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Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ

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Sophie
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2007/05/28 05:18:57 (permalink)

Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ

Dear friends,

Mary -- a model priest and the first priest after Christ -- throughout the centuries the faithful have had cherished a devotion to Mary as priest. Through their 'Catholic sense,' they have intuitively understood that she shares in Jesus’ priesthood more than any other person. Implicitly the devotion contains the strong but usually unspoken conviction that though a woman, Mary could easily have been ordained a priest -- just as much as any man. There were times throughout history that this conviction was expressed explicitly in the Church.

Dr. Wijngaards'* contends that throughout the centuries Catholics have known in their heart of hearts and to the marrow of their bones that women are equal before God and that there can be no fundamental objection to the ordination of women to priesthood. What is this inner conviction? The sensus fidelium -- the Christian sense of faith, the mind of the Church -- Ecclesiae Catholicae sensus -- or sometimes consensus Ecclesiae (remembering that in these last expressions ‘Church’ stands for the whole community of believers.) As we examine Church history -- our history as Christ’s believing community -- we discover underneath the cultural opposition to women priests a constant awareness running counter to the officially sanctioned social and cultural ideas. One way in which this sensus fidelium -- sense of the faithful -- expressed its conviction is through the age old acceptance of Mary as the most eminent of priests.

For the openner in this thread, I recommend Dr. Wijngaards' article The priesthood of Mary . Mindful of how short ecclesiastical memories can be, Dr. W takes us on a gentle stroll down history's lane. Along the way, he provides an overview of the latent Tradition of Mary as priest. We'll read Dr. Wijngaards thoughtful conclusion:



In our attic of forgotten treasures lies also the ancient conviction that Mary, priest without stain, supports priests in their ministry. Priests used to recommend themselves to her care, and to formulate, before each Mass, the intention of offering the Eucharist through Mary’s immaculate and priestly hands. St. Ignatius of Loyola had a vision in which he saw the Blessed Virgin assisting him especially at the moment of consecration. Priests hailed Mary as their ‘model’, ‘the first priest after Christ’. Have we become too macho to acknowledge a woman as our ‘model priest’? Tradition’s comment is, perhaps, best expressed in a fifteenth-century French painting that shows Mary standing at the altar and wearing priestly vestments, about to distribute Holy Communion. The Pope kneels before her. Should we see any significance in a frowning angel painted next to the Holy Father, who holds his precious tiara?

The link to the article is here: The priesthood of Mary. Please enjoy! If you have any questions, let me know!

with love and blessings,
~Sophie~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Dr. John Wijngaards is our site founder. He currently functions as our Academic Advisor (I count on him a lot!) An abbreviated version of his biographical data:
  • 1959: ordained a priest as a Mill Hill Missionary.
  • 1959 - 1963: studies in Rome. Licenciate of Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute and Doctorate of Divinity at the Gregorian University.
  • 1963 - 1976: missionary in India. Lecturer at St. John's major Seminary, Hyderabad.
  • 1976 - 1982: Vicar General of the Mill Hill Missionaries.
  • 1983 - now: lecturer at the Missionary Institute London, which is affiliated both to the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and Middlesex University in London.
  • 1982 - now: director of Housetop International Centre for Faith Formation in London.

For more information about Dr. Wijngaards, see these links:
post edited by Sophie - 2007/06/24 23:25:38

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    Sophie
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    Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/05/28 05:20:19 (permalink)


    Illuminated page from Gengenbach/Baden Evangelistery (Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart), Germany, dated ca. 1150 AD.

    The Angel Gabriel appears to Mary who is dressed in priestly vestments. In tradition, theologians often remark on the fact that Mary’s response: “Let it be done to me according to your word”, caused the Incarnation to take place, and so her words made Christ present, just as the priest’s words of consecration make Christ present in the Eucharist.

    See St. Antoninus of Florence OP, J. Duvergier de Hauranne and Bishop J.Nazlian.
    post edited by Sophie - 2007/06/05 17:45:09
    Sophie
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    Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/06/05 05:49:32 (permalink)
    Dear friends,

    Does Tradition show that Mary was priest? Can we find evidence of centuries long devotion to her as a priest? The following document includes a provisional list that brings together the names of saints, bishops, theologians and spiritual authors who have written about Mary’s priesthood and whose writings are -- to a limited extent -- documented on our web site. This chronological list is not intended to reflect the devotion to Mary as Priest in a complete or exhaustive fashion. But it does give an idea as to how widespread this devotion has been and as to its continuity throughout the ages. The increase in testimonies in later centuries does not arise so much from growth in the devotion as from the fact that such testimonies are much more difficult to obtain from earlier times.

