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Among Women Podcast 208 – Traveling in God’s Providence (with Diana von Glahn)

Among Women Podcast 208 – Traveling in God’s Providence (with Diana von Glahn)

This newest episode of Among Women looks at the Providence of God from a few different angles…  in my life, the life of St Mary of the Cross, and the life of The Faithful Traveler, Diana von Glahn.

I’ll be sharing tips I’m trying to master from St Francis de Sales as I try to be more mindful of God’s Providence in the details of every day. Plus this show will offer a look at the life of Jeanne Jugan who became Mary of the Cross, and providentially, her life and work led to the formation of the Little Sisters of the Poor, the same Little Sisters you’ve been reading about in the news.

Finally, in this podcast, we hear some behind-the-scenes stories of the life of Catholic filmmaker Diana von Glahn as she shares Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 8.38.57 AMdetails about a new film series for television on Francis’ 2014 pilgrimage in the Holy Land. This series came to be despite the heartbreak of Diana’s husband and producer/director staying home — and missing the pilgrimage — as he recovered from a heart attack. Plus Diana shares how this series profiles Francis’ pilgrimage and works, providentially, on promoting unity between Western and Eastern Christians. You’ll want to also hear the many interesting historical and spiritual details that Diana details about sacred sites in the Holy Lands.

Listen or download the latest Among Women podcast here, or listen to Episode 208 via iTunes.

You might enjoy this short video preview of the this new series from The Faithful Traveler…

Francis on Complimentarity, Marriage, and Family Life #Humanum

Here is a portion of the text of Pope Francis’ greetings to the Humanum participants:

You must admit that “complementarity” does not roll lightly off the tongue! Yet it is a word into which many meanings are compressed. It refers to situations where one of two things adds to, completes, or fulfills a lack in the other. But complementarity is much more than that. Yet complementarity is more than this. Christians find its deepest meaning in the first Letter to the Corinthians where Saint Paul tells us that the Spirit has endowed each of us with different gifts so that-just as the human body’s members work together for the good of the whole-everyone’s gifts can work together for the benefit of each. (cf. 1 Cor. 12). To reflect upon “complementarity” is nothing less than to ponder the dynamic harmonies at the heart of all Creation. This is a big word, harmony. All complementarities were made by our Creator, so the Author of harmony achieves this harmony.

It is fitting that you have gathered here in this international colloquium to explore the complementarity of man and woman. This complementarity is a root of marriage and family. For the family grounded in marriage is the first school where we learn to appreciate our own and others’ gifts, and where we begin to acquire the arts of cooperative living. For most of us, the family provides the principal place where we can aspire to greatness as we strive to realize our full capacity for virtue and charity. At the same time, as we know, families give rise to tensions: between egoism and altruism, reason and passion, immediate desires and long-range goals. But families also provide frameworks for resolving such tensions. This is important. When we speak of complementarity between man and woman in this context, let us not confuse that term with the simplistic idea that all the roles and relations of the two sexes are fixed in a single, static pattern. Complementarity will take many forms as each man and woman brings his or her distinctive contributions to their marriage and to the formation of their children — his or her personal richness, personal charisma. Complementarity becomes a great wealth. It is not just a good thing but it is also beautiful.

We know that today marriage and the family are in crisis. We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.

Evidence is mounting that the decline of the marriage culture is associated with increased poverty and a host of other social ills, disproportionately affecting women, children and the elderly. It is always they who suffer the most in this crisis.

The crisis in the family has produced an ecological crisis, for social environments, like natural environments, need protection. And although the human race has come to understand the need to address conditions that menace our natural environments, we have been slower to recognize that our fragile social environments are under threat as well, slower in our culture, and also in our Catholic Church. It is therefore essential that we foster a new human ecology.

It is necessary first topromote the fundamental pillars that govern a nation: its non-material goods. The family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation. Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity. That is why I stressed in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium that the contribution of marriage to society is “indispensable”; that it “transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple.” (n. 66) And that is why I am grateful to you for your Colloquium’s emphasis on the benefits that marriage can provide to children, the spouses themselves, and to society.

