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From Unfathomable Grief to Unsurpassed Joy: Women of Lent and Easter with Rev. Lindsay Hardin Freeman

Rev. Lindsay Hardin Freeman joins FutureChurch to offer this beautiful time of reflection on the Women of Lent and Easter: Mary and Martha of Bethany; Mary, the mother of Jesus; and Mary Magdalene.  Accompany them as they each offer gifts: sheltering Jesus, standing with him at the Cross, and witnessing the greatest miracle of all — the Resurrection.

About our leader: Writer, storyteller, mother and Episcopal priest, the Rev. Lindsay Hardin Freeman is committed to freeing Bible women and other Bible characters from the dusty, dry literary caskets in which they seem to have been trapped for centuries. A North American Ministerial Fellow and Cox Fellow, she received her Master of Arts in Theological Studies and Master of Divinity from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, and is the author/co-author/editor of ten books and over 100 articles on faith and church life. She and her team of researchers were the first to count and profile all the women whose words are recorded in the Bible, resulting in the publication of Bible Women: All Their Words and Why They Matter (Forward Movement). Learn more at https://www.lindsayhardinfreeman.com/ 

Chat Transcript: Rev. Hardin Freeman made use of the chat to interact with participants throughout our time of reflection. Women Of Lent And Easter Chat.

Co-Creating Beauty: Queer Bodies and Queer Love with Craig Ford, Jr.

Dr. Ford’s presentation, “Co-Creating Beauty: Queer Bodies and Queer Loves Beyond the Anathemas” explores how our roles as co-creators with God allows for new ways to understand the truth revealed by sexuality and gender identity beyond the boundaries of heteronormativity. Such redeployment of this theological status as co-creator, Ford argues, may provide a pathway beyond the impasse currently experienced at the level of official church teaching with respect to these topics.

Craig A. Ford, Jr., Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Saint Norbert College, where he teaches courses in Christian Ethics, Ecclesiology, and on Race, Gender and Sexuality while also serving as Co-Director for the Peace and Justice Interdisciplinary Minor. He is also on the faculty at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies—hosted at Xavier University of Louisiana, the nation’s only Catholic HBCU— where he teaches courses on Black Theology as well as on Topics in Moral Theology from a Black Perspective. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Yale Divinity School, and Boston College, Dr. Ford writes on topics at the intersection of queer theory, blac studies, and the Catholic moral tradition. His most recent book project, All of Us: The Future of Catholic Theology From the Perspectives of Queer Theologians of Color is a co-edited volume with Bryan Massingale and Miguel Diaz, drawing scholars and activists from North and South America, the Pacific Islands, Australia, and Europe who seek to chart new directions for Catholic theology when the oppressive realities of racism, heteronormativity, and sexism within church and world are engaged equally and fiercely. This volume is currently under contract with Fortress Press.

Mary Magdalene Goes to the Synod: Raising Awareness about Women Omitted from the Lectionary

FutureChurch’s “Mary Magalene Goes to the Synod” initiative seeks to build synodal dialogue and discernment on the need to expand the lectionary so that more of our foremothers in faith are included in the Sunday readings.

The Synod Synthesis calls the entire Church to dialogue and discernment with a particular, “urgent” focus on the role of women in the Church.

Proposal “q” in Part II, Section 9 entitled, “Women in the Life and Mission of the Church” asks that liturgical texts be more inclusive of women’s narratives.

There is a need to ensure that liturgical texts and Church documents are more attentive to the use of language that takes into equal consideration both men and women, and also includes a range of words, images and narratives that draw more widely on women’s experience (q).

As the faithful work together to bring forth a synodal church, we urge renewed dialogue and discernment that will lead to an expansion of the lectionary, especially the Sunday lectionary, so that the inspiring stories of our foremothers in faith will be better represented and proclaimed to all Catholics.

Supporting Synod Synthesis Convergences 

Expanding the lectionary to include more stories of our foremothers in faith is one critically important way to address some of the concerns voiced in the Synod Synthesis.

