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The implications of Christmas

Joan Chittister, | December 2018

Christmas is the celebration of small things, particular things, barely noticeable things. It is Jesus in a manger—an animal byre—the child who will grow into the voice of God that is heard around the world.

It's so easy to get caught up in the magnificence of Jesus and so miss the simplicity of Jesus, the normalcy of Jesus, the invisibility of the Jesus who lives almost totally unseen, unheralded, for the first 30 years of his life. Just like us.

The implications of that reality . . .

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RCWP Liturgies on Zoom


  • The implications of Christmas
  • A Christmas Reflection from the perspective of a shepherd
  • A crisis reveals what is in our hearts
  • Canada Post Christmas 2020 stamp
  • 55 years of struggle for women’s ordination in the Catholic Church
  • The end of an era: A farewell from Novena News
  • Comments to the Editor
  • Prophetic persistence:  Women's Ordination Conference 45th Anniversary
  • Catholic women clap back at Pope for calling their struggle for ordination “clericalist”, “disrespectful”
  • RCWP pioneer honoured:  Bishop Patricia Fresen
  • National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women Virtual Commemoration
  • 'Progressive' pontiff falls short in some areas
  • RCWP Liturgies on Zoom
  • Search
  • RCWP Canada Bishop's Message:  Advent Lamentation and Christmas Joy
  • ¿TEOLOGIA FEMINISTA? en español
  • CTU names first woman president: Sr. Barbara Reid
  • A Christmas Narrative
  • Francis Comics
  • Comments to the Editor address and form
  • RCWP Canada Links
  • Related Links

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 RCWP Canada Bishop's Message

Advent Lamentation and Christmas Joy

This year our Advent waiting time is so different from what we are used to.  The global pandemic has squashed our excitement of Christmas coming.  We can’t get together to prepare hampers for the needy.  We don’t have carol festivals and school Christmas concerts to attend to boost our spirits while they raise funds for organizations that provide much needed social assistance.  We aren’t planning family Christmas gatherings.  Covid is the Grinch who stole Christmas.  Some of us may have lost a loved one to the illness or we know someone who has. We mourn for them.

The liturgy of Advent seems to be made for times such as these. Like a symphony we are carried through several movements that make up a soulful musical experience.

Advent Scripture readings begin with the urgent call to AWAKE! - to look and see where we are on our journey to the Kindom.  The reading from the Book of Lamentations (Chapter 5) on the First Sunday of Advent refers us to the time of the Babylonian exile and the tremendous grief the people experienced in losing their home land, their livelihood and their relationships. Totally desolate and broken hearted, they turn to God, pour out their complaint, and hope that God will hear them and take pity.

The prayer of lament, guides us to turn away from the darkness that envelopes us, toward the promise of a new beginning.  Next, we are taken to the desert and encounter John the Baptist. Son of the priest, Zachariah and Elizabeth, John forgoes his inheritance to be a priest like his dad.  He has a different mission – to be the Forerunner of Christ, the one who proclaims the imminent coming of the long-promised Messiah. He is witness to the light; not the light itself. (Mark 1; John 1)

John also calls the people to AWAKE, to put away works of darkness, to let the light shine.  I'm reminded of words from Leonard Cohen, "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in."  That crack is the point of turning, of moving toward the light of fullness of life that the Messiah will bring -- the reconciliation of all things to God in Christ Jesus. John's cry resonates in the wilderness of our hearts: to prepare for the Light by deepening our Gospel-value living; to live in this light and so to be light.  

Moving through the season, the prayer of lament is transformed to become the joy of the Song of Mary, proclaiming the greatness of God. Mary is one so attuned to the point of light we each carry deep within that she could recognize the voice of the angel.  Sensing the urgency of the moment, she moves quickly to whisper “yes.”  And then the angel left her!

In her bewilderment, Mary seeks out the wisdom of an elder whom she could trust and to whom she could bare her soul.  Elizabeth immediately recognized her distress.  Together they unwind the mystery of what happened to both of them, and recognize that what happened to them was for all the people.  In their youth and old-age, hope and longing opened to the dawning of a new age for God’s people.  Mary sang, and Elizabeth danced for joy. (Luke 2, 26-38)

In our prayer of lamentation we hold those things that break our hearts, be it our own pain or that of the world suffering from so much dis-ease and distress and ask the question: "What is mine to do to ease it?"  The collective cry of the people rises from a common experience of pain and suffering.  In a sense, it is the desert where we feel the knot in our heart at the center of all humanity.  It is the place to which we must go individually, and as a people, to hold the pain we know and weep; weep until the river of our salty tears change to flow like rivers of life-giving water to irrigate the aired earth within ourselves. By consciously choosing hope as our way through our broken-hearted lament, our sorrow can be turned into joy.  We are enabled to also irrigate the aired earth of other hearts so that Christmas light will rise and shine for all people. 

Hope, Peace, Joy, Love.

