Monday, May 27, 2013

Woman, the gateway to eternity.

Us Baltimore bridesmaids were talking with a new friend at the rehearsal dinner and I was reminded of a post that I wanted to write for Mother’s Day. Since I was actually home for Mother’s Day this year I missed that deadline. But it’s still Mother’s Day month and the month specially devoted to Our Blessed Mother Mary, so Happy Belated Mother’s Day! This post is about how being a good mother is the greatest thing a woman can ever do.
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” Acts 1:14, 21-22

Women are capable of spiritually counseling others and, although some might not believe it, many women are capable of keeping secrets. Women can be very prayerful and, in today’s world, seem to be the more naturally spiritual gender. (Silly, since every person is spiritual by nature.) Women are obviously capable of saying the words that the Priest says during consecration. If a woman is physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually capable of doing what the Priest does then why can’t she be a Catholic Priest?? 

Because it’s not her role. It’s a special role that God gave only to men.

The Twelve Apostles

Well that’s not fair. Everything I get to do at the Mass men can do too (lectoring, distributing communion, cantoring, etc.) but I can’t do everything the men can do. So I’m taking a back seat. I’m stuck in a subordinate role; subservient since the bishops are the teaching authorities of the Church. So yeah…. see how the Catholic Church oppresses women? Jesus may have ordained only men, but that was back when women were property. We’ve been liberated and I want a Church that empowers women!

HOLD ON. Without getting into the theology of why the Catholic Priesthood is a male vocation (John Paul II gave a superficial explanation in Odinatio Sacerdotalis), we can reasonably say “Ok, so if this is a gender thing, then why don’t we women have our own special role in the Church??”

We do. And it’s a special role that God gave only to women.

Does anyone know what it is?

Our Lady of the Laundry

It’s called MOTHERHOOD!
Only a woman can conceive and give birth to a child. In a healthy family, the father takes a back seat to the mother, dutifully assisting as life develops within her. Without mothers there would be no priests. Without Mother Mary there would have been no Jesus.

This is why the Catholic Church venerates the Blessed Virgin Mary, the most perfect of God’s creatures. With her free will she said yes to God and became the Mother of the Savior. As a friend explained it, God could have chosen any way to become incarnate in the world. (In fact, we might have expected Him to fashion an adult body for Himself, from nothing.) And yet he decided to be born. He chose a woman to be his gateway into this world, thereby elevating Motherhood to the woman’s most important role. "When you became man to set us free you did not spurn the Virgin's womb."

Our Lady of the Eucharist
“If he had wanted simply to be seen, he could indeed have taken another, and nobler, body. Instead, he took our body in its reality. Within the Virgin he built himself a temple, that is, a body; he made it his own instrument in which to dwell and to reveal himself. In this way he received from mankind a body like our own, and, since all were subject to the corruption of death, he delivered this body over to death for all, and with supreme love offered it to the Father.” –St. Athanasius

To the orthodox Catholic, a woman being ordained to the priesthood is as unnatural as a man being impregnated and giving birth to a child. We may try to force God’s hand by “ordaining” women or developing Junior-esque technology to impregnate a man, but that does not make it natural or right.

But wait…. motherhood is great and all, but shouldn’t women have a role in the Church?

One of the consequences of our human weakness is that we separate our life into two categories: spiritual and non-spiritual. In the spiritual box are my time at Church, my daily prayer, maybe some volunteer work and a few other things. In my non-spiritual box are things like work, recreation, chores, family time, etc. The problem is that everything should be in the spiritual box. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

The mystical Body of Christ, the Church, is a living organism composed of many members. The living Church consists of every Baptized member and the life of the Church extends into everything that we do. This is why a Catholic business owner can’t just set aside his/her faith and provide birth control to employees because it’s not happening within the church. It may not be happening within a church but it is happening within the Church.

The Church is the Bride of Christ. The two are of one flesh.

So to me, the role of Mother is tied with Priest for “most important role” in the Church.
As a society we’ve become somewhat ungrateful toward mothers and we often see motherhood as a burden. We want to relieve mothers from as much mothering as we possibly can so that they are free to do other more important things. I’m not against childcare, but there is a strange push for mothers to gain ever greater independence from their children. Sometimes we cynically scoff when a mother says that giving birth to her children was the most important thing she has ever done. We scream about overpopulation and abort and sterilize and contracept and ‘plan’ our parenthood down to unsustainable birth rates below the population replacement level. We spend our tax money on ‘preventative care’ to eliminate the threat of pregnancy. And we are offended when our culture is referred to as a culture of death. But could anyone call this a culture of life?

Youths oppress my people, women rule over them. My people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path. Isaiah 3:12

For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!' Luke 23:29

These are warnings. When our Priests lead us astray, young people are out of control, and women feel the need to take over there is something wrong. When pregnancy becomes a curse and more and more women prefer to remain childless we have problems. We don’t need men to mother children and women to serve as Priests. We need strong, traditional male priests and devoted, natural mothers.

It's not every day you get to have your picture taken
with Jesus and a bunch of Vietnamese people!

All Baptized persons are part of the royal priesthood. My mom didn’t have to be ordained to be my first priest. My mom taught me what forgiveness looks like. And she taught me how to love. Thank you, mom, for having the courage and hope to give me a chance when doctors advised you to terminate the pregnancy. I’m alive because, whether you realized it or not, you chose to leave things in God’s hands. Go mom!!
A Poem for the Third Sunday after Easter, by John Keble

[A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.--St. John xvi. 21.]

Well may I guess and feel
Why Autumn should be sad;
But vernal airs should sorrow heal,
Spring should be gay and glad:
Yet as along this violet bank I rove,
The languid sweetness seems to choke my breath,
I sit me down beside the hazel grove,
And sigh, and half could wish my weariness were death.

Like a bright veering cloud
Grey blossoms twinkle there,
Warbles around a busy crowd
Of larks in purest air.
Shame on the heart that dreams of blessings gone,
Or wakes the spectral forms of woe and crime,
When nature sings of joy and hope alone,
Reading her cheerful lesson in her own sweet time.

Nor let the proud heart say,
In her self-torturing hour,
The travail pangs must have their way,
The aching brow must lower.
To us long since the glorious Child is born
Our throes should be forgot, or only seem
Like a sad vision told for joy at morn,
For joy that we have waked and found it but a dream.

Mysterious to all thought
A mother’s prime of bliss,
When to her eager lips is brought
Her infant’s thrilling kiss.
O never shall it set, the sacred light
Which dawns that moment on her tender gaze,
In the eternal distance blending bright
Her darling’s hope and hers, for love and joy and praise.

No need for her to weep
Like Thracian wives of yore,
Save when in rapture still and deep
Her thankful heart runs o’er.
They mourned to trust their treasure on the main,
Sure of the storm, unknowing of their guide:
Welcome to her the peril and the pain,
For well she knows the bonus where they may safely hide.

She joys that one is born
Into a world forgiven,
Her Father’s household to adorn,
And dwell with her in Heaven.
So have I seen, in Spring’s bewitching hour,
When the glad Earth is offering all her best,
Some gentle maid bend o’er a cherished flower,
And wish it worthier on a Parent’s heart to rest.

1 comment:

  1. When first I read this, I was unable to post as I did not have a google account. My wonderful daughter, you were (AND ARE) one of the great joys of my life!! I have told you, more than once, being a mother was the most important thing in the world to me! I still feel like there is much God wants me to do, and still do not know what it is, but I am most certain that being the best mother I could be to you and your brother will always be the most important role I have ever filled!!