Monday, September 27, 2010

One Spirit--One Call; One Hot Mess

I am constantly surprised at how wrong some people seem to get it--people who claim to love their Church, and cite their adoration as a good reason to dissent. Such was the case as I read an article my husband found at and forwarded to me this past weekend, titled 'We've had enough': Portland Catholic women to skip Sunday morning Mass over treatment of women. As a Catholic woman, I'm a little bit annoyed with One Spirit--One Call, a quasi-Catholic organization that continues to push for, among other things, the ordination of women.

It's imperitive to get a single point straight--a point that has been evading Catholics since the Second Vatican Council, not to mention the secularists who continually jump on bandwagons like One Spirit--One Call in the name of equal rights and justice: Catholicism was not founded by 12 men, but by God Incarnate, the Word made flesh. Christ Himself established the priesthood among men, to be obedient to HIS commands and to serve on HIS behalf.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination."The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ's return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.

No one has a right to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. Indeed no one claims this office for himself; he is called to it by God. Anyone who thinks he recognizes the signs of God's call to the ordained ministry must humbly submit his desire to the authority of the Church, who has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive orders. Like every grace this sacrament can be received only as an unmerited gift. (CCC 1577-78, emphasis mine)

The Priest's entire purpose is to teach, minister and govern on behalf of CHRIST, so that His people may be sanctified and lead to Heaven.

What we as creatures want in this world according to the conventions of this age (or any other age, for that matter) is irrelevant, because the Church is not about this world, but about eternity.

When this point is not understood, it all rolls downhill.

Here are some more specific observations from the article.

"This is not a boycott of the Eucharist...It's an opportunity for women to tell their stories, for our voices to be heard."

Actually, since it's during Mass that we encounter Christ in the Eucharist, a boycott of the Mass is by default a boycott of the Eucharist, "the source and summit of the Christian life" the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all (CCC 1324, 26)." What, exactly, about your stories will sanctify the faithful better than this? What could you possibly say that will make up for discouraging people from this encounter, thereby jeopardizing their eternity? not help determine policy within the Catholic Church...

Neither do men. CHRIST HIMSELF set the policy of the Church. Catholicism is APOSTOLIC, which means the eternal truth is handed down through all ages unchanged. Church teaching is discovered and defined eternally, not debated and determined according to the current age, or any age for that matter.

[Women] are not allowed to serve as deacons, even though they may be as educated and as experienced as many priests.

The deaconate is not a matter of education or experience, therefore the argument is irrelevant.

Women fill a number of secondary roles in parishes...completing many pastoral duties but they are not allowed to preach publicly.

Would you also use this kind of logic to argue that the school janitor should be allowed to teach math class? Again, one has nothing to do with the other, so this is a pointless argument.

The crux of it is injustice and inequality.

Equality means regarded the same despite our being different. Women and men are different, but still equal. When a woman attempts to usurp roles reserved for men, are they a), behaving in a manner that celebrates equality, or b), putting themselves up in a role higher than men? I'll give you a hint: the correct answer is b.

Women are discounted. The hierarchy continuously passes over women.

...yet the Catholic Church is the ONLY Christian tradition that recognizes a WOMAN as the greatest of all humanity, calling Mary, the Mother of God, QUEEN OF HEAVEN.  And what of St. Therese of Lisieux?  St. Teresa of Avila? St. Catherine of Siena? Katherine Drexel? Edith Stein? Mother Theresa? Mary Magdelene? Monica? Joan of Arc? and the thousands and thousands of women who are elevated to sainthood? 

I think what disturbed me the most about this article were the statements provided by the clergy: job is one that tries to promote the unity of the church, to encourage the church in our evangelization.

Actually, Archbishop John G. Vlazny, your job is to teach the faith, administer the sacraments and uphold Canon Law. From the Catechism:

"Bishops, with priests as co-workers, have as their first task "to preach the Gospel of God to all men," in keeping with the Lord's command. They are "heralds of faith, who draw new disciples to Christ; they are authentic teachers" of the apostolic faith "endowed with the authority of Christ (CCC 888, emphasis mine)."

The bishop is "the steward of the grace of the supreme priesthood," especially in the Eucharist which he offers personally or whose offering he assures through the priests, his co-workers. The Eucharist is the center of the life of the particular Church. The bishop and priests sanctify the Church by their prayer and work, by their ministry of the word and of the sacraments. They sanctify her by their example, "not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock." Thus, "together with the flock entrusted to them, they may attain to eternal life (CCC 893, emphasis mine)."

