Saturday, May 30, 2015

Two Roman Catholic Women Priests Celebrate New Life In the Easter Octave

https://judyabl.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/two-roman-catholic-women-priests-celebrate-new-life-in-the-easter-octave/
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In the last two months, from the end of March to the end of May we have had a busy time at Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic community in Fort Myers, Florida. We have completed our celebration of the Easter season and embraced many new beginnings and new life chances with our people. Since March we have assisted six families that included twenty-three people with moving and celebrated many birthdays and other occasions of joy. These included finding homes for the homeless -both people and animals.  We find our home in God, as members of the Body of Christ and we are in pursuit of homes for all-no one living on the outside looking in-not even a stray cat!
We helped establish homes for babies and for children by assisting parents with furniture,security and utilities deposits and other basic needs including spiritual and emotional support. We were pleased when one family responded by having their boys join our Sunday school
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We said good-by until next year to our seasonal members Kathy L and Kathy O and were very happy that they were able to provide a home for Ebbie, a small homeless kitty who now lives in Minnesota with them.  IMG_0103 IMG_0107
Our young men, brothers,  Rashawn and Quayschaun, became our moving men and assisted in moving Linda H. into Senior Housing and Brenda and her little dog Snappy into housing near the church. This delights Brenda and all of us as she now can walk to church regularly. Brenda says that she is home now because she is with her church family. We are happy to welcome her  home.
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Brenda has many physical problems and has already been in the hospital since her return home but she is now getting the health and other services that she needs to live abundantly and not just exist.

The Baptism and First Holy Communion of Aleigha, 12, was a special Easter moment. And the Birthday celebrations of Aloria and Grandma Harmon were also highlights and occasion for blowing and catching bubbles.



We also helped Grandma Harmon and her family to move to a nearby town to gain more spacious and safer housing. Daughter Linda will continue driving them to church so they can remain a faithful part of our community.

When we moved Brenda to her home near the church we discovered two homeless and very hungry kittys and were able, miraculously, to find them each a loving home. It is hard to tell who is happier, the kittys or their new families.

Here our Three Oaks hospital Vet Tech Joseph gets Casper ready for his new home. And here he is welcomed home by Ginger.

Pat and Joe who are wonderful supporters of our ministry ,like Ginger, lost their cat of twenty years. It took some months but they were ready for Missy when I called. Here they are welcoming her into the most wonderful bed she has ever known.

It is such a joy to see how complete a family can be and how God’s little ones can find a home.

These two have a feral Mom and have a home indoors now with us and their Mom is accepting of this as long as she does not have to endure pets.Momcat Bonnie is below them. . Benny and Marco, however, now love pets.

At present we have two more kittys in need of a home. One, a beautiful all black neutered male cat about a year old will be evicted in July when his caretakers move North. They cannot take him. And, one is holding on to my foot and hoping i can take him in. But there is no room so he will be a visitor until a home comes forward. If you have love and a little space-maybe its your home?

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And so, our work continues as we make plans for and with our children and families this summer. Every move and every enriching trip for kids costs more than we have but we know that God will continue to provide. Thanks be to God!



Love and prayers,

Pastor Judy Lee and Pastor Judy Beaumont,RCWP

The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community of Fort Myers

Trinity Icon: What Do You Think?

The Church is APOSTOLIC but not necessarily PATRIARCHAL.
Does Christ really want to have only male priests in today's Church?

La Iglesia es APOSTÓLICA pero no necesariamente PATRIARCAL.
¿Quiere realmente Cristo tener solamente sacerdotes varones en la Iglesia de hoy?

L'Église est APOSTOLIQUE, mais pas nécessairement PATRIARCALE.
Est-ce que le Christ veut vraiment avoir seulement les prêtres masculins dans l'Église d'aujourd'hui?

Luis Guiterez shared this image and raised this important question. Thank you, Luis. 
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Friday, May 29, 2015

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community May 30 2015 Trinity Sunday: Called to Relationships Honoring those who served in the military, Eileen Miller and Katy Zatsick ARCWP Co-Presiders, Mindy Lou Simmons - Music Minister


 


Welcome

Gathering Song: #647 “God of Our Fathers” please change to “God of all People”

Co-presider: In the name of God our creator, and of Jesus our brother, and of the Holy Spirit our energy for relationships All: Amen.



Co- Presider: God, Loving Creator be with each member and family of our community especially families with members who have served in the military or are serving in the military.
ALL: And with all.

Opening Prayer:
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, you have created all things and you continue to call us to new life ever deeper into relationship with you. Teach us to reverence in one another the gift of life that we share. Give us a hunger for your Word, and let us walk in union with your Spirit all the days of our lives. Glory to you, Source of all Being, Eternal Word, and Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen


Rite of Healing (Pause briefly and reflect on the need to grow more in loving relationships with others and with creation)


Prayer for healing in our community: (All raise hands extended in prayer and recite together.)
See in us, O God, the face of your Christ and heal our brokenness and wounds. Give us the courage to love in spite of loss and mercy to forgive all who have injured us in any way. We ask forgiveness for when we have hurt others in our relationships with them. As always we pray in our Brother Jesus’ name. Amen. 


Liturgy of the Word:

First Reading Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40


Lector: The Word of God. ALL: Thanks be to God


Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33


All: They are happy whose God is the Creator, the people God has chosen


Second Reading from Celebration “Trinity is our home” by Angie O’Gorman


“…the quark is the smallest subatomic particle; the fundamental building block of everything only comes in threes. In other words, it only comes in relationship. From this quantum discovery it is not a difficult leap to believing that our God, the creative force behind everything, also and only exists as a threesome. Whether one is Creator or created, being in relationship is primary, and threesomes are apparently where it’s at. ..


We have, through no merit of our own, the gift of life so that we might grow into conscious loving for eternity. Relationship allows both the life and the growing to happen. Relationship is at the heart of things, in the material world and the Divine…The Triune God loves us before we even know what the word means, and keeps drawing us into that love, and drawing us. Our home is the Trinity.” The inspired word of Angie.


All: Thanks be to God.


All: Alleluia sung while book is being carried to the lectern.


Gospel : Matthew 28:16-20


Lector: This is the Good News according to Matthew All: Glory to you, O God.


Lector: This is the good news of our salvation. (At end of Gospel)


All: Praise to you Living God, our Brother Jesus.