In these days, as you embark on a reflection on the beauty of complementarity between man and woman in marriage, I urge you to lift up yet another truth about marriage: that permanent commitment to solidarity, fidelity and fruitful love responds to the deepest longings of the human heart. I urge you to bear in mind especially the young people, who represent our future. Commit yourselves, so that our youth do not give themselves over to the poisonous environment of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern.

Do not fall into the trap of being swayed by political notion. Family is an anthropological fact – a socially and culturally related fact. We cannot qualify it based on ideological notions or concepts important only at one time in history. We can’t think of conservative or progressive notions. Family is a family. It can’t be qualified by ideological notions. Family is per se. It is a strength per se.

More here.

This makes me think… the indispensable relationship of Jesus to the Church

“The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the preaching and prayer of the apostles, on the authority that was entrusted to them by Christ himself.  St Paul writes to the Christians at Ephesus: “You are no longer strangers or sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus being the cornerstone” (Eph 2: 19-20); that is, he compares Christians to living stones that form an edifice that is the Church, and this edifice is founded on the apostles, who are like columns, and the cornerstone that carries it all is Jesus himself. Without Jesus the Church cannot exist! Jesus is the foundation of the Church — the foundation! The apostles lived with Jesus, they listened to his words, they shared his life; above all they were witnesses of his death and resurrection. Our faith, the Church that Christ willed, is not based on an idea; it is not based on a philosophy. It is based on Christ himself.”

-Pope Francis-
General Audience, October 16, 2013.

It’s no coincidence Francis is calling us together on Pentecost to prays for peace in the Middle East

It’s no coincidence Francis is calling us together on Pentecost to prays for peace in the Middle East

Pope Francis is calling for peace in the Middle East, and especially in the Holy Lands, by inviting Israeli and Palestinians to pray together with him at the Vatican. And how marvelous that it is taking place on Pentecost! Have you seen the Scripture readings that the global church will be proclaiming and praying over this weekend? I think the Holy Spirit did a very fine job of bringing these leaders together on such a day.  There’s nothing coincidental about this event in my mind. Our job here is to pray, pray, pray.

At Pentecost, our Sunday readings bring us the Pentecost account from Acts of the Apostles in the first reading, and the Gospel for Pentecost, recalls Jesus bestowing the gift of peace and the Spirit in a powerful post-resurrection display.

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.” 

John 20:19-23

 

During his recent Holy Land pilgrimage, Pope Francis invited Israel’s President Shimon Peres, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to come to the Vatican to pray for peace. They have accepted his invitation and will be with the Holy Father tomorrow on Pentecost. Also in attendance will be Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople.

Prayers will be prayed by Christians, Jews and Muslim together around 7pm Rome time. Details from the VIS news are here. The full text of the prayers and program can be read here.

The program outline from the Vatican:

May the Lord give you peace!

We have gathered here, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Christians and Muslims, so that each of us can offer his or her own that each of us can express his or her desire for peace for the Holy Land and for all who dwell there.

Together with Pope Francis, who greatly desired this moment, Patriarch Bartholomaios of Constantinople and all those present, Presidents Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas will join in this calling, voicing the desire of their respective peoples to invoke to God the common longing for peace.

This evening’s meeting will consist of three parts, followed by a conclusion.

Each part will be devoted to an invocation by one of the three religious communities, in chronological order: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Each part will itself unfold in three moments. The first moment will consist of an expression of praise to God for his gift of creation, and for his having created us as members of the human family.

In the second moment, we will ask pardon from God for the times we have failed to act as brothers and sisters, and for our sins against him and against our fellow men and women.

In the third moment, we will ask God to grant the gift of peace to the Holy Land and to enable us to be peacemakers.

Each of these three moments will be framed by a brief musical interlude. A musical meditation will conclude each of the three main parts.

Be sure to read the prayers and watch the proceeding if you can.

May the Holy Spirit fall anew on each of these leaders and their people. May God bring about something new. From the Sequence from Pentecost Sunday:

O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;

Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.
Alleluia.

Come, Holy Spirit!

 

My Top Three Take-Aways from the Year of Faith… where did you find meaning this year?

My Top Three Take-Aways from the Year of Faith… where did you find meaning this year?

