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Lent: a season of communal preparation by Richard McBrien on Feb. 15, 2010 Essays in Theology -National Catholic Reporter

17 Feb
February 17, 2010


Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent, is observed this year on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

The word “Lent” is derived from an old English word which means “springtime.” The Latin adverb lente means “slowly.”

On the basis of etymology alone, Lent signals the onset of spring and invites us, at the same time, to slow down our usual pace of activity and to take stock of our lives.

But Lent obviously means much more than the coming of spring. Indeed, in the Southern Hemisphere it is fall, not spring, that is on the way.

The etymology of the word offers one approach to disclosing the point and purpose of Lent. The liturgical route provides another, more productive path. The season of Lent is, in the final accounting, a preparation for Easter.

Members of the church prepare for the renewal of their baptismal vows at the Easter Vigil and for the annual celebration of the greatest of Christian feasts. Catechumens, on the other hand, prepare for Baptism and their full initiation into the church.

However, the name “catechumen” would eventually lose its significance, and by the Middle Ages the catechumenate, for all practical purposes, no longer existed.

During the first three centuries, most Christians prepared for Easter by fasting for only two or three days. But by the fourth century this pre-Easter fast developed into our now-established Lent of 40 days. Nevertheless, it was still viewed as a preparation for Easter and the baptism of new Christians.

Beginning in the fifth and sixth centuries, as the number of adult baptisms sharply declined in relation to the baptism of infants, the need to prepare adults for Baptism at the Easter Vigil receded.

Lent was gradually transformed into a time of prayer and penance, modeled on a 40-day, post-Epiphany fast popular among monks, in imitation of the fasting and penance practiced by Jesus during his 40 days in the desert.

Then with the liturgical renewal advanced by Pope Pius XII’s restoration of the rites of Holy Week in 1956 and by the Second Vatican Council’s retrieval of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), Lent, on the one hand, and Baptism and Easter, on the other, were happily re-connected.

Once again, Lent came to be seen and experienced as a season in preparation for Easter–preparation not just for individuals, but for the whole community of faith.

With the restored RCIA, Lent served anew as the “home stretch,” as it were, of the long process of the initiation of new converts into full membership in the church.

On the First Sunday of Lent there is the formal enrollment of the names of the catechumens, known also as the rite of election. This rite ratifies the catechumens’ readiness for the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist) and provides an opportunity for them to express their desire to receive these sacraments.

There follows a period of purification and enlightenment, embracing the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent, in which catechumens are encouraged to purify their minds and hearts from temptation and sin, and to deepen their union with Christ.

The climax of this process is reached at the Easter Vigil, but it does not end there. A “suitable period” of post-baptismal catechesis, known as mystagogy (which is derived from a Greek word, meaning “to teach a doctrine,” or “to instruct into the mysteries”), continues the new convert’s instruction of the Christian moral life, the sacraments, the Trinity, and prayer.

Although it has been over 40 years since the restoration of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and over 50 years since the reform of the Holy Week liturgies, there are still many Catholics who continue to regard Lent in less liturgically appropriate ways.

For these Catholics, Lent remains a season devoted to prayer and penance (surely good and holy things in themselves), but without explicit reference to Baptism, to the Easter Vigil, or to their own responsibility for nurturing the faith-development of new Christians, including their active participation in the church’s sacramental and ministerial life.

For many, Lent is still primarily, if not exclusively, a time for personal asceticism and private devotions: giving up things like candy, movies, and hand-held games, or attending daily Mass, as if the Mass itself were a private devotion, like Stations of the Cross.

The Eucharist is a communal celebration, not a penance. It is the center of the church’s entire life, including the season that is about to begin.

Just as Lent is directed toward Baptism and Easter, so Baptism and Easter are directed always toward the Eucharist, the heart of everything the church does.

© 2010 Richard P. McBrien. All rights reserved. Fr. McBrien is the Crowley-O’Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame.

Mon. Feb 1st 5:30- Mass in the Irish in honor of St. Bridget\ Candlemas / Imbolc

28 Jan
January 28, 2010

Mass in the Irish

Monday, February 1, 2010
5:30 pm
Marylhurst University
Wiegand Recital Hall
(3rd Floor B.P. John Administration Building)

All are welcome to join us!

