Kissed by God: Holy Women Create!
Readings


Prayer
by St. Bridget

I should like a great lake of finest ale
For the King of kings.
I should like a table of the choicest food
For the family of heaven.
Let the ale be made from the fruits of faith,
And the food be forgiving love.

I should welcome the poor to my feast,
For they are God’s children.
I should welcome the sick to my feast,
For they are God’s joy.
Let the poor sit with Jesus at the highest place,
And the sick dance with the angels.

How the Irish Saved Christianity by Thomas Cahill. 1995. New York, NY: Nan A. Talese, p. 174-175


The Giveaway
by Phyllis McGinley

Saint Bridget was
A problem child.
Although a lass
Demure and mild,
And one who strove
To please her dad,
St. Bridget drove
The family mad.
For here’s the fault in Bridget lay:
She would give everything away.
To any soul
Whose luck was out.
She’d give her bowl
Of stirabout;
She’d give her shawl,
Divide her purse
With one or all.
And what was worse,
When she ran out of things to give
She’d borrow from a relative.
Her father’s gold,
Her grandson’s dinner,
She’d hand to cold
And hungry sinner;
Give wine, give meat,
No matter whose;
Take from her feet
The very shoes,
And when her shoes had gone to others,
Fetch forth her sister’s and her mother’s.
She could not quit.
She had to share;
Gave bit by bit
The silverware,
The barnyard geese,
The parlor rug,
Her little niece’s
Christening mug.
Even her bed to those in want,
And then the mattress of her aunt.
An easy touch
For poor and lowly,
She gave so much
And grew so holy
That when she died
Of years and fame,
The countryside
Put on her name,
And still the Isles of Erin fidget
with generous girls named Bride or Bridget.

Well, one must love her.
Nonetheless,
In thinking of her
Givingness
There’s no denial
She must have been
A sort of trial
Unto her kin.
The moral, too, seems rather quaint.
WHO had the patience of a saint,
From evidence presented here?
Saint Bridget? Or her near and dear?

Love Letters of Phyllis McGinley, 1957. Viking, New York, NY


Prayer for a Hectic Life
By St. Teresa of Avila

How is it, my God, that you have given me this hectic busy life when I have so little time to enjoy your presence. Throughout the day people are waiting to speak with me and even at meals I have to continue talking to people about their needs and problems. During sleep itself I am still thinking and dreaming about the multitude of concerns that surround me. I do all this not for my own sake, but for yours. To me my present pattern of life is a torment; I only hope that for you it is truly a sacrifice of love. I know that you are constantly beside me, yet I am usually so busy that I ignore you. If you want me to remain so busy, please force me to think about and love you even in the midst of such hectic activity. If you do not want me so busy, please release me from it, showing how others can take over my responsibilities.

Teresa of Avila, Complete Works of Teresa of Avila, vol. 3, Peer, E. Alison. Sheed and Ward, New York, NY 1946


Prayer
By St. Teresa of Avila

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing afright you.
All things are changing.
God alone never changes.
Who has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Complete Works


On Growing Older
By St. Teresa of Avila

Lord, thou knowest better than I myself
That I am growing older and will someday be old.
Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on
every occasion.
Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs.
Make me thoughtful but not needy, helpful but not bossy.
With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all,
But thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details - give me wings to get to the point.
Seal my lips on my aches and pains; they are increasing and the love of rehearsing
them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.
I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility
And a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.
Keep me reasonably sweet, for a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil.
Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people.
And give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. Amen.

Complete Works.


Prayers
By St. Therese of Lisieux

Godneeds neither great deeds nor profound thoughts, neither intelligence, nor talents - He cherishes simplicity.

Don’t drag yourself any longer to his feet - follow that first impulse that draws you into His arms. That is where your place is.

The splendor of the rose, and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.

My little way is the way of spiritual childhood, the way of trust and absolute self surrender. Jesus has shown me the only way that leads to the fire of divine love: it is that of a little child who, full of trust, falls asleep in its father’s arms.

Let us love since that is all our hearts were made for.

A word or a smile is often enough to put fresh life into a despondent soul.

Advice to the sisters: the world is thy ship and not thy home.

After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth. I will raise up a might host of little saints. My mission is to make God loved.

