Each week at University we had to keep a Theological Reflective Journal – This reflection is from my final weekly log.
|Week ending||22nd May 2012 Formal Vocations for Women in the Parish|
|What is the pastoral situation that you are reflecting on?(Briefly outline the context, who was involved and what happened?)
Today I am reflecting upon the lack of formal vocations for women within parish life. If a woman at present is called to exercise a deeper vocation in loyalty to her Catholic Faith, there is no official formal vocational route within the parish, unless that women either leaves her parish to join an order, becomes a consecrated individual with no vocational structure, or becomes a member of a lay fraternity, else a member of a third order. Permanent deacons are allowed and supported by their diocese to formally practice their vocation without leaving their family home, but still are privileged to have a formal pathway down which to travel, supported by their deacon brotherhood, the diocese, and the bishop. They have a formal training and a formal role in which to exercise their deacon ministry, in order to serve others, serve the church, and fulfil their spiritual and practical calling. It is a wonderful presence to witness this vocation, which is a visible physical and spiritual bridge between the secular world and the spiritual world, and one that our young men can be affirmed by, and aspire to. Women need the same affirmations and aspirations. Women bring a different ministry to the church, which at present has not yet been fully realised. If we are to really transmit the Catholic faith to so many families beyond today, we absolutely need to embrace women with a new Charism, and new formal vocation as I have been writing about on my blog for the past couple of years. I do not feel the need for there to be women priests, the ministry of a priest is not translatable between genders. Mothers are different from fathers, but no less. Just as the first woman was inseminated by a male seed, and so gave birth to the whole of mankind, just as the Virgin Mary was inseminated by God, and so gave birth to God, so did Mary Magdalene give birth to The Good News; the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and so is a woman’s role already written by God.
|What issues / concerns / opportunities / questions did this situation raise for you?
I have prayed about this deeply for a long time now. I have written to people suggesting my ideas and often have been humoured (in a kind way) and listened too and then gently dismissed (always with kindness). I wrote a letter to Pope Benedict 3 years ago and received a kind reply, but no advance, so I took to educating myself a little by studying at Heythrop. I wrote to the Arch Bishop who kindly personally wrote back to me, but to date there has been no formal redress of the situation. So I took it upon myself to pray, and read the Gospels in great detail, and then I recorded all of my thoughts, my imaginings, and my dreams, and the answers that I have received in contemplation and prayer enabled me to write a Charism to live by, and so now I have decided to live by this new Charism. The Charism that came to me is called ‘The Way of Love’.
The biggest issue for me is the pure frustration of trying to get someone to take me seriously. A working class aging mother and recent convert is not a seemingly usual else acceptable candidate for a formal vocation. I am not a theologian and so my lack of intellectual academic theology behind my ideas means that I am seldom taken seriously. But Jesus called fishermen, not intellectuals. My concerns are absolutely for the future of the Catholic Faith (which my children and grandchildren will inherit) and especially for the future that Jesus Christ envisioned, that He put the foundations in place for. His Church was one of shared Love, one that upheld the inter-dependence of males and females in different ministries, but very much in companionship and working together as One, despite the social norms of His day. A church where male and female complemented each other, to make one wholesome balanced Kingdom for the Love service and salvation of All.
|Were there any aspects of the situation or this reflection process that surprised you?What conclusions can you draw from your experience in this pastoral situation?
Two/three years on from where this part of my journey began, and we have a new pope. A pope who is embracing poverty and embracing the Love that such poverty demands. To watch this unfurling before me has been amazing. I am absolutely sure that he will embrace and address in his Love, the poverty of women, who have been excluded formerly from a deeper vocational life within the parish, within the Catholic Church, and I am sure that he will re-define women’s spiritual vocational integrity and unity, by re-uniting women by Charism to the Catholic Church, which ever their vocation.
This Charism has to be so absolutely carefully thought out and rightfully formalised. I am concerned that should any formal document have the wrong focus, the wrong message, and the wrong aspirational role-model heading it, or if it is a document drawn up solely by the male Roman Curia, that it will not inspire women, or be embraced by women who need motivating by re-imagining the pathway from a secular world to a faithful one. Mary Magdalene being the closest beloved of Jesus has to be the head of this Charism for women – if the women of todays world are to embrace, pass on and rekindle the Love of the Catholic Tradition, and be the bearer of the good news, and bring other women (thus whole nations) to faith, it has to be headed by Mary Magdalene.
Mary Magdalene has so very much to teach us about Love, first-hand. If all women could Love as she Loved, Jesus’ vision would be being lived the world over today. Mother Mary is our Mother, full of Love and compassion and cares for our welfare, but it is our sister Mary Magdalene that holds the contemporary mind and has the sacred power to lead the secular world back to a deeper spiritual life and to become beloveds of Christ. Whilst Jesus’s mother is our Mother too, it is Mary Magdalene that was the person whom was entrusted by the Lord, with the special ministry of delivering His Love to others. It is thanks to her example of perfected Love, devotion, action, and contemplation at the foot of the Lord, which today holds the imagination of contemporary women, and the contemporary world. She knows first hand the mercy, salvation and Love of the Lord. She Loved Him with her whole heart, her whole soul, her whole mind, and all her strength despite the tribulations of her time. We would all do well to Love the Lord and each other in the same way as Mary Magdalene does, just like in the two greatest commandments, as Jesus demands of us.
Mary Magdalene having seven demons cast out of her in no way points to any sin or fault, but to her perfected Love. The number seven in the bible represents God’s perfected work, if there is no darkness there is only light. What a powerful role model for the transformation of the women of the world today.
|What were the three most important things you took away from this situation and how has what you are learning influenced how you dealt with the situation?
|Which scripture passage would you say could be relevant to this situation?Further additional comments may be included here
Romans 16: 1-27
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. …
I choose this scripture because it supports women’s ministry and vocation in the early church.
Jesus’ two great commandments that contain the whole law of God are
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength; and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mark 12:30-31 and Matthew 22:37-40
I choose this scripture because Mary Magdalene lives her life this way. This is what the Charism stems from.
As is 2 John 1:6
His command is that you walk in Love.
There are only two direct descriptions of God in the Gospels.
1 John 4:8
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is Love.
God is Spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and truth.
The Way of Love Charism is based upon this scripture along with 1 Corinthians 13 instruction on Love.