Homily – 24th Weekend in Ordinary Time

You will recall that last week we spent time talking about the virtue of hope, deciding that it is what allows us to go on many times, when life situations within Church and State leave us feeling confused, helpless and even lost.  It is at times like these that we may realize that the God we have come to know is too small, too distant, to meet our needs.

With these beginning thoughts; I would like to share a story, apropos as the East Coast deals with the land-fall of Hurricane Florence.  This is a story that many of you have no doubt heard, so use it as stepping-stone toward more fully answering Jesus’ question from today’s gospel, “Who do you say that I am?”

It seems that the rain and inevitable flooding had forced a woman by the name of “Faith” to her rooftop.  I might underscore that the word, “faith” is one that means, trust.”  That having been said, Faith sat on her rooftop, believing and trusting that God would save her life. As the storm raged on and Faith kept praying, a boat came along and offered her help, to which she answered, “No, God will save me!” Being that the operator of the boat had others to save, he moved on.

Faith was given another offer of help from the pilot of a helicopter going by who noticed her plight.  Faith, displaying a great deal of trust, once again declined the offer.

The storm continued to rage on; Faith kept praying and the waters continued to rise.  That day, she met her Maker and at first glance she protested vehemently, “My God, I have always believed in you, prayed and trusted that you would be with me, that you would save me in time of trouble—why did you let me drown?” Her Maker smiled at her and said, “My child, I sent you both a boat and a helicopter!”

Now clearly, Faith’s image of God was far too small!  This past week; I took a day and a half for a retreat at Assisi Heights in Rochester.  My book of choice, for this time of reflection, by Fr. Richard Rohr, Franciscan, was, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation. I would say that his image of God is so large and all-encompassing, ever growing still, that if our fictional character, Faith, had believed in such a God; her life would have been profoundly different.

Rohr’s thesis seems to be, that our relationship with God has to in fact, be about “relationship,” in the best sense imaginable. It can’t be top-down, power-over, but “power-with” us.  Think, if you can about the best relationship you know of or have been part of.  Such a relationship is about mutual sharing, even intimate sharing at times; respect, giving and caring—everything really, that is good.  Our relationship with God must be that way.

Rohr goes on to call this relationship, “flow.” The flow of love for and with the other must naturally continue on to include others, and on and on.  This is why Rohr says, “trinity” is such a perfect way to describe the essence of God.

He speaks in the traditional terms of, Father, Son and Spirit but says this is only the starting place.  God is genderless, yet encompassing all gender, the animate and the inanimate of creation, which gives us then, many names for God that at any point can be quite meaningful.

The love, the flow between the first two persons of the Trinity, as we have understood them, becomes an even more elusive third person, the Spirit, and the relationship of all that love flows out and onward to encompass all in its path—it has to work that way, Rohr says.  The relationship between the three is where the strength is.

This same notion of relationship is what theologians like Teilhard de Chardin in the past and Ilia Delio and Diarmuid O’Murchu in the present were and are talking about when they unite concepts of theology and science in the study of the origin, evolution and eventual fate of the universe, or, cosmology. Richard Rohr would say, “It all fits.”

But western religion, he continues, made the mistake of basically “making” God into a substance that can be explained away.  “Transubstantiation” on our Catholic altars being one of those mistakes, he says.  The trouble with “boxing God in” defining what God is and what God is not makes God narrow—very small, one really that couldn’t be expected to keep us safe.  The fictional character, Faith, had such a small, inflexible God.  And she can’t really be totally blamed—religious institutions have long been guilty of trying to “explain God away,” or at least make God in their own image.

Rohr goes on to say that we need to see God in all of creation—he asks us to think about how hard it is to resist [showing love] to a wide-eyed baby or petting an earnest dog.  You want to pull them to yourself with love because they are, for a moment—forgive me, he says—“God.”  Or, we can think of it the other way around, “Is it you [or I] who have become “God” by standing in such an unresisted flow?” [Love, that is].

He answers his own questions—both are true! This flow, this love that is seen in “all beauty, in all admiring, in all ecstasy, in all solidarity with any suffering, is God, he says. Anyone who fully allows “the flow” will see the divine image even in places that have become ugly or undone.  This is the universal seeing of the Trinity,” he says.