1. Never Forget: The Holy Spirit guides the Church, and the Papacy

Wow! Who could have predicted this? The Catholic news story of the year was not only the Year of Faith but the resignation of the reigning pontiff, and the conclave to elect a new pope!

We also had the first encyclical that was the work of two popes! Lumen Fidei was first drafted by Benedict, but completed by Francis. (You can find my 5 part series on the encyclical here. Here’s the introduction.)

God bless the mission of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and the monastic retirement of Benedict XVI.

Two Popes, praying together. Benedict XVI & Francis.

Two Popes, praying together. Benedict XVI & Francis. In my mind, this is the Catholic photo of the year! 

2. Pray! And Pray More! Stay close to Jesus in the Eucharist!

This Year of Faith offered us many opportunities to pray both with the Church and privately. I loved watching on TV and praying my way through World Youth Day, and I loved this moment at Adoration:

Praying with others, outside of the Sunday Mass is also more of a priority for me now. I was privileged to start and lead The Bible Timeline bible study at my parish, as well as hold rosary meetings in my home. Not to mention I was honored to travel the country giving retreats and talks to women related to my book, Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious.

All those activities are really the fruit of prayer. Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, the Rosary, the Divine Mercy chaplet, plus staying close to Jesus in the Eucharist and confession are indispensable and continue to be a very strong call in my life. I made an Ignatian-style retreat in April and most recently have been talking to Jesus and my priest about taking steps change my personal schedule to include more breaks for prayer.

By the way – are you a techno geek? This year I noticed that I was praying more “on the go” using apps on my phone like Magnificat, The Divine Mercy, The Rosary Miracle App, and Verse-Wise’s Holy Bible RSV-CE, and more. This is a new side to my prayer, not so much in the way I pray, but in the resources I use.

 3. Spiritual Reading must remain a weekly, if not daily, exercise.

The nature of my writing work requires me to be in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in a regular way. So, where as many people undertook reading the Catechism this past year, I was already largely doing that. For me this year, I’m renewed my commitment to pray with scripture, as I work my way through much bible reading for the bible study.

I’m also reading Undset’s biography of St Catherine of Siena, and several other saints biographies. As devotee of St Francis, and a graduate of Franciscan University, I’m very interested in getting to Chesterton’s Francis of Assisi next (and find it hard to believe that I’ve missed it all these years!)

Finally, as mentioned above, I really dove into Lumen Fidei.

Now, I’m looking forward to the release of Francis’ new text, Evangelii Gaudium sometime later today.

What was your experience with the Year of Faith?

Faith, Fiat, and Fidelity to a Catholic Way of Thinking and Living

So I’ve been reading Francis’ encyclical and writing about it over at Patheos. My latest piece on Lumen Fidei’s chapter three is up over at my column, A Word in Season.

I’d like to zero in on one section of chapter three that I write about in the longer piecethe unity of faith is the unity of the Church. The unity of our faith — that we Catholic Christians assert to believing in the deposit of faith that has been handed on since the time of Christ and the Apostles — is the source of our communion, our belonging to God and to one another. We are made for communion with one another by virtue of our human dignity, and by virtue of our baptism we are especially made for communion with God and the Church. The unity of the Church depends on its members believing in the same profession of faith, and its tenets that flow from that.

Allow me to quote a portion of it here.

True believers understand that Church presents a unity of faith and an integrity of faith. St Paul taught “There is one body, and one Spirit… one faith (Eph. 4:4-5).” This faith unites all believers to a common vision; “we receive a common gaze (LF, 47)”.

This is a further development of the idea that we do not live the faith alone, and cannot live it in a vacuum. This common faith brings us into communion — a unity of faith — with one another.

By professing the same faith, we stand firm on the same rock, we are transformed by the same Spirit of love, we radiate one light and we have a single insight into reality. (LF, 47)

This unity in faith is derived from the integrity of what we believe. This faith is consistent and does not change. It is we who are changed by it. This is one of the primary roles of the institutional Church, to be the guardian of the deposit of faith, and to be on mission to share it with the world.

The faith is based on the whole truth handed down with integrity from the Apostles, with the continuity and assurance of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus himself guaranteed.