    I encourage you to make special note of the sample quotes of the way Mary is described throughout the ages. For example, some of these are drawn from the list:

    During his papacy (1903 - 1914) Pope Pius X even attached indulgence to invocation to Mary Virgin Priest! And then, quite suddenly, during the papacy of Pope Benedict XIV, the Holy Office forbids images of Mary as priest. This is compounded further by Pope Pius XI, when during his papacy (1922 - 1939) the Holy Office forbids devotion to Mary Virgin Priest.

    The link to the entire list is available here: http://www.womenpriests.org/mrpriest/mpr_list.asp More to follow! If you have any questions, please let me know.

    with love and blessings,
    ~Sophie~
    post edited by Sophie - 2007/06/24 23:27:26
    Sophie
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    Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/06/05 05:58:09 (permalink)


    Dear friends,

    Are there reasons that Mary must be considered a priest? The following document enumerates a number of them which tradition provides as to why Mary is rightly hailed as a priest. These include:

    The link to the document is here: Why must Mary be considered a Priest?

    Please enjoy!

    with love and blessings,
    ~Sophie~
    post edited by Sophie - 2007/06/05 17:45:50
    Sophie
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    Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/06/05 06:05:46 (permalink)
    Dear friends,

    As we make our journey exploring our tradition of Mary as Priest, I will share images of her -- as priest -- where they appear in art across the centuries. The many depictions provide corroborating evidence of the tradition of her priesthood.



    Mary wearing the pallium:
    Mosaic in the Oratory of San Vincenzo
    near the Lateran Baptistery in Rome:
    dated 6th century.*

    In this mosaic, Mary is shown wearing the white pallium over a dark chasuble. She is portrayed as a ‘High Priest’ interceding with God for people which is one of the high priestly tasks mentioned in Hebrews 5,1:


    Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.

    Intercession and mediation are among the priestly functions ascribed to Mary by the Fathers of the Church.

    with love and blessings,
    ~Sophie~

    *Credit: The image can be found in The Madonna by Adolfo Venturi, Burns & Oates, London 1902, p.4. For a larger size picture (153 Kb), please click here.
    post edited by Sophie - 2007/06/24 23:28:34
    Sophie
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    RE: Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/06/05 06:10:27 (permalink)
    Dear friends,

    What is the significance of the pallium in connection to Mary?

    From the 6th century we find in many Churches representations of Mary wearing the episcopal pallium. The pallium was originally a Greek dress, the omophorion, which was also introduced to Rome, and probably worn to denote status. However, it acquired new significance as an ecclesiastical dress. In its particular Christian shape and decorated with crosses, it became the distinctive sign of papal and episcopal priestly power.



    The pallium, as we know it now, is a circular band worn over the shoulders, with two pendants, one hanging down in front and one behind. The pallium is made of white lamb’s wool. Its pendants usually have tresses. Square black crosses decorate the pallium in various places. Originally the top part was a short mantle, held together with pins so that the pendant hung out in front. Originally the pendants were long. Later they became shorter.
    What is the significance of the pallium?
    It is very significant that throughout the early centuries Mary was portrayed as wearing the pallium.
    • The pallium was the symbol of the highest priestly ministry. It could only be worn by the Pope or by a bishop who received the privilege from the Pope.
    • The pallium was only worn when the bishop was exercising his supreme priestly functions, such as at the Eucharist and other solemn liturgies.

    This can be proved from letters written by Pope Gregory the Great (540 - 604 AD). Since the 9th century the pallium has only been given to Archbishops. For more details about the pallium and its history, click here. If you are interested in exploring more in our Gallery of Images of Mary as priest, see here: Gallery of Images

    Please enjoy!

    with love and blessings,
    ~Sophie~
    post edited by Sophie - 2007/06/05 17:48:28
    Therese
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    RE: Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/06/06 15:22:42 (permalink)


    I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn
    more about Mary as a priest.

    Since having my eyes opened to our
    tradition about her priesthood,  it is more often
    that I see where in art and icons throughout the centuries
    she has been depicted as a priest.  
    The sensus fidelium -- the faithful has always
    intuitively recognised her as a priest.