Many women expressed deep gratitude for the work of priests and bishops. They also spoke of a Church that wounds. Clericalism, a chauvinist mentality and inappropriate expressions of authority continue to scar the face of the Church and damage its communion. A profound spiritual conversion is needed as the foundation for any effective structural change (Part II, Section 9, f).

Further synod participants acknowledged:

Women make up most of those in our pews and are often the first missionaries of the faith in the family. Consecrated women, both in contemplative and apostolic life, are a fundamental and distinctive gift, sign and witness in our midst. The long history of women missionaries, saints, theologians and mystics is also a powerful source of nourishment and inspiration for women and men today (Part II, Section 9, d).

Thus they proposed:

There is a need to ensure that liturgical texts and Church documents are more attentive to the use of language that takes into equal consideration both men and women, and also includes a range of words, images and narratives that draw more widely on women’s experience (q).

 Working to Raise Awareness and Expand the Lectionary

And while Church texts have honored the contributions of early Christian women, there is a lacuna when it comes to proclaiming their inspirational stories at the Eucharist, especially on Sundays. Therefore, Catholics who hear the Word of God at mass, do not learn about the faith, courage, sacrifice, gifts, and courage of our foremothers in faith, a precious offering for Catholic women and girls, as well as Catholic men and boys.

In light of the Second Vatican Council, prestigious Catholic scholars such as Sr. Carolyn Osiek, RSCJ[i], Sr. Ruth Fox, OSB[ii], Michael Peppard, Ph.D.[iii], Regina Bosclair, Ph.D.[iv], Sr. Eileen Schuller, OSU[v], Sr. Christine Schenk, CSJ[vi] and others have written about the “woman gaps” in our Catholic lectionary noting that many of the biblical passages that feature our foremothers in faith who served as prophets, leaders, co-workers, apostles, disciples, deacons, patrons, and ministers in both the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament are not proclaimed on Sundays and Holy Days.

Prominent omissions to consider

Below are just a few of foundational stories about our foremothers in faith that are missing in the Sunday Lectionary or consigned to weekdays where most Catholics do not hear them.  Scholarly articles listed at the end of this page offer a more comprehensive understanding of the ways the lectionary could be expanded to offer more stories of women’s faith, courage, leadership, and ministry in the Early Church and in the First/Old Testament.

The Story of Mary Magdalene’s proclamation of the Resurrection is never heard on Easter Sunday 

Easter is the most holy celebration in the year. Yet, when Catholics gather for Mass on Easter Sunday, they do not hear the full story of the Resurrection.[i]  They do not hear the inspiring story of Mary Magdalene’s witness of the Risen Christ or Christ’s commission to Mary Magdalene to proclaim the Resurrection to the other disciples. Only John 20: 1 – 9 is proclaimed eclipsing her faith filled actions. Further, John 20:10-11 is omitted on both Easter Sunday and Easter Tuesday, part of the pericope that makes it clear that Mary Magdalene alone remained at the empty tomb.

In 2016, Pope Francis raised the memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a feast day with the official title, “Apostle of the Apostles”, and yet, Catholics do not know this story because they do not hear it on Easter and thus, are deprived of one of the most important moments in Christian history.

The Eleven Women St. Paul names in Romans 16 whose faith stories are not heard on Sunday

Pope Benedict XVI[ii] noted that St. Paul worked closely with women leaders such as Phoebe, Junia, Lydia and Prisca. Unfortunately, Romans 16, a passage that names 11 women and identifies some as deacons, apostles and co-workers, is never proclaimed on a Sunday. As a result, most Catholics never hear about these women’s important ministry alongside Paul.

Courageous Women of the Hebrew Testament

The story of two brave Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, is deleted from the lectionary reading describing the enslavement of Israel. The weekday reading of Exodus 1:8-22 (Lectionary #389, Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time, Year I) skips from verse 14 to verse 22, thus eliminating the story of these valiant women who put their own lives at risk to uphold God’s law of life.

Our Request for the Synod Participants 

In the lead up and during the October Synod on Synodality we are requesting that synod participants:

  • Dialogue about the women omitted from our Sunday lectionary as of discernment in the lead up to the synod gathering, and one that the whole Church should consider taking up as we work to bring women into authentic co-partnership.
  • Recommend that action be taken to make the lectionary more inclusive so that all Catholics, but especially women and girls will see themselves more clearly in the life, faith, leadership, and ministry of the Church and be inspired to be ministers of the Gospel for our world today.
  • Propose the possibility of a supplemental lectionary or another interim step until the main lectionary can be updated to be more inclusive.

