Skip to comments.TEC: More Weird Liturgy? - "Our Lady" Rite Author Inspired By Labyrinth Walk
Posted on 06/29/2006 5:08:38 PM PDT by sionnsar
For those wondering what inspired the Episcopal Church's newly-elected, female presiding bishop to refer to "Mother Jesus" during the General Convention, the answer might be found on the "Office of Women's Ministries" (OWM) page on the official national church website.
Indeed, this is not the first time that the OWM has gotten into liturgical mischief.
The phrase used by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori appears in a "Eucharist Using Female Nouns and Pronouns" on the OWM's section of the Episcopal Church (TEC)-sponsored website. The rite is accompanied by "Morning Prayers to the Lady" - and this does not mean our Lord's mother. Both services offer worship to "Our Lady" and to the "Holy Mother," and end with the salutation "Blessed be" - a common statement of farewell among Wiccans.
The author of the services, Sandra Thomas Fox, wrote them in 2001, five years after she had a feminist epiphany during her first walk in a labyrinth - a spiritual exercise that actually has New Age roots - at the National Cathedral. There, she became sensitized to "the misogyny in the liturgy."
The webpage that leads to the two feminist liturgies has an all-capitalized disclaimer for each: "NOT AN OFFICIAL LITURGY - FOR USE IN DISCUSSION." Nevertheless, the pages from which each of the services can be downloaded invite readers to use them as well in "gathering communities of worship." Therefore, these services can be used anywhere.
The feminist "Eucharist" invokes God thus: "Blessed be the Lady who births, redeems and sanctifies us."
The threefold Kyrie Eleison becomes this: (Celebrant): Loving Lady, have mercy; (People): Mother Jesus, have mercy; (Celebrant) Loving Lady, have mercy" - thereby giving Jesus both a sex change and children.
The prayers of the people - addressed to "Mother" - include the request that "every member of the Church may be your handmaiden" - thereby praying that all men in the church get a sex change.
The prayer of confession is addressed to "Most Merciful Lady."
The Great Thanksgiving begins, "May the Holy Mother be with you," and continues: "It is truly right, Mother, to give you thanks; for you alone are the I AM, living and true, dwelling in light inaccessible from before time and forever," and adds: "Blessed is she who comes in the name of Love." With the prayer "Mother, you loved the world so much that you sent your only Son to be our Savior. Incarnate by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary," the consecration prayer claims that Jesus has two mommies - and no Father.
Immediately after the consecration of the bread and the wine, the celebrant says, "Mother, we now celebrate this memorial of your redemption." (A Freudian slip, perhaps?)
Oddly enough, the Lord's Prayer is unchanged - so this is the only spot in the service which addresses God as "Father."
The "Mass" ends when the celebrant tells the congregation, "Let us go forth empowered by the Love of our Lady," and the congregation replies, "Blessed be."
THE FEMINIST "MORNING PRAYER" service is similar in spirit. After the confession of sin (again addressed to the "Most Merciful Lady"), the celebrant says, "Nurturing Mother, have mercy on us; forgive us all our sins. Through your beautiful Son, Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit sustain our eternal life."
Before the psalms, the celebrant says, "The mercy of our Lady is everlasting: come let us adore her." After the Psalm readings, the celebrant sings a new age Gloria Non Patri: "Glory to the Mother, and to her Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever."
In this service, too, the Lord's Prayer was unmolested - but the celebrant precedes it with "May our Holy Lady be with you...Let us pray the words of her beautiful Son, Jesus Christ."
The prayers of the people include "Keep your example of Motherhood ever before us; Let us see in all our children a sacred trust from you" - an invocation that seems out of place here, since the Women's Ministries site lists the pro-abortion Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice among "social justice" groups.
The General Thanksgiving at the end of the service starts, "Most merciful Mother, we your handmaidens give you thanks for your great love for us and for all you have made." The service ends when the celebrant says, "Let us give thanks to our Lady;" the congregation replies, "Blessed be."
AS EARLIER NOTED, this all began with Ms. Fox's first experience with walking the labyrinth at the 1996 Sacred Circles conference at Washington National Cathedral. That day, "during a guided meditation led by Dr. Sarah Fahy, I had met the wise woman who had told me, 'Women are beautiful. You are beautiful,'" Fox wrote. "Immediately after I...walked one of the labyrinths set up in the nave. To my surprise, as I entered the path I dissolved into tears. Questions welled up inside of me. Why had no one ever told me I was beautiful? Why did I need to be told that women were beautiful? I sobbed my way into the center, where I sat until I was once again composed. As I began my walk out, the Eucharist was being celebrated at the high altar. I decided I would silently say these comforting, familiar words as I walked...But on this day, to my horror, these words I loved turned to dust and ashes in my mouth. All I could hear was 'He, Him, Lord, Son, Father'...I had heard the misogyny in the liturgy, and there was no going back."
Fox continued, "I realized that I did not see my mother, my two daughters, or myself as made in the image of God. When I looked at the liturgy I discovered there are 195 male nouns and pronouns in Rite I and 145 in Rite II. In both cases, there is one reference to a woman - the Virgin Mary in the Creed. If our liturgy is our story, the telling of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, where are the voices of the women that Jesus loved, respected, and held dear? Where is an understanding of the holiness of being a daughter, wife, or mother? Wondering what it would be like to have a service to the Divine Feminine, I used Rite II, Prayer D [from the 1979 Prayer Book] as a starting point and wrote such a Eucharist in 2001.
