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A Feminist theology through experienced reflection.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sister X files

"What I sense today is that the Vatican will not budge in how it thinks theologically about what it means to be a woman, nor will it consider opening positions of real ecclesial authority to women.  There is simply no getting away from the fact that in the Catholic Church it is men who tell women how they should understand themselves as women. Rome wants women religious to accept understandings not merely without dissent, but without comment.  The Vatican doesn't want independent-minded [self-defining] women theologians or biblical scholars, and seemingly won't read or quote them unless women mimic the Vatican's -- and that means men's -- voice and views.  But we are not 'men' or 'mankind.'  We are persons with minds and hearts and voices, who have lived lives of integrity and loyalty, and who remain loyal to the church, even when it treats us as second-class citizens and make us beg for financial support in our old age." -- Sister X, 10/21/09, Cross Examination, Commonweal Magazine, 2/26/10

When I began my journey back to the Church after having been away for almost twenty years, I joined my parish's choir because the music in the liturgy spoke to me.  I also saw many women doing the things that were forbidden to women when I left.  Vatican II brought many positive changes to the parish level of worship.  I, then joined our Landings group, which helped Catholics return to the Church within a community of like-minded support.  My journey for more knowledge led me to the Vatican website so I could read the actual documents such as Lumen Gentium, Gaudiem et Spes, Deus Caritas est, etc.  It opened up a whole world of marvelous theological thinking that I had never been exposed to growing up in the church.  I devoured everything I could.  I felt closer to God and Christ than ever before.  My pastor, a very holy man, indeed, empowered me in ways that allowed me to find my own voice for the first time.  His loving support helped me become a better communicator and transformed me with more confidence than ever before.

I was finding my voice musically as well.  When I joined the choir, I could not read  a  single note of music, but little by little and by sheer force of will and love of the beautiful music we were singing, I have learned how to read music; my singing voice has developed and when I am in the pews, I get remarks about it.  In fact, early one Sunday a women near me who I saw looking nervous and a little sad complimented me and said my singing made her day.  Yes, even song can have a healing balm.

I signed up for free introductory classes given by another truly spiritually beautiful priest, and for 2 years I learned the basics of our theological science.

Perhaps my days of 'feel' good grace are gone and I wonder if I will ever retrieve them again.  I pray I will as God is good and grace oftentimes is not easy.  We women know that to be true.  Living in the patriarchal construct of dualistic thinking world is difficult.  Women in the Catholic Church have been maligned and treated poorly with psychological abuse in the defining nature of the male hierarchy.  When do men have the right to define who, what and how a woman should be?  The word is NEVER!!!  Defining another person about what they should think and how they should act is verbal abuse according to Patricia Evans who has written several books about Verbal abuse.  Indeed, she says,"Any statement that tells you what, who or how you are, or what you think, feel or want, is defining you and is, therefore, abusive.  Such statements suggest an invasion of your very being, as if to say, 'I've looked within you and now I'll tell you what you want, feel, etc.'" P. 6, The Verbally Abusive Man, Can He Change?, Patricia Evans, Adams Media, 2006, ISBN: 978-1593376536  What she says is that no one can define us; everyone defines themselves and who, what, how they are and what they think.  To think otherwise is arrogant hubris.
"Women’s economic empowerment is essential for the economic development of the family and of society. Access to land and property, credit facilities and equal opportunities for financial services for women will help ensure their economic stability. In this process, the whole household and community must support their entrepreneurship. The ethical dimension of their development and economic empowerment as well as their service to the family must not be overlooked.
Tragically, violence against women, especially in the home and work place, and discrimination in the professional field, even on the pay and pension scale, are growing concerns. Through adequate legal frame-works and national policies, perpetrators of violence must be brought to justice and women must be afforded rehabilitation. Women and girls must be guaranteed their full enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights including equal access to education and health." July 1, 2010, NYC, STATEMENT OF THE HOLY SEE DELEGATION TO THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL
I found this statement on the Vatican website.  I beg to wonder what it means when the Vatican states, "Women and girls must be guaranteed their full enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights including equal access to education and health."?  How can they say this and not allow women 'full' participation in the Church?  The Vatican needs to put its action where its writing is. However, these written statements 'about' women, define them and, therefore, abusive because the words are not coming from women, but from men.  How can these men know what we think, feel, want, indeed, ARE as human beings when they are not us?  They are men; their hubris in thinking that the idea of Imago Dei extends to telling women who we are silences us and keeps us oppressed.  Where is equal access to education and health when nuns do not have either and those women who serve the church in every ministry are seldom paid and volunteer that is almost a full-time job!!  In pursuing my education, I have taken out student loans and paid for my classes myself; other women have done the same.  Priests in seminary get EVERYTHING paid for -- WHY?

I, for one, cannot with a good conscience support a church that defines me.  I am from now on giving my support to nuns and nun groups like the LWRC: Leadership Conference of Women Religious, 8808 Cameron Street -- Silver Spring, Maryland 20910,
Phone: 301-588-4955
Fax: 301-587-4575

and to nuns like Joan Chittester, OSB:
Joan Chittister is an internationally known writer and lecturer and the executive director of Benetvision, a resource and research center for contemporary spirituality.She currently serves as co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, a partner organization of the UN, facilitating a worldwide network of women peace builders, particularly in Israel and Palestine. She was an advisor for the groundbreaking report, A Woman’s Nation, led by Maria Shriver (2009) and was a member of the TED prize-sponsored Council of Sages, an interfaith group that developed a Charter for Compassion (2009) being promulgated worldwide with all faith organizations. She was a keynote speaker at the Asia-Pacific Breakthrough: Women, Faith and Development Summit to End Global Poverty as well as the Parliament of World Religions in Melbourne, Australia last December. She wrote the book Beyond Beijing: the next step for women, after attending the Fourth UN Conference of Women in Beijing (1995) and the book: Heart of Flesh: a feminist spirituality for men and women.
Below is a list of the edicts that the LCWR has written and reflected about on Social Justice issues, these women need our support, please help change the church and give to our nuns who have generously educated us and taken care of us as most male priest have not (yes, there are exceptions):
Resolutions to Action (RTA) is a periodic two-page resource on a current justice issue, distributed electronically by LCWR. Written by the LCWR Global Concerns Committee, this publication provides theological reflection, social analysis and suggested actions.

