Thursday, April 27, 2017

Pope Francis on Inclusvity


Why the only future worth building includes everyone

17:52 minutes · TED2017
A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you, says His Holiness Pope Francis in this searing TED Talk delivered directly from Vatican City. In a hopeful message to people of all faiths, to those who have power as well as those who don't, the spiritual leader provides illuminating commentary on the world as we currently find it and calls for equality, solidarity and tenderness to prevail. "Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the 'other' is not a statistic, or a number," he says. "We all need each other."

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community, Third Sunday of Easter, Beverly Bingle RWCP

There they go, Mr. and Mrs. Cleopas.
Going in the wrong direction.
Away from Jerusalem… disappointed, confused, afraid.
Then they meet up with a stranger.
They walk along together, talking about the scriptures.
They share a meal.
And they come to know Jesus in the breaking of the bread.
Scholars say that this story of the travelers on the road to Emmaus
shows Luke’s storytelling ability at its best.
It started as a simple story that grew through the years
until Luke made it into a narrative
and enhanced it with scriptural echoes
of the long Jewish tradition of hospitality
where people encounter the divine
in sharing a meal with a stranger.
In its present form,
the story reflects the pattern of early Christian worship—
hearing the Scriptures proclaimed and sharing the meal.
And that’s still the pattern of our worship today.
That pattern has not changed.
The gospels tell us story after story of Jesus breaking bread—
on the plain, on the mountainside,
at the homes of friends, at the homes of sinners.
No one is turned away, not even Judas at the Last Supper.
Everybody is welcome.
Everybody is included.
That’s what we’re supposed to do at every Mass.
But that pattern has changed.
We have to wonder how our institutional church
got to the point of making all those rules
to exclude people from the table.
Sure, there have been some times throughout history
when it made sense to be careful,
those times when Christianity was being persecuted
and you could be jailed or killed for celebrating Mass.
But here in the United States, now, with us today?
Instead of walking along the way with people,
instead of inviting them to stop a while with us,
instead of sharing a meal and breaking bread with them,
we still have rules on the books
that say they’re not welcome at the table.
Some of them are rules about church practices.
Skip Mass last Sunday?
Not welcome.
Didn’t go to communion during the Easter season?
Well, you can’t go now.
Haven’t been to confession in a year?
Take communion in a non-Catholic church?
Then you’re not allowed at the Catholic table.
And then there are the pelvic issues.
Divorced and remarried without an annulment?
Practicing contraception?
Think that homosexuality is not an “intrinsic disorder?”
That abortion is okay to save the life of the mother?
Any one of those, according to the rules,
bars you from communion.
And there are bunches of other rules.
Thank God for Pope Francis,
who calls us to walk with people where they really are,
not where we think they should be.
Francis looks at these two travelers heading off to Emmaus
and says that
“We need a Church unafraid of going forth into their night.
We need a church capable of meeting them on their way.
We need a Church capable of entering into their conversation.
We need a Church able to dialogue with those disciples who,
having left Jerusalem behind,
are wandering aimlessly, alone, with their own disappointment,
disillusioned by a Christianity
now considered barren, fruitless soil,
incapable of generating meaning.”
The Pope encourages us live our faith in the real world.
He tells us to reach out in service without judging people.
Just like Jesus did, Pope Francis wants us to welcome everyone.
He reminds us that we are one human people the world over,
living in a common home.
The rules that keep people away from communion
don’t make sense any more,
so we don’t follow them here at Holy Spirit.
We live, as Fr. Ed Hays puts it,
“in unrelenting communion,
even if we are unaware of it,
with God and the Spirit of God.
Life is constant holy communion
because the world was created to be cosmic communion
between God and every creature and entity in the world.
This communion flows from life
as a seamless unity
of every person, creature, plant, animal, and star.”
The rule that Jesus shows us
is bigger than any church rule.
He did not throw anybody off the mountain.
He did not bar anyone from eating at the table with him.
We who walk the way with him,
we who have been created
in constant, unrelenting communion
with God and with all being
are always welcome at the table…
and so is everyone else.
Thanks be to God!

Public Domain
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue
Toledo, OH 43606
(Washington Church)

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006

Sanctuary by Carrie Newcomer, YouTube Music Video

Emmaus is Nowhere because Emmaus is Everywhere: a sermon on Luke 24 – Easter 3A by Rev. Dawn Hutchings

"This sermon was inspired on my own journey to Emmaus where in the space of the same afternoon I heard a stranger declare: "Christianity is dead!" and Karen Armstrong's now famous TED talk about her call for a world Charter for Compassion.