    This icon, the Virgin of the Sign, shows Jesus as
    gift for the world inside Mary's womb...the place
    where the first 'transubstantiation'-- when earthly elements
    are converted into the body and blood of Christ. 

    Mary is the priest through whom God becomes present
    in the flesh for us.

    Modern day priests, with God, do this through wafers and wine.
    Mary, as a priest, did this with God and produced flesh
    and blood.  Through Mary, Jesus really did come in the flesh.
    post edited by Therese - 2007/06/07 01:03:48
    Therese
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    RE: Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/06/06 15:23:45 (permalink)

     
    Mary's priesthood wasn't something that developed
    through time...she was the very first priest and
    there right at the beginning of Christ's coming
    into the world.  She truly, truly mediated Christ
    presence for us.
    Therese
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    RE: Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/06/06 15:24:51 (permalink)
    our mother's womb -- a place of our transformation.
    In our own mothers' wombs, we become the unity of woman and man (ovum and sperm join together.) In our own mother's wombs, our spirits are joined with our bodies. Through our own mother's womb, we receive life and nourishment. We are transformed into being.
     
    Mary's womb -- a place of our transformation
    In, Mary's womb, God becomes human. In Mary's womb, Divinity joins with flesh and becomes Jesus.  Through Mary's womb, we receive life and nourishment. Through Mary's womb, Jesus comes to us. Through Mary's womb, through Jesus, right relationship is restored in our lives.  Relationships between women and men are restored to harmony.  Relationships with each other, ourselves, nature -- we are forgiven, received, made well, and made whole.
     
    The priesthood of Mary--mediating Christ's tangible presence for us. She is the priest who brought Jesus to earth through her word --'yes.' Mary is the priest who offers us Jesus.  She is the first priest who consecrates, sanctifies and gives us 'eucharist.' More than any priest, she can point to Jesus and say, "this is my body, this is my blood."  She is expresses of all priestly  qualities and virtues.
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    RE: Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/06/13 15:20:01 (permalink)
     
     
    Dear friends,
    Our guest Janet recommends the following book about Mary and shared the following review. In our book and movie suggestions  thread.  I share it here for others who might be visiting only this thread.
    ~s~

    Alone of All Her Sex by Marina Warner

    Marina Warner has written a fascinating examination of the many facets of the Virgin Mary phenomena from the references in the New Testament to the vast panoply of titles, honours, attributes, institutions, miracle stories, visions,  myth, prayers, doctrine, legends that inpired  some of the greatest works of architecture, and art and literature and theology. She argues how the perception of the Virgin Mary formed part of the development of Christian society. Warner argues that Mary personifies the Church's idea of the perfect woman, and perpetuates a defination of woman prejudicial to the sex. Different periods give different emphasis to different aspects of Mary, but as virgin, mother, queen, bride, woman, and  mourner, she is the symbol that continues to direct imaginations and hearts and minds of men and women, including theology and society. Photographs of Mariology art as well. A great read. It sheds light on the role and societal, and theological impact of Mary the Mother of Jesus on our religion and society,    Janet
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    RE: Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/06/23 17:22:34 (permalink)
    Dear friends,

    Dr. Tina Beattie* has a keen interest in Mary.  Beattie's article Mary, the Virgin Priest provides an excellent analysis of the tradition of the Virgin Mother's priesthood.   Beattie looks at:
    • Mary's priesthood: The Theology
    • Unexamined instinct
    • Maternity: A Form of Priesthood
    • A Defiling Potency
    • Breaching Taboos
    • Symbolic Reconciliation


    Dr. Beattie's succinctly concludes:



    Many see the Catholic Church’s refusal to consider the question of women’s ordination as an almost insurmountable problem. I see it rather as an opportunity and an incentive to develop a coherent theology of women’s priesthood that would not simply absorb women into male hierarchies. The Church’s own symbolism leads along the path of a maternal priesthood. What is it that some men are really afraid of when they contemplate women priests? They have yet to come up with a convincing argument that justifies their fear.


    The link to the article is here: http://www.womenpriests.org/mrpriest/beattie.asp If you have any questions, as always, please ask!

    with love and blessings,
    ~Sophie~

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Dr. Tina Beattie

     

    Tina Beattie's main areas of teaching and research are in theologies and theories of gender, symbolism and ethics, and in religion and human rights. Her doctoral research was on the theology and symbolism of the Virgin Mary, drawing on the psycholinguistic theory of Luce Irigaray as a resource for the analysis of Christian writings on Mary and Eve in the early Church and in recent Roman Catholic theology. Her thesis formed the basis of her book, God's Mother, Eve's Advocate: A Marian Narrative of Women's Salvation (2002). Her latest book is New Catholic Feminism: Theology And Theory  (Routledge 2006). She is currently beginning new research on the representation of women and religion in human rights discourse.

