January 1, 2019             Promoting a renewed ordained ministry in a renewed Roman Catholic Church



Mystical tradition taught by Merton could address today's political and pastoral problems

Heidi Schlumpf, ncronline.org | December 10, 2018

Richard Rohr spoke to a full house at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago December 7th to kick off a two-day symposium on Thomas Merton.

Unless Christians rediscover the "bigger heart" and "bigger mind" of the mystical and contemplative tradition, the church will be unable to make positive change in the world — or reform itself, said spiritual author and teacher Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr.

And the "master of the mystical life" is Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk and spiritual writer who died 50 years ago, Rohr said in a keynote address at a conference marking the half-century anniversary of Merton's death.




The Gaze                            FDK Photo    
Contents

  • Mystical tradition taught by Merton could address today's political and pastoral problems
  • Micheline Paré famed caregiver of the elderly and author of The Passion of Loving  died recently
  • Author's journey through dreams to the feminine finds kindred spirit in RCWP Canada
  • Channeling William Blake, Thomas Merton established monasticism as an act of spiritual and intellectual rebellion
  • Thomas Merton at Commonweal: The Monk, Poet, and Social Critic’s Spiritual Writings
  • Pope Francis:  Fraternal and Spontaneous - a free 64-page book available for download in three formats
  • Bishop tells Confirmation class, "That's wrong. Jesus wouldn't have stood for that."
  • Christ is present in the world with those for whom there is no room
  • Give Us This Day short videos on the lives of Francis of Assisi, Oscar Romero, Dorthy Day and Thérèse Martin
  • Featured Link
  • Tech Tip
  • RCWP Canada Bishop's Message
  • Bangladeshi women defy the odds with new champion, Angela Gomes, widely hailed as icon for the oppressed
  • On 70th anniversary, UN declaration still linchpin of human rights, but commitment to uphold the rights enshrined in document under threat
  • Québec’s fashion police: A century of telling women what not to wear
  • Stop making victims of sexual assault into martyrs for virginity
  • Canadian bishops discuss Indigenous Peoples and sex abuse policy with Pope Francis
  • Comments to the Editor
  • Free access to on-line or pdf downloadable books and book-length articles
  • Francis Comics
  • Form for Comments to the Editor




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RCWP Canada Bishop's Message

The Divine Gaze

For me, one of the most poignant nativity images is that of Mary cradling Jesus in her arms with eyes interlocked in a penetrating gaze. Perhaps these feelings can be attributed to my own experience of those sacred moments of gazing into the eyes of each of my children.

Child psychologists tell us that by holding the infant in her arms, and taking the baby in with her gaze, the mother offers the newborn its first opportunity for self-reflection. In this experience of bonding between mother and child, this crucial gaze is known as “mirroring.” It suggests that the first mirror a child has is his or her mother’s face, and that this mirroring gaze is the precursor to all emotional development.

There is a silent communication from mother to infant as she holds her child. As the bond develops the baby can read the mother’s recognition, “I know you! I see you! In my eyes find a reflection of your true and beloved identity. This grace to be found in my eyes is you.” In addition, through this loving gaze the child's psyche or soul experiences self-recognition, a deep inner knowing: “Here I am. I am loved.”

In order for Jesus to live into the fullness of his fully-human and fully-divine self, he needed to grow up in a loving relationship where this fullness was recognized, cherished and nurtured. Regardless of Jesus' innate identity as the Messiah, without a good enough holding environment in which to grow up -- without mirroring -- the child Jesus could not grow up to fulfill such a destiny.

For Mary, his mother, to be the mirror for Jesus in his fully-human and fully-divine self, she herself would have needed to be caught up in the divine gaze. She would have known her own unique being authentically recognized by the divine other. The relationship of mystical connection between Mary and God gave her an immaculate mirror through which to experience herself. This is what we mean when we refer to her “immaculate conception” or call her “full of grace.” Mary full of grace. It was Mary’s profound spiritual self-knowing -- the conception born in the gaze of grace – that empowered her to mirror her child’s divine nature. Divine nurture of her spiritual being was a precursor to the “Here I am” uttered by the one willing and able to be mother of God.

We, too, are participants in this sacred relationship with God. At all times and in all places God is gazing on us with motherly tenderness. Our task is to allow God to look upon us and to find in the divine gaze a reflection of our true and beloved identity.

