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April 1, 2019 ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Leading Benedictine nun in Germany calls for women priests

Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, international.la-croix.com | March 18, 2019

The leader of one of Germany's most important female religious communities has called into question the Catholic Church's exclusion of women from the ordained priesthood."It is surely only natural for women to be priests and I cannot understand the reasons given as to why not," said Sister Ruth Schönenberger, head of the Benedictine Priory of Tutzing, the Bavarian motherhouse of a worldwide missionary order."I am surprised that the presence of Christ has been reduced to the male sex," she said in a recent interview with katholisch.de.

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Cardinal Marx: Church must have serious debate on celibacy, role of women

Zita Ballinger Fletcher, Catholic News Service | March 15, 2019

The Catholic Church in Germany is at a point where serious debate — including on priestly celibacy and the role of women — and openness to doing things in a new way must be encouraged, said the president of the German bishops' conference.

"Shakeups demand special proceedings," Cardinal Reinhard Marx, conference president, said March 14 at the end of the bishops' spring meeting in Lingen.

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  • Leading Benedictine nun in Germany calls for women priests
  • Cardinal Marx: Church must have serious debate on celibacy, role of women
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RCWP Canada Bishop's Message

Mary Magdalene and the Path of Conscious Love

We have reached the half-way point in our Lenten journey. We are encouraged to live into the abundance of who we are meant to be. God's light shines on us and fosters the blooming of our love – gently calling forth the blooming of the rose of our hearts.

In the March 1st issue of The Review I talked a bit about the course on Mary Magdalene, led by Cynthia Bourgault, that I was taking. I find her teaching very rich in bringing Mary Magdalene into the heart of the spiritual journey. Although the course is completed, I chose to continue with study and prayer of the course material as my Lenten practice. I will try to share a little of what I am learning. Maybe you will be enticed to study her book, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity, which I reference in this reflection.

One of the important topics discussed is the identity of Mary Magdalene. Who is she? Is she a historical woman named Mary from the village of Magdala, as some believe? Or is she a literary character that carries several persona such as the woman who was cured of seven demons, the woman who anointed Jesus in Luke, or Mary of Bethany? Is the name Magdala an identifying handle in the same way as “Peter” was assigned to Simon – Magdal-eder, “the tower” as Peter, “the rock.” There are a lot of Marys in the Gospels. Are they all separate characters or are all the Marys in the Gospels really one Mary: aspects of one eternal feminine? (25)

Extensive and cautious study has led Bourgeault to conclude to an equality between Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene. Based on the premise that Mary of Bethany appears in Chapter 11 of John's Gospel then fades away, and Mary Magdalene comes forward in Ch.19, the transition occurs through following the Path of Conscious Love. (233ff)

There is a deep river of conscious love, characterized by unusual intensity, unusual reciprocity and the capacity for self-transcendence that has the potential to transform human passion to holy union (the description of Fifth Way Love), that flowed between Jesus and Mary that brought Mary to stand at the foot of the cross, remain in vigil at the tomb, and be the one to witness the resurrection. Following intertwining threads of kenosis, abundance and singleness, we come to see her essential place at the heart of Christianity. (54) Bourgeault spends considerable time exploring these threads as presented to us in the spiritual classic, The Cloud of Unknowing and the movie, Babette's Feast.

The Cloud of Unknowing describes contemplation: a level of consciousness, a whole way of viewing the world or non-dual consciousness. Embedded in this work is a ten-chapter section that explores Mary Magdalene as an icon of all sinners called to repentance, not because of her sinfulness – but “because she has loved much.” (Lk 7, Jn 21) So much of what we're conditioned to believe about love - and about ourselves - suggests that we’re too flawed, and that we can’t experience the intimacy we crave until we fix ourselves. We focus on our sinfulness that must be redeemed. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Authentic love begins with redefining the way we see ourselves – that we are abundantly loved from the beginning. Abundant love, poured out lavishly, generates even greater love in ever widening circles.

