Thanks so much for your cogent and elegantly written articles - it is a pleasure to read them. Your article on women and the priesthood came as close as any to a fair treatment of the arguments. However, I would like to humbly convey to you my own understanding which I have yet to read anywhere and which may bring healing on this issue for your readers. I was deeply interested in feminism and eastern mysticism in the 80s and left the church for 9 years. (I was one of those people you refer to that at least had the courage of my convictions and left a church I felt was unjust).
A miracle from the Blessed Mother brought me back to the church (that's another story). When I returned, the deepest wound in my heart that still hurt was the fact that the church would not ordain women. I had learned my lesson, and did not object to what the Holy Father mandated - I accepted his decree in the spirit of obedience and humility it took 9 years of trouble to even begin to be etched into me. But, I remember praying to Our Lord and asking for some light on the subject, as all the explanations out there did not speak to the heart - that place where we can all recognize the truth.
The Lord gave me scripture passages that pointed to when he chose his male disciples - Well, OK, I thought, that's good enough for me - if he picked men, it's no business of mine why - I'll just accept it - even with a heavy heart. I surrendered (sort of). What happened next I can only call a miracle.
I fell asleep that night and had an awesome dream. I saw a young man, a priest, with his arms outstretched at the altar - at the moment of consecration. As he spoke the words, I saw him spiritually give birth to Our Lord in the Eucharist through his heart - An indescribably warