Welcome!

Ecumenical Catholicism is one of many expressions of the ancient, undivided and apostolic Catholic faith where the clergy marry, women are ordained, and the Sacraments are available to persons of all orientations!  

Charis is a vibrant new praying community of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion. We gather for prayer every week on Sunday mornings at 7117 Washington Ave. South in Edina, MN. Please click here or use the Pray with Us tab to find out about this week’s plans. 

Our community is justice-focused, sacramentally inclusive of all, flexible in guidelines for the Mass and other prayers, and democratic in our leadership at all levels.

Wherever you are on your journey, know that you are wanted and welcome at Charis, the first Ecumenical Catholic Community in Minnesota.

The Mission Statement of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, of which we are a part, reads:

“We are People of God baptized in Christ and professing our faith in a living Catholic tradition. We are men and women, lay and ordained, joining together as a “communion of communities” in response to the messianic call of the Spirit to preach the Gospel of liberation and justice; to offer a refuge in Christ for those who suffer prejudice; to stand open to dialogue with others so called, and to conform our lives to the life and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Our expression of Catholicism offers:

Worship That’s Both Familiar and Creative Centered in the Eucharist with creative inclusive prayer that keeps Mass fresh and with thoughtful reflections by lay and ordained leaders that connect the Gospel to our place and time.

Collaborative, Justice-focused Leadership Lay and ordained members in community, diocesan, and national structures that are democratically led.

A Place of Integrity to Call Home A praying community keeping pace with social change that recognizes the full dignity of all persons regardless of gender or orientation.

 

Charis is incorporated under the name the Ecumenical Catholic Communion Twin Cities, a name that predates the community choice of the current name. We are in the process of updating our state and federal paperwork. 

About

What are Ecumenical Catholic Churches?

We are independent Catholic faith communities in that we are not under the jurisdiction of the Pope nor are we subject to the canon law or the guidelines of the Roman Catholic Church.

We share common roots of the same Bishop, The Most Reverend Francis Krebs, also the Pastor of  Saints Clare and Francis Ecumenical Catholic Church, located in the city of Webster Grove, MO. Though we also share a common Catholic theology and liturgical tradition, we differ significantly in many of the disciplines and rules that govern the Roman Catholic Church. Take a look at the Distinctives for specific details.

How is the ECC “catholic?”
We uphold our catholic tradition with respect to the following principles:

  • The teachings and person of Jesus Christ
  • The New Testament
  • The Nicene Creed
  • The Sacramental & Liturgical tradition practiced
  • Apostolic Tradition and Succession affirmed

Our Communion unites authentic Catholic faith communities that stretch across the United States. We are a communion of communities which are ecumenical and catholic in that we celebrate a characteristically Catholic faith tradition that is not sectarian.

We share a common theology and liturgical tradition with the Catholic Church. Our deacons, priests and bishops participate in the same historic apostolic succession as do the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and other apostolic Churches. We share the same historical developments as Western Christianity.

We trace our modern roots to the emergence of the Old Catholic movement which began in 1870 as a response to the first Vatican Council’s pronouncement of Papal Infallibility and the primacy of papal jurisdiction.

For more detailed information, see Distinctives.

What does the word “ecumenical” mean?
We understand the word ecumenical, as it is expressed within our ecclesial community, in four ways:

  • We recognize that the body of Christ, the Universal Church, includes all baptized Christians regardless of denominational affiliation. All those who have followed the Lord Jesus in baptism are regarded as members of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.”
  • We are actively engaged in promoting Christian unity. Therefore, we seek to join together with all of our Christian brothers and sisters in the proclamation of the Gospel, in the celebration of the liturgy and the realization of the life of Christ.
  • We recognize the presence of the Spirit at work throughout the world in the faith experience of people of other religions. We recognize the divine presence in every human heart, believing that all people are the beloved of God. Therefore, we seek mutual understanding and respect with those of other religions through dialogue and we seek mutual cooperation in the endeavor for peace and justice in our world.
  • Webster defines it as universal.

Does the ECC support the ordination of women to the ministerial priesthood and why?
Absolutely! In the ECC, women are encouraged to respond to a genuine vocation and to participate in all levels of ministry, lay or ordained. As St. Paul writes: “there is neither jew nor greek, slave nor free, male nor female, all are one in Christ Jesus.”

See our statements Co-equal Ministry and the Pastoral Letter on Women’s Ordination

What is the ECC’s understanding of same-gender sexual relationships?
We are an open and affirming communion recognizing the value and dignity of every person, in our God-given diversity. We promote the education and development of the People of God in their understanding of the diversity of sexual orientation among their brothers and sisters. All sexual relationships are to be guided by the Christian moral principals of love and fidelity. We uphold the ideal of committed relationships blessed by the sacred rites of the church. We believe that all questions of sexual morality are best addressed through pastoral care and counsel.

What is the ECC’s understanding of clerical celibacy?
Clerical celibacy was not a requirement until 1274. In fact, it was enforced for relatively practical reasons: first to ensure that clergy would not be hindered by following a call to ministry with respect to the responsibility of a family; and second, to prevent the threat of hereditary claims placed upon church property, by the children of clergy. Again, we follow the teachings of Jesus and allow individuals to respond to God’s call freely and, therefore, marriage and ordination are not mutually exclusive.

How is the ECC authentically Catholic if it is separate from the authority of the Pope?
We are practicing the original understanding of the Church which existed for the first 800 years of Christianity and still exists in the current Eastern Orthodox tradition. In this ancient understanding of Catholicism, each faith community was led by its bishop and pastoral councils. The people of each local faith community participated in the life of the Church by electing their bishops and taking an active role in the ministry of their faith tradition. The Pope was considered to be a spiritual leader, however, each community upheld the autonomy of its own life and governance. Approval from Rome was not required in the decision-making process of each local church.  Read about our Old Catholic Roots here.

Are the sacraments offered to people of denominations other than Catholic at Mass?
We do not withhold the sacraments from any person based solely on their denomination or faith tradition. For example, we recognize that Jesus is the host of the eucharistic celebration and therefore all are welcome to the table of the Lord!

Who is the governing authority within the ECC?
The People of the ECC are the governing authority! Our constitutional document was ratified by both clergy and lay persons present at our 2003 convocation. This constitution establishes a polity structure including a House of Laity, a House of Pastors and an Episcopal Council – all possessing roles of decision-making and leadership in governing the Communion.  Feel free to view our constitution here.

Pray With Us!

Christs Entry Palm Sunday Norman Adams

Palm Sunday
Jerusalem, Our Destiny

So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples,
“Let us also go to die with him.”

The passage about Thomas (above) was easy to brush past in last Sunday’s Gospel. It’s almost an aside in the compelling and long story of the raising of Lazarus. I’ve often thought it too bad that this testament to Thomas’ faith and character is lost in the mix. When we hear the name of Thomas the disciple, most of us remember his moniker: Doubting Thomas. What a bum rap. If we made our evaluation based on this text, rather than the post Easter appearances and his skepticism (or was it paralytic grief?) regarding the resurrection, we might call him Bold Thomas or Faithful Thomas or even Hang-on-there-a-minute Thomas.

This Sunday, we enter Holy Week with the celebration of Palm Sunday. Normally, the Church has us read the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, with its shouts of joy and palm branches, at the start of Mass. We then shift in the Liturgy of the Word to one of the Passion stories. Why is that? I’ve wondered if it had to do with an intolerance for joy. We’ll do it for a few minutes, but then on to the profound, deep, even darker stuff. No more cheering. This is serious business.

I think we need more joy, particularly now. So this Sunday we’re staying outside the gates of Jerusalem a bit. We’ll grab our cloaks and wave our branches and focus on welcoming this surprising king, who comes riding on the back of a donkey not a steed and is welcomed not by dignitaries but good old us, the regular folks. Yes, as Thomas so insightfully knew, Jerusalem is Jesus’ destiny, Thomas’ destiny, our destiny (to play with the title of the wonderful song by Rory Cooney). Not an easy journey, but a journey so profoundly worthy that more than 2,000 years later we’re still ready to take it. More on that Sunday!

Mass is via a Zoom membership funded by a generous member. Click here.   11 a.m. CT.  If you’re new to Zoom, click through early to work out the kinks. Or for that matter just to connect and say hi.  You can also dial in using a phone. The full invitation is posted in a box below.

All are welcome. Please feel free to share this email if you know someone who would benefit from being with us. We are suggesting you have bread and a cup at your cup for the consecration. We will leave the arrival of the Spirit to the Spirit’s discretion in these challenging times. The worship aid will be posted by Friday on the main menu of our website: http://www.charisecc.org.
This  Zoom address is a stable link from week to week.

