Friday, March 21, 2014

Sr. Teresa Forcades at Red Emma's

I was unable to attend this event but RCWP Janice Sevre-Duszynska did and filed this story with National Catholic Reporter. The photo of Sr. Teresa Forcades with Dr. Vicente Navarro, public health professor at Johns Hopkins University who introduced her, comes from Psalmboxkey's Blog which also covered the event and promises videoclips later.

The image that surfaces when Sr. Teresa Forcades speaks is evocative of spiraling energy, bubbling in spirit, and of being on the ground with the needs of the people of God.

Forcades -- a Benedictine nun, activist, feminist theologian and physician from Catalonia in Spain -- and Francis -- a Jesuit pope from Argentina -- share a kindred vision of empowering the poor through nonviolence. Both understand the relationship between capitalism and poverty. Francis has denounced the "idolatry of money" and implored world leaders to assure all people "dignified work, education and healthcare." In a way, Forcades takes it further by advocating that the state must be challenged from the bottom up. The people must be the agents of change.

"When I talk about church, we talk about how the Gospel inspired us. There are many kinds of church, and I identify with the people at the bottom, at the base. Many people have a hope that the Catholic church might change because of the pope, but if you look at history, change comes from bottom up, not from top down," Forcades said to a room overflowing with "local radical activists" invited to her March 18 talk at Baltimore's Red Emma's, a bookstore coffeehouse...

Full text of article in National Catholic Reporter.

Monseñor Romero could be beatified next year

Religión Digital (English translation by Rebel Girl)
March 21, 2014

San Salvador Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, assassinated 34 years ago, was a "great prophet" and could soon become the first Salvadoran saint, thanks to the new twist Pope Francis has given his process in the Vatican. This is what Acan-Efe was told by Ricardo Urioste, president of the Fundación Monseñor Romero, who was Romero's vicar general (second in command) and whose institution is organizing tributes on the 34th anniversary of the assassination which occurs this Monday, March 24th.

Urioste says he's confident that Romero, who was killed on March 24, 1980 by an unknown sniper as he was celebrating Mass in San Salvador, will be beatified and canonized during the papacy of Pope Francis who, in April of last year, ordered his beatification process which began in 1994 to be unblocked.

Romero was characterized by his denunciations of the injustices committed during the years prior to the Salvadoran armed conflict (1980-1992), which caused some 75,000 dead, 8,000 wounded, and 12,000 disappeared.

According to Urioste, the first step towards the canonization of Romero -- so that he can be venerated worldwide, is for him to be declared "blessed", which could happen before 2017.

Last September "I was chatting" with the postulator archbishop for Romero's cause in the Vatican, Vincenzo Paglia, who asserts that he could be beatified "sooner" than the next three years, he said.

"I can't be specific, but, because of certain facts we've had (from Rome) it's very possible it will be in 2015 -- not absolutely certain, but very possible," he said.

He pointed out that "beatification is the first step, through which it's said that the person is in Heaven and can be worshiped in their native country, but not universally."

The second step, "canonization, on the other hand, opens the possibility of worshiping them all over the world" as a saint, he explained.

Urioste acknowledged that you can't determine how much time might elapse between beatification and canonization since "everything depends on the research being done, aside from the fact that to be canonized...you need a scientifically proven miracle."

However, he noted that the Pope "can waive that miracle if he wishes, as in fact he has made a dispensation for Pope John XXIII, who will be canonized now in April," even though "he didn't perform the necessary miracle."

Pope Francis has been "crucial" for Romero's process to advance, so his canonization "may come during his period" too, Urioste pointed out.

Even though his process in still being studied, many Salvadorans and Latin Americans have called the assassinated archbishop "San Romero de America" for years.

"Definitely, Romero was a very saintly man, a man of much prayer, who fulfilled his commitment as bishop...just like Jesus, a man very close to the poor," Urioste remembered.

Each year, in March, Romero's assassination is commemorated in El Salvador, mainly by the Fundación Monseñor Romero.

This year's celebration began on Monday the 17th with various activities and will end next Sunday with a Mass in the Metropolitan Cathedral in San Salvador.

But the "Big Day" of the celebration will be Saturday, when the traditional "Pilgrimage of Light" will take place which goes through the main streets of San Salvador to the cathedral where the remains of the martyred bishop are buried.

Romero was "humble" and "shy", but when "he got into the pulpit, he would change", he would denounce all the injustices of those times and defend the poorest and most helpless, Urioste recalled.

He was a "great prophet" who was never afraid, he concluded.

The Truth Commission, which investigated the crimes committed during the civil war, indicated as one of the main authors of the archbishop's homicide the now defunct military man, Roberto D'Aubuisson, founder of the right-wing Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (ARENA), the party that ruled the country for 20 years (1989-2009) and is now in the opposition.