Important Scholarly Resources

Women in the Bible and Lectionary by Sr. Ruth Fox, OSB (text)

Amnesia in the Lectionary by Regina A. Boisclair (audio) (text, Women in Theology)

We Must Restore the Powerful Witness of Women Leaders to the Catholic Lectionary by Sr. Christine Schenk, CSJ (test)

Lectionary Readings that Subordinate Women by FutureChurch (text)

Mary Magdalene: Witness, Leader, Disciple, and Apostle to the Apostles by Sr. Christine Schenk, CSJ (text)

Rereading Biblical Women by Dr. Jamie Waters (video, Boston College)

Restoring John 20: 1 – 18 to our Easter Sunday Lectionary – (With comparison between U.S. reading and Canadian reading) (text)

Reading the Bible in the Lectionary: Gift and Challenge by Sr. Eileen Schuller, OSU (text) (video)

The Feast of St. Phoebe by Sr. Carolyn Osiek, RSCJ (text) (video)

Women Erased from the Lectionary by Michael Peppard, Ph.D. of Fordham University (video)

Women’s Prophetic Leadership Changed the Face of the Roman Empire by Sr. Christine Schenk, CSJ (text, Vatican News)

It’s Not All About Eve: Rediscovering the Feminine Faces in the Bible by Sr. Christine Schenk, CSJ (text, America Magazine)

Dialogue and Discern in Your Parish, Diocese, Community!

Want to raise awareness about the “women gaps” in the lectionary in your parish?

Here are some ideas.

  1. Sign our Petition requesting that all of John 20: 1 – 18 be proclaimed on Easter Sunday.
  2.  Gather people at your parish/community and read and discuss this resource.
  3. Write or call your bishop, and ask for a meeting to dialogue about the women missing from the lectionary with ideas of how to make our foremothers in faith more visible during our Sunday Eucharist and throughout the liturgical year.

 

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Sources for this page

[i] USCCB Lectionary reading for Easter Sunday:  https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/033124.cfm

John 20: 1 – 9

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

USCCB Lectionary Reading:  https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/040224.cfm

John 20: 11-18 is read on Tuesday in the Octave of Easter when few Catholics hear it.

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he had told her.

John 20: 9 -10 which shows the actions of the male disciples leaving is never read.

9For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned home.

[ii] https://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audiences/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20070214.html

[i] This is an example of Sr. Carolyn Osiek’s scholarship on Phoebe from Romans 16: 1-2 at https://www.catholicwomenpreach.org/preaching/09032021.

[ii] Sr. Ruth Fox, OSB on “Women in the Bible and Lectionary” at https://futurechurch.org/women-in-church-leadership/celebrating-women-witnesses/women-in-the-bible-and-the-lectionary-by-ruth-fox-osb/.

[iii] Michael Peppard, Ph.D. from Fordham University speaks about the women who are not represented in the lectionary at https://futurechurch.org/women-in-church-leadership/women-erased-from-the-lectionary-with-michael-peppard-ph-d/

[iv] Dr. Regina Bosclair speaks about the women missing from the Lectionary at https://futurechurch.org/women-in-church-leadership/women-missing-from-the-lectionary-with-regina-boisclair-ph-d/  She has written a foundational chapter on the topic,  “Amensia in the Lectionary.”