St. Bridget arrived in Ireland a few years after St. Patrick. Her father was an Irish lord named Duptace.

As Bridget grew up, she became holier and more pious each day. She loved the poor and would often bring food and clothing to them. One day she gave away a whole pail of milk, and then began to worry about what her mother would say. She prayed to the Lord to make up for what she had given away. When she got home, her pail was full! Bridget was a very pretty young girl, and her father thought that it was time for her to marry. She, however, had given herself entirely to God when she was very small, and she would not think of marrying anyone. When she learned that her beauty was the reason for the attentions of so many young men, she prayed fervently to God to take it from her. She wanted to belong to Him alone. God granted her prayer. Seeing that his daughter was no longer pretty, her father gladly agreed when Bridget asked to become a Nun. She became the first Religious in Ireland and founded a convent so that other young girls might become Nuns. When she consecrated herself to God, a miracle happened. She became very beautiful again! Bridget made people think of the Blessed Mother because she was so pure and sweet, so lovely and gentle. They called her the “Mary of the Irish.” http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=214

He feast is connected to Imbolc, the feast of the Light that shatters the cold darkness of winter as the earth stirs back to life.

New Light and Life Prayer Service

21 Jan
January 21, 2010


O Gladsome/Joyous Light

Marylhurst University New Light and Life Service

January 21, 2010
Interfaith Gathering.
Thursday, 5:30 pm
Wiegand Recital Hall Chapel – BP John Bldg.

Welcome and Announcements: Dr. Cecilia Ranger, SNJM

We join in prayer for the life of the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot and the hundreds of thousands of our Haitian brothers and sisters who have lost their lives, homes, health and security in the massive earthquake that devastated the island nation. We pray for the missing, for those who grieve and for the health and safely workers providing a living witness of the power of love as they work tirelessly in the relief efforts.

Any donations of funds collected at the Light and Life Prayer Service will be given to the Medical Teams International relief effort in Haiti. If you aren’t prepared to contribute at the service, Marylhurst is collecting funds in our HR department make checks payable to Medical Teams International.

Donations of food will be given to the Oregon Food Bank because the need here at home does not stop because of a global disaster.

In union the Marylhurst University Campus Group Labyrinth Alliance our prayers and solidarity are with those in Haiti. After Thursday night’s service those of you who don’t have class are invited to Flavia Hall to walk the Labyrinth for the intentions of the people of Haiti.

Marylhurst’s net proceeds from the up-coming Vienna Boys Choir concerts on March 3 and 4 will be given to the Medical Teams International relief effort in Haiti. (Since the concert is co-sponsored with our partners Music for the Heart, their share of the proceeds will still go to benefit their foundation which supports heart health and research.)

Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster.com.
Written by Sr. Carol Anne Higgins, SNJM

Sr. Joan Chittister on Dr. Mary Daly

14 Jan
January 14, 2010


For Mary Daly: in memory of courage walking
by Joan Chittister on Jan. 13, 2010 From Where I Stand
I did not know Mary Daly personally. I never met her professionally. I never heard even one of her public speeches. My concern for women’s issues did not come from Daly. I got that from my mother.

My sense of Daly’s impact on history comes from every discussion of women’s issues in which I ever participated. The impact Daly’s ideas and courage was having on other women was palpable. In those living situations, then, I learned a lot from Daly. Most of all, I learned how to look newly at things I’d looked at for so long that I was no longer really seeing any of them.

Recently I heard a commentator remark on her role in the development of thought in our time that “when the theological history of the period is written, Mary Daly will, at most, be only a small footnote in the study.” That depends, I would argue, on who is doing the history. Women, I think, will have a great deal more to say about Daly than any amount of footnotes can possibly hold.

Remote as my own associations had been, for instance, when the word of her death came I realized instantly that women in general, whether they knew it or not, had a great deal for which to thank her.

Women need to thank Daly for raising two of the most important theological questions of our time: one, whether the question of a male God was consistent with the teaching that God was pure spirit, and two, whether a church that is more patriarchal system than authentic church could possibly survive in its present form. These two questions have yet to be resolved and are yet rankling both thinkers and institutions.