Although the current government has apologized for Romero's death and has honored him in various ways, such as naming the airport and the presidential honors lounge after him, his murder continues to go unpunished 34 years later, like many that were committed during the Salvadoran civil war.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

At ease with God

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
March 23, 2014

John 4:5-42

The scene is captivating. Tired from the journey, Jesus sits down next to Jacob's well. Soon, a woman comes to draw water. She belongs to a semi-pagan people, despised by the Jews. Spontaneously, Jesus initiates the conversation. He doesn't look at anyone with contempt but with great tenderness. "Woman, give me a drink."

The woman is surprised. How does he dare come in contact with a Samaritan? How does he lower himself to talk with an unknown woman? Jesus' words surprise her even more: "If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

Many are those who, over the years, have moved away from God without even being aware of what is happening inside them. Today God is a "strange being" to them. Everything related to Him seems empty and meaningless to them -- a childish world, more and more distant.

I understand them. I know what they might be feeling. I too have been moving away little by little from the "God of my childhood" who stirred up so much fear, unease, and discomfort in me . Without Jesus I probably never would have met a God who is for me today a Mystery of goodness, a friendly and welcoming presence in whom I can always trust.

The task of verifying my faith through scientific proofs has never attracted me. I think it's a mistake to treat the mystery of God as if it were a laboratory object. Nor have religious dogmas helped me find God. I've simply let myself be led by a trust in Jesus that has grown over the years.

I couldn't say exactly how my faith is sustained today amid a religious crisis that is shaking me as well as everybody. I would only say that Jesus has brought me to experience faith in God simply from the bottom of my being. If I listen, God isn't silent. If I open up, He doesn't close Himself in. If I trust Him, He accepts me. If I surrender, He sustains me. If I'm drowning, He lifts me up.

I think that the first and most important experience is finding ourselves at ease with God because we see Him as a "saving presence." When a person knows what it is to be at ease with God because, despite our mediocrity, our mistakes and selfishness, He welcomes us as we are and impels us to face life calmly, it will be hard for them to abandon the faith. Many people today are abandoning God before they've gotten to know Him. If they knew the experience of God that Jesus was spreading, they would seek Him.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Seventy-Four Cents: A Woman Priest's Story

Rev. Marty Meyer-Gad, a Roman Catholic woman priest living in Santiago, Minnesota, has published her life story in a book titled Seventy-Four Cents (Smashwords, 2014, also available from Amazon). Meyer-Gad told the Sherburne County Citizen that the title represents the exact amount of money the former nun had in her pocket when she was ordered to leave her convent following a confrontation with the Mother Superior of her order. The story takes her from her experiences as a young nun -- she entered the convent at 14 -- through her work as a liturgy coordinator for the archdiocese of Detroit and Chicago (including coaching male priests at the Sacred Heart Seminary), to her 2010 ordination as a Roman Catholic woman priest.

Ironically, Meyer-Gad says she is against ordination of men or women but that it is required to lead worship, which she describes as her calling and formation. And what pushed this skilled liturgist over the edge was the process that led to the current English translation of the Mass prayers (for the record, Roman Catholic women priests do not use the new and much-disliked third edition of the Roman Missal in their liturgies but have stayed with the older prayers). In June 2006, Meyer-Gad says, "I got an email saying that the bishops got the final vote needed to accept Rome's literal translation of our Mass prayers, sight unseen. The prayers had been quickly translated into English after Vatican II. The 1965 text was to be replaced with a more lyrical translation at a later date. That translation was finished in 1998. The English speaking bishops approved the translation in accord with the powers given them by Vatican II. The translation was sent to Rome as a courtesy. Rome rejected the translation, thus diminishing the power of the bishop conferences. The same day I got an email from Call to Action mentioning that some women had been ordained, so I contacted them."

Rev. Meyer-Gad has an MA in Liturgy from St. John's University, Collegeville, MN. She is certified by the Institute for Pastoral Liturgical Ministry in Detroit, MN, and by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. She has served as a counselor on a suicide prevention hotline, and as a prison chaplain and hospital chaplain as well. In addition to this book, she is the author of Basics: a Liturgical Education Sourcebook and numerous earlier editions of At Home with the Word. She is married and has one son.

Meyer-Gad was ordained a deacon in 2009 and in 2010, in her words, "I ritualized my commitment to this Church as I lay prostrate before a community of like-minded believers who refuse to leave the Catholic Church because it is 'our' Catholic Church. A Church we love enough to demand it scrape off the barnacles of history and return to the Church of a ragtag collection of fisherfolk, housekeepers, tax collectors, cooks, prostitutes, child nurturers and all gradations of sinners in touch with the realities of life: the Church of our founder, Jesus Christ."

Meyer-Gad says she's not interested in pressing the current pope to accept women priests. "If tomorrow Pope Francis would say that those women validly ordained may serve in diocesan parishes, I would decline. We do not need a church where a female body replaces that of a male. We need a new structure, where all the priestly people become the ministers of the parish."