Inspirational Videos by Rev. Wendy on Rumi , Answering your Call, Videos Rumi: Just Who Do You Think You Are? |

"I am needed and there is a place for me. You are needed and there is a place for you."

Rumi: Knowing How To Live | Inspirational Series
Published on Aug 21, 2017

Rumi: Answering Your Call | Inspiring Spiritual Talk
Published on Aug 28, 2017

Rumi: Answering Your Call (Recap) | Inspiring Spiritual Talk
Published on Aug 28, 2017

Rumi: Broken Wide Open | Spiritual Teaching

Published on Sep 11, 2017

Military training on Catholic campuses is wrong Protests against ROTC programs continue Dec 16, 2017 by Colman McCarthy, National Catholic Reporter

..."Anchored in Milwaukee, where the Jesuit's Marquette University stitches together a tight fabric of four ROTC programs — Navy, Air Force, Marines and the Army's Golden Eagle Battalion — Bob Graf has long been denouncing the school's militarism. He recalls that "Pope John Paul II said that war is always a failure. Yet we find that Marquette is sponsoring the ROTC which promotes killing and especially killing without reflection. Instinctive killing, which we feel is extremely contrary to the Gospel of Jesus — the Jesus who promoted and taught nonviolent love. Marquette's teaching violent killing is contrary to the Gospel."
Nov. 16, Graf and some 18 others, including members of the Casa Maria Catholic Worker house, vigiled on the Marquette campus, with several holding large-lettered signs with statements like: "Close ROTC. Teach Christian Love, not war" and "ROTC teaches violence and war. Close it."
In the spirit of Gandhi's belief that dialogue with power is essential and sometimes well worth it, the group wended to the Jesuit residence to deliver a letter to the superior explaining their opposition to the school's ties to the military. It was something less than a Christ-like welcome they received.
Graf: "When we entered the Jesuit residence we were told right away that we needed to leave. We asked for the superior and without checking with him were told he was in a meeting. We said we would wait, but a number of Milwaukee police entered the building and said we were trespassing and had to leave immediately." Rather than get further dusted, the group called it a day and departed, their point having been made.
Bordering on the ironic, the militarized Marquette is home to the papers of Dorothy Day. It's not a wild surmise that the archives include letters from the pacifist-anarchist co-founder of the Catholic Worker. On April 15, 1996, Day wrote to Fr. Colman Barry, the president of St. John's University in Minnesota: "I cannot accept the honorary degree you so generously offer. I have had to refuse two other honorary degrees from two other Catholic colleges. (Jesuit and Christian Brothers). … I am sure you understand, dear Fr. Colman, especially right now in view of our country's involvement in Vietnam, our opposition to ROTC and my own necessary involvement in civil disobedience, draft refusal (not draft dodging), etc."
On April 22, 1971, she penned this to Catholic University president Clarence Walton: "It is with all humility that I must refuse your generous offer of an honorary degree. The Catholic Worker stands in a particular way for the poor and the lowly, for people who need some other kind of schooling than that offered by universities and colleges of our capitalist system. I have had to refuse seven colleges and universities for the reason they had ROTC and one way or another receive grants that have to do with war and defense."
Daniel Berrigan, who had several teaching stints at Catholic ROTC schools, shared Day's distain for church and state complicity — though voicing it with a bit more acidity: "It is probably no news," he wrote, "that the showcase Catholic universities boast prestigious theology departments, even while the military marches on their commons. The incongruence of this is, as they say, instructive to the seeking mind. Military presence, military instruction, maneuvers; and then the word of God. … I recall that in the past years I have been invited to the campuses of five religious orders, including my own: Vincentians, Holy Cross, Franciscans, Benedictines, Jesuits. One each campus, theology looms large; on each campus also, ROTC. The Big Buck stalks the Little Book, all but slams it shut. The theologians who consider such matters to be morally grotesque are few."
In Washington on Nov. 16, it was Arthur LaffinKathy Boylan and others from the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker house who gathered at the gate of Georgetown University. The campus ROTC office reports that 27 cadets are in The Hoya Battalion and with an assortment of nine professors including colonels and captains teaching five courses that award academic credit.
In a flyer passed out to students and faculty who either joined the witness or happened to be passing by, Boylan noted that it was Fr. Ignacio Ellicuria, one of the six Jesuits slain in 1989, who was asked in a 1985 interview for his thoughts on Georgetown's hosting an ROTC program. He replied: "Tell the Jesuits of Georgetown that they are committing mortal sin because they are supporting the forces of death which are killing our people."
At the time, one Georgetown Jesuit in full sync with that direness was Fr. Richard McSorley. The pacifist priest, who founded the school's Center for Peace Studies and was a revered classroom professor with large enrollments, regularly stood on the busy campus concourse gripping a sign that asked: "Should we teach life and love or death and hate?" His decades of protesting ROTC, which matched his many arrests for civil disobedience against the Vietnam War, won little faculty support.
In first hour of my fall semester Georgetown class, "Peace Is Possible," I bring my 48 students to the Jesuit cemetery in the center of the campus, there to find Fr. McSorley's grave for a few moments of remembrance. One of those offering a prayer this year was Eliane Lakam, a senior from Cameroon majoring in justice and peace studies and minoring in religion, ethics and world affairs. Fittingly, her opposition to Georgetown's ROTC found her among those at the Nov. 16 rally.
The same day she delivered a 600-word letter to the office of John Degioia, the university's president. In heartfelt, lucid and respectful prose, Lakam, a campus organizer against ROTC, wrote: "I am reaching out to you to share my hope for greater teaching and commitment to active nonviolence. … As I sit in class everyday, I personally find it very troubling that a Christian institution founded on the principles of peace and social justice hosts military training, teaches war and promotes violence as a means to increase the profits for the military-industrial complex. … By hosting a ROTC program, Georgetown University is sending an implicit message to young Christian men and women that it is alright to learn to kill others. … If you wish to discuss the above with me, I am open to it. Thank you so much for reading my opinion … [and] for all that you do."
With a pope who holds back little when condemning war, it has to be wondered why Francis doesn't move past the rhetoric and tell his American Jesuit brothers to rid the military from their campuses. It's a major low of his papacy that he remains silent, just as it is a major high that people of conscience like Bob Graf, Arthur Laffin, Kathy Boylan and my star student Eliane Lakam resist and persist."
[Colman McCarthy directs The Center for Teaching Peace in Washington and has been writing for NCR since 1966. His recent book is Teaching Peace: Students Exchange Letters With Their Teacher."]