"The bishops, as vicars and legates of Christ, govern the particular Churches assigned to them by their counsels, exhortations, and example, but over and above that also by the authority and sacred power which indeed they ought to exercise so as to edify, in the spirit of service which is that of their Master (CCC 895, emphasis mine)."

Therefore, Archbishop, you may want to charitably explain to One Spirit--One Call the gross error of their thinking, encourage them to come back to the Eucharist, and offer your next Mass for their conversion.

[Monsignor Charles Lienert has] been a priest for 40-some years...and it's apparent to me the pain that women in the church feel many times -- being excluded from different things, not being able to have a real voice in what the church teaches, not being able to participate in all the activities of the church. There is a real reason for their pain.

The "pain" these women are feeling is nothing more than PRIDE, and you have not helped them by indulging their tantrums all these years. Please allow me to walk you through it: validating their "pain" is validating their pride, validating their sin and sending them straight to Hell. Monsignor, with all due respect, your vocation is to sanctify the faithful and lead us to heaven, not to validate our sin and let us fall.


Angela M. said...

...'participate in all the activties..' - oh boy, Mass is NOT an activity like selling free-trade coffee after Mass or running the St. Vincent de Paul centre. But they don't get that, do they?

I teach RCIA - talk about influencing people! I also sit on parish council - talk about determining the direction that your parish is going. There are also many opportunities to serve (SERVE being the operative word) in the diocese at large.

A red light for me is when these women start talking about "telling their stories." My first rection is: put a cork in it!

Gina said...

Angela, you should see their website--six pages of "stories": ultra-vague accusations of misconduct on the part of priests, personal ideologies peppered with today's hottest keywords, and--you guessed it--more condemnation of the Priest scandal. The whole thing is just one more banner behind which women who love themselves more than they love God can hide. I don't know how long One Spirit--One Call has been around, but their website is barely a month old.

Ingrid said...

I know some of the women who organized and attended this event. They are amazing, active people (teachers, liturgists, theologians, pastoral council members too--), in short, they are the pillars of our community. They feel differently than you about the movement of the church, but that doesn't mean that their thoughts and their feelings are invalid.
I am grateful for anyone who stops to question what society so well justifies in written word. Without these brave people, we would still have all sorts of church sanctioned inequality----like slavery. The responsibility of being Catholic is about a whole lot more than just following directions. Like Jesus in the temple, sometimes we have got to shake things up.

Angela M. said...

Ingrid, I am sure these women are caring and well-meaning. The problem is that they DO NOT understand that they will NEVER be allowed to be ordained deacons or priests.

Gina - great comments! word veri is liciti!

Caitlin said...

I feel it necessary to point out that your argument is a pointless one as you fail to see the true nature of the criticism lodged by One Spirit ~ One Voice. A janitor is only restricted from teaching math by virtue of his education and credentials, not by his gender. Should the janitor obtain the necessary education and certification to teach math, the fact that the janitor is a man or a woman is irrelevant. So too should it be in the case of the priesthood. Gender should NOT restrict someone who is a true leader, well educated and lead by the Holy Spirit from their calling. Your rants and words of negativity echo those who would have today’s society’s women back at home, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. The rest of society has already embraced the concept of true equality of opportunity, why can’t the Church?

Gina said...

Ingrid---even if those directions come from God Himself?

I really couldn't care less if these women organized the most beautiful event in human history; if they are royalty; if they hold degrees in every subject.

Salvation does not hinge on their opinions, but on our obedience to Christ. There is nothing to debate, and you've made the grave error of thinking that there is.

Gina said...

Caitlin, you seem to think that the subject is open for debate. It is not. Learn the teachings of your Church before you go off on a pointless tangent of your own.

This world is not the end, folks. The Church is about your eternity, not your life here on earth.

Gina said... that Croatian?? Man...or Vir...Small world! ha~

Angela M. said...

Caitlin...let me guess - you believe in contraception and you are pro-choice too, aren't you?

This article addresses the male priesthood better than I can:

Angela M. said...

Faithful in little...faithful in much....

Gina - my friend is Croation - I will have to ask her lol!

ingrid said...

