Women Can Be Priests
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Can women be icons of Christ?

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RE: Can women be icons of Christ? 2008/06/10 19:39:34 (permalink)
Sorry, that was me (Kitty) who posted above about my daughter.
 
Since we've been talking a lot about icons in this thread, I wondered if I could call your attention to the Eastern nativity icons. Something I noticed even when I was really young is that Mary is typically turned away from the baby Christ in these paintings. Mary and Joseph are also "apart" from each other; each one is solitary--somber and preoccupied by the significance of the event. The fact that the Christ child is often depicted lying in a coffin also underscores the total significance of the incarnation.
 
For an example, go here--sorry this is the highest resolution they have.
 
Point is: There is no sentimental "maternalism" or nuclear family in this image--nothing conjugal, no bride and bridegroom stuff, no great "gender" divide. . .nada. Those things are totally overshadowed by what is really going on.
 
I know it's another example but the question of whether a woman can image Christ brought me back to this icon, which has always seemed to me to be so rich, so deep--precisely because it eclipses gender. Oh, and apparently Rome disapproved of those midwives (bottom right) and eventually turfed them out of any of their nativity images--I read this on an Orthodix site!
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RE: Can women be icons of Christ? 2008/06/10 20:36:40 (permalink)
This icon makes me think of the priesthood of Mary (she is/was afterall the first priest of Christ.) And the mid-wives -- also priests mediating the delivery of the sacred to the world.

It is interesting that Jesus was born in a manger. Manger = place for animals to eat food. He presents himself as humble but essential food for the world.

The food imagery comes up again at the Last Supper.

When we eat the food, it is incorporated into us. I am a woman. I am a temple of the Holy Spirit, of Christ just as any man is. I am an icon of Christ just as much as any man is.

In order for the Bride/Bridegroom imagery to work (it doesn't), the Vatican expects us to buy into gymnastic back flips, to suspend common sense, to ignore many other images that Christ tells us about himself, and to ignore important facts/details and discrepancies that arise in the von Balthasar theorizing.

In the way that I hear God calling me, it doesn't include shutting down my brain or my nature as an icon of Christ when I enter into my faith community.

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RE: Can women be icons of Christ? 2008/06/11 02:28:51 (permalink)
Think for a moment about what the Vatican is saying: to be a priest you have to physically look like Christ.
 
Well what did Christ look like?
 
He was certainly not a woman. But was he white, black, Asian? Did he have blonde, brown, red, or black hair? Were his eyes blue, green, or brown? How tall was he? Was he thin or fat, muscular or slight in build? Did he look like a typical Jewish man? What did a typical Jewish man look like? Just how far do we have to go to physically image Christ? Does any of this really matter?
 
When I was about 4 years old, my father took me to Mass. He told me we were going to visit God. At that time the Mass as still in Latin. The Church was an old stone cathedral with hard wooden benches and padded kneelers. Because I could not understand anything I was hearing, I became bored and crawled under the pew to play there. When the homily began I heard a language I recognized and surfaced from under the pew. I remember asking my father “Is that God?” My father said no that is the priest. I did not believe him and wanted to see who was talking. My dad then lifted me up to see. When I saw the priest at the pulpit I remember being very disappointed. The priest was a man. He was not God. This image of a man could not even deceive a child.  
 
Today when I see a priest, I do not see God or the image of Christ. I see a man. However it is only when he speaks (depending on what is in his heart) that I may begin to see Christ. The Word was made flesh so that God could personally communicate with us and help us learn how to Love. The Word was not made flesh to make physical characteristics define the message or the messenger. Christ was a physician and a teacher and a friend. He taught us the importance of love and mercy and forgiveness. It was all about love not all about being a man, male, or masculine.
 
Just how could the message become so distorted that the gender of Christ is just as important if not more important than the Word?  Just how could it be more important that a male bring the bread of life to people over the importance of bringing eternal life to as many people as possible? I really don’t understand how they can profess to be Disciples of Christ and then treat women the way they do. I guess I never will.
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RE: Can women be icons of Christ? 2008/06/15 17:23:26 (permalink)
ORIGINAL: Guest

Hi -

I've been lurking on your forum and exploring the site for months--probably goes back years! I appreciate the debates here, as well as Sophie's posts and links.

I believe that women do image Christ, and can be priests, but fear that the Church will never allow it because it would dismantle most everything the Church says about gender and sex roles. If they open this door, they will never shut it. De-emphasizing gender and allowing woman's humanity to be the central focus would undermine the Church's view of proper male-female relations, sex roles, and the status of heterosexual marriage as well. And let's face it--they can't and won't go there, even though the Anglican Church has.

kitty





Dear Kitty,

I bid you a hearty welcome!  It is wonderful to hear from a 'lurker!'  If I can be of any help, please don't hesitate to ask.

In your description of yourself (in another post) as someone with feet both in the eastern and western  Church, I am reminded of Pope John Paul II's expression about the importance of learning how to 'breathe out of both lungs of the Church' (ie, east and west.)

