Friday, June 20, 2014

Mary McAleese, a Thorn in the Church's Side or a Prophet whom the Pope Should Hire?

http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/a-thorn-in-the-church-s-side-1.1840003#vf-5516200000399

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community: Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ/June 22, 2014 by Rev. Beverly Bingle, RCWP

I wasn't even 20 years old
the first time I got turned down as a blood donor.
Back then they did a test where they put a drop of blood into a vial,
and it had to sink, but mine floated--I was anemic.
Over the years I've been able to give once or twice a year,
and I usually prepare
by taking iron pills or eating avocados for a week.
For me there's always been that tense moment
waiting to see if my blood is good enough to give.
When it is, it's time for rejoicing
because the act of donating blood
is a spiritual experience for me.
_____________________________________
First, there's the eight or ten minutes it takes for the pint to flow out,
time when I think of the person
whose health may be improved--
or even whose life may be saved--
because of a transfusion.
I pray for them.
Then I remember Jesus, how he poured out his life tending people,
how he shed his blood on the cross
because he chose to speak truth to power
and remain true to his values.
And I say a prayer of gratitude.
Then I think of the folks who would like to give blood but can't--
people who are too young or too sick,
people who are just getting over a bout of cancer,
people who have traveled to countries
where they've been exposed to blood-borne diseases,
people who have to take certain medications,
people who hate getting poked by needles.
And I pray for them, knowing they will give in other ways.
And after I finish donating my pint of blood,
I'll head for the table where donors have to wait
to make sure they're okay before they leave.
There will be a plate of cookies, and I'll take one.
I'll break a piece off
and remember all the Eucharists I've celebrated in my life,
including today's [tonight's],
and I'll talk with the other blood donors--
strangers who are briefly connected with me in this way--
and I'll pray for all the strangers I'll never meet
who are also connected with me
by virtue of our existence and God's grace.
_____________________________________
The next time I give blood I'll also be thinking of Lonnie,
a 20-something who breakfasts down at Claver House.
He's a Baptist who graduated from a Catholic High School
and a Lutheran College.
Well-spoken, well-groomed.
A political science major, interesting to talk with.
Lonnie also did some time in the prison at Stryker,
so now he's jobless.
I found that out last week
when he left Claver as soon as he finished breakfast
so he could donate the plasma
that earns him just over $300 a month
so he can rent a room to stay in.
So I'll pray for Lonnie
and the hundreds of other Toledoans
who literally bleed twice a week
so they can stay straight and make it on the streets.
_____________________________________
One of the things that strikes me
about our study of Michael Morwood
and the other philosophers, scientists, and theologians
who are exploring the reality of our world these days
is that we are all connected.
Ever since the Big Bang--the Cosmic Hatch--
energy and matter have danced in relationship,
forming the dynamic, evolving, ever-changing patterns
that we know as creation.
I'll be thinking of that connectedness next time I donate blood.
I'll pray that, before it's too late,
we humans will recognize
our responsibility for the harm we are doing
to the very planet that supports our life.
_____________________________________
In a few minutes
we'll pray over the bread and wine at our Eucharistic table.
We recognize the Spirit of God among us,
and in each of us,
and in our assembly,
and in the bread and wine.
We remember how Jesus said,
"This is my Body"
and "This is my Blood,"
how his life of prayer and service
led him to express intuitively
the reality that science is only now pointing to:
that we are one with all of creation.
We will share the bread and wine,
and in doing so we will share the Body and Blood of Christ.
When we say "Amen" to the bread and wine--
to the Body and Blood of Christ--
we will say yes to our holy connectedness
to God
and the universe
and each other.
_____________________________________
Next weekend I'll be dropping in
at the 26th Annual Interfaith Blood Drive
to see if there's enough iron in my blood to donate this time.
If you can donate blood, I hope you'll be there, too.
If not. I hope you'll pray for all the people who need our blood--
the blood of our bodies,
the blood of our Eucharist,
the blood of our service,
the blood of our very lives.

