Friday, September 13, 2019

Catherine Mikula Has Something To Say Homily for Sunday July 14th 2019


Hanging in my grandparents’ house are a number of small embroidered signs. In neat, script handwriting, brief sayings about life, family, love, and faith are sprinkled between photos and pictures, and I’ve been reading them since I was a kid. One in particular has become a touchstone for me over the years: “If God feels far away, who moved?” I thought about this question when I moved from my small, Catholic, liberal-arts college and the vibrant, close-knit faith-community I was a part of there to New York, where for a while I felt spiritually at sea. I thought about it when I began considering changing careers two years ago. I’ve thought about it as our church navigates the consequences of misguided leadership and clerical abuse.

And it kept coming up as I prayed with the readings today. I want to invite you to consider what we can learn about God’s nature in the inverse of that question – that God desires to be so close to us that we have to “move” in order to feel far. The first part of that sentence is the important part: God desires to be so close to us. And we hear Moses tell the people of God in our first reading that God is in such close proximity to us that God is already in our hearts and already in our words, not across the ocean or into the night sky. What does it mean to be loved by God so closely? How do we respond?

It’s safe to say the closest people in my life right now, geographically or otherwise, are my parents and my younger brother. Back in February, I moved from my apartment in Jersey City to their home in the suburbs, in anticipation of a move I’ll make next month to Boston to begin a master’s program in divinity. I saw my family with some regularity when I lived in the city, but this has obviously intensified since moving home. An hour away has become down the hall; and while it’s a lot easier to share my wins, my successes, my joys at the end of the day, it’s also a lot harder to hide my failures; the times I don’t say the right thing or do the right thing; the times when I drop the ball. They have front row seating to when I’m feeling hurt, upset, or angry. They sometimes bear the brunt of it. Sometimes I don’t want their support or their opinion or their love. Most of the time, they offer it anyway.

This is, in one sense, what it means to be loved by God who is already in our hearts, already in our words. It means we are living in close quarters with God and God is privy to everything; it means sharing our wins, our successes, our joys – and our failures. It means bringing what makes us upset or angry to the table and trusting that there is nothing that God cannot know about us. Indeed, nothing that God does not know about us. Loved closely by God, we are not able to keep the parts of ourselves that we are less proud of neatly tucked away. The love God has for us invites us to bring our whole selves into proximity with God.

What happens when we do that? When we wholly accept the invitation to closeness with God, who has rooted God’s self so nearly to each of us that God holds the very depths of our hearts, we are changed. Our priorities shift, our sense of self expands. The only option we have upon knowing and embracing the close love of God is Love then poured out. Love in action. Love in mercy and compassion, Love that enables us to stop on our way and help someone on the side of the road, regardless of rules or cost or inconvenience or receiving something in return. Love in justice, Love in kindness, Love of planet and home and creation, and Love in a meal, which we’ll share together today. 

We are continually called into closeness with God, so that by our lives – by our Love lived out – we may more fully love the Lord our God with all our heart, our being, our strength, our and mind. And that we may be reminded that we belong to one another. 

Catherine Mikula is from the greater New York area, where she’s lived since graduating from the College of the Holy Cross in 2014. She worked at the Random House Publishing Group before joining the COPD Foundation. Catherine is a member of Contemplative Leaders in Action’s New York Cohort, the Ignatian Schola, and Xavier Bible Study. She will move to Boston in the fall to pursue a Master of Divinity at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. 


Friday, August 16, 2019

Ritamary Bradley Has Something To Say Feast of the Assumption Aug 15th 2019

MARY SINGS

My soul is a glass: gaze and see
How great is Mother God.
And my spirit sings out in joy,
For Mercy has come to save.
For the One who is Mighty has taken flesh in me.
Holy is Wisdom.
Holy is that Wisdom that shall be born
and called Emmanuel.
Yes, my soul is a glass:
Gaze and see how great is our Mother God.
My spirit sings out in joy
for the Mercy who comes to save.
Because I mirror the motherhood
of the one who gives me birth.
Yes. From this day forward
all who are born of woman may call me full of joy.
For the Mighty One has done great things to me.
And holy is that Wisdom
which is before all things,
That Mercy reaching from age to age
to all who reverence her.
Power is in the arm that shelters and embraces me.
Routed shall be the proud of heart.
Down from their thrones shall princes fall,
while the lowly learn that the least are greatest.
Mother God will give her breast to those who hunger,
and the rich shall go away with parched tongues.
Darkness will blot out the pageantry of power.
Light will fall on the path of those
who escape from the snare.

