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Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008

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2008/01/01 23:02:41 (permalink)
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Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008

Dear friends,

We turn a new leaf and enter a new year.  In 2007, our sister Constance planted a seed which inspired the creation of this dialogue thread.  In it, we pay tribute to  and learn about Holy Women who have gone before us.  We looks at the stories of:
  • Women Deacons
  • Women Martyrs
  • Women Leaders 
  • Saints for our Time

We learn about the courage of women who despite oppression against their gender, emerged to provide great leadership.  In our own work, we remember that we stand on their shoulders.  We pray for the courage to do our own part -- made for these times. As we stand on the shoulders of women of faith who challenged injustice while they walked before us, someday there will be others who stand on our own shoulders of leadership.
 
Each one of the women we learn about provides inspiration for our own efforts to bring the Good News of Christ to the world...including our Church.. still in the grips of cultural tentacles that blind some people to the sacramental giftedness of women... 

Doctor of the Church Saint Teresa of Avila inspires and reminds us: Christ has no hands but ours...

With love and blessings,
 
~Sophie~
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/01 23:16:39 (permalink)
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    Sain Zdislava Berka
    Feastday: January 1

    Zdislava Berka (1220s-1252) was the wife of Havel of Markvartice, Duke of Lemberk. Known as a particularly austere and generous woman, she was the mother of four children.  Although her husband proved unkind, she was able to devote some of their wealth to the poor and the refugees from the Tartar invasion.


    Saint Zdislava Berka

    Biography
     
    Zdislava was born in Křižanov, in what is now the Žďár nad Sázavou District of the Czech Republic. She was reportedly an unusually devout child, who at age seven ran away into the forest with the intention of living a hermit's life of prayer and solitude. Forcibly returned by her family, she lived a comparatively normal childhood from that point on.

    When she was 15, her family arranged for her to marry the prosperous Havel of Markvartice, Duke of Lemberk. Together they had four children.

    Zdislava continued to live a life of remarkable personal austerity.  She worked tirelessly in the care of the poor and dispossessed, and was, unusually for her era, a frequent recipient of the Eucharist.

    Tatar invasions of Eastern Europe were causing large numbers of people to leave their homes during this period. A large number of them sought refuge at the castle of Gable, where Zdislava lived with her family and assisted these refugees as much as possible.

    Her husband was concerned about what he considered the excessive degree of Zdislava's charity to these refugees. At one point, he is reported to have gone to the bed Zdislava had given to a feverous beggar the night before, but to have found a figure of crucified Jesus there instead. He is said to have been so impressed by this event that he would later allow her to found Dominican convent in Turnov. Zdislava worked with this convent for the rest of her life, and was eventually buried there.

    By the example of her holy death, she is said to brought about the reform of her husband. She was beatified in 1907 and canonised in 1995.

    Her feastday is January 1.
    post edited by Sophie - 2008/01/01 23:32:46
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/01 23:32:13 (permalink)
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    Zdislava Berka, OP, Matron (RM)
    (also known as Zedislava Zemberka)

    feastday January 1

    Born in Bohemia (Czech Republic), 1210, Zdislava died there on January 1, 1252. Her cultus was approved by Pope Pius X in 1907.  She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in Olomouc, Czech Republic in 1995.

    Born of a warrior race to noble parents, Zdislava lived in a fortified castle on the borders of Christendom, in an age when the fierce Mongol hordes were the world's worst menace. Her whole life was spent within the sound of clashing arms, and the moans of the dying. The gentleness and purity of her life stand out in surprising beauty against the dark background of a warlike and materialistic people.

    Zdislava learned Christian charity early in life from her mother, who taught her not only the secrets of preparing medicinal herbs but also the healing balm of prayer. Going each day to the castle gate with alms and medicines for the poor and the wretched who crowded there for help, she was soon well acquainted with human misery. Cheerful, prayerful, and alert to see the sorrows of others, the child became a light of hope to the miserable. Because of her sweetness and natural charm, she was able to teach many lessons to those about her.

    As a child, she is said to have fled from her home for a time to live as a hermit, but she returned to live a more normal life that included an early marriage to a soldier, the duke of Lemmberk, who, like her own father, was a rich nobleman in command of a castle on the frontier. The couple produced four children. Zdislava cared judiciously for her own family and lavished great care on the poor, especially the fugitives and victims of the Tartar invasions.

     
    Saint Zdislava and Saint John Sarkander

    Her husband though a good man was a rough and battle-hardened soldier who liked nothing better than the clash of swords. He may have treated Zdislava badly and he certainly tried his young wife's patience. He insisted that she dress in her finest gowns and attend the long and barbarous banquets that pleased him so. (In return, she tried his patience because of her generosity towards the poor.)

    Being of a retiring disposition and much given to prayer--and, moreover, having a family and a large castle to care for--she found this a real sacrifice. However, obedience and patience had been an important part of her training, and she taught herself to spiritualize the endless trials that would beset the mother of four children in a medieval fortress.