Since faith is one, it must be professed in all it purity and integrity. Precisely because all the articles of faith are interconnected to deny one of them, even those that seem least important, is tantamount to distorting the whole. Each period of history can find this or that part of faith easier or harder to accept: hence the need for vigilance in ensuring that the deposit of faith is passed on in its entirety (Cf. 1 Timothy 6:20) and that all aspects of the profession of faith are duly emphasized. (LF, 48)

When I read these lines from Lumen Fidei, I am challenged and reminded that we must not fall into a kind of “cafeteria Catholicism” that rejects the integrity of faith that the Church has maintained. Tempting as it might be, we cannot select what doctrines of Catholic belief we wish to believe and live by, as if we were selecting items from an a la carte menu.

Further, we reject the unity of faith when we choose to ignore or live without certain beliefs; we are breaking our communion with God and with each other. If we forsake the unifying and universally Catholic way in order to go our own way, we make our preferences into a god of our choosing. We oppose rather than trust the God who first chose us. We bring discord, disunion, and disintegration of the one faith and one Church.

Francis goes so far as to suggest that our unity of faith indicates our unity with the Church, and without it, we are breaking the bonds that Christ died to create.

Indeed, inasmuch as the unity of faith is the unity of the Church, to subtract something from the faith is to subtract something from the veracity of communion… harming the faith means harming communion with the Lord. (LF, 48.)

This is a stirring measure with which to examine our own hearts and minds to discover the real depth of our faith and true communion with Christ and the Church.

Read the whole thing if you have time.

This is the great invitation of our faith, and the very essence of being Catholic Christians: To belong to God and to one another — universally connected to the God who made us, and to all of creation.

Lumen Fidei affirms that there have always been periods of history where some tenets of the faith have been harder for some people to accept than others. When we think of our world today, we probably both can name certain beliefs that the Church holds that folks have trouble with today, or just clearly want to reject for any number of reasons. A wise priest once preached that the Gospel is meant to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable. Us having to wrestle with certain dogmas or doctrines is not a new thing. But wrestle we must.

This communion idea — a common vision and a common life — is a countercultural message in a world that glorifies individualism to a fault.

Our society celebrates our self-made separateness, our freedom to do as we please, and to believe in whatever suits our fancy, and live according to our own rules. Many people, including many Catholics, reject the idea of our being subject to another’s authority, much less the Church’s. Yes, I know church members themselves have made a poor showing of the Gospel message. Yet even with all the times that I can acknowledge that both church leadership and church members have made grievous mistakes that must break God’s heart, we Catholics continue to assert that the Holy Spirit guides and leads and upholds the fundamental framework that is the Church, in message and in mission. That means, even though the human side of the Church can mess things up pretty badly, the divine side is worthy of all our trust and belief. We see this in the Church’s prolonged 2000 year history. Something bigger than herself keeps her afloat.

Here’s what I’m getting at: When we debunk the authority of the Church, we debunk the Holy Spirit’s hidden yet profound guidance contained therein. We need the power of God (through graces) to live out the Christian life. When we separate ourselves from the source of grace (the Church and her sacraments), God doesn’t lose, we lose. And the Holy Spirit grieves this. We need the Church and we need to be church.

I see this as one of the great needs of the new evangelization – to find ways to repair the breach between our faith and our daily lives, and between our personal faith lives and our unity with the church. There is an ache in my heart for every one who something along the lines of “I’m a Catholic but I just don’t buy it all. I love the Mass, but I don’t believe in ________.”

All of us must ask ourselves the penetrating questions: if the faith has been passed on to us, has it indeed taken hold in our own lives?

Are we changed and transformed by it in such a way as to desire to conform our minds, hearts, and wills to the Lord and his Church in gratitude for all he has done for us?

Do we hold tight to some tenets of the faith while discarding others? Are there doctrines we choose not believe, seemingly carving an idol of our opinion as superior to what is held by the universal Church? Do we profess the faith only marginally or just part of the time? As opposed to the full gospel all the time?

Do we live from that deep place of gratitude, and knowing our faith is inseparable from the faith of the Church?

The Church holds that there is an indissoluble union between Christ and his Church, if we reject something that the Church teaches, it is almost like asking which part of Christ would we prefer to live without? How could we reject any part of HIM?