+ Jane

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


Olga Lucia Álvarez Benjumea, Special to The Review | December 15, 2020

What I am going to share here? I've been discussing with my female and male friends, with whom I have eaten multiple pounds of salt (bitterness) together, in our lives and our jobs.
Applying the method of feminist theology, allows us, as we apply it to discernment, what male theology does not allow us, since it applies only to men, and has a sexist patriarchal character, which oppresses and marginalizes us. It rescues us from myopia, and leads us from being dumbed down, so as not to continue to support the structures of the patriarchal system.

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[Olga Lucia Álvarez Benjunmea, Medellín, Colombia, is Bishop for ARCWP-South America]


CTU names first woman president: Sr. Barbara Reid

Soli Salgado, | November 21, 2020

The first woman to hold this position, Sr. Barbara Reid is the president-elect of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, elected by its board of trustees Nov. 12.

Sr. Barbara Reid is editor of the 22-volume Wisdom Commentary series, published by Liturgical Press.

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1:30-minute video of Sr. Barbara Reid commenting on the Wisdom Commentary series

A Christmas Narrative

Jackie Guimond, Special to The Review | December 15, 2020

All the other shepherds have left for Bethlehem,  following the star overhead.
I was looking for a gift…perhaps a lamb..but time is running out ...
I have to go. I want to see this Child.

Though the air is cool I work up a sweat plodding along.
In the darkness ... I keep my eyes firmly fixed on my guide overhead.

The star seems to have stopped.
And then I see it, looming in the distance..
the humble stable/cave.
As I approach I recognize the familiar smells of animal life
somewhat diminished by the smell of hay.

Joseph meets me at the entrance and welcomes me.
“Come in,” he says. “You have travelled far this night.”

He gives me a cup of water and directs me to a well-used stool
near the manger. “Please, sit here, and rest awhile.”

As I drink the refreshing water and my eyes grow accustomed
to the limited light I see Mary on the other side of the manger,
holding the Baby… her eyes glued on her newborn Son,
oblivious to anything going on around her.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a tiny Baby;
He seems so little … all bundled up in his Mama’s arms.
Joseph approaches her and whispers something in her ear..

As if awakened from a dream, Mary raises her head,
looks at me and simply asks: “Would you like to hold Him?”

I gasp and stare in disbelief! Did I hear her correctly?
She smiles and speaks again: “You may hold Him if you like.”

“Oh, but I am too dusty and dirty to touch Him,” I say.
 She  smiles, rises to her feet to bring the baby to me,
and gently places Him in my arms. “ If you hold Him close
He can feel your heart.”

Oh my God, I think ... yes, Oh my God …
He wiggles and squirms for a few moments, then seems to
find a comfortable spot.  As He nestles in my arms I find myself
rocking Him ... back and forth … oh so soothing for both of us
 ... just rocking.  This feels so good.

After a time I become aware of other faces that have joined us
in the stable … faces of dearly departed ones of this past year, family, friends, and the endless line of Covid victims …

They gather around the manger in anticipation.
At Mary’s direction I gently place the sleeping Jesus in His humble bed … and the sound of singing voices begins ... photo      
A Christmas Reflection from the perspective of a shepherd

J & G photo                       
9-minutes of song, naration and music by Jackie and Gerry Guimond, Fort Frances, ON

A crisis reveals what is in our hearts

Pope Francis, | November 26, 2020

To come out of this pandemic better than we went in, we must let ourselves be touched by others’ pain.
In this past year of change, my mind and heart have overflowed with people. People I think of and pray for, and sometimes cry with, people with names and faces, people who died without saying goodbye to those they loved, families in difficulty, even going hungry, because there’s no work.

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Canada Post Christmas 2020 stamp

Jesus' birth, leaving room for artists to reimagine the Nativity, including the presence of animals. The inclusion of the ox and donkey, dating back to at least the fourth century, is thought to illustrate Isaiah's prophecy: "The ox knows his owner, and the donkey his master's crib." The pair are often shown gazing in adoration at the newborn baby, signifying that even animals recognized the importance of this birth.

Consultants for Canada Post's 2020 Christmas collection:
  • Prof. Theodore de Bruyn, Department of Classics and Religious Studies, University of Ottawa
  • Professor Jill Caskey, Chair, Department of Visual Studies  University of Toronto Mississauga
  • Rev. Kevin Flynn, Anglican Studies Program, Faculty of Theology, Saint Paul University in Ottawa
  • Susan Roll, associate professor (ret.), Saint Paul University in Ottawa

55 years of struggle for women’s ordination in the Catholic Church

A new book by Ida Raming

A Pioneer looks back: individuals – documents – events –
movements. English Translation: James A. Turner

Read More: Description and order form

The end of an era: A farewell from Novena News

Cameron Doody, | November 30, 2020

Novena was born eighteen months ago with the goal of becoming a world-leading source for news on religion in Europe and beyond and a mouthpiece for the most authentic reforming currents in the Catholic Church.