And we could have no better model than our brother, Jesus, in showing how to make our God really big and visible.  Jesus taught that you don’t have to be perfect, or belong to a certain group to be part of the “flow of God,” the love of the Trinity.  The only question he ever asked of people who came to him for help was, Rohr reminds us, “Do you want to be healed?” He continues, “If we are willing to be touched by God; we will be healed.”

And so friends, when we attempt to answer Jesus’ question in today’s gospel, “Who do you say that I am?” think first that we can only speak of God with metaphor or see God through a dim glass, as Paul said.  Now while on the one hand, this may seem confining, on the other, it really opens up our images:  Creator, Savior, Rock, brother, friend; or for the Spirit; wind, falling fire and flowing water.  What image feels right for you when thinking about your relationship with God? Maybe your image needs updating.

I will conclude with several images, faces, if you will, of God that Rohr gives us: He begins by saying, [Our] “Triune God allows [us], impels [us], to live easily with God everywhere and all the time: in the budding of a plant, the smile of a gardener, the excitement of a teenage[r]  over [their] new [special friend,] the tireless determination of a research scientist, the pride of a mechanic over his hidden work under the hood, the loving nuzzling of horses, the tenderness with which eagles feed their chicks, and the downward flow of every stream.

Thus says Rohr, “Everything is holy, for those who have learned to see.” The prophet Isaiah today in the first reading says, “God awakens my ear to listen.”  We must be engaged with our world, my friends—see all of creation, especially the beauty, but the ugliness too, as the place where our God dwells.

I began these thoughts today speaking of hope and it seems to me that if our God can be as big and diverse as creation itself, than we have a great deal to be hopeful about!  It takes a good deal of faith at times, to live in our world but our faith will lead us to action, James instructs today. And the more that we ask for the grace to see God in everything, the more this divine awareness will be ours.  Amen? Amen!

Bulletin – 24th Weekend in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Mass on Saturday, September 15, 2018 at 4:30 P.M. 

Remember non-perishable food items for the Winona Volunteer Services Food Shelf


Our God wants to be part of our daily lives helping us to love ourselves and others as Jesus our brother did  We must keep looking for our brother in everyone we meet!

Come; celebrate with us this week!

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy


Readings: 

  • Isaiah 50: 4-9
  • James 2: 14-18
  • Mark 8: 27-35

 

All Are One Roman Catholic Church Safety Policy

Every effort will be made to ensure the safety of all attendees at All Are One services and social activities.  Any violation of this policy will be reported immediately to local law enforcement.

(This statement was updated and reviewed with the Board of All Are One Roman Catholic church at the July 2, 2018 board meeting.


 

Homily – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

My friends, this past week I supplied you with several action items to do should you choose to that will hold the Church hierarchy’s “feet to the fire,” as it were, concerning much needed reform within our Church.  At the very least; we all should be praying that the Spirit of Jesus will overshadow these men in leadership to choose rightly the path to go for the betterment of all—that they will come to see how important for the life of the Church a complete reform is.

My best critic, Robert, encouraged me not to say more on the issue of sexual abuse of children, at least not use the entire homily to speak about this “elephant in the living room” and except for the above; I will try to refrain.  Dealing with difficult issues such as this is always disturbing and especially when we feel helpless to make any change.

So, instead, let me tell you what I did this week that helped me with those feelings of helplessness. First of all; I wrote some letters—one to Pope Francis, one to Bishop Quinn and I posted copies of both letters to 7 priests that I know somewhat or very well in this diocese and elsewhere, both active and inactive.  I wrote cover letters with the copies to encourage the priests to talk with their bishops.

Isaiah’s words today in the 1st reading spur us on—“Take courage and do not be afraid.” Continuing the prophet’s thought, our Church needs to have our eyes opened, from those in leadership to those in the pews for those who have been so grievously hurt to assist them “in walking again.”