--
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 9 a.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
www.holyspirittoledo.org

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
419-727-1774

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Stand in Solidarity with Mormon Women/Appeal from Women's Ordination Conference



As you may know, Kate Kelly, human rights lawyer and founder of the Mormon group Ordain Women faces excommunication for seeking equality and ordination for women in the Mormon faith. This Sunday, Kate faces a "disciplinary council" where she may present her "defense," to three male judges. 

WOC stands in solidarity with Kate and all who work and pray courageously for equality in our religious institutions and in our world.
Take Action: 
  • More than 50 vigils will take place in 17 countries this Sunday in support of Kate. See the location map, and attend a vigil near you. (Consider holding a "Catholics in Solidarity With Our Mormon Sisters" sign and tweet it to @OrdainWomen & @OrdainLDSWomen) 
  • Send a letter of support that will be presented during Kate's "disciplinary council" along with her own "defense" in abstentia.
  • Create an "Ordain Women" profile picture on Facebook or Twitter. These emblazoned photos (like the photo above) are a great way to show support and start a conversation on social media. Instructions here.
  • Save the date for the second annual Equal in Faith interfaith prayer service and fast. (More info coming soon!)
Learn More: 

  • LDS Spokeswoman responds on NPR West. Around the 13:15 minute mark: "Where in Mormon doctrine does it say women cannot have the priesthood?"
In Solidarity,
Kate Conmy & Erin Saiz Hanna
WOC Staff

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pope And Archbishop of Cantebury Battle Human Trafficking/ Disagree on Women Priests

http://newsok.com/pope-archbishop-of-canterbury-battle-trafficking/article/feed/700118/?page=2
..."Welby said cooperation was key. "It is a crime that we all need to overcome as a matter of urgency, as a matter of human dignity, freedom and wholeness of life," he said.
Welby, however, acknowledged that while Catholic and Anglicans are working together in this area, "there are matters of deep significance that separate us."
The Catholic Church doesn't permit women to be ordained priests, much less bishops, on the grounds that Christ's apostles were all male. Anglican churches in Australia, New Zealand and the United States already have women serving as bishops. The Church of England's dioceses have all voted to do the same and the church's Governing Synod is expected to take a final vote next month."
Bridget Mary's Response: Too bad, the Pope does not make the connection between the violence and abuse in women in society is related to discrimination against women in religion! The Roman Catholic Church could follow the Anglican Church's example and ordain women as an issue of Gospel equality and justice.  Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.arcwp.org

Dear Pope Francis: It's Time for Talk, Not Hate Filed By Mark Segal

http://www.bilerico.com/2014/06/dear_pope_francis_its_time_for_talk_not_hate.php|
"Your Holiness,
Your archdiocese here in Philadelphia stands alone as the only archdiocese in the nation to charter buses to the March for Marriage, an anti-LGBT rally in Washington, D.C. At the rally there will almost certainly be speakers who label the LGBT community as dangerous, a people of sin, immoral and inhuman - and these, your Holiness, are the polite terms.
This effort has a price tag of $5,000 for the chartered buses, and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC), in lockstep with the archdiocese, is also providing promotional efforts for the event. When Philadelphia Gay News called to ask for comment, the archdiocese claimed to have received the $5,000 through a donation, and offered no further details.
This occurs at a time when the archdiocese is closing churches and schools. It seems that the PCC is taking time away from their previous high-priority tasks: requesting state tax dollars for church-sponsored organizations and lobby ing state representatives not to change the statute of limitations so that the church is not liable for the older cases of child abuse.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput (right) says: "Laws that defend the traditional definition of marriage were enacted for sound reasons-namely to defend the rights of children and contribute to the well-being of the larger community." By that very statement he insults the children now living in same-sex marriages and makes their lives much more difficult. The church should be embracing families, not insulting them. He further went on to describe gay relationships as working against human dignity.
The law in Pennsylvania has been changed, and the legal battle over marriage equality is over. And with Pennsylvania, 44% of the nation now has marriage equality, and each remaining state without it has similar court cases in the pipeline, a fact that the opposition should note.
In the last 15 cases, each of those 15 courts - including many judges appointed or recommended by Republicans - have found that in the U.S., denying marriage to LGBT people is unconstitutional. Why must the Archbishop continue to enrage the community?
The Archbishop has yet to even meet with members of the LGBT community, and he continues along with PCC to stand in the doorway of enacting non-discrimination in Pennsylvania.
It's time for talk, not hate."

