Sunday, March 28, 2004

Welcoming Communities

Here is a community that could become a teaching moment for all of us

To enhance the life of the St.F.X. community

through a welcoming Martha presence

conducive to the development of persons.

Wellspring offers an oasis experience to students, staff and faculty who come for quiet reflection and study, to eat lunch, to make and meet friends. All events and activities held at Wellspring are in light of its mission to serve the Xaverian family in the Martha tradition of hospitality to all.

I love just using the initials for your order's founder, St. F.X. Their retreat center also seems open to all spirituality and those on a God path. They have a retreat in Muslim prayer and this interesting topic.

The Universe Story

A six-session study exploring material that bridges the gap between ecology and Christian spirituality, using the book Earthspirit: Nurturing an Ecological Christianity, by Michael Dowd.

Michael Dowd is endorsed by Universalists and pastors a liberal Protestant church, so you know his ideas will fit right in to a Catholic retreat center.

This picture looks very welcoming to me.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Progressive works of mercy

My Sisters and I were doing some spring cleaning as is our habit (sorry habit jokes die hard even though we have long since given them up) and going through some storage we found some old prayer books. We sat around reading from them and had a good laugh at all the "boys in Rome" had previously tried to play upon us. We came upon the "The Spiritual Works of Mercy" which some of us still remembered from school as we were growing up. They were hopelessly outdated, yet some still had some vapor of practically attached to them.

Admonish the sinner - What a harsh judgmental phrase that betrays a lack of compassion, understanding and intelligence. This implies an us against them mentality separating out the human race between those who have the divine christ-child within and those who do not.

Instruct the ignorant - As a community we have attempted to do this. We have found that there are many in great need of being instructed by us. We have even ordered subscriptions to the Crisis, Wanderer, National Catholic Register and other periodicals and have spilled much ink writing letters to them instructing them in the correct viewpoint. Yet they have been hard-headed and resistant to our message.

Counsel the doubtful - To doubt is to be truly human. To cease to doubt is to become a fanatic and a rigorist. This very spiritual work tries to imply that there are some absolutes that you should not be doubtful of. To not be doubtful is to accept a hard-wired orthodoxy without deviation as your spirit might move you.

Bear wrongs patiently - There is some merit to this one and the practice of it can lead to a intellectual strengthening. We can despair in that the institutional church has still not allowed our inner feminine priesthood to come out into the light of the sanctuary. That women's rights are still seen by the church as women's wrongs. That the church is still more concerned about what goes on in the bedrooms compared to what goes on in the boardrooms. If we bear these injustices patiently we will show them true progressive witness.

Comfort the sorrowful - This is tied to the last spiritual work. Many of these hierarchical injustices can drive us to sorrow. We must nurture those who have experienced such actions against them and comfort them in the knowledge that progress conquers all.

Forgive all injuries - We must forgive one another. We celebrate the diversity of God's people and work to further an appreciation of our differences. Genders, races, classes, and religions must live in mutual respect if society is to flourish, unless of course they are conservatives.

Pray for the living and the dead - This very statement has the taint of the medieval theological construct of purgatory in it. That we are not already perfect and deserving of God's infinite love. Would God as a loving mother deny us the opportunity to be at her side upon bodily death. This whole construct was just an excuse for opportunistic males to get some extra money and influence selling indulgences.

To ensure that future generations of or community might not be contaminated with such theological drivel we organized a book "warming" with marshmallows and progressive holy ghost stories in order to rid themselves of the "offensive spirit" contained within.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Maverick Medium

WAYNE, N.J. -- The Rev. Janet Nohavec, wearing a long purple velvet dress and a strand of pearls, is doing what she does every Sunday.

During the Journey Within Spiritualists' National Union Church's weekly service, the former Sister of Charity demonstrates her power as a medium, after three decades of hiding it.

After prayers, hymns and a homily, the demonstration begins. Nohavec picks a woman out of the crowd of 45. Nohavec tells her the name Jim or James is important to her and that someone close to her died in a car or motorcycle accident. The woman tells the congregation that her nephew James died in a car accident; that very day was the anniversary of his death.

Gasps and whispers ripple through the congregation, which meets in a wedding chapel at a catering hall. Nohavec later explains the interaction between her and the recipients of her messages. "I need their participation to validate [the message]," Nohavec, 47, says in her office at The Angel Within, her metaphysical gift shop in Wayne. "If the message is going really well and the recipients are in the right place, I'm not going to get many no's."

... "The . . . goal is to have an alternative place for people to worship who are not fitting into traditional religions," says Nohavec. (article)

What I do not understand is why Rev. Janet Nohavec thought it necessary to leaver her order. Maybe the Sisters of Charity are not as future oriented as my own order. We would have no intrinsic difficulties with a spiritual alignment such as hers. All directed paths of a spiritual nature have their end in a god/deity/imagination flux.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Sister Christer

I found this blog by someone who I believe is a kindred sister, Sister Christer. She is a Dominican Sister of San Rafael, Ca. Don't be put off by the picture of what might at first glance look like her praying the rosary, it is actually a picture of her knitting. Even though this activity is a traditional and normally oppressive feminine stereotype; she seems to have integrated it well into her peace and justice undertakings.