    The Polish missionaries, Saint Hyacinth and Blessed Ceslaus, brought Zedislava the first knowledge of the new religious order which had begun but a few years before. Saint Dominic, a Spaniard, had met them in Italy, where he had gone to have his order approved. Begun in France, the Dominican Order was already international, and with the profession of Zdislava as the first Slavic Tertiary, its world-wide scope became apparent.

    Enchanted with the possibilities of an order that allowed her to share in its benefits and works while caring for her family, Zdislava threw herself into the new project with enviable zeal. She encouraged her husband to build a hostel for the many poor pilgrims who came homeless to the gate. She visited the prisoners in the frightful dungeons, and used her influence to obtain pardons from the severe sentences meted out to them. She fed and cared for the poor, taught catechism to the children of the servants, and showed all, by the sweetness of her life, just what it meant to be a Christian lady and a Dominican Tertiary. On the occasion of a Mongol (Tartar) attack, when homeless refugees poured into the castle stronghold, her calm, invincible charity was a bulwark of strength to all.

    With her own funds, Zdislava determined to build a church (Priory of Saint Lawrence) where God might be fittingly worshipped. As an act of zeal and penance, she herself carried many of the heavy beams and materials that went into the building.

    Zdislava experienced visions and ecstasies during this time. She also received Holy Communion nearly every day in an age when this was not customary.

    Her death came soon after the completion of the church. The mourning people who knelt by her deathbed could see evidence of her strong Christian virtues in the monuments she had left: her children, her church, and the inspiration of a saintly wife and mother. This is said to have strongly encouraged his desire for conversion.

    In art she is depicted as a Dominican tertiary with a crucifix wound with roses, lying in the place of a sick person in bed (Roeder). She is venerated in Bohemia (Roeder).
    post edited by Sophie - 2008/01/01 23:34:23
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/01 23:33:07 (permalink)
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    Saint Fanchea
    Feastday: January 1
    585

    Fanchea was an lrish abbess, a foundress of a convent and a sister of St. Ends, or Endeus. As a nun, she is said to have had special capabilities as a
    directress of souls. She is said to be a native of Clogher, who
    persuaded her brother, Saint Enda, to become a monk who is often regarded as the father of Irish monasticism.

    Also called Garbh Fanchea, she founded Rossary Convent in Fermanagh Ireland. She was born in Clogher and buried at Killane. 
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/01 23:50:06 (permalink)
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    Euphrosyne of Alexandria VM (RM)
    Died 470

     
    Although there is question as to whether or not she ever existed, Euphrosyne's story is interesting.  Modern views are that she belongs to that group of legendary virgins who flee advantageous marriages and adopt male attire and pass for men in order to lead lives of celibacy and asceticism.
     
    Her "life", narrated in the Vitæ Patrum, has some unmistakable hallmarks of the sentimental Hellenistic novel.
     
    Euphrosyne was the beloved only daughter of a rich man, Paphnutius of Alexandria, Egypt. Miraculously born in her parents' old age in answer to a monk's prayer, her loving father desired to marry her to a wealthy young man.
     
    But having already consecrated her life to God and under pressure to break this vow, she consulted with the old monk whose prayers had reputedly brought about her birth and he gave her the veil.  Fearful of her father's reaction, she clothed herself as a man, became a monk at the monastery her father frequented and took the name of "Smaragdus."  At the monastery, she made rapid strides toward a perfected ascetic life, under the guidance of the very abbot who had prayed for her birth.
     
    Euphrosyne became famous for her holiness and spiritual wisdom. When her own father appealed to the abbot for comfort in his bereavement, the abbot committed him to the care of the alleged young man.  Though her father did not recognise her, he father received from her helpful advice and comforting exhortation. Not until she was dying did Euphrosyne reveal herself to him as his lost daughter.
     
    Her feast is celebrated both in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.  After her death, her father became a monk and lived in her cell for 10 years.

    This story appears to be a replica of similar stories, e.g., Saints Pelegia and Eugenia. It is doubtful whether Saint Euphrosyne ever existed (Benedictines, Delaney). In art, she is depicted as the maiden companion of Saint Ursula. She holds a green branch, wreath, and a book (Roeder).
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/01 23:55:15 (permalink)
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    another version reminds us that Euphrosyne's story about gender bending was popular:

    St. Euphrosyne of Alexandria

    Saint Euphrosyne of Alexandria was born at the beginning of the fifth century in the city of Alexandria. She was the only child in her family of illustrious and rich parents. Since her mother died early, she was raised by her father, Paphnutius, a deeply believing and pious Christian. He frequented a monastery, the igumen of which was his spiritual guide.

    When Euphrosyne turned eighteen, her father wanted her to marry. He went to the monastery to his spiritual guide to receive his blessing for the planned wedding of his daughter. The igumen conversed with the daughter and gave her his blessing, but St Euphrosyne yearned for the monastic life.

