17 October 2013

November 20 Teleconference with Cynthia Moe-Lobeda

“Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation"
Wednesday November 20, 2013 1-2pm EDT

Cynthia Moe-Lobeda holds a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics from Union Theological Seminary. She lectures and consults internationally and nationally on matters of climate justice, economic globalization, white privilege, moral agency, Earth ethics, public church, and theologies related to these concerns.
Dr. Moe-Lobeda served as a Director of the Washington, D.C. office of Augsburg College's Center for Global Education. She was a church-based health worker in Honduras, and theological consultant to the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Dr. Moe-Lobeda is author of Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation (Fortress, 2013), Public Church: For the Life of the World (Fortress, 2004), Healing a Broken World: Globalization and God (Fortress, 2002), and numerous articles and chapters. She  co-authored Saint Francis and the Foolishness of God (Orbis, 1993), and Say to this Mountain: Mark's Story of Discipleship (Orbis, 1996).
Dr. Moe-Lobeda is on the faculty of Seattle University's Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Graduate School of Theology and Ministry, and Environmental Studies Program, and has served as the University's Wismer Professor of Gender and Diversity Studies. She loves hiking in the Cascade Mountains.

Email “Register Me Teleconference” to by Tuesday, November 19 in order to receive dial-in information.

Recommended resources related to this teleconference include:

Further information regarding the book is available at:

November 4 WATER Meditation/Contemplative Prayer

Contemplative Prayer at WATER
Monday, November 4, 2013
7:30 PM (EDT)

WATER offers a regular contemplative prayer opportunity each month. This is a communal meditation, a time of silence and reflection followed by a short discussion.

RSVP to join us at WATER or for dial-in information by sending an email with the words “Register Me Contemplative” by Friday, November 1, 2013 to or call 301.589.2509 so that we can expect you. If you wish to join by phone, please indicate that so we can send you the phone-in number.

The office will be open at 7 PM (EDT) for a cup of tea and conversation. Silence will commence promptly at 7:30 PM, so please be here by then. We will finish and be on our way by 8:30 PM.
Parking is free in the garage behind the office after 7 PM. The front door of the building has a phone entry system; find “WATER” and dial the office to be buzzed in.

All are welcome. Some of us have been involved in the Engaging Impasse process (, which combines meditation with community dialogue. No experience required! Just come with a contemplative spirit. Your presence will enrich us all. Donations are always welcome.

Notes from Teleconference with Nancy Sylvester "Contemplation: An Invitation to Faith-filled Feminists"

Notes from WATER Teleconference:  Contemplation: An Invitation to Faith Filled Feminists
Nancy Sylvester, IHM – October 9, 2013

            WATER thanks Nancy Sylvester, IHM, for her generous sharing of time and insights in the recent teleconference. The audio is online and these notes augment it. Note that we had serious technical difficulties (of still undetermined cause) but Cathy Jaskey has done a great job of making the audio clearer than it was on the phone.
            What follow are first, Nancy’s notes, and then WATER’s notes from the Q+A session. They are meant to be helpful not comprehensive.

I believe for many of you listening your life journey echoes mine in terms of being a woman who came to understand the depth that patriarchy has shaped our thinking and systems and chose to shift our consciousness and see everything from a feminist perspective. And that journey as feminists intersected with another journey, a spiritual journey, a quest for God, a faith filled one.

 I believe it is as faith filled feminists that we are called to be about the transformation of our world and of our consciousness rooted in our “birthright” to be mystics, to engage in contemplation.

What I would like to do is to share how I began my current work, the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue and why I believe the future is inviting us to engage in contemplation.

From 1977-1992 I worked at NETWORK, a national Catholic Social Justice Lobby, serving the last ten years as National coordinator.

