I recently read an article shared by Fr. James Martin, SJ on Facebook titled, At the Ambo written by Jean Molesky-Poz. This article is part of a larger theme on Women in the Church by America Magazine this month. The article discusses a hot topic, the possibility of the ordination of women. According to Canon Law, Can. 767 §1 The most important form of preaching is the homily, which is part of the liturgy, and is reserved to a priest or deacon. Pope Francis earlier this year, when asked about the ordination of women clarified:
The church has spoken and says no … That door is closed.” He then noted that the role of women in the church cannot be limited “to altar girls or the president of charity; there must be more.” But he quickly got back to the biting issue: “With regards to the ordination of women, the church has spoken and says no. Pope John Paul [II] said so with a formula that was definitive. That door is closed.
Pope Francis of course refers to the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis Of John Paul II To The Bishops Of The Catholic Church On Reserving Priestly Ordination To Men Alone states:
The presence and the role of women in the life and mission of the Church, although not linked to the ministerial priesthood, remain absolutely necessary and irreplaceable… Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.
Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.
Invoking an abundance of divine assistance upon you, venerable brothers, and upon all the faithful, I impart my apostolic blessing. (All bold is my emphasis)
I usually do not comment publicly on anything very controversial for a few reasons:
- I feel I am too young in my faith to have a real opinion. When I say real, I mean one steeped in years of Catholic History, doctrine, social issues, etc.
- I find that there is a sense of stirring the pot by part of the social media (and media overall) because any “talk” furthers whatever agenda is being set.
- I don’t like to create tension or confrontation.
I am sure there are more reasons, but these cover the majority and will have probably already offended some of you. If you’ve been around here for a while, you will know that offending anyone is never my intent. However, after I read the America Magazine piece, this controversy sat with me and wouldn’t let go. As I contemplated all angles, I began to write in my journal.
I am called to be a wife. I am called to be a mother. I am called to preach. I am called to evangelize. I am called to be Catholic. I am called to be a Lay Dominican. I am called to be on the #RCIA team. I am called to write about my faith and reflections on scripture and prayer. I am called to cantor at mass. I am called to give a witness during mass about my faith journey. I am also a creative person who loves to write, encourage, love, share, speak, educate and read. I adhere to the Magisterium, the authority of the Catholic Church. To our Pope, past and present. I listen to and obey clergy, priests, deacons, and am in awe of our religious community always. More than all of that and at my foundation and core, I am called to obedience. Today, I was even called “forward thinking”. As such, I don’t want my life defined or categorized as a series of don’t’s or cannot’s. I look to break through the glass ceiling and recreate what it means for me, as a woman to preach. Why should I play in the same sandbox as anyone else? Given this mindset and personal sense of achievement for the benefit and contribution of God’s word everywhere, I continually look for paths where I can give my perspective to bring others home to the Catholic Church. My perspective is my own, yes, but it is infused with the Word of God. Infused and strengthened by my priests and the tradition to which I believe is in place for a reason.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it (2 Timothy 3:14)
guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the profane chatter and contradictions of what is called knowledge (Timothy 6:20)
After speaking with a very close friend, she noted to me that our confirmation saint, St. Therese of Lisieux wanted to be a priest. She knew she could not, and prayed to God for a way to preach and share her charism. She didn’t assume or consider for a moment that the topic was up for debate!
This from Catholic.com message board:
- St. Therese of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church, wanted to be a priest. She cut up her mother’s wedding dress after her father’s death to make a chasuble. (See Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul.)
- St.Therese of Lisieux said, in 1897: “God is going to take me at an age when I would not have had the time to become a priest . . . If I could have been a priest, I would have been ordained at these June ordinations. So what did God do? So that I would not be disappointed, he let me be sick: in that way I could not have been there, and I would die before I could exercise my ministry.”
- Therese spoke those words to her sister, Celine Martin. Celine also testified (at the 1910 beatification diocesan tribunal) that “the sacrifice of not being able to be a priest was something Therese always felt deeply . . . (H)er regret . . . was caused by a real love of God, and inspired high hopes in her. The thought that St. Barbara had brought communion to St. Stanislaus Kostka thrilled her.”
- Therese said: “Why must I be a nun, and not an angel or a priest? Oh! What wonders shall we see in heaven! I have a feeling that those who desired to be priests on earth will be able to share in their honour of the priesthood in heaven.”
- In her Story of a Soul (Day, ed.,p. 187) Therese stated (in a prayer to Jesus): “If I were a priest, how lovingly I would carry you in my hands when you came down from heaven at my call; how lovingly I would bestow you upon people’s souls. I want to enlighten people’s minds as the prophets and doctors did. I feel the call of an Apostle. I would love to travel all over the world, making your name known and planting your cross on a heathen soil.”
Take all the ambitions she lists (not just the one about being a priest). And then ask: “Are there really ‘other women with the same desires, the same sense of vocation’?” And, if so, what will the Churches do about them? What would they have done about St. Thérèse? Interpret her word literally and label her a lunatic, or a masochist, or both? Or see her as she was, a lover wild with love, seeking ever more extravagant words to express what is beyond description? The answer is obvious. She certainly cannot be called as a witness for the thesis that every spirituallyminded lady should be allowed to be a soldier, or a doctor, or a priest. from Peter MacDonald from The Church in History Information Center
All I need to do to be fulfilled is praise Him.
The Lord gave me a tongue as my reward and I will praise him with it. (Sirach 51:22)
- Read Mulieris Dignitatem. Then read it again. Then get your best friends together and read it together.
- Stop trying to pick and choose which Church Traditions we want to uphold and those which don’t fit our prideful imperatives. Because I do not hand a parish member the Eucharist in conjunction with the celebration of the mass after I preached a homily, am I any less of an apostle? Am I not sharing the “bread” of God with people as I preach in the streets, after mass and here on this blog? Please don’t say that. That to me would be hurtful. That to me would feel as if my charisms are not alive or present. In that way, they are demeaned. Yes, we have a vocation. Yes, we have dreams and aspirations and a burning desire to preach and to serve. God LOVES this. He loves that we are on fire for our faith. For His bride, the Church.
- Remember that as women, we have a unique and special dignity all our own to help with the advancement of the church, with life and the sharing of the Gospel. It’s a beautiful, holy partnership. Much like a traditional marriage.
- Remember that God knows what He is doing. I am a woman because God knows what gifts he imparted to me to share with the my neighbor, strangers, friends, family and the world.
Just because we played “mass” at home as children doesn’t mean we were meant to be priests. I used to play school teacher, I’m not a school teacher, but do I teach? Absolutely. I teach more than I would in a traditional classroom, thank God. And I wouldn’t have it ANY other way.
And as soon to be Saint, John Paul II noted and Pope Francis reminded us…this topic is closed. Be faithful. Be Catholic.
Happy 100th post to me. Thank you for reading.
As another resource: A Response to Women who want to be Priests from AmericanCatholic Blog.
And a resource, just posted on Facebook, for those discerning a vocation to the religious life by Lighthouse Catholic Media (free resources): Speak Lord, Your Servant is Listening