[v] Sr. Eileen Schuller, OSU on “Reading the Bible in the Lectionary” for Boston College at https://www.bc.edu/bc-web/schools/stm/sites/encore/main/2022/reading-the-bible-in-the-lectionary.html

[vi] Schenk,  Christine CSj “The Prophetic Leaders of Women” – 4 part series in L’Osservatore Romano at https://www.osservatoreromano.va/en/news/2024-01/ing-004/the-prophetic-leadership-of-women.html

Other useful resources

https://futurechurch.org/women-in-church-leadership/celebrating-women-witnesses/women-in-the-bible-and-the-lectionary-by-ruth-fox-osb/

https://www.ncronline.org/opinion/signs-times/reforming-catholic-liturgy-should-be-updating-software

https://uscatholic.org/articles/201903/we-need-more-women-in-the-lectionary/

https://www.thesacredbraid.com/2016/07/22/a-non-traditional-blessing/

https://futurechurch.org/women-in-church-leadership/mary-of-magdala/hidden-sisters-recovering-the-stories-of-our-foremothers-in-faith/

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Americans (Don’t) Talk about Abortion with Tricia C. Bruce

FutureChurch welcomes sociologist, Dr. Tricia C. Bruce, Ph.D., to present on the findings of her qualitative study of American views on abortion. Using data from in-depth interviews with hundreds of everyday Americans, Dr. Bruce underscores the imperative of productive conversations about abortion in a post Roe v. Wade era. Her research exposes the limitations of available labels, assumptions, and boundaries separating Americans’ moral and legal views. Study insights help to forge pathways beyond polarization, making room for greater complexity, ambiguity, understanding, and cross-cutting collaborations. Learn more about and read the study here. 

 

Tricia C. Bruce, Ph.D. (University of California Santa Barbara) is a sociologist of religion with expertise in organizational, attitudinal, and generational change. Her award-winning books and reports include Parish and Place: Making Room for Diversity in the American Catholic Church(Oxford University Press, 2017), Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful Is Changing the Church (Oxford University Press, 2011/2014), and How Americans Understand Abortion (also forthcoming as a book with the University of California Press). She is also coeditor of Polarization in the US Catholic Church (Liturgical Press, 2016) and American Parishes: Remaking Local Catholicism (Fordham University Press, 2019). Her writing has appeared in Time Magazine, Science Advances, The Wall Street Journal, the LA Times, Religions, Journal for the American Academy of Religion, Review of Religious Research, and more.

She is an affiliate of the University of Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Religion and Society and Director of Springtide Research Institute. Previous appointments include tenured associate professor of sociology at Maryville College and research assistant professor with Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). She serves as President-Elect for the Association for the Sociology of Religion and as Past-Chair of the American Sociological Association Religion Section.

 

African American Readings of Paul with Lisa Marie Bowens

FutureChurch welcomes Princeton Theological Seminary Associate Professor of New Testament, Lisa Marie Bowens, who discusses her ground-breaking book, African American Readings of Paul: Reception, Resistance, and Transformation. During her presentation, Dr. Bowens highlights early Black women preachers and petitions from her book that reclaim the liberating messages of scripture to oppose slavery.

African American Readings of Paul: Reception, Resistance, and Transformation (Eerdmans 2020), is the first book to investigate a historical trajectory of how African Americans have understood Paul and utilized his work to resist and protest injustice and racism in their own writings from the 1700s to the mid-twentieth century. In it, Dr. Bowens takes a historical, theological, and biblical approach to explore interpretations of Paul within African American communities over the past few centuries. She surveys a wealth of primary sources from the early 1700s to the mid-twentieth century, including sermons, conversion stories, slave petitions, and autobiographies of ex-slaves, many of which introduce readers to previously unknown names in the history of New Testament interpretation. Along with their hermeneutical value, these texts also provide fresh documentation of Black religious life through wide swaths of American history. African American Readings of Paul promises to change the landscape of Pauline studies and fill an important gap in the rising field of reception history.

Lisa Marie Bowens, PhD, associate professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, earned a BS (cum laude), MSBE, and MLIS from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, an MTS and ThM from Duke Divinity School, and a PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary. She is the first African American woman to earn tenure in Princeton Seminary’s Bible department. Her research interests include Paul and apocalyptic literature, Pauline anthropology, Pauline epistemology, discipleship in the gospels, African American Pauline Hermeneutics, and New Testament exegesis and interpretation. She is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Society of Pentecostal Studies, Society for the Study of Black Religion, American Academy of Religion, and a past Fund for Theological Education fellow. Her current projects include working as a contributor and co-editor with Scot McKnight and Joseph Modica on Preaching Romans From Here: Diverse Voices Engage Paul’s Most Famous Letter (forthcoming), contributor and co-editor with Dennis Edwards on Do Black Lives Matter?: How Christian Scriptures Speak to Black Empowerment, and two commentaries, one on 2 Corinthians and one on 1-2 Thessalonians.