You are quoting the Catholic catechism. Those directions are not from God, but from humans who make mistakes. Those directions have changed over time, (which is good for us as we aren't being told that God wants us to pay for indulgences to get into heaven like in the Middle ages!).
I feel directions from God very powerfully in my heart, and I read them very solidly in the bible. Here is where the trouble is---you would point out some aspects of scripture that seem to say one thing and I could find others that would suggest something else. Key for me is that my God loves me and loves my daughters just as much as my sons. That tells me that God would not want to shut me out. I want my children to have a place in the Catholic church---I want them to stay Catholic their entire lives because the church has loved and nurtured me in a million ways. Where the church is now though is not a place that my children would chose (when they have the chance to chose for themselves). That makes me sad.
At the core of it though, I am hopeful. Injustice never survives because it is based in evil. The Church is going to figure it out, because they have always ended up on the side of right eventually. Women can help the church be a better place. Women can lead too, and here I am not just talking about priesthood, (because this whole event was not about ordination of women although I personally can't wait until that happens), but about leadership positions within the church that guide the whole body of Christ to wholeness. What I heard at the voiced at the event was different depending on who spoke, because of course individuals feel differently about these things. Here are some of the things I heard: We love the church, but we are saddened by what we see. Women should be able to offer reflections at mass, women should be part of the policies to avoid sex abuse by clergy, our women religious should not being intimidated by inquiry and not allowed to see the "findings", how do we teach our sons and daughters about equality in a lopsided power structure, and if an individual hears a call from God, what human can say that she does not?
So true that this world is not the end. Thank God for that!

Gina said...

Ingrid: you are mistaken about so many things. You've confused position and status with personhood, power with service, difference with inequality, administration and governance with the true structure of the Church.

If you don't start with the beginning, though, you can never straighten it all out.

First, read your Bible. Start with the Gospels so you can get to know Christ. He, Ingrid, is the centerpiece of our faith, not us, not worldly ideals, not political gain. We don't matter, and shouldn't matter. Your faith MUST be rooted in Him, not in worldly ideals that set human thought above God. Make no mistake, Ingrid, God's authority is final, and his order is the only order. If you don't like that, I'm sorry, but it's the way it is.

Second, crack open the Catechism, and take a look at how far back it is cited---back to the Scripture, back to the Fathers of the Church, back to the Apostles, and back to CHRIST. The truth is eternal, transcending all things, all times, all men. Since everything you find in the Catechism is directly linked back to Christ, who is God, it contains exactly what Christ intended. Again, if you don't like this, I'm sorry, but it's the way it is.

I would be doing you a disservice if I did not point out the vital importance of thinking beyond yourself and beyond this world. Eternity is real, Ingrid. You have life beyond this world, beyond the realities of everyday existence, AND SO DOES THE CHURCH. Would you trade eternity for the fleeting glory of this short life?

Gina said...

Angela: asking because in Croatian Liciti means to look like or resemble something, which ha! reminds me of Genesis! "God Created man in His image...MALE AND FEMALE HE CREATED THEM". How fitting to our conversation--the true illustration of Equality.

Gina said...

About the EXCELLENT article Angela posted...

"The philosophy underlying the thrust for women priests is essentially a utilitarian one. Underlying this disastrous push is the belief that a person's worth is determined by a person's utility."

What a sentiment upon which to meditate.

Think about something. Who's REALLY oppressing women? Those who believe women, as they are without contributing or doing anything, are equal to men; or those who think equality with men is something for which to strive?

If we're BORN equal, as clearly indicated in Genesis, why do women not see it? Why do women continually measure themselves to what society thinks equality is?

Why is this so hard for so many to see?

Angela M. said...

Ingrid, a couple of words in your post kept popping out at me. Those words are "us, we, me, and I." It's not all about you, Hon.

As for your remark that you want your kids to be Catholic - if that's what they choose...let me ask you a question. When they were little did you teach them to look both ways in a crosswalk, did you put them in a carseat, did you teach them to be wary of strangers? Of course you did! You wouldn't wait until they were older so they could choose safety! When you give your kids the message that they can "choose" their faith you are really saying that faith isn't all that important, that it's optional like going to university vs. trade school, like vanilla or chocolate.

Take Gina's excellent advice and go back to the beginning!

Gina - the whole Croatian thing is TOO funny!

Anonymous said...

My goodness, Gina and Angela and others, I'm so glad I have a loving God who doesn't require my thoughtless, slavish obedience to rules that are, truly, man-made, in order to grant me salvation. I am really saddened to see the judgmentalism and the sniping at other women who truly believe they are following God's call but are being stymied by those same man-made rules!! Peace, sisters. Try to be kind and loving to each other and stop judging; that is God's role and THAT IS in the Bible.