Has anybody here ever been to Emmaus? Which one? According to the latest issue of Biblical Archeology there are at least nine possible locations that are candidates for the Biblical town of Emmaus. Historians tell us that there is no record of any village called Emmaus in any other ancient source. We simply don’t know where Emmaus might have been. Tradition, tells us that it might have been a place just a few hours walk from Jerusalem. New Testament scholars, Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan suggest that Emmaus is nowhere. Emmaus is nowhere precisely because Emmaus is everywhere. Each and every one of us has at one time, or indeed for some of us, many times, traveled along the road to Emmaus.

I know that I have been on the road to Emmaus most of my life. I’ve had lots of company on the Road to Emmaus. I’ve had many conversations along the way discussing, with anyone who’d care to accompany me, the ifs, ands, and buts of Christianity, of religion, and indeed of life. If you haven’t traveled down the road to Emmaus you must be very skilled in the fine art of turning off your brain and if you check you just might discover that your heart isn’t actually beating.

It’s so easy to imagine, those two characters striding down the Road to Emmaus that we can almost hear them talking, maybe even arguing about what happened. What on earth were they to make of all this! Jesus was supposed to be the Messiah. Jesus was the One who had come to liberate Israel, to free the people from oppression. Jesus was the One who was supposed to draw the people back to God, restore the relationship between God and God’s people. Now Jesus was gone, and what had changed? Now, Jesus was gone, and the Roman Empire was still oppressing them, still inflicting such pain and hardship, still killing them. Was it all a mistake? Was it all a lie? Had they been fooled by some kind of cruel hoax—were they wrong to put their hopes in this man from Nazareth? They had trusted Jesus believed in Jesus, followed Jesus. Their lives had been changed. They had seen the lives of others changed and they had expected even greater changes to come. Jesus had confronted corrupt powers. Jesus had charmed great crowds. Jews and Gentiles alike responded to the truth of Jesus’ teaching. Rich and poor had come to Jesus, believing in Jesus’ healing power. But Jesus had been shamed, and ridiculed, and humiliated, and crucified and now Jesus was dead. Well, was Jesus dead? Some said they’d seen Jesus, alive! Not that Jesus had survived the crucifixion by some miracle of strength, but that Jesus had risen from the dead. They seemed so totally convinced by their own experience…were they confused by their own grief? Were they delirious? Had they loved this Jesus so much—invested so much hope in Jesus life and leadership—that they simply could not let him go? And what did ‘resurrection” mean? Apparently it was not the resuscitation of a corpse. Jesus wasn’t revived to resume his former life; to take up his broken body until the day he might die again. No, somehow this was some new mode of being that seemed to be spiritual to some and yet real to others. And, if Jesus were risen from the dead, what would be the point of all that? What was the point to a Messiah—to a presumed political and religious leader—if Jesus wasn’t able to lead people here on earth? How could Jesus restore Israel when he had so easily been defeated by a handful of Roman guards? How could he bring release to the captives, how could he bring justice for the poor, how could Jesus advocate for the widows and the homeless? How could Jesus call people to account for all the ways they had strayed from God’s intent, now? What good could come from some kind of spiritual ghost? We can hear these two friends wrestling with each other and with their own hearts on the road that day! "Read more of this post

"Why Anti-Feminism Hurts All Genders" by Ellen Friedrichs

1. Patriarchy Hurts Everyone

"Though individuals may hold patriarchal ideas, when we talk about “the patriarchy,” we aren’t putting responsibility on any one person.
Rather, we’re referring to an unjust social system that enforces rigidly divided gender roles, and in doing so oppresses people of all a/genders. This system is often made up of social, political, and/or economic mechanisms that promote cis male dominance over all other a/genders.
One of the most prominent voices to challenge the forces of patriarchy is feminist scholar bell hooks who has been writing and teaching about radical social issues since the 1970s. hooks has explained patriarchy as:
A political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.
This view of the patriarchy does not implicate lone men. Rather, it positions men, too, as victims of an oppressive system.
And how are they victimized? In countless ways.
For example, since patriarchal societies tell men they’re expected to be sex-driven, violent, dominant, and emotionless, when they don’t live up to these rigid expectations, they’re punished from a shockingly early age.
Just think about all toddlers who are told that “boys don’t cry.” And then think about how these kids grow up assuming toxic masculinity is the only way to protect themselves against one of patriarchy’s favorite strategies: the constant reminder that there’s nothing worse than being perceived as feminine.
At first glance, it might seem like a/gender minorities are the sole victims of patriarchal thinking. But when we dig just a little deeper, it becomes clear that this is far from the case.