    She secretly accepted tonsure from a wandering monk, left her father's house and decided to enter a monastery in order to lead her life in solitude and prayer. She feared, however, that in a women's monastery her father would find her. Calling herself the eunuch Smaragdos, she went to the very same men's monastery which she had visited with her father since childhood.

    The monks did not recognize Euphrosyne dressed in men's garb, and so they accepted her into the monastery. Here in a solitary cell, St Euphrosyne spent 38 years in works, fasting and prayer, and attained a high level of spiritual accomplishment.

    Her father grieved over the loss of his beloved daughter and more than once, on the advice of the igumen, he conversed with the monk Smaragdos, revealing his grief and receiving spiritual comfort. Before her death, the nun Euphrosyne revealed her secret to her grieving father and asked that no one but he should prepare her body for burial. Having buried his daughter, Paphnutius distributed all his wealth to both the poor and to the monastery, and then he accepted monasticism. For ten years right up to his own death, he laboured in the cell of his daughter.
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/02 00:16:52 (permalink)
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    Vatican agency names church workers who died for others in 2007
    By Cindy Wooden
    Catholic News Service
    December 31, 2007

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- From the war-torn lands of Iraq and Sri Lanka to violence-ridden neighborhoods around the world, at least 20 Catholic Church workers were murdered or sacrificed their lives for others in 2007, the Vatican's Fides agency said.

    Each year, Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, publishes a list of pastoral workers who died violently. The 2007 list was released Dec. 29. The Fides report included a priest whose death was found most likely to be self-induced and accidental.  While Fides does not refer to the missionaries as martyrs -- technically a term reserved for those the church formally recognizes as having given their lives for the faith -- it said it was important to remember their sacrifices and to recognize that "each one of them, in a different way, contributed to the growth of the church in various parts of the world."

    The list included Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni and three subdeacons who were shot outside a church in Mosul, Iraq, in June; and Father Nicholaspillai Packiyaranjith, a diocesan priest who worked with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Mannar, Sri Lanka, and was killed in September when a roadside bomb exploded as he was driving to a refugee camp.

    Fides also highlighted the case of Sister Anne Thole, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Family, who died in April trying to rescue three patients trapped in a fire in an AIDS clinic in Ratschitz, South Africa.

    The Fides' list included 14 priests, the three Iraqi subdeacons, a Marist brother, Sister Thole and a seminarian from the Society of St. Paul. Besides the four killed in Iraq, two died in Mexico, three died in the Philippines, two died in Colombia, two in Spain, two in South Africa and one each in Brazil, Guatemala, Kenya, Rwanda and Sri Lanka. 

    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0707419.htm
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/02 00:17:34 (permalink)
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    A Saint for our time: Sister Anne Thole's story
     
    Nun perishes saving Aids patients from fire
    by Greg Arde
    The Mercury
    April 3, 2007
    South Africa

    In what has been described as an act of martyrdom, a 35-year-old nun working at an Aids hospice outside Dundee died at the weekend trying to rescue patients from a fire. Sister Anne Thole, had worked at the Roman Catholic Church's Maria Ratschitz Mission, tending to Aids patients. The fire had broken out in a thatched-roof building on Saturday night, apparently ignited by a patient's cigarette, according to Irmingard Thalmeier.

    Thalmeier is a medical doctor and nun who started the hospice, 30km from Dundee, beneath the Hlatikulu Mountain. She said five of the eight patients had been evacuated, but three men had perished in the flames along with Thole.

    Thole had worked at the hospice since 2005 and had come from Nkandla. "She was a lovely, intelligent and unselfish person," said Thalmeier. "We managed to get five of the patients out. We were trying to get back into the building when somebody called us and we were distracted, but Sister Anne went in. The fumes became too much and the roof collapsed," she said.

    Retired Bishop Michael Rowland, who lives 500m from the hospice, said: "It was very dramatic. I was woken by a caller saying the hospice was on fire. By the time I got there, the building was blazing and we tried to put it out with garden hoses, but the wooden staircase and thatch were a column of fire."

    Rowland said: "Sister Anne was so brave. She gave her life for the patients. She exuded tremendous joy and had a great love of her vocation. She played the guitar well, and ran the choir and sang. All the novices loved her."

    http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=13&art_id=vn20070403040457392C219935
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/02 01:05:13 (permalink)
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    Dear friends,
     
    A side bar note of interest: Recently, the Vatican announced its intention to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Pope John Paul II's September 30, 1988 Apostolic Letter, Mulieris Dignitatem -- his Encyclical on ‘the Dignity and Vocation of Women’. If you are new to Circles, you might not know about our new forum that serves as host facility for our www.womenpriests.org "Online Congress on 'Mulieris Dignitatem' -- Equal Dignity of Men and Women in Creation." 

