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Mary and God as Mother

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Alegria
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2007/04/06 21:23:58 (permalink)

Mary and God as Mother

Hey all
 
Someone made a post awhile ago explaining that we shouldn't equate Mary mother of Jesus with the feminine aspect of God, and I really wanted to respond to that but the post got lost in the shuffle so I thought I would add my thoughts in a topic, since it is kind of a large issue and one that keeps getting under people's skin.  Protestants use this equation to disparrage Catholics (I once heard Catholics referred to by an evangelical as "Isis worshippers" because of it), Catholics use it to disparrage other Catholics, or Catholics from other countries where Goddess worship once existed.  Higher level members of the heirarchy look askance at less "educated" groups, either in rural areas or in third world countries where Marianism is often tied to a belief in magic.  In RCIA we are told over and over "Mary was a creation, not the creator," There seems to be this kind of schitzophrenic back and forth between raising Mary to semi-divinity (Salve Regina, intercessor etc.)  and then putting her down again, keeping her in her place under Jesus, held in check between the Our Father and the Glory be.   
 
I do believe, as many feminst theologians argue, that there is a feminine aspect to God, some feminist theologians refer to her as Sophia or Shekhinah.  Not a Goddess per se, but the anima of the Godhead,  His heart.  There are several things that make me think this.  If, as I have been told the Male principle is active, the initiator, and hence God has to be male because He initated everything, then logically there must also be a Female or receptive principle. God feels, He oves and grieves,  He also hears our prayers and supplications.  That is the essence of receptivity and affectivity.  In Genesis there is a parallel between the statements "male and female He created them" and "Let us make man in our image."  I've heard a lot of people say that that is the Royal We, but what they don't seem to realize is that the Royal We, spoken by Kings and Queens, is actually a statement of one, the King, speaking in the name of all.  Then there is the name of God, Elohim, which is a feminine word in Hebrew, with a masculine ending.   
 
I do not believe that Mary and Shekhinah are the same, but I once had a vision in prayer of a kind of Russian doll structure, Jesus within Mary and Mary within Shekhinah, Shehkinah within God, maybe it was just my imagination.  Mary and Jesus  seem to have an almost parallel relationship.  Mary immaculate and Jesus born of a Virgin,  Mary of the Magnificat and Jesus of the Lord's Prayer.  Mary as the new Eve, Jesus as the new Adam,  Mary and the wine at Cana, and Jesus at the Last Supper,  Jesus' ascension and Mary's assumption.  The lines are different yet there are also strange, underlying links.  Makes you wonder.
 
Anyway I thought I would put this topic out there, any thoughts?
 
Peace
Alegria 
 
        

"Solo el amor con su ciencia nos vuelve tan inocentes" -Violeta Parra

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    Therese
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/04/06 21:43:10 (permalink)
    Hi Alegria,

    There must be energy waves surging through the cosmos about this!  I just was working on a post about the very same topic but scrapped it because things didn't seem to be coming out quite right. I like your Russian doll (matrioshka) imagery.  Quite fitting actually when one considers the eastern concept of theosis as exemplified in Mary.

    I agree that Mary is not the feminine face of God. God is not male or female.  Yet if we are made in the image of God, there must be aspects of both she and he.  Scripture itself is replete with feminine imagery of God.  In my view, it degrades God to insist that God is only a he.

    The eastern Church explains a concept called 'theosis'/deification. I don't know enough about it to confidently try to explain.  With God in the picture, the concept more or less resonates with Budhist enlightenment.   By working towards a life that is holy and spiritually focused, one gradually achieves a 'enlightenment' and is deified (becomes a saint.)  Christ's invitation is that we be partakers in Divinity -- literally.  We follow the path and we join God.  According to the Catholic Catechism , Christ came to make men (inclusively meant by CCC so they say!) into gods.  Mary is the prime example of one who has progressed through theosis. Because of her faithfulness to Christ -- in essence, she is his best disciple -- she has achieved deification. Shedding old skins, being transformed into new...