All: Alleluia sung after gospel is read and book set in its place.
Blessings for those who have served in the military:



Cheryl Brandi served in the Navy as a nurse in the Vietnam war

(Will the members of the community who have served in the military please rise; let us raise our hands in blessing)

Loving God we ask your blessings for these men and women of Mary Mother of Jesus who have served America with their military service. You are the men and women, who saluted our flag, who served under our flag and who will be remembered under America’s flag for standing for our nation's freedoms and the Common Good. We thank you for your presence amongst us. You are living reminders of willing sacrifice for the values we hold dear as Americans. We offer you our ongoing support as men and women of whom we are proud. May your lives be long and filled with peace. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Dialog homily: Remembering those who have served the USA in the military

Profession of Faith: All: We believe in God, the fountain of all relationships between persons, with all life on earth, between planets and within our galaxy. God’s very self energy creating, sustaining and receiving all that exists. We believe in Jesus, the Christ, who reflects the face of God and the fullness of humanity. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of God in the cosmos, who calls us to love and serve in relationship with others without counting the cost. We believe in our global communion and relationships with all in the circle of life including our planet earth. Amen to loving actions on behalf of justice, healing, compassion and equality for all in our world!


General Intercessions:

Presider: Always mindful of God’s love and care for us, our relationships with others and all creation, we bring our needs to our loving God.

Response after each petition: Loving God, hear our prayer

Presider: Healing God, we trust that you hear our prayers. May we celebrate our oneness in our relationships with others through our works for justice, equality, and peace. We make this prayer through Jesus, our brother, in union with the Holy Spirit.


ALL: Amen

Offertory: (Procession with gifts: instrumental music)

Co-presider: Blessed are you, God of all creation, through your goodness we have this bread to offer which earth has given and human hands have made. This bread is our faith community seeking knowledge, becoming conscious in right relationships with others and all life. May we individually and as a community live your vision of peace, justice, equality and healing for all. This bread will become for us the bread of life.

All: Blessed be God forever.

Co-Presider Blessed are you, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. This drink is our desire to be in right relationship within our families, our communities and the nations of the world. This wine will become our spiritual drink. All: Blessed be God forever.


Presider: Pray that we become one with all in the blessed Trinity of human and planetary relationships.

ALL: We are gathered as a community to celebrate the gift of life. May we be faithful to the call of healing and building compassionate relationships with others. Amen.

Eucharistic Prayer: (Please gather around the altar)

Presider: Our Triune God who stirred the waters of creation dwells on earth and throughout creation-in our hearts and in the galaxies,


ALL: And in every living being.

Presider: Let us lift up our hearts.
ALL: We lift up our hearts to our Creator who desires healing and right relationships for all humanity and our earth.

Presider: Let us give thanks to the Source of life.

All: It is right to give our triune God of relationships who is present everywhere and in everything, thanks and praise.


All Sing: We are holy…You are holy…I am holy…We are holy.


All: Holy One, we bring you these gifts that they and we may become the Christ Presence. Triune God infuse these gifts with you Presence of relationship amongst all through the power of your Holy Spirit Sofia.

(All Extend Hands) All: On the night before he died, while at supper with his disciples, friends and family Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to them saying, “Take this, all of you, and eat. Do this in memory of


me.”

(Pause)

All: In the same way, Jesus took the cup of wine. He said the blessing, gave the cup to his friends and said, “Take this all of you and drink. Do this in memory of me.”


The Mystery of Faith:


All: This bread is you, this bread is me. We are one body, a reflection of God’s treasures, in communion with all peoples and creation.


Voice 1: Creator of the Cosmos, we thank you that there are 18 galaxies for every person, that our bodies are made of stardust. Every place we turn, you are present, loving us. You call us, “beloved” and invite us to join the dance of creation in a mystical celebration of our oneness with all living things in your divine love.

Voice 2: Jesus Christ of the Cosmos, we rejoice that You, who are More than we can imagine or dream of, dwell in Mystery of relationship beyond all comprehension. We remember that it was you, who said: “Anything I have done in the name of the Creator, you can do, too…and even more.”

Voice 3: Sofia Spirit Energy of all Creation, we remember all within our world and church who are working for environmental healing, human rights and justice for all. We remember women and men who are leaders in our church and world especially (mention names of those who have served in the military and those who taught us to be peacemakers )

Voice 4: Father and mother of the Cosmos, we remember Mary, mother of Jesus, faithful disciple. We remember our sisters and brothers, the great cloud of witnesses who have cared for earth’s creatures and have blessed our world with their loving service in relationship with God’s people. We praise you in union with them and give you glory by working for a more just and peaceful world.

ALL: Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in unity with the Holy Spirit, all glory, honor and praise to you, God of relationships forever and ever.
Great Amen: Sung

Prayer of Jesus Sung: “Our Father and Mother”


Sign of Peace: Peace…Hope…Love is Flowing like a River

Litany for the Breaking of the Bread:
All: Christ of the Cosmos, we will live in relationship with you and all creation. Christ of the Cosmos, we will work for healing of the earth. Christ of the Cosmos, we will celebrate justice rising up in your global communion everywhere.


Co-Presiders: This is the Cosmic Christ in whom all creation lives and moves and has its being. All are invited to partake in this banquet of love and to celebrate our relationship with all living beings and our Earth. ALL: We are the Body of Christ.

Communion Song: You are the Face of God


Prayer after Communion:
ALL: Lover of the Universe, we are full of awe at your extravagant love flowing through all living things and your gift of relationships with all of creation. We immerse ourselves in the beauty of nature that surrounds us each day. We are one with our brother Jesus in union with the Holy Spirit. All: Amen


Community Prayers of Thanksgiving/final thoughts

Announcements for the community:


Concluding Rite

Presiders: Christ of the Cosmos is with us All: And loves through us.
Blessing: (with hands extended in prayer):
All: The blessing of God is upon us as we go in the peace of the Cosmic Christ to build loving relationships with all whom we meet! Thanks be to God.


Presider: Go in the peace of our Compassion Christ, let our service continue! ALL: Thanks be to God.
Closing Hymn and Recessional:
“I am Willing” by Holly Near
refrain All: “I am open, I am willing;
to be hopeless would seem so strange.
It dishonors those who go before us.

So lift me up to the light of change. 

Homily Starter by Katy Zatsick ARCWP


Reflection by Katy


Today is the Christian feast of the Trinity. Three persons in God, not three gods but One. Theologians are teaching us about the quantum level of creation and what it means for us in our relationship with God and others. Where theologians and physicists meet is the Mystical study of God and who we are in the spiritual life and relationships of our ever evolving planet.


The foundational building block of the universes is the quark, not opposites but in threesome of fractionals, in relationship with each other. And so as I prepared for this liturgy, I began to think about the challenging relationships in my life and how God was present with me. I think about the need for personal healing before we can be in relationship with others-for me to be in relationships with those who serve in the military.


The psychology department at WRAMC diagnosed me with Secondary PTSD as I lived there for 8 months with my only son Jason VSI Iraq Oct 2005. I was in need of deep healing of soul, emotions and body when I left in June 2006. My healing began at an ancient ritual for the Sioux warriors who include Red Cloud and Sitting Bull, veterans of the WWII, Korean, Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan. Our God of healing is found in the paradox where a wounded mother met proud and honored Sioux warriors. The prayers were for the healing of Jason but as I prayed with the Sundance circle of Sioux warriors, I began to heal.