    The purpose is to provide information, academic material and create space for dialogue about the encyclical.
    It is our hope that our on-line parallel Congress will ensure that the faithful, journalists, and reporters have an opportunity to hear 'the other side' -- balancing perspectives about the document. 

    We have divided the encyclical into six sections which we have identified as meriting (sp?) separate examination and discussion. I will serve as Moderator.  Although some threads in the Congress might overlap with topics that are already running, our intention is to create special focus that parallels celebratory activities that will be running in Rome during 2008.  In each section, we will provide a separate page listing readings on our website.  And we will include reviews by a variety  of well-known theologians commenting on each section of the encyclical. Much more to follow!  I will keep you posted!
     
    You can easily link into the Congress by clicking here: http://www.womenpriests.org/circles/tt.asp?forumid=22.  The Congress topic listings are also available on our Forum main page (available here: http://www.womenpriests.org/circles/default.asp)
     
    If you have any questions, please let me know.
     
    with love and blessings,
     
    ~Sophie~
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/02 01:05:58 (permalink)
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    Dear friends,

    The story of Sister Anne Thole's courage brings to mind a current discussion in our Congress.

    Mulieris Dignitatem raises many questions about John Paul II's comprehension of women in the real world.  His mother died when he was very young.  He grew up without sisters in Poland in the very early twentieth century. In his encyclical, he expresses his view that a woman's vocation lies either in motherhood or virginity.  He identifies no parallel limitations for men. Did his own 'real life' experience limit his understanding of women's capacities and gifts? In 'real life,' is it true that women's vocations are expressed in either motherhood or virginity? JPII writes:




    The woman's motherhood in the period between the baby's conception and birth is a biophysiological and psychological process which is better understood in our days than in the past and is the subject of many detailed studies. Scientific analysis fully confirms that the very physical constitution of women is naturally disposed to motherhood - conception, pregnancy and giving birth - which is a consequence of the marriage union with the man. At the same time, this also corresponds to the psychophysical structure of women. What the different branches of science have to say on this subject is important and useful, provided that it is not limited to an exclusively biophysiological interpretation of women and motherhood. (Mulieris Dignitatem § 18)

    A question was raised in our Congress about what JPII meant when he referred to the “psychophysical structure of women”?   Our enquirer asked 'how is it different from the psychophysical structure of men?'

    The story of Sister Anne Thole's courage brings that discussion to mind. In the Congress we learned that The 'scientific analysis' referred to goes mainly back to a Dutch psychologist, F.J.J. Buytendijk who wrote a book De Vrouw [="Woman"], (published by Aula, Utrecht 1961) and which was eagerly picked up by such conservative theologians as Louis Bouyer and Hans Urs von Balthasar who were favourites of an influenced John Paul II. Buytendijk claims that a man's psychology is centered on his chest, and a woman's on her womb. In short, his view (pp 162 - 163 in the book) can be summarised as follows:

    MAN - CHEST

    • chest considered as the massive and central bodiness of a man
    • man speaks from the chest (courage related to Coeur-heart), only if
      courage fails emotion sinks to the stomach
    • expanded chest: symbol of deed, aggression, creation (vegetative part suppressed)
    • arms symbol of power and muscle
    • male sickness: heart failure, angina pectoris, etc.

    WOMAN - WOMB

    • womb consired as the massive and central bodiness of woman ('woman is a full-grown ovary')
    • woman speaks and thinks from the womb
    • womb experienced as a space of life, continuation, reproduction that a woman undergoes passively
    • breast (upward expansion of the womb) expression of softness,
      motherliness, youthfulness
    • female sicknesses: digestion, gallstones

    When we study Buytendijk's analysis, we understand why it is called "psychophysical". It goes without saying that his 'analysis' is considered VERY questionable and based on the presumptions of his time.

    In light of Sister Anne Thole's demonstrated courage, what do you think?  Is courage, as Buytendijk contends, a feature that distinguishes men from women?  Can men and women be sorted out and pigeon holed into neat categories as to giftedness and capacities?  I encourage you to join us in dialogue about this in our Congress thread, Women as Mothers You can pick up on point by clicking here: RE: Women as Mothers .  I look forward to hearing your viewpoints.
     
    If you have any questions, please let me know.
     
    with love and blessings,
     
    ~Sophie~
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/02 06:46:30 (permalink)
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    This day January 2 in 1873 marked the birth of one of three woman Doctors of the Church, Saint Therese of Lisieux.

     
    St. Thérèse of Lisieux
    Icon by Robert Lentz

    I sense in myself the vocation
    of Warrior, Priest, Apostle,
    Doctor, and Martyr.

    In the heart of the Church,
    my Mother,
    I will be love.

     
    St. Thérèse
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/03 02:58:26 (permalink)
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    Dear friends,

    Many people do not know that St. Therese discerned within herself a calling to the vocation of priesthood. On October 19, 1997, John Paul II declared Thérèse a Doctor of the Church. Although the Roman authorities may not have realised this, their recognition of her orthodox faith and soundness of her teaching may unwittingly have profound positive consequences for the ordination of women. St. Thérèse had a deep and earnest longing to be a priest.  Implicitly in her expression of her calling, she gave testimony to her deep ‘Catholic sense’ that women can and should be ordained.
     


    In his article Saint Therese and the Question of Ordination of Women, our website founder who now serves as our Academic Advisor, Dr. John Wijngaards shares some of his studies about this mighty saint. In the article, he investigates:
    • Thérèse's longing for the priesthood
    • the reasons of the heart
    • her enduring testimony

    A link to the article is here: http://www.womenpriests.org/teaching/therese.asp. Please enjoy!

    With love and blessings,

    ~Sophie~
    post edited by Sophie - 2008/01/03 05:18:51
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/03 05:19:32 (permalink)
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    Thérèse in the role of Joan of Arc
    Thérèse wrote a play about Saint Joan of Arc
    for her sister Pauline's (Mother Agnes) Feast Day, January 21, 1895.



    Therese of Lisieux -
    dressed as Joan of Arc
    Lisieux, France 1894



    Therese as Joan of Arc (Detail)
    This photo was taken early in 1895. She is 22 years old, and has just begun to write the first section of her autobiography.
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/03 20:32:34 (permalink)
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    When I think about the fact that in the standard stories about St. Therese we are never told that about her sense of calling to a to life of warrior, priest, apostle, doctor, martyr -- she wrote a play about Joan of Arc, she yearned to be a priest -- it strikes me that like the Virgin Mary, the institutional spin that's been given to her constitutes an attempt to 'tame' her and turn her into a docile woman who basically fit the bill of what ecclesiastical men thought represented a version of the 'uniform perfect' passive, submissive and quiet woman.

    There is a lot more to her and how she was called by God than the standard stories tell us.

    Therese

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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/03 20:37:37 (permalink)
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    The standard story shapes her as an idealised version of who 'they' thought she should be as a 'woman' and does not completely reflect who she was as a person. The standard story doesn't tell us the whole story of her giftedness, her aspirations, and how she heard God calling her. Instead, she is shaped into a role that serves the needs of those with the institutional power.


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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/03 23:31:53 (permalink)
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    Dear friends,

    It is interesting that Joan of Arc's name comes up in conversation.  A woman of tremendous courage, she stands now as patron saint of many who among others include those who challenge the Church.  Because of a Church tribunal's wrongful conviction of her on the charge of heresy, she was formally excommunicated and subsequently burned to death at the stake.  Twenty five years later, reluctantly willing to acknowledge there might have been a mistake, Rome commissioned a review of her conviction.  The result: she was completely exhonerated (a little too late for her considering her being burned to death by Church authorities.)  She was later beatified and canonised. 

    This day January 3 bears significance in her story:


    On this day January 3 in 1431 - Joan of Arc is handed over to the Bishop Pierre Cauchon.
    That Saint Therese felt a kinship with Joan and viewed her as a role model speaks volumes about her (Therese) character and her sense of how she felt women could serve. To those who are new to Circles, I promise, we will learn more about both Saints Therese and Joan.  In the meantime, because Therese often expressed her yearning to be a priest, we do have a dialogue thread devoted to her.  If you are interested in conversation about her, the thread begins here: St Therese of Lisieux was called to be a priest  
     
    with love and blessings,

    ~Sophie~
    post edited by Sophie - 2008/01/03 23:55:11
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/04 00:03:10 (permalink)
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    Dear friends,

    St. Therese's vocation to the priesthood preoccupied her to the end of her life.  She wrote about it, spoke boldly about it and believed that she would be a good preacher...mentioning sometimes that she would be even better than some priests that she heard.


    Saint Therese of Lisieux

    Well known lecturer, writer and preacher from Stockholm, Sweden, Catherine Broome, OP contributes to our dialogue with her article, The Priestly Vocation of Therese of the Child Jesus.  As Broome points out, when Pope John Paul II proclaimed Therese a Doctor of the Church in 1997 (the third woman in Christian history to be honoured this way) through his words and deeds and guided by the Holy Spirit,  when Pope John Paul II proclaimed Therese a Doctor of the Church in 1997, he confirmed that Therese was sent by God to help our Church interpret the signs of the times and come ‘closer to the will of God.’
     
