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Women are fully human agents of social, political change
Mary E. Hunt, ncronline.org | April 3, 2019
A book review of: Mary, Mother of Martyrs: How motherhood became self-sacrafice in early Christianity by Kathleen Gallagher Elkins
Kathleen Gallagher Elkins makes a strong case for the usefulness of feminist biblical scholarship to examine and transform patriarchal thinking about women. Her book is a welcome crash course in the latest research and writing in a field that I bet most preachers do not even know exists. She demonstrates how the tired tropes of women's self-sacrifice that reinforce oppression and expectations of martyrdom can be expanded and refreshed realistically in light of contemporary women's lives. On balance, every woman's self-sacrifice is not oppressive and every form of oppression is not caused by women's self-sacrifice.
Scholars are in Elkins' debt for a dense, complicated and multilayered critical analysis, while more casual readers will be amply rewarded, too. She offers a helpful review of the literature that grounds her creative, insightful and imaginative proposals. The introduction stands alone as a clear and compelling overview of her argument, making it easily accessible.
Mary Magdalene in the Liturgies of the Sacred Triduum
Coming to the end of Lent and entering into Holy Week, I want to share a bit of how Cynthia Bourgeault concludes the course on Mary of Magdala, looking at the place of Mary in the Passion accounts and what they say.
She sees the presence of Mary in the anointing of Jesus for his burial and the anointing of Jesus at the tomb as bookends to the Paschal Mystery. In between, is her faithful companionship with Jesus through the crucifixion, death and burial. She is prominent among the women present in the passion narratives. In John's Gospel, she stands at the foot of the cross with Mother Mary, and her sister. In Matthew's Gospel, Mary Magdalene and another woman kept vigil at the tomb. And, in all the Gospels, she goes with haste to the tomb on the morning after the Sabbath to do a proper anointing of the body.
More than any of the male apostles, Mary Magdalene “gets it.” She understands Jesus and the meaning of sacrificial love. The necessity of Jesus to suffer is not to atone for the sins of humankind. The need to suffer is because this is the nature of true love - to give oneself freely for the good of the other and to create wholeness from broken parts. Her presence at the tomb is holding a tether, as it were, to his heart as he completes his redemptive work in the “descent into hell” going to the depths of the earth and restoring all creation to its original oneness. Because of her faithful love, she was the first to be commissioned to proclaim the Easter message: Love is stronger than death; Jesus is Risen! He is risen indeed!
As a way to reclaim Mary and her meaning at the heart of Christianity, Bourgeault proposes some adaptations in the Triduum Liturgies which can enrich our community celebrations:
Anointing liturgy, Mary of Magdala Inclusive Catholic Community Regina, SK, FDK photo
The Song of Songs is a poetic prototype of the Paschal Mystery – the transformation of eros into agape through the generous self-giving love that is stronger than death. Using material from the Song of Songs Bourgeault created a Liturgy of Anointing that is a prelude to the Triduum. It sets the tone that what is to come is all about self-giving love, the kenosis that is the essence of the Paschal Mystery. It is available here: Holy Week Liturgy of Anointing.
The Good Friday Vigil Bourgeault describes is a practice she observed at Vezelay in France. In the Gospel of Matthew (27:60-61) it is noted that, “Taking the body, Joseph (of Arimathea) wrapped it in fresh linen and laid it in his own tomb, which had been hewen out of rock. Then Joseph rolled a huge stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away. But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there facing the tomb.”
Following the Communion rite, two women bring forward a corpus and lay it on the altar and tenderly wrap it in the altar linens. Then they set a spice pot and candle beside it. The community remains in silent vigil as Mary and the other women would have.
To make a place for Mary in the Easter Vigil, she proposes to enact the Resurrection account much as we do the Good Friday passion and hear a woman's voice proclaim, “He is risen, he is not here!” Another option is to use a passage from the Gospel of Mary as part of the Word that is proclaimed.
What difference would placing Mary's faithful presence throughout the Passion by these adaptations make in our experience of the Sacred Triduum? Let's try and see!
[Jane Kryzanowski, Regina, SK, is bishop for RCWP Canada]
The Triduum isn’t a dramatic reenactment
Diana Macalintal, praytellblog.com | February 26, 2019
In Circular Letter Concerning the Preparation and Celebration of the Easter Feasts (Paschale Solemnitatis), issued by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship, the three days are called “the triduum of the crucified, buried, and risen” (#38) and the “Easter Triduum” (#27). This is important because the celebration of Holy Thursday and Good Friday are already Easter celebrations! On any day of the Triduum, we do not pretend that Christ has not died or that Christ is not risen. The Triduum is not a historical drama or a “leap back into time.” Rather, we remember what Christ has done for us and still continues to do for us now, which leads us always to the future hope promised in the kingdom.