Contrasting the images in the Book of Job where Job sits on the dung heap in self pity (Ch. 2.8) with the ending where God gives him a tour of the universe and asks him to consider where he fits in the expanse of creation (Ch. 38), Bourgeault places Mary on the upper edge of awareness of her place in such consciousness. For Mary Magdalene being reconciled – reunited to the one she loves – is to enter the cloud, forgetting the demons that clung to her and allowing herself to go beyond the unknown to embrace a love that restores all to oneness. (MM course, session 7)

Love and relationship are a key part of the Jesus story. Jesus is God incarnate in a human person, knowing fully the human condition including the passion of desire. We can not take the creative capacity of desiring out of human experience. To disavow passion is to stop being human. Eros is the creative spark and the only true place to begin the journey of becoming fully human. Bourgeault maintains that this is an important point we keep muffling. Mandating celibacy is insisting people to stop being human in the core of their creativity, the place they are most like God. People are often frightened of their own desire and try to scape-goat it often blaming another, often a woman. (91)

If we allow for an open admission of love between Jesus and Mary Magdalene as a two way street of reciprocal exchange, Jesus and Mary Magdalene model the Path of Fifth Way Love by which eros is transformed into agape through kenosis. Both Jesus and Mary are real human beings who willingly surrender self-interest for that of the other and for the wider world. Together they are the incarnation of God’s yearning to unite the core energy of creation. “Their spiritual conjoined singleness would be a sacrament of wholeness.” (142)

The key issue in the Way of Conscious Love is the transformation, not repression of eros. We start with erotic love and then widen and transform the nature of passion into more inclusive love without possession or craving. The restless human heart desires to love and be loved. To experience the pure love of agape each person needs to go through the fire of self-emptying love (kenosis) - to die before we die. It is kenosis that transforms conscious eros into agape. Agape doesn’t mean to give up eros to a generalization. Agape is not free. Agape is an alchemical product; the passion of eros transformed by kenosis = agape. (121)

Artistic works of drama, song and poetry, can portray the dynamics of the how human love both expresses and becomes the vehicle of its eternal archetype when brought into alignment with divine love. In the course Bourgeault uses the movie, Babette's Feast, to visually and viscerally engage the senses to experience the power of generous self-giving love to transform individuals and communities. Interpreting Babette as Mary Magdalene we see the beginning point of transformation as recognition of and appreciation for Divine abundance. Babette, a flamboyant French woman with her exotic and eccentric ways comes into a decaying Danish village. She is a splash of red in a sea of grey – such a contrast to the “woe is me” mentality of the villagers. Building relationships one at a time, Babette draws the townspeople to see new possibilities for themselves in face of prevalent attitudes of repression, fear, and patriarchy. When she puts together the lavish feast of the finest of foods and wines from Paris they remain skeptical, much as the disciples were when Mary's lavish jar of anointing breaks open with a perfusion of grace. Where did the wealth come from for this? In the fragrance of the food and the oil, the generous self gift gives a new perspective to everything.

As dinner progresses, the gradual transformation from eros to agape is revealed with each course. The wine flowing through banquet gifts is the transforming power of eros to agape as the dinner guests reconnect with one another. In the end they go out into the starry night embracing each other around the fountain in the village square singing together of brotherhood and joy. At the fountain of life, love and peace meet, justice and peace kiss.(Ps.85) In the true liberation moment when eros turns into agape, desire moves through a person as a chalice. This is the heart of Christianity – abundant love, poured out lavishly, generates even greater love in ever widening circles. This is what we most desire – yet run away from.

The Paschal Mystery is this abundant love poured out freely generating even greater love. There is a “necessary suffering” evoked by agape. This is not suffering as atonement for the sins of humanity. Rather, it is entering into “the inner chamber of Love,” a love that willingly suffers for another, that gives without counting the cost. (151) Jesus didn't do this in isolation. He didn't die alone. The male disciples may have abandoned him, but the faithful female disciples stayed. The women hold the stream of conscious love flowing through the events of the passion. Even before the arrest and trial, Mary because of her deep love, anoints Jesus for his burial. On the way to Calvary, many women follow at a distance. Three Mary's stand at the foot of the cross. Mary Magdalene waits to see where they laid him and keeps vigil opposite the tomb. She and her companions return to the tomb again after the Sabbath to anoint the body. Jesus is held in love until he returns in risen form – initially unrecognized even by the one so close to him. (153)

In her book, Bourgeault explores the Sacred Text, The Song of Songs, as a portrayal of such love. Playing with the theme of presence and absence to express the intensity and reciprocity, the mutual longing of the couple escalates to the apex of the enclosed garden where they finally experience the transformation of the “lead of passion to the pure gold of union.” (223) Parallel to that experience we can place the Mary-Jesus relationship, where the garden of resurrection is the bridal chamber. Mary's longing for Jesus plays out in the vigil at the foot of the cross and at the tomb. Its resolution is at a higher level when Jesus comes to her on Easter morning transformed into the Risen Christ. Jesus says to Mary, “Do not cling to me. But go tell the brothers.” The sacramental “oneness” of the bridal chamber entails the necessary component of go – tell - serve. The apostolic commissioning is the consummation of her Fifth Way Love. “Love is as strong as death” is the Easter message Mary is sent to proclaim. (221-231)

Bourgeault maintains that “Mary Magdalene is archetypically linked to the qualities of forgiveness, tenderness and longing. When her name is invoked in a theological text, the theology moves into the ballpark of substituted love. Her human heart is an arrow straight to the mystery of substituted love and the heart of the Passion.” (159-60)

Mary Magdalene is our model of how we, too, might walk a path of conscious love in our own human relationships. Often we do not to appreciate the richness of the banquet of life we have because we live with our littleness, unaware of what has been given to us. We don't realize the cost to others of their self-gift – even when they give their life. There is magnanimity seen in it when the death is dramatic – as the crucifixion of Jesus or someone taking a bullet for another. Less so, is the role of the faithful companion like Mary, who is present through it all. Yet the ordinary, everyday self giving is where most of us live. Each act of conscious love for another builds the bridge (or maybe “tunnel” is a better word) from eros to agape. The ways we can give of ourselves in ordinary ways, in our every day lives are infinite! Small acts of conscious love, today. Conscious love, every day! Abundant love, poured out lavishly, generates even greater love in ever widening circles.

The institutional church has restored Mary Magdalene to her rightful place as “Apostle to the Apostles,” and we celebrate her feast on July 22nd. However, there is a much deeper dimension to her presence in Christianity that has yet to be recognized and honoured – she is the Beloved. Reflecting on the Canonical Gospels in light of the Wisdom Writings of the early church we get a better appreciation of the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Her story is that of the soul drawn into a sacred oneness – becoming the anthropos, feminine and the masculine made whole through the path of conscious love. She is who we are all called to be.

+ Jane

[Jane Kryzanowski, Regina, SK, is bishop for RCWP Canada]

Ireland's McAleese says days numbered for patriarchal Church

La Croix staff, international.la-croix.com | March 12, 2019
Outspoken former Irish president Mary McAleese believes the "game is almost up" for the Catholic Church and its patriarchal system of governance that subordinates women, hinting more women would leave.

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We must rethink, reflect, meditate, and go deep into the collective unconscious to heal the layers of ancient embedded beliefs

Pearl Gregor, Special to The Review | April 1, 2019

Recently, I found an article in RCWP Canada's The Review written by Commonweal Editor, Molly Winston O'Reilly, "Stop making victims of sexual assault into martyrs for virginity."

Unknown to me, buried in the personal and also the collective unconscious, I experienced Catholicism through the lens of the doctrine of purity, sin and the fatal flaw of being born a woman. Clinical depression manifested beginning with menstruation/teenage years until age 43. In 1988, after a lifetime of prayer, psychologists, psychiatrists and nightmares, I found I could ask for a dream.