2. The Foundation of Anti-Feminism Is Often Misaligned with People’s Actual Values

There have always been people who will denounce efforts to help evolve our understanding of gender roles and who are against expanding rights to traditionally marginalized groups.
For example, there was opposition to women’s suffrage, there was opposition to the birth control pill, and there remains opposition to the fight for basic human rights for people of all a/gender identities and sexual orientations.
But the origins of the modern anti-feminist movement generally emerged out of specific opposition to legal abortion and to the – Oh my god! How has this still not passed? – Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)...

...feminism is fundamentally an egalitarian movement that aims not only to fight sexism, but also all other forms domination.
So far from stripping these men of power, it’s actually a really good tool to help them advance in the face of the actual forces that are holding them back."

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Feast of St Catherine of Siena, (1347-1380) Doctor of the Church “Woman for our Times” April 29 2017 , Music minister Linda Miska, Cantor Russ Banner Co-Presiders Deacon Elena Garcia ARCWP, Katy Zatsick ARCWP

St. Catherine of Siena by Simon Vouet

Welcome: Katy
Presider:  In the name of God Holy One, Jesus our brother, and Sofia courage for liberation, we begin our worship together All:  Amen

Opening Song: #414 “All are Welcome in this Place” Verses 1, 2, 5

Gathering Prayer All: Oh Father all-powerful, eternal God, Oh Boundless most gentle Charity! I see in you and know in my heart that you are the way, the truth and the life by which everyone must travel who is destined to come to you---The way, truth and life which your unutterable love establishes and fashions out of the true knowledge that is the Wisdom that is your only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Catherine, Genoa, October 1376)   
                                                                *see end note

Healing our souls and spirit this Easter season
Presider:  As we celebrate the feast of your daughter Catherine and the rising of your son Jesus, may we be the face of God in our world by living Gospel compassion and justice. Jesus, you are compassion. All:  Jesus, we will live compassion and do justice.

Presider: Jesus, your death reminds us that we must be willing to suffer the consequences of living truth to power. Jesus, you walk with us to give us courage. All: Jesus, we will walk with others as they face challenges as St Catherine did and stand against systemic injustice in our communities, nation and world.

Presider: Jesus, in your rising, you show us the path to liberation from structures of domination, Jesus, you are liberator. All: Jesus, we will live your vision of liberation and justice, one with your peoples, your planet and all creation. 

Presider:  Let us pause now for reflection.  Place your hand over your heart and breathe in God’s compassionate love for you…be aware that God forgives, frees and heals us…Let us let go of guilt, live justly, and love tenderly. Let us ask for healing of our soul wounds, mind and spirit.  We are the face of God in our world… 

(Extend hands and recite prayer of General Absolution and prayer for healing) 

All:  God, Mother-Father of mercies who through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, have reconciled the world and sent Sofia your Holy Spirit among us so that we might live and be Jesus in our time and place. May we live to bring to its fruition the kindom of God on Earth. God give us pardon, healing and peace always; we only need to be open to God’s reconciliation and peace. We forgive ourselves for the times when we were closed to your healing and we forgive others when they were not, as well.  Amen. 

Today’s Readings
First Reading: Acts 2: 14, 22-33 …The word of God. All: Thanks be to God.
Psalm: Response #16 Sung All: “You will show us the path that leads to life”
Second Reading: From The Dialogue by St Catherine. In this teaching, she describes our relationship to the Trinity as God revealed to her: 
“It was with providence that I created you, and when I contemplated my creature in myself I fell in love with the beauty of my creation.  It pleased me to create you in my image and likeness with great providence.  I provided you with the gift of memory so that you might hold fast my benefits and be made a sharer in my own, the eternal Father’s power.  I gave you understanding so that in the wisdom of my only-begotten Son you might comprehend and know what I the eternal Father want, I who gave you graces with such burning love.  I gave you a will to love, making you a sharer in the Holy Spirit’s mercy, so that you might love what your understanding sees and knows.  All this my gentle providence did, only that you might be capable of understanding and enjoying me and rejoicing in my goodness by seeing me eternally.” (p 277) The inspired word of St Catherine of Siena All: Thanks be to God.
Sung: “Alleluia” before and after Gospel 
Gospel: Luke 24:13-35 …The Good News of Salvation! Response All: Glory and praise to our Savior Jesus Christ!  

Shared Homily
Have you felt God’s love as St Catherine did?  Have you experienced God’s presence as the disciples did on the Way to Emmaus?  When have you brought God’s love to others-family, friends, community as St Catherine did? What words of St Catherine, the Acts of the Apostles or the Gospel speak to you today? 