In new book, Richard Rohr says the 'universal Christ' changes everything
Cathleen Falsani, ncronline.org | April 1, 2019
Along a quiet stretch of Five Points Road in the oldest neighborhood in New Mexico's largest city, just down the block from the methadone clinic and a house Catholic Workers share with homeless folks, lives one of the world's most famous modern mystics — an infectiously jovial, flannel-plaid-wearing Franciscan friar, with a childlike joy for telling the world that Jesus Christ loves everyone and is in everything.
Pope’s new youth doc draws largely rave reviews from young consultants
Claire Giangravè and Inés San Martín, cruxnow.com | April 6, 2019
Pope Francis on Tuesday published a new document dedicated to youth, bringing full-circle a process of consultation that began last year when the Vatican reached out to young people around the world ahead of an October summit of bishops on how to better approach them.
Called Christus Vivit, the document is 180 pages long and takes into consideration not only what was said during the Synod of Bishops but also what the youth said during a pre-synod gathering that took place in Rome several months earlier. Though some 200 people were in attendance, thousands more participated through Facebook.
WOC Responds to Pope’s Exhortation, “Christus Vivit”
Kate McElwee, womensordination.org | April 2, 2019
Pope Francis’ new post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, “Christus Vivit” (Christ is Alive), offers only lip service to the movement for women’s equality in the Roman Catholic Church, suggesting no concrete actions to further his own bishops’ call for the inclusion of women in decision-making and leadership roles in the Church.
Women Church World, L'Osservatore Romano's women's magazine, will continue "without clericalism of any kind," even that wielded by certain women
Robert Mickens, international.la-croix | March 29, 2019
Why the women threw in the towel and quit L'Osservatore Romano . . . There's a lot more to the latest Vatican scandal, but hardly anybody in the media is talking about it.
Called to Question: A Spiritual Memoir by Joan Chittister
Recommended by a reader, Special to The Review | April 15, 2019
In a world of roll definitions and a theology of gender, sexual stereotypes are built right into the spiritual life. The whole idea that God will work through some facets of creation, but not through others, defies the whole definition of God. Even more than that, it ignores the science of difference.
Difference is the very dynamic of creation. It is difference that makes life possible, that gives life variety, that demonstrates the glory of God in all its facets. But instead of seeing differences as a sign of the limitlessness of God's presence and God's power, we have allowed them to be confined and controlled.
Clearly, our degree of commitment to the emergence of feminist spiritualiry marks the quality of our spiritual lives. We can go on forming people in the moulds that make a patriarchal system run or we can let loose the Holy Spirit to sweep dangerously through the world. We can commit ourselves to bringing out the strengths in ourselves by admitting the weaknesses in us, in men as well as women, until we are all a creation in full concert with the creator. The suppression of women is a sin, not because it is a sin against women, but because it is a sin against creation itself. To suppress half of God's creation in the name of God is a sin against the Holy Spirit for which we have no name.
[Editor's note: This is an excerpt from Page 166 of the book as part of that presented at Google Books. The whole book can be ordered at Amazon.ca.]
Related on-line religious media in French, with English translations
Média indépendant, Présence - information religieuse est un média indépendant spécialisé en information religieuse québécoise, canadienne et internationale. Présence offre une couverture journalistique du fait religieux, dans ses incidences sociales, politiques, éthiques et culturelles.
Independent Media, Présence - religious information is an independent media specializing in Quebec, Canadian and international religious information. Presence provides journalistic coverage of the religious fact, in its social, political, ethical and cultural implications.
Femmes et Ministères est une corporation autonome de femmes engagées en Église particulièrement préoccupées de l’amélioration de la situation de la femme en Église, communauté de disciples égaux.
Women and Ministries is an autonomous corporation of women committed to the Church who are particularly concerned with improving the situation of women in the Church, a community of equal disciples.
[Editor's note: In the future, the links above will be displayed permanently at the bottom of this page.]
|JESUS GARDENS ME
Unsigned, Special to The Review | April 1, 2019
I've been working on a manuscript titled JESUS GARDENS ME. This is part of what I have discovered about the encounter of Jesus and Mary Magdala in the garden tomb area:
Three scripture scholars comment on this passage making a connection with the Song of Songs.
