Megan McKenna: A Convening on ‘The Family’ Should Start With Breakfast

monkimageThe World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September (and all the other related gatherings that have been pushed to the periphery, such as the global Women’s Ordination Conference)and the Synod on the Family in Rome in October (participants in which 99.75 percent are men)  present opportunities for a more diverse image of what it means to be a Catholic family (large C or small).

Megan McKenna, Catholic spiritual writer and peace and justice advocate, has a great reflection based on John 21 (the “breakfast with Jesus” scene on the banks of the Galilee) on how important it is for the global Catholic family to come first to the table of Christ–as sisters and brothers, husbands and wives, children and parents, partners and singles–in a spirit of kinship and communion before launching into any conversations about “the definition of family,” who is in and who is out in marriage, and the education and raising of children. Jesus was notoriously non-conformist in who he identified as “family.”

Read an excerpt here:

This is how Eucharist is to be celebrated—drawing everyone back into intimacy, all forgiven with a shared meal, awkward though it might be among them. Jesus’ words—Children, come and have your breakfast—welcome back into my company—welcome home to my heart. We are one; we are in communion because of My love, My life, death and resurrection. Come and eat. …

This is how the Synod on the Family should begin—with a proclamation of the Good News to the Poor—with God’s simple invitation repeated again to everyone—come and eat; break bread with me; let me feed you. The opening prayer should be a greeting of welcome—a place to stand after Resurrection, as Jesus’ stands with all of us, no matter how we have behaved. Did the disciples deserve Eucharist and being drawn back into intimacy with Jesus?

…What if we admitted that we need a theology of marriage based on the mystery of the Trinity, where the third party is God, marrying the two persons. [even now the sacrament can be celebrated without a priest—the couple marrying one another in the presence of God, and having it witnessed later by a representative of the Church]. What if this sacrament—of two married in the presence of and with the Trinity speaks of communion and universal family and incorporation as one for all people, revealing the mystery of our God as community? …–Megan McKenna  (Read more here.)

Download the whole article and read more about Megan McKenna here.

Mural at Christ in the Desert Monastery

The mural above is found in the refectory at Christ in the Desert Benedictine monastery near Abiquiu, New Mexico.

Rubilev's Trinity

Based on Rubilev’s famous Trinity icon, it depicts the Sarah and Abraham welcoming the three angel guests at the Oak of Mamre.

“The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day”–Genesis 18:1

In the center of the Christ in the Desert mural is a large scale version of the Rubilev’s icon of the Trinity, represented by three angels, seated at table.

To the viewer’s right is Sarah and to the viewer’s left is Abraham. Behind Abraham is St. Benedict, St. Francis, St. Juan Diego, Mary, and the Burning Bush.

Behind Sarah is St. Scholastica, St. Clare, Blessed Kateri Tekatwitha, St. John the Baptist, and an “Agnus Dei” representation.

California activist-theologian reflects on “Abraham under the ‘teaching oak’” saying:

The real plot of the Bible is about the liberation of both humanity and nature from our folly. God’s voice does not come through the centre of civil power but from an imperial defector in Moses, through a burning bush and from a dissident prophet Elijah in the wilderness. These ancient traditions portray a God who needs to be encountered through nature. The Bible also offers numerous peons to creation as a mirror of the creator’s glory. There is a lot of talk these days about our need to rediscover enchantment in nature. Let us take Abraham’s first encounter
with God which occurred under the oak tree of Moreh, an “oracle giver” which taps into an apparently universal tradition of the Tree of Life. Then God appears to Abraham as certain strangers under the oaks of Mamre; and later in Judges, the warrior Gideon is given courage by an angel under the oak at Ophrah.

At Christ in the Desert monastery the electricity and water-pumping at the monastery is solar-powered, as sunshine is plentiful throughout the year.

The mural art reflects a tradition now set in the context of the Chama Canyon wilderness in northwestern New Mexico, but the monks whose quiet cenobitic lives are shaped daily by the art also vitalize the mural through their own daily desert encounters with angels, trees, rivers, saints, bread, wine, work, and surprise.