My friend, Chad, says I should get a t-shirt that says, I Knit and I Vote. Hee. Peace and knitting seem to me to go hand in hand (or is that needle in hand?) Recently I caught a story on PRI about the knitters in San Francisco who didn't feel comfortable stopping traffic, so they sat down on the sidewalk and knitted for peace (link)

She also seems to have all the right links except for a couple of strange exceptions. She must have thought the title for Relapsed Catholic was someone of our mindset instead of that venomous Canadian women. At least the link to the Corner is not that right-wing NRO vestige but a wonderful progressive site instead.

Sister Christer posts reflections from a book by Robert Ellsberg. This book has the old-school saints but includes true Saints like Simone Weil and Van Gogh. From her side bar links I found this excellent review of this referenced book, All Saints : Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time

Reviewer: Jennifer Gagliardi ( from San Jose, CA USA
I have always been attracted to books of "lives of the saints" but have always been disappointed by the author's "collection". Often the "saint" makes the collection because they were undeniably orthodox or their passion was plastered over to make them presentable. The collections were eurocentric, patriarchal, & pious reflecting a narrow, self-satisfied god. Ellsberg's "All Asaints" is happily all-inclusive, revealing the myriad facets of God, the Lover of Creation. The sole standard which the author seems to use is how the individual manifested his/her relationship with God by pursuing agape between desperate communities via prayer, mysticism, ecumenism, interfaith dialogue, social justice, political empowerment, education, gender equity, environmentalism, healthcare, journalism, communication, and good ol'-fashion "Speaking to the Truth". Ellsberg's "all saints" are people of passion & compassion--flesh & blood & spirit. The book is intelligently written, with suggestions for further reading. I unreservedly recommend this book. Seldom has a book so resonated with me--I read it before my evening devotions & it draws me into the heart of prayer. Kudos!

I am stunned by the ephemeral and intellectual beauty of this review and can admit to feeling envy for not writing it myself. I have printed this review out to laminate and meditate on the wonder at all of these deep and progressive thoughts contained in such a picayune paragraph.

In that same link section title Brain Food she lists at the top Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code"

Lighthouse to Wayfarers

Now married and no longer a priest, Woolever remains a communicant at St. Andrew, which bolsters his faith as a community activist. The parish has become a comfortable space for former nuns and priests, including Bill Cuddy, director of the Jail Ministry.

"As a lighthouse to spiritual wayfarers, our parish has tithed on a relatively meager income for almost 40 years to support the works of mercy," Woolever reflects now. "It has sustained a sister community relationship in a Third World country {Nicaragua}, offered liturgical space to a gay-lesbian community, inviting them to integrate to the degree they feel comfortable, worked for peace in the face of war-making, and stepped forward to urge a moratorium on the death penalty. By this we have set an example that other parishes are beginning to follow, as the clergy shortage deepens. While the composition of the parish has changed significantly over the years, the essential spirit and mission have remained. Holding to this vision should be a cause for celebration."

..."St. Andrew became a progressive parish," McSweeny notes, "and began to draw from all over Onondaga County and now includes a couple of families from Madison County."

According to St. Andrew's pastor the Rev. James Mathews, who also pastors St. Lucy's parish, the 250-family congregation is drawn by the progressive spirit. "That's why they assemble," he says. According to Mathews, that spirit is the legacy of Father Joe Kane, now retired at 80, "who was open to so many things. He would welcome new ideas and different ways of thinking about things."

The first lay homily in 1966 set a precedent that continues today. During petitions, two prayers offered, one for a woman's right to choose and one for the unborn on the same day underscores the uniqueness at St. Andrew, where a call for action-group lobbies for reforms within the church.

"We take care of each other," McSweeny says, "and then we move out into the community to take care of others." (Source)

This parish really sounds like it has a welcoming worship environment. I endorse the fact that they have dropped following documents from Rome as liturgical law and instead re-visioned them as guidelines instead. Allowing homilies to be more inclusive and not just the domain of the priest-conductor. Offering prayers for the unborn and for choice is the very model of the clear thinking and open-mindedness of the modern progressive church. I truly encourage "different ways of thinking about things" just as long as they are not those harmful traditional ideas. But since they have "offered liturgical space to a gay-lesbian community" I do not worry that such will happen there.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Change of Heart

I have had a change of heart with regards to commenting. I saw the hypocrisy of my desiring equality and at the same time to deny others the rights to interface in my mission sphere. So I will keep an open mind to any comments and will ask the feminine wisdom of Sophia to inspire my commenters.