My awareness and acceptance as sister to the warriors of our country in the Beloved community of relationship continues to grow. While I was at the Sundance I bonded in relationship with the Sioux through time and with the dancers, honoring the Warriors present and past. We all had lived with the horrible wounds of war, mental, physical and emotional and spiritual. We honored the warriors of the present Sioux nation as they serve in the military for the USA. As I look back the dance honors the warriors and I through participating joined myself to them and their family and friends in prayers for healing. We are all in relationship to each other as our Triune God is in relationship with GodSelf repeated in the quarks of humanity and the never ending galaxies, stars and planets.


I am in their debt for ever, for my relationship with the Warriors of the Lakota Sioux I carry with me as I continue on my own healing journey and as I try to live a deeper relationship with all my brothers and sisters and with my God.


Below is my


1 Belief that we are all warriors


2. Description of the Sundance


3. My experience of the Sundance, Rosebud reservation, South Dakota June 2006-


Please read section titled “The Sundance for Jason’s healing pg 14


4. Description of a Quark
From Native Wisdom for White Minds by Anne Wilson Schaef. Pg September 10
Warriors
“(Being a warrior) It is a willingness to sacrifice everything except your truth, your way of being, your commitment. The ultimate stand is to your commitment to do something with your life that will make a difference.”---Douglas Cardinal, Canadian Indian Architect, Writer, and Artist.
Throughout the world, a new breed of warrior is being discussed. These warriors have nothing to do with weapons, battles or killing. Rather, they are taking a stand on living. To fight for life and harmony as if each of our lives makes a difference is no small challenge. ..What if each of us is willing to do something with her or his life that would benefit at least seven generations to come? What if we become warriors for balance and healing?



Warriors don’t always have to fight. They may just have to stand up. SUN DANCE


"INDIAN SUN DANCE: Native American Sioux Sun Dance, a man with his chest skin attached, with sinew, to a pole, drummers, spectators" by George Catlin
The Sun Dance is a distinctive ceremony that is central to the religious identity of the Indigenous peoples of the Great Plains. It developed among the horse-mounted, bison hunting nations who populated the Great Plains in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Those nations at the core of its practice in the bison-hunting era that have continued its practice into the contemporary period include … and the Sioux (including in particular the western most Sioux, who are the seven tribes of the Lakota nation, but also including the Yanktons and Santees, who comprise the six tribes of the Dakota nation).
The Canadian and U.S. governments perceived this ceremony as superstitious rather than religious and suppressed it, and full liberty to practice the Sun Dance was regained only after the mid–twentieth century.
The name Sun Dance derives from the Sioux identification of it as Wi wanyang wacipi, translated as "sun gazing dance." Other Plains peoples have names for the ceremony that do not refer to the sun. ..The medicine lodge is constructed of pole rafters radiating from a sacred central pole. However, the best-known and most widely practiced contemporary form of the ceremony is that of the Sioux, who do not construct a medicine lodge. Instead, the Sioux make a hocoka, or ritual circle, with a sacred cottonwood tree erected in the center and a circular arbor built around the entire perimeter, except for an open entrance to the east, so that the dancing takes place within a central arena that is completely open to the sky and to "sun gazing." However, both traditions, whether that of the medicine lodge or of the hocoka, involve ritual ways of making local space sacred as a setting for renewal of the people's relationship with the land itself and with all the beings of their life-world, both human and other-than-human.



The ceremony is highly variable because its performance is intimately connected to the authoritative guidance of visions or dreams that establish an individual relationship between one or more of the central participants and one or more spirit persons. In all cases, however, the primary meaning is understood to be the performance of acts of sacrifice in ritual reciprocity with spiritual powers so that the welfare of friends, family, and the whole people is enhanced. The Arapaho, Cheyenne, Blackfoot, and Sioux nations all practice sacrificial acts of piercing the flesh, often described pejoratively as "torture" by outsiders. …Some Indigenous interpreters have suggested an analogy between the piercing of sun dancers and the piercing of Jesus on the cross, seeing both as acts of voluntary sacrifice on behalf of other beings and the cosmic welfare. While this interpretation may facilitate understanding for some, interpreters must be wary of imposing any religious category that clashes with the central concern of the Sun Dance: to establish and maintain kinship with all the people's relatives, including other humans, the animal and plant relatives of this earth, and the cosmic relatives of the spirit realm.
Friday, June 23, 2006
A Lakota Sioux Sundance Dedicated for Jason's Healing: Background



I have been in SD south of Rapid City since June 14 staying in a cabin owned by Dow's cousins Loren and Gloria. A friend in Chicago had told me of a Sundance on the Rosebud Lakota Sioux Reservation in central South SD about 3 hours from where I am staying. Jane a Jungian analyst knew friends were attending the Sundance and invited me to "stop there" and see if I would want to participate as this four day Sundance was for healing.

Personal Disclaimer:
This entry is a report of my physical, emotional, spiritual experiences and participation in a Sundance ritual for Jason's healing of mind, body and emotions. This is a "rough draft" of the experience as I know I will ponder its impact again and again in the future. I do believe that G-d is everywhere: in whom we live and move and have our being. We and all creation are born, live and die in G-d. I begin to write this reflection the morning after a quiet drive from the Sundance through the Badlands. I was told to "stay grounded" after experiencing the day of Sundance. Driving in the quiet across the National Grasslands of SD with the setting sun before me enabled me to do so on Thursday. This entry is my recollection of the information given to me by the Jungian analysts, dance leaders, and family members who were present and participating in the Sundance rituals. Any mistakes are due to my faulty memory. This is the first time that I have ever attended a Native American ritual. I am including the details because I assume that almost all of the readers of Jason's blog have not had the opportunity to attend a Sundance.

Jungian Analysts
These are my thoughts and reflections as to why Jungian analysts were deeply involved in the Sundance ritual as I have been in Jungian analysis for 8 years. Carl Jung was Freud's pupil who broke with him and focused his own life's work on studying " "the healthy person" One of Jung's important psychological insights is that we are all born with patterns of behavior: mental, physical and most importantly psychological. (DNA research is now revealing that at least 50% of behavior is inherited) These patterns include a relationship with God, in Jung's term the Self with a capital S. Jung called the expression of these patterns archetypes. We are all born into a culture, religion, ethnic group etc. These will "shape" the expression of the archetype of Self into different outwardly rituals, prayers, beliefs, religions, etc. It is important to realize that the source of the search for God and the expression of the relationship is the same, the archetype of Self within each of us. In Jungian insight every soul is female and women have an innate ability to connect with the Self for this reason, women are feminine in soul and gender. For men, the journey inward to God is more difficult for the guide to the Self comes most clearly as the feminine, the anima.
I have been in SD south of Rapid City since June 14 staying in a cabin owned by Dow's cousins Loren and Gloria. A friend in Chicago had told me of a Sundance on the Rosebud Lakota Sioux Reservation in central South SD about 3 hours from where I am staying. Jane a Jungian analyst knew friends were attending the Sundance and invited me to "stop there" and see if I would want to participate as this four day Sundance was for healing.