Profession of Faith All:  We believe in Love Creator of the universe who calls us to be the compassion of God in our world. We believe in Jesus; whose death and resurrection reveals that God’s liberating love overcomes all oppression including death and evil. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of Wisdom Sophia, who energizes and guides us to live Gospel equality in inclusive communities where all are welcome everywhere in our nation and world. We believe in the communion of saints our heavenly friends who inspire us to live holy lives. We believe in the love that does justice and heals our world. Amen

Prayers of the Community
Presider: We come before you as St Catherine did every day to pray for her family, her community, the Pope, the Roman Catholic Church and problems in her world, so much like our own time. We the community of Mary Mother of Jesus you gathered here today, bring our prayers to you.  
Presider: That you may free us of our doubts of who you are and who we are beloved daughters and sons of God.  May we trust in your Love for our world and each of us, we pray. Response: Loving God and St Catherine, hear our prayer. 

Presider:  That we may live compassion and mutuality, letting go of all selfishness and self-interest; reaching out to refugees, to immigrants, those without health care, those who are homeless and needing education we pray.  Response: Loving God and St Catherine, hear our prayer.

Presider:  That we will do all we can to save all life on earth, we pray.  Response: Loving God and St Catherine, hear our prayer. 

Presider:  That the sick may be healed and all those who are suffering in mind, body or spirit, especially (mention names either aloud or in your heart), we pray.  Response: Loving God and St Catherine, hear our prayer. 
Presider: For what else shall we pray?

Presider: O Holy One, we walk in faith that nothing is impossible as we care for others.  As St Catherine prayed and acted; may we ask for others, seek justice for others, knock on doors for others in need through the power of your Spirit Sophia working in us to heal each other and the world. All: Amen 

Offertory Song: #463 “Eye hath not Seen” Verses 3, 4 (replace “him” “Lord” with God)
Presider:  Blessed are you, O God, Seeker of all.  This bread is your MMOJ community seeking to speak truth to power with the courage of St. Catherine.  Through your divine providence, we have this bread to offer, it will become for us the Bread of Life.   ALL:  Blessed be God forever.
Presider:  Blessed are you, O God, Father and Mother of all.  This wine is our asking and seeking to be in solidarity, with peace and justice makers for all those who suffer in our country and our planet. Through your divine providence, we have this wine to offer, it will become our spiritual drink.   ALL:  Blessed be God forever.
All: Blessed are you, God of all life, through your goodness we have this bread and this wine, the whole of creation, and our own lives to offer as St Catherine offered hers to you. Through this sacred meal may we become your new creation. Amen.  

Liturgy of the Eucharist  (Please join us around the altar, front seat for those who sit) 

ALL:  We are gathered as a community to celebrate the gift of life pulsating in the glories of Nature everywhere and remembering the life and times of St Catherine of Siena. 

Eucharistic Prayer 

Presider:  Holy One, You stirred the waters of creation, and you dwell in us. ALL:  And in every living being. 

Presider: Lift up your hearts. ALL:  We lift them up to our Creator who loves us unconditionally in whom all are One. 

Presider: Let us give thanks for the Breath of life in all forms throughout the Universe.

ALL:  As St Catherine taught, it is right to give glory to God present everywhere and in everything, with our thanks and praise. 

ALL (sing):  We are holy (3x); You are holy (3x); I am holy (3x); We are holy (3x).  (Karen Drucker.) 

ALL:  Sofia, Holy Spirit, we bring you these gifts that they may become the Christ Presence.  Fill us with reverence for all creatures, great and small. 

ALL: (extend arms):  On the night before Jesus died, while at supper with his friends, he 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.  

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. 

Presider: Let us proclaim the mystery of faith. ALL:  This bread is you; this bread is me.  We are one body of Christ in communion with all creation. 
Voice 1:  Christ of the Cosmos, we thank you that our bodies are made of stardust and that every place we turn, you are present, loving us.  You 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:  Risen Christ, 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.”  So we remember all those in our world who are working for environmental healing, human rights and justice for all. 

Voice 3:  Christ of the Cosmos, we remember Mary, mother of Jesus, faithful disciple. We remember Catherine of Siena, teacher, advisor to Popes, healer of those who were ill, peacemaker amongst City States and comforter of those condemned to die. May we praise you in union with them and live your compassion now. (You may add names of those living or deceased either aloud or in the silence of your heart.)