Walking the Way: Following in the Footsteps of Our Black Catholic Foremothers in Faith – Pilgrimage Resources

Dear friends,

We are so glad you are joining our pilgrimage from May 2 – 7, 2024, “Walking the Way: Following in the Footsteps of Our Black Catholic Foremothers in Faith.”

We are confident that you will be able to take this experience and training and build new ministries in your parish and community to confront white supremacy and heal racism our church and in our world. It is our hope that you will find the resources you need to work for racial and reparative justice.

There will be a series of meetings prior to our departure, the pilgrimage, and a series of meetings after we return.  All are designed to support your learning and ministry of healing and hope.  We invite you to take advantage of all of them as we work together to develop the spirituality, educational resources, and ways to take action in our communities.

Below are the educational resources:

PRE-PILGRIMAGE RESOURCES & MEETINGS

THE PILGRIMAGE RESOURCES

  • May 2 – 7, 2024 Pilgrimage
    • Gather together for our prayerful, educational, experiential pilgrimage to Atlanta, Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, and New Orleans
    • Please bring a journal so that you can reflect on your experience as often as possible

POST PILGRIMAGE RESOURCES & MEETINGS

  • June 2024 Reflections and Gatherings
    • Online gathering for prayer, reflection, discussion, and project support/help
    • Sample project template for download
      • Date and time TBD
      • Link to join will be sent prior to meeting
  • July 2024 Reflections and Gatherings
    • Online gathering for prayer, reflections, discussion, and project support/help
      • Date and time TBD
      • Link to join will be sent prior to meeting
  • August 2024 Reflections and Gatherings
    • Online gathering for prayer, reflections, discussion and project support/help
      • Date and time TBD
      • Link to join
  • September 2024 Reflections and Gatherings
    • Online gathering for prayer, reflections, discussion and project support/help
      • Date and time TBD
      • Link to join
  • October 2024 Reflections and Gatherings
    • Online gathering for prayer, reflections, discussion and project support/help
      • Date and time TBD
      • Link to join
  • November 2024 Reflections and Gatherings
    • Online gathering for prayer, reflections, discussion and project support/help
      • Date and time TBD
      • Link to join

PROJECT LAUNCH

  • Online celebration – we will gather to share our final projects and celebrate your ministry!

Retiring director of FutureChurch praised as woman of spirit, spunk, hope

Excerpt:

Colleagues said the persistence, collaboration, creativity and passion Rose-Milavec brought to the “Votes for Catholic Women” campaign are qualities emblematic of her past decade at FutureChurch.  

“Deb has made her mark as a leader, as someone who is always willing to help widen the table,” said McElwee, who organized the 2018 protest. “She is a brilliant combination of spirit and spunk and a serious work ethic to advance the church.” 

Gospel Women of Advent Retreat

FutureChurch welcomes award winning author and speaker, Kathy Coffey, who leads this beautiful afternoon of reflection to begin Advent. Using an ancient Midrash technique, we imagine the lives of women in the infancy narratives. They invite us to see the scriptures differently, with possibilities beyond the familiar. To what might they call us today?
Art Used:

About our Retreat Leader: 
Kathy Coffey is the author of many books such as Hidden Women of the Gospels, More Hidden Women of the Gospels, A Generous Lap: A Spirituality of Grandparenting (Orbis) and When the Saints Came Marching In (Liturgical Press).

She taught for fifteen years at the University of Colorado, Denver, and Regis Jesuit University. She has won sixteen awards from the Catholic Press Association, the Foley Poetry Award from America magazine, and several others. She has spoken at national conventions such as the LA and East Coast Congresses, NCCL, NCEA and many diocesan gatherings.

Her own spirituality has been shaped by 50 years of parenting and 12 years of grandparenting. A widow, the mother of four and grandmother of six, she lives in the Bay area, CA.

For more information, see her website: kathyjcoffey.com.