BOTHELL, Wash. (AP) - A minister being tried by the United Methodist Church for being a lesbian said Thursday that her case could be a turning point for the church.

As she entered a church in this Seattle suburb for the start of the second day of her trial, the Rev. Karen Dammann said she feels no animosity toward her church or her jury of fellow pastors, who will determine whether she should continue her ministry.

"I don't take it personally. It's the process winding its way to a conclusion," she said.

I know how she feels. The 1960s were such a time of hope in the church where we expected the Holy Spirit to blow a wind of fresh air to wipe out the stodginess of traditional viewpoints. On my way into religious life I was told that soon we would finally eliminate institutional church sexism that placed a stained glass ceiling on women. That any day, finally the right to the priesthood would be accessible to all regardless of gender. We were assured that Vatican II would finally strike a blow for equality.

This hope for the time being has been crushed. As succeeding popes continue to oppress the divine feminine and to carry on its misandrist theology. Maybe the next pope will finally be the one to bring equality to the altar.

At least the Methodists accepted the democracy of the laity and finally allowed women priests. So just hang in there Rev. Karen Dammann. Your oppressed sisters are with you in spirit. I believe that once the Methodists abandoned the stifling weight of tradition on women priests it will not be too much longer before they do the same with sexuality.

Rev. Mary Biko has such a nice right to it. Hopefully I will live to see it happen.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

The Passion of the Christ Review

I was chosen by my community to be the guinea pig to go and see Mel Gibson's the Passion of the Christ to determine if it might possibly have any redeeming value.

It was no surprise to me that it did not. Not only does it cast the devil in the shape of a women it goes downhill from there.

Pilate's wife is shown in the role of giving towels to Mary. Could they not have dignified her with some other task? Why the action of a servant instead of the power-feminism and the influence she had over her husband? Then Mary is seen wiping up the blood of Jesus after the scourging. Again casting women in a reactive role and doing only menial tasks as a servant would do. This is just plan feminine stereotyping.

All the violence and blood was just extreme and pornographic. I know we have a crucifix somewhere in our faith community and it certainly didn't look like that. Nice clean porcelain with a couple minor blood streaks is much more accurate.

Trying to show us that the weight of human sins required such a horrible execution is just so judgmental.

Seeing Mary and Mary Magdalene at the Cross with the Apostle John only reminded me of the narrow-mindedness of the church. Two out of three were women at the cross yet we are barred by a male dominated hierarchy from the priesthood. Is this equality? Is this what Jesus truly wanted. But we have always been treated as such by the male church. When Mary Magdalene reported to the Apostles on Easter that Jesus had risen, did they believe her. When a women in a priestly role anointed the foot of Jesus all the males complained about this action. But Jesus said he wanted it to be remembered for all time. He wanted us to remember that women could anoint also in their feminine priesthood.

Stay away from this film if you want to retain your faith.

Commonweal comes through

Rachelle Linner a writer at Commonweal has done an article on St. Blogs Church subtitled "America’s most vibrant parish?" Finally a view of common sense view I can agree with on the weblogs that pass themselves off as Catholic thought.

St. Blog’s, with some exceptions, tilts decidedly to the conservative side of the Catholic culture wars. The tenor of a site can frequently be ascertained from its title or tag line—The Fifth Column (“Orthodox Catholic commentary on current events”), Magisterial Fidelity, Against the Grain (authored by the man who maintains the Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club). One gets a quick sense of a blog’s politics from the organizations its author provides links to. This is not unlike checking out the publication rack in the back of a church; regrettably, in this electronic parish rack, Commonweal is less visible than Crisis and First Things.

....Curiously, women religious are absent from St. Blog’s. An absence explained by the conservative bent of many blogs, or just a function of statistics?

Obviously she was not able to find my weblog. This is understandable since this fascist conservative blogs have not been enlightened enough to link to me. They have a lack of understanding of true social justice and they are not egalitarian enough to place me on their blogrolls. Are they afraid that people subjected to the truth of the progressives in the Catholic Church's point of view might cause their readership to abandon them for more fruitful shores.

The traditionalist blogs are one response to the weakening of Christian certainty—in this case, a negative response—one that often displays a judgmental attitude and a corrosive cynicism about the “secular” world. There are other ways to respond to the erosion of certainty. It could be an invitation for growth in faith, a need to rely on the fruits of the Holy Spirit (especially charity and patience), and a relaxed awareness that it’s not our responsibility to separate the wheat from the tares.

I could not have said it better. Thank you Ms. Linner.

Preparation for Lent

In the tradition of the church during the time of Lent the Gloria, Alleluia and the Te Deum are not said.

Since we never do these in our faith community anyway, this was not much of a penitential act.

One of our sisters jokingly said that we should give up saying "affirming" during Lent. This would be a very harsh penitential act. But if this will help us to be better sisters in the pursuit of ecological stewardship and social justice then this would be a very affirming act. Oh, I guess this penance will be harder than I thought.