-Ritamary Bradley


Ritamary Bradley (1916–2000)
She joined the Congregation of the Humility of Mary of Ottumwa, Iowa, in 1933, and in 1972, the Sisters for Christian Community. She graduated from Marygrove College in Detroit, Mich., in 1938 and received her doctorate in English from St. Louis University in 1953. After teaching at Marycrest College from 1940 to 1956, she joined the English department at St. Ambrose in 1965, and was professor emerita at the time of her death. A prolific writer, she co-founded Fourteenth-Century English Mystics Newsletter, now Mystics Quarterly, and was its editor from 1975-1991. In addition to dozens of journal articles, she published two books, in 1992 and 1995, on the 14th century mystic Julian of Norwich. 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Lizzie Berne Has Something To Say Feast of St. Mary Magdala July 22nd 2019



JULY 22, 2019
FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF MAGDALA
ELIZABETH BERNE DEGEAR
In honor of the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, I am speaking to you outside. Because so many of the moments we contemplate most deeply as Christians, as Catholics, happened outside.
Mary Magdalene was outside with Jesus as he was being crucified
And she was outside, in a garden, when she experienced resurrection.
As a biblical scholar I’ve been spending time with Mary Magdalene in Scripture and something new has caught my attention. Her name.
Her name in Hebrew and Aramaic is Miryam Migdala. We have assumed that migdala refers to a town -- Migdal. But migdal is also a Hebrew word. Could this have been her nickname? We know that Jesus gave nicknames to his favorite students. Peter’s name was actually Simon but Jesus called him “stone” and so the gospel writer calls that disciple Simon Peter. Similarly: Miryam Migdala.
So, you may be wondering, what does migdala mean?
Migdala means Tower. Did Jesus experience Mary Magdalene as a tower? I have been praying with the image of her as a woman with a very large and impressive presence. I wonder: did she tower over Jesus?
Migdala means Fortress. The strongest worship spaces in the ancient world were built as fortresses, and were called migdal temples.Did Jesus find that the essence of his ministry was exceptionally well protected and defended by Mary Magdalene? I wonder if he himself felt really safe with her.
Migdala means raised platform or Pulpit. Did Jesus believe that after he was gone his message would find a larger platform through her? Did Jesus see her as embodying the pulpit of their movement going forward?
Well, we don’t have to speculate about that one, because that’s just what John’s gospel shows us. Jesus resurrects to Mary and commissions her to spread the good news to everyone else. There was something about Mary and her capacity for spiritual experience.  And not just to experience resurrection, but then to convey it. Sharing her experience opens up these windows of possibility in the other disciples’ minds, and as a result they begin experiencing resurrection too.
Miryam Migdala claiming  her story as her own, and sharing it as hers is a crucial part of the Christian story we’ve all been telling for two thousand years.
Yet for some reasonit is so easy for us to overlook her subjectivity. Even though John’s gospel tells us that when she goes to the other students of Jesus to proclaim she says explicitly, “I have seen the Lord” and she tells them explicitly that “he had spoken these matters to her.” For some reason, we tend to skip over the power of her subjective experience.
For instance, we read in the gospel that Mary recognizes Jesus in the garden when he calls her by name. And “she called to him in Aramaic, ‘rabbouni’ which means Teacher.” Well, no, 'rabbi’ means teacher in Aramaic. Rabbouni means my teacher. Why does the Bible make that mistake?
As a doctor of psychology and religion I know that we tend to fear the spiritual power that comes through women’s authentic personal experience. The very human reaction to that fear is to denigrate the person whose creative power and authenticity frightens us.
Are we afraid of this saint?
Is that why Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus experienced as a Tower, has been portrayed in so much art as on her knees, prostrate on the ground, groveling at Jesus’ feet?
Is that why the impenetrable Fortress trusted by Jesus,  started being referred to six centuries later as a penitent prostitute -- someone whose job it is to be penetrated?
Is that why Mary Magdalene, the Pulpit for the resurrection, is strangely silent in many of our traditions? And is this fear of spiritual-power-through-subjective-experience why all women are banned from the pulpit in the Roman Catholic Mass?
Over two millennia we’ve gotten so good at denigrating or mis-labeling or just completely passing over Miryam Magdala and her experience.
But our world today is waking up to the powerfully good news of women’s subjective experience.
I have a thirteen-year-old daughter. And every day she shows me -- with her words and her actions and her choices -- that the time of patriarchal structures  as the fitting container for our faith and our lives -- that time is over.
Now is a time to celebrate. On this Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene we can celebrate the power of her experience as good news. She is reminding us that we all have to claim our own experience as the good news. Jesus as rabbouni. “My” teacher. Your teacher. And we have to go out and live it and preach it and teach it with authority.
Because Jesus didn’t authorize any institution. Ever.
Because the institutions of our Church are sick and dying.
Because you have a story that only you can tell, and when you tell it, resurrection flows.
My message of good news today is that you are it. We are it. We’ve got a lot of choices to make. We’ve got a lot of building to do. The Feast of Mary Magdalene is a great day to start.  



