Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Reader Janny Comments on Women Wanting to be Ordained as Priests #Catholic

This is one of the best comments I've had on this topic. Janny, I couldn't agree with you more. You absolutely nailed some of the most popular reasons a woman wants to be ordained as a priest. Thank you for highlighting the true calling of a priest. Excellent words!

I'd like to add this: We, the Church, are called the Body of Christ, and also the Bride of Christ. As Christ laid down His life for the Church, so His priests lay down their lives for her also. Without that intent, serving can shift into just another job or a huge ego boost. Within intimacy, the man is the initiator and the woman, receives him. This is echoed in the relationship God has with the world. He initiated contact. He initiated salvation. He initiated a relationship by first giving us His Holy Spirit. We, in turn, receive in joyful gladness.

This may be another reason why I don't agree with women as senior pastors of a church. They were not given the role of initiator, but as one who receives. The Blessed Mother Mary did not approach God, asking for Him to choose her. God approached her and initiated the divine conception.

Janny's comment:

Years ago, I wrote a letter to the editor of my diocesan paper addressing something that no doubt had appeared in its pages at the time (I don't remember now!)...but its crux was about women and the priesthood. In the letter, I simply mentioned that out of all the women I'd ever heard talk about ordination, all the women who chafed at being "only" women within the Church, not ONE of them ever said, "I want to be a priest because I feel called to lay down my life in sacrificial service, just as Christ did." They said, "I want to be a priest because it's only right and fair that the power of the Church be shared among men and women equally."

So this was their noble "calling": not one of sacrifice but one in which they could grab a share of power, authority, and visibility. It was about "privilege" (as in, you have privileges I want and I'M ENTITLED TO THEM!). Sometimes, it was about anger ("I'm sick and tired of stupid, patriarchal priests lording it over us women when we do all the work.")

But it was never, EVER about sacrifice. It was never, EVER about giving. It was about taking, and seizing power, and Changing the Church to Recognize Reality.

To this day, even among women I know who honestly (if misguidedly) feel "called" to the priesthood and are heartbroken because that big nasty male-dominated Roman teaching authority Just Doesn't Understand Their Gift...at the end of the day, it's STILL not about sacrifice. It's about what "I" feel called to do, what "I" want, what role "I" desperately want to fulfill in the Church, and the role GOD IS CALLING ME TO DO--it MUST be, because I want it so badly!

Whereas with all the holy, truly good male priests I talk to, and hear from...you can't go a sentence into a conversation with most of them before you hear the "S" word. They refer to their calling as a gift, not as their due, not as something they've earned, and not as something they're somehow "owed" by God. And they don't say the word "sacrifice" as if it's something I'M supposed to do, and they're NOT. They say the word as if it's something we're ALL called to do, together...and something that, by its nature, is difficult at times. If it weren't, it wouldn't be a sacrifice in the first place. :-)

But then again, if salvation were easy...God's Son wouldn't have had to die a criminal's death to procure it for us, either. Of course, maybe God should have sent a daughter to die instead--and then the whole equation would make more sense to these people? One can only wonder.

Obedience is much simpler. Easy? Maybe not always. But simpler? And more blessed? Yes, and yes.


kkollwitz said...

That is a fine observation. I will remember it.

In my Sunday School class, as part of discussing the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, the kids sort out that the Lamb, i.e. Jesus, marries something feminine, the Church. So the priest, one who imitates Christ, an alter Christus, spiritually marries a feminine Church and naturally, only a man can do that.

Likewise a nun, being a woman, is spritually betrothed to Jesus, a aman.

They figure it out on their own pretty well.

Janny said...

Wow! I never expected this! Thanks, Mary Rose, for appreciating what I had to say so much. Your readers all understand the nature of real priesthood, I suspect, and I think too often, those of us who do--and the priests we admire so much--are lost in the shuffle as "blindly obedient" to something that, to so many, doesn't make sense.

I keep thinking of the Scripture that says, "Son though He was, (Jesus) learned obedience..."

If He could "learn" obedience in the flesh, then surely the best thing we can do to imitate Him is to try to learn and practice it, too.

Thanks again for the kind words! This made my day. :-)


Mary Rose said...

Janny, I am glad it made your day! I can't tell you how much it means to me when women comment on this topic. I know I am swimming against the stream, so to speak, in our culture. Even many Catholic women who are devout and love the Lord believe that this is just being "fair" or an eventuality.

I believe that if anyone can somehow start a thoughtful dialogue on this topic - apart from our wonderful Pope, it will be women. Any woman who feels it's her "right" to be able to be ordained will just get more angry if a man says no. We as women have a beautiful opportunity to perhaps reframe the debate. Just more thinking... :-)

kkollwitz said...

My daughters are pretty quick to explain why the both the priesthood, and by extension serving at the altar, are reseved for men. They understand it- and support it.

X said...

I wish posts and blogs like this had been around back in my younger days when I wanted to be a priest. In my mind being a priest was more about being a social worker and the power of confecting the Eucharist. It was never about sacrifice. That wasn't even a word used back in 1986 when I made my First Communion at age 21.