In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
Trish
Pastoral Director

Charis
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
http://www.charisecc.org

cháris Χάρις khar’eceOur name means grace, good will, loving-kindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

 Painting is Christ’s Entry Into Jerusalem by Norman Adams (1927-2005)

Lazarus st. John's bible

“Master, the One You Love Is Ill…”

The Gospel this Sunday, in which we encounter two grieving sisters and their recently deceased brother, Lazarus, feels poignant to me as we continue to move throught this season of pandemic challenge. I can only imagine the thousands of voices around the globe who right now are calling out to God, “Master, the one you love is ill…”

I’ve often rebelled against Gospels like this one, because I have been that person next to the tomb, and I’ve longed to be the person who had Jesus right there to resurrect my loved one. On the other hand, I’ve also been that person who has moved through seasons of grief into new experiences of light, strength and restoration. I guess this resurrection stuff is more complicated than it appears at first glance.

Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor, an Episcopal priest I greatly admire, has noted that we often think of Jesus (and this text) about being some sort of coupon for eternal life that we get to cash in sometime in the future. Another way we might think of about it, she suggests, is that our relationship with Jesus is the ticket to eternal life right in the here and now. “I am the resurrection and the life.” It starts right now, not at some date on the horizon.

Are we willing to embrace that kind of promise as we struggle with fear and anger? Let’s explore the question more together this Sunday at Mass.

This week we start meeting via a Zoom membership funded by a generous member. Click here.  Mass is  11 a.m. CT. You can also dial in using a phone. The full invitation is posted in a box below.

All are welcome. Please feel free to share this email if you know someone who would benefit from being with us. The worship aid is on the main menu of this website: http://www.charisecc.org.

This  Zoom address is a stable link from week to week.

In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
Trish
Pastoral Director

Charis
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
http://www.charisecc.org

cháris Χάρις khar’eceOur name means grace, good will, loving-kindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

manbornblind

“He healed the darkness of my mind…”

This Sunday, we experience the story of the man born blind. In this time of uncertainty, with not knowing how the weeks ahead will unfold, we are experiencing our own kind of blindness. Please join the Charis Community for our Sunday Mass, 11 a.m. CT on March 22nd, as we pray and reflect and lift our hearts in love and hope. All are welcome. The worship aid is on the main menu of this website.

https://hangouts.google.com/call/Cgk6SSPD8IwljCHCzX2XAEEE?no_rd or click here to join hangouts for mass. Please mute your mike.

In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
Trish
Pastoral Director
Charis
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
http://www.charisecc.org

cháris Χάρις khar’eceOur name means grace, good will, loving-kindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.

 

Woman-at-the-Well-600

Woman at the Well by Aleksander Intonyuk

Give Us Living Water (Virus Tests and Toilet Paper)

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

If I thought we lived in an anxious age before the pandemic outbreak last month, I am now even more certain. This past week I have been inundated by Corona virus strategizing. From multiple denominations regarding Sunday worship (one of the benefits of the “ecumenical” in our name is that I’m plugged in in a lot of places!). From the U of M, because my daughter is enrolled as a junior. From St. Kate’s, where I teach as an adjunct. From my professional associations and non-profit circles. And of course, from the nightly news, which inspired my trip to Costco at 10 a.m. yesterday. Yes. Public confession. Just like I stockpiled diapers on the eve of Y2K (Mairead had been born on 10/11/99) I fell prey to the toilet paper paranoia.

Costco was sold out in 20 minutes. Good thing I know you can gather natural toilet paper from cattail fluff. Girl Scouts, I am forever grateful. Do I get some points for only taking one of the two packages I was offered? Maybe that was my sole moment of sanity.

This Sunday, a thirsty Jesus comes to the well of Abraham, and he engages with an unlikely conversation partner. A Woman. A Samaritan. And someone at the well a time one might not expect to expect a woman from the village.

I have heard a lot of misguided preaching on this text over the years, but I will resist travelling down that path for now. Instead, I’d like to use this amazing Gospel as today’s reminder of who our God is for us. Our God is not only the one who provides for our needs (yes, there will be wells filled with water in the midst of deserts). Our God is the one who goes beyond our physical needs to sustain us in ways that are surprising, enlightening, uplifting. The God that gives “living water.” Cosmic. Generous.

The same God who turns scarcity on a hilltop into more food than the community could ever need and who quenches parched throats eternally is the God who is with us now, As we are hit on a daily basis with news related to the pandemic, what will we do? We can live these weeks in terror of scarcity or trust that we are not alone, that we will be given (and give each other) what is needed.

That said, I recognize that there is also a healthy realism that we need to exercise about the way viruses move in populations. Someone I love dearly announce that she is now “officially an elderly shut in.” I support that decision completely. So here are some thoughts about how to stay connected if your travel is becoming more circumscribed.