Personal Disclaimer:
This entry is a report of my physical, emotional, spiritual experiences and participation in a Sundance ritual for Jason's healing of mind, body and emotions. This is a "rough draft" of the experience as I know I will ponder its impact again and again in the future. I do believe that G-d is everywhere: in whom we live and move and have our being. We and all creation are born, live and die in G-d. I begin to write this reflection the morning after a quiet drive from the Sundance through the Badlands. I was told to "stay grounded" after experiencing the day of Sundance. Driving in the quiet across the National Grasslands of SD with the setting sun before me enabled me to do so on Thursday. This entry is my recollection of the information given to me by the Jungian analysts, dance leaders, and family members who were present and participating in the Sundance rituals. Any mistakes are due to my faulty memory. This is the first time that I have ever attended a Native American ritual. I am including the details because I assume that almost all of the readers of Jason's blog have not had the opportunity to attend a Sundance.

Jungian Analysts
These are my thoughts and reflections as to why Jungian analysts were deeply involved in the Sundance ritual as I have been in Jungian analysis for 8 years. Carl Jung was Freud's pupil who broke with him and focused his own life's work on studying " "the healthy person" One of Jung's important psychological insights is that we are all born with patterns of behavior: mental, physical and most importantly psychological. (DNA research is now revealing that at least 50% of behavior is inherited) These patterns include a relationship with God, in Jung's term the Self with a capital S. Jung called the expression of these patterns archetypes. We are all born into a culture, religion, ethnic group etc. These will "shape" the expression of the archetype of Self into different outwardly rituals, prayers, beliefs, religions, etc. It is important to realize that the source of the search for God and the expression of the relationship is the same, the archetype of Self within each of us. In Jungian insight every soul is female and women have an innate ability to connect with the Self for this reason, women are feminine in soul and gender. For men, the journey inward to God is more difficult for the guide to the Self comes most clearly as the feminine, the anima.

I think for Jungian analysts the desire to touch the Self and experience an exploration of the human relationship to God outside European Western religion and culture would be an imperative. This is exactly what Jung did in his travels looking for the patterns giving rise to the lived religious life of the world's indigenous peoples.

A Lakota Sioux Sundance Dedicated for Jason's Healing



The Setting
The Sundance is being held on the property of Florentine's Lakota Sioux Grandmother's property. Found after much searching and asking by taking a drive turning at a closed wooden RC church named St. Rose. Grandmother foretold Florentine "doing things" down there. "There" being a meadow below a hill, lower bluff (location of parking, kitchen, and sleeping tents) and below an open space, I would call a meadow. From the camp of the Jungians about 10 steps were cut away in the dirt of the bluff leading to the back of the dance area and a guard rail installed. The day was perfect, cooler under the trees with the camp on the bluff and very warm in the dance area. Blue sky with clouds abound providing shade intermittently during the dance rounds. About 200 persons attend the dance over the four days.

The Sundance is held at this location once each year, it is the Florentine Sundance, named after the lead dancer. The dance has been held at the site for 13 years. The Sundance is situated in the center of a circle. The circle being formed by shade arbors, once covered by pine boughs now covered with plastic tarp to keep from cutting trees each Sundance. Within the circle created by the arbors, an inner circle is created by foot high red sticks each hung with a tobacco offering wrapped in a red cloth. There is " a gate" marked by two higher white sticks in this circle in the direction of the South, North, East and West. The gates/color of directions are also the four colors of humanity: red, white, black and yellow. For the Lakota the East must not be crossed during the dance so it is blocked off with tape and no one either dancer or audience can cross. The Lakota believe that all energy enters the Sacred Circle through the east and must not be transgressed by a human.

The Sundance Days
This Sundance lasts for four days. It is offered for personal and community healing of the tribe and especially the intentions of those who participate. It is open to outsiders and many whites were present. The Sundance consists of rounds of dance lasting 30 to 40 minutes with about 45 minutes of break in between from about 6 to 6 PM. The dance has drummers, very large 4 or 5 feet across with about 4 drummers to the drum and a number of singers. The musicians change during the day. No jewelry or glasses are to be worn if you are dancing, nothing that sparkles is allowed in the circle. No photography, audio recording or note taking is permitted. No one except the lead dancers can go near the tree except when one makes a flesh offering. Between dances the leaders may speak about the dance, or share personal stories of meaning or teaching about the dance and Sioux spiritual life. There are no watches or program schedule so the pace flows at a natural progression and changes can be made as necessary by the leaders.

The Days:
1. The 30 foot poplar tree is decorated with the prayer flags of each of the dancers. Bundles of tobacco and flesh offerings are also tied to the tree. The tree is set in place with a liver of a buffalo at the base of the pit, the Sioux being dependent on the buffalo for their individual and communal life. The tree (male) is thrust into the Earth (feminine). From earth and sky all life comes and the tree symbolizes the connection of both; all of creation including humanity. It is painted ochre the color of Indian skin. The flags are large pieces of cloth, red white, green, and blue. At about 6 feet a series of flags encircles the trunk and covers the flesh offerings tied in red 1 1/2 inch bundles also encircling the trunk.

2. The second day is dedicated to the Sacred Pipe of the Lakota Sioux. On my arrival I was told there would be no body piercing today. I was glad as I had great reservations in my ability to watch this part of the ritual. Fred told me something akin to this, "It is not torture but a ritual that connects the dancer more closely with all the suffering of humanity and the evolutionary suffering of all creation itself." (It was very good to have a Jungian as a guide to the Sundance. Fred and his wife Karen have been coming to the Sundance for 20 years. This was the day I attended the Sundance)

3. The third day all the dances are dedicated for healing. I was not present for this day.

4. The fourth day the tree and all ceremonial items are taken down. The flags are given to community members for making of blankets. The tobacco from the bundles is smoked "releasing the community's Sundance prayers to God." (I am sorry I do not know what is done with the flesh offerings. I assume the offerings are disposed of respectfully.)

The Dancers
The dancers come from several groups. The men wear red skirts and decorated beaded belts. The women wear long red dresses and skirts/shawls with fringe. No jewelry or glasses can be worn. One group are the four Lakota Sioux leaders including a woman from the Women's Group. Another group is the male dancers from the tribe itself. There are women dancers from the tribe or friends. Some of the dancers were white and came from Germany and Italy. Some were Vietnam veterans. Two dancers were pierced, one in his back and one on his front. These men were tethered to the tree during the dances by ropes connected to their body piercing. The men controlled their own movements either tightening or loosening the ropes as they danced on the ground opposite of each other with the tree in the center.