    Tina has recently taken up a 0.5 appointment as a Senior Fellow in Crucible, Roehampton's new Centre for Excellence for Education in Human Rights, Social Justice and Citizenship.

    Undergraduate Teaching Interests

    Current undergraduate teaching includes:
    • Contemporary Christianity
    • Christian Moral Theology
    • Feminist and Liberationist Theologies
    • Ethical Issues of Life and Death
    • Theology, Sexuality and Gender
    • Christian Mysticism and Spirituality
    • Religion and Film (co-taught with Dr. Simonetta Calderini)
    • Mysticism, Language and Experience (co-taught with Dr. Simonetta Calderini)
    • Religion and Human Rights

    Postgraduate Teaching Interests
    • Programme Convenor for MA in Religion and Human Rights
    • Current doctoral supervision is in the areas of African liberation theology, religion and gender, feminist theology, pastoral theology, and Marian studies

    Selected Bibliography
     
    Forthcoming:

    Marian Reader: Resources for the Study of Doctrine And Devotion (Bayou Press) by Tina Beattie and Sarah Jane Boss

    Recent and forthcoming publications include:

    Books and Contributions to Books

    New Catholic Feminism: Theology And Theory (London: Routledge, 2006)

    ‘Gender and Religion: Gender and Christianity’ ‘Feminist Theology: Christian Feminist Theology’, ‘Mary: Feminist Perspectives’ in The Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd edn, (New York: Macmillan Reference, 2005).

    Entries on ‘Mary’ and ‘The Motherhood of God’ in Philip Sheldrake (ed.), Dictionary of Spirituality (London: SCM Press Dictionary of Spirituality, 2005)

    ‘Mary’ in John Bowden (ed.), Christianity: A Complete Guide 2(London and New York: Continuum, 2005)

    Co-editor with Ursula King, Gender, Religion And Diversity: Cross-cultural Perspectives (London and New York: Continuum, 2004)

    'A Roman Catholic's View on the Apostolicity of Women' in Harriet Harris and Jane Shaw (eds.), The Call for Women Bishops (London: SPCK, 2004)

    Woman, New Century Theology Series (London and New York: Continuum, 2003)
    ‘Redeeming Mary: The Potential of Marian Symbolism for Feminist Philosophy of Religion’ in Pamela Sue Anderson and Beverley Clack (eds.), Feminist Philosophy of Religion: Critical Readings (London: Routledge, 2003)

    God's Mother, Eve's Advocate: A Marian Narrative of Women's Salvation (London and New York: Continuum, 2002). 

    Eves Pilgrimage: A Woman's Quest for the City of God  (London and New York: Burns & Oates/Continuum, 2002)

    Entries on Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva in John Sawyer and Seumas Simpson (eds.), Concise Encyclopedia of Language and Religion (Oxford: Elsevier Science Ltd., 2001)

    ‘Etty Hillesum: A Thinking Heart in a Darkened World’ in Ursula King with Tina Beattie (eds.), Spirituality and Society in the New Millennium (Sussex: Sussex Academic Press, 2001): 247-58

    A Culture of Life: Women’s Theology and Social Liberation (London: CIIR, 2000)

    ‘Global Sisterhood or Wicked Stepsisters: Why Aren’t Girls with God Mothers Invited to the Ball?’ in Deborah Sawyer and Diane Collier (eds.), Is there a Future for Feminist Theology? (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999): 115-25

    ‘Carnal Love and Spiritual Imagination: Can Luce Irigaray and John Paul II Come Together?’ in Jon Davies and Gerard Loughlin(eds.), Sex These Days: Essays on Theology, Sexuality and Society (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press222, 1997): 160-83

    ‘Sexuality and the Resurrection of the Body: Reflections in a Hall of Mirrors’ in Gavin D’Costa (ed.), Resurrection Reconsidered (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 1996): 135-49 

    Rediscovering Mary: Insights from the Gospels. (Liberation and Theology Series) (Tunbridge Wells: Burns & Oates; New York: Ligouri Publications; Sydney: HarperCollins, 1995).