Your contributions will certainly help to bring new insights to our dialogues here.  I look forward to hearing more from you!

with love and blessings,

~Sophie~
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RE: Can women be icons of Christ? 2008/06/17 21:11:50 (permalink)
Hi Sophie -
 
Thank you for welcoming me so warmly. I have found so much to explore on your awesome site. I wish more people would take the time to read all the articles and focus on what is being said and what is at stake!
 
Kitty
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RE: Can women be icons of Christ? 2008/06/17 22:43:33 (permalink)
I'm pleased that our parish priest actually touched on the question of "icons of Christ" in his sermon this past Sunday.  While he was not talking about women's ordination, he did mention the fact that all of us can be and are called to be icons, or representations, of Christ.  Not just men, all of us.  (He is also of the opinion that the church needs to re-examine the ideas of married priests, women's ordination, and possibly setting "term limits" for priests, which he mentioned in another sermon a year or so back.)
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RE: Can women be icons of Christ? 2008/06/18 00:12:26 (permalink)
Hurray that our Church has a priest such as yours!
 
We need many more like him who speak  up with courage about this.
 
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RE: Can women be icons of Christ? 2008/06/18 18:31:56 (permalink)

 
In your description of yourself (in another post) as someone with feet both in the eastern and western  Church, I am reminded of Pope John Paul II's expression about the importance of learning how to 'breathe out of both lungs of the Church' (ie, east and west.)
 

 
The Vatican apparently does not know how to breathe out of both lungs of the Church.
 
When it says that women do not bear an iconic resemblance to Christ, the Vatican speaks in ignorance of what icons are.
 
All of us point to the greater reality who is Christ. All of us are icons of Him.
 
The Vatican sadly shows tremendous lack of spiritual depth.  Are they the hollow men?

 
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RE: Can women be icons of Christ? 2008/08/16 23:23:21 (permalink)

It is very interesting that throughout the course of civilization, MEN have always defined what a WOMEN should be- how the should behave, what they should do, even what they should wear, to avoid punishment! Patriarchy originates in slavery with the subjugation of women to the will of the enslavers, which included objectification and negation of her personhood and control of her sexuality. This posture of male over female, enforced throughout history by physical restraint, rape and other forms of violence and abuse, finds little ground in the 21st century.
How many women, do you suppose, were invited to participate in the preparation of that ridiculous Vatican document meant to once again define, restrict and subjugate women to the will and authority of men? Women were left voiceless; "discussion closed- this is what you will be and how you will behave."
 
As long as God is maintained as male, males shall be gods. Patriarchy has become so ingrained in our subconscious and culture it is impossible for some people to imagine what an egalitarian society would look like!
 
As long as Patriarchy exists, women will be treated like sub- human beings, not just in church, but throughout culture and especially in third world countries!
 
Try thinking outside the patriarchical box... We are created in the image of God- male and female God created them. The true icon for Christ is both male and female.
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RE: Can women be icons of Christ? 2008/08/17 02:03:20 (permalink)
 
The problem is now men have become so arrogant that they are claiming God is masculine. So the human nature of Christ is not the only emphasis, now they are saying that God’s divine nature is masculine and as such is contrary to a woman’s nature. So how can a woman be an icon of a masculine spirit?
 
This is a disgraceful and immoral teaching by some “so called” theologians.  
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RE: Can women be icons of Christ? 2008/08/17 11:11:27 (permalink)
God is Spirit  so says Jesus in John 4           Female, Male  One in God        Unity of both genders  
 
   Jesus = Bakerwoman           Jesus = Widow  Jesus  = MotherHen    Jesus = Good Shepherd   Jesus = Vine        Female Images of God too, as taught us BY Jesus.
 
St. Paul calls himself too a Mother providing Milk for the Christians,   Female , and Male , Amma and Abba are God.
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RE: Can women be icons of Christ? 2008/08/31 21:10:06 (permalink)
If women are too different to be icons of Christ, why would God give the stigmata to female saints? I don’t believe women were executed by crucifixion.  If, as they say, the priest symbolizes Christ, and God is so gender conscious, why would the symbolism of a male form of execution be bestowed on a woman?
 
My sister recently gave me a Novena booklet of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. I read the story again and looked at the medal. The back of the medal particularly impressed me. Side by side were the heart of Jesus crowned with thorns and the heart of Mary pierced with a sword and above it was a large M holding up a cross. Looking at the image I saw something I had not seen before. There it was, Mary (M) holding up the sacrifice of her Son (the cross), like the priests holds up the host at Mass. Mary is offering up her son to God. She is the new Abraham. God chose a woman as the vehicle through which we may receive Christ in tangible form. It wasn’t the physical act of giving birth; it was the spiritual act of bringing God to the world.
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RE: Can women be icons of Christ? 2008/09/01 00:08:01 (permalink)
A beautiful image, icon and truth that Mary brings God to the world,
 
Mary  is priest having held her Son at birth, lfie and at death, crucifixion.  This is eucharist, Jesus brought to the world by Mary.
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RE: Can women be icons of Christ? 2008/11/20 19:56:11 (permalink)
Mother Teresa still has lessons to teach world, says priest-author
By Nancy Frazier O'Brien
Catholic News Service
November 19, 2008

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- More than 10 years after her death, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta still has lessons to teach the world, according to the priest who co-founded the Missionaries of Charity Fathers with her and has written a new book about her.