    Elizabeth Johnson's book She Who Is  is an excellent analysis on the feminine aspects of God.  Her book Truly our Sister, about Mary, put many things about her in perspective for me.  A disappointing feature for me about this second book was the absence of any focus on the eastern tradition about Mary. Emphasis on Mary only as 'human' reduces her in ways that I don't see as being totally accurate or good.  It's true, she is not creator. But, if she has made the journey of theosis successfully, in some ways she has become divine.  To deny this seems like a slam against women and men -- suggesting we stay in the little box of 'human.'  

    I am still thinking about this.  I am hoping Tina Beattie's new book about Mary will help clear this up.  From what I have read about it, Beattie and Boss (her co-author) make an attempt to more thoroughly article a blend of both east and west in their study of Mary. I've been waiting for a copy for a few months.  Amazon says that it is out but my copy has been on back order for quite a long time.

    still pondering.  Great topic.  I am glad you posted it.  I connnect quite deeply with Mary.  Strong devotion to the rosary. In our Church, it is mostly old, old people who gather to pray.  I am there with them when I can be.  I feel somehow it is a pray of the people -- Mary being one of us who walks with us, leads as we make our journey with Christ. 

    Therese
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/04/06 21:58:28 (permalink)
    an aspect I appreciated very much about Truly our Sister is how Johnson successfully showed me Mary's humanity.
     
    It has been the source of frequent consolation to connect with Mary as human instead of 'Queen reigning in heaven.'  I can relate to her as human.  She was/is one of us.  She walked the same path.  If she did it, then so can we.
     
    People love her so much because they connect with mother's love.  Her absence from Protestant faith has, in my view, been a detriment to them.  Many Protestants recognise this and have begun the process of bringing Mary back into their lives through acknowledging her presence.
    Therese
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/04/06 22:00:35 (permalink)
    Mary -- an earworm just entered my head!
     
    It is an old Carey Landry tune: Great things happen when God mixes with men.
     
    Humming my new version: Great things happen when God mixes with women.
    Sophie
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/04/06 22:50:47 (permalink)
    Dear Alegria and friends,

    In the process of hunting around for some articles that might provide nourishment for this discussion, I came across the following written by Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ.

    It is called, Incomprehensibility and the Female Imaging of God, and the Image of God Male and Female.  Johnson examines narratives of God.  She looks at the incomprehensibility and female images of God from the following perspectives:
    • biblical
    • early Christian
    • medieval

    She also examines proposals for revision including perspectives of:
    • feminine traits of God
    • the feminine dimension of the Divine
    • the image of God male and female


    The singular expression of God as male has led to distortions in our understanding of God.  You'll find Johnson's article helpful from the point of view of its 'image-breaking' content and perspectives about deepening our understanding of God.  The article is here: http://www.womenpriests.org/classic/johnson3.asp

    With love and blessings,
    ~Sophie~
     
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
     
    *Elizabeth Johnson, a sister of St. Joseph, is professor of theology at Fordham University; an international lecturer and a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. Her Ph.D. is from Catholic University of America.
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/04/09 15:53:56 (permalink)
    the fact that Mary shows up as God reflects the fact that patriarchy cannot suppress the human understanding of God as feminine as well as masculine
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/04/09 19:18:11 (permalink)
     Yes people intuitively know it takes 2 to tango, male and female. Eve and Adam together create new life.
    23 chromosones and the egg, 23 chromosones and the sperm and a child is conceived. Equal. Original blessing!
     
      Our hormones and all creation let us know that there is an equality of sexes in creation. Ying and yang.
    Original Blessing!  Other faiths have female components, but Catholic makes it remote and artificial by overemphasizing Church as "bride", how do male congregation feel about that? and priest as "groom"-yet he is supposed to be "celibate". What crazy contrivance and sick thinking this is!
     
      Contrived nonsense!  Priests  "make out" with congregation- altar boys and men included!
    Where is that in New Testament and teachings of Jesus?  Where does Mary Magdalene, Samaritan woman, Joanna, Susanna fit in with that?  Oh, too womanly for these priests! Too female!
     
         And Mary, Mother of Jesus,  is falsely dreamed up by this Church that she is silent, remote, sexless, submissive. Not according to the New Testament. Another litany of Roman clergy lies! Yeesh what harmful thinking this is to have a hierarchy dream up such abherrant "theology".
     