When I came to DC in 1977 I had been working in Detroit and facilitating workshops on white privilege which opened up how the structures of racism pervades everything. I also began reading feminist authors—poets and theologians-- Mary Daly, Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza. I was teaching in high school at the time and introduced a women’s history class. I attended the first Woman’s Ordination Conference in 1975 which I do believe is the first time I met Mary E. Hunt.  I observed at the Call to Action conference in 1976 and watched the role women played as leaders during that meeting. There was great energy and excitement that the institutional church would change in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council. And coming to NETWORK, which was founded by Catholic sisters and was women-led, a living example of what women can do when given a chance.

Those next fifteen years in DC working in the halls of Congress and with the women religious and other women who were part of the DC justice community was quite a gift for me.

At NETWORK, we lobbied for the extension of the Equal Rights Amendment, welfare reform, health care, immigration, disarmament, housing, jobs, human rights in Central America and South Africa to name a few. We analyzed the issues from the Catholic Social Justice Tradition (CSJT) and a feminist perspective; we rooted our research in experience of those who suffered from unjust policies. Internally, we created a workplace that reflected values of equality, collaboration, shared responsibility. It was quite different than the ethos of DC. In fact, we believed that everyone’s job was essential to the whole and so everyone received the same salary.

I share that with you because those years gave a sense of hope that change was happening and would continue bringing about a world that embraced the values that women understood were necessary if there would be justice and peace in our world.

And yet by the time I left in 1992, there was an increasing polarity happening within Congress but also among coalition partners. I had the feeling even among the faith based and issue folks that winning and being on the right side was more important than trying to resolve the real issues and find a remedy that would truly work. We, too, began not crossing the aisle.

So when I awoke after the 1994 elections to hear that Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House and that the majority of Catholics voted that year for Gingrich republicans I was floored. So many of us including myself have been doing workshops for years on CSJT, providing data as to why our policies had to change, etc. And the majority of Catholics voted for the Gingrich revolution.  I began to realize that something was missing. It was not enough to provide clarity of data or research. Something else is needed to change hearts and minds.

That was in 1994.  I had been elected that year to be Vice President of my religious congregation and in 1998 I was elected to the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. LCWR has been in the news; it is the canonical conference of all elected leaders of women’s religious congregations in the United States.

Part of my responsibility was to go to Rome with the other members of the Presidency each year to share what was going on with women religious. We also went with our counterparts from the men’s congregations, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men.

We would pray and reflect before our meeting with the Cardinal and staff of the Dicastery that dealt with religious congregations. We tried to do some things differently—to create a space to really talk with each other. I have to say we never really achieved what we had hoped.

During those years the issues involved the Vatican’s complaints about New Ways Ministry, the Vatican’s opposition to Joan Chittister’s invitation to speak to the World Wide Women’s Ordination conference, and leadership issues for men in what is called  “mixed communities,” meaning a religious community that had both ordained priests and brothers.

As we discussed, it became increasingly clear that we were operating out of very different worldviews. Regarding New Ways Ministry, many religious had written Rome in support of Jeannine Gramick and Bob Nugent’s work. Some would sign after their name, a lesbian sister or a gay priest, etc. Whether they were active or not didn’t make a difference. It was all the same to some and we could not be heard.

In terms of the issue of mixed communities, there was very apparently a different understanding of how authority in the church should be understood. Current policy is that in a mixed community only priests can be elected to the highest offices.  A brother could be elected only if all the priests were deemed incompetent. When the issue was raised to change that—there were priests and a brother in our delegation—I will never forget one of the key staff persons almost having a heart attack screaming at the men, “Would you want to be told what to do by a brother?” And having a Franciscan priest gently say, “Yes”. It was so clear that for those who were influential in that Dicastery authority came through ordination and not through baptism.

So when I was preparing my Presidential address for the 2000 LCWR Assembly I found myself wanting to write something hopeful about the future of religious life and yet knowing that wasn’t what I felt needed to be said.