"If one feels that reading this service is blasphemous, I can only say that writing it felt even more so. Yet I felt called to continue, for what else would allow us to see the narrowness of our current liturgy?...My hope is that this Eucharist will begin a dialogue about the ways in which language affects the quality of our worship, our feelings towards God, and our sense of being created in God's image."
As earlier indicated, this was not the first foray into the bizarre for TEC's Office of Women's Ministries. In 2004, there was an outcry over two other offerings on OWM's section of the official church website: "A Women's Eucharist: A Celebration of the Divine Feminine" and a "Liturgy for Divorce." The Women's Eucharist made no mention of Christ, nor of his Body and Blood, but gave thanks to "Mother God" for things like menstrual blood and breasts.
It emerged that the Women's Eucharist had been on a Druid website since 1998. What's more, it had been penned by "Glispa," who turned out to be part of a husband/wife Episcopal clergy couple who up until a short time earlier had also been involved with and promoting modern-day Druidism, including nude mating rituals and invocation of the "Horned God." Once exposed, Pennsylvania clergy Glyn Ruppe-Melnyck and her husband, W. William Melnyck, repented of their Druidry; Mr. Melnyk lost his parochial job over the issue but Mrs. Melnyk kept hers.
The two offending services, which were removed from the OWM website in the 2004 controversy, were part of OWM's "Women's Liturgy Project" to collect worship resources written by women for women - an initiative that, given the latest from the OWM, is evidently ongoing.
Sandra Thomas Fox, "Reflection on the Holy Eucharist,"
Women's Ministries, http://www.ecusa.anglican.org/41685_60499_ENG_HTM.htm;
Women's Ministries, "Liturgies Using Feminine Images," http://www.ecusa.anglican.org/41685_60497_ENG_HTM.htm, a page that links to texts for the two liturgies;
Women's Ministries, http://www.ecusa.anglican.org/41685_31001_ENG_HTM.htm, a blurb for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
If she wants to be a tree-hugging, "sky-clad", "blessed-being", New Age Wiccan, then for "Mother's" sake go BE one . . .
. . . or, alternatively, if this keeps up, I may be able to persuade my Wiccan friend to join the ECUSA. . . .
. . . although, on second thought, why would I want a friend hanging with such a dishonest bunch of people?
How long will it be before we can expect the Episcopal Church to start burning human sacrifices inside The Wicker Man?
How sad when biblical illiteracy is allowed to shape one's theology.
Ann Coulter for Presiding Bishop of TEC!!
Is it simply a coincidence that Christian doctrine has remained more or less the same for almost 2000 years until the feminist liberation movement? Is it simply odd that homosexuality was universally condemned in the Church for almost 2000 years until the feminist liberation movement? Is it simply a quirk that divorce was an unacceptable alternative in a male dominated society for more than 2000 years until the feminist liberation movement? Is is simply unusual that abortion and the killing of the innocent was generally shunned for over 2000 years until the feminist liberation movement? I think not.
Labyrinths are not always "new age" or pagan--there was one, for example, in a fourth century church in North Africa. However, pagans and "new agers" use them too.
I walked a labyrinth in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, in 1999. It gave me no mystical experiences nor any desires to start spouting heresy and craziness. However, now that I know that Grace Cathedral is the center for the former Episcopal "bishop" Swing's nefarious activities on behalf of the New World Religion, and that Artress and her labyrinths are part and parcel of that, I would not walk their labyrinth again.
this clearly shows that the episcopalian chuch is now a pagan church and no longer believes in the one God in the holy trinity.
There was one on the floor of the cathedral in Chartres France that they uncovered...supposedly put there in the Middle Ages. Pagans/newagers have taken wonderful Christian symbols and mutated them for their own purposes.
As has been noted many times on the ECUSA blogs recently, there are now two religions under the roof of that church. They are now in the process of sorting it out...
Where I live, there are labryrinths in Roman Catholic churches and other institutions. However, the bulk of labyrinth activity (including "labyrinth festivals") is in Episcopal and ulitra-liberal protestant churches. "New Agers" attend festivals at those places, and for all I know may make up the bulk of attendees.
Labyrinth-walking without orthodox fath and God's holy Word and Sacraments is less than useless!!!!
I have been venting against the Labyrinth as a pagan and wiccan method of worship with no place in the church for years, and generally I just get pooh-poohed as a Fundy.
It's nice to see someone finally connecting the dots.
The worship of the Labyrinth was resurrected by a feminist priestess at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco (that bastion of Christian orthodoxy), Lauren Artress based on occultic training she had received. She claims, however, it is based on a labyrinth in the floor of Chartres Cathedral, and that it was the focus of symbolic medieval "pilgrimages" by people too poor to go to the Holy Land.
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO HISTORICAL OR OTHER EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THIS ASSERTION. Yes, there is a labyrinth design in the floor, but it is an architectural design feature of the cathedral, like gargoyles and stained glass and other geometrical figures. Yet people all around the country have lapped it up as true. Even Chartres Cathedral, seeing a good source of tourist dollars, has jumped on the bandwagon, although even Artress herself admits they were totally ignorant of the supposed use of the Labyrinth until she educated them.
There is, however, substantial evidence of laybrinth worship in pagan religions, and the symbology is also used in modern Wicca practices.
Why not just put up a statue of Isis and go for it!
In the 19th century Mary Baker Eddy founder of Christian Science rewrote the Our Father. It began "Our Father Mother god all harmonious".
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