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Issue: #23 December 2015

Happy Christmas!

In this special edition of the CCCR e-newsletter we share a number of reflections and meditations on the meaning and significance of Christmas for those who seek to follow Jesus.

We also share in this issue of some news from both CCCR and the Council of the Baptized.
Finally, don't forget that an important way to keep our local church reform movement growing is to increase the number of people in our Lay Network. Currently, there are over 1550 Lay Network members, from all parishes and all deaneries, but that's no where near the number of folks who love their church and want it to thrive in this archdiocese.  Please encourage your friends and family to register with the Lay Network at or click here
Christmas 2015 - Reflections and Meditations

I write as the winter solstice  and Christmas approach. The days have become short and cold. . . . Sunlight, abundant only a few months ago, is scarce. But soon, just after the solstice, the days will begin to grow long. Many of the religious cosmologies [or worldviews] of the West have celebrated the solstice as a return of the Sun, the birth of the divine at the darkest hour. It is, for each of us, at the darkest hour that we must be able to find our inner light. Christmas is celebrated on December 25, the mythic date of Horus'  birth, not because there is any evidence that Jesus was born on that date, but because it makes sense that the divine should come to be present among humanity at the time of our greatest feelings of fear and disconnection. . . . [T]he winter solstice or Christmas is the perfect time to celebrate rebirth because it serves as a moment to unify the paradox of individual and the Universal. It represents both the birth of the Universe itself and the rebirth - a recognition, really - of our own divinity, our divine spark , the fullness of the cosmic wisdom we each possess and express in our own way.

C hristmas can help us readjust, help us see the Divine more transparently in life, in places where we would least expect. A barn, for example, a baby. The Incarnation we celebrate at Christmas is a call, our belief in it a commitment, to seek awareness of the Divine free of the impediments of culture, class or even catechism. That process calls for a degree of openness most of us rarely embrace or even know as possible. Yet I have a feeling the Divine is so imminent, so within the essence of things, that it is only a matter of learned blindness that keeps us from seeing. It is not something natural to us to be so dense. We can do better. We can break through.

T he greatest mystery of religion is the incarnation, the divine and the spiritual taking human and worldly form. In the early history of Christianity, several heresies arose on this point, and they are understandable. It is still difficult to appreciate how the absolutely spiritual is revealed in the absolutely ordinary and material. Our natural tendency is to seek spirituality in the thin air of abstraction rather than in the concrete life around us.

T he mystery [we celebrate] is that the material and the spiritual coexist. It's the mystery of the Incarnation. Once we restore the idea that the Incarnation means God truly loves creation then we restore the sacred dimension to nature. We bring the plants and animals and all of nature in with us. They are windows into the endless creativity, fruitfulness and joy of God. We assert that we believe in the sweep of history, humanity and all of creation that Christ includes.

Incarnation is already redemption. Bethlehem was more important than Calvary. It is good to be human. The Earth is good. God has revealed that God has always been here. [Such thinking] will increasingly become mainline spirituality as we become more comfortable with an expanded view of the mystery of Incarnation in the cosmos. If we Christians had taken this mystery seriously, we would never have raped the planet like we do, never have developed such an inadequate theology about sexuality.

The incarnation is the irruption of God into human history: an incarnation into littleness and service in the midst of overbearing power exercised by the mighty of this world; an irruption that smells of the stable.

The Son of God was born into a little people, a nation of little importance by comparison with the powers of the time.

He took flesh among the poor in a marginal area-namely, Galilee; he lived with the poor and emerged from among them to inaugurate a kingdom of love and justice.

That is why many have trouble recognizing him.

News from CCCR and the Council of the Baptized 

At the November meeting of the Council of the Baptized (CoB), Mary Ellen Jordan was invited to step up as part of the Executive Committee. She graciously agreed to work in that capacity and will bring great leadership and energy to the CoB.   Congratulations Mary Ellen and thank you for your willingness to serve!   The Executive Committee now consists of Lyn Yount and Mary Ellen Jordan.  Mary Beth Stein will continue on in the capacity of secretary.

In other CoB news: Dave Jasper has completed his term. Thank you for your service, Dave! Patty Thorsen is a new member, and she and fellow member Michael Anderson are encouraging folks who are on Facebook to join, follow and contribute to the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform/Council of the Baptized Facebook page by visiting this page and clicking on "Like."
Flash Points

CCCR's action plan: 
As we reported in the November newsletter, Archbishop Hebda had positive things to say about the Listening Sessions he initiated. The papal nuncio's delegate commented that this amount of lay participation is not the norm. Our question:  Why isn't it the norm?

We appreciate the Archbishop's first step in listening to the people, but we cannot stop working for full lay participation in the Church's life. When we receive our next Archbishop, we will be in communication with him to make this Archdiocese a sign of the reign of God.  We count on your backing. 

In the meantime, we are asking to meet with some of the Archdiocesan department heads to offer collaboration in creating a unified and well-functioning local church. In upcoming Lay Network Updates we will report to you how those meetings went and what actions we can all take to build the community. If you have any suggestions you want us to make, let us know by email to

Looking forward to January::   Mark your calendar to join the Council of the Baptized's Open Forum exploring the questions around ordaining women as Catholic priests... January 12, 2016 at 7:00 PM at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 Snelling Ave So, in St. Paul.

* Catholic Church Reform International (CCCRI) has two initiatives that our local church can actively support. These are efforts to give voice to the concerns of lay people from all around the world. Your participation is encouraged!

The first is a powerful position paper that has been published and which summarizes the data gathered worldwide from the CCRI survey on sexuality, marriage and family. This position paper can be viewed hereThe second CCRI initiative is a website called The People Speak Out , which is gathering stories from Catholics around the world regarding issues of sexuality, marriage and family. Please visit this webpage and share your story. You can choose from a variety of categories. While there, take time to read the stories posted by others. You can visit this webpage by clicking here .

Think, pray, speak and take action.