    Besides examining Therese's vocation to priesthood, Broome includes plenty of discussion about the three of our women doctors of our Church (Saints Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and Therese of Lisieux). Broome notes notes, "A long tradition was broken when, within a short period of time, three women were named Doctors of the Church."  In her article, Broome looks at:
    • women Doctors as spiritual authorities
    • highlights of some of their writings
    • Teresa, Catherine and Therese's vocational callings
    • explores how both Catherine and Therese strongly and clearly expressed their callings to be priests
    • examines qualities that distinguish a Doctor
    I welcome you -- dive into the article! You can connect with it here:
    http://www.womenpriests.org/called/broome.asp

    With love and blessings,

    ~Sophie~
    post edited by Sophie - 2008/01/04 00:11:19
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/04 01:55:00 (permalink)
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    Blessed Angela of Foligno
    Feastday: January 4
    1309
     

     
    A Franciscan tertiary and mystic, Angela was born in Foligno, Italy.  In 1248 she married and had several children. Wealthy, she took part in the social events of the city until 1285 when she had a vision. Following that mystical experience, Angela became a member of the Franciscan Third Order. When her husband died, she gave away her possessions and started a community of tertiaries devoted to the care of the needy. Her visions were recorded by her confessor and demonstrated a mature mystical union with Christ and the gift of revelation. She is sometimes called "the Mistress of Theologians." Her tomb is in the church of St. Francis in Foligno.
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/04 01:58:32 (permalink)
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    Blessed Angela of Foligno, OSF (AC)

    Born in Foligno (near Assisi), Italy, c. 1260-70; died January 4, 1309; cultus confirmed in 1693.
     
    Blessed Angela was self-indulgent early in life, living a worldly life of riches. She was quite young when she married, and when she was widowed about 1290. Around that time she experienced a conversion and joined the Third Order of Saint Francis. Once her husband and all her children had died, she gave herself up completely to God. Consistent with a life dedicated to penance, she donated all her possessions to the poor and lived only on charity.
     
    Angela is remembered as a mystic, a form of spirituality that gained prominence in the Western Church around the mid-11th century. Mysticism is an attempt to reach a knowledge of and union with God directly and experientially. The mystic renounces his senses and the images they offer of God, called the via negativa, in order to allow God to replace them.
     
    Mysticism is characterized by an abnormal psychic state which may culminate in ecstasy. Such states are sanctified when the individual is perfectly united with God and the whole personality is fully free; otherwise, it may simply be a sign of psychosis. True mystical experience leads the individual to an ever more passionate love of God. As a rule, mystics exhibit extraordinary self-knowledge.
     
    At the request of her confessor, Friar Arnold, Angela dictated to him an account of her visions and ecstasies in which she reveals herself as one of the greatest mystics. Authentic transcriptions of the visions and messages of Blessed Angela are now housed in Assisi, Subiaco, and Rome. These originals are much more vivid than the logical arrangements made from them in the 15th century and reproduced by the Bollandists. They make it possible to sense the overwhelming religious ecstasy of Blessed Angela.
    In them it is especially the Passion that we relive with her: a vision of absolute torture in which even the words of Christ seem to be heard:

    Then, as He was showing me all that He had endured for me, He said to me: 'What can you do which suffices you?' . . . He showed me His torn beard, His eyebrows and His head; He enumerated the entire list of His sufferings of the scourging . . . and He said: 'I suffered all that for you . . .' and He said: 'What can you do for me which suffices you?' And then I wept and moaned so ardently that the tears burnt my flesh. Then I had to pour cold water on myself to cool off (1).
     
    . . . When I had arisen for the prayer, Christ appeared to me on the Cross . . . And He called me and told me to put my mouth on the wound on His side. And it seemed to me that I saw and drank His blood flowing from His side . . . and He purified me. And then I experienced a great joy, although contemplating the Passion I felt very sorrowful. And I prayed to God to have me, as He Himself had done, shed all my blood (2).
     
    And He began by saying to me: 'My daughter, sweet to me, my daughter, my delight, my temple, my daughter, love me, for you are greatly loved by me, more than you love me.' (3).
     
    And I swooned and lost the use of my speech. And it seemed to me that my soul entered into the side of Christ; and it was not sadness, but a kind of indescribable joy (4).
     
    On Thursday of Holy Week I went to meditate upon the incarnate Son of God . . . and a divine voice spoke to my soul, saying: 'I did not love you as a joke.' These words caused me mortal pain for immediately the eyes of my soul were opened and I saw all that He suffered in life and death . . . and that it was not as a joke but because of perfect and tender love that He loved me. And I say that it was just the opposite with me; for I only loved Him as a joke and not really. And it caused me mortal pain and such unbearable suffering that I thought I would die.
     
    And after He had said: 'I did not love you as a joke' . . . He said: 'I did not serve you by pretending. . . .' My soul then exclaimed: 'Oh master, what you say is not in your heart fills mine completely. For I never wished to approach You in truth so as to feel the pains you bore for me. And I served You only through simulation and falsehood.' . . . And on seeing just the opposite in me such pain and suffering filled my heart that I thought I would die; and I felt as if the sides of my chest were being disjoined and that my heart would burst . . . And He continued, saying: 'I am closer and more intimate with your soul than your soul is with itself!' And this increases my suffering.

    This is just a small sampling of Blessed Angela's writing about her mystical experiences.
     