As I shared different drafts with some friends, one said this is good but not what you have been saying. It is in you. Just let it out. And with that I began writing with tears streaming down my face. I had been praying over an article by Connie FitzGerald, a cloistered Carmelite in Baltimore, on Impasse and the Dark Night where she likens the time we are in to the spiritual journey of the dark night of the soul. I found myself saying that women religious are at an impasse with some in the hierarchical church and that all the ways we know how to influence and work for change no longer work. We need to find new ways, ways that come from the deepest part of our selves. We need to imagine new ways of being and doing by reclaiming our commitment to contemplation.

Needless to say I was a bit nervous when I delivered that speech, but the response was overwhelming. I believe my gift was to say out loud from a position of leadership a belief that resonated in people regardless of age and whether they were wearing a habit or not.

When I left elected office then I thought perhaps having said that and the LCWR making a commitment to contemplation I should see if I could offer anything to assist engaging this impasse. So, the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue was founded. With an amazing design team the first program began in 1993 called “Engaging Impasse: Circles of Contemplation and Dialogue”. This 6-day program has taken many forms but continues to invite people to face into impasse—that against which they feel powerless at whatever level they most experience it…. societal, ecclesial or personal. It invites them to do it through a communal contemplative process. The web site was first designed as a companion to this program. So if you had a chance to read any of the reflections you’ll see they focus on contemplation, dialogue, impasse and then the larger context within which we are living.

The participants have been social justice activists, theologians, social workers, spiritual directors, congregational leaders, among others. Based on their experiences, it is clear that the Circles are a transformative process wherein persons touch into their deepest selves in understanding the impasse in their lives and through their individual and communal contemplative sharing begin to see the impasse differently including their own complicity within it. They begin to imagine new ways of doing and being.

As we began our second decade in 2012, we expanded in two ways. First, we are trying to do outreach to the broader faith community with a one-day program entitled “Transformation in a Time of Uncertainty.” This provides the larger context as to why we can’t continue to be the way we have been and the need to transform our consciousness. We try to show how for people of faith, contemplation provides a way of praying that assists in this transformative journey. Contemplation can provide insights and understandings that are so needed for this time. Contemplation is explained and practiced as part of the day program. I am always looking for people to sponsor these days—so if you are interested please let me know.

Our second new venture is our focus on “Exercising Contemplative Power”. Especially for all those who have been part of ICCD’s work, this next stage seems crucial. The programs offer us a way to explore how we can continue to live out of a transformed consciousness in the midst of systems and institutions which are stuck in old paradigms. It is a chance to share how we live the integration of our contemplative awareness with our concrete responses to the injustices we experience in our everyday lives. It is a time to reflect on how contemplation and action can be woven into their rightful whole.

ICCD held a conference last October with that theme, as well as having a series of phone calls focusing on a specific issue like the Middle East or global climate change during which we reflected together on how we exercise contemplative power in a given situation. You can find these reflections on the web site under programs “Exercising Contemplative Power.” We are going to have another conference, “Envisioning the Future: Living from a Contemplative Heart” with Cynthia Bourgeault as the main presenter.

Another project just getting off the ground is the “Campus Pilot Project” to think about how young people can engage in contemplative prayer. We also inaugurated on October 4, 2013, an ICCD Contemplative Sitting Network. We want to practice together exercising contemplative power and one way is to be intentional together about what we are doing. Across time zones, people have committed themselves to 20 minutes of a contemplative practice between 6-7:30 AM seeking in the words of Ilia Delio, “new relationships of love that include Earth, all peoples, other religions, all planets and all galaxies.”  Knowing we are doing it together is powerful.

What am I learning through all of this? Contemplation is really our birthright and people need to know that and be invited to access the Divine dwelling within them. Contemplation allows us “to take a long loving look at the real”. It is a way to open our hearts to biases, prejudices, and our current operating assumptions and to transform them. Contemplation transforms who we are and how we want to be in the world. We are at a critical moment in the evolution of our species and the planet. The changes needed demand a transformation of consciousness.