The divine gaze -- God-our-Creator holding us, looking with love and favour upon us -- enables us to see our identity as beloved of God.

We can allow ourselves to participate in the divine gaze through contemplative practices whereby we put aside all cares and rest for some moments of intimacy with Divine Love. Thus we open our mind and our heart to God loving us. Mystics tell us that the supreme work of spirituality is keeping the "heart space" open (which is the result of conscious love), keeping a “right mind” (which is the work of contemplation or meditation), and keeping the "body space" alive with contentment and without attachment to its past wounding (which is often the work of healing). In this integration of body, mind and spirit one can experience pure presence, a moment of deep inner connection with the pure, gratuitous Source of All Being.

The divine gaze is reciprocal, perfectly given and always waiting to be perfectly received. It is so dear and so precious that it needs no further reward. Ultimately we become one with the one whom we gaze upon. As Meister Eckhart says, “The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me: my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, and one love.”

As we rest in the divine gaze this holy season, know that you are loved by God. Know in your soul's depth who you are. As with Mary, the divine nurture of your spiritual being is a precursor to the “Here I am” as you surrender to bring the Christ presence into the world today.

May our year 2019 be filled with God's gracious blessings; may God's face gaze upon us and fill us with peace.

+Jane

[Jane Kryzanowski, Regina, SK, is bishop for RCWP Canada.]


For further reading:

Lizzie Berne DeGear, The Annunciation and The Gaze of Grace, August 24, 2017
 
Richard Rohr, Contemplation: Week 1, Open Heart, Mind, and Body, December 9, 2018




Bangladeshi women defy the odds with new champion, Angela Gomes, widely hailed as icon for the oppressed

Rock Ronald Rozario, international.la-croix.com | December 11, 2018
 
Angela Gomes, a Bangladeshi Catholic and a champion of women's rights, founded Banchte Shekha (Learning How To Survive) four decades ago.  Her white sari symbolizes simplicity and freedom, two tenets the 66-year-old women's rights champion lives by as she fights for the greater empowerment of women in this Muslim-majority South Asian nation.

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On 70th anniversary, UN declaration still linchpin of human rights, but commitment to uphold the rights enshrined in document under threat

Chris Herlinger, globalsistersreport.org | December 10, 2018

On its 70th anniversary today, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is being celebrated as a milestone in the history of human rights and the quest for human dignity.

But human rights defenders and advocates, including Catholic sisters who represent their congregations at the United Nations, say the commitment to uphold the rights enshrined in the document is under threat.

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Québec’s fashion police: A century of telling women what not to wear

Donica Belisle, theconversation.com | December 12, 2018

The freedom to choose one’s clothes is key to sartorial experimentation. In the late 1920s, the Catholic Register wrote that certain swimsuits were indecent.

The Québec government has recently announced its plan to ban civil servants from wearing religious symbols.

This move comes on the heels of similar interventions, including the now-suspended Bill 62, which banned people from wearing face coverings while accessing or providing public services. As critics have pointed out, this ban aimed particularly at Muslim women who wear face veils.

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Stop making victims of sexual assault into martyrs for virginity

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly, international.la-croix.com | Sept. 19, 2018
 
When I read the news about the sixteen-year-old murder victim who was beatified as a “martyr to purity,” I had to check the date on the paper. Had I somehow picked up a sixty-year-old edition of Catholic New York? Alas, no.This girl, killed by a would-be rapist, was beatified on September 1, 2018, and it was Pope Francis who approved her classification as a martyr in defensum castitatis—in defense of her virginity.

We are, it seems, still doing this.  Anna Kolesárová was a Slovak girl who was shot to death in her own home, in front of her family, by a soldier from the occupying Red Army in 1944. Her courage and her suffering are undeniable.She is the first Slovak layperson to be beatified. Her death at the hands of a Russian soldier makes her a symbol of the struggle against totalitarianism, and her cult represents a renewal of religion after Communism, especially among the young. The trouble is not in her biography, but in the outdated and harmful ideas about sex and purity the church applies to her death.

It is warped, toxic, and totally at odds with everything else the church has taught me about love and relationships, and so, like many Catholic women, I’ve spent a lifetime shrugging it off.