Beevers, John, trans. The Story of a Soul. New York: Image books by Doubleday, 1989.
Thoughts of Saint Therese, trans. an Irish Carmelite. Rockford, Ill: Tan Books and Publishers, 1915.


The Holy Mother
by Shirley Cunningham

What I want you to know is:
I am one. All you learn is related to me. There are many manifestations of my love and life and beauty and wisdom. In your living and your dying, you are bringing me to birth. Know that by leaving the former house of prayer, you approach me in the darkness of the garden where all that grows and blooms is beautiful and connected to me and my life. You will lose nothing of the foundation I have already provided for you, but now your path leads in new and labyrinthine ways on which you meet me at every turn.

What I want you to know is:
Your body is sacred, a manifestation of me, made in my image full of goodness, beauty, and life. Your energy flows from my creative energy and is part of all the energy moving in the universe. Gently let go of whatever you see that blocks that divine flow, and encourage all you meet to surrender to my divine love and leading in the same way.

What I want you to know is:
You are being led. You know the darkness of the garden is full of fragrance. It is a safe and enclosed place, like the womb from which you came and will return, buried deep with the secrets of the Earth, your mother. Bless the darkness and invite it. Enter eagerly with joy, trusting that as the light fades, mystery is revealed without word or thought, in beauty and wonder.

Release what needs releasing to enter the deepest place of beauty and love--the rose of Engedi, the rose of Sharon. Labyrinthine ways are acontinual flow, and you will learn at every turn until you enter the rose. Remain in the center of the deepest rose, enclosed and embraced until you are called forth to bring the richness of my gifts to all in your life. Know that you are part of each one on your path.


La Magdalena
by Shirley Cunningham

Easter morning in the Garden,
He returns to her
From divine realms.
The Alpha and Omega. She understands.
The graceful falconer
Has called the Christ,
Her falcon,
To her, to us.
And thus speaks
The medieval mystic.
May we also
Be tethered to these two.

Clare’s Prayer
by Shirley Cunningham

Hollowness of poverty:
Gaunt-framed friar,
Thou, now filled with Fire,
Walk before me
Brown-robed,
Barefoot,
Thong-waisted
Amongst the bird-thronged boughs,
Bearing
Wounds of brackish poorness,
Wounds of burning love,
Wounds of bleeding joy.
I follow.


A Holy Woman’s Lament
(A Rap Song)
By Shirley Cunningham

One point I hope you took as you listen to this speech,
Mary Magdalene's story is one we need to preach.
For some ungodly reason, she got a bad name
When, in fact, she was a leader--it's just not the same!
And Mary's not the only one to get a bad rap.
Lots of sisters had accusation dumped in their lap.
Just think of Suzanna and those dirty old men.
Now why should sex keep coming up again and again?
The sisters been blamed back to first mother Eve.
Too tempting, too sexy, they'd have us believe.
The saints could be virgins, perhaps anorexic—
(We know that whores who repent could be good picks!
The good Virgin Mary is made out as great,
But for us married sisters, it's hard to relate.
So what has been lost in the stories of women?
What has been lost with this focus on sinnin'?
For sure, the connection to the body and sex.
Lots of women were burned for fear of their hex!
Today what a different world we would live in
If sex were seen truly as God's gift in women.
One thing's for sure 'bout the Sweet Magdalene.
She truly met Jesus in that Easter Garden scene.
He sent her to the 'postles, despite her bad rap-
To wake them up n’ shake them up, out of their nap!
Like all holy women, she wanted some fun,
To hang out with Jesus, as the brothers have done.
Could be Peter felt jealous of Magdalene Sweet,
And later clamped down on women who lead.
The thing is, for Jesus, this story has sadness—
He wants brothers and sisters together--that's gladness!
The feminine part of God's image is lost.
Shekinah, Sophia, God's wisdom--big cost!
It behooves us as brothers and sisters tonight
To think hard on this story and set out to do right.
To hold women as equal as Jesus has done.
And give them full power, beyond whore or nun.
So Mary, we celebrate this day with you..
The darkness surrounds us--lead us to the new.
Like you, we've been touched. We have gifts from our God.
To be used for God's people, on this holy sod!
Give us your blessing, full of feminine power,
Fill our hearts with your love of Jesus, in full flower.
Help us to claim that female part of God that we need,
Let it grow to a mighty tree from this tiny seed.

And that's a rap! Go in Peace! Yeah!