We need to grow in fidelity to Christ and the Church. That means we need to find ways to mend the disunity and the disconnection we may have with the Church, to be Christians full time, even as we wrestle, and struggle, and wonder if we can really submit to all that is required? The Holy Spirit will help us. Just like the Holy Spirit flowed through Mary’s yes, her fiat, to say yes to God’s ways and not our own.

Don’t be discouraged: I’m so encouraged the Church calls us to on-going conversion… that it takes time to grow in faith and love with all God calls us to be and do.

Here’s something else that is encouraging:  Francis’ recent homily of consecrating the world to Our Lady… the woman of the radical yes to God, the fiat…. 

Mary said her “yes” to God: a “yes” which threw her simple life in Nazareth into turmoil, and not only once. Any number of times she had to utter a heartfelt “yes” at moments of joy and sorrow, culminating in the “yes” she spoke at the foot of the Cross. Here today there are many mothers present; think of the full extent of Mary’s faithfulness to God: seeing her only Son hanging on the Cross. The faithful woman, still standing, utterly heartbroken, yet faithful and strong.

And I ask myself: am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time? Our culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes its toll on the way we live our faith. God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday life. He goes on to say that, even if we are sometimes unfaithful to him, he remains faithful. In his mercy, he never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength. This is the real journey: to walk with the Lord always, even at moments of weakness, even in our sins. Never to prefer a makeshift path of our own. That kills us. Faith is ultimate fidelity, like that of Mary.

 

The powerful light of the family table — a place of belonging and the sign of the domestic church

The powerful light of the family table — a place of belonging and the sign of the domestic church

This article is currently posted at CatholicMom.com. Go there for great content for families!

I grew up with an old saying: “The family that prays together stays together.” And that’s a maxim that I believe in and it’s something my husband Bob and I tried to encourage in every stage of our parenting life. For us, as Catholics, that translated into Sunday Mass, grace at meals, prayers before bedtime, and spontaneous prayers during the day. Not to mention devotions outside of that, like the Rosary, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, or observances in keeping with the Liturgical Year.

Yet, equally important was the family dinner table. Dinner has always been a point of connection, of conversation, of visiting with one another, checking in and talking about the highs and lows of the day. Often what was on the menu was never as important as what was shared around the table. What a gift it is to have someone care enough about you to ask, “how was your day?”  It’s such a simple notion of belonging, but it builds connections and grounds intimacy. And now that Bob and I are quasi-empty nesters, and the daily table is smaller, we still need to offer that gift to one another, and find ways to invite others to join us.

Recently, The Onion posted a social commentary that I feel was right on the mark called, “Lonely Nation Gathers Outside Window of Happy Family Eating Dinner Together.” It was a touching spoof  but I found it achingly painful to think that so many people have gone without this humble social connection, this domesticity, this rootedness. The light from within the home shined out of the windows illuminating the crowd gathered outside in the dark to observe the dinner hour.

There is a small little ritual at our home table for dinner. The person who usually sets the table lights a candle. This is not to dim the lights or to be romantic. It is to remind us of the Light of Christ — as in Jesus is the unseen guest, the One who is present with us. He sees us, hears us, is with us. There is a sanctuary light always on in a Catholic church to remind visitors there of the Holy Guest — Jesus — in the tabernacle. We light our little candle on our table in all seasons to be mindful that He is ever-present.

When each of my children left for college, I told them we would remember them around this table every night… we would see them in this light. For, thanks to the Body of Christ, they are with us, even still. This little candle reminds my mother’s heart that there is a connection, unseen and unheard, and Someone’s eyes and ears are present to my children wherever they are in the world. I feel the same way about our parents, siblings, relatives, and loved ones near and far. They are with us in Christ.

In a larger way, the importance of the Christ connection in our Church is what can and should draw us to Mass on Sundays. The table is set, the candles lit, and the meal is prepared. It’s something we need and truly long for, even when we have to fight the calendar and the current cultural norms to commit to it. At Mass we listen and we converse with Jesus. We tell him about our day, our week, and what’s on our mind and heart. He is present to us, truly present in the Word and in the Eucharist, and He keeps us close at heart after we depart.