If you are changing your pattern of living, and want to be with Charis virtually, this week we will begin providing access to Sunday Mass via Google Hangouts. If you click this link at 11 a.m. Sunday, you should move through to the gathering. It’s a big experiment, so if it’s a bust, more trouble shooting until we get it right. Please feel free to forward this connecting point to others who might want to join us in prayer virtually.

Importantly, I also invite those members of the community who are feeling vulnerable during this period due to compromised heath, special needs in their families, who are on a fixed income and face financial strains or food insecurtiy, or feel isolated in any way to please write me at trish.vanni@charisecc.org We have other ways of connecting beyond weekly prayer, and I will be setting up a phone chain to keep in touch with people and to allow the community to stay on top of special needs and support. See the beautiful thoughts from Sojourners, below. We can be there for each other in new and important ways. In particular, it’s very important that noone go hungry or without needed prescriptions due to financial hardship.

If you stay healthy, please keep in mind that there are systems in place in our country that make accessing needed support difficult for key groups. I received an update regarding safety of detained people in the immigration crisis and how we may need to be proactive around items like soap. Please see https://www.communityjusticeexchange.org/ for information about the bond/bail and other issues facing people who have tried to enter this country and have been rounded up. The Red Cross is now in a blood donation crisis. Let’s remember that the life of disciples is inward looking in service of being outward looking and be of service where we can be!

For those of you who are still comfortable gathering together, we’ll be doing some modification of hand holding, etc. at Mass. See below. Hope to see you then. Mass is at 11 a.m. at the Charis Center, our home. 7117 Washington Ave. S., just off Valley View Road exit of 169 on the EP side.

In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
Trish
Pastoral Director
Charis
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
http://www.charisecc.org

cháris Χάρις khar’eceOur name means grace, good will, loving-kindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.

Transfiguration 6

 

 

Seeing Clearly: The Power of Transfiguration

“Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, ‘Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’”

Transfiguration by Malcolm Guite

For that one moment, ‘in and out of time’,
On that one mountain where all moments meet,
The daily veil that covers the sublime
In darkling glass fell dazzled at his feet.
There were no angels full of eyes and wings
Just living glory full of truth and grace.
The Love that dances at the heart of things
Shone out upon us from a human face
And to that light the light in us leaped up,
We felt it quicken somewhere deep within,
A sudden blaze of long-extinguished hope
Trembled and tingled through the tender skin.
Nor can this blackened sky, this darkened scar
Eclipse that glimpse of how things really are.

Well, that’s what I’ll be exploring Sunday at Mass, perhaps in less poetic form. Hope to see you then. Mass is at 11 a.m. at the Charis Center, our home. 7117 Washington Ave. S., just off Valley View Road exit of 169 on the EP side.
In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
Trish
Pastoral Director

follow-me-satan temptation ilya repin Painting by Russian Artist Ilya Repin (1901) “Follow me, Jesus”

“The safest road to hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”  the devil Screwtape, in the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis offers us the correspondence between two devils, Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood. In the letters, Screwtape advises Wormwood about how to most effectively tempt his assigned human, “the Patient,” to sin. In this book, God is “the enemy.” Screwtape and Wormwood have different approaches to the challenge, as we read over the course of the letters. While the younger Wormwood wants to offer more extravagant sins, the elder Screwtape suggests a craftier approach, quoted above. Tempting humans appears to be fun; how much more so to tempt the son of the Most High?!?
The temptation of Jesus appears in all three synoptic Gospels, so we can surmise that this story was important to the earliest followers of Jesus. In it, Satan is bold — the temptations invite Jesus into realms of grandiosity. “Oh, you’re hungry I see… Turn these stones into bread. What a fine trick that would be, given the Roman Empire is starving your people.” “Ah, wait, you are God’s son. Let’s see you do something marvelous right at the site of the Temple. A little levitation, perhaps?” “So you’re the son of the living God. How about having power beyond your human ability to comprehend? Just bow down to me…”
In these stories, it strikes me, Satan is quite Wormwood-like. But if like us Jesus is fully human as well as divine, I suspect he also faced (at some point or another) the slippery slope of Screwtape-style temptations. The ones that are slightly more insidious. Disguised under a thin veneer of righteousness. Easily dismissed or rationalized. The ones that have no clear “signposts.”
At Ash Wednesday services, I shared with the community that I am actively trying to shift my focus this Lent away from stereotypic ways of understanding sinfulness and toward an understanding of the season as a time to clear away obstacles to living the life of a follower of Jesus — a life of compassion and love. There are quite a few snarky practices I need to clean up, milestones of mean-spiritedness that I would be better off without. Particularly on facebook (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!). I’m also going to expand my commitment to prayer. And work find new avenues of generosity of spirit.
To succeed will require getting close to Jesus, my teacher. As I think about temptations, I can’t help but remember the popular singing group of my teen years by the same name. Years later, Sister Act, brought an entirely new meaning to one of their biggest hits when the nuns’ choir sang, with verve and joy, My Guy. “Nothing you could do could make me untrue to my guy, (My guy). Nothing you could buy could make me tell a lie to my guy. (My guy) I gave my guy my word of honor to be faithful, and I’m gonna, You best be believing I won’t be deceiving my guy.” Yup. That’s shaping up as the heart of the next 40 days for me.
Hope to see you this Sunday at Mass, 11 a.m., The Charis Center.
In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
Trish 
Pastoral Director