Friday, December 15, 2017

Jane Kryzanowski Elected Bishop for RCWP Canada -- Succeeds Marie Bouclin, December 15, 2017

Jane Kryzanowski RCWP, Bishop Elect of Canada

After a year long discernment process, Jane Kryzanowski of Regina was elected bishop for Roman Catholic Women Priests Canada.  She replaces Marie Bouclin of Sudbury who completed her term as bishop. Marie continues as bishop-emerita with a full range of duties corresponding to the needs of the RCWP Canada community.

Jane Beyke Kryzanowski has rural roots in southern Indiana.  She was as a member of the Sisters of Providence, St. Mary-of-the Woods, IN from 1961-69.  While with the community she embarked on her spiritual journey.  She obtained a BA in Religious Studies and Business Education and taught high school in Chicago, IL and Clarksville IN. Being called in other directions, Jane left the community just prior to final vows.  Jane continued her education, earning an MBA from Loyola University, Chicago and pursued a career in Human Resource Management with Xerox Corporation.   Through the years, Jane continued her studies in Theology, Scripture and Pastoral Ministry in a variety of forums.

In 1975 she immigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada following her marriage to Felix Kryzanowski.  She began her own business, Edelweiss Florist, in Humboldt, SK and taught at St. Peter's College, Muenster, SK and for Carlton Trail Regional College, Humboldt. SK.  Being a mother of three daughters, she served in leadership development programs for young girls as a Girl Guide Leader and on the Provincial Board of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Program. Jane has long been involved in pastoral ministry as a volunteer in hospital chaplaincy as well as parish education and committee work.  Since 1992, whef

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy , Third Sunday of Advent December 16, 2017 Presiders: Kathryn Shea, ARCWP and Lee Breyer Music Minister: Mindy Simmons

On the left, Roberta Fuller, a priest from Toronto, Canada (RCWP Canada) participated in our MMOJ 3rd Sunday of Advent Liturgy

Theme: “In the beginning…,” lighting a way down a straighten road.

