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Spirit of Life Community

June 8, 2009

I visited a Roman Catholic Womenpriest’s community for the first time tonight. Ironically, the woman who leads the community was not there tonight, so the Mass was led by her husband, also a priest. Ordinarily they lead the services together.

It was a beautiful service and a welcoming community. I do not have any particularly strong reactions to this experience, but I hope that I will be able to share more as I continue going to these Masses this summer. In the meantime, here are a few of my initial reflections and observations:

  • The order of the Mass was the same as always, with opening prayers, Scripture readings, a homily, prayers of the faithful, and the Eucharist. But the style was extremely different: we sat in a circle, said the Eucharistic prayers together, and all of the reading and reflecting was done from in people’s chairs, not at a podium. The homily was collaborative, with many people offering their reflections and questions after the priest spoke.
  • The language was extremely inclusive; I don’t think there was any use of gendered words for God except in reference to a male Jesus, and when we prayed the prayer Jesus taught us, we began, “Our Mother, Our Father in Heaven…” There was no use of “Lord,” as it is a symbol for God that is used far too easily and commonly to oppress.
  • The group was demographically homogenous. Everyone except one woman (the daughter of another couple) was at least 50, and everyone was white and appeared to be middle or upper class. I didn’t feel out of place being so much younger, but I was uncomfortable with the racial homogeneity.

 

I will be out of town for the next few Sundays, but when I get back to Boston I plan to visit their community again.

 

Here’s a beautiful poem that we used as an opening prayer:

God Ran Away

God ran away
when we imprisoned her
and put her in a box named Church.
God would have none
of our labels and
our limitations
and she said,

“I will escape and plant myself
in a simpler, poorer soil
where those who see, will see,
and those who hear, will hear.
I will become a God — believable,
because I am free,
and go where I will.
My goodness will be found
in my freedom an
that freedom I offer to all –
regardless of color, sex, or status,
regardless of power or money.
Ah, I am God
because I am free,
and all those who would be free
will find me,
roaming, wandering, singing.
Come, walk with me –
come, dance with me!
I created you to sing — to dance –
to love. . . .”

If you cannot sing,
nor dance, nor love,
because they put you
also in a box,
know that your God broke free
and ran away.
So, send your spirit
then, to dance with Her.
Dance, sing with the God
whom they cannot tame nor chain.
Dance within, though they chain your very guts
to the great stone walls. . . .
Dance, beloved,
Ah, Dance!

– Edwina Gateley

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