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sister Delio Responds to Cardinal Müller's remarks about conscious evolution/National Catholic Reporter

http://globalsistersreport.org/column/speaking-god/spirituality-trends/renewing-conversation-between-faith-and-science-2486

"During his opening remarks, which were posted on the Vatican website, Cardinal Müller criticized LCWR for a “focalizing of attention” around the “concept of Conscious Evolution,” stating that “the fundamental theses of Conscious Evolution are opposed to Christian Revelation.”
Last August, Ilia Delio, a Sister of St. Francis of Washington, D.C., gave the keynote address “Religious Life at the Edge of the Universe,” at the 2013 LCWR Assembly. Global Sisters Report asked Sr. Delio to respond to Cardinal Müller's remarks about conscious evolution...
In his recent conversation with leaders of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), expressed a concern about the LCWR focusing attention on the concept of conscious evolution, a concept fundamental to the work of Barbara Marx Hubbard who addressed the LCWR assembly in 2012. Cardinal Müller said that “such an intense focus on new ideas such as conscious evolution has robbed religious of the ability truly to sentire cum Ecclesia (to think with the Church and embrace its teachings).”
He continued: “The fundamental theses of conscious evolution are opposed to Christian Revelation and, when taken unreflectively, lead almost necessarily to fundamental errors regarding the omnipotence of God, the incarnation of Christ, the reality of Original Sin, the necessity of salvation and the definitive nature of the salvific action of Christ.”
While it is possible that the Cardinal’s words were extracted from a broader conversation, his concern offers an opportunity to say a few words about conscious evolution and, more broadly, the mutual engagement of science and religion.
The term “conscious evolution” was not coined by Barbara Marx Hubbard, although she has made significant contributions in understanding the implications of conscious evolution for our age. The term itself emerges from the sciences of evolutionary biology, quantum physics and cognitive neuroscience, among others. The term does not belong to science per se but is descriptive of our species, Homo sapien sapien: evolution brought to self-reflective awareness. To use the words of the renowned Jesuit Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “We are the universe become conscious of itself.” We are the ones “who know that we know” (Homo sapien sapiens); hence it is important to reflect on our choices and decisions for the future. Conscious evolution refers to the idea, expressed by Teilhard, that we humans are the arrow of evolution, the crest of the ongoing evolution of the universe. We are co-creators of an unfinished evolutionary process toward more being..."
...Religious women and men around the world are catching Teilhard’s fire; it is igniting a new passion for the Gospel, new meaning of Christian life in a world of change. It is good that the Vatican has expressed concern about conscious evolution. We all need to be concerned because we are co-creators; our decisions do make a difference as to how all life and, in particular, Christian life will proceed in the future. I hope that Cardinal Muller’s words will evoke new conversations on faith and science in a way that understanding will deepen, insights will broaden, new horizons of faith will emerge and the Gospel will take on new meaning in light of conscious evolution. As St. John Paul II exclaimed: “Be not afraid, open, open wide to Christ the doors of the immense domains of culture, civilization and progress."

Former Irish President Mary McAleese Describes Pope's Plan to Consult Bishops on Family, "Completely Bonkers" Do you agree?

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/religion-and-beliefs/mcaleese-says-asking-bishops-to-advise-pope-on-family-life-bonkers-1.1834452
"Former president Mary McAleese has described as “completely bonkers” Pope Francis’s plan to ask a synod of bishops to advise him on whether church teaching on the family should change. She said there was “just something profoundly wrong and skewed” about asking “150 male celibates” to review the Catholic Church’s teaching on family life. Commenting on a planned October synod in Rome on the issue, she said: “The very idea of 150 people who have decided they are not going to have any children, not going to have families, not going to be fathers and not going to be spouses - so they have no adult experience of family life as the rest of us know it - but they are going to advise the pope on family life; it is completely bonkers...While the pope said he wanted a new role for women in the church, discussion of women priests was off the table, while other senior roles in the Vatican continue to be filled by men in a manner which lacked transparency.“You don’t need a new theology of women, you just need to end the old boys club,” she said.
Bridget Mary's Response: I agree with President Mary McAleese. Do you agree? Bridget Mary Meehan, www.arcwp.org

