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Women Priests and the Eucharist

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2009/04/10 11:15:09 (permalink)

Women Priests and the Eucharist

The Mystical Supper, Icon by Simon Ushakov (1685).

Dear friends,

We have just celebrated Holy Thursday.  As the Christian feast or holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter, four events are commemorated on this day:
  • the washing of the Disciples' Feet by Jesus Christ
  • the institution of the the Eucharist at the Last Supper
  • the agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane
  • and the betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot.

Speak of the Last Supper and countless artistic renditions portraying Jesus and the Twelve seated at a banquet table almost immediately come to mind.  Reinforced by art and fused in our psyches is the notion that the Last Supper was a man only meal. The long held assumption that it was a man only mean has given powerful support to the notion that because they (the men only) are with Christ at the Last Supper, they alone receive the sacramental charge, "Do this in remembrance of me," (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:240 which is joined to the institution of the Eucharist -- and reinforcement of the notion that only men can be priests.

The event has significance in the case for women priests.

From the Vatican's point of view, one of the most compelling arguments  - so it says -- that supports that ban against women priests is the so-called example of Jesus:
  • he chose only male apostles
  • only the twelve apostles were present at the Last Supper. Since this is where he instituted the Eucharist, only men can preside at mass.

But is it true?  Were only men there? And if the Last Supper contains some of the foundational elements of ordained priesthood, what kind of priesthood was being modelled by Jesus?

What do you think?  With help from our library and some of our galleries, we will explore.

with love and blessings,

post edited by Sophie - 2009/04/10 20:19:18

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    RE: Women Priests and the Eucharist 2009/04/10 14:48:55 (permalink)
    The Last Supper: Leonardo da Vinci   
    ** zoomable version, see here:
    The Last Supper - Very High Resolution zoomable version 
    Leonardo da Vinci's iconic painting, The Last Supper reinforces traditional interpretations that The Last Supper was a memorable meal shared only by men.

    But is it true that no women were present at Christ's last meal? Can da Vinci's rendition be relied on to provide an accurate historical account of the meal?  What does Scripture say? Is it true that only men were present at this meal? 

    da Vinci's masterpiece is for many Christians the clearest image they have of Christ's last meal with his disciples. The fact that it is great art perhaps explains how an artistic interpretation can serve to reinforce inaccuracies and and assumptions made about the actual event.

    Thanks to work of scripture scholars and historians, we are now learning that the Vatican has a problem when it attempts to gird the ban against women priests by arguing, 'There were no women present.'
    post edited by Sophie - 2009/04/10 20:19:39
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    RE: Women Priests and the Eucharist 2009/04/10 15:06:07 (permalink)
    Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper

    The Inaccuracies in the painting and features for which da Vinci made no account

    Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" is for many the clearest image they have of Christ's last meal with his disciples. Yet though it is great art, da Vinci's painting it should not be mistaken for history.  Examination of details show inaccuracies da Vinci's masterful rendition of the Holy meal.  For instance:
    1. The painting shows daylight outside the window, but the actual Last Supper took place at night
    2. The figures are seated about the tables on benches, whereas Jesus and his disciples reclined on couches
    3. Da Vinci shows a meal of fish and ordinary bread, yet a Passover meal consists of unleavened bread, roast lamb and bitter herb
    4. Da Vinci shows only Jesus and the twelve apostles, omitting
      • women, yet the Passover had to be eaten by whole families including women
      • children, yet the laws of Passover require children to ask questions so that they can learn the meaning of the Passover meal from their parents
      • the disciples who prepared the meal during the day

    5. Da Vinci shows thirteen Renaissance Italian males in oriental costume in a Florentine palace, not a Jewish celebration of the Passover in Palestine.
    This features do not detract from the painting. It is after all an artistic interpretation of an event.  Nonetheless, it should not be confused with the actual event.
    post edited by Sophie - 2009/04/10 20:19:56
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