When I finished my letter writing, I said to my “best critic,”—“this may do no good at all, but it makes me feel that at least, I did something.” Our country was reminded of the same on Friday by former president, Barack Obama when he said in regard to all that is apparently going wrong in our country; the worst thing is that any of us would become complacent.  You see, we never know if  our particular action might just be that spark of hope that will make a difference, because this time within our Church at least, more people are activated, angered and moving forward, demanding change.  That is why I asked you all to consider what you are being called to do!

So, I’m not doing too well in not talking about this… J but my purpose my friends is to try and give us hope in our steadiness, day in and day out, to follow Jesus. He was one who talked to the powers-that-be and challenged them to their best.

But getting back to my goal—other things from my week:  A woman priest on the East Coast shared a homily she wrote for the Unitarians last week when she was asked to supply preach.  Her homily consisted mostly of writing about how our Church needed to open up to women and other reforms like involving the laity in greater ways.  But the piece that really caught my attention and made me sad was when she said, “I have gotten over the Catholic church!” She went on to say, and I know this comes out of her broken heart, that she isn’t willing to wait any longer for them to change—she doesn’t expect it and she won’t hope for it.

Personally, I feel that at this time and place in history; we are at a pivotal moment and that we should not lose hope.  Now, more than ever before, the civil authorities are digging deep into these crimes and it won’t be as easy going forward for the hierarchy to go on as usual.  So, if you haven’t yet contacted our Attorney General of Minnesota, Lori Swanson, there is an action item for this week.  Part of my sending copies of the letters I wrote to priests that I’m familiar with was to make this personal—to say that this is not about some other place and time, but here, now!    So friends, don’t lose hope—keep trying to do what you can, keep trusting that Jesus’ Spirit is with us now and is behind our unrest and is encouraging us to do our best to right this situation.

As I looked over the Scriptures for this Sunday; I was reminded that three years ago on the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time was our first Sunday back after our epic trip to Alaska, spending 7 weeks away from you at the beginning of my retirement from the hospital.  That time afforded us the opportunity to look deeply at our lives, to ask where we were going and if we were being faithful to what God wanted of us.  And interestingly enough; we arrived back here to continue the work we had left for a time, with peace in our hearts that it is what God wants of us.

Visiting with family and close friends along the way confirmed within us the basic goodness of life, the part that each of us is called to play to make life continually better for all of us.  In that light, I share another piece of my week.

A woman that I visit on a regular basis for pastoral care at St. Anne of Winona needed to get to the ER on Friday to have a physical condition she was suffering from attended to—this was not of an emergent nature but just something to make her more comfortable and because she couldn’t get a clinic appointment before the weekend, this was her next best option. She couldn’t of course go without a ride and none could be found, so I offered to take her.  You should also know that this woman is being treated for stage 4 ovarian cancer.

We were both blessed in having Dr. Brett Whyte on duty. I have known him for many years in my work as a chaplain and I would say, without a doubt that he has the best bed-side manner of any physician I have ever witnessed. He tended to my friend’s needs in the same way that he does with every patient who comes to the ER. He pulled up a chair and asked to know what was going on and even though he could have basically read her chart which he no doubt did, he listened with compassion as she told her story. When the story was told, he then assured her that he would make a plan so that she would feel better. One gets the idea from watching him that he has nowhere else to be—that he has all the time in the world for you. Now, how many people do you know who leave such an impression? Being a Christian calls each of us to give that kind of attention.

Jesus in today’s gospel from Mark affirms what the prophet Isaiah said hundreds of years before him and I paraphrase: When the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk, you will know that God is in your midst.  My friends, as Jesus’ followers, we will want to be sure that his model of goodness doesn’t end with him, with a story in a book—people today need to see and hear and walk, unimpeded, and we know these maladies show themselves in more than physical ways.  Don’t lose hope; keep on loving and speaking your truth for those who have no voices.  Jesus said that we would do greater things than he did. Let’s remember all the needs that call for our attention today—immigration reform and our Church crisis being at the top of the list and realizing that we can make a difference.  Jesus’ words that we will do greater things than he did are really quite astounding! Do we believe that? Are we willing to try? When I think of the possibilities, it gives me a great deal of hope! Also, I truly believe what Jesus told us when here, “I will not leave you alone.” Amen? Amen!

Bulletin – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Mass on Sunday, September 9, 2018 at 10 A.M. 