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/07/25 05:53:47 (permalink)
    What does God do all day long?
    God lies on a maternity bed giving birth all day long.
     
    • Meister Eckhart  
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/09/25 07:18:09 (permalink)
    Once pope John Paul I spoke about the image of God as Mother, but that's all I know (I was born later). Does exist a possibility that he was in favour of women's priesthood? Please insert proofs about this and not other foolishnesses.
    Sophie
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/09/25 13:48:59 (permalink)
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Hello dear friend,

    Your's is a good question.  I don't know the answer.  I will see what I can find out.  If there is someone among who has some insight, please sing out!

    with love and blessings,
    ~Sophie~
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/09/27 14:48:33 (permalink)
      Dear Allegria   I love your post about male-female elements of God and Mary-Jesus sacred elements of parallel religious components and similarities.  I love the Russian dolls image  too of the layers of divine energy infused in all, Mary and Jesus, Holy Spirit, God  and all people too., as part of the divine priesthood we all share.
      I too feel the profound sacredness of feminity-musculinity connectedness including how scientifically both men and women have both hormones at differing levels of course, estrogen and testosterone in our bodies, necessary for health and life.  Even at the cellular level our dual sexual  profane and sacred divinity is there. 
      As a twelve year old girl feeling the hormones of teenager, I knew I was attracted to men and would one day marry and have children, plus pursue a career and an education.  I also knew that women too are worthy to represent Jesus as priests and reading the New Testament I saw how much Jesus approved of and called on women apostles and women to do all that men did in his church.
      I love the intuitive and intellectual understanding you insightfully show in your post.  The connectedness of Jesus-Mary is fascinating. I really appreciate you sharing this.  I have   concluded that Jesus was married after reading bible, theologians, and thinking about this.
      Jesus visits Lazarus, Martha, Mary of Bethany--who he teaches theology--- a lot and I think Mary of Bethany is his wife, the Cana marriage is Jesus-Mary of Bethany marriage, and she is called later the "great"--- Magdala means 'great" and means  "tower"--  and she does wifely duties, goes to prepare his dead body for burial, (a wifely role, a kinship role) one of the anointing women anoints him with no one reprimanding  of this- who but a wife would not be questioned, the other anointing event is questioned however not the one I write of here.  Jesus had great fondness and respect for women and no condemnation for sexuality of others, the adultress or the much married, living commonlaw Samaritan woman.   Jesus was married and approved of married life. Mary Magdalene  travelled with him with other women, some we know were married, and who but a wife could do that in those times and still be respectable.  Bishop Spong writes of this very eloquently in his recent book Sins of Scripture,  Examining the Texts of Hate  To Reveal  The God of Love.       I appreciate your ideas very much and thank you for your great thoughts about Jesus and Mary.  Plenty to think about as we grow in understanding our religion and our spiritual world.   from Connie
     
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/09/27 15:06:34 (permalink)
      Mary-Jesus and Religion                                    The Sacred Part of Sexuality                    Original Blessing
     
           One of the major faults of the Roman Catholic institutional religion is the demeaning it does to sex, to women and to marriage  in effect calling sex  tainted and inferior to celibacy.
     
            I think this derives from condemnation and jealousy and fear of the creative sacred power of sexual energy that creates life on earth.  Sexual fecundity of female-male connectedness is divine in the way it has the capability of creating life on earth.  Therefore sacred is profoundly linked to the profane and demeaning and decrying and suppressing female-male sexuality is a way to try to diminish women who definately share this sexual creative power.
     
            Religion must embrace both male-female and show respect for women and male-female sexuality, not say celibacy is more important for priests to have than married life.  Jesus repeatedly shows us his wholeness and his ability to fully and joyfully embrace both male-female as Jesus chose lots of women disciples and women apostles too and commissioned women to do what the men did. Jesus has a happy joyful regard for sexuality and no condemnation comes from him regarding women or marriage or children.
     