I had a descent dream ... the result has been astonishing. Dreams led me through the incredibly deep work necessary to find the unfindable. In Jungian terms, the psychoidal dimension of the archetype. Miraculous healing. I only recently learned the vocabulary around that deeply trauma feminine soul injury. For, unknown to my parents, I had been sexually molested as a preverbal child. I was healed and now more theoretical knowledge arrives as I process a life. The intellect cannot access the unconscious. Ever. It requires depth and a journey deep within. I made that journey.

"I, the Woman, Planted the Tree: A Journey through Dreams to the Feminine" arises from my childhood and my midlife journey.

I write with deep gratitude to RCWP Canada's The Review. Many thanks to Commonweal Editor Molly Winston Malloy. Somehow changing the amazingly devastating and utterly erroneous belief in the essence of Woman as temptress, woman fatally flawed, the cause of the downfall of humanity, is the work of my life. The doctrines are WRONG. We must rethink, reflect, meditate, and go deep into the collective unconscious to heal the layers of ancient embedded beliefs.

I am seeking one companion on this journey who has delved deeply into Archetype of the Mother, Inanna Mythology, and much else! If you have not read Untie the Strong Woman by Clarissa Pinkola Estes or When Mary Becomes Cosmic: A Jungian and Mystical Path to the Divine Feminine by David Richo, may I suggest you run, not walk, to the nearest keyboard to order them. While you are there, please check out my book as well.

I recorded all my dreams, prayers and miracles; then in 2015, began writing. I spent hours and days in meditation to heal the fear of speaking through publishing. My story is now available to all. I stood up in December 2018. I broke the silence. Women must cast aside fear and speak. Speak up and speak out.

I was given the gift of Catholicism and its deep rich symbolism. I also drank the poison of the horrific depiction of Maria Goretti, sainted in 1951 for resisting sexual assault unto death to preserve her purity! I was six years old. I read the Wanderer. I even had a colouring book about her story. Somewhere during my healing journey, I realized I had as child misinterpreted deeply the real reason for her canonization. St. Maria came to her murderer in a dream with the gift of forgiveness. When he was released from prison, he had changed his life forever. A powerful healing tool as gift. Forgiveness is a gift freely given; it does NOT mean forgotten.

Malloy ends her article about martyrs and assault by saying, “It is warped, toxic, and totally at odds with everything else the church has taught me about love and relationships, and so, like many Catholic women, I’ve spent a lifetime shrugging it off.”

Shrugging no more. Now women must speak and speak loudly, like a bunch of Noisy Women! (to quote Bishop Jane and her colleagues)

Calling all. The Great All. Women and men of deeper understanding. Undertake your own inner healing and join your voices. Come together and heal this belief system which excludes half the planet and the Planet Herself!

Sometimes that speaking comes at deep price. Sometimes, it comes with even deeper healing.

[Pearl Gregor, New Sarepta, AB, is author of I, the Woman, Planted the Tree: A Journey through Dreams to the Feminine available through going directly to her website. You will also find some reviews on Amazon, on Goodreads and on both her website and Facebook page.



The words of the Mass do matter

Amy Morris-Young, ncronline.org | March 8, 2019

There are many moments in Mass where I can be counted on to cry. Thankfully for my very private husband — after 20 years together, he still cringes when I smooch him in public — I usually do not create a complete spectacle of myself. This is not loud embarrassing sobbing, but a hot sting of sudden tears that compels me to put my hands over my face, in reaction to certain words and music, time after time.

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Shrinking congregations and rising maintenance costs force old churches to be closed, sold or repurposed

Bonnie Allen, cbc.ca | March 10, 2019

Shrinking congregations and rising maintenance costs force old churches to be closed, sold or repurposed

A national charity that works to save old buildings estimates that 9,000 religious spaces in Canada will be lost in the next decade, roughly a third of all faith-owned buildings in the country.

It's not just beautiful, historic buildings that will be lost, but also the sense of community provided by worship spaces. Churches have not just been for Sunday, but for Girl Guides and political meetings, weddings and funerals, piano lessons and programs for the homeless.

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Early Christian Female and Male Co-Priests

Ally Kateusz, academia.edu | April 1, 2019

This essay is part 2 in a series about the early tradition that Mary, the Jewish mother of Jesus, was a priest. Part 1, “Collyridian Déjà Vu: The Trajectory of Redaction of the Markers of Mary’s Liturgical Leadership,” appeared in the fall 2013 Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and was that year’s Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholar Award First-Place Winner.

The current essay (part 2) illuminates an early tradition in the Life of the Virgin that the women disciples were at the Last Supper, and that both Mary and her son sacrificed as priests at the meal.

Consistent with this Eucharistic model, early Christian authors in both East and West described a gender parallel co-priesthood. Confirming this co-priesthood was orthodox, the two oldest artifacts to illustrate people inside real churches depicted liturgical scenes with women and men in parallel flanking the altar—in the second Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and Old Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Read complete part 1 of the essay (19 pages)
Read complete part 2 of the essay (24 pages)


Clerical identity crisis: Flock and pasture can't tell shepherd who he is

Mark Slatter, ncronline.org | March 11, 2019

One of the more memorable public lectures I attended was offered by the then-dean of the faculty of spirituality at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University. He admitted before the crowd that after decades of spiritual direction with countless priests and religious he'd come to the conclusion that their overriding problem is that "they don't know who they are."
But we would be mistaken to think of this as a "church issue" only. Aristotle wrote in The Nicomachean Ethics that "people seem to seek honor in order to convince themselves of their own goodness." This need for external validation taps into a perennial human tendency and goes under dozens of terms and gradations of need: respect, deference, popularity, prestige, fame and the clandestinely solicitous "Have you heard of me?" It's found in motorcycle clubs and football teams, academic societies and the music industry, prisons and religious hierarchies.

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Women's authority can help heal our church's broken governance

Christine Schenk, ncronline.org | March 15, 2019

I suppose Women's History Month is a good time to weigh in on current discussions and disagreements about women deacons and women priests in the Catholic Church.

In some ways, it seems a fluffy conversation in light of recent revelations about our grievously wounded clerical system.

But perhaps that is exactly why we need to have this discussion.

Is Catholic governance fatally crippled by our failure to address/accept human sexuality and/or unhealthy shame over one's God-given gender or sexual orientation?

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Women have been robbed of religious heritage

Ursula Halligan, irishtimes.com | March 19, 2019

If, as Pope Francis said recently, every feminist is “machismo with a skirt” then I’m off to buy myself a new wardrobe.

I couldn’t bear anyone questioning my feminist credentials.

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Les femmes ne sont pas des fraises

Susan Roll, femmes-ministeres.org | le 4 mai 2015

Depuis le commencement du pontificat du pape François, il y a eu de nombreux signes d’espoir pour les femmes, surtout pour les femmes catholiques qui sont engagées dans l’Église et qui demandent à être considérées comme des personnes humaines et des agentes de leur propre identité.

Le Jeudi saint 2013, nous avons vu François laver les pieds des femmes, même si la règle dit qu’on ne doit laver les pieds que des viri, ce qui veut dire, des êtres masculins.

François a répété régulièrement qu’il voudrait embaucher encore plus de femmes au Vatican, dans des fonctions qui ne demandent pas l’ordination. À ce moment-ci, les femmes occupent 4% des fonctions de leadership de haut niveau dans les secrétariats, les congrégations et les conseils pontificaux du Vatican.

En mars 2015, le Conseil pontifical de la culture a discuté d’égalité et de différences dans les cultures des femmes d’aujourd’hui à partir d’un texte préparé par un petit comité de consultantes. Le 8 mars, un colloque de femmes « Voices of Faith [Voix de foi] » a eu lieu à l’intérieur des murs du Vatican.