Priests' letter to nuncio denounces Venice, Fla., bishop, Frank Dewane/ by Tom Roberts/National Catholic Reporter Atmosphere of Fear of Retribution Among Priests

"A group of 10 priests in the diocese of Venice, Fla., describing what they said had become an "intolerable" situation, took the highly unusual step earlier this year of composing a letter severely critical of their bishop, Frank Dewane, and sending it to the pope's representative in the United States.
The letter, addressed to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the papal nuncio, accuses Dewane of ignoring or violating canon law, abandoning consultative processes and ruling by "intimidation, the use of fear, shaming, bullying and other non-Christian behaviors."
The letter, dated Jan. 17, was first reported by TV station NBC2 in Fort Myers, Fla. NCR has since spoken to two of the signatories, who confirmed the authenticity of the letter and that 10 priests signed it. They spoke only on condition that their identities not be revealed, nor would they permit specific examples of Dewane's behavior to be reported, because they said those would allow the priests to be identified.While initial reports said that the signers included some pastors as well as other priests, one of the priests and another layperson familiar with the development of the letter told NCR that all 10 signers are either pastors or administrators and together represent significant years of experience.Dewane, in a half-hour phone interview with NCR, disputed the charges, calling them "malicious" and "unfounded." He said he had not been informed of the identity of the signers, who asked the nuncio for confidentiality. Dewane said he first heard of the complaints when the letter was reported by NBC2. He said the only correspondence he has received from the nuncio was a copy of the letter, without the names, following the initial news report about it. The signers say they have heard nothing from the nuncio. The letter describes a management style that the priests say has caused tension in the diocese for some time between the bishop, members of his clergy, and laypeople.Until this most recent development, however, little has been reported because neither priests nor laypeople affected by Dewane -- whether pastors who feel he has micromanaged and bullied them or laypeople who feel they've lost their positions because of ideological or theological differences -- were willing to state any of the matters on the record, for fear of retribution.Even with the revelation of the letter signed by 10 priests, no one is willing to speak on the record for the same fear. Some claim, too, that far more priests would have signed the letter if they hadn't feared reprisals. How the matter is handled from here is uncertain. Dewane, who recently convened a meeting of all his priests in response to the letter, told NCR he doesn't anticipate doing anything differently. He said he invites frank critique from his priests and contends that his priests have multiple ways of letting him know through deaneries and Presbyteral Council structures what they think..."
Bridget Mary's Response:
How tragic that the atmosphere in the Diocese of Venice is so toxic that the priests cannot address their concerns with Bishop Dewane openly as their beloved brother!  It sounds like the priests are in an intolerable situation  and have grave concerns that need to be addressed by the pope's representative in the United States. There  is no place for bullying in the Catholic Church by anyone including bishops.  All of us belong to the family of God and are called to treat one another- even those we disagree with- with  mutual respect and loving care. This applies to the bishops too, including Bishop Dewane.  Let us pray for the priests and for all who are suffering in this situation, including Bishop Dewane. 
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.arcwp.org

"The Fog Machine of War" by Chelsea Manning on the U.S. Military and Media Freedom, New York Times, JUNE 14, 2014

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — "WHEN I chose to disclose classified information in 2010, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others. I’m now serving a sentence of 35 years in prison for these unauthorized disclosures. I understand that my actions violated the law.
However, the concerns that motivated me have not been resolved. As Iraq erupts in civil war and America again contemplates intervention, that unfinished business should give new urgency to the question of how the United States military controlled the media coverage of its long involvement there and in Afghanistan..."
..."Reporters should have timely access to information. The military could do far more to enable the rapid declassification of information that does not jeopardize military missions. The military’s Significant Activity Reports, for example, provide quick overviews of events like attacks and casualties. Often classified by default, these could help journalists report the facts accurately.
Opinion polls indicate that Americans’ confidence in their elected representatives is at a record low. Improving media access to this crucial aspect of our national life — where America has committed the men and women of its armed services — would be a powerful step toward re-establishing trust between voters and officials."
Chelsea Manning is a former United States Army intelligence analyst.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

"Trinity" by John Chuchman


God as Trinity
must not be the private preserve of theologians.