Unfortunately, today that dream comes to an end for us.

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Editor's note:  It is with profound sadness that we receive the news of the closure of Novena News.  Many of their articles regarding developments in the Church were linked on The Review.  We considered them to be the National Catholic Reporter of Europe.

Comments to the Editor

The video of Fr. Luke Hansen is one of the most succinct and understandable presentation I have seen/heard of why the reasons the church gives against women's ordination are not supportable.

[Kathy Cameron, Regina, SK]

Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful message.

When I mentioned COVID as the reason for us saying goodbye, I meant that the economic rather than the health crisis had finally gotten the best of us. It has been a tremendously difficult blow, but of course it could have been worse - thankfully we all still have our health and we are more than aware that there are so many people doing it far tougher than us.

I am certainly aware of your work at The Review, and yours is one of the publications I look forward to enjoying more in the future, now that I have a bit more time on my hands. And what a compliment from you to be called the NCR of Europe... high praise indeed, for which I thank you.

I will continue to pray for you at RCWP and above all for your goals! Yours is such an important cause, and even if we're not writing on it now you can count on our full moral and spiritual support.

If there's ever anything we can do for you or for The Review and/or RCWP more generally, please don't hesitate to ask. In the meantime, warmest best wishes from Madrid.

Thanks again for brightening my day!

[Cameron Doody, Madrid, Spain, was the editor of the now discontinued Novena News.  The above message was in response to a message from the editor of The Review regarding the closure of the newletter and website of Novena News.]

It looks from the table of contents (The Review, December 1, 2020), there is a nourishing buffet of ideas in the articles.  I will try to “taste” a few this month.

[Patricia Orban, Regina, SK]

A salute to the Editor of The Review, who so empowers us women and our just cause. Excellent newsletter, really comprehensive with news from around the world.  Better than NCR!  It must take tremendous amounts of time and talent.

I am now an influential Canadian feminist, and I have been brought to that by a feminist father, husband, three sons and a Prime Minister, also a feminist, all of whom encouraged me and gave me opportunities.  To you, and all of them, I give my recognition and thanks.

[Rosemary Ganley, Peterborough, ON, is a Member of the Prime Minister's Gender Equality Advisory Council to the G7.]

Another amazing issue (December 1, 2020).  You continue to tackle and further the key issues within the Roman Catholic church today, and you have such excellent, diverse sources to speak to these – including the five-year old girl:  “Then, why do we go there?” 

I always get so much from Bishop Jane's homilies and writings, but your recounting your calling in this issue just about did me in!!  I read it after Eucharist this morning (December 2, 2020) – the texts from Isaiah and then Matthew 15 – you make both authors so very alive and real.

[Fr. Glenn Zimmer, OMI, Fort Qu'Appelle, SK]

Catholic women clap back at Pope for calling their struggle for ordination “clericalist”, “disrespectful”

Mada Jurado, | November 25, 2020

Key points
– Supporters of female priests “sowing division” – Francis
– “The real ‘clericalism and disrespect’ is in Pope Francis’ understanding of women” – Women’s Ordination Conference
– In new book, Pope sends mixed messages on women’s equality

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RCWP pioneer honoured:  Bishop Patricia Fresen

                                                                          RCWP Canada file photo

Editor, Special to The Review, December 15, 2020

A worldwide representation of Roman Catholic Women Priests gathered on Zoom December 6th to celebrate Eucharist and to honour Bishop Patricia Fresen who celebrated her 80th birthday.

Until RCWP Canada had a Canadian resident bishop, Bishop Patricia Fresen of Germany, now of South Africa, conducted ordinations of Canadians until she was succeeded by Bishop Marie Bouclin of Sudbury, ON, and subsequently by Bishop Jane Kryzanowski of Regina, SK.

Bishop Fresen was interviewed April 18, 2019 in South Africa by John Clarke -- Out on a limb: In conversation with Bishop Patricia Fresen (Click here for a 51-minute YouTube video.)

For a 64-minute podcast and a print format biography of the early history of the RCWP movement and Bishop Fresen's involvement in it, click here.

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women Virtual Commemoration

To commemorate the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, McMaster University’s December 6th Planning Committee honours those lives and loved ones lost at École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989; Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls; McMaster faculty, staff and students impacted by gender-based violence; and those affected by gender-based violence globally, focusing this year on those affected by anti-Black racism and gender-based violence.

Click here for Chancellor of McMaster University, Santee Smith's, Opening Remarks and several other short video presentations

‘Progressive’ pontiff falls short in some areas

Rosemary Ganley
, | November 26, 2020

It’s a hard thing to be in a position such as I am today: a fan in many respects of the leadership shown by Pope Francis, the Argentine pastor and a brainy Jesuit too, who has been head of the Roman Catholic Church for seven years.

At the same time, I am a sharp critic of his major blind spot, which is really a big one, regarding gender, women and sexuality.

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