Welcome and Opening Expression

Presider: Welcome everyone. We have come to break bread and share our blessing as we celebrate the graces we have received and anticipate the presence of our heavenly creator in the person of the earthly Jesus. And let us do so by recognizing each other’s goodness in Karen Drucker’s “We are holy” and will follow that with Jay Murnane’s Advent Prayer.

ALL: We are holy, you are holy, I am holy, we are holy.

Lighting the Advent Candle

ALL: Holy Creator, the day draws near when the glory of Jesus will make radiant the night of the waiting world. You are continually developing and expanding the universe, continually giving birth to all of us on planet earth. We sense the need to be constantly involved in so many ways — efforts to set ourselves free from the pressures of our worlds so that we may more fully give expression to the gospel messages of Jesus.

Presider: lights the third candle as the community prays…

ALL: We light the third candle and remember that in the heart of every person on this earth, and in all that God has created, that there burns the spark of luminous goodness – the presence of the Divine. Let us kindle the light of joy. Amen.

Opening Hymn: “Joy To The World” #80, verses 1,2
(substituting Jesus for Lord and Justice for Savior)

Opening Prayer
Presider: Holy God, you not only directed the drama of the creation of the cosmos, you became one of the actors on earth in the person of Jesus. Through him, you showed us how to live the lives you have blessed us with until we return back home with you. We know that you are always with us and that, however we live and we whatever we may do or think, we will still have your loving care. We pray that we may always be conscious of your presence within us and reflect you well in all we say and do. Amen.
Penitential Rite and Community Forgiveness
Presider: Creator God, to you all hearts are open no desires unknown, and no secrets hidden. We ask you to send your Spirit to us so that we may live more fully according to your will for us and that we may be worthy to be called your blessed people.
ALL: Help us to hear Wisdom’s messages, to faithfully understand them and to use the blessing of her strength to follow them.
Presider: Christ Jesus, we ask for the grace to recognize our continual need to grow in mercy, compassion and caring for ourselves, for our brothers and sisters, and for our planet earth.
ALL: And we join with Jesus in believing that the insight, direction and strength of the Holy Spirit will lead us to deeper dedications to justice, equality, peace and non-violence everywhere….
Presider: And we pray…
ALL: God, grant us the grace of pardon and piece so that we may – in turn – forgive each other our failures to care of one another, this day and always.

Liturgy of the Word
First Reading — Isaiah 61: 1-2, 10-11               ALL: Thanks be to God
Responsorial – Luke 1          ALL: I will greatly rejoice in you, my God
Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24      ALL: Thanks be to God
Gospel Acclamation               ALL: Celtic Alleluia!
Gospel: John 1: 1-8, 19–23   ALL: Glory and praise to our God

Shared Homily/Community Reflections
Homily Starter: How do we see ourselves acting as “a true light to others on the way,” a “John the Baptist making straight our God’s road”?

Profession of Faith
All: We believe in God, the Creator of the Universe, a divine mystery who infuses all that exists, making everything everywhere in the cosmos sacred. We believe in Jesus, the Christ who is our love, our hope, and our light. He is the touch of God to humanity, who leads us to the fullness of life. Through his incarnation, we have become a new people…a holy one called beyond the consequences of our brokenness. We believe in the Spirit, the Breath of God, who keeps the Christ-vision present to all those who are searching for meaning and wholeness in their lives. She is the Sustainer who heals and energizes us when our strengths grow weary in our journeys. We believe that God’s kindom is here with us now and will always be present for those with eyes to recognize it, hearts to receive it, and hands to make it known to everyone.
We say amen to faith, hope, and love. We say amen to the partnership and equality of all people, regardless of gender, race, and beliefs. We say amen to a world of peace and justice for everyone, everywhere, with no exceptions. In all of this, we surely believe.

Prayers of the Community
Presider: We are a people of faith; we believe in the power of prayer. Always mindful of God’s unconditional love and care for each of us, 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.   (community intentions)
Presider: Healing God, we ask you to strengthen us in our concerns 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. 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: “All Good Gifts” #591, verses 1,3
(substituting God for Lord)
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 prepared for our use. It will become for us the bread of life.
ALL: Blessed be God forever.

