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Laudato Si' oratorio is 'a call to action through music'

Barbara Fraser, | April 22, 2021

When Linda Chase first read Pope Francis' environmental encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," she was struck by the phrase, "Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope."

Now the composer and flutist, who lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, has turned that phrase into a song, expressing her joy and hope in an oratorio based on the pontiff's words.

"I am interpreting Laudato Si' as a call to action through music."

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The oratorio in three parts:

  RCWP Canada Bishop's Message

The Mothering Love of Godde

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The convergence of the readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter and Mother’s Day offer us a wonderful opportunity to consider the promises of God, of Divine Love, through the lens of motherly love.

The key message is the inclusive and transforming power of love as the Johannine community had come to understand it.

Both the Gospel and Letters of John emphasize this.  In these writings we see the development of the relationship Jesus has with his followers.  Initially, we read Jesus alone was the Son, “As the Beloved loves me, so I also love you.” (John 15.9) The followers of Jesus are disciples or students.

Then, we hear the relationship advance from disciples to friends, “I call you friends,  I have told you everything I have heard from the Beloved.” (John 15.15)

Further on they are kin (brothers and sisters). This all happens in the context of community.  There is no exclusive personal relationship here.  “Everyone who loves is begotten by God (is mothered by God) and knows God.” (1John 4.7)

God is generosity and God is joy:

“Whatever you ask in God’s name, God will give you.” (John 15.16)
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (John 15.11)
“In this is love; not that we have loved God, but that God loves us... and for the purpose that “your joy may be full.”  (1John 4.10)

For the community the growing intimacy with one another and collectively in Divine Love anchors them in their mission.  In the Spirit, Eternal Love goes out to all.  As the Spirit witnesses to Jesus, so must the community by their love for one another. “You also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15.27) 

Today, we look at the mothering nature of Godde.  Many of us were not given a maternal image of God when we were growing up. God was always “Father” never “Mother.”  We went to the feminine figure closest to God we had, Mary, mother of Jesus, and deified her.

Julian of Norwich, a 14-century English mystic, experienced in her Revelations of Divine Love a strong sense of the mother love of the Divine:

“As truly as God is our Father, so truly is God our Mother.
"To the property of Motherhood belong nature, love, wisdom and knowledge, and this is God.”

Her awareness of the generous and compassionate maternal love of the Divine is the most striking aspect of Julian’s writings.  It is for this that she is best known today.  She was also shown that our failings are opportunities to learn and grow; that they should be recognized, but not dwelled upon.  Our loving Mother will teach us to grow in wisdom and good judgment.

Divine Love has nothing to do with retribution and everything to do with compassion.  This source of love is as available to everyone as a mother goose longs to gather her goslings under her wings, (Psalm 91, Luke 13.34 and Matthew 23.37) to draw us close and gift us with the fullness of the Spirit. To know joy and peace which are the trademarks of this love.  

Julian’s message is finding great resonance today. See this article by Anne Clift Boris:  Julian of Norwich: The Loving Motherhood of God

New translations are being made of Julian of Norwich's writings.  Mirabi Starr and Matthew Fox are two contemporary authors. 

Part of her resonance with our times is that Julian lived during the time when the Black Plague ravished Europe.  In our present experience of global pandemic we look for sources of spiritual wisdom to help us navigate the stormy seas of life.  Julian has reassuring words for us as she did for all those who sought her counsel: Our loving Mother is with us. Placing our trust in her, we can be confident that, “All shall be well. All shall be well.  And in all manner of things, all shall be well.”

We see in nature many of the wise, generous, nurturing ways of Divine Love manifest as  new life comes forth from the earth, and we see how plants naturally protect new growth from budding and blooming too soon, or blossoms closing up for the night to protect the delicate inner parts that will generate fruit and seeds for the next season.

We see baby birds and ducks and geese, baby animals in the forest and on the farm.  Mothers nurture and protect them and teach them how to live in their environment.

We have our own mothers who gave us life for which we can be grateful.  Whether our relationship with our mother is warm and positive or more complicated and ambiguous, the mother-child bond is intense and profound even if we are not aware of it.

We may have other figures in our lives that have nurtured and cared for us with a fierce tenderness and compassion we associate with mothers.  Celebrating Mother's Day as one that honours all who have shown us the feminine face of Godde, opens us to appreciate further the breath and depth of Divine Love which is beyond any limitations we may place on it.