    The collection of the Rotuli is enriched by a large number of letters or notes that Angela wrote to her disciples and in which she develops her spiritual doctrine. Through poverty and detachment, she lead them to the contemplation of the Passion. In the midst of the doctrines of the so-called Spirituals, among whom she lived, Angela defended orthodoxy. She and her group trace out a road on which all the ardor of human love as well as contemplation aspire to be united to divine wisdom. She died surrounded by many of these male and female disciples whom she loved as children. Considered by her contemporaries as a saint, Angela became the subject of a faithful cultus immediately after her death--a cultus that has been approved by the Church (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Harrison, Martindale).

    http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0104.shtml
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/01/04 02:06:25 (permalink)
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    This day January 4 marks the feastday and 1821 death of Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native born United States citizen to be named a saint (b. 1774)



    Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton (RM)

    Born in New York, New York, United States of America, August 28, 1774; died in Emmitsburg, Maryland, USA, January 4, 1821; beatified by Pope John XXIII; canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975.

    When I consider the life of Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, I am reminded that we must be ever conscious that we are children of the King and Queen. With that in mind, we must act with the magnanimity of our Father because we never know when God will use us to draw others to Himself.

    Elizabeth Seton, the first native-born citizen of the United States ever to be canonized, was born into the devout Episcopalian family headed by her father Dr. Richard Bayley, a well-known physician and professor of anatomy at King's College (now Columbia), and her mother Catherine Charlton, who was the daughter of the Anglican rector of Saint Andrew's Church, Staten Island. Her mother died when Elizabeth was three-years-old. Although her father remarried, Elizabeth and her younger sister Mary were his favorites.

    Her unusual, but far-reaching, education and character formation were his supreme concerns. He taught her to curb her natural vivaciousness. Dr. Bayley's second wife had seven children, so these two were under the special care of their father. (It may be worth noting that one of Elizabeth's stepbrothers became the Catholic Archbishop James Roosevelt Bayley of Baltimore.) Elizabeth was 11-years-old when the Revolutionary War ended. Bayley was a Loyalist during the British occupation of New York.

    Even in childhood, Elizabeth delighted in prayer and in spiritual reading, especially the lives of the saints, the Bible, and Imitation of Christ. She was also devoted to her Guardian Angel.

    After the war, Bayley was made Inspector General in the New York Department of Health. In 1792, he was appointed to the Anatomy Chair in the Department of Medicine at Columbia College.

    At 19 (in 1794), Elizabeth married William Magee Seton, a first- generation American of English parentage and heir-apparent to a rich shipping firm. After her marriage, Elizabeth became an active philanthropist, so active that she became known in New York as the "Protestant Sister of Charity."

    In 1797, already the mother of two, she was one of the founders of a society designed to help poor widows with small children.

    William and Elizabeth were deeply in love and gave life to five children: Anna Maria was born in 1795; William, Jr. in 1796; Richard; Catherine; and Rebecca (b. 1802). Financial calamity visited the family business in the form of the war between France and England--many of their ships were seized--and the business failed. William's father died leaving him to look after his siblings. Then his health, too, failed--he contracted tuberculosis. In 1802, her father, Dr. Bayley, who had pioneered research in surgery, diphtheria, and yellow fever, contracted yellow fever and died.

    Because of his tuberculosis, William's doctors felt he should spend winter in sunny Italy in 1803-1804. He had been a guest there of the Filicchi brothers in Leghorn several years before his marriage. So Elizabeth, William, and the eldest daughter Anna Maria arranged to spend several months with the Filicchi's.

    Due to a yellow fever epidemic in New York, they were quarantined on the ship for four weeks after the seven-week voyage. Elizabeth never complained about the sad state of affairs, even in her diary. She took everything cheerfully as permitted by a loving God for their good. William Seton died in Pisa, Italy, in December 1803-- nine days after their release from quarantine--but had progressed much spiritually during their confinement.

    Elizabeth converted to Catholicism primarily due to God, but instrumentally due to the Filicchi family, especially Antonio. They visited Florence. She went to church with Signora Filicchi and experienced a crisis when she saw the elevated Host one Sunday. Living with the Filicchi's dispelled her myths regarding Catholicism, because of their piety, virtue, love for one another, and charity. "If the practice of the Catholic faith could produce such interior holiness," she felt she must learn more about their Church. Sra. Filicchi kept a strict Lenten fast--allowing nothing until after 3:00 p.m. Elizabeth liked going to Mass every day.

    Antonio Filicchi advised her that only the Catholic Church had the true faith and asked her to seek and pray for enlightenment. Elizabeth returned to New York on June 3, 1804, and put herself under instruction. Unfortunately, she advised her Rector Hobart and her family of her decision. All tried to sway her. She fell into despair until Epiphany 1805, when her reading roused her to action.