Presider: Blessed are you, God of Creation, 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
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 blessed meal. (The invitation is for all to come to the 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 gift of compassion especially all those who are marginalized and oppressed. May we love tenderly, act with justice, and walk humbly with you in solidarity with our sisters and brothers everywhere. And may we always live as prophetic witnesses to the gospel of Jesus. Amen.
Presider: Let us give thanks to the Creator of all that exists.
ALL: With hearts full of love, we give God thanks and praise.
Presider: Let us show our gratitude to Jesus who has shared with us his life-vision.
ALL: Open our hearts to your gospel message through your words and actions while on this earth.
Presider: Let us recognize the presence of the Spirit among us gathered at the family table.
ALL: Fill us with reverence for our Creator, for one another, and for all creation.
Presider: Our God, Emanuel, is not only “with us,” God dwells in each one of us.
ALL: Namaste!

Eucharistic Prayer
Voice 1: Ever living and ever-loving God, it is through you that we live and move and have our very being. And we know that in the days to come, that Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead, will be a foretaste and promise of the paschal feast of heaven. Her dwelling with us gives us everlasting hope of unending peace and joy with you. And so, 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. Through him, you breathe life into us. He was moved by his vision of your constant presence in everyone he met, everywhere he went. He revealed you in everything he did in his life well lived. And he showed us, through his example, not only how we should live, but also for what is worth dying.
Voice 3: And when his time on earth had come to an end, 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 a personal example of this insight for the understanding of people in ages to come, he opened wide his arms and died. Then the Spirit, one stronger than death, raised Jesus to life, showing everyone that life is eternal and that love is immortal. Jesus is with us – and lives in us – today as he will through the end of time.
ALL: O God, let your Spirit of life, healing and wholeness come upon these gifts – this simple wheat and wine. May She make them holy so that they will become for us the Body and Blood of Jesus, our brother.
(With an outstretched arm, we 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, broke the bread and gave it to 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]
In the same way, Jesus took the cup of wine. He said the blessing and gave it to his friends 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.
Presider: Jesus, who was with God “in the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth,” is with us today in this bread. The Spirit, whom the prophets spoke of centuries ago in history, is with us today in this cup.   Let us proclaim this mystery of faith.
ALL: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ lives in us in the world today.
Voice 4: In memory of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we offer you, God, this life-giving bread, this saving cup. May all who share this sacred meal be brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit. And may that Spirit, that Wisdom, that moved in Jesus move as freely in our lives as She did in his.
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 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. (3x)
ALL: (holding hands): Our Father and Mother, who are in heaven, blessed is your name…..
Presider: God, we have just prayed that your kindom may come among us. Grant that we may open our hearts to make it real and our hands to serve one another.

The Sign of Peace
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 your peace. O God, following the example of Jesus and with the strength of the Spirit, help us spread that peace through our words and actions to everyone, everywhere, with no exceptions. Amen.
Presider:  May the peace of God be always with us, and let us extend that peace to one another as we hold hands.
Let There Be Peace on Earth”  #532
Litany for the Breaking of the Bread

Presider: Loving God…. ALL: you call us to Spirit-filled service and to live the Gospel of peace and justice, we will live justly.
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.
Presider: Loving God… ALL: you call us to speak truth to power. We will walk humbly with you.
Presider: This is Jesus, who liberates, heals, and transforms us and our world. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love. All: We are all the Body of Christ.
Communion Hymn: Instrumental
After Communion Song/Reflection: “Peace Like A River” – Mindy Simmons
Prayer of Thanksgiving after Communion
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 and mothering love for all.   And may wonder and thanksgiving fill us with knowledge, understanding and experience of your love and compassion for us, your sacred people. We ask this in the name of Mary’s son, Jesus the Christ.   All: Amen.

Introductions, Gratitudes, Announcements

Closing Community Blessing

ALL:  May our hearts be glad on our journey as we dream new dreams, see new visions, and create a new heaven and earth.
May we live and work for compassion and peace, justice and non-violence in our hearts and in those of everyone we meet.
May we learn to bless and honor and hold in reverence all creation, the earth, and one another.

Closing Community Commissioning  
Presider: Loving God, we have looked for others to save us and to save our world. Yet, we have been called and blessed, and are now commissioned and sent into the world to create cultures of peace and justice. May our light shine for all to see, and may our name be a blessing and guide for the “coming of the kindom” of God.
Presider: As we leave here in the peace of Christ, let us be the people that God created us to be. Let us be the light of today’s gospel…let us “make straight the way of Our God.”

ALL: Thanks be to God. Let it be so!