September 8-9,  Catholics across the United States are invited to demonstrate in front of their churches for reform 

September 8, Saturday at 7 p.m. there will be a pot-luck supper with the Great Dakota Gathering at Unity Park at East Lake Winona 

Remember to bring non-perishable food items for the Winona Volunteer Services’ food shelf

Consider your piece to do for reform in the Catholic church


We continue to walk in Jesus’ footsteps.  We hear today from the prophet Isaiah that we will know of God’s presence with us when the deaf hear, the mute speak, and the lame walk.  Jesus makes it so in this week’s Gospel.  May we pray that we can help people to hear, to speak their truth  and to walk ( live) in this world.

Come; celebrate with us this week!

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy


Readings:

  • Isaiah 35: 3-7
  • James 2: 1-5
  • Mark 7: 31-37

All Are One Roman Catholic Church Safety Policy

Every effort will be made to ensure the safety of all attendees at All Are One services and social activities.  Any violation of this policy will be reported immediately to local law enforcement.

(This statement was updated and reviewed with the Board of All Are One Roman Catholic church at the July 2, 2018 board meeting).

Action Item–additional thoughts

Dear Friends,

Hopefully,  I am not over-whelming you, but I wanted to send this last message with regard to anyone who may want to write or in other ways, be in contact with the Winona Diocesan bishop, John Quinn. (Diocese of Winona, Pastoral Center, 55 West Sanborn Street, Winona, MN 55987  jmquinn@dow.org).

I went out on-line finding The Courier, the diocesan newspaper to see if the bishop has written anything concerning the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. Indeed, he has and like other bishops, he has expressed horror, shock, and has expressed his sorrow to those who have been hurt and asked for their forgiveness. He says that he has met with all the victims.  He also states in this letter to the Winona people that the diocese has in place programs that will safeguard children in the future. I am not including the letter here as part of it is in very small print and I wasn’t able to enlarge it. But if you would like to check out The Courier  on-line, simply type in those words and you can read more.

Given all that the bishop has written about, when I write him; I will suggest that in order for these first, good steps to ultimately be meaningful, long term;  he must go further. I will remind him that the trust of the clergy has been badly damaged due to the sex abuse by priests and the cover-up of the crimes by bishops and as a result, it is very hard to believe and trust anything that is being said, even when it is being said by people (priests) that you previously did trust.

I will also suggest that the priests and the bishop must earnestly sit down and talk with each other, brain-storming about the best things they can do to gain the trust back. One of those things must certainly be to open up all the hidden documents and cease with the cover-up, and the lying.

Additionally, the priests and the bishop must look at what caused this climate/culture of evil, crime and mistrust to happen in the first place.  Within that discussion they must look at clericalism and celibacy and the part that each has played in the continuation of these evils.

Involvement of qualified laity and women in positions of decision-making must happen if this Church is going to be able to speak to more than the few rather than the multitudes. In setting up new policies for reform, the laity must be involved! In addition, women as ordained members of the Church must happen as part of the needed reforms.

And finally, I again encourage each of you reading these materials to do that which is yours to do–listening to your hearts in prayer will let you know that! Letters can be very simple–just state the facts, let the person you are writing to know of your concern, your love for all that the Church founded in the memory of our brother Jesus means to you–think beyond the clergy and their failures and challenge the clergy person you are addressing to their best self and to do what is right.  

If you write the bishop, let him know that you are looking for his leadership in a very public way. He said that he has talked to all of the victims–good to remind him that he has only met with those who have come forward.  Many have walked away because of their unresolved pain, unfortunately, some have taken their lives.

It is my hope and prayer that what I have written here and your eventual letters can go far and wide and that our beloved Church can once again be something for all of the people.  You may feel that this is beyond you and that you couldn’t address the bishop in this way, but just remember, that each of us as a baptized and confirmed Christian has the duty to speak what is true and good–trust that the Spirit will give you the words–as with the pope, be respectful (your respect is always for more than the person) and to the point.

Thank you all for the part that is yours to do–

Blessings on all,

Pastor Kathy

P.S. Write letters or give calls to every priest you know, respectfully telling them of your concerns and expectations of them! The pope does not receive emails or read them!