God as Trinity
Should be the primary source by which
We understand everything,
Our Ethics, Our Spirituality, Our Church, Our Worship.

God as Trinity
is Relational.

The Three Persons of God
from all Eternity
are in Essential Relationship
with Each Other.

God exists
in a Communion of Persons.
Only in a Communion of Persons
can God be what God is
and only in Communion
can God be at all.

Trinity is
Creator as Giver or Lover,
Savior as Given or Beloved,
Holy Spirit as Giving or Loving.
Trinity is Lover, Beloved, Loving.

We, who are created in God's image,
are, thus at our very core,
Relational Beings.

We are not created as selves in isolation;
We are who we are
and
come to be what we are called to be,
in and through
Our Relationship with Other Persons.

Just as God as Trinity means three Divine Persons in Communion,
as Sons and Daughters of God,
We are called to be in Communion
with
Each Other.

Love, John
See more reflections on John Chuchman's blog.

CAPITAL PUNISHMENTS CONTINUE in FLORIDA: Contact Governor Scott, RickScott@eog.myflorida.com.

Florida inmate, John Henry, is scheduled to be killed on Wednesday, June 18, at 6:00 p.m. EDT. This will set a new record for the number of well-secured, captive prisoners to be executed by a first term Florida governor. Florida uses an almost identical lethal injection drug “cocktail” to what was used recently in Oklahoma’s botched execution. Such drugs have been banned for sale in Europe and elsewhere.
A witness against the death penalty Prayer Vigil will again take place at 6:00 p.m.  A silent protest will start at 5:30 p.m. with signs along Beneva Road, just north of Gulf Gate Blvd. on the front lawn of St. Andrew United Church of Christ in Sarasota.  A Prayer Service follows.
The execution of Eddie Davis has been set for July 10, so Governor Scott just keeps on signing warrants.
On the national level, the Abolitionist Action Committee plans to meet daily in a fast and prayer vigil in front of the Supreme Court in Washington on June 29 through July 2 to present alternatives to the death penalty.
In October, Pax Christi Florida will hold its Annual Assembly in Tallahassee to protest the continued use of the death penalty for capital crimes.  Public witnessing will take place at the State Capitol and  the Governor’s Mansion.  Details to follow.
Feel free to share your concerns with the Governor. Phone: (850) 488-7146 Email: RickScott@eog.myflorida.com.

Loving, Loved, Love- Our Triune God: Rev. Judy Lee's Homily for Trinity Sunday 2014