1) In his commentary on John’s Gospel, The Genius of John, Peter Ellis, 1984 p. 288, 289 writes: “There is the intriguing possibility that John has utilized in 20:1-18 the nuptial language of the Canticle of Canticles in order to create a broad parallel with the nuptial situation described in 2:1-12.”
2) An article by Sandra Schneiders, which first was published in “What Is John? Readers and Readings of the Fourth Gospel” was republished in Written That You May Believe, 1999 p.194, 195. She writes: “His (Jesus’) address to her as “woman” and her action of “peering” through her tears into the tomb expressed by parekypen, a word that occurs rarely in the New Testament and strikingly, in the Septuagint of the Canticle of Canticles 2:9 in describing the search for the beloved, alert the reader to the fact that this garden setting is intended to evoke both the creation account in Genesis, where God walks and talks with the first couple in the garden (see Gen 2:15-17; 3:8) and promises salvation through a woman (see Gen. 3:15), and the Canticle of Canticles, which, by the time of the Gospel was written, was understood to be the hymn of the covenant between Israel and Yahweh.”
3) In his commentary on John’s Gospel, Becoming Children of God, Wes Howard-Brook, 1994, p451 writes: Jesus does not prohibit Mary from touching him but from clinging. Although the Greek word hapto has a wide range of meanings, it seems clear from the context that Jesus’ concern is not with physical contact itself but with Mary Magdalene’s natural but improper attempt to keep him with her. Having searched for him so hard, she does not want to lose track of him again! Her hug of Jesus is both spontaneously unavoidable and fitting. But her desire to keep him present interferes with his completion of his journey back to the Father …Support for this interpretation comes from another source: the shared imagery between this scene and the Song of Songs. We find the following familiar-sounding passages in the Septuagint version of chapter 3 of the Song: By night…I sought him whom my soul loves. I sought him, but found him not. (verse 1) The watchmen who go their rounds in the city found me: I said, “Have you seen him whom my soul loves?” It was as a little while after I parted from them, that I found him whom my soul loves. I held him and did not let him go until I brought him into my mother’s house and into the chamber of her that conceived me. (verses 3-4)
It is apparent that the author of the fourth gospel has modeled Mary’s search of Jesus’ body in part on this passage….Given the handing of “the mother” to the Beloved Disciple at the cross and Mary Magdalene’s relationship with the Beloved Disciple, does it suggest taking Jesus back to be present in the Johannine community, where Mary was born anothen ("again” or “from above”)? ... The community of faith will have to come to its commitment without his physical presence.
[Editor's Note: This article was sent unsigned using the Comments to the Editor form at the bottom of The Review]
LAUGHING WITH GODDE
Puanani Lalakea, Special to The Review | April 15, 2019
I have had what a pastor once called “a promiscuous faith journey.”
I was raised Roman Catholic in a world filled with Native Hawaiian wisdom. I lived Christian traditions, while the blood that coursed through my veins bore the memories of my Chinese ancestors and the air I breathed instilled Native Hawaiian values into my soul. As I grew, I tried to make sense of this seeming contradiction, exploring a variety of different faith traditions.
My experience of the Roman Catholic Church as a child was less about spirituality and more about social connection. As an adult, I found myself pushing against the confines of the doctrines, angry with the entrenched positions of some of the Church leaders. This made it difficult for me to embrace the goodness in the Roman Catholic Church. So I began to explore. I began with other Christian faith traditions. I worshipped for a time with an Episcopal congregation. The high Church rituals felt familiar and comforting, but the different understanding of the Eucharist left me feeling as though something was missing. The Lutheran Church near my home was lively and inviting, but I missed the incense and stained glass and other ritual objects. Although I met lovely people in each of these Christian settings, I found that, in a more "global" context, I was disappointed by the behavior of many “Christians” I met, and for several years, I chose to practice with a Buddhist sangha. Here, the use of ritual, incense, and meditation offered me a way to “be still and know.” This "time away" helped me to get quiet enough to hear the voice of Godde calling me home.
Juanita Cordero PhotoMy faith journey has gone full circle. In July 2018, I returned home to Hawai'i and this past February I celebrated my priestly ordination with Roman Catholic Women Priests (RCWP). As a priest serving in my Island home, I will continue to stand on the edge of inside of the church that I love, embracing the rituals, lifting my voice in song, worshipping and serving in community and encouraging the Church to grow into the expansive, inclusive, welcoming and accepting body that was exampled so well by Jesus.