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

Tomorrow, Christians of many types around the globe gather to mark the start of Lent. Today it’s Pączki and pancakes, but tomorrow there’s a seasonal solemnity that will embrace us.

This past Sunday, I shared my thoughts about the fairly crazy notion of loving one’s enemies and praying for those who persecute us. I don’t know about you, but that instruction has moved, for me, to a nice aspiration to a central challenge in my discipleship. As David Lose observes, “Jesus isn’t trying to modify the rules of the world. He’s not, contrary to prosperity preachers, inviting us to figure out how to make the most of this world. And he’s not even inviting us to find a safe space amid the challenges of this world. Rather, he’s starting a revolution by calling the rules of this world into question and, at the very same time, redeeming this world that will put him to death.”

So  how does Jesus do that? He calls the powers of the day into question by describing an entirely different way to relate to each other, inviting us into relationships governed not by power but by vulnerability grounded in love. It is his way, and as Mahatma Gandhi would observe almost two thousand years later, “’An eye for an eye’ makes all people blind.”

So here’s what I’m proposing at a Lenten discipline this year. Let’s love one another. Really. With all we’ve got. Even the ones who “don’t deserve it.” Repent of the ways we have sidestepped this. Abstain from the urge to attack or denigrate. And pray, pray, pray that the God of infinite love, our God, will fill us for this journey. More on this, briefly, tomorrow.

I hope many of you will consider praying with us.  Particularly those of you who do not feel at home in your current praying community. We are here with open hearts, open minds, and open arms of welcome. Word service with Ashes at 5:30 pm. All are wanted and welcome.

Holiness

“Be Holy, for I, the Lord your God, am Holy…”

“The Holy Spirit writes no more Gospels except in our hearts. All we do from moment to moment is live this new gospel of the Holy Spirit. We, if we are holy, are the paper; our sufferings and our actions are the ink. The workings of the Holy Spirit are his pen, and with it he writes a living gospel.”  Jean-Pierre de Caussade, and 18th century Jesuit.
I’m wondering this week about what it means to be holy. I actually think that I’ve been in the presence of holiness — I’ve met a few elders that vaguely blew my mind (and, for whatever reason, they were all elders). Perhaps I’ve met more holy people than I’m inclined to acknowledge. Vatican II affirmed a “universal call to holiness,” recognizing that the quality is not only found in professed, religious, and consecrated persons. Have I been missing it around me?
Robert Ellsberg is an author who has spent a good portion of his professional life writing about saints and holy people. Once, he met Brother Patrick Hart, the former secretary of Thomas Merton at the Abbey of Gethsemane. He had heard that the monks regularly read aloud from All Saints (his wonderful book) while dining in the refectory. Ellsberg asked, “Did the monks have any trouble with the people I included as saints?” he asked Br. Patrick. “Well,” he replied. “There were some eyebrows raised about Thomas Merton!”
Well, if that’s true about Merton, we can all breathe a sigh of relief as we lower the holiness bar just a smidgen.
“The story of Merton or Nouwen or any of God’s faithful servants is not just a chronicle of their activities and accomplishments. It is a story that takes account of their restless search, their stumbling, their moments of doubt, their quirks and personal qualities. And if we ask, ‘Where is God in their story?’ the answer is that God is part of the whole story,” writes Ellsberg.
Ah. So perhaps that’s also true for each of us. I’ve had a sort of stumble-filled, doubt-sparked and quirky week. Maybe you have too. Let’s get together and see if we can find some holiness in there.
Mass is at 11 a.m. Sunday.  Come early! Pancakes will be a-flippin’ as we get ready to enter Lent this Wednesday with our Ash Wednesday service.
In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
Trish 
Pastoral Director