As I think about the nature of God for Trinity Sunday I am reminded of listening to two of my young adult parishioners try to describe their parents. Each one harbored many complex feelings toward their parents and neither had the slightest notion that the parents had histories separate from themselves. They had no idea that that their parents had thoughts, feelings, problems, hopes, fears, dreams, strengths and weaknesses. Neither knew the parent at all- only how the parent had fallen short of their expectations. I remembered how woefully long it took me to really know my own mother and to love and value her as the priceless treasure she was. I then thought is that what we do with God-simply make God a product of our projections without trying to find out who God really is?
There are two things that enable me to speak but only with the greatest humility on this Sunday when the church offers an understanding of what God is like.  The first is the experience of God- in- relation in my own life and in the lives of those I serve; and the second is simply appreciation of the vastness of the nature of God, a vastness that I can nowhere near comprehend. I dare not speak at all except for seeing and knowing what God has done as revealed through human imperfections in the Scriptures and as revealed daily in  our lives.  I know this God-in-relation to me and to all of creation. I see and hear God in the lives of those who truly cast their cares upon God and trust God for everything, especially those who are poor in the goods of this world.
Last Tuesday, In our worship group with homeless and formerly homeless men and women Nathaniel said “I know God is with me and that God loves me because there was a time that I was locked up inside myself and not able to find a way out to do something about being homeless and hungry and so I stayed that way for over five years. I stayed that way until I listened to and felt the message of love that the people of the Good Shepherd brought to the park. I felt loved and let God in. Soon after that I did what I had to do and got everything I needed.”  Several of those gathered echoed his story. Lauretta said dramatically, “listen, listen to our stories, how can anyone who listens not believe in God and in God’s Christ?”
                                                                                                                                                                                 Our Tuesday Worship Circle
IMG_0079For those who depend on God for life, “believe in” is not an abstract exercise like believing in a dogma or doctrine, it is believing in a person who loves them and who will do anything for them- it is more like when a parent says to a child or one friend or lover says to another: “I believe in you”.  It is of the heart not the head. It inspires and motivates to emulate.  When I grew up poor I witnessed daily miracles of unmet needs being met by God and through people and I see it again now with our people. When I had to face cancer and major surgery in early 2013 an abstraction of God would not do, the love I experienced through those surrounding me with prayers and caring, and experiencing God being there with me especially at night got me through it.  What I needed to see most after eight days in a hospital room with no view outside was evidences of God’s creation. My gloom lifted as soon as I saw green grass and trees, birds and sky and my pets-for that is how I experience God-through others and through creation.  As I continue to face other scary health threats, it is God’s love and presence that gets me through it. I have a pretty good head, but it is my heart that knows.
And so is the meaning of the Gospel of the day John 3:16-  to believe in(love and follow) Jesus brings life now and forever-it is a release from death in all its myriad forms, as Nathaniel said.  When I first moved to Florida 16 years ago my neighbor was a woman who lived alone and had an inoperable brain cancer. She told me that she loved the Buffalo Bills football games and saw a John 3:16 sign held up in the bleachers. She asked me what it meant. I shared God’s love with her because of that sign. We talked about her cancer and her fears, and that God is with her always. This brought her comfort and she realized that she was not alone anymore. Over time we also spoke of reaching out to her estranged children and relatives and she did.
The words we use to explain God are inadequate. Our first reading from Exodus 34 says that God is a God of compassion and mercy-and we see what that looks like in the life of Jesus the Christ while we examine our own lives to see how far the acorn fell from the tree!  In 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 we are blessed with the grace of Christ Jesus, the love of God and the friendship of the Holy Spirit- and how blessed we truly are to experience this relational God. Yet we also learn that God is “immanent and transcendent”. What does that really mean?  Here is the explanation of one author J.I. Packer in Knowing God. 
(Please note that I have changed the word “Him” in relation to God throughout this writing where I quote others for now it is accepted that women and men both reflect the image of God and God is our loving Mother as well as our loving Father. Also in the Scriptures the Spirit of God in original languages is clearly a feminine face of God.  As this language was translated and God was referred to only as “Him” we lost the balanced view of God with feminine and masculine qualities thus diminishing our understanding of God. See for example Elizabeth A. Johnson, Truly our Sister: A Theology of Mary in the Communion of Saints, Continuum, 2009.  So below I substitute God for Him and Father/Mother for Father.)