We live in evolutionary time and so we must find ways to use our energy wisely and not hurt ourselves or make ourselves sick. There is no guru for women. We share our experience and wisdom and together share leadership in the transformation. Those of us who have experienced injustices as women--personal and structural-- and commit to working to change those situations and who have within ourselves the spiritual impulse, the spark of living faith, have a special role to play at this time. It is to explore and integrate all that we know and feel and to do it from our deepest place—where the Divine dwells.  Contemplation invites us to do just that.


1. One caller from Ohio asked about the daylong workshops, “Transformation in a time of uncertainty”.
Nancy described the basic outline of the day. For more information go to the web site and under programs go to Transformation in a Time of Uncertainty.

2. A participant from Washington, D.C., asked about the nature of contemplation, how it can mean many things to different people. She wanted to hear a story of how it helped Nancy to see things differently.

Nancy spoke of contemplation in a phrase attributed to English mystics: “take a long loving look at the real” that invites us to touch into our deepest selves where we become free to see our own assumptions and presuppositions. It is a way to enter into the True Self, the God Self.
She added a story about needing to write something particular and how contemplation allowed her to let go in prayerful way and then write, knowing that her writing was coming from another space other than her ego. She found the freedom to be emptied of judgment and let go of holding onto expectations. She also spoke of being able to be more loving in a relationship than before with the fruit of her contemplation.

3. A caller from MD praised Nancy’s great work with Medical Missionary Sisters and queried what it means to enter into evolutionary time. She noted that it forces us to be quiet because we have to hear from earth, from creatures with whom we have no had communication before. So contemplation fits our time in an appropriate and essential way.

4. Another caller from IL raised the issue of every woman’s moral agency. She stressed the acceptance of reproductive choice since a woman cannot have full autonomy unless she has reproductive autonomy, something that young women need to learn. She also said that most nuns are introverts while, she, the caller is an extrovert.

Nancy affirmed herself as an extrovert. She spoke of the importance of women being full moral agents. She wondered how we might exercise agency in ways that are not perceived to be alienating or hostile.

5. The moderator inquired about the work with young people. Is contemplation for elders?
Nancy spoke to how even amid the busyness and I Pads there is a desire for quiet such as provided by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in a quiet place. She also suggested that perhaps as we evolve as a species the capacity to look more deeply into the self might come earlier.

6. A Boston caller expressed her appreciation for the talk and how much she needed it at a moment of crisis in her own life.
Nancy invited a moment of silence to hold the woman and her situation in prayer.

7. The moderator acknowledged that Engaging Impasse had a great deal of influence on many people, especially women religious who were among the majority of its participants. Perhaps Congress could benefit from the process!

Nancy agreed that Engaging Impasse had been influential among women religious, some of whom were involved in the Vatican-led Apostolic Visitation and Doctrinal Assessment. Having participated in the circles influenced how women looked at what happened. The process rekindled in many women their commitment to contemplation. As for Congress, and not in jest, Simone Campbell and Nancy talked about doing some contemplative practice in Congress. The difficulty is on the Hill people are rarely vulnerable and more apt to defend everything they believe. It has not quite happened yet but it would be great.

8.  From MD, a caller said that she found the discussion as a feminist way to deal with education of clergy.

The next WATER Teleconference will be "Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation" with Cynthia Moe-Lobeda on Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 from 1pm-2pm (EDT). 

15 October 2013

Notes on Teleconference with Linn Marie Tonstad “The Sexuality of God”

WATER Teleconference with Linn Marie Tonstad
“The Sexuality of God”
Wednesday, September 11, 20131-2 PM EDT
Mary E. Hunt Notes

WATER thanks Professor Linn Marie Tonstad for a provocative and insightful teleconference on her forthcoming work. The following notes attempt to capture the heart of the presentation and subsequent conversation.