Flesh Offering
An individual may choose to make a flesh offering. This offering is a "symbol of the gift of myself for and a joining in the suffering of and a prayer for the other." Because of the time it takes, an individual may make between 1 to 4 flesh offerings. I chose to make a flesh offering for Jason's continued healing of mind, body and emotions.

I was escorted to the arcade by Nancy after a morning dance and was met by Fred who takes the flesh offering under sterile conditions. It is a small piece of flesh about 1/4 inch and just deep enough that the wound bleeds. I chose the right shoulder as Jason's right arm is amputated. I was given the Indian pipe (belonging to and used by Fred) to hold and pointed toward the west "The beginning direction for the Sioux" I held the pipe, closed my eyes and began to weep in sorrow for Jason's wounding in combat. Fred said, "Pray to the God you know for Jason's healing, while I do this." "It is done." I opened my eyes and on a very small piece of red cloth, about 1/4 long was my flesh. A patch of sage was placed on my wound to stop the bleeding and the 1 1/2 inch square bundle tied with string.

I was taken to be smudged, a woman was by the outside entrance to the dancer's arbor with a can of burning pine/sage. She held the can and I "purified" myself by moving the smoke over my body with my hands. Previously before the offering I had purified myself with steam. Two young men watched a large bonfire that kept rocks hot. They would pick out a rock on a pitchfork, bring it to you, pour water over it and one would cleanse one's self with the steam as with the smoke/incense.

One of the dancers from Italy, I believe Albert, was to be my escort to the tree. You do not touch the dancers during any of the rituals. He had a hard red bracelet, looking like fabric over wire, that I was to grasp so I did. He led me through the dancer rest area, out to the dance circle through the west gate where we both turned clockwise around and were smudged again with smoke as we entered. He led me to the tree. We were the only persons in the circle. I carried the offering bundle tied with string long enough to let me tie it to the tree. I also carried Jason's album of photos of his healing journey at WR. He lifted up the flags tied to my face height and I tied the bundle to the tree. I said a prayer for Jason's continued healing and was escorted back through the gate and rest area. I was smudged again as I existed the area.

My Introduction to the Community and Request for Prayers
A little later I was told I was to go to the singer/drummer area for an introduction. Jeff one of the analysts dressed in the dance costume made a "formal" introduction of me and my reason for being here. "Katy has a son named Jason who was seriously injured in Iraq last October. She has come to request our prayers for his healing. Please join in her prayers."

The Use of the Sacred Ceremonial Pipe for Jason's Healing
I returned to camp only to be told, "Come the leaders want you to "load the pipe."" Again I was escorted this time by Karen to a break area behind the dance circle. It was separated off by a tarp. We would be hidden from persons walking through the area. Fred said, "We have not done this before at a dance. This is a special honor." I was to pack the pipe and present it to the four leaders of the Sundance. Fred opened a small tobacco pouch, gave me the pipe to hold in my left hand facing west and said we would load the pipe from each of the six directions includes up (sky) and down (earth). I was to pray for Jason's healing all through this “packing the pipe." Fred reassured me that Jason would be healed. I am sorry I cannot remember what he said for each direction. Fred took a twig from the pouch to "tamp the tobacco down." The tobacco was a mixture that included sage-which I could identify.

I would take a pinch of the tobacco, extend my hand in the direction I was told and place in the pipe. Fred would then tamp the tobacco down each time. "Use big pinches" he encouraged me. As I lifted my hand to each direction I could feel power gather and come with the tobacco "into the pipe bowl." It was like holding wind and bringing it into the bowl. Fred added one direction that especially touched my heart. "Gather the circle of elders and all that lives on the earth." I made a circle in the air around me, placed the tobacco in the bowl and felt in the center of the community of believers past, present and future. I was now in Sacred space and time. I was participant and priest.

I was led to the South gate by Karen. She stood at my left, I asked, "Please do not let me do anything disrespectful of the ritual or people." Florentine and Fred and the other dance leaders came through the West gate and approached us. I was to offer the pipe to each person four times. I did so while the drums played and singers chanted. Each person before me was beautiful as I looked at them and they looked away (Indian cultural norm). The Indian woman head of the Women's Group was dressed in blue, not red. I believe Florentine took the pipe and all the leaders went to the tree. Karen said, "Fred is representing you in the smoking of the pipe." The sharing of the pipe took a few minutes. The leaders/priests were smoking this pipe for Jason's healing.

Then the leaders again approached me for the reverse of the ritual, once smoked the pipe was returned to the giver/supplicant. I cannot adequately describe my experience in the return of the pipe to me, I can only try. Each leader presented the pipe to me 4 times. I felt at one with them and the God of All. I looked at each as they handed me the pipe and thought "Namaste," meaning "The God in me greets the God in you." I knew each person had joined with me in praying for Jason's healing. I looked at each person overwhelmed by their beauty and their spirituality. I felt deeply saddened that white men had smoked this pipe, wrote treaties and broke the covenants made within the Sacred reality of Indian spirituality. I felt our participation in this ritual had reworked the broken bonds of trust and helped to heal them. I know in my soul, I asked forgiveness for what whites had done to Native Americans. (An unexpected spiritual experience (always a sign that this is not "of Katy's doing." As this ritual is for healing we should not be surprised that healing of memories between the peoples could occur if we are open and seek it.)

I was astonished, awed, humbled as I received the pipe from Florentine and the dancers walked away together. Fred remained behind and took the pipe from me. Karen led me back to the audience arbor.

Introduction by Florentine
In a few minutes Florentine came to the microphone and began to present my and Jason's story to the people present. He spoke in terms of all veterans and their service to the country and how we should honor them. Most emphatically he emphasized that this "white woman, white mother from Chicago found us to ask our prayers for healing of her white boy injured in Iraq." I was not offended by these terms but understood them to mean that I was an outsider who respected the power and spirituality of the Lakota Sioux and was sincerely asking for their help. I wanted to join with them as we prayed together for Jason's healing.

Then Florentine told us, "I may be out of order, but my grandmother used to sing a blessing for the men before they left for war. I would like to do this for this white mother and her son" Then he sang this beautifully haunting chant. I felt deeply humbled that Florentine would do this for Jason (and brings tears to my eyes again as I remember offering). Florentine spoke about all the tribal members who were present and were honored as serving in the military. He dedicated the next dance for Jason and me, for our healing and for all the veterans who were present.

Karen said, "We must give an offering to the drummers and singers" she went and returned with money that I pressed into the hand of Francis the leader of the drummers.

The Sundance for Jason's Healing
Karen and I went to the back of the dancers arbor to be smudged and wait to be called to the circle. We would peek through the cloth walls of the arbor and see who was being called to the dance. First the leaders, then the vets were placed in front of the west gate about 8 in all, then the men, the women and then friends of dancers. As we stood more vets would come and quickly be smudged and enter the dance circle; the word was spreading that the veterans were to be honored during this dance.