Gina said...

Anonymous: You are confusing the meaning of judgment with fraternal correction. I would be neglecting my sister if I didn't tell her, or you, the truth.

Fraternal correction is one of the seven spiritual works of mercy. From the Catholic Encyclopedia: "admonishing of one's neighbor by a private individual with the purpose of reforming him or, if possible, preventing his sinful indulgence. This is clearly distinguishable from an official disciplining, whose mouthpiece is a judge or other like superior, whose object is the punishment of one found to be guilty, and whose motive is not so directly the individual advantage of the offender as the furtherance of the common good."

I am not condemning Ingrid; I am attempting to correct her thinking, so that she doesn't put her salvation in jeopardy. I would not be loving her if I didn't.

Love is not sitting by and letting people think that the truth is subjective. Loving someone is having the guts to tell them that they're in error, even if it means being unpopular, or being unliked. I'd rather dispute here and see you in heaven.

Robin Marie Therese said...

I offer this for reflection. This subject makes me sad because society has done damage to women. Perhaps one of the sole remaining organizations that protects the authentic dignity of the women is the church. Men and women are equal in dignity, but different in function.

The greatest creative work from the hand of God is the mother of God. Yet, she did not stand in the role of the apostles. She humbly accepted her role and it was no less great than that of Peter. It was different. For those who are claiming the Bible doesn't say what the church teaches regarding church authority, look again. There is one church that God established and it so sad that it is fractured into a million pieces. I being a fundamentalist convert, know this first hand.

If you are Catholic, you must accept the teachings of the church, or you cease to be Catholic. You put yourself outside of the church by refusing to accept its teachings. It never was and never will be and never should be a democracy. It is much better; guided by the Holy Spirit.

If we understand what we have in the Catholic Church, the true body of Christ, what could drag our children away from that? What could drag us away from that? What keeps us from being on our face in front of our Lord and Savior completely physically present on the altar? Teach your children about the truth of the Eucharist. Teach them to embrace the gifts that God gave them as girls. Women have precious gifts given only to them by God.

God did not ordain that men should be able to carry and nurture life in their body. That was a high honor, reserved for women. Perhaps we should think about that alone and embrace that thought. We alone carry children in our body. And what have we done with the gift? Ripped it apart in a million pieces with birth control and abortion. Now, men are given a gift and a responsibility in our church. Some women are not satisfied with our role, we want his role. We want his gift. It doesn't work like that. We complement each other. Don't focus your eyes on what you think you are entitled to, but look to the Blessed Mother and echo her fiat.

Jesus had a great love for women. He often did taboo activities in His society, for example, healing on Sunday, eating with sinners, etc. He was not afraid to go against the grain. If He wanted a women to be an apostle, he would have chosen one, whether that was popular in His day or not. But He didn't. He chose men. He chose to reveal Himself as man. Not because men are better, but because we are different.

Human dignity is the same whether male or female. We are equal. We differ in function. Embrace it. Did Mary argue that God built the church on Peter instead of her? Did she complain that she wasn't at the last supper? Or did she go about her role, recognizing that she had to fufill what she was created to be. She nurtured her son, taught him his faith, and held him as he suffered.

We should spend more time embracing our God created role to function as nurturers, as help mates. Only then will we understand that we are complete. Only then will we have said Yes to Jesus like Mary did.

I think that instead of desiring the gift of other people, we should work on setting our eyes on the gifts of God alone. If you teach your children the beauty of what the Mass is, the very body of Christ incarnate come to the altar, I can't imagine they would leave. And shame on anyone who leaves our God on the altar because they can't have things the way it should be. Let's get about the business of keeping our children Catholic and embracing our responsibility and gift of being women.

Angela M. said...

Robin Therese - love your comments! It reminded me that Jesus Christ institued the Sacraments and that we cannot change their matter or form. That means we MUST baptize using water and saying the Trinitarian formula and only men can be priests, marriage is between one man and one woman, etc.

Robin Marie Therese said...


And shame on anyone who leaves our God on the altar because they can't have things "THEIR" WAY. Let's get about the business of keeping our children Catholic and embracing our responsibility and gift of being women.

OOPS! I don't know how to fix a comment yet!

Gina said...

Robin: Your response here is beautifully said (got the correction, too! :D) I think it would make a fantastic post...would you? LOVE IT!

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