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Micheline Paré famed caregiver of the elderly and author of The Passion of Loving died recently

Editor, The Review, with contributions from her friends | January 1, 2019

To provide training in compassionate geriatric care, the well known and much loved, Micheline Paré, opened the Paré Labreque Centre in Calgary, Alberta. She died recently after a battle with cancer.

Micheline Paré was an exceptional woman who has walked among many who experienced loss of autonomy of various kinds.  According to her friends, she did this with her special love and care.

Micheline Paré held a master’s degree in pastoral counselling and is the author of the book 
The Passion of Loving, a Congruent Compassionate Approach to Caring for People with Loss of Autonomy
. She was instrumental in the opening of the Paré Labrecque Centre in Calgary, to provide training in geriatric care. Latterly she worked as a Compassionate Care Consultant and as the Roman Catholic Pastoral Care Coordinator at Rockyview Hospital.

Her message of love and hope is something many benefited from at a time of loss.





Author's journey through dreams to the feminine finds kindred spirit in RCWP Canada


Pearl Gregor, Special to The Review | January 1, 2019

Sadly, this is the very first time I have access to the wonders and delights of the RCWP Canada newsletter.

My question is, “How can RCWP make its work much more widely known?"  Access to articles such as that of Leonard Swidler and Arlene Swidler (1977) may have somewhat assuaged my deep mourning for the church of my childhood. There are probably dozens of "former" Catholics struggling to find the inner strength and healing necessary to become whole from the inside out.  I am Catholic forever. I am just no longer institutional. My work with dreams began in 1988 and has now resulted in the publication of my first book in a series of Dreams Along the Way entitled,  I, The Woman, Planted the Tree: Journey through Dreams to the Feminine. The trail is watered with tears.

My journey out of my Father's House began while still in deep clinical depression. I found the source of that depression in repressed early childhood sexual trauma. Thankfully, I was healed of the depths of despair and thus nudged, began the long trek to find my self. And, I found the myth of Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth together with her sister, Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld! The Goddess lives in our collective unconscious! Christ consciousness is available from the inside out.

My journey through dreams to the feminine lead me deep into psychic space. Along the way, I found the work of Teilhard de Chardin through the work of Jean Houston. On a 2018  pilgrimage with Hildegard of Bingen with the Abbey of the Arts, I learned of the writings and work of Ilia Delio, Franciscan theologian and disciple of Teilhard. I find her work featured in your newsletter as well. In the December 2018 newsletter, I find the closing talk given by Sister Joan Chittister at RCWP conference several years ago! Sister Chittister wrote a wonderful introduction to Ava Clendenin's book, Experiencing Hildegard: Jungian Perspectives. And, through that book and that pilgrimage, Roman Catholic Women Priests settled on my doorstep. And the cycle continues.

Finding more people along the path leaves a bit less ache on the inside. Bless your work. 

[Pearl Gregor, New Sarepta, AB, is the author of  a series of three books, Dreams Along the Way. The first in the series, I, the Woman, Planted the Tree: A Journey through Dreams to the Feminine available on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.  Her website is at www.dreamsalongtheway.com]




Channeling William Blake, Thomas Merton established monasticism as an act of spiritual and intellectual rebellion

Michael W. Higgins, commonwealmagazine.org | December 8, 2018

In a scandal-ridden church—with the barque of Peter taking on water, and a spiritual leadership compromised by malfeasance and panic—the presence of our mystics, holy activists, and prophets is a thing of yearning and desperation. Enter center stage: Thomas Merton.

This past December is the fiftieth anniversary of Merton’s still highly controversial death in Thailand. A recent polemic, The Martyrdom of Thomas Merton, uses the strange inconsistencies surrounding that death to paint a dark picture of CIA intrigue, monastic complicity, and elaborate cover-up by the Gethsemani authorities—presenting Merton’s death as the final execution of the ’68 triad that began with Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. But beyond such dramatic conspiracy theories, why should we still care about Thomas Merton? Why should we still be drawn to a cloistered monk who had an affair with a nurse; to a priest-poet who preferred literature to pious tomes, entered the political arena with a vengeance, and eagerly, even faddishly, embodied the 1960s zeitgeist?

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Thomas Merton at Commonweal: The Monk, Poet, and Social Critic’s Spiritual Writings

The Editors, commonwealmagazine.org | December 10, 2018

The editors of Commonweal Magazine have gathered 12 articles by Thomas Merton that appeared in Commonweal Magazine over the past many years and reprinted recently online.