Women need to thank Daly for bearing the rejection that too often comes to those who say a new insight first and say it consistently and say it in the face of the very system in which they themselves have been raised.

For example, in later years, Daly refused to accept men in some of her classes, forcing men to experience the exclusion that women had endured for centuries. As a result, she lost her tenured position at a Catholic college for allegedly failing to offer equal service to all students, both men and women. But at the same time, no one else in Catholic colleges — or elsewhere — lost their jobs for excluding women from access to theology degrees or various medical specialties, among others, on the grounds that women, as women, were unfit for such programs.

Nor did anyone — now that men had finally experienced what it felt like to be made invisible in the public arena — officially apologize to women for having kept them out of schools, offices, work, leadership positions, discussions and decision-making in both church and state for two millennia. However much theology claimed we were all equal.

Women need to thank Daly for modeling the adulthood, the psychological maturity, the strength it takes to accept the social isolation and loneliness that comes with refusing to agree that just because we have never questioned a thing that it is, therefore, unquestionable. Thanks to her relentless questioning of women’s social circumstances and theological exclusions everywhere, the woman’s question became a major and profound theological question. It is thanks to Daly and the myriad of women theologians after her that “Because we say so” is no longer either a logical or an acceptable explanation for the exclusion of women anywhere.

Women need to thank Daly for exposing to us a whole new way of being alive. She freshened thought about the role and place of women by using language to show us what we could not see. She dug into history to trace the original meanings of words like hag and witch — once terms of reverence for the spiritual qualities and feminine wisdom of women, but now used to reduce them to the level of the malevolent.

She forced us to think newly, to think creatively. She called on women to Re-member themselves, to put themselves together differently than they had been taught was right for a woman. She talked about Gyn/nocide to make us understand that the infamous centuries of witch burnings were really the genocide of women practiced long before this century’s Holocaust and under the guise of holiness.

Indeed, Daly’s work is an icon to women. She was a groundbreaking thinker, a threat to any patriarchal institution, a creator of an entire new way of seeing life, of being alive, of celebrating life. She touched a culture deeply. Indeed, we owe her thanks.

From where I stand, a person’s influence is measured, not so much by virtue of their effect on the institutions that bred them, but by their influence on those who never knew them at all. It is the women who never knew Daly but now know the things she knew that are the real evidence of her legacy, her impact, her meaning not only to this generation but to generations to come. As in “all generations shall call her blessed.”

Joan Chittister’s blog

NCR article Mary Daly, radical feminist theologian, dead at 81

07 Jan
January 7, 2010


Mary Daly, radical feminist theologian, dead at 81
She helped reshape Christian thought through decades
Jan. 04, 2010
By Thomas C. Fox– http://ncronline.org/news/women/mary-daly-radical-feminist-theologian-dead-81

Daly in 1987 (Photo by Gail Bryan)