            Professor Tonstad began by saying that she initially saw the Trinity as less than useful from feminist and queer perspectives. But on closer examination, she discovered that many people considered the Trinity a useful site for dealing with matters of truth, social relations, equality, and the like, a way to move beyond theologies that are hostile to relationships. In fact, the Trinity might be a “magic doctrine that can be used creatively.”
            Other feminist scholars have seen the Trinity as a male club with the Holy Spirit as a third rate member. Mary Daly’s insistence on how masculinity and hierarchy are maintained by language about Trinity comes to mind. The homosociality of the Trinity can be problematic. Concerns about hierarchy are obvious. But Linn became convinced that feminist scholars had not yet grappled adequately with the specific ways in which masculinity and homosociality are maintained in trinitarian theology.
            Linn’s effort is to read contemporary Trinitarian theologies against the grain from feminist and queer starting points. The major difference is that some theologians think that “persons” have to be distinct, one withdrawing to make room for another, as if they can’t be in the same place at the same time. Metaphors of distance can be problematic. “Penetrating” borders, persons “broken open” are all part of the discourse. Postmodern thinking about persons is quite different. Rather than valuing personal autonomy, contemporary people value vulnerability; instead of seeing individuals it is persons in relationship that matter.
            Dr. Tonstad critiques the work of Anglican scholars Sarah Coakley and Graham Ward. Coakley argues that a feminist can make room for God in herself by praying silently on her knees, an approach Tonstad thinks sets up humans in competition with God. She critiques Ward similarly. He argues that the Trinity is about loving difference, each person emptying itself to make room for the other. Masculinist ways of understanding God, especially through the Cross, are left uncriticized while Father and Son language persists. She acknowledges that Ward and others would say that they do not mean any of their language to be taken literally, but symbol systems are not innocent. Linn encourages overliteral readings to demonstrate just how this works.
            She wants people to rethink the Trinity. She describes an “Ecclesiology of Abortion” as a useful way to break the hold of nature and reproduction dynamics. Thus people refuse the notion of reproduction in ordinary time. The church becomes a sign of failure and judgment rather than of faithfulness.
Such an approach shakes up the theological conversation making it hard for systematic theologians to ignore the moves of feminist and queer colleagues. It is an invitation to engage more carefully with some of the technical distinctions where some of most dangerous moves are maintained.

Questions and Discussion

1. Some students at Wake Forest Divinity School inquired about what language could be offered instead of “penetration.”

Dr. Linn suggested words like “co-presence,” and “co-locality” to talk about Eucharist and Resurrection. The Body of Christ can be present without penetration/shattering. Eucharist is “impanation,” literally Jesus taking on a bread body. All of these suggest new forms for the divine without moving “the other” aside.

2. A colleague from Boston spoke about a nun (Editors’ Note: Sister Jeannette Normandin) who was vehemently attacked by Roman Catholic Church officials for, among other things that irked authorities, participating in the baptism of a child in which the masculinist formula was left aside and more inclusive language—Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer—was used. What are the implications of new forms of Trinitarian thinking for prayer and liturgy?

Discussion revolved around reproductive ecclesiology. But it may not be enough to change the language of the Trinity without also thinking about who can use the words. In this case, a layperson was acting in ways normally reserved for a priest.

3. Another colleague raised the question of what to do with maiden, mother, and crone language/imagery.

Dr. Linn allowed as to how she is favorably disposed to it and encourages other naming structures as well. But just feminizing God does not solve fundamental problems.

4. One colleague asked about the “Arithmetic of God” wondering why Dr. Tonstad stays with threeness rather than twoness or fourness, for example. 

Linn responded that God in Christ with Spirit lures the church/world on to greater intimacy. But she affirmed that God is finally not countable though there is a narrative logic to threeness in Christian scripture.

5. A caller was confused by the final chapter that Linn described.

Linn clarified that the Body of Christ is lost to the institutional Church that tends to assume that it has and controls the Body of Christ. She cited Matthew 25 as a text that points to affirming the divine in all people, including those who are on the margins. She urges people to “minister indiscriminately” rather than trying to control the Body of Christ. She counsels to avoid language of Christ's headship and the Church as his body. The Bride/Bridegroom language is equally fraught.