Getting to the Bottom of It All…
“I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream past the wit of man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about t’expound this dream. Methought I was—there is no man can tell what. Methought I was, and methought I had—but man is but a patched fool if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream. It shall be called ‘Bottom’s Dream’, because it hath no bottom.” Nick Bottom in A Midsummer’s Night Dream
We theatrical types all have them: Memories of roles or shows that we just can’t shake, to the point where lines are suddenly recalled with surprising midlife clarity. One of mine was playing Helena in Midsummer’s when I was a junior at Georgetown. It was a awesomely creative production, one that would land my bestie Rick Lombardo in a fantastic directing program at BU. He’s had an amazing career, and is now chair of Penn State’s monstrous theatre department.
There are lines of Helena I’ll never forget, like “though she be but little, she is fierce!” But one of the most memorable is my friend Joe Banno, who went on to direct at hte Folger Shakespeare library, awakening from Bottom’s sojourn with Titania to quote Jesus convolutedly (if that’s a word). Anyway, as I read the epistle this week, Joe came to mind as I read, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.”
It’s incumbent upon me to do a little better in recalling the right words than does Bottom. Because what a promise! And that fullness comes how? In the act of loving God.
A few things in recent weeks have me plunging in and out of a scarcity mentality, with the neuralgic fears that seems to bring along. In the Gospel, Jesus will exhort his listeners (including us) to remember that his message is not one of abolishing all that goes before it, but that one that fulfills it. “If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live,” says Sirach. Let’s explore that more deeply, remember the promise and find the hope. Mass is at 11 a.m. Sunday.
In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
Trish
Pastoral Director

salt crystals

You are the salt of the earth…

It’s easy to understand what Jesus means when he says “you are the light of the world” (or as easy as it ever gets with our often creative teacher). But what does it mean to be exhorted to be the salt of the earth? There are six different ways the people of his day put salt to use. More on that Sunday.

In our house, there are a number of uses for salt, which is reminding me to tell you all not to attempt to come to our front door, the path to which is quite an ice rink. Be family. Come through the garage.

It hasn’t been an easy week for many people in our community, and for a range of reasons. My mind keeps floating to the power of community in the midst of everything. As I sat with my sweet honorary niece Elizabeth yesterday, she was comforting her beautiful, feverish and unhappy baby, who’s about a year and a half old now. She was exhausted. I remember that so well! But still so gentle and soothing. Lizzy lit up as we were remembering the many people who brought food for her while Jagger was a newborn.

So two things struck me. First, that we need each other now as the human family has always needed each other, for sustenance and support. We are in an age that seems to be moving more and more to physical isolation. And second, that I believe in a mother God who can hold us, and stroke us, and comfort us no less powerfully or beautifully than I saw Lizzy comfort Jagger. And no less patiently or peacefully.

Mass is at 11 a.m. Sunday.

In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
Trish
Pastoral Director

Charis
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
http://www.newcatholiccommunity.com
cháris Χάρις khar’ece

Our name means grace, good will, loving-kindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.

Simeon and Anna

Sunday, February 2nd: The Feast of the Presentation

Who is this King of Glory? It is the Lord!
This week is the Feast of the Presentation. In the Gospel story, the infant Jesus is brought to Jerusalem to be presented to God. He is met by Simeon and Anna. More on that on Sunday.
As I read the week’s other two readings, I found myself singing. The first reading from the prophet Malachi asks, “Who will abide the day of his coming?” Instantly: Two different movements of Handel’s Messiah (and their truly many notes): “Who Will Abide the Day of His Coming” and “For He is Like a Refiner’s Fire.” And when I read the psalm, all I could hear was Stephen Colbert’s unforgettable liturgical dance and sung performance of “The King of Glory Comes.” Talk about a jarring juxtaposition!
Today, I spent some time with a group of women learners studying the history of Sufism. One of the things that makes the mystical stream of Islam unique is the fact that it has, since its founding by Jalalludin Rumi in Persia in the 13th Century, made poetry and music a centerpiece. This is contrasted with more extreme and austere recent movements in Islam that condemn music as sinful. As we listened to and watch performances of Sufi music from numerous countries in the Muslim world, I was yet again taken by the power of music to transport us spiritually to amazing places.
I grew up in the chaotic, creative post-Vatican II liturgical years, where laws had not yet been sorted out, and catechism entries and canons had yet to be codified and promulgated. More than once in my scholarly travels I’ve read or heard conservative observers bashing the practices of that time in the American Church. A recent blog post noted, “Sadly, most Catholics, know little or nothing about the ‘Great Treasury of Sacred Music’ to which they are the rightful heirs and are rarely, if ever, exposed to high quality sacred music and Gregorian Chant that is truly transcendent (i.e. Palestrina, Tallis, Durufle, Holst, Byrd).” (Be advised, if you come to Charis, you’re going to miss your Palestrina, as those who were singing along with John Prine last Sunday will attest.)
The music that we sang in the years I was most impressionable might not have had the elegance of a mass by Thomas Tallis, but it burned a vision of the Christian life into me that I have yet (and hope never) to shake. Recently, my folder with all of the music I played as a youngster surfaced in my mom’s things. Sheila, my sister, and I just had to hear the first line of any one of those songs to be able to sing the entire thing. Were the messages sometimes trite? Yes (I’m still not too keen on the upbeat “eat his body, drink his blood” of “Sons of God”). But how about this for a vision:

Take our bread, we ask you,
Take our hearts, we love you,
Take our lives, oh Father,
We are yours, we are yours.
Yours as we stand at the table you set,
Yours as we eat the bread our hearts can’t forget.
We are the signs of your life with us yet;
We are yours, we are yours.
Take our bread, we ask you,
Take our hearts, we love you,
Take our lives, oh Father,
We are yours, we are yours.
Your holy people stand washed in your blood,
Spirit-filled, yet hungry, we await your food.
We are poor, but we brought ourselves the best we could.
We are yours, we are yours.
Take our bread, we ask you,
Take our hearts, we love you,
Take our lives, oh Father,
We are yours, we are yours.

This week, Richard Rohr’s daily reflections offered an observation from his book about the mystics. “God, it seems, cannot really be known, but only related to. Or, as the mystics would assert, we know God by loving God, by trusting God, by placing our hope in God. It is a non-possessive, non-objectified way of knowing. It is always I-Thou and never I-It, to use Martin Buber’s wonderfully insightful phrases. God allows us to know God only by loving God. God, in that sense, cannot be ‘thought’ at all.”
Hmmm. Maybe all those songs about relationships and love, “take our hearts, we love you… we are yours” were on to something.
More on the power of community, relationship, and love this Sunday as we meet again the amazing Anna and Simeon. Mass is at 11 a.m. Sunday.

In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
Trish
Pastoral Director

Charis
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
http://www.newcatholiccommunity.com
cháris Χάρις khar’ece

Our name means grace, good will, loving-kindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

“’Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’
At once they left their nets and followed him.”

There are a lot of fisherpeople in MN. Some have real gifts and passion for the sport. Me? I’m a sort of “Honey, I’ll hang here with my novel while you cast” sort of fishergal. But pulling in your meal is such a powerful thing, as one night of endless bass showed me. (If you want a glimmer of the beauties of fishing, go watch Lauren Knapp’s utterly delightful “Fishing in Heaven” here: https://vimeo.com/28992129) Leaves me thinking about fishing for people… We do it because it will, ultimately, feed us and feed the world. Hope to see you on Sunday at 11 a.m. at Charis ECC, 7117 Washington Ave. South.
I look forward to seeing many of you at Mass at 11 a.m. In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,

Trish
Pastoral Director
Charis
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
http://www.newcatholiccommunity.com
cháris Χάρις khar’ece

Our name means grace, good will, loving-kindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Let’s Go Down to the River to Pray

Thus says the LORD: Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching. — The Prophet Isaiah
This Sunday is the last day of the season of Christmas. Am I the only person with the tree still up? Well, it’s not liturgical year correctness, I admit, just a busy life and travel schedule!
It’s fascinating to me that the last day of this season is a huge leap forward from the birth and other narratives set in Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem and the road to Egypt. We have fast-forwarded from Magi to the banks of the Jordan. People are flocking to John for the Baptism of repentance he is offering.
Our English word baptism is derived from a Greek word, baptizo, which means to plunge, drown or sink. John’s baptism is in synch with the many water rituals of his time, the root of the current practice of mikvah in contemporary Judaism. Archaeologists have uncovered a deep and complex series of interconnected pools at Qumran, and speculate that the monks regularly underwent ritual cleansing by water. We know from the Gospels that ceremonial washing was important to the followers of Jesus, as was ritual handwashing to the Pharisees.
One of the historical records of the time, written by Josephus, the Jewish historian, references peopl;e going to John as a moment of ritually completing their personal conversion.This baptism signified a turning away from sin in preparation for the reign of God that was, hopefully, breaking in.
And, of course, Christians believe that Jesus represents, in a complete and gracious way, that inbreaking of the divine life, revealed for all of us.
The wonderful liturgical theologian Max Johnson describes the baptism of John akin to the crossing of the Jordan made by the people as they entered the promised land. To go into the Jordan with John is to be ready to enter a new age. So it seems particularly powerful that Jesus himself enters into that ritual. And of course, no surprise that we hear the voice of Isaiah on Sunday as well, proclaiming as Judaism makes a critical shift away from violence and internecine conflict that God’s servant will be the one who brings justice by following a path of peace.
As our nation dances with the possibility of escalating violence in Iraq with Iran, and as portions of the world sear under the lash of climate change (please see prayer for Australia, below), we need this reminder of who Jesus is, was and will be. We need the daily renewal of baptismal power and fervor. I say. More on that Sunday!
I look forward to seeing many of you at Mass at 11 a.m. 7117 Washington Ave. South, just off the Valley View Road exit of 169.