I have come home to Hawai'i because for me, this is the place that physically represents Godde. The trade winds softly caress everything, a gentle reminder of the Breath of Godde that moves in, around, and through us. And the sea that surrounds Hawai'i on all sides serves as a constant reminder of birth and transformation; after Godde created Night and Day, Godde separated water from water, separating the water above from the water below (Gen: 1:6-7). The ocean, the embryo of Life, embraces my island home, a constant offering of blessing and baptism.
I have come home to the Roman Catholic Church as embodied by RCWP because this is the faith that is big enough to hold my growing understanding of the Holy. This is the faith that sanctifies my personal relationship with Godde as the foundation of my relationship with others and with all of Creation. This is the faith that turns why into what and encourages me to live into my own divinity.
Being comfortable with where I stand has allowed me to let go of the need to justify myself. This freedom has given me the opportunity to invite others into a space that is open and peaceful, where there is room to breathe, where primacy of conscience and honoring of that still small voice that rests within each of us is the light that guides us.
I believe in Godde, the Divine Breath, the Light and Love that is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega. I believe that Godde is in all people and all things and that this is what connects us to one another. I believe that Godde loves each of us, unconditionally; that the Divine sees us as the perfect, light beings created in Godde’s own image. I believe that Godde uses everything…everything for good. In a world filled with suffering, it is sometimes difficult to understand how a loving Godde could “allow” such misery. Some people attempt to explain it away by citing free will. Others believe that an evil and malevolent being is at war with Godde and that this being is causing the pain. I believe that this sort of duality, this need to separate good from evil, is a human condition that misses the mark. Godde made us perfect, not as in without blemish, but perfect as in whole; each of us, a unique amalgamation of light and dark. The challenge is to stop defining and separating, stop judging and expecting, and to live into the more perfect world into which Godde invites us as co-creaters with, in, and through Love.
As embodiments of Divine creation, each of us is loved. Godde even loves those with whom I feel I have reason to quarrel or those whom I feel have done me an injustice. My task, then, is to learn to see all of Godde’s creations through the eyes of the One who created us and to be a mirror of that Love so that all with whom I come into contact can see that perfection in themselves. This is either the hugest task I have ever undertaken…or the easiest and the one that most closely honors my true nature. Perhaps, it is both.
My current theological understanding includes aspects from each of the places I have visited on my faith journey. My prayer is to live with aloha (alo - "in the presence of"; ha - "breath"). When I am able to live from, with, and through aloha, I become aware of Divine Breath, the seed that animates all of Creation. This Love – for each other, for the planet, for all sentient beings, for the Divine – is the unifying factor in all faith traditions and is the element that I hold at the core of my belief system. I use a theology of acceptance to embody my understanding of living with and in Divine Spirit. In order for me to become that which I have been created to be, I have made a commitment to examining my own woundedness and cultivating my self awareness. My yoga practice has been invaluable in helping me to be present. It has helped me to experience the mind-body-soul connection. Daily contemplative prayer offers me the opportunity to be still and know Godde.
In the work that I do, I encounter a lot of people who understand themselves as “broken.” My challenge has been to reframe this image as one of strength. Henri Nouwen noticed that the pieces of a broken chalice are so much more able to capture the light than a cup which remains intact. When we are able to understand ourselves as broken open – like a seed – rather than broken apart – like Humpty Dumpty – we have a greater chance of using our challenges as opportunities for transformation rather than as reasons for despair.
And so I continue to travel down the road on which I am being led. I am not certain where it is leading, but I am certain that this road is exactly the right road for me. I am like the driver on a country road at night; the road is completely dark except for that little piece of road that my headlights illuminate, beyond that is darkness. Yet, I continue to drive down the road, confident that the road will continue to unfold in front of me, confident that the darkness will provide a firm foundation. As I live my faith and continue my travel home, I sing with Hafiz:
"God and I have become like two giant
fat people living in a tiny boat.
We keep bumping into each other and
[Puanani Lalakea, MDIV, BCC serves as Chaplain for Pacific Health Ministry at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children in Honolulu, HI. She was recently ordained a priest for RCWP-USA Western Region. This article was formerly published in a Women's Ordination Conference publication. It is published here with the permission of the author.]