    Journal articles include:

    ‘The Baptism of Eros’ in Theology and Sexuality, Vol. 9.2, 2003/2: pp. 167-179

    ‘Theological Reflections: Corporeality and Mysticism’ in Regina Ammicht-Quinn and Elsa Tamez (eds.), Body and Religion, Concilium, 2002/2

    ‘Mary, Eve and the Church: Towards a New Ecclesiology’ in Maria: A Journal of Marian Studies, February 2001: 5-20

    ‘The Sacramental Body: Symbols of a Gendered Church’ in The Way Supplement: Refounding: Church and Spirituality, 2001/101: 73-87

    ‘The Magnificat of the Redeemed Woman’ in New Blackfriars, Vol. 80, No. 944, October 1999: 443-50

    ‘“Woman Full and Overflowing with Grace”3: the Virgin Mary and the Contemporary Church’ in The Way Supplement: Where Now? Women’s Spirituality after the Ecumenical Decade, 1998/93: 54-65

    ‘A Man and Three Women - Hans, Adrienne, Mary and Luce’ in New Blackfriars, Vol. 79, No. 924, February 1998: 97-105

    ‘A Discipleship of Love: Mary of Bethany and the Ministry of Women’ in The Month, May 1997: 171-750

    ‘Mary, the Virgin Priest?’ in The Month, December 1996: 485-93

    Reviews and articles for The Tablet and Priests & People

    Radio contributions for BBC Radio 4 include Woman's Hour, The Moral Maze, Beyond Belief

    Membership of Organisations
    • Vice President, Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain
    • Member of the Society for the Study of Theology
    • Member of the American Academy of Religion
    • Member of the Bioethics Subcommittee, National Board of Catholic Women
      Trustee, the Centre for Marian Studies
    • Director, the Tablet

    Qualification Details
    • Ph.D., University of Bristol, Theology, 1998
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    RE: Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/06/23 21:19:10 (permalink)
      Our world is so fortunate to have the scholarship and insight of Tina Beattie.  She has helped inform us as has other theologians of the new dreadful anti-woman "theology" now being used against women.  Van Balthasar's "eucharist is male priest orgasm" is a dreadful idea dreamed up to try to exclude women from ordination.  It does not have any merit whatsoever. Ordain women as priests and allow the talents of women to help our church.
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    RE: Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/06/23 22:11:21 (permalink)
    Dear friend,

    Scholarship and insight are two words that definitely do apply to Tina Beattie!  I note your reference to the theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar.  For guests and Members not familiar with:
    • von Balthasar, a current Vatican favourite, who attempts to justify why women cannot be priests
    • Dr. Beattie's analysis of his attempts to provide rational justification

    I encourage you to explore:

    If you have any questions, please let me know!

    with love and blessings,
    ~Sophie~
    Sophie
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    RE: Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/06/24 06:52:52 (permalink)


    Mary, the first priest after Christ

    This 13th century portrait of Mary and the child Jesus is in the apse over an altar from the Church of Santa María de Táhull, in Barcelona, Spain.

    Significance to Mary's Priesthood: Mary, wearing a chasuble, is sitting on her throne, the way a bishop would sit on his throne in the apse. On her lap she holds Jesus, the centre of the Eucharist.

    Credit: The image can be found in Romanesque Painting by Juan Armand, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, New York 1963, p. 113; original image from the Museum of Catalonian art.
     
    Sidebar: If you enjoy visuals, you will enjoy the photo galleries in our new blog.  This link will connect you there: http://www.womenpriests.org/dreamshareact/gallery2/main.php 
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    RE: Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/07/23 22:37:27 (permalink)
    Traditional Catholic orthodoxy points the way to women priests.

    The belief that Mary always existed without original sin shows that she did not live one single moment that required of her to be outside the Church, the Body of Christ.

    Conceived without sin, she was therefore not required to be incorporated to the Church sacramentally or otherwise. She was already the Church which Jesus founded and, even more, she was the Church which brought forth Jesus.