6. Another concern was raised about how this theology might play out in queer friendly, women friendly places.

Linn mentioned the Institute for Art, Religion and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary ( She mentioned the work of AA Bronson and Carlos Motta on queer spirits and queer rituals (; Rather than theologians telling people how to create ritual out of an ecclesiology of abortion, an effort to interrupt order of the normal, it is better to learn from what is already happening in Women-Church, the Metropolitan Community Churches, etc. Experience then becomes matter for theological conversation.

7. A graduate student asked Linn what queer theologians/theorists have influenced her thought:

Dr. Tonstad mentioned:
a. Marcella Althaus-Reid   Indecent Theology. Theological Perversions in Sex, Gender and Politics and
The Queer God

b. Judith Butler    Gender Trouble and Bodies that Matter

c. Lee Edelman     No Future: Queer Theology and the Death Drive

d. Kent Brintnall   Ecce Homo: The-Male-Body-In-Pain as Redemptive Figure.

e. Sara Achmed    Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others

f. Judith Halberstam   In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives 

She concluded that new queer work is just beginning to trickle into Christian discourse in systematic theology. Her work is a good example of that beginning to happen.


WATER thanks Linn Tonstad for graciously sharing her scholarship. The audio recording may be found at .

Our next teleconference will be with Nancy Sylvester, founding director of the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue on Wed. October 9, 2013, 1 PM EDT. All are welcome so please join us.
Information on all WATER activities can be found on our web site at

11 October 2013

WATER Welcomes Loretto Volunteers

Take Your Housemates to Work Day Group EditWATER hosted the DC Loretto Volunteers on their annual “Take Your Housemate to Work Day.” We were the first stop as they visited their various placement sites. The group shared information about WATER as well as Cathy’s birthday cake!

L to R: Caroline Riebeling (Academy of Hope), Alexis Maguina (Bread for the City), Catherine Roberts (Interfaith Voices), Cathy Jaskey (WATER), Mary E. Hunt, Cecilie Kern (CARECEN)

10 October 2013

October Ritual for Domestic Violence Awareness: Women Breaking Silence by Diann L. Neu

Purple Ribbon
Background Information
Women and girls of all ages, economic status, race, religion, nationality, and/or educational backgrounds are at risk for domestic violence. This willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behaviors perpetrated by an intimate partner against another has a profound and long-term effect on the survivors. The consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.

Facts from the National Coalition of Domestic Violence:
. One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
. 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
. Historically, females have been most often victimized by someone they knew.
. Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
. Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.

This ritual was first created and celebrated in London with a group of women who gathered for a weekend workshop on violence against women. It has been adapted many times since. Use it as a model for the one you and your group need to mark your commitment to women's human right to safety. Remember: all women live in fear of violence. For this ritual, have ready some oil and a bowl or shell for anointing.

The Ritual: A Call to Solidarity
Let us unite with women and children to mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Let us remember the names of victims and survivors of domestic violence. Let us recognize that violence against women is a human rights violation.

Compassionate One, you who feel our pain and cry with us in our anguish,
Be with us now and always.
Just One, you who rage with us against the injustices we experience,
Be with us now and always.
Loving One, you who shout with us "no" to violence in all its forms,
Be with us now and always.