I’ve just learned that Pope Francis is calling for a Synod on families. Speculations are varied as to the themes of marriage and family, of divorce and remarriage, that may be discussed there in October 2014. With this announcement, as with The Onion’s “news”, I heard a call for every Catholic home to deepen the bonds of its domestic church, or to begin anew, to organize itself around the table more. This, truly, is one way we can evangelize and spread the good news to one another, in the simple call to be in relationship around the table. On the global scale, I’m glad the Universal Church will be taking up the bigger questions that affect the family. Many of our sisters and brothers are missing at our Sunday table at Mass. Our family that is the Church needs to do more to invite them inside.

Let us pray for how we ought to respond in our homes and in our churches…

:::

How do you share the light of faith around your table?

 

A little bit more from Francis on a theology of women in the church….

Most Catholics I know have heard of or read the now-famous interview with Pope Francis in America magazine. I sincerely hope that you read it for yourself, as some of the media summaries of the interview are skewed as they don’t often report from the lens, or context, of faith. Yes, its 12,000 words, but take some time –and read it for yourself.

(In other news, just yesterday, the Pope gave another interview in LaRepubblica in Italy — though some folks are quibbling about the translation to the English, and for now I’m just going to say that in regard to women, he told the reporter he’d like to cover that subject on a later day –  “We will also discuss the role of women in the Church. Remember that the Church (la chiesa) is feminine.”.)

As you may also recall, the Pope has been making some noise about women in the church in his post-WYD interview weeks back. So there are many of us who watching and wondering just when he might talk more about this. Turns out, we didn’t have to wait too long. However, must of what Pope Francis shares in this interview has been shared before.

Let’s look at that portion from the America interview…

Women in the Life of the Church

And what about the role of women in the church? The pope has made reference to this issue on several occasions. He took up the matter during the return trip from Rio de Janeiro, claiming that the church still lacks a profound theology of women. I ask: “What should be the role of women in the church? How do we make their role more visible today?”

We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the church.

He answers: “I am wary of a solution that can be reduced to a kind of ‘female machismo,’ because a woman has a different make-up than a man. But what I hear about the role of women is often inspired by an ideology of machismoWomen are asking deep questions that must be addressed. The church cannot be herself without the woman and her role. The woman is essential for the church. Mary, a woman, is more important than the bishops. I say this because we must not confuse the function with the dignity. We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the church. We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman. Only by making this step will it be possible to better reflect on their function within the church. The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions. The challenge today is this: to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the authority of the church is exercised for various areas of the church.”
That’s 263 words from the Pontiff on the subject, and I’m sure my own word-count in considering what he might mean will be more than that.
I wonder what are the deep questions that the women are asking– in the Pope’s mind? It can’t fully be gleaned from his recent comments. If we are talking about ordination for women, that is already settled. If we are talking about women talking leadership roles with parishes, dioceses, and the Curia — roles that work in tandem with the clergy/hierarchy — that is a subject for growth and possible change. Benedict began some of that conversation here when he was the #2 Man, as Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. As Francis talks about “function” — I’m guessing he means work and leadership roles in the church — and there can more inroads for women’s leadership to be made, outside of ordination, for sure.
I wonder what are the deep questions that the women are asking– in the Pope’s mind? It can’t fully be gleaned from his recent comments. If we are talking about ordination for women, that is already settled. If we are talking about women talking leadership roles with parishes, dioceses, and the Curia — roles that work in tandem with the clergy/hierarchy — that is a subject for growth and possible change. Benedict began some of that conversation here when he was the #2 Man, as Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. As Francis talks about “function” — I’m guessing he means work and leadership roles in the church — and there can more inroads for women’s leadership to be made, outside of ordination, for sure.

If we are talking about the deep questions of freeing women from the oppression of poverty, sexual slavery, mutilation, and war and other ghastly bondages, let’s keep talking and working on that too.

If we are talking about a woman’s dignity and vocation, the Holy Father is correct (not that he needs my approval) in pointing out Mary’s positive role, in that women are called to imitate her spiritual motherhood… and women ought to know the sublime dignity that Mary brings to a woman’s role in the life of a family, the church, and the community. Mary is the feminine genius par excellence. 