            Thank for your great post about this Allegria.  Lots to think about!  Connie, you have brought up great points too.  I am always learning more and am very glad we have this wonderful website to gain more understanding of what Jesus has shown us in the new Testament and through the Holy Spirit, God and Mary.     Going to think more about this from Maria.
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/09/27 15:13:22 (permalink)
      I too would like to know more about what Pope John Paul I said about God the Mother in his very brief papacy of only 30 days.  What a dreadful soorow that his papacy was cut so short.
      He may have taken our church forward to  the greater way of Jesus who showed us how women and mothers do too reflect  and represent God.  He may have helped our church move faster in ordaining women as deacons and priests .  He seemed to have greater respect for women than most Popes or clergy do.  Did much of his words get recorded and how accurately are they recorded?  So sad he was not our pope longer.   God bless.
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/09/27 18:55:49 (permalink)
    ORIGINAL: Guest

    Once pope John Paul I spoke about the image of God as Mother, but that's all I know (I was born later). Does exist a possibility that he was in favour of women's priesthood? Please insert proofs about this and not other foolishnesses.


    Hello dear friend,

    I have had an opportunity to discuss your question with Dr. Wijngaards. Pope John Paul I seems to have been very open-minded person. For instance, from some of his writings it seems he might have allowed the responsible use of contraceptives. Given his open-minded nature, it is quite possible that he might have been in favour of the ordination of women. But it is impossible to say this with certainty.

    with love and blessings,

    ~Sophie~



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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/10/12 15:31:23 (permalink)
    I tend to exclude that the female side of God could be Wisdom.The Bible clearly says it is a creature,"created with the faithful in the maternal womb" (ben Sirach book).
    In my opinion,God's maternity is not Wisdom but Providence.
    What do you think about it?
    Karolina
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/10/12 15:38:25 (permalink)
    My perception of God is that God is thoroughly 'all' of everything. I don't think that God can be divided into segments. God is complete unity.
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/10/12 16:31:02 (permalink)
      The Bible does call the feminine aspect of God, Wisdom, numerous times in different Psalms and other texts of the Bible.  The Wisdom is very important too as it ehances the value of the female, opposes the demeaning attitudes of many ancient and current church writers.   Constance
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/10/12 16:34:16 (permalink)
      Hello Karolina 
     
    What do you mean by "Providence"?  I have not seen that in the Old or New Testament as referred to the feminine of God.  I have often seen Sophia--  as Wisdom --and others know the Jewish word, Aramaic word for Wisdom, which also is feminine.  
    Sophie
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/10/17 18:45:32 (permalink)
    Modeling Mary

    Images of Theotokos 






    Madonna of Port Lligat, Dali 1949


    The cult of Mary is a surprisingly late development in Christianity. Though central to Roman Catholicism and highly valued among many Anglicans, Marian devotion did not flower until the fourth century CE. Accompanied by a visual feast of Marian art and symbols, these two lectures will deconstruct and reconstruct the image of Mary, exploring historical and cultural forces that influenced the rise of veneration of the mother of Jesus and the meaning of Mary for contemporary seekers.


    When:


    Wednesdays November 7 and 14, 2007
    6:30 to 8 PM
    McGehee Conference Room
    Christ Church Cathedral
    Houston, Texas

    Admission:  Free
     
    Presenter:


    Pamela Stockton is currently President of Brigid's Place and editor of the Women's Journal. In 2006 she completed a Master of Theological Studies degree and Women's Studies Certificate at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. 


    Brigid’s Place, Christ Church (Episcopal)Cathedral,
    1117 Texas Avenue
    Houston, Texas
    77002
    Telephone: 713.590.3333
    Web address:
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    RE: Mary and God as Mother 2007/10/18 08:47:30 (permalink)
    Dear brother or sister,
    thank you for your question.
    In facts, the name Providence does not appear in the Bible but only in tradition, especially in Southern Europe. However I think the effort of defining God, never complete because He/She is infinitely greater than our mind, is not a question of names but of attitudes: the mother never forgetting her baby in Isaiah, the food from heaven and water from stones in Exodus and, what's most, the words of Jesus: don't worry for the future, because if God feeds the little birds of the sky and dresses flowers better than king Solomon, surely thinks also for us. This is what we usually call Providence, even if the Bible never calls God in this way. I think this is more similar to God's motherly love than the aspect of Wisdom, because first of all God is Love.
    Karolina
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