Listen to Women’s Words
One in three women may suffer from abuse and violence in her lifetime. This is an appalling human rights violation, yet it remains one of the invisible and under-recognized pandemics of our time.”  Violence against women is an appalling human rights violation. But it is not inevitable. We can put a stop to this.
– Nicole Kidman, Actress

You must do the things you think you cannot do.
– Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady

Domestic violence causes far more pain than the visible marks of bruises and scars. It is devastating to be abused by someone that you love and think loves you in return. It is estimated that approximately 3 million incidents of domestic violence are reported each year in the United States.
– Dianne Feinstein, Congresswoman

You can write me down in history with hateful, twisted lies, you can tread me in this very dirt, but still, like dust, I'll rise.
– Maya Angelou, Poet, Educator

We are asking people to understand that slavery still exists today; in fact, according to a recent New York Timesarticle, if you count the number of women and children in bonded labor, domestic slavery or sexual slavery today, there are more slaves in the world than at any other time in history.”
– Charlotte Bunch, Activist

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.
– Alice Walker, Poet

As you become more clear about who you really are, you'll be better able to decide what is best for you - the first time around.
– Oprah Winfrey, Media Star

None who have always been free can understand the terrible fascinating power of the hope of freedom to those who are not free.
– Pearl S. Buck, Author

It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else's eyes.
– Sally Field, Actress

Intimate and international violence are as tightly interconnected as the fingers of a closed fist.
– Riane Eisler, SAIV co-founder with Nobel Peace Laureate Betty Williams

Conflicts raging across the Middle East today cannot be resolved without deliberate efforts to engage women and confront sexual violence.
– Queen Noor of Jordan

Faith is fundamental to addressing gender based violence across cultures. We must challenge the roadblocks we find in our faith traditions and call forth the resources so that faith leaders become part of the solution and no longer part of the problem of violence against women.
– Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune, FaithTrust Institute

Blessing with Oil
In solidarity with women and girls around the world, we call upon our sisters of the North, East, South, and West to bless and heal us.

Blessed are you, Enduring Spirit of the North,
For soothing us with oil when cold winds chill us to the bone.
Blessed are you, Comforting Sister of the East,
For refreshing us with oil when we need strength to renew our lives.
Blessed are you, Gentle Wisdom of the South,
For warming us with oil and caressing us with cool breezes.
Blessed are you, Healing Power of the West,
For easing our hurts and bruises with oil when we need to keep open to life's changes.

Anointing with Oil
Receive this oil and
Reclaim your healing powers
For yourself and for others.
Touch your eyes, saying:
Bless my eyes that I may see clearly the pain of others.
Touch your ears, saying:
Bless my ears that I may listen to the words and expressions of those in pain.
Touch your mouth, saying:
Bless my mouth that I may speak words of healing.
Touch your heart, saying:
Bless my heart that I may feel with compassion.
Touch your hands, saying:
Bless my hands that I may touch with healing grace.
Touch your feet, saying:
Bless my feet that I may walk along a road of health and healing.
Touch your whole body, saying:
Bless my whole body that I may be filled with healing powers.

Interfaith Prayer: from FaithTrust Institute, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, and the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council.

We gather in sorrow as we recall so many women among us who have suffered rape, battering, harassment, and abuse. We gather in anger that these things continue with no end in sight. We gather in hope that our commitment and our actions will matter.

We come acknowledging that we have not always heard, we have not always acted; sometimes we have turned away rather than stand beside a woman who has been victimized.

Hear the cries of those who have been harmed, O God. We are here today and in every religious assembly throughout our land. Call to account those who have caused harm. Rebuke their careless and exploitative acts. Help us to teach them a better way.

Enlighten those who are called upon to help – judges, police officers, doctors, clergy, legislators, therapists and others – so that their decisions and actions will bring forth justice and healing.

Send us forth as witnesses, renewed in our commitment to stand in solidarity with every woman who has been harmed by abuse and violence, encouraged in our efforts to comfort the afflicted and confront the assailants, and emboldened to speak out in our own communities so that silence may no more mask the injustice of violence against women.

We pray for God’s love and justice to heal our hurt and to bring us to that day when women no longer live with fear in their homes, their workplaces, their religious assemblies, or their communities.  Amen.