Finally I was called to the circle. I entered holding one of the leader's, named Scott, eagle wing ties of brightly tanned deer hide ribbons. We turned in the center of the gate and were smudged again. Scott led me to the tree to pray again for Jason. This time I carried the photo album of Jason's healing journey at WR. I squatted down at the tree and Scott placed the prayer flags over me. I prayed for Jason's healing and felt surrounded by the leaders. I felt the eagle wings brush my back on the left side and the right side. I stood up and Scott led me back to the circle. I was immediately in front of the vets and the leader sent a woman vet to be on my left, I assume for support and direction. I was very pleased to have her by my side. "Don't worry they will tell us what to do" she smiled.

The drumming and the chant began with strong clear voices and beat. During the dance, the two men were tethered to the pole and both danced with vigor. I felt them connected to the suffering of Jason and all those who suffer from war, especially the veterans who were dancing. Behind me I felt the strong male presence of the veterans who were dancing. I felt them as "buffalo energy" like you see in pictures of horses shaped from the waves of the ocean. The dancers' energy was "formed as the buffalo." I was intrigued by this experience knowing that the collective life of the Sioux is intricately and intimately connected to the buffalo. Sometimes I cried and blessings to Florentine as he would come to me and wipe my tears with his red handkerchief and give me words of encouragement, "Pray for your son, be strong." All I could say is "Thank you."

Often during the dance, all would raise their arms to the heavens, a gesture I understand as praise. During this time I would hold Jason's photo album with both hands and raise it to G-d, offering prayers for him and thanking G-d for Jason's life. All the colors I could see; the tree and its flags and bundles, the sky and the quality of sunlight, the dancers' clothes and the color of their skin were more alive and vibrant than I have ever experienced. It was as if it were a weaving of prayer and meaning most pleasing to the Universe. I could get lost in the color, my soul drank it in. I do not know how long the dance lasted. We were all led out in reverse order of entrance back to the dancers’ arbor.

After I entered the shade a reception line formed. All the veterans wanted to meet me and I thought that I should thank them individually. I shook hands and hugged them and thanked them for their service and participation in the dance. Then the women came and I did the same with all those who wanted to greet me. They assured me of their continued prayers for Jason. Florentine asked to see the pictures and with Fred looked at them. Then he said, "Can't look at anymore." I was escorted from the tent and returned to the camp.

Affirmation
Later Tom told me, "Did you hear, one of the drummers saw a spotted eagle. He flew overhead during the dance. It was a sign." I replied, "It is good, the eagle is a sign that our prayers are accepted as a suitable offering to G-d." I later looked up a "spotted eagle" which is not a species but an immature bald eagle. I was pleased, for me this means Jason's young soul "soars on the prayers we offered for his healing."





Invitation
When we were in the arbor after the dance, Florentine said, "Please invite Jason to come next year! You come back too." I was so honored that Florentine invited Jason. I pray that Jason and Jodi when they are ready would attend the Sundance and meet their new brothers and community of friendship. May Jason reap the healing and blessings of this Sundance for the rest of his life.
Thankfulness
I have no adequate way to express my deepest thanks to Florentine and the Lakota Sioux, for Fred and Karen, for the Jungians, for all the dancers for inviting, for accepting me into the community, and joining with me in prayers for healing. All I can say is "Namaste" and Many, many blessings for the journey for each of you and for the Beloved community for we are all one.

Post Reflection especially for Roman Catholics:
I love liturgy and many aspects of the Lakota Sioux religious ritual awakened in me a comparison with the Roman Catholic ritual of the mass. I was struck because of the archetype mentioned earlier is clearly expressed/experienced in both rituals. In other words Jung is right J Again these are my beginning reflections.

The total Sundance is the communal prayer and praise to G-d the Creator. I did not experience a focus on one person (priest). The dance leaders were not alone but always with others and the community within the circle (church) danced. Even those under the "audience arbors" would dance in place, although not all did.

1. The tree in the center decorated and created by the community. I immediately experienced it as an altar for RC's where sacrifice is offered and the center for communal worship.
2. The flesh offering: we call the liturgy, "The sacrifice of the mass" The Sioux use a very small piece of flesh as an "offering of self for others", as Jesus offered himself for others.
3. The smudging with steam or herbs. For me the natural connection is the signing of the cross with holy water when we enter or exit a church. Also the incensing of the congregation and sacred objects as during Easter service.
4. Offering and smoking of pipe. I experienced the pipe offering to be the Offertory, consecration and communion . The pipe itself is a vessel akin to an incense burner in the Jewish tradition used in the Temple. A gift is brought from the community, is blessed and offered. It is transformed by the smoking of the tobacco from object to prayer. It is given back to the community. For me communion was created in the return of the pipe to me, a representative of the community.
5. When Florentine wiped my face during the Sundance, I felt him as Veronica wiping the face of Jesus on the way to Calvary. I think this act of compassion is at the Heart of the Roman Catholic and Lakota Sioux spirituality and liturgy. I can think of no other greater connection to the Creator of All.

Pope Francis Upcoming Encyclical- Integral Ecology

http://www.cathnewsusa.com/2015/05/pope-francis-integral-ecology/?newsletter=1

Irish Bishop: Referendum Not ‘Defeat for Humanity,’ But Increases Human Happiness

Bishop Willie Walsh gets the Irish's hierarchy's "wake up" call about marriage equality! I am glad that this Irish bishop had the courage to speak out and challenge the Vatican doom and gloom view of "disaster for humanity." Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.arcwp.org

https://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/29/bishop-referendum-not-defeat-for-humanity-but-increases-human-happiness/

Bishop: Referendum Not ‘Defeat for Humanity,’ But

 Increases Human Happiness


Bishop Willie Walsh
An Irish bishop criticized Vatican Secretary of State 
Cardinal Pietro Parolin’s claim that Ireland’s passage of marriage equality
 was a “defeat for humanity,” saying the comment 
was inappropriate and not likely approved by Pope Francis.
Bishop Willie Walsh, Emeritus of the Diocese of Killaloe, spoke with Irish broadcaster RTE and contested Parolin’s conclusion as inconsistent with Pope Francis’ more inclusive style. Walsh told the interviewer:
“I was quite uncomfortable with that statement. I mean there has been lots of disasters in the world but I certainly would not support the belief that the referendum was among them.
“To suggest that over a million people who went to the polls and voted yes were so false in their judgment that it was a disaster for humanity is not something I can accept . . .

Thursday, May 28, 2015

On Same-Sex Marriage, Catholics Are Leading the Way MAY 27, 2015 New York Timesby Frank Bruni

"Take a look at this list of countries: Belgium, Canada, Spain, Argentina, Portugal, Brazil, France, Uruguay, Luxembourg and Ireland. Name two things that they have in common.