All:  Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in unity with the Holy Spirit, all glory, honor and praise to you, loving God, forever and ever.  (sung): Amen 
ALL (sung): Our Father and Mother, who are in heaven…. 

Sign of Peace

Presider:  Risen Jesus, you said to your disciples, “My peace I leave you, my peace I give you.”  Look on the faith of all those gathered here as we journey to Emmaus with you.  ALL: Grant us your peace.  Help us to spread your peace throughout the world, always and everywhere, no exceptions.  Amen
Presider:  May the peace of God be always with us, and we will start by offering a sign of that peace among ourselves.  Let us experience Christ’s Easter Peace in a group hug.

Peace song:  “Peace is Flowing Like a River” joy is…, love is…, Alleluia, Alleluia – #501

Litany for the Breaking of the Bread 

ALL: Christ of the Cosmos, may we live our oneness with you and all creation…may we work for the healing of your earth…may we celebrate justice rising up in global communion everywhere.  Amen. 
Co-Presiders: This is the Cosmic Christ in whom all creation lives and moves and has its being.  All are invited to share in this banquet of love and celebrate our Oneness with all living beings on the planet and the universe. ALL:  We are the Body of Christ. 

Communion: Instrumental-Linda
ALL (sing):  You are the face of God; I hold you in my heart.  You are my family; you are the face of God.  3 times                                                              (Chant by Karen Drucker) 

Prayer after Communion, Presider: “We were enclosed, O eternal Father, within the garden of your bosom.  You drew us out of your holy mind like a flower petaled with our soul’s three powers…You gave us memory so that we might be able to hold your blessings and so bring forth the flower of glory to your name and the fruit of profit to ourselves.  You gave us understanding to understand your truth and your will---your will that wants only that we be made holy—so that we might bear first the flower of glory and then the fruit of virtue.  And you gave us our will so that we might be able to love what our understanding has seen and what our memory has held.  For this, we praise and thank you.”  
ALL:  Amen, Amen, Amen.  (from Catherine’s Prayers, pp187-188)
Prayers of Gratitude, Announcements, Introduction of visitors 

Concluding Rite  
Co-Presiders:  The Risen Christ is with us, loving us.  ALL: and loves through us. 

Closing Community Blessing-from St Catherine’s prayers. 

All (with arms extended):  “Eternal Trinity, mystery as deep as the sea.  You could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself.  For you are a fire ever burning and never consumed, which consumes all that selfish love that fills my being.  You are a fire that takes away the coldness, illuminates the mind with its light, and causes me to know your truth.  You are beauty and wisdom itself.  The food of angels, You gave yourself to man in the fire of your love. 

Amen”              (Catherine of Siena “The Prayers” ca 1378-1380 in Rome)
Co-presiders:   Knowing we are created, sustained and received by the Holy who loves us unconditionally, let us go forth in peace and share the good news: The Risen Jesus is with us today and for all time.  ALL: Thanks be to God.  Let it be so! 
Closing hymn: #384 “The Summons” verses 1, 2, 5

End Note: 
*language was left exclusive to render translation accurate to Catherine’s writing. 

Biography of St Catherine of Siena
from Praying with Catherine of Siena by Patricia Mary Vinje

"Catherine of Siena wrote scores of letters to popes and nobles, monks and merchants.  She told Pope Gregory to be a “manly man” and return the papacy to Rome. In a letter to Sir John Hawkwood, an English Soldier-of-fortune, she pleaded with him to join a crusade to the Holy Land instead of stirring up trouble in Italy.  Catherine accompanied a notorious criminal to the moment of his beheading.  She nursed victims ravaged by the plague.  Assassins tried to kill her as she arbitrated a dispute between the pope and the citizens of Florence.

Mystic, peacemaker, theologian, preacher, nurse, and doctor of the church –all these titles apply to this unschooled woman who lived only thirty-three years. In the 14thcentury talking of visions, expressing passionate love for God, and living solely to pray and serve other people were better understood, admired, and seen as signs of true holiness. Catherine’s life and teaching present practical instruction for people of any age who are serious about their relationship with God, ‘the holy.” 

Catherine’s Early Years

She was born in 1347, the last child of 24 to Giacomo and Lapa Benincasa of Siena Italy. At the age of five she experienced a vision of Jesus above the church with gold vestments and a papal tiara sitting on a throne. St Peter, Paul and John the Evangelist stood beside him. Jesus looked directly at Catherine, approached her, and made the sign of the cross over her. A year later Catherine saw a vision of Mary and Jesus.  Mary presented Catherine to her son, and Catherine considered this a sign that she should consecrate herself solely to Jesus. 

