If you would like to organize a liturgy or prayer service in your parish or faith community that celebrates the gifts of LGBTQ people, a new resource provides some guidance and inspiration. Liturgical Press, one of the leading Catholic publishers in the U.S., released a new book: Stirring Waters: Feminist Liturgies for Justice by Diann L. Neu. The author is the co-founder and co-director (along with theologian Mary Hunt, who wrote the book’s introduction) of WATER, the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual, located in Silver Spring, Maryland. For several decades, Neu has been preparing and leading feminist liturgies around the globe, and, like all of WATER’s projects, these rituals have always been inclusive of LGBTQ people.
The book is a wonderful collection of 52 liturgies for all sorts of occasions and events. The book focuses on women who have been spiritual leaders and justice advocates, contemporary social issues, lifecycle events, and important calendar feasts and holidays. It covers a wide-range from St. Catherine of Siena and Sojourner Truth to lesbian astronaut Sally Ride and Nobel Peace Prize-winning teenager Malala Yousafzao.
Perhaps of most interest to Bondings 2.0 readers is a liturgy intended to be celebrated during June, Pride Month, entitled “Grateful, Proud, and Connected for Pride and Equality Day.” Though June has already past this year, the service can be easily used and adapted for any time of the year in which you want to celebrate LGBTQ identities. Some examples: National Coming Out Day, October 11th; International Day Against Homophobia, BiPhobia, and Transphobia, May 17th; Bisexuality Day, September 23; International Transgender Day of Visibility, March 31; International Lesbian Day, October 8; LGBT History Month, October in the USA and Canada, February in the UK. For a full list of LGBTQ Awareness Days, Weeks, Months, click here.
And, of course, it’s never too late to start planning for next year’s Pride Month!
The liturgy plan is beautifully executed, including what items to prepare and gather for the event, a call to gather, a litany naming LGBTQ people (in the book’s example, all are women, appropriate for a book of feminist liturgies), prayers for solidarity, a text of “Beatitudes” for LGBTQ people that was written by DignityUSA, suggestions for sharing/reflections, a eucharistic ritual, song suggestion, and a list of actions for participants to perform once the service is over.
For the month of December, the book contains a liturgy for World AIDS Day, celebrated globally on December 1st. This memorial day is close to the hearts of many LGBTQ people since gay men were the predominant demographic when the virus originally was identified. Sadly, as a result, homophobia was a main factor into why so many governments, medical professionals, and religious groups were so slow in responding to the pandemic. More positively, it was activist support from the entire spectrum of the LGBTQ community which moved so many sectors of society to provide more effective care and solutions to the outbreak.
The liturgy for World AIDS Day is entitled “Telling Love’s Story on World AIDS Day,” and the service does exactly that. It is a liturgy of remembrance, but not dwelling on suffering and pain, but on the love that was shared with all who passed on, the love of those who in so many ways, personal and political, cared for infected people, and the love still needed for reaching out and caring for those who continue to become HIV+.
Like the Pride Month service, the World AIDS Day liturgy contains beautiful readings from a variety of sources, inspirational music suggestions, interactive prayer responses, a time for reflection and sharing, rituals for sharing bread and for lighting candles, and a list of actions for participants to take once the service is over.
The beauty of these liturgies is in their simplicity and profoundness. On a practical level, they provide many components to each liturgy so that a local organizer may select or adapt them according to local customs, needs, and logistical situations.
While you may purchase the book for these two particular liturgies, you will also be rewarded by having access to so many others on topics such as human trafficking, friendship, domestic violence, healing, breast cancer, Earth Day, and women’s work in the church. Stirring Waters is a great resource to help plan your LGBTQ liturgies and prayer services, but it will help you in so many other ways, too.
—Francis DeBernardo New Ways Ministry, July 29, 2020