Elizabeth Berne DeGear is a chaplain, writer, Bible scholar and Catholic feminist.
Through Bible studies at the Church of St. Francis Xavier, Lizzie has been sharing her passion for the Bible since 2002. As a Catholic feminist, Lizzie has been happy to be involved in The Women Who Stayed ministry over the years and was delighted to be part of Feminism & Faith in Union here in 2017. Co-creating liturgical celebrations and healing circles in honor of Mary Magdalene’s Feast Day has been a highlight of this work. Lizzie believes that the beauty at the heart of the Church – Christ’s living message of love and transformation – needs no longer be bound by misogyny. Called to Catholic priesthood, she longs to be fully welcomed to the Eucharistic table by her worship community.





Thursday, July 11, 2019

Mary E. Hurson Had Something To Say June 29th, 2019 Homily at Xavier Pride Mass

Readings: 1 KGS. 19:16B, 19‐21, GAL5:1, 13‐18, LK 9:51‐62    
“Follow me.”   

Elijah to Elisha.  
Jesus to his disciples.  
Jesus to you and me.  
We are called as a mother calls her child “follow me”

Hear the tenderness in these words that invite us.     

What should we do?  
Should we turn around and look behind? 
Should we hesitate because we are unsure... of where we are going...or because  it’s not the right time... I’ll do it later... we are afraid, not able to trust, maybe not  able to give up something...?   

But what/who we are leaving behind?    

This Jesus who asks us to follow him knows us through and through, he sees us as  we are‐ our bumps and falls, our defects, our struggles, our burdens, our joys too.   (Remember Jesus knew Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus, the woman at the well just  as he knows you and me.)    

He sees us as we are and he wants us. He calls us to say forget about that stuff  which holds you back!   I know who you are and I want you! I want you to be with me... to join me...     

Jesus says to you and me “Look at who I have invited to follow me...Uganda’s  Jonita Warry, Pakistan’s Malala Yousazai , Brazil’s Berta Casares, and I have asked  you because I love you.. I want to bring you with me to Jerusalem so you may die  with me to enter new life... the life I have promised you.  … this new life, new water, new spirit who will come into you, create a new life  within you. I will not disappoint you!!”  

What does Jesus’ call have to do with this?  It is Pride weekend, and there are those of us who celebrate the freedoms we  have been granted as well as remember the struggles of those who went before  us and those who continue to struggle.    

I ask us to reflect on what does Pride mean for each of us?  ..dignity and freedom and respect and love for all of the OTHERS, one which is  about accepting the grace filled invitation to walk with Jesus as he walks with  us…to yield to the Spirit and not our self‐centeredness…    

In the second reading, Paul pleaded with the Galatians to be one in Christ‐give up  their demands of one another to be the same‐for they were all loved in the one  spirit…  and we are all loved in One Spirit!      