August 2010 -Legalized Homicide: Death Penalty 2010
May 2010 -Reducing and Offsetting Our Carbon Footprint
February 2010 -'ILLth': Uneconomic Growth
October 2009-Choosing Simplicity in a Context of Deep Time (Part 2)
July 2009-Choosing Simplicity in a Context of Deep Time (Part 1)
April 2009-Earth's Call: Reduce Our Footprint
January 2009-Climate Change and Hunger
October 2008-Clean Energy — A Tricky Business with Possibilities
July 2008-Cherish Earth's Wetlands
March 2008-US Impact on Global Economic Justice: Through the Lens of Catholic Social Teaching
January 2008-2008 Elections: From ‘YOYO’ to ‘WITT’ Economics
October 2007-Climate Change Puts Earth at Risk
July 2007-Sabbath Year: The Opportunity and The Call
April 2007-Inter-Religious Dialogue for Peace
February 2007-Torture
November 2006-Development and Migration: Empowerment of Women on the Move
July 2006-Immigration: Welcoming the Stranger Today
April 2006-Death Penalty
January 2006-Racism
October 2005-Debt Crisis and Relief
June 2005-Privatization of Water
April 2005-Gospel Nonviolence in a Violent World
February 2005-Millennium Development Goals: The Promise of a Better World
December 2004-Incorporating the Principles of the Earth Charter into Your Justice Agenda
June 2004 -Wal-Mart: Our Concerns and Response
March 2004-Striving for Fair Trade: Opposition to Unjust Trade Agreements
January 2004-Reverencing the Earth
October 2003-Trafficking of Women and Children
July 2003-World Bank Bonds Boycott
March 2003-Power: Inside and Outside
November 2002-Creating a Culture of Nonviolence
October 2002-Welcoming the Stranger: Immigration
April 2002-Impact of Military Budget on Social Services
January 2002-Nudging One Another into New Ways of Seeing
October 2001-Working for Peace: The Global Nonviolent Peace Force Project
August 2001-Faith in Practice: Welfare Reauthorization
July 2001-Locating Ourselves at the Edges of Life: Maquiladoras
More later, enjoy, be in grace, and take action.
Heart of Venus, your Anima Dei

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Assumption of Mary

So this is my first blog.  I am a theology student.  I am researching and questioning the patriarchal structure of our society and of the big three religions--Judaism, Chrsitianity and Islam.  I know there will be many people who will not be aware at all of what I am talking about, but that's OK.  Part of this exercise isto bring us into deeper understanding of the other and of ourselves.

Today is the Feast of the Assumption, of Mary, of the Theotokos.  She was bodily taken to heaven as Christ was at the Resurrection; she is co-equal in this respect and sits also at the right hand as Christ does.  She is crowned, she is royalty, of the royal priesthood.  In the Dormition, Christ holds her soul as a baby just as Mary held the physical body of the baby in our world.  They are co-equal.  Goddess and God together.  Why is our world not equal?

Even in the readings this week, Rev.12:1-6a, states in the footnotes: 'This corresponds to a widespread myth throughout the ancient world that a Goddess pregnant with a savior was pursued by a horrible monster, by miraculous intervention, she bore a son who killed the monster.'(p.1238, new American Bible)  Why is this not mentioned in homilies. The history of the Goddess precluded the Bible, precluded Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Women ruled the temples.  The Temple Mount rose out of the Goddess Temples.  Matrilineal kinship was how the pre-historic world was ruled; then came the Northern tribes and males gradually overtook the temples and rewrote history for their own benefit.  I state now that it is time to rewrite the last 3000 years to the benefit of both genders, for the sake of gender equality.  We cannot be afraid.  Christ taught us that. Women have not been afraid of childbirth.

Women in childbirth are in a weakened state and not able to physically fight.   What happened in the temples that the males took over and the temples disappeared?  Where is this missing piece of history?  How did this imbalance turn from a matrilineal society to one of patriarchy?

In I Cor.15:20-27, Paul states how things come through the man. How could that be? That is only half the equation, the other half comes through the woman.  Indeed, then the New Testament is only half the story.  When will the other half be written or retrieved from the goddess stories of the pre-bible?  Do men feel inferior that they do not bare children?  Do they feel powerless in view of this mystery of life growing in a woman?  Even though as Fr. John Foley reminds us that we are all a product equally of the conjoining for  a man and woman in true union?  We are all the union of half female and half male; so just because I am embodied in a female physical body; that the patriarchal structure of our world claims that I am 'less' than male?  I hardly believe this to be so; especially if I am also a product of half a man's genes and half a woman's genes.  Scientifically, we are equal; so why are we not so in the religious world which should be the first place that things should be full of understanding, knowledge and compassion for all. So much of all of this points to the fact that we are all equal; the balance is an even playing field.

It's late.  Reflect on this and I'll be back later.