Mary Daly, radical feminist theologian and a mother of modern feminist theology, died Jan. 3 at the age of 81. She was one of the most influential voices of the radical feminist movement through the later 20th century.
Daly taught courses in theology, feminist ethics and patriarchy at Boston College for 33 years. Her first book, “The Church and the Second Sex,” published in 1968, got her fired, briefly, from her teaching position there, but as a result of support from the (then all-male) student body and the general public, she was ultimately granted tenure.
According to a 2000 Cross Currents profile, “Much of her work since that time has consisted in blowing exuberant raspberries at the Vatican, Boston College, and the keepers of the patriarchal flame generally — who may have expected no better outcome from educating a woman, and must feel betrayed and vindicated by turns.”
Mary E. Hunt, co-founder and co-director of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER), announced the death Jan. 3 online in “The Feminist Studies in Religion” bulletin:
“With a heavy heart, yet grateful beyond words for her life and work, I report that Mary Daly died this morning, January 3, 2010 in Massachusetts. She had been in poor health for the last two years.
Her contributions to feminist theology, philosophy, and theory were many, unique, and if I may say so, world-changing. She created intellectual space; she set the bar high. Even those who disagreed with her are in her debt for the challenges she offered. … She always advised women to throw our lives as far as they would go. I can say without fear of exaggeration that she lived that way herself.”
Daly once wrote: “There are and will be those who think I have gone overboard. Let them rest assured that this assessment is correct, probably beyond their wildest imagination, and that I will continue to do so.”
She was an exuberant participant in and shaper of the feminist movement of the 1970s, and 1980s.
The only child of working-class, Irish-Catholic parents in upstate New York, she grew up with a strong sense of her ethnic and religious heritage. As a young woman, she developed a desire to become a philosopher and a theologian. Encouraged by her parents, and especially by her mother, Daly pursued her intellectual dream, eventually becoming a victor over a Catholic educational system that prevented women from earning graduate degrees in philosophy by studying at the University of Freiburg where she earned graduate degrees in philosophy and theology.
Daly was influenced by thinkers ranging from Thomas Aquinas to French feminist Simone de Beauvoir to Virginia Woolf, according to Who2.com.
In fact, Daly, the feminist, developed a kind of perverse fondness for Aquinas, whom she called “the fat old monk.” She learned to “decode” the thinking of a man who, she cheerfully admitted, conceived of women as “misbegotten males.”
Eventually, in her life and scholarship she developed a sweeping analysis of “patriarchy” as the root of women’s oppression and of all social ills in which people are treated as objects.
After “The Church and the Second Sex,” she said she moved from “Christian reformist” to “radical, post-Christian” feminist.
Studying archetypal forms and prepatriarchal religion convinced Daly that church doctrine consisted of a series of significant “reversals.” She explained these to NCR writer Jeanette Batz in 1996:
• the Trinity, from the triple goddess once celebrated worldwide;
• the virgin birth, from the parthenogenesis that once begat divine daughters;
• Adam giving birth to Eve.
Women operating on patriarchy’s boundaries, she once wrote, can spiral into freedom by renaming and reclaiming an ancient woman-centered reality that was stolen and eradicated by patriarchy.
She took great delight in castigating the “eight deadly sins of the fathers”: processions, professions, possession, aggression, obsession, assimilation, elimination and fragmentation. “Laugh out loud,” she urged, “at their pompous penile processions.”
As for God, there’s simply no way to rid the language of allusion, she wrote, so, “if you must be anthropomorphic,” she preferred “Goddess.”
Daly most often contemplated the divine essence as a verb, Be-ing itself, so that worship is “not kneeling in front of a so-and-so but swirling in energy.” Her language echoed quantum physics, and she was flattered if you said so: “I do think about space-time a great deal,” she admitted. “It’s a kind of mysticism which is also political.”
These attitudes toward life and religion were reflected in the Feb. 26, 1996 issue of The New Yorker in which she wrote:
“Ever since childhood, I have been honing my skills for living the life of a radical feminist pirate and cultivating the courage to win. The word ‘sin’ is derived from the Indo-European root ‘es-,’ meaning ‘to be.’ When I discovered this etymology, I intuitively understood that for a woman trapped in patriarchy, which is the religion of the entire planet, ‘to be’ in the fullest sense is ‘to sin.’”
“Women who are pirates in a phallocratic society are involved in a complex operation. First, it is necessary to plunder–that is, righteously rip off gems of knowledge that the patriarchs have stolen from us. Second, we must smuggle back to other women our plundered treasures. In order to invent strategies that will be big and bold enough for the next millennium, it is crucial that women share our experiences: the chances we have taken and the choices that have kept us alive. They are my pirate’s battle cry and wake-up call for women who want to hear.”
And so Daly would like to say: “I urge you to Sin. … But not against these itty-bitty religions, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism — or their secular derivatives, Marxism, Maoism, Freudianism and Jungianism — which are all derivatives of the big religion of patriarchy. Sin against the infrastructure itself!”
Daly poured much energy into breaking down age-old boundaries of critical thought. Her work helped set the stage for other feminist theologians who rose up in the 20th century to offer critiques of male-dominated theology that would reshape Christian thought. Several of these groundbreaking women included Rosemary Radford Ruether, Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, and Rosemary Haughton.
Boston College Jesuits worked uneasily with Daly for more than three decades before parting ways. According to Jack Dunn, Boston Colleg spokesman, the university never terminated Daly’s contract as a tenured professor.
“In 1999 she attempted to take a leave of absence (as she had in each of the previous instances in which a male student had attempted to gain access to her class) and her request was not granted. She then offered to retire from teaching at BC. A year later, she reneged on her retirement agreement and the case ended up in court where Judge Martha Sosman ruled against her motion for preliminary judgment.”
In February, 2001, Boston College and Daly’s supporters announced that a settlement had been reached.
Other Daly books include:
“Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism,” which defined categories of political theory and philosophy of religion.
“Pure Lust: Elemental Feminist Philosophy,” an exploration of patriarchy and feminist vision.
“Websters’ First New Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language,” a humor-filled work of words aimed at “freeing the English language” from its patriarchal roots.
“Outercourse: The Be-Dazzling Voyage,” a philosophical autobiography.
“Quintessence… Realizing the Archiac Future: A Radical Elemental Feminist Manifesto,” another consideration of feminist thought.
“Amazon Grace: Re-Calling the Courage to Sin Big.”
New York Times profile of Mary Daly

