Facilitator: Good morning everyone! We are gathered together at this moment to pray with one another at the beginning of our conference. Our theme for our opening prayer ritual is “Take and Eat”
We will be reading from the Book of Lamentations which expresses a very difficult situation for women and children during the destruction of Jerusalem. We will then remember the suffering and oppression women are going through in different parts of Asia. Our Gospel reading from Matthew narrates Jesus giving himself, his body and blood, to be taken and eaten during the last supper. While we listen together and to one another, we will reflect on our readings in the context of Asian women and pray to God for all people.
Please have the ingredients you brought with you ready as we will be offering these during our prayer ritual. Let us all rise for the opening song.
Opening Prayer ℅ Siphim Xavier (Thailand)
Dear God, our mother and father
We come to you this morning,
We praise you,
We thank you for this beautiful morning.
Thank you for allowing us to take your word,
to take and eat your word, help us to become like you!
Thanks you for allowing us to take your body as food to nourish our spiritual growth,
Thank you for the natural food that we take and eat every day, help us to grow and help us to protect and be friendly with our Mother Earth.
As we gathered here to Ecclesia of women in Asia. Our theme for the meeting about food. And you are our true and real food.
We ask this through Christ our Brother and life giver!
Facilitator: Please be seated.
Lamentations 2: 10-13
Reader: A reading from the book of Lamentations.
The elders of the daughter of Zion sit on the ground in silence; they have cast dust on their heads and put on sackcloth; the maidens of Jerusalem have bowed their heads to the ground.
My eyes are spent with weeping; my soul is in tumult; my heart is poured out in grief because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, because infants and babes faint in the streets of the city.
They cry to their mothers, “Where is bread and wine?” as they faint like wounded men in the streets of the city, as their life is poured out on their mothers’ bosom.
What can I say for you, to what compare you, O daughter of Jerusalem? What can I liken to you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For vast as the sea is your ruin; who can restore you?
Reader: The word of the Lord.
Everyone: Thanks be to God.
Facilitator: As sisters coming from different cultures and contexts to pray and reflect together, let us share about the different concerns of the women in our countries. We invite you to identify one of the greatest issues or difficulties women face from where you come from or from where you serve, and write this down on the piece of paper we have passed around.
(music playing: Taking from CD “Longing of heart”
We now invite anyone who would like to read what she has written to do so.
Please put your pieces of paper in the basket that is being passed around. We will include these concerns in our prayers.
(The basket will be placed at the foot of the altar. Instrumental music fades out.)
Facilitator: Let us all rise to acclaim the gospel.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 26:26-29
Reader: A reading from the gospel according to Matthew.
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Reader: The gospel of our Friend and Brother.
Everyone: Praise to you, O Jesus Christ.
Reflection on the Readings by Atty. Andrea Si (Philippines)
Facilitator: Please be seated. We now call on Atty. Andrea to share with us some of her reflections on the readings in view of her own experiences.
A Moment of Silence for Personal Reflection
Facilitator: Let us spend a few moments of silence for personal reflection.
Sharing Our Ingredients
(Empty pots and pans will be placed in the middle of the group or at the foot of the altar.)
Facilitator: As members of the body of Christ who are sharers and partakers in Christ’s self-offering, let us express our desire to contribute and participate in our common commitment to feed the hungry, liberate the oppressed and heal the broken. We invite all of you to do this symbolically by putting the ingredients you have brought from your own countries into the pots before us.
(After everyone is finished bringing their ingredients)
Facilitator: The Conference organizers of EWA VIII are also invited to bring the past publications and papers to be presented in this conference as part of our communal offering.
We offer all that we have to God from whom all our resources and capacities come from. We pray for the Spirit of God to bring the heat we need for our cooking so that the heterogeneous mixture ingredients, perspectives and efforts that we share yield food that is good to take and eat in the name of Christ.
Community Prayer with and for All Women:
Facilitator: All rise. Keeping in mind the contents of the basket we passed around, which contains women’s manifold and multilayered struggles and difficulties, let us all together pray our community prayer with and for all women
We pray for all people:
For those women shut off from a full life by tradition and practice.
For those people who are oppressed and exploited.
For those denied their freedom and dignity by systems and authorities.
For those forced to leave their homelands because of their ideologies.
For those seeking answers and meaning to their lives within their own cultures and religions.
For those who labour too long and too hard only to barely feed and clothe themselves and their families.
For those forced to sell their bodies to survive.
For those women and men who live lives of quiet desperation at the hands of the powerful and prestigious.
For them and all who suffer, we pray, asking that the church may once again give joyful expression to your creative love Which breaks down barriers and unites person to person, woman to man, and community to community.
Which gives meaning and hope to empty lives and makes us reach out to each other in generous self-giving.
(Directly quoted from “Prayer for All People” in https://www.ibiblio.org/ahkitj/wscfap/arms1974/Book%20Series/OurStoriesOurF/sampleliturgies.htm)
Closing Prayer or Blessing ℅ Francoise Bosteels (Belgium)
MY BODY BROKEN FOR YOU Lk 22: 39-46; Mk 14: 22-24
It was in this atmosphere, tense like a Veena string and beautiful like the tremolos it can bring to birth, that the supper began. At the very start, Jesus said, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” In the course of the meal he took bread and cup, gave them to his family and said: “Take, eat, this is my Body; and drink, this is my Blood poured out for you.” As he did so, Jesus traveled back in spirit to his boyhood and saw his Mother place before him his dinner, and heard her say through that silent gesture: “Son, take, eat, drink, and grow up: this is my body, my energy, transformed through love’s labour.” He realized that a similar vibrant message had been addressed to him much earlier, when he was a baby. When his Mother suckled him, was not her whole being saying to him in silent accents of milky sweetness: “Take, my child, drink and live; this is my blood transformed through love and flowing for you?” He knew that the same word of life had been addressed to him for months without ceasing, from the moment he took roots and sprouted in the silent mystery of his Mother’s womb; her inmost being kept saying to the Wonder within her, “Take, my Love, here is my blood coursing for you; take it, make it your own and unfurl and blossom.”
All this came to him in a flash as he reached his Body -Bread and Blood-Cup to his table-mates, beginning with his own Mother. He had learned it from her and owed it all to her. He saw clearly that Mothers are Eucharistic Persons; that women in general are. It is they that trace for us the pattern of the Eucharist, and Eucharistic words rich in significance. They are its finest symbol: their body feeds every human being that comes to birth and it is they that shed blood “for the life of the world.” ~ Samuel Rayan