 “Mother’s Day” is the call to all of us to remember all those who have mothered us in life and then be conscious of our call to mother those around us, as well.  We can honour our Mom’s not only with flowers but by doing something to improve the status of women in the world today. This not only pays tribute to them now but can have lasting effects for the future.


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

Comments to the Editor

Thanks so much once again for this issue of The Review.  The perspectives re: women and the church, Mary’s influence on John’s gospel, and especially the Bishop's message – just the best.  That message along with the entire issue are among the best ever!

I particularly liked the Bishop's conclusion:  “It is apparent that women were active in significant ministries in the church at Rome. It is also apparent that gender does not seem to be a prominent issue for the historical Paul in this text. Paul has no problem with these women. Rather, he affirms them and their ministries. Did Paul make a point of affirming these women in an effort to ease tensions caused by some Roman Christians who had a problem with ministering women?”  The entire tone of her message, once again, was challenging, but not confrontational – more so, invitational.

[Glenn Zimmer, Fort Qu'Appelle, SK]

It is good news that the Liturgy is a hotly debated subject.  That means people are no longer passive observers, but feel that they want input. It is sad to think that changes will not come from the Vatican in our lifetime.

But the ray of sunshine is that there are those who do not wait, but “just do it”. I belong to a faith community called Mary of Magdala. We meet on Zoom twice a month. There are around 70 participants from all over Canada. Everyone is welcome, no exceptions as to sexual orientation, marital status, church membership, whatever.

Bishop Jane Kryzanowski is our servant leader. Everyone participates in the liturgy, including the consecration. Modern translations are used for the Scripture readings. The theme is not about Redemption theology, our sinfulness and unworthiness. The emphasis is on The Holy Spirit and God’s unlimited love.

[Emil Kutarna, Regina, SK]

I appreciate very much the insightful and carefully informed suggestion and “proof” that Mary of Nazareth influenced John’s gospel narrative because of her presence in the evangelist’s household in Ephesus. In Early Christian Art, Mary, Mother of God, frequently appears in the “orans” or prayerful, Eucharistic posture of hands raised either side of her head, upright, confident, and forward facing. These images of Mary reveal an active and influential disciple.

Reading the introduction to Michael Pakaluk’s publication, Mary’s Voice in the Gospel of John: A New Translation with Commentary, however, I was startled by a number of statements which seem to come from a literalist perspective of the gospel and its author with disdain for what he calls “failed” and “tired attempts in scholarly and popular biblical exegesis to locate feminism in the Gospel itself.” I read the line, “as we know from the hymn, or poem, that she [Mary] composed and recited known as the Magnificat” and thought, he thinks Mary put that together and recited it for Elizabeth as a young teen? Pakaluk makes no reference to Luke borrowing from Hannah’s lines in 1 Samuel or recent comparisons with writings from the Dead Sea scrolls. Later I was startled when he wrote, “John most likely wrote his Gospel many years after Mary passed from this wor
ld” I understood from a Little Rock Bible Study commentary years ago that John’s community most likely wrote the gospel. I googled Pakaluk’s name then and saw that he was Opus Dei. While these statements do not detract from the convincing premise that Mary’s voice can be detected in the writing of the fourth gospel, they do colour the authenticity of Pakaluk’s voice. As he says himself, “What we know and believe affects what we perceive and can remember.” I do look forward to reading Pakaluk’s valid and convincing insights.

[Teresa Elder Hanlon, Lethbridge, AB]

Lakota Catholic tradition gives new meaning to the rosary

Damian Costellow, | April 29, 2021

Black Elk* measured time by the number of rosaries you can say on the way.

When I think of the Lakota way, many sacred items come to mind. The Sun Dance tree. The čhaŋnúŋpa, or sacred pipe. The drum. The prayer flags.

And the rosary.

Many may be surprised to learn that the rosary is an authentically Lakota prayer. But if you hear the story of the rosary’s origin with Lakota ears, you won’t be surprised at all. The story begins with St. Dominic (1170–1221), the founder of the Order of Preachers. Convinced that God called him to bring the Albigensians back to orthodoxy, he went to France and began preaching. Despite his oratorial skill and years of effort, he had no effect. Defeated, St. Dominic retreated into the wilderness where he fasted and prayed for three days.