When Catherine turned twelve, she was now old enough to marry and her family began to search for a suitable husband for her. Catherine announced her commitment to Jesus and her refusal to marry anyone, ever. Her newly ordained cousin, Tommaso instead of dissuading her from the single life, supported Catherine and suggested she cut off her hair to prove her determination not to marry. The family made Catherine their scullery maid until one day her father saw her praying instead of working.  Suddenly a white dove appeared over her head. And so her father decided to help Catherine keep her vow to God.  He gave Catherine her room back.

At thirteen Catherine could not read so she spent her time in her room with a little crucifix on the wall. She experienced God’s love for her flowing from the crucifix. Catherine asked for the black-and-white Dominican habit, which she received at the age of 18. Although she belonged to the lay order of Dominican Mantellate, Catherine pronounced vows and practiced the life of the cloister in her room for three years. After this time in deep prayer and meditation experiencing the inflow of God’s wisdom she began her public ministry.
Catherine could not read and her answer after becoming frustrated that she could not teach herself to do so was to ask God’s help. “She soon began to read fluently, although she still could not write.  The ability to read changed her prayer because she could now recite the Divine Office. 

Catherine in her Public Ministry 

On Shrove Tuesday 1367 when Catherine was 20, in a vision Jesus united himself to her in mystical marriage. Before long Catherine felt the call to leave the solitude of her cell to share what she had learned there and to serve the poor and sick people of Siena.  

She had two Dominicans who were her companions: Tommaso Caffarini a scholar at the University of Siena and Fr. Bartolomeo Dominic who became her confessor.  Both recorded Catherine’s earliest teachings from their conversations with her. These men also wrote letters for her and eventually took dictation for her book, “The Dialogue” conversations between Catherine and God. 

Catherine and other Dominican laywomen tended the terminally ill at the Siena hospital.  During a time of political turmoil a new faction seized control of Sienna and put her brothers in peril. The whole family would be threatened if they stayed at home so one night Catherine escorted her brothers to La Scala hospital.  A hostile crowd threatened to attack the Benincasa men but pulled back at the sight of Catherine. 

Soon after this incident Catherine, while visiting a friend, heard screams outside the window.  Criminals were being carted to their execution.  Told they were not prepared for death, Catherine soon began ministering to the imprisoned, even accompanying the notorious Andrea de Bellanti to the gallows. 

Catherine: Spiritual Guide and Powerful Preacher
Even though Catherine lacked formal education by age 24 scholarly men accepted her spiritual direction. Her directees called her “Mother” or more affectionately “dearest Mamma” However many women from the Mantellate disapproved of men treating Catherine as an equal. In the Spring of 1374 the Dominican general chapter requested Catherine address the charges against her character. She was not censured instead the Father General sent the well known Dominican Raymond of Capua, to be her confessor and spiritual director.  Raymond’s affiliation gave her greater credibility, not only in Siena, but in the wider church circle. 

While Catherine was in Florence the Black Death hit Siena, killing one-third of the population before the end of the summer of 1374.  Upon her return, Catherine tended to those suffering from the plague. 

In the following year with Raymond’s approval and encouragement, Catherine began preaching a message of repentance. She was so well received the church had to call for more priests to hear confessions of numerous converts.  At Pisa, she encouraged the Pisans to take part in a crusade to the Holy Land.  She also encouraged the citizens of Pisa and Lucca to decline membership in the group of city-states that opposed the pope. 

While Catherine was in Pisa Jesus spoke to her from the cross in the Church of Santa Christina.   The wounds of Christ were impressed upon her hands and feet.  Henceforth, she shared more intimately in the sufferings of Jesus. 
Catherine’s role as Peacemaker and Reformer

At the same time, A French pope ruled the Roman Catholic Church from the royal palaces of Avignon, France instead of residing in Rome. Due to political squabbles between the Italians and the French the pope put the city of Florence under an interdict, meaning that no sacraments could be administered within the city limits and no commerce could be transacted between Florentines and the people of other cities, under penalty of excommunication for the parties involved. 

In 1376 Catherine volunteered to speak to Pope Gregory XI on Florence’s behalf.  She traveled to Florence to meet with the pope and interceded for release from the interdict. Corruption permeated the papal palaces in France. Although Catherine failed in getting the interdict lifted she did manage to strengthen Pope Gregory’s resolve to return to Rome. The following year he did re-establish residence in Rome and died shortly thereafter. 