    She was received into the Catholic Church on the March 14, 1805, with Antonio Filicchi as her sponsor. Elizabeth had returned to a bankrupt firm, so she was entirely dependent upon her relatives for her support. It would have been easy, if she had remained an Episcopalian. Instead, she was ostracized by her family and friends when she became a Catholic, except by her two sisters-in- law, Harriet and Cecilia Seton.

    Antonio, Father O'Brien (the Dominican Rector of Saint Peter's Church), and Father Cheverus of Boston helped her financially. She decided to teach at a new girls' school, but it was rumored that she would instill Catholicism among her students and after three months, the school lost all its pupils and had to close. So, she arranged another teaching position. Fifteen-year-old Cecilia Seton announced then that she was becoming Catholic and was thrown out of her home. Cecilia sought refuge with Elizabeth setting off a storm that had Elizabeth lose this second job.

    Elizabeth sought a new calling. A new, very holy priest came into her life--Father William Valentine du Bourg (Dubourg), a Sulpician Father, who was President of the Sulpician College of Saint Mary in Baltimore. He said Mass at Saint Peter's in New York in August 1807, when the woman in widow's dress came to receive Communion with tears streaming down her face in rapt devotion.

    A few hours later, she called the rectory and requested the privilege of meeting Father du Bourg, who recognized her at once and listened attentively to the story of her conversion and present difficulties. Father du Bourg had been contemplating establishing a Catholic girls' school in Baltimore and proposed that she found a religious community to take up this work, since there was none in Baltimore for teaching.

    Bishop John Carroll, Father Cheverus, and Father Matignon were consulted and encouraged her, but they thought she should wait. She waited one year. In June 1808, Father du Bourg met with her in New York again at the home of Mrs. Barry. She immediately went to Baltimore and opened Saint Joseph's School for girls next to the chapel of Saint Mary's Seminary. This marked the beginning of the Catholic system of parochial schools in America.

    She and her associates lived as religious under a rule and wore habits. Cecilia Conway of Philadelphia joined her. Another recent convert, Mr. Cooper of Virginia, died leaving money for the education of poor children. With this they bought a farm near Emmitsburg, Maryland. Elizabeth's sisters-in-law Cecilia and Harriet also joined them. Elizabeth and her daughter Anna Maria took private vows before Archbishop Carroll.

    In December 1809, Harriet Seton died, Cecilia followed in April 1810. In 1810, Bishop Flaget obtained in France the rule of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, changed the rule somewhat. Three sisters were selected to train them, but Napoleon forbade them to leave. The revised rule was approved by Archbishop Carroll in January 1812 and Elizabeth was elected as the Superior of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Joseph. Anna Maria died during her novitiate in 1812, taking her final vows on her deathbed, but Mother Seton and 18 sisters made their vows on July 19, 1813. Thus was founded the first American religious society.

    The sisters were very active, establishing a free schools, orphanages, and hospitals. They became most well-known, however, for their work with the then growing parochial school system, which became one of the glories of the Catholic Church in the United States. In addition to her responsibilities to the congregation, Mother Seton personally worked with the poor and sick, composed music, wrote hymns, and penned spiritual discourses.

    Of Elizabeth's children, Rebecca died in 1816; Richard died in Italy in 1821 (the same year as his mother Elizabeth); William, Jr. entered the Navy and died in 1868. Mother Catherine Seton, daughter of the saint and the first postulant of the New York Sisters of Mercy, died at age 91 in 1891, she prepared many condemned criminals for death.

    Saint Elizabeth was a charming and cultivated woman of determined character. In the face of all the social pressures her 'world,' Elizabeth was devout and comfortable as an Episcopalian, but she persevered in religion and responded to God's call for her to extend and develop the Catholic Church in the United States. Of all the attendant discouragements and difficulties she faced, the hardest to bear were interior to herself; for example, she detested having to exercise authority over others and she suffered much from bouts of spiritual aridity. But she conquered in the Sign she had chosen and conquered heroically.

    By the time of her death, her inspiration spread to the founding of nearly two dozen sister communities around the U.S. Today the congregation is one of the most numerous and influential of its kind. Her cause was introduced in 1907 by Cardinal Gibbons, archbishop of Baltimore. Impressive cures claimed as miraculous during her cause include one from leukemia and another from severe meningitis.

    In his canonization allocution, at which 1,000 nuns of her order from North and South America, Italy, and missionary countries were represented, the pope stressed her extraordinary contributions as a wife, mother, and consecrated sister; the example of her dynamic and authentic witness for future generations; and the affirmation of "that religious spirituality which your (i.e., American) temporal prosperity seemed to obscure and almost make impossible."

    One by one, God took away the foundations on which Elizabeth's comfortable life was built, substituting a faithful Catholic family in Italy, a new faith, and new spiritual guides distinguished for their holiness and wisdom, and led her, like Abraham, into a strange new land (Attwater, Bentley, Cushing, J. Delaney, S. Delany, Farmer, Walsh, White).

    http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0104.shtml
    post edited by Sophie - 2008/01/04 02:10:33
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