Take Action for Domestic Violence Awareness

Make a Commitment
What are you and your community doing to break silence about domestic violence?How are you making the world safe from violence against women?
Take a moment to make one commitment to end violence against women.
Idea: You could wear something purple
on Thursday, October 24th, to honor victims and support survivors of domestic violence! This year marks the 8th annual observance of Purple Thursday, the awareness day launched by the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence that has now gone national with Purple Thursday observances in Massachusetts, New York and Oklahoma.Your commitment?
Now, let us make our commitments happen. Then we can all go home safely and a lot of prayers will be answered.

If You Need Help
For more information or to get help, please call:

To Learn More
FaithTrust Institute
The Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence 
Clothesline ProjectNational Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Oct Ritual Shirt Going Home Shouldn't Hurt Cropped
© Diann L. Neu is co-founder and co-directior of WATER.

09 October 2013

Happy 30th Anniversary, Women-Church Convergence!

Women-Church Convergence, a coalition of diverse Catholic-rooted groups, celebrated its thirtieth anniversary September 27-29, 2013, by affirming its mission and applauding the “Conscience Monologues: Women’s Stories of Conscience within the Catholic Church” produced by the 8th Day Center, a member group of the Convergence.  More than fifty women gathered in the Chicago area representing fifteen member organizations for prayer, discussion, and festivity.

The needs of women and dependent children— preventing sexual and domestic violence, bringing about reproductive justice, and assuring women’s moral and spiritual agency—are paramount concerns of Convergence groups. Together, the groups represent strong feminist voices in the creation of new forms of church and new egalitarian social structures.

Donna Quinn, past coordinator of Women-Church Convergence and Coordinator of the National Coalition of American Nuns, stated during this celebration that “Over the last 30 years Women-Church Convergence has worked to change unjust practices and structures within Church and Society. W-CC is a place where divergent Catholic feminist views can be brought to the table and all can be heard. We support each other with courage, laughter, and blessings in this work.”

More Photos Here

01 October 2013

October Ritual for Breast Cancer Month: Litany of Solidarity by Diann L. Neu

BreastCancerRibbonblack backgroundcrop
Put a bowl of water and a few stones on a table.
In Celtic mythology, stones have healing qualities.
They activate the power of holy wells.
Put a stone in the well and pray. 
One in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Put a stone in the water for every woman who hears the words: “You have cancer.”
  Spirit of Life, give her strength to face the unknown, patience to go through the tests, and courage to make the decisions that are best for her.  
  Let every woman hear: I am with you; you are not alone.

For every woman with cancer, there are family and friends who are shocked and grieving. Put a stone in the water for all mothers and fathers, partners and husbands, children and siblings, friends and colleagues who wait and watch.
  Holy One on the Journey, give them strength to be with their loved ones.
  Let every woman hear: I am with you; you are not alone.

Early detection is the best protection. Put a stone in the water for all involved in cancer research whose life and work make early detection, careful diagnosis, and the hope of healing possible.
  God of Many Names, guide their minds to discover the ways of cancer.
  Let every woman hear: I am with you; you are not alone.

The days of treatment are so long, the chemotherapy and radiation so scary, the face in the mirror is so strange. Put a stone in the water for all women who fight the exhaustion, the fear, the loss of hair and appetite; for women who fight back, who stay the course, and look fear in the face with courage and even with humor.
  Holy One of Courage and Laughter, be near.
  Let every woman hear: I am with you; you are not alone.

Faith, prayer, and community are sources of help and healing. Put a stone in the water for all the prayers and visits, the phone calls and cards, the food and kind acts that bring comfort and healing.
  Holy One of Hospitality, surround us with community.
  Let every woman hear: I am with you; you are not alone.

There will be a cure; there must be a cure! Put a stone in the water for all who believe in and work toward the day when cancer does not take the lives of women.
  Divine Healer, send your healing spirit to bring a cure for cancer now. 
  Let every woman hear: I am with you; you are not alone.

renewing water
© Diann L. Neu is co-founder and co-directior of WATER. This ritual is published in Seasons of Healing: Prayers for Women with Cancer,WATERworks Press.