Catherine returned to Siena and founded a monastery of cloistered Dominican Sisters at the fortress at Belcaro. Soon after trouble began to brew between Florence and the new pope, Urban VI who sent Catherine back to Florence to mediate. During this time Catherine dictated her book, “The Dialogue” in the evenings after her political ministry during the day. Violence flared constantly and on June 18, 1378 an assassin tried to take Catherine’s life. She expressed her disappointment at not being a martyr to Raymond. By August of the same year Florence was released from the interdict and she completed her book “The Dialogue” in October. 

A cabal of schismatic cardinals, displeased with the election of Urban to the pontificate, elected a rival pope named Clement VII, thereby instigating the Great Western Schism. Pope Urban called Catherine to Rome and asked Catherine to address the papal curia in his support. She had moral authority based on ding God’s will and following the dictates of her conscience.  If Catherine believed that something needed saying or doing, she said it or did it. Determining her effectiveness is difficult as the corruption in the papal court and the schism in the church continued long after her death.  However the tangible outcome of Catherine’s years in Rome was a book of prayers that she wrote during this time (selections used in our liturgy for her feast). She remained in Rome with her followers until her death.

Catherine became increasingly ill at the beginning of 1380.  She could not eat or drink. She spent her entire day in St Peter’s praying for church unity and reform. In April friends overheard praying that God would take her heart and use it for the church.  Then God showed her a vision in which he took her heart and blessed the church with her blood.  Catherine thanked God for letting her take part in the struggle for unity and healing, and declared, “The victory is ours.”  On April 29, 1380 Catherine exclaimed, “Into your hands I entrust my spirit,” and died.  

Catherine of Siena’s Spirituality
Catherine’s active life and her mystical experience cannot actually be separated. What she experienced in her prayer led her to reach out to s sick and sinful people, to arbitrate disputes, and to seek reform in the church. She often prayed in the middle of what she was doing or saying. 
Catherine experienced the reality that union with God affects every fiber of our being and every action of our life. Episodes in Catherine’s life and in our own lives are vessels that contain the presence and actions of God.   The stuff of life is the meeting ground between humanity and divinity. Hearing the story of Catherine is like entering into her spirit, a spirit wrapped in God and knit to the world…When we read Catherine’s words, we need to be aware of the mystical experiences that impelled her to, for example, spend time with men on death row and to seek unity in the church. 

Catherine of Siena’s Theology
Catherine wove together several motifs in her texts.  The result of this is seen in The Dialogue, which is like a fabric carefully interwoven from several distinguishable threads. Such recapitulation mirrors life.   Everyday life is full of scenes that keep repeating themselves. Catherine gave layers of meaning to images such as the cell, the bridge and the fountain.  Everytime Catherine used an image she tended to include all that she had previously said about the image before presenting new meanings for that symbol in this way, she developed the theological meaning of her experience.

Major Themes of Catherine’s Theology: Truth, Obedience, Love and the Trinity. 

TRUTH Catherine considered truth which she also called humility, to be the root of spiritual life. She took the Dominican motto, “Veritas, “ or truth, as her own. 
OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S WILL If truth is the foundation of Catherine’s theology, what is its culmination? From her Dominican heritage, obedience to God’s will is essential in Catherine’s teaching.  In fact, Dominicans take only the vow of obedience. By obeying God’s will, a person imitates Jesus, who emptied himself first of divinity and then of humanity in order to express his love to the Creator and all creatures. The Dominican charisms of truth and obedience are scriptural themes.  John’s gospel and Paul’s epistles are two of the major sources emphasized in Dominican spirituality. 
LOVE Truth and obedience are faces of Love. Love, truth and obedience form a triad of virtues reflecting the Trinity.  Love creates. Truth is the wisdom that came to earth clothed in flesh.  Obedience to God’s will in the heart of Jesus and in the heart of all creatures indicates the presence of the Spirit. "

See also:
Noffke, Suzanne OP Translator and Introduction, “Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue” Paulist Press, NY 1980. 
Noffke, Suzanne OP 2nd Edition, Translator and Editor, “The Prayers of Catherine of Siena” Authors Choice Press, Lincoln NE, 2001.  Originally published by Paulist Press. 
Thorold, Algar translation of the “Dialogue of the Seraphic Virgin, Catherine of Siena,” 1370. San Bernadino CA. 
Wright, Darrell, editor “The Letters of Saint Catherine of Siena” translated by Vida D. Scudder, 1905. 

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests: Living Gospel Equality and Partnership Now- All Are Welcome!

