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Queer Saints and Ancestors: Spiritual Practices of Recovery and Imagination with Flora x. Tang

Throughout church history, Catholics and other Christians have turned to the saints as sources of hope, inspiration, friendship, and community. How have queer Catholics turned to a similar spirituality of saints and ancestors to sustain them in their faith and justice? How have stories of queer saints been a source of inspiration, but also a site of contestation? In her presentation, Flora Tang explores how queer Catholics have retrieved stories of queer saints and queer ancestors and guides us through a practice re-imagining the saints and their presence in our lives.

Flora x. Tang is a doctoral candidate in theology and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame, where she writes and researches about post-traumatic theology, queer theology, and decolonial Asian theology. Flora has previously worked as a hospital chaplain, a campus ministry fellow, and a service-learning program coordinator for college students. Her theology and preaching draw from her complex faith journey to and within Catholicism: from becoming Catholic at age 19 after living and serving with Catholic sisters, to deconstructing her faith while living in Palestine, to discovering her own queer Catholic expressions of faith. Flora is committed to reimagining God’s love while standing on the margins of the Catholic faith.

A Queer Blessing – by Flora Tang (2024)

Blessed be God.
Blessed be God’s many names and faces.
Blessed be God in the whispering breeze and the blazing flame.
Blessed be God the mother, who gave birth to the world, and who never fails to listen to the cries of her children.
Blessed be God the father, who adorns himself in glory and radiance.
Blessed be God beyond all genders: God the mother, father, and parent, whose name is simply “I am who I am.”

Blessed be our father Jacob, who wrestles with an angel all night for a blessing.
Blessed be our mother Hagar, who sees God in the desert in times of desperation.
Blessed be the prophets Elijah and Elisha, who swore to one another the oath of love, “as long as the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.”
Blessed be Mary and Martha, partners and sisters, who rested by one another, loving one another from death to resurrection.
Blessed be Jesus in the poor, in the marginalized, and in the forgotten queer names and faces.
Blessed be the queer spirits, the queer angels, the queer saints, and the queer ancestors, whose intercessions and blessings instill a love within us that transgresses all and consumes all.

Blessed are you:
   you who resist, you who love,
   you who desire, you who struggle.

And blessed am I,
and blessed are we, children of God,
now and forever, Amen. 

Download “A Queer Blessing” by Flora Tang

 

Synod Interim Stage Synthesis

During Lent of 2024, FutureChurch organized three listening sessions for the interim stage of the Synod on Communion, Participation, and Mission (Synod on Synodality). More than 100 individuals responded to our invitation to engage in Conversations in the Spirit based on the questions offered by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and to discern the movement of the Spirit in our midst. An additional 88 responses were collected through our online questionnaire, which posed the same questions.

A small writing team which included FutureChurch staff and board members undertook the task of synthesizing our listening sessions and questionnaire responses as a sacred responsibility and privilege, and we proudly share the fruits of our conversations with the larger Church.

FutureChurch submitted the report below to the United States Synod team as well as the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in Rome. In addition, we have been shared the report with a number of US-based delegates, experts, and consultants to the Synod.

To very briefly summarize: Our conversations revealed a sense that the Church best lives into its call to be a community of love and mercy when all the baptized are involved as co-equals in the life and mission of the Church. We fail to live into that call when we rigidly cling to dogmas and practices that deny or diminish human dignity, and the Spirit that dwells within, thereby preventing dialogue and encounter.  We sensed that the Spirit is calling us to move forward as a synodal Church rooted in the teachings and spirit of the Second Vatican Council – free of clericalism – with an empowered laity, an open and reformed priesthood, and a commitment to engaging and living Catholic Social Teaching in the world.

Read FutureChurch’s Interim Stage Synthesis

 

2023 Fall Event Prayers

Night One – November 14, 2023

Prayer for the Synod – Adsumus Sancte Spiritus
Rendered in Expansive Language by Mary Jean Ferry, BVM

You are with us, Holy Spirit,
as we gather together in Your name.
As You guide us,
Make Yourself at home in our hearts.
Teach us the way to go and how to follow Your guidance.
We are attentive and ready. Help us to promote hope and peace.
Holy Wisdom, lead us in a love that influences our actions.
Let us find in You our unity
as we journey together in light.
All this we ask of You,
who are at work in every place and time.
Glory to You, Source of All Being, Eternal Word, and Holy Spirit. Amen

A Non-Traditional Blessing
By Ruth Fox, OSB

May God bless you with discontent with easy answers, half-truths, superficial relationships, so that you will live from deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, abuse, and exploitation of people, so that you will work for justice, equality, and peace. 

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and to change their pain to joy.

May God bless you with the foolishness to think you can make a difference in this world, so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.

If you have the courage to accept these blessings, then God will also bless you with:

happiness—because you will know that you have made life better for others
inner peace—because you will have worked to secure an outer peace for others
laughter—because your heart will be light
faithful friends—because they will recognize your worth as a person.

These blessings are yours—not for the asking, but for the giving—from One who wants to be your companion, our God, who lives and reigns, forever and ever. Amen.

Night Two – November 16, 2023

For Prophets and Truth Tellers
By Russ Petrus

We give you thanks, O God,
that in every generation,
You raise up prophets and truth tellers.

Their voices call us as Church and society
to conversation and conversion
to reconciliation and restoration.

You have given their words power:

power to move us from ignorance to awareness,
from hard-heartedness to compassion,
from exclusion to inclusion,
from despair to hope,
from fear to courage,
…from death to new life.

And so we pray:
Make us attentive to the challenges they pose, the dreams they share;
Help us to discern the possibilities and obstacles in our midst;
And open our hearts and our imaginations
to love a new Church, a new world into being.

From Pope Francis’ Address Opening the Synod on Synodality
By Pope Francis

Come, Holy Spirit!
You inspire new tongues and place words of life on our lips:
keep us from becoming a “museum Church”,
beautiful but mute, with much past and little future.
Come among us,
so that in this synodal experience we will not lose our enthusiasm,
dilute the power of prophecy,
or descend into useless and unproductive discussions.
Come, Spirit of love, open our hearts to your voice!
Come, Holy Spirit of holiness, renew the holy and faithful People of God!
Come, Creator Spirit, renew the face of the earth!  

Download a copy of these prayers

Mother Mathilda Beasley, OSF

A woman of faith and courage in 19th century America, Mother Mathilda Beasley, O.S.F. – the first African American religious sister from the state of Georgia – knew that it was only through education and hard work that true freedom would be achieved. She found that by nurturing and educating others, she was able to live out the calling that God had given her. 

To learn more, download our resource packet. Women Witnesses for Racial Justice resource packets include:

    • Biography/Essay by Tolton Scholar, Tina L. Carter
    • Questions for reflection and conversation
    • Original art by Chloe Becker
    • Artist’s Statement
  • Prayer Service

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Artist: Chloe Becker. Comissioned by FutureChurch.  

2023 Annual Mary Magdalene Celebration

Rethinking Women’s Participation: Stories of Synodality Then and Now

Prayer service written by Kelly Meraw for FutureChurch. Shared leadership from Kelly Meraw, Kathy Maher, Olivia Hastie, Monika Hyatt, Rose Lue, Lucy Reiger, Eleanor Mears, Svea Fraser, and Anne Mears. Music displayed and streamed under OneLicense #A-737115.

More Media from This Prayer Service

 

Mary of Magdala Education Resource

Mary of Magdala is perhaps the most maligned and misunderstood figure in early Christianity. Since the fourth century, she has been portrayed as a prostitute and public sinner who, after encountering Jesus, repented and spent the rest of her life in private prayer and penitence. Yet, nowhere in scripture is Mary of Magdala identified as a public sinner or a prostitute. Instead, scripture shows her as the primary witness to the most central events of Christian faith, named in exactly the same way (Maria e Magdalena) in each of four gospels written for diverse communities throughout the Mediterranean world.

Thankfully, contemporary scholarship has rightfully restored our understanding of Mary of Magdala as an important early Christian leader. Now she becomes the same inspiring role model for twenty-first century disciples that she was for first century Christians.

Learn more about Mary Magdalene with our educational resource.

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2023 Mary of Magdala Celebration on Synodality

Thank you for your interest in celebrating the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene with us. Celebrating and lifting up Mary’s true role as Apostle of the Apostles is one of the most important things we can do for our Church and world.

For 2023, we have chosen to highlight synodality. We are grateful to Kelly Meraw, who developed and compiled this year’s prayer service. Kelly is Director of Liturgy, Music, and Pastoral Care for St. John – St. Paul Collaborative in Wellesley, Massachusetts. She is also the primary facilitator for her Collaborative’s Committee for Synodality.

Jesus himself practiced synodality and sought to teach it to his disciples – both women and men – through example: teaching through parables; seeking out those on the periphery, whose voices had been ignored or silenced; placing each person he encountered on his path at the center of his ministry.

Perhaps the greatest ‘miss’ in the history of Synodality was that of the courageous witness of Mary Magdalene, who was commissioned by Jesus to “go and tell” the good news. And we live with the wound of that ‘miss’ in our Church to this day. Through this prayer service, as we recover her witness and honor the impact it continues to make, we gather our prayers together for all women who continue to be ignored, discredited, and disbelieved.

The voices of Catholics around the world calling for greater equality for women in the Church in “Enlarge the Space of Our Tent” will guide us through our prayer service as we highlight women’s synodal encounters with Jesus, then, and the synodal encounters in the heartfelt sharing of the People of God, now.

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