A traditional Lakota wouldn’t miss the parallel with the haŋbléčheya, the vision quest.

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*[Heȟáka Sápa, commonly known as Black Elk (December 1, 1863 – August 19, 1950), was a wičháša wakȟáŋ ("medicine man, holy man"), heyoka of the Oglala Lakota people and educator about his culture. He was a second cousin of the war leader Crazy Horse and fought with him in the Battle of Little Bighorn.  He is being considered for canonization by the Vatican.

On October 21, 2017, the cause for canonization for Nicholas Black Elk was formally opened by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, paving the way for the possibility of him eventually being recognized as a saint.]                   

The Persistence of Misogyny

Susan K. Roll, Special to The Review | May 1, 2021

Not long ago I met online with friends from a church reform group, trying to formulate an appropriate public response to the Vatican’s announcement that canon law was to be changed to allow the official installation of women as lectors and acolytes.

What we really wanted to say went something like: “A thousand thanks, dear kind sirs, for your gracious and generous permission to continue performing the little liturgical tasks that women have been doing in many parishes for decades.  Thank you that now we cannot be banned from these minor ministries only because we are women.  Thank you for overriding the 1949 proscription prohibiting women from proximity to the altar under pain of excommunication.  Thank you for revoking the provision in the 1969 General Instruction of the Roman Missal allowing clergy to exclude women from the altar space in the event they permitted women to lector at Mass.”

In the end we swallowed hard and drafted a harmless press release commending the Vatican and holding out the hope of continued progress on behalf of women.

Structural misogyny is not dead, not in the Church and not in the world outside the church doors.  But misogyny can have deadly consequences, and often does.

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Blessing Same-Sex Couples

Diann L. Neu with Mary E. Hunt, | April 2021

The Vatican’s recent ban on same-sex blessings has caused a myriad of responses worldwide in favor of such blessings. We, the WATER Community, rejoice in the love of all couples and in the abundant blessings which the Divine Creator showers on our world through them.

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Detailed Liturgy

Reflection on the “Great Conjunction”

Lori Dexter, Special to The Review | April 30, 2021

I was glad to read the reflection on the “Great Conjunction”.  I guess I was one of the many people who were intrigued and excited by the event. The fact that it took place on the night of the winter solstice only added to the intrigue. Maybe something new is about to happen. Maybe a shift is taking place. What is it all about? How is it related to my understanding of the Incarnation? Could it have something to do with the Divine Feminine rising? I would like to share a poem I wrote, which was inspired by the “Great Conjunction”.


Divine Consciousness descending,
cooling, slowing, gelling.
A good measure
pressed down and very tightly packed.
Making the Invisible visible
and the Unknown known.
Wake up, o sleeper, indeed!
The time for dreaming has passed.
The darkness that is human consciousness
is being  flooded with Light.
Fear is melting in the fire of Love
and time is dissolving in the ocean of Eternity.
It is the end of time.
Come, Jesus Sophia, come.

[Lori Dexter is a member of Edmonton, AB and area Emmaus Inclusive Catholic Community.]

Priesthood Reimagined: Roman Catholic Women Priests

Mary Kate Holman, | May 5, 2021

In 2002, a group of seven Catholic women gathered on a cruise ship on the Danube River. There, in a ceremony led by three male bishops, outside the jurisdiction of any diocese, they were ordained as priests. According to the Church’s Code of Canon Law, this was illicit: only men can receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. But the women, who liken their defiance to an act of civil disobedience, insist to this day that their ordinations are valid. Known as the “Danube Seven,” they gave birth to a movement, active mainly in the United States and Canada, that has since ordained nearly two hundred womenpriests.

For all the attention it attracted two decades ago, the Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP) movement remains poorly understood today. Fortunately, cultural historian Jill Peterfeso’s book, Womanpriest: Tradition and Transgression in the Contemporary Roman Catholic Church, has stepped in to fill that gap. Her ethnographic account, based on five years of interviews, digital questionnaires, and participant-observation of liturgies, offers the most measured analysis of RCWP to date. Neither sensationalizing the women as heroic renegades nor condemning them as fringe heretics, Peterfeso instead offers readers a nuanced portrait of their lives and worship spaces, letting them speak for themselves.