They don’t share a continent, obviously.  Or a language.  But in all of them, the Roman Catholic Church has more adherents, at least nominally, than any other religious denomination does.  And all of them belong to the vanguard of 20 nations that have decided to make same-sex marriage legal.

In fact, countries with a Catholic majority or plurality make up half of those where two men or two women can now wed or will soon be able to.

Ireland, obviously, is the freshest addition to the list. It’s also, in some ways, the most remarkable one. It’s the first country to approve same-sex marriage by a popular referendum. The margin wasn’t even close. About 62 percent of voters embraced marriage equality.


Irish voters nonetheless rejected the church’s formal opposition to same-sex marriage. This act of defiance was described, accurately, as an illustration of church leaders’ loosening grip on the country."

But in falling out of line with the Vatican, Irish people are actually falling in line with their Catholic counterparts in other Western countries, including the United States...
Catholics in the United States appear to be more, not less, progressive about gay rights than Americans in general are. In an especially ambitious survey conducted over the course of 2014 by the Public Religion Research Institute, about 60 percent of Americans who called themselves Catholic said that they approved of same-sex marriage, versus about 30 percent who didn’t. The spread among all respondents was 54 to 38, and the group that clearly stood in the way of same-sex marriage wasn’t Catholics. It was evangelical Protestants..."



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Irish Lead Social Revolution for Human and Spiritual Rights of Gays in Vote for Marriage Equality by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP plus link to excellent article by Mary Hunt



Bridget Mary's Response: The Irish are leading the social revolution for gay rights by approving marriage equality. Their vote affirms everyone's holy union. It is  a victory for humanity, and an affirmation of justice, compassion and equality.  
The Vatican is on the wrong side of history again. Cardinal Pierlene's statement that the Irish vote supporting gay marriage as a "defeat for humanity,"reflects the Vatican's failure to understand that the spiritual equality and human rights of LGBT persons is the main moral issue in marriage equality.   
 Perhaps, it is the young adults in Ireland who are leading the Catholic Church forward at this time in history. The values of Gospel living and loving are lessons they have obviously learned well. 
In the words of an old song : "It's a great day for the Irish and I am proud of my homeland!" Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.arcwp.org

Mary Hunt's excellent analysis: http://religiondispatches.org/did-ireland-just-bury-the-catholic-church/
The photo on the front page of the Washington Post said it all on the day after Ireland’s landmark same-sex marriage referendum. Two elderly Carmelite nuns in full habits were pictured leaving their polling place in Malahide, not far from Dublin. The caption read: “Roman Catholic leaders have led the opposition, but opinion polls signaled approval.”
 "But the Irish referendum means that a top-down, clergy-heavy model of church heard its death knell in Dublin. As it reverberates around the world the Gospel message might get a little more airtime. As the Irish say, it will make a glass eye cry—with joy."

Vatican Gloom and Doom View on Irish Referendum Approving Gay Marriage
 http://www.aol.com/article/2015/05/27/vatican-irish-gay-marriage-vote-a-defeat-for-humanity/21187566/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl2%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D-853854980

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The Vatican's secretary of state has called the Irish vote to legalize gay marriage a "defeat for humanity," evidence of the soul-searching going on in Catholic circles after the predominantly Roman Catholic country overwhelmingly rejected traditional church teaching on marriage.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin said he was saddened by the landslide decision, in which more than 62 percent of Irish voters said "yes," despite church teaching that marriage is only between a man and woman.
In comments to reporters Tuesday evening, Parolin referred to remarks by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, that the results showed the church needed to do a "reality check" since it clearly wasn't reaching young people with its message.
"I don't think you can speak only about a defeat for Christian principles, but a defeat for humanity," he said.
The Catholic Church in Ireland has lost much of its moral authority following widespread sex abuse scandals and a general secularization of society. Martin himself called the vote part of a "social revolution" that required the church to look at whether it had "drifted completely away from young people."

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Eucharist: A Meal of Mutual Empowerment "EUCHARIST IN TURMOIL"Eucharistic Prayers by Diarmuid O'Murchu

http://www.diarmuid13.com/eucharistic-prayers

"EUCHARIST  IN  TURMOIL"Eucharistic Prayers by Diarmuid O'Murchu
"The attached Eucharistic Prayers (hence EPs)seek to honour the second interpretation of Eucharist as a ritual of the open, egalitarian table, to which all are welcome regardless of class or status, and from which nobody should ever be excluded. The priest is a ritual facilitator, very much in keeping with the role of the mother in Jewish Shabat meal, the original model used by Christians in developing Eucharistic celebrations, but also honouring the oldest definition of Priesthood known to all Christian Churches, namely the vision of the priest as theservus servorum Dei (the servant of the servants of God). In this Eucharistic context, the Priest has no power other than that of being a facilitator for empowerment in the ritual context. 

The primary power in every Eucharistic celebration resides with the living Spirit of God, not with the priest or people. From earliest times the Church has honoured this fact through the notion of the Epiclesis: the invocation of the Holy Spirit. When I studied theology, I was told by my Jesuit professor, that the Epiclesis is the heart and soul of the Eucharistic prayer. It was several years later before I fully internalized that truth.  

The Catholic Church uses a double invocation of the Holy Spirit, which I have retained the attached EPs, firstly invoking the Spirit over the gifts of bread and wine, and secondly over the people of God to reinforce their unity as a Christian people. The first invocation comes before the words of Consecration, indicating that the real power for change in the Eucharistic elements (however we understand it) is activated through the invocation of the Holy Spirit and not through any special words uttered by the priest. The second tends to be located as the second paragraph after the Eucharistic acclamation. 

Other Christian traditions combine the two into one, with the primary emphasis of invoking the Spirit upon the people, thus making the people of focus of the Spirit’s transformative power. Some commentators (e.g Crockett 1999) suggest that this may have been the original emphasis when the concept of the Epiclesis was first developed. I rather like the notion of the double Epiclesis as it truly highlights where the emphasis should rest. The Holy Spirit, who is the agent of all creativity throughout the length and breadth of creation, logically becomes the primary agent for change and transformation even in the Eucharist itself. 

Who is meant to invoke the Holy Spirit? My impression is that theologians are quite clear on this matter but may not always state it forthrightly: the baptized people of God gathered in worship. It is both their privilege and responsibility, and should not be taken from them to fulfill clerical power or control. Ritually, it would therefore be ideal for the gathered body to pray aloud and together the two paragraphs related to the Epiclesis. Gestures can also be added and in my experience they enrich the underlying meaning. For the first invocation all can be invited to extend their hands over the gifts of bread and wine. And for the second Epiclesis, with the emphasis on the unity of the gathered group, people can be invited to link hand to shoulder with the person to their right or left. 