    She was the Church ahead of the Church, ahead of Peter and the all-male Twelve.
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    RE: Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/07/23 22:38:34 (permalink)
    Mary was the proto-ecclesia which had conceived the Word in heart and in flesh, delivered It to the world, nourished and nurtured It, and offered It on Calvary.
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    RE: Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/07/23 22:41:12 (permalink)
    Jesus in whom Word and prophet are one, in whom the priest is also the victim, who is both the King and the Kingdom, was contained in this embryonic church, Theotokos. This proto-church, in other words, unfolded Jesus Christ who contained all the ministries of prophecy, priesthood, and government, which the Church derived from him during and after his days of the flesh. Indeed no ministry is outside the Marian structure of the Church; no ministry, in other words, is incompatible with her womanhood. Even today, by her Assumption, she shines as the first fruit of redemption, the anticipation, in Christ, of the resurrected Church ahead of the times!

    Rome is contradicting this obvious corollary of the Marian Dogmas when it refuses to acknowledge the Marian composition of the whole Church as constituted by the priestliness of the laity as well as by the leadership role of itinerant and sedentary ministers. Even papacy should not appear incompatible with womanhood to the orthodox Catholics who feel bound in faith to accept Roman Catholic Mariology.
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    RE: Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/07/24 01:21:29 (permalink)
     

    Le sacerdoce de la Vierge (close up), early 15th century, school of Amiens, France.

    Note: Our Lady, wearing a classic chasuble and stole, stands at the altar, presumably ready to distribute holy communion. She seems to hold a paten in her right hand, and with her left she holds the hand of the child Jesus.

    The kneeling figure before her represents the donor of the painting, master of the confrérerie du Puy de Notre Dame d'Amiens, a semi-learned society active in that town from ca.1350 to the Revolution. Every year a poetry competition was held on a theme relating to the Virgin, and the society then elected its master for the year, who, a his own expense commissioned a painting (and lavish frame) to illustrate the theme of the year's winning poem.

    In the year 1438, the Maître du Puy was one Jehan du Bos, "marchand mercier" (ie: wholesale haberdasher)--the confrererie was a high-bourgeois society--and it is he whom one sees with a "bowl-cut" hairdo (this was the fashion of the time and does not indicate any religious affiliation!) kneeling before the Virgin and Child.

    Credits: The reproduction is from Le Livre de la Vierge, ed. Bertrand Guégan, Arts et Métiers Graphiques, Paris 1961, p. 35. The original is in the Louvre at Paris.
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    RE: Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/07/24 01:25:23 (permalink)
    Sophie
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    RE: Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ 2007/07/24 02:10:33 (permalink)
    Dear friends,

    How can Mary be looked upon as a priest if women cannot receive Holy Orders?

    Throughout the ages, theologians and spiritual writers perceived a tension between Mary’s priestly functions and priestly status on the one hand, and her being a member of the “weaker sex” on the other. How did they try to resolve this contradiction? During the time of the Fathers of the Church, the question was not raised explicitly. The Fathers simply asserted Mary’s priestly dignity, leaving the tension unsolved.
     
    The conflict was tackled more directly from the Middle Ages onwards. Theologians asked themselves how the prohibition for women to be ordained affected Our Lady. In general they came to the conclusion that, though Mary may not have received the sacrament of Holy Orders in the ordinary way, she somehow received the priestly grace and priestly power implied in the sacrament, in an equivalent manner. This was asserted most forcefully by St. Albert the Great, Doctor of the Church.
     
    A document from our library examines some of the various formulations theologians throughout the centuries have come up with:
    • Mary received Holy Orders in an equivalent manner -- she possessed the highest degree of priesthood
    • Mary was ordained a priest through an interior anointing, as distinct from the external anointing given to present-day priests at ordination. Therefore it was the Holy Spirit himself who ordained Mary.
    • It was Christ who anointed Mary making her a priest. Christ extended his own priesthood to her. He deputed her spiritually and communicated his own dignity to her.
    • Though Mary was not ordained sacramentally, yet she possessed the substance of the priesthood to the highest degree. The eminence of the priesthood resided in Mary.
    • Mary shared in Jesus’s own priestly character.
    • In Mary the obstacle of her sex was overcome.
    • Mary’s priesthood was obscured by her closeness to Christ.
    • Mary’s priesthood was contained in her motherhood.
    • Mary has been the only woman priest.
    Implicitly, and at times explicitly, they are thereby stating that Mary’s sex is not an obstacle to her being a priest. But if one woman can be a priest, so can all. Sex or gender by itself is not a sufficient reason to exclude women from ordination.

    To explore more of the article, you can connect with it here: http://www.womenpriests.org/mrpriest/m_orders.asp If you have any questions, please let me know.

    with love and blessings,
    ~Sophie~
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