Closing Community Hymn: “This Little Light of Mine”
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine 3 X Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel? NO! 3 X I’m gonna let it shine, Let it shine 3X
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine 3 X, Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

ARCWP- Colombia- Wishes you a Merry Christmas, and our best wishes for Happy New Year for 2018

Christmas teaches us
that God is found
in the periphery and not in the center,
in the manger and not in the palace,
tiny and fragile, like hope,
and in diapers, that is,
waiting to grow
your presence and your message
In our world.

The Nativity at the Vatican, Like Nothing You Have Ever Seen There Before!


15 December 2017 | by CNS

Why the Nativity scene in St Peter's Square is not exactly getting rave reviews

The Nativity scene in St. Peter's Square is not getting rave reviews: the backdrop does not look like a stable and the characters in need – hungry, naked, dead, imprisoned – don't exactly evoke a silent night when all was cozy, calm and bright.
In addition to Mary and Joseph – baby Jesus will appear only on Christmas – the scene includes figures of people who illustrate the ongoing need for the corporal works of mercy, including feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, burying the dead, caring for the sick and visiting those in prison.
Franciscan Father John Puodziunas, a friar from Philadelphia who is now general treasurer of the Order of Friars Minor, said he didn't like it at first.
As he stood in St. Peter's Square, he said he realised "this really captures what I believe the Nativity set is about. It's about 'Where am I today? Where is the world today? Where is the church today?'"
Vayican NatgivityThe Vatican display, he said, "brings the manger scene into our present world reality to remind us that this is a God who continues to step into our world. It isn't just something that happened 2,000 years ago."
According to legend, it was St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of Father Puodziunas' order, who invented the Nativity scene in 1223 by bringing straw, an ox and an ass to the side of a hill where Christmas Mass was about to be celebrated.
Father Puodziunas conceded Nativity scenes may have been around before St. Francis brought one to life in Greccio, Italy, but the Franciscan is certain the friars were responsible for spreading the tradition and bringing it into people's homes.
"Why did St. Francis do the crib scene on the side of the mountain? Because the people were not able to receive the child into their lives," he said. Back then, like today, the obstacles may have been "busyness or anger or war or the past or concerns."
But by bringing the people of Greccio to the manger, he said, St. Francis hoped they would be able to experience again the power and awe of God taking human flesh, becoming one of them and then offering his life for them.
"The whole idea of the crèche speaks to so many feelings and emotions we have," Father Puodziunas said. "The child, manger, animals, night, outdoors, emptiness" – they all communicate feelings that endure through time and can be recreated anywhere.
St. Francis, he said, was focused on "the crèche and the cross. The wood of the manger becomes the wood of the cross. This Christ that steps into a messy world – whether at the time of Christ, the time of St. Francis or our own time – is the same Christ that takes us to the cross and is the source of our salvation."
While there probably was a catechetical element to St. Francis' crèche, Father Puodziunas believes it was more spiritual and experiential than education. "It was about making the story of Christ come alive in their lives.... This child steps into the world we have today, into our own lives, not as a child, but as a saviour."
The scene also is a reminder of humanity's poverty, not in the sense of things that people do not have, but in the sense that there is a void in everyone that only God can fill, he said. "Love, peace, mercy, freedom, joy -- these are the real poverties of the world" and the gifts that the Christ child brings.
Vatican nativitySt. Francis believed that "we're not all that bad," but that God steps into the world to offer more, he said.
"As pretty as our manger sets are," he said, "the reality is that that first manger wasn't a pretty sight and that the world that this child steps into isn't always pretty. And yet, this child chooses to step into this world."
The inclusion of animals in a Nativity scene not only helps illustrate Jesus' birth in a stable, he said. "Clearly, the Incarnation touches all of creation" and "all things are created for the purpose of praising God."
But, he said, "we are not a 'Hallmark Christmas' people," life gets messy, but in the Gospel Jesus talks about the truth being revealed to the smallest children.
As they "grow up," Father Puodziunas said, many people build walls and other obstacles to experiencing God's love for them and to seeing how God is stepping into their lives.
When he was in parish ministry, he said, he would bring the little children up to the Nativity scene and tell them there was something they must tell their parents and older siblings "because they forget," and that is: "Jesus is born." And after Mass, he would tell them, "You need to bring them up to the manger scene."

(Pics: Life-size statues depict the corporal work of mercy of visiting the sick in the Nativity scene in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Dec. 14. Credit: CNS photo/Junno Arocho Esteves)