Packer says:
“God’s transcendent nature strives to keep God distant and remote from God’s creation both in space and time, yet on the other hand, God’s immanent nature works to draw God near to God’s creation and to sustain the universe. God’s love for God’s creation is so great that we see God’s immanence overshadowing God’s transcendence. This becomes clear in God’s incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, as Christ… draws all humanity back into a close, personal relationship. We see God not only choosing to draw near to God’s creation but to personally come into the hearts and minds of God’s people through the indwelling power God’s Holy Spirit. This is the miracle of God’s transcendence.”
God is transcendent -“more” and “beyond”- beyond our greatest understanding yet not “above us” in the sense of removed from us.  ALL we can understand of the cosmos does not begin to touch who God is, and yet God is right next to and within us at the same time as close as breath.  This is part of the Mystery of God that we seek to name and know for ourselves. We cannot put God in a big God-box for we can not know the fullness of God’s being. I thank God for that Mystery that we know only in part.
Fr. John Foley, scholar at  St.Louis University, sees knowing the triune God as a “Story of Love”.“What is the Holy Trinity and why do we dedicate a big Sunday to it?I know a story that might help.Once upon a time, in fact once upon many thousand times, God the (Father/Mother) invited the people of the earth to a lasting and loving relationship. Look at the Old Testament: “I want to be your God and I want you to be my people. My love for you is tender and precious. Won’t you love me in return?”
In many ways people understood and entered into the agreement. Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Elisha, Elijah, just to begin the list.
But we humans keep choosing things closer to hand, like money and honors and such—barns full of them. Our refusal of God’s love became widespread.
How did God react to such rejections? With hurt and disappointment for sure.
My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me. For your sake I scourged your captors and their first-born sons, but you brought your scourges down on me! My people, answer me (from “The Reproaches” on Good Friday)!
No answer. So eventually the Father/Mother tried a new and quite brilliant way. “I will show them what true love looks like. Since I am all love and nothing but love, I will go out to them utterly, as love does. I will become one of them. I will live humanity to its depths, and they will see love in its full truth.”
So a human called Jesus was born. He grew up. He told the people to love God above all things and their neighbors as themselves. He was the very heart of God, the heart made flesh. One with the Father but different as well. Two persons in one God.
Human beings had been hurt and betrayed, of course, forced to live with their own mixed-up motives, selfishness and greed. Love gets lost in such a world. So Jesus-God plunged far into our ocean of cruelty and loss, dove all the way to down to death.
His job was to carry all this back to the source of everything, the Father/Mother. The disciples knew about only two parts of God, Jesus and his Abba/Amma. So before he left, he said the following to them (I am paraphrasing):
Philip and the rest of you, if you know me, you know the Father/Mother. And after I go back to the Father/Mother, I will remain within you. I will make a home in you by sending the Holy Spirit. This Comforter will be the very love that I and the Father/Mother have for each other!
He was talking of course about the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit—a real being that snuggles close within our souls if we let it. This Spirit of love is graceful and deep and comforting, like a blanket in winter cold.
And that is the story. Alright, maybe it is less clear than we would like. Really it is just the story of our lives with God and each other.
It is the Trinity! Let us celebrate!”
John Foley S. J.
YES, let us celebrate that through love and relationship and creation we have some understanding of God, but more, that we are loved by the God who created the Universe,the cosmos,  tends it like a Mother/Father and Creator, tends the created; and that we have a living example of what God is like in ways we can understand through knowing the love and self-emptying of Jesus the Christ who stood with the poorest and most outcast, the stranger and the sick, as for inclusion and justice; and that the Holy Spirit of our living God is with us, among us and in us now and forevermore.
It is not original with me, but another preacher suggested that we can understand the Trinity-the three-in-one God as: Loving, Loved and Love.
God’s active creating is loving; Christ’s example of love lets us know that we are loved; and the Holy Spirit is Love within us and motivating us.
Loving, Loved, Love,
AMEN!
And a Blessed Father’s Day to all of our fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins and friends!
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, ARCWP
Pastor The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community of Fort Myers, Florida

Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community Youth Leader Efe Jane Cudjoe's Reflection "God's Love Manifested Everywhere"

http://judyabl.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/efe-cudjoe-good-shepherd-youth-leader-shares-her-experiences-of-god-in-viet-nam-south-africa-and-brazil/
Efe Jane Cudjoe, Youth Leader, Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Ft. Myers, Fl.

The following is a Reflection that our Youth Leader Efe Jane Cudjoe offered on Pentecost Sunday. I love the way she sees the face of God and God’s spirit working in communities throughout the world that she encountered in her Semester Abroad on three continents. The Congregation gave her a rousing round of applause and Amens after she shared this last Sunday. My own comment was that I don’t have far to look for the younger generations of women priests in the making!. Efe is with us again for the summer shepherding our youth on special trips and educational outings. We are so blessed to have her with us again.Pastor Judy Lee,ARCWP   
"God’s Love Manifested Everywhere" by Efe Jane Cudjoe                     
I honestly can’t express how happy I am to have safely returned from my journey and I would like to thank you all for your continual prayers and support.  I would like to share with you all just a little bit about my experience and some of the things that I have learned.  But you will have to forgive me for reading a bit of something that I have written, because in attempting to retell my experiences, it is still very hard for me at times to concisely and coherently express some of my feelings.
I began my study-abroad journey on January 25th of this year.  Before beginning the multi-country journey to Vietnam, South Africa and Brazil, I had a very, very cold two-week orientation in Washington D.C.
During this time, I had the opportunity to explore our nation’s capital and to speak with various program directors.  And it was these same program directors who often stated that the experience that I was about to have would not only have a lasting impact on my life, but also give me a different outlook on many things.  And although in the moment I may not have appreciated these words as much as I should have, now that I have been given the opportunity to reflect I can honestly say that this journey did.  It not only restored my faith in humanity despite all of the corruption, wars and brutality that plague our world, but it also strengthened my spiritual connection to God as I saw God’s love manifested in very different individuals facing very different issues in very different countries.
So I would like to start with Vietnam.  Vietnam, I can truly say that priory to entering the country I really did not know too much about it and had also been given a very one-sided view from history classes recounting the Vietnam War and its aftermath.
But what I did find, from my experience, was that quite contrary to popular belief with the the United States, I was not walking into a country with hearts and homes still buzzing with hostility toward Americans and still living in  experiences and histories of the past.  Instead I walked into the home of Phuong and Victor who welcomed me who they referred to as their daughter.  I immediately felt at home as they embraced me with kind hearts despite some apparent societal, language, and even physical differences.
From the communal dinners that we shared with all members of the family  – a true manifestation of what Jesus’ idea of what a supper should be with all members of a family or a community coming together to spend time together and enjoy the presence of one another.  To the playful laughter of a five-year old girl dancing around her classroom in the peace village, although she and her classmates were suffering from severe physical malformations, likely the result of agent orange.  Agent Orange, a pesticide used by the British and U.S. militaries during the Vietnam War in an attempt to strip the land of its food resources.  A sort of food toxin that still has lasting impacts.
But it was in these communal family dinners and in the laugh, love and warmth exuded from this young girl that despite her daily obstacles she was still happy to be alive and joyously running around that I saw a physical representation of God’s love, presence and ability.  But, before I knew it, my time in Vietnam was over and I was on my way to South Africa.
South Africa.  When I first arrived in Zwelethembe in South Africa, I was greeted by at least twenty-five five-year olds that were running around the area.  They just looked at me, and saw my skin is similar to their own and asked me , “Are you xhosa?” Xhosa referring to the majority of the people that lived in the township that I would be studying in for two weeks.  A township in which some regions amidst the lack of running water, formal housing, and food still worked to maintain a sense of community.  A township in which my host mother, Mama Eunice, was not only recovering from a recent life-threatening health issue but also trying to provide for members even though she could not work because of her illness.  And even given everything that she had recently gone through she would still prepare a plate for children in the neighborhood that would come to our door pleading for food.  I was so grateful for her giving spirit, kindness and joy and I was also able to see the presence of God in each of her gentle actions.
photo 4
Now finally to Brazil.  At this point in the journey I had been traveling for over three months.  I began my time in the middle of the Atlantic forest near a small town called Barradoturvo.  This region was said to be one of the poorest regions in the country.  Largely because the people chose to live off the lad and use the natural gifts that they believe they had been provided by God.  During my time there, I learned so much from members of the local community.  For example, Pedro, who was known as the regions wise elder stated to us that there were many things that can be learned by our eyes but they are invisible to our eyes because we are not aware of them.  As we become more aware of things we are then capable of seeing them.  A statement that I think can certainly be extended to the love and presence of God.  His wise words and warm spirit are something that I will certainly never forget.  With the largest smile on his face he also once stated that “when it comes to being poor there are two things: one is to be poor and one is to have no money.  Yes, yes it’s true I may have no money and day in and day out life can be hard, but to call me poor – no, no I won’t stand for it.  I am surrounded by nature, my beautiful wife, and all other wonderful gifts of God.  I am healthy and I am living happily and for that I have all the riches in the world.  You know, we all have so many riches; we just have to open our eyes, ears, and hearts to begin recognizing them.”  Each of the stories and words of advice he shared with me were truly inspiring.
So I know that I have been speaking for a while but I would like to end by leaving you all with a term that I continually heard in South Africa, that really stuck with me.  And it’s Ubuntu -we are who we are because of other people.   I would also like to extend this in saying we are who we are not only because of other people but most importantly because of the love, the hope, the determination and the kind will that others have shown us.  (I am blessed with) the kind will and love of two very special pastors who have made it their mission to continue working toward a better tomorrow and the love of a community that is inclusive of all.