Mother Teresa

Father Joseph Langford, a 57-year-old native of Toledo, Ohio, said he wrote "Mother Teresa's Secret Fire" (Our Sunday Visitor, $19.95) to try to explain "what made Mother Teresa Mother Teresa" and how she sustained hope, joy and a belief in the possibility of change in the face of inner and external challenges.

"As America faces its own dark night of the soul," he said, Mother Teresa shows Americans and the rest of the world "how to live joyfully, creatively, in a way that leaves a legacy."

In a Nov. 18 interview with
Catholic News Service, Father Langford said Mother Teresa asked him to write the book after she revealed to him in 1986 the details of her "call within a call" 40 years earlier. On a day in 1946 that she came to call "inspiration day," as she was on a train to Darjeeling, India, to begin a retreat, Mother Teresa heard a call from God to give up her safe, relatively comfortable life as a schoolteacher and as a Sister of Loreto to live among the destitute and dying in Calcutta and establish a new religious community.

"She was not special, she was not unique, she had no special support system, and look what she did," the priest said.

Father Langford, ordained a priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary in 1978, was inspired to join in Mother Teresa's work by another book about her, Malcolm Muggeridge's "Something Beautiful for God." Together they founded the Missionaries of Charity Fathers in 1984; the order has its international headquarters in Tijuana, Mexico.

"My first meeting with her was mediated by a book," he said. "So I wanted to pay forward the blessing of having been close to her for 30 years."

The Albanian-born nun told Father Langford about her transformational experience as they were preparing a constitution for the priests' branch of the Missionaries of Charity. "There were things I wanted to include in the constitution about her way of seeing things, of experiencing things," he said. After she told her story, she told the priest, "One day you must tell the others."

The revelation that came to Mother Teresa on the train to Darjeeling centers on "the mystery of Jesus' thirst." Although Father Langford said the concept is too complex to summarize in a few words, Mother Teresa once called it "the depths of God's infinite longing to love and be loved."

"She was convinced that grace was given not only to a few but to everybody -- for the poorest of the poor and for the rest of us, as much as we could accept our own poverty," he said.

The book features many of Mother Teresa's own letters and other writings, which Father Langford said show "a tremendous depth of theology that I think is going to surprise people."

He also said many people misunderstood the message contained in a collection of her writings published last year as "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light." In the book, Mother Teresa described her own crises of faith and said she felt for many years that God had abandoned her.

By revealing her own inner struggles, Mother Teresa showed others the way out of darkness, Father Langford said, praising her ability to "make life beautiful where it is ugliest."

"I have seen with my own eyes how her message can touch, heal and change lives," he said. "My hope is that her message will transform the reader's life, even as it already has for so many others."


http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0805881.htm
Sophie
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RE: Can women be icons of Christ? 2008/11/20 19:57:06 (permalink)
Once
Mother Theresa was asked
how she could continue
day after day after day,
visiting the terminally ill:
feeding them, touching them,
wiping their brows,
giving them comfort
as they lay dying.
 
And she said,
"It's not hard,
because in each one
I see the face of Christ
in one of His more
distressing disguises."

 
And that
is Mother's teaching:
To urge us to see
the face of Christ
in each of His
numerous disguises
wherever we go.

 
- Elsa Joy Bailey
 
Dear friends,
 
Mother Teresa's observation about seeing the face of Christ in everyone she may have been borne from inspiration she obtained in her meditation on Matthew 25.
 
Despite the fact she so readily saw the face of Christ in everyone she met, one of the Vatican's arguments against women's ordination is that women do not bear an iconic resemblance to Christ.  In its 1976 Declaration, Inter Insigniores, (declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- CDF-- giving reasons why women cannot be ordained) the CDF maintained: 

26. The Christian priesthood is therefore of a sacramental nature: the priest is a sign, the supernatural effectiveness of which comes from the ordination received, but a sign that must be perceptible (18) and which the faithful must be able to recognize with ease.
 
27. The whole sacramental economy is in fact based upon natural signs, on symbols imprinted upon the human psychology: ‘Sacramental signs,’ says Saint Thomas, ‘represent what they signify by natural resemblance.(19) The same natural resemblance is required for persons as for things: when Christ’s role in the Eucharist is to be expressed sacramentally, there would not be this ‘natural resemblance’ which must exist between Christ and his minister if the role of Christ were not taken by a man: in such a case it would be difficult to see in the minister the image of Christ. For Christ himself was and remains a man.

Does what the CDF say make sense?  Or does Mother Teresa's perspective ring true?
 
Join us for discussion in our dialogue thread, Can women be icons of Christ?  Some of these readings from our library will add food for thought and help illuminate:
If you have any questions, please let me know.

with love and blessings,

~Sophie~
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