Spiritually and physically, women help give birth to and help nurture disciples of the Church already. How that might translate into “those places where the authority of the church is exercised” has yet to be revealed to me. In the meantime, I can write a good many words and I can make educated guesses about respect for the aforementioned vocation, and praying that it becomes more fully understood and implemented by the faithful. That is why I wrote my book, and why I recommend women and men cut their teeth on the theology of womanhood by starting with Mulieries Dignitatem, a groundbreaking document that is now 25 years old.

Keep talking Francis. we’re listening.

Mercy times infinity

Mercy times infinity

There’s always a reason to be on our knees. The bad-news-o-meter seems to be on overload lately.

On the heels of another sad September 11th anniversary, we now experience a mass shooting taking innocent lives at the Navy Yard in DC, and all of it against an unsettled backdrop as our nation and others wonders about a military intervention in Syria, and unrest exploding in other regions… indeed, it can be exhausting and intimidating and depressing when we see evil all around.

I’ve written about this before…

Jesus is the answer. Period. Intuitively, I know that now. I did not always. We might know that intellectually, yet we may still wrestle with that knowledge in our heart.

Why? Each of us has been scandalized by the bad stuff we have experienced in life. In fact, some of the bad stuff we’ve lived through is downright evil.

We’ve all been victims of pain, hurts, other people’s sins, and our own. And yes, we are victims of evil.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls it “the scandal of evil” since it derails the providence of God that we are meant to know. In fact, the Catechism boldly states:

There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par 309)

And so take to our knees so that we can be open to the actions we need to take to keep us free from selfishness, free from fear, free from actions adding to the violence and unrest at home, abroad, or in our own hearts.

Francis’ recent Prayer Vigil called us to prayer and peace-making…

When man thinks only of himself, of his own interests and places himself in the center, when he permits himself to be captivated by the idols of dominion and power, when he puts himself in God’s place, then all relationships are broken and everything is ruined; then the door opens to violence, indifference, and conflict…

At this point I ask myself: Is it possible to change direction? Can we get out of this spiral of sorrow and death? Can we learn once again to walk and live in the ways of peace? Invoking the help of God, under the maternal gaze of the Salus Populi Romani, Queen of Peace, I say: Yes, it is possible for everyone! From every corner of the world tonight, I would like to hear us cry out: Yes, it is possible for everyone! Or even better, I would like for each one of us, from the least to the greatest, including those called to govern nations, to respond: Yes, we want it! My Christian faith urges me to look to the Cross. How I wish that all men and women of good will would look to the Cross if only for a moment! There, we can see God’s reply: violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death. In the silence of the Cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue, and peace is spoken.

We must look to the Cross. Let us bring our deepest prayers, concerns, and worries there. It is there we find mercy times infinity.

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On the latest episode of Among Women, I begin the program with intercessory prayer. To join in that prayer, listen here. 

Here’s one of the prayers we pray, from Pope St Clement of Rome, who the fourth pope and a bishop who knew St Peter and St Paul before their martyrdoms in Rome.  (This prayer is circa 95AD):

We beg you, Lord, to help and defend us.

Deliver the oppressed.

Pity the insignificant.

Raise the fallen.

Show yourself to the needy.

Heal the sick.

Bring back those of your people who have gone astray.

Feed the hungry.

Lift up the weak.

Take off the prisoners’ chains.

May every nation come to know that you alone are God,

that Jesus is your Child,

that we are your people, the sheep that you pasture. 

Amen.

 

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This makes me think… about my first love of Jesus and the faith that came from that

Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives. Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfillment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us. Faith, received from God as a supernatural gift, becomes a light for our way, guiding our journey through time. On the one hand, it is a light coming from the past, the light of the foundational memory of the life of Jesus which revealed his perfectly trustworthy love, a love capable of triumphing over death. Yet since Christ has risen and draws us beyond death, faith is also a light coming from the future and opening before us vast horizons which guide us beyond our isolated selves towards the breadth of communion. We come to see that faith does not dwell in shadow and gloom; it is a light for our darkness.

-Pope Francis-

From his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, paragraph 4.