Like Pope Francis who says no to an economy of exclusion, women priests say no to a church of exclusion.
Like Pope Francis who promotes an economy of inclusion, women priests promote a church of inclusion.
Like Pope Francis who challenges global economic inequality, women priests challenge the church’s gender inequality.
Global economic equality is related to women’s empowerment and equality in church and society.
Roman Catholic Women Priests are a renewal, justice movement within the Catholic Church.
We are serving inclusive Catholic communities where all are welcome to receive sacraments.
We are a non-clerical movement that offers the church an egalitarian, partnership with the community of the baptized.
Our mission is to serve especially those whom the Vatican marginalizes. (33 million Catholics have left the church that is quite a "target group" that has been abandoned by institution. )
We reject excommunication. No punishment can separate us from Christ or cancel our baptism. No church authority can separate us from God.
This is our church and we are not leaving it. (no matter what the Vatican says or does.)
(The Vatican's official line is that our excommunicate is the automatic type, by your choice, you have excommunicated yourself)
The Church that treat women as second-class citizens violate God's will.
 Genesis 1:27: God created humanity in God's image, in the divine image, God created them, male and female God created them.  Galations 3:27 St. Paul reminds us that by our baptism there is neither male nor female, all are one in Christ. 
Roman Catholic Women Priests have valid orders. Our first bishops were ordained by a male bishop in apostolic succession.
Pope Benedict canonized two excommunicated two nuns (Theodore Guerin and Mary McKillop)
We hope that Pope Francis will chart a new path toward human equality in our church by opening all ministries to women. If women were priests, we would see an end to the church's policy on contraception.  Primacy of conscience is an important church teaching that all must follow in moral decisions.
The hierarchy must make the connection between discrimination against women in the church and violence , abuse and inequality toward  women in the world.
Like these courageous women we are faithful Catholics leading the church to become more just and live Jesus example of Gospel equality.
Jesus called women and men to be disciples. (Luke 8:1-3) Jesus did not ordain anyone. 
The Risen Christ called Mary Magdala to be the apostle to the apostles. She was the first to proclaim the central message of Christianity, the Resurrection. 
Vatican/ (hierarchy) should follow Jesus’ example of Gospel equality and the early church’s tradition of women in liturgical leadership as deacons, priests and bishops. 
Background For 1200 years women were ordained. (Gary Macy, The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination, Dorothy Irvin’s archaeological evidence etc.) “In the early centuries of Christianity, ordination was the process and the ceremony by which one moved to any new ministry (ordo) in the community. By this definition, women were in fact ordained into several ministries. A radical change in the definition of ordination during the eleventh and twelfth centuries not only removed women from the ordained ministry, but also attempted to eradicate any memory of women's ordination in the past. …However, the triumph of a new definition of ordination as the bestowal of power, particularly the power to confect the Eucharist, so thoroughly dominated western thought and practice by the thirteenth century that the earlier concept of ordination was almost completely erased.. References to the ordination of women exist in papal, episcopal and theological documents of the time, and the rites for these ordinations have survived.” Gary Macy, The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination)
The Vatican and Google have created a virtual tour of catacombs including two frescoes in St. Priscilla’s catacomb that provide evidence of ancient women deacons and priests in first centuries of church’s history.  (One fresco depicts a woman deacon in the center vested in a dalmatic, her arms raised in the orans position for public worship.  In the same scene there is a bishop being ordained a  priest by a bishop seated I a chair. She is vested in an alb, chasuble, and amice, and holding a gospel scroll.  The third woman in the painting is wearing the same robe as the bishop on the left and is sitting in the same type of chair. ) In another fresco in the Catacombs of Priscilla, women are conducting a Eucharistic banquet. This evidence portrays women in liturgical roles and vestments.

The real issue is that Roman Catholic Women Priests are visible reminders that women are equal images of God. We are healing centuries of misogyny.
The Vatican (hierarchy) cannot continue to discriminate against women and blame God for it.
Roman Catholic Women Priests are a “holy shakeup” which millions of Catholics support.
Roman Catholic Women Priests lead inclusive, enthusiastic, egalitarian communities where all are welcome to receive sacraments.
Our website is

There are two RCWP groups in the United States, each has its own 
administrative structure. They are not administratively connected.
ARCWP’s vision is a renewed priestly ministry within a Roman Catholic Community of equals.
ARCWP is an 
international group without regional territories. Presently, ARCWP is in the United States, South America, and Canada.
Our common mission with RCWP-USA  is a renewed priestly ministry in an 
inclusive church. Both ARCWP and RCWP-USA collaborate, communicate and share 
resources on a regular basis.
We have a prayer circle and a common chat listserve.
We collaborate on major reform movement events such as the celebration of liturgy at Call to Action National Conference.