Breath of Heaven sung by Amy Grant

29 Dec
December 29, 2009

Merry Christmas

24 Dec
December 24, 2009

Our Lady of the New Advent

29 Nov
November 29, 2009

O Lady and Mother
of the One who was and is and is to come,
dawn of the New Jerusalem,
we earnestly beseech you,
bring us by your intercession
so to live in love
that the Church, the Body of Christ,
may stand in this world’s dark
as fiery icon of the New Jerusalem.
We ask you to obtain for us this mercy
through Jesus Christ, your Son and Lord,
who lives and reigns
with the Father in the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.
Amen
Prayer composed by the Sisters of the Abbey of Walburga
of Boulder, Colorado

Shore Acres Waves 11-06-09–Thank you Sally

23 Nov
November 23, 2009

Oh Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the wind, whose breath gives life to the world, Hear me! I come to you as one of your many children. May I walk in beauty. Make my eyes behold the red and purple sunset. Make my hands respect the things that you have made, and my ears sharp to hear your voice. Make me wise so that I may know the things that you have taught your children– The lessons that you have hidden in every leaf and rock. Fill my heart with gratitude for the work of your hands. Prayer by Sr. CA Higgins.

And I wanted to thank you. Thank you for loving me. And I wanted to thank and praise you Lord, for joining me as my brother, my God and my friend to the end my Lord. As my brother, my God and my friend Amen.
Refrain: Passion Song SO’C Roussell.

Mother Marie Rose

07 Oct
October 7, 2009

Presence, the Heart of Our Mission
By Carol Higgins, snjm

Mother Marie Rose was, and is, a woman of God’s presence. She walked with her sisters and students and stayed engaged with those with whom she disagreed. She suffered illness, misunderstandings, and persecution yet she remained convinced of God’s love. Her very person manifested the presence of God to her companions. My studies of our history have convinced me that Mother Rose’s great gift was that she educated by intentionally living in God’s presence, a presence that was rooted in her deep faith. “I invite you to meet me in the Heart of Jesus…” Those who met her were immediately attracted to her, because she transparently radiated the loving presence of God. She impacted people because she was truly on fire with God’s love and exemplified God’s mission. We too are called to bring the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary forth, in this time and place, in the day-to-day reality of living a life consecrated to God.
Our Constitutions speak of our “Desire to proclaim by our lives the primacy of the love of God” (3). “The apostolic service of our Congregation involves a threefold
dimension: sharing in the Good News of salvation, revealing Christ by our words, and by
our manner of life, and serving those to whom we are sent” (10). These quotes speak to me of our call to live our lives intentionally. Whether teaching, praying with a patient, or sitting in traffic, we are called to live the Good News of salvation, we are called to be aware of God’s presence and to be God’s presence.
Is it possible that our calls to work for justice, to care for creation, and to care for one another could be a call to be more intentional about God’s presence and love as we go about the ordinary work of living and being? The question I’m asking us to ponder is, “What is at the heart of our shared mission?” Could it be that our mission is to live in such a way that we, by sharing God’s presence, continue Christ’s transformative work? Are we called to cast the fire of Jesus and Mary in the simple interactions of life? Do we have enough faith to believe that it really could be that simple?

“I invite you to meet me in the Heart of Jesus, for it is there that I wish to make my dwelling and where, if you so choose, we shall never be parted.”
Mother Marie Rose Durocher