In theological terms, what is needed primarily for a valid Eucharist Prayer is the invocation of the Holy Spirit (Epiclesis), whether done as one articulation or in a two-fold expression. What then of the words of Consecration? These words certainly belong to the inherited tradition, and carry a primordial memory of what Jesus said at the Last Supper, and probably at several other meals as well. In praying these two paragraphs, we are touching into the power of sacred memory. Perhaps, therefore, instead of retaining the words exclusively for the priest, they should be prayed by those in the worshipping group who carry responsibilities around the ongoing life of that particular community, e.g., a parish council in a parochial setting, the staff of a school or Retreat Centre, the leadership team of a religious community..."   

Homily: "When the Spirit Comes to Town”, Acts 2:1-21 May 24, 2015 Priest Annie Watson, ARCWP

Pictured left to right are: Fr. Ryan Cox, Annie Watson, and Fr. Daniel Kostakis at Bloomington Inclusive Mass on May 24, 2015. Annie celebrated her first liturgy as an ARCWP priest.

Today is Pentecost Sunday. This is the day when the Spirit blew into town. The Spirit is like that . . . blustery and unpredictable. Remember how Jesus describes the Spirit in John 3? “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.”

That’s what happened on the Day of Pentecost. The followers of Jesus, dozens of men and women, including the Apostles, were still hiding out in Jerusalem, fifty days after Passover and the death and resurrection of Jesus. “Pentecost,” in fact, means “fiftieth.”

This may be the most ironic day in the history of Christianity, the day we celebrate the birthday of the church. The reason why this day is so ironic is because the Spirit came to town on the day the people were celebrating the Law!

Pentecost commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai. It is the holiday that celebrates the Jewish Law. There were more than the Ten Commandments, by the way. There were 613 commandments or laws in ancient Israel, known as the Halakha.

The Halakha did not distinguish between religious and non-religious laws. Laws that pertained to religious life and laws that pertained to day-to-day living were all lumped together. Pentecost, the celebration of Jewish Law, was very important to them. It was the basis of their national unity and civilization.

What perfect timing, then, for the arrival of the cantankerous Spirit! This is like Jesse James coming to town and crashing your wedding!

Law and Spirit have always had an awkward relationship. They live in tension with one another. Whether we realize it or not, much of our lives are spent trying to discern when to act according to “the letter of the Law” and when to act according to “the spirit of the Law.”
Law is necessary, of course. We can’t have civilization without laws. Some laws are made to be broken, as people like to point out, but not all laws. Without Law we have total anarchy, and no one wants to have total anarchy.

And yet, isn’t the Spirit a higher way? When the Spirit comes to town, aren’t we elevated in some way? Without the Spirit’s input, the Law can be inflexible and oppressive. The Spirit, on the other hand, likes to shake things up a bit.

For example, the Law says, “Everyone needs to speak the same language.” The Spirit says, “Everyone can speak their own language.” Does that sound familiar?

We see this in Acts chapter 2. The Law-abiding citizens of Jerusalem and the pilgrims who were there to celebrate the Law of Moses were confounded by the fact that multiple languages were being spoken. This was so irritating to folks that they began to claim these people were drunk, even at 9 a.m.

People seem to prefer uniformity and order. In our own time and place, law-abiding citizens also scream for unity of language. “Speak English or go back home!” we say. This is the voice of Law, not Spirit.

When the Spirit is absent, people are encouraged to speak the same language and think the same way. Liberty of conscience is discouraged. Freedom of thought is frowned upon. When the Spirit comes to town, however, people become free to prophesy, see visions, and dream dreams—in their native language of course!

It’s not that the Law strictly prohibits those things. It’s just that the Law just doesn’t encourage those things. The Law has to work harder when people are prophesying, seeing visions, and dreaming dreams. Society becomes “less manageable” when the Spirit comes to town.

Again, it is ironic that the Spirit came to town on a day in which people were celebrating the giving of the Law. It’s like there was a new sheriff in town, and yet a sheriff that operates beyond the limitations and contradictions of the Law—a sheriff that operates according to the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law.

In terms of our understanding of the Bible, we can say this more playfully: the spirit of the law creates more “wiggle room.” And wiggle room makes some people uncomfortable.
I read the following on Wikipedia so it must be true: “When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words of the law, but not necessarily the intent of those who wrote the law. Conversely, when one obeys the spirit of the law but not the letter, one is doing what the authors of the law intended, though not necessarily adhering to the literal wording.”

The same could also be said for the rules and laws of one’s religious institution. The Catholic Church follows what we call “canon law.” There are 1,752 canons or laws that govern the Catholic Church. Among other things, canon law limits who can prophesy, see visions, and dream dreams by setting strict parameters around the definition of those who can receive Holy Orders.

When Canon Law comes to town, limitations are drawn up that favor those who are “in charge.” When Canon Law comes to town, the powerful are supported by coercive forces. When Canon Law comes to town, women, married priests, and the LGBT community are silenced.

Canon Law 1024 states that only a baptized man can receive sacred ordination. Of course, they must be heterosexual, unmarried and celibate as well. When asked why this cannot change, the Church claims their hands are tied.

The Church does not have the authority to ordain women, they say, because Christ chose his apostles only from among men, because this has been the practice of the Church since the time of Christ, and because the Church has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for “His” Church.

The Catholic Church is very adept at following the letter of the law, but not so adept at following the spirit of the law. In fact, the church often ignores the fact that the Spirit has already come to town and thrown a party for equality!

Although the Apostle Peter himself claimed that our sons and daughters will prophesy and the Spirit will be poured out on both men and women, there are still places in Christianity today, 2,000 years later, that are debating whether or not women can be priests or pastors. Religious institutions that follow the letter of the law more skillfully than the spirit of the law can kill the spirit.

And yet when the Spirit comes to town, the nature of power changes. Power becomes much more democratic. Rules evolve, if not dissolve altogether. Peace and harmony replaces law and order as that which keeps the community together.

In Acts 2, Peter himself is quoting from the prophet Joel, who predated him by a few hundred years. Joel is the one who states that our sons and daughters will prophesy. Why, then, are we still debating the Spirit’s calling of women?

Last week, as you know, I was ordained a priest by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. We were all gathered together in one place, a modern day Jerusalem called Tampa, Florida. And while we all believe in and adhere to certain laws, rules, and customs, we were open to the Spirit paying us a visit.

The Spirit came to Tampa, the wind blew where it chose, and five women were ordained to the priesthood and diaconate. It was our Day of Pentecost, a week early in terms of the lectionary calendar, although the Spirit hardly sees the lectionary calendar as a “legal boundary.”


As I stand here this evening, I recognize that the Spirit has also come to Bloomington, Indiana in general and to this little congregation in particular. The Spirit is blustery and unpredictable. And it’s ready to throw a birthday party for the church. Don’t shut the windows!

www.arcwp.org