In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
Trish
Pastoral Director

Charis
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
http://www.newcatholiccommunity.com
cháris Χάρις khar’ece
Our name means grace, good will, loving-kindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.

Photo is of a mural in Medjugorje. Thanks to U.S. Catholic for source material for this reflection.

Australian Bush fires

Peter Bierer is a friend of our community. This prayer he wrote just appeared in America Magazine. We join him in praying for Australia.

Prayer of Lament for Australia

How long, O Lord?

Every day, I see images and hear stories of the devastating bushfires in Australia. Raging fires, blackened forests, burned-out homes, ash-filled skies, scarred animals, traumatized children and communities.

I am filled with sorrow, my soul is heavy with grief.
How long will the fires last, O Lord?
How long will the destruction and death continue?
Where are you, God?

I am sad, O God.

I grieve for the loss of human life, of homes, animals, plants and trees, and the scarring of the earth. I am saddened for the original custodians of the land, the First Peoples of Australia, and the poor and marginalized disproportionately affected by the fires. As Jesus wept for Jerusalem and the coming destruction of the temple, I weep for Australia and the destruction of this sacred land.

Turn my sadness into compassion.

I am fearful, O God.

I am afraid because these fires are out of my control. I feel helpless and small. When will this torment end? How many lives will be affected by the fires? There is no end in sight. Will relief ever come?

Turn my fear into hope.

I am angry, O God.

I look for someone to blame. Whose fault is this? Scientists have warned for decades of the dangers of climate change, yet our leaders sit idly by, making promises with little to show in action. I am even angry with you, God. Can’t you stop the fires by some miracle? Are you even listening? I know that pointing fingers will not help, but I am upset.

Turn my anger into resolve.

I am ashamed, O God.

Am I partly to blame for these fires? I hold tightly to my comforts and conveniences which contribute to higher carbon levels in the atmosphere. I am ashamed because I do not know how to help.

Turn my shame into healing.

I am grateful, O God.

I am thankful for the firefighters who work tirelessly to protect your people and all creation; for the volunteers and those who donate money, supplies and their own homes to assist those in need; for the “good news stories” which spark hope. I am grateful for the rain when it comes.

Turn my gratitude into action.

How long, O Lord, how long?

I cry to you in my helplessness as I witness the tragedy unfolding in the Great Southland of the Holy Spirit.

Come, Holy Spirit, Enkindle in us the fire of your love fill the hearts of your people and renew the face of the earth.

Instead of bushfires, come with the fire of your love, Holy Spirit.

Fill us with compassion and mercy to stand with our sisters and brothers affected by the fires. Give us strength to join in their suffering and bear witness to their pain.

Instead of the driving winds that add fuel to the fires, come as a gentle breath.

Bring fresh air to drive away the toxic fumes and ashen skies. Breathe new life into us, inspire us with love to care for one another and the earth.

Come, Holy Spirit, as a refreshing rain.

Open the heavens, quench the flames, heal the parched land and nourish our souls, renew the face of the earth.

Come, Holy Spirit, with the peace of a dove.

Calm our anxieties and fear. Lead us from the temptation to blame one another and become divided. May we be bearers of peace.

Come as a balm, Holy Spirit.

Anoint and soothe the wounds of the victims, seen and unseen. May we be balm to one another.

Be our Advocate, Holy Spirit.

Listen to our inward groaning and give us words to speak in places of power. Speak through us that we may be prophets of love amid the kingdoms of selfishness and greed; that we may speak hope in times of despair.

Veni, Creator Spiritus!

Heal the land. Heal our hearts. Make us new again.

To you, O God, I entrust my sorrow, my fears, my anguish, as well as the people, the flora and fauna, the land of Australia.

Help me to find consolation and be grateful for the many gifts and joys present in the midst of this tragedy.

Reveal to me the path of life.

Fill me with love, guide me in hope, and lead me to act with mercy and compassion.

Amen.