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Free Kindle version or $30 hardcover

Free PDF version of this book


This excerpt from an interview with Sister Katharina Ganz, General Superior of the Oberzell Franciscan Sister originally appeared in German in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

"No Pope has yet defined the exclusion of women as dogma, i.e. as an unchangeable part of the faith. There is no vote of a Council or a Synod of Bishops on it. And the assertion that there is a consensus in the College of Bischops of the world on this question would be refuted at the moment when a group of bishops, for instance a majority of the members of the German Bishops' Conference, said that there are good theological reasons for not considering the ordination of women as excluded."

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Her name was Violet Diamond; she was both a flower and a jewel!                            

Jackie Guimond, Special to The Review | May 15, 2021

She was a faithful member of St. Mary’s, always at daily Mass. It seemed to me that she was always ‘old’!

One morning after Mass we had a conversation that I hope never to forget. In her sweet British accent she said, "You know dear, we should always pray to die on a First Friday or a First Saturday of the month.”  When I asked why she continued, "Because the First Friday is our Lord’s Day, and the First Saturday is Our Lady’s Day!”

I paused but a moment and then replied, "I could never do that!”  She looked puzzled and asked, "But why not?”  I replied, "Because I would be too nervous every first Thursday!”

Not even slightly amused, she muttered, "Dear, you know nothing about your faith!” I conceded that she was probably right about that.

Violet died in 1991. I learned that just recently when discovering her grave marker at the cemetery where we walk daily:  Violet Diamond - April 13, 1900 - February 10, 1991.  It wasn’t until a few days later that it came to me. Was her prayer answered?

According to Google, February 10, 1991 was a Sunday!  She really did die on Our Lord’s Day.  RIP holy woman. Pray for us.

Eleven stumbling blocks placed by the Curia, and what Francis must do to restore the Church to Vatican II teachings

John O’Loughlin Kennedy, | April 29, 2021

Pope Francis made it clear recently that unless one accepts the magisterial authority of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), one is not "with the Church". He was speaking to the catechists of Italy, but that part of his message was clearly addressed to a wider audience.

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St. Basil's Parish, Ottawa, presenting a webinar on Zoom featuring Cardinal Michael Czerny, SJ

Topic: "Everyone and Everything Connected: Pope Francis's Vision of Our World"

When: Sunday, May 30, 2021, 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time (EDT)

Building on Pope Francis’s two encyclicals, Laudato si and Fratelli tutti, Cardinal Czerny invites us to consider what they have to say to us as a parish, to the Church in Canada and beyond.

Cardinal Czerny has been directly involved with the publication and follow-up of these major encyclicals.

You are invited to join this Zoom webinar by clicking here for the Zoom link,

The Passcode is: 535413

Typo Tracker

In the interest of The Review becoming as perfect as possible, technically that is, we are introducing Typo Tracker, counting on the eagle eyes out there to identify typos, spelling errors, grammatical errors, broken links, inconsistent formatting, or any other technical glitches that shouldn't be there.  Disagreement with the content doesn't count. Use the form at the bottom of this web page.

Reflections on the Sunday Readings
by Susan Roll

Reflection for Trinity Sunday B, May 30, 2021

Deuteronomy 4: 32-34, 39-40;  Psalm 33;  Romans 8: 14-17;  Matthew 28: 16-20*

Sometimes you can’t figure out what they were thinking, these mysterious Lectionary gnomes, hidden away in their ateliers, who assembled snippets of Scripture into a sequence of three readings for each Sunday of the church year, on a three-year cycle.  They didn’t leave written rationales or coherent explanations, no explanations at all in fact – and both the Lectionary of the Roman Missal and the Revised Common Lectionary were only put together less than fifty years ago.

Even one of the world’s top Lectionary gurus, my friend and former Saint Paul colleague Normand Bonneau O.M.I., has to concede that he can only extrapolate the original intentions and underlying connections from the thematic and harmonic threads woven through the readings, each in its context in a season of the year and a particular Sunday.

That’s why the fact that there really are discernible threads of sense connecting today’s three readings is striking – and on Trinity Sunday yet.  Trinity, probably the hardest theological nut to crack in the entire nut bowl of Christian thought.

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Francis, the comic strip            
by Pat Marrin |  May 4, 2021
National Catholic Reporter
Used with permission

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