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Pope Francis:  Fraternal and Spontaneous - a free 64-page book available for download in three formats

Antonio Spadaro, laciviltacattolica.com | December 2018

Immediately, directly, intuitively: this is how the message of Pope Francis touches people. His ability to communicate is rooted in a pastoral experience that naturally tends to create authentic relationships. His authority is never expressed rigidly, as if spoken by a statue. Rather, his personality flows into the people with whom he is speaking.

This volume gathers some of the conversations that Francis has had with Jesuits during his apostolic journeys.

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Bishop tells Confirmation class, "That's wrong. Jesus wouldn't have stood for that."

Thomas Gumbleton, ncronline.org | December 13, 2018

If we're going to be witnesses to Jesus, don't we have to try to continue to work for the rights — full equality of women in our society and in our church? At that recent synod of Bishops in Rome, it was a synod about youth. There were representatives from every diocese in the world. Most of them were bishops, but there were some religious men and women, nuns and brothers.

Do you know that the only ones that could vote were the men — the bishops and the religious priests and religious brothers? No women, even though they were there, would have a vote. That's wrong. Jesus wouldn't have stood for that. He made women equal in his community of disciples. The same thing goes for welcoming people who are fleeing torture, violence, poverty, who are struggling to save their lives by leaving and going where they can have a life. We push them away. That's not the way of Jesus.

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Christ is present in the world with those for whom there is no room

Steven Lanoux, Special to The Review | December 10, 2018

December 10th was the 50th anniversary of the death of Thomas Merton.  The National Catholic Reporter has had several articles about his life and messages in the last few days.  He was a significant contributor to humanity, not just the Catholic Church (which continues to stonewall his teachings for the most part, relegating them to lip-service along with Vatican II commitments).

An article in the NCR included the following quote, one that speaks to our hearts as opponents of restrictive immigration policies, who support inclusiveness for our LGBTQ friends, who understand the imperative of empowering females to the same levels as those usurped by male clerics--and as Catholics preparing for the coming of Christ during Advent.

Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for Him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because He cannot be at home in it, because He is out of place in it, and yet He must be in it, His place is with those others for whom there is no room. His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world.




Give Us This Day short videos on the lives of Francis of Assisi, Oscar Romero, Dorthy Day and Thérèse Martin


Francis of Assisi    Therese of Lisieux     Oscar Romero                     Dorothy Day

Give Us This Day and The Sheen Center For Thought & Culture come together to tell the story of ordinary men and women whose extraordinary lives inspire the moral imagination and give witness to the myriad ways of holiness.

The text for these short videos is taken from Blessed Among Us by Robert Ellsberg and drawn from the acclaimed column of the same name in Give Us This Day.

Watch videos





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Free access to on-line or pdf downloadable books and book-length articles:

195 Reasons Why Women Should Be Ordained
       by Editor, RCWP Canada Monthly Review
       
Women Priests -- Answering the Call
      by Catherine Cavanaugh

Gaudete et Exsultate
     by Pope Francis

Why Women Should Be Priests
     by Roy Bourgeois

Women Priests - A Catholic Commentary on the Vatican Declaration
      edited by Leonard Swidler and Arlene Swidler


Dancing My Life, Dancing My God 

      by Judith Pellerin

Binding The Strong Man, Ched Myers’ extraordinary political reading of Mark’s Gospel

Digging out the Roots of Spiritual Abuse
by Craig Van Parys


An Empire of Misogyny?
by Tina Beattie






+Jane's messages are always so on target and are deeply appreciated.  The male run church MUST wake up.  Not having such gifted people as +Jane in their midst is a sad state of affairs that urgently needs to be rectified.

[Fred Williams, Calgary, AB]


Thank you so much for your amazing work for us on the newsletter.

[Anonymous, Calgary, AB]





Canadian bishops discuss Indigenous Peoples and sex abuse policy with Pope Francis

Catholic News Service, catholicregister.org | December 7, 2018

The leaders of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said the concerns of the indigenous peoples in Canada and the bishops' updated sexual abuse policies were among the issues they spoke about with Pope Francis recently.

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Francis, the comic strip                                                                                           Francis Comic Strip Archive                
by Pat Marrin | January 1, 2019
National Catholic Reporter
Used with permission