Pearl Gregor invited me to write a review of her book I, the Woman, Planted the Tree: A Journey Through Dreams to the Feminine. She directed me to send it to you. Here it is.
“I would rather that you doubt than be blinded by your certainty,” writes Pearl, giving voice to an inner whisper. Indeed, the opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty! Pearl, with an attentive ‘ear’ nestled in her precious one syllable name, saunters skillfully along a path of dreams, reams of them, listening generously and radically with the ears of the heart, the ears of the mind, the ears of the body and above all, the mostly forgotten ears of the sub-conscious. I would describe “I, the Woman, Planted the Tree” as one arduous and ardent exercise in radical, generous and continued listening, gradually freeing aspects of her true self that have for long been held captive.
I learnt a long time ago, that what is not expressed is always depressed. Pearl digs deep with tearful patience, exploring caves and caverns, nooks and crannies of her inner geography, expressing what has been depressed.
In this painful, birthing process, laced with both anguish and hope, Pearl engages the process of dismantling the dangerous and abusive pedestal of unhealthy ancient patriarchy and the often insensitive, violent and toxic masculinity that have stunted her growth and stifled her spirit, making space for the maternal and the repressed feminine to re-emerge.
Ultimately, I, the Woman, Planted the Tree is the bold story of Pearl finding her voice, fearlessly "speaking with authority."
[Philip Chircop, SJ, Toronto, ON]
Franciscan Fr. Daniel P. Horan makes so many powerful points in this article [ncronline.com]. I am a former alumnus of Catholic Theological Union where Horan is presently on faculty. I respect his stated decision: "As someone who has made a conscious decision to remain in the church, I have been interested in the responses of my sisters and brothers who have made similar choices in the face of such tragic crises."
Personally, my choice is different. I respond to questions about my status with this reply: "I no longer identify as Catholic. I am a follower of Jesus." This is not a choice I have made lightly. It reflects a previous choice I made to seek dispensation from the priesthood and the religious community of which I was a member, the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
Under Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, I experienced a church which demanded loyalty to the pope as the main quality. I believe the canonization of John Paul II was a serious mistake. Celebrating Mass continually said to me, "Something is not working here."
I see so much resistance to Pope Francis' attempts to make the Catholic Church great again — particularly by U.S. bishops — that I found staying impossible. Presently I worship in an intentional community that is composed of people who take the social doctrines of the church seriously and are putting this doctrine into actions and practice.
[David Jackson, Edinburg, Texas]
When did priests start saying Mass and when did presbyters begin to be called priests?
Paul Bradshaw, praytellblog.com | March 27, 2019
It has traditionally been accepted that Ignatius of Antioch in the early second century was the first Christian writer to refer explicitly to a threefold order of bishops, presbyters, and deacons. But it is doubtful that Ignatius understood those terms to mean the same as they did to much later generations. A “bishop” is more likely to have been the leader of a small local congregation or individual house-church, rather than the chief minister over a whole city or larger area.
How else could the bishop have been the normal presider at the Eucharist and minister of baptism if he was responsible for more than one congregation? Ignatius says in his Letter to the Smyrneans, “Let that be deemed a valid Eucharist, which is (administered) either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it . . . It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to hold an agape’ (8.2). Seemingly, eucharistic presidency by others was an exception rather than the rule.
Stop calling me 'Father'!
Jean-Pierre Roche, international.la-croix.com | March 29, 2019
The practice of calling priests 'Father' can be unhealthy when it is the expression of an emotional dependence based on a false idea of obedience.
Is there space for women in the Church?
Columba Books staff, columbabooks.com | March 11, 2019
An enthusiastic crowd celebrated International Women’s Day, on Friday, March 8th, at a lively panel discussion on ‘Exploring Women’s Christianity’. During the event, the revised edition of theologian Mary T. Malone’s book The Elephant in the Church was launched.
The Elephant in the Church was originally published in 2014. This new edition includes a new foreword by former president Mary McAleese and a new interview introduction with Mary T. Malone, discussing how things have changed for women in the Church in the years following the first edition.
The panel of speakers included Mary T. Malone; Ursula Halligan, former political editor of TV3 and journalist in Residence at DCU; Dr Sharon Tighe-Mooney, researcher and author of What About Me? Women and the Catholic Church; and author and theologian, Angela Hanley.
Francis, the comic strip Francis Comic Strip ArchiveUsed with permission
by Pat Marrin | April 4, 2019
National Catholic Reporter
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