La semaine dernière, nous avons reçu la bonne nouvelle que l’enquête sur des religieuses américaines par la Congrégation des religieux du Vatican est terminée. François lui-même apparaît dans une photographie, assis à la table avec les leaders du Leadership Conference of Women Religious [Conférence du leadership de la vie religieuse féminine] [LCWR] des États-Unis .

Mais je dois dire honnêtement que tout ça me fait penser au titre d’un roman de Richard Fariña Been Down So Long, It Looks Like Up To Me (1966), titre qui peut être traduit ainsi : « J’ai été en panne si longtemps, que ça me semble des progrès. »

Ceci veut dire que même des progrès tout à fait microscopiques ressemblent à de grandes étapes alors que, d’aussi longtemps que nous pouvons nous en souvenir, nous n’avons eu presque aucune reconnaissance de notre dignité et de notre égalité.

Récemment, François a caractérisé la théorie du genre comme la négation des différences entre les femmes et les hommes. Pour lui, cela fait partie « du problème et non de la solution. » C’est clair que, pour lui, la « femme » fonctionne comme un absolu et le mot « femme » représente une catégorie juridique plutôt qu’une gamme d’identités corporelles ou psychologiques; des identités aussi riches et aussi diverses que les individus eux-mêmes.

À mon avis, nous ne verrons aucun progrès réel et sérieux avant de déconstruire le dualisme qui reste à la base de tout discours officiel concernant le rapport homme-femme et, en plus, de démythologiser la catégorie « femme ». Ça exigerait un discours dirigé par des femmes qui parlent avec autorité. Mettre l’accent sur les « voix » des femmes dans l’Église ou promouvoir un élargissement des « rôles » joués par des femmes dans l’Église ne suffit pas face à la demande éthique liée à la dignité donnée aux femmes chrétiennes par leur baptême. L’un est une question de pratique, l’autre une question d’être.

Pour conclure, laissez-moi parler non plus comme une blogueuse invitée, mais comme une théologienne. François a dit, probablement avec un sourire et assez de bonne volonté, que l’Église catholique a besoin d’une théologie de la femme et que les théologiennes catholiques sont « les fraises sur le gâteau » de la théologie aujourd’hui. Avec tout mon respect, Monsieur, non, nous ne sommes pas des fraises. Nous sommes le gâteau. Pas exclusivement, mais inclusivement. Pas moins que nos collègues et frères théologiens. Nous faisons la théologie parfois, ou souvent, autrement – et personne ne connaît encore le résultat final. Nous faisons la théologie qui prend des formes diverses selon des expériences de vie que nos frères ne peuvent pas imaginer. Et nous faisons la théologie poussées par un espoir quasi eschatologique d’un avenir où même « les femmes » parlent avec autorité, dans, pour, et au nom de notre propre Église.

[A propos Susan Roll: Détentrice d'un Ph.D. en théologie de l'Université catholique de Louvain, Susan Roll est professeure agrégée à la faculté de théologie et directrice du Centre femmes et traditions chrétiennes de l'Université Saint-Paul (Ottawa). Ses champs de recherche sont la liturgie, la théologie sacramentaire et la théologie féministe. Elle est l'auteure de nombreux articles concernant ces questions.

Pauline Jacob, au nom de l’équipe du site Femmes et Ministères:  Vous pouvez publier l’article de Susan Roll « Les femmes ne sont pas des fraises » du site F et M en autant que vous ajoutez qu’il est publié avec l’autorisation de Femmes et Ministères et que vous mettez le lien avec notre site: 

Editors Note:  Please click here for an English translation of the above article made by Google Translate.

Francis, the comic strip                                                                                           Francis Comic Strip Archive                
by Pat Marrin | November, 2015
National Catholic Reporter
Used with permission
To send a Comment to the Editor, please use this email address:  rcwpcanada@outlook.com

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