Paul says‐ “For freedom, Christ set us free. You were called for freedom sisters  and brothers ...use this freedom to serve one another through love!   “For the whole law is fulfilled ... You shall love your neighbor as yourself...use it in  Love for one another!!!!.”  

There is no regret, no looking back, no holding on, it’s about going to Jerusalem,  it’s about listening to Gods voice say I want you to love your neighbor as  yourself... not more or less than yourself but as yourself‐who I love totally and  completely as you are.  

How does this play out in our lives?    

We may have followed someone into this Church of St. Francis Xavier, or we may  have discovered or stumbled into this place in some spirit filled moment, no  matter how….    
…here we have come to know Jesus in our prayers, our community, our service,  
our Eucharist... 
....we heard the invitation and we did not look back, not one of us.   

In fact, we continually strive to invite all, to welcome all…to listen and learn from  each other,   
This is the hand of the spirit, I know that for myself because I have heard Jesus say  follow me……   

…not as a command but as an invitation...and I hear Jesus say “stay with me”,  even when I get distracted, disappointed in myself,  or the church, or in our  elected officials, or the state of the world ....  
….tenderly lovingly and clearly I hear Jesus say “Follow me”.  

Imagine, you are busy at something one day (could be at a soup kitchen, walking  down the street in the eyes of a homeless person, or a friend in need...and you  think you feel a soft cloak made thrown over your shoulders.. as Elijah threw his  cloak over Elisha…   and you hear something... and you know the voice... you know the voice ... 

“follow me”   

… and you follow. 


 June 29th, 2019  M.E.Hurson  

Monday, July 1, 2019

Reverend Arda Itez Has Something To Say June 23rd Homily


We’ve come together to honor and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, history and those who’ve paved the way. I feel so privileged to be standing here before you. June 28th, 1969 was the day the story changed. Down on Christopher Street a marginalized community stood up, said enough was enough, and the gay liberation movement was born. I can’t help but wonder if any of those Stonewall heroes and heroines, many unsung, could have ever imagined 50 years later we’d be here, much less in a church, celebrating the community they helped liberate. We’ve come a long way since then, but there’s still work to be done, and we must be vigilant, especially now.

This past week I read an article about a survivor of the Pulse nightclub massacre, who was at the “Freedom March” in Washington, D.C. If you’re not aware, this march is for people who have decided to leave behind their LGBTQ “lifestyle”, as they refer to it, and shed their former identities by embracing Christ. Reading those words broke my heart for so many reasons, the least of them being his complete and total misunderstanding of Jesus Christ and his message.

There are so many types of oppression, but this is the most egregious and devastating kind. The kind that attacks your  identity, your being, your very existence, through a patriarchal theology upheld by those who believe God is small, binary and belongs solely to their demographic. A God THEY’VE created in THEIR own image.
It’s time to lay that fallacy to rest once and for all.
It’s time to heal the wounds inflicted in the name of God.

We, in all our cisgender, transgender, non binary, hetero, homo, bi beauty, have been made in the image of God.

And we don’t REALIZE our inherent divine worth... which is not conditional... It’s not something that can be taken away from us, its part of our dharma. Whatever you call God, the Divine, your higher power, you are a manifestation of that. God is expressed, God lives, walks, talks, loves through you. You are borne from the Source of all things, you are consciousness experiencing itself. My friends, the world is not, could not, be whole or complete without the LGBTQ+ community.

When you awaken to who you are, nothing outside of yourself can make you otherwise. Then you are truly free. We know false and harmful ideologies still permeate pockets of our society, wreaking havoc on the lives of those who are victimized by it. This is why it’s up to us, allies included, to carry the message forward. As it’s been said before, until we’re all free, none of us are free...and everyone should feel safe and proud to be and celebrate exactly who they are, not just in June, but 365 days out of the year. That’s the freedom we should ALL be striving for.

Today we honor and praise heroes, activists, resistors and pioneers like Harry Hay and Frank Kameny, who began fighting for equal rights in the 1950’s. Marsha P. Johnson, the trans woman, who after Stonewall, went on to demonstrate on Wall Street against the extreme prices of AIDS drugs and was a mother figure to the youth that came her way. AND Stormé DeLarverie, who was given the moniker of ‘guardian of the lesbians’ and the ‘Rosa Parks of the LGBTQ community’. She walked the downtown streets like a gay superhero. AND Tammy Novak, the 18-year-old trans woman who, like Stormé and Marsha, was one of the first people to fight back. AND her friend, Sylvia Rivera, the 17-year-old Puerto Rican drag queen and trans activist who yelled, “Its the revolution!” and went on to become a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, the Gay Activists  Alliance, and the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries with Marsha. She dedicated her life to helping homeless young drag queens and trans women.

As we honor these ancestors and so many others that haven’t been named, we must recognize our own sacred responsibility to one other and especially, the next generation. We must protect, companion, inspire, guide, mentor, support, uplift and love each other in every way we can. Dear ones, this is the only way to know God. Through love, service and devotion to one another. Let’s continue to be the example to the rest of world, as New York City has always been. Let the force of our radical love send powerful, transformative waves of healing out into the Universe, especially to those who are still struggling to break free.

May it be so.

Reverend Arda Itez
June 23rd, 2019
St. Francis Xavier Church NYC

Friday, June 7, 2019

Boreta A. Singleton Has Something To Say Pentecost 2019




JUNE 9, 2019
PENTECOST
BORETA A.
SINGLETON
Holy Spirit come and fill this place
Bring us healing with your warm embrace
Show Your power make your presence known
Holy Spirit come fill this place
Holy Spirit come fill this place
This song by CeCe Winans helps me to remember that the Holy Spirit is already here with us; we just have to call on the Spirit’s presence as the disciples did in our first reading for Pentecost.
We see in the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples were gathered together, and as the Holy Spirit came to them in wind and fire, they began to speak different languages. The many people gathered in Jerusalem at first were confused, but then understood the messages that the disciples conveyed about works of God.
Have you ever been in a situation where you did not speak the language of those around you? I actually grew up with grandparents and a great-aunt who spoke very limited English. My Dad was from Louisiana, and he and his parents spoke Louisiana Creole. My Grandmother never wanted me to learn Creole, so she would put her hands over my ears when she spoke to my Dad. Like the people in Jerusalem, I was confused, but the Holy Spirit helped me to understand my grandmother’s language, and that is the language of love.
She taught me to sew and cook, and she also taught me how to be gracious in the midst of a challenge.  This was the 1960s, and although there were  no Jim Crow Laws  in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,  there were some white people who felt challenged  by people of color and made their discomfort known. My Grandmother and I frequented the many white-owned fabric stores of South Philadelphia, and to say that she was merciful to the merchants is an understatement. I acted as a pseudo translator, and although my Grandmother may not have understood the merchant, she certainly understood his or her tone of voice. I would get annoyed and my grandmother would grab my hand and give me a look.  We would eventually make our purchases. As we would leave some stores, my Grandmother would say to me, “Souviens-toi!”  -- remember!   I don’t know if the "remember" was for me or the store, but I knew I needed to “check myself” the next time I responded when speaking to the storekeeper!  She never said an angry word, she walked on, peaceful as ever.
Isn’t that how the Spirit is with us?  It is all about love. Jesus says in John Chapter 14, the Gospel, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Jesus is clear about those Commandments-- love God and love your neighbor.  How much room do we leave for the Spirit’s love and for our response?  We all possess those gifts we were given at Baptism-- those seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that were strengthened at our Confirmation. But how often do we call on them?  
I believe that every day, we encounter the Holy Spirit. In these and in so many other situations, we have the opportunity to put those gifts into action.  Our class was frequently reminded by my Seventh Grade teacher, Sister St. Ignatius, that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are always present to us. But like any gift or present, we need to unwrap them in order to use them!  Today, with violence against Christians as well as our Jewish and Muslim neighbors, we need to call on the Spirit more than ever!  I especially call on the gift of courage in these days to help me to respond. In one of his daily Easter homilies, Pope Francis says  “Let us ask the Lord” to give us this awareness that we cannot be Christians without walking with the Holy Spirit, without acting with the Holy Spirit, without letting the Holy Spirit be the protagonist of our lives”. Let us be bold and speak out-- let us be like those disciples of the early Church and proclaim the Good News of Jesus.  You and I may be surprised-- the same Spirit that urged Jesus to pray and fast in the desert for forty days, the same Spirit that enabled him to heal the sick, the same Spirit that forgave his executioners is present in you. Let us put our words into action, too--let us care for our brothers and sisters with love and pray: Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth! Happy Pentecost!

Boreta A. Singleton, a native of Philadelphia, PA, is an African American ‘cradle Catholic.’  She taught in Catholic elementary and middle schools there and was the Director of the Office for Black Catholics for four years.  She has worked for Jesuit-sponsored schools for the past seventeen years, first at St. Aloysius in Harlem, and now at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, NJ, where she is the Director of Faculty Formation. She holds an MA in Theology from University of Notre Dame, an MS in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Neumann University and will graduate with a Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Fairfield University on Pentecost Day, 2019.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Christine Santisteban Has Something To Say


My name is Christine Santisteban and I have a few things I would like to say about misogyny and patriarchy because Time’s up and it’s officially over.

Catholics especially have received hit after hit after receiving further news of Church abuses. It’s exhausting, frustrating, and heart breaking. We are living through fear filled, alternative fact filled and gas lighted precarious times. If your hearts have felt weary, you aren’t alone. We are experiencing a collective desolation.

Here we are today in 2019, more than a century after battling for the right to vote, women still face gender equality barriers and prejudice as highlighted by the gender pay gap, #MeToo, Times up movement and countless examples of everyday sexism like hepeating and mansplaining. Even with the Catholic Church still struggles with placing women in leadership roles.

If we are to move forward from a sexist, patriarchal institutions, we have to speak up and name each and every evil of this oppression. We also have to ask ourselves some tough questions. How has patriarchy been able to continue? What power and responsibilities have we failed to take on? What scares us or discomforts is about women in politics ? Women in leadership roles? Would we feel comfortable with She-sus or Christa? What threatens us about a woman wearing a collar or presiding over liturgy?

The hard truth is that we women can sabotage one another. Look at what we have done to female presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and current Democratic female presidential candidates, we hold them to different standard, we vilify then, we insult them and accuse them of being power hungry. Even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been labeled ‘stupid.’ This is what misogyny and patriarchy does, makes women and men behave in certain ways to further perpetuate its vicious cycle. We are conditioned!

Hepeating, when men say what you said but louder, for example reinforces the patriarchy and what while men in particular are taught from a young age; they are told they are gifted with a ‘Divine Right to Talk’ and when they do what they say is worth more than when somebody else says it. The real issue is that women are forced to change their behavior in order to level the playing field. They have to adapt and modify themselves in order to be taken as seriously as the men they work with.

So what should we do now that we coined a term for this behavior. In the future, perhaps young men will be taught not to ‘mansplain’ from a young age. Women have been told to speak up and man up for years. It’s not the women whose ideas are ‘hepeated’ that need to change. Let’s use terms like ‘hepeat’ to teach them men to pipe down. Let’s liberate boys and men from such toxic forms of masculinity and in doing so doing liberate ourselves.

I would like to share with you two stories of Church mothers who are the original resistors. Saint Brigid and Sor Juana de la Cruz. They had something to say about living in a male dominated society and we should listen and learn from their examples.

Saint Brigid of Kildare is one of Ireland’s patron saints. Born the daughter of a Christian Pict makes Brocca and Dubthach, a Leinster chieftain. She is a 5th century Irish Christian nun, abbess and foundress if monasteries including the famous and revered monastery in Kildare, Ireland.

As a young girl, her father attempted to sell her to the Leinster King. Known for her charity, she then gave away her father’s jeweled sword to a beggar to barter it for food to feed his family. The King recognized her holiness and convinced Dubthach to grant his daughter freedom.

Brigid then took a vow of charity and was veiled. She travelled from church to church, Christian house to Christian house from Leinster, Munster and Connacht.

She took on female followers and set up religious communities around her her territories. She founded a monastery in Kildare (Cill Dara “church of the oak”) on the site of a pagan shrine to the Celtic Goddess Brigid. The site was under a large oak tree on the ridge of Drun Criadh. She founded two monastic institutions, one for men and one for women. She invited Conleth, a hermit form old Connell near Newbridge to help as pastor of them. She gave canonical jurisdiction to Conleth as Bishop it Kildare. You heard correctly. Brigid installed a Bishop. She chose Bishop Conleth to govern the church along with herself. For centuries Kildare was ruled by a double one or abbot bishops and of abbesses. Her successors have always been accorded this episcopal honor. Brigid’s oratory became of center of religion and learning and developed into a cathedral city.

She also went north to Meath to meet St Patrick and visit his churches there. Her friendship with Saint Patrick is notes in the Book of Armagh. ‘Between Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid, the pillars of the Irish people there was so great a friendship of charity that they had by one heart and one mind. Through him and through her Christ performed many great works.’   She performed miracles en route, healing plenty of lepers and other patients, halting bandits, preventing nurses and making peace.

She was the lone female figure whose voice was heard in a male dominated church, but the stories of her good deeds and extraordinary acts set her apart. She stands today as an example of a women who followed her heart and took powers that be in a male dominated world. She was acknowledged as a Saint not by an institution but by the community of faith.

Another powerful figure is Sor Juana ines de la Cruz. She calls herself Soy Yo la Peor de todas. A 17th century Mexican Criolla, scholar, mystic, poet and playwright. she too was crucified and nailed to the cross for being a woman and for her sexuality. From her writing, La Repuesta, we know as a young girl she had a deep desire and thirst for knowledge. She taught herself to read and devoured every book in her grandfathers library at a time when learning was considered ‘unfeminine.’ Her own mother banned her from entering into a university to study. Disguised as a boy, she went to Mexico City to study. She spoke Latin after only 20 lessons and began to poetry in Latin, Spanish and her native Nahuatl (Her native Aztec Language).

The viceroy of New Spain, the Marquis De Mancera, doubtful of her knowledge, had her tested under a barrage of learned men, theologians, philosophers mathematicians, historians, poets and other scholars. One by one they examined her. They could not find any fault with her learning.

Who has forbidden women to engage in private and individual studies? Have they not a rational soul as men do? … I have his inclination to study and if it is evil, I am not the one who formed me thus- I was born with it and with it I shall die.

Not wishing to be confined to marriage where woman would still be denied freedom, she chose to join the Hieronymites.

“I went on with my studious task of reading and still more reading, study and still more study, with no teacher besides my books themselves. What a hardship it is to learn from these lifeless letter, deprived of the sound of a teachers voice and explanations; yet I suffered all these trials most gladly for the love of learning.”

The men of the Church, the Bishop would have gladly preferred to silence her forever.

“You foolish men who
Lay the guilt on women
Not seeing you are the cause
of the very thing you blame.”

By stepping into the role of the poet, a traditionally masculine space, Sor Juana immediately assumes some equality with male intellectuals of the time period. She does not condemn these men, nor does she attempt to remove them from the intellectual space. Instead she incites them to change the system and treat women more fairly, ultimately hoping for inclusion in this system rather then rejecting it entirely.

Though her writings are clearly subversive. Ultimately she choose silence. Her deafening silence still roars today. Cracking the walls of patriarchy, resounding all over the world until women are seen and respected as equals. Until women all over the world are no longer denied the freedom to learn.

Brigid and Sor Juana present two interesting feminist models of resistance. We are not called to be them. But they are with us calling to act. Will you answer the call? Where does your heart lead?

Consider striking along with Maria 2.0, wear white, get involved in other actions outside of the church this week, and volunteer elsewhere. Consider redirecting donations to other charities like our Mother’s Day sale headed by Gloria, to benefit Thrive for Life, and Mary’s House. Consider donating directly to Xavier Mission and the Women’s ordination conference, and other organizations that support women.  

Let’s us act, let us persist and keep making.


Christine Santisteban is native of Queens has been a parishioner since 2014. She helps co-lead the Xavier Young Adults group, and dabbled in the many wonderful ministries at Xavier including the shelter, Xavier Bible Study, It was the women Who Stayed. She is a passionate physician, a lover of all things furry, a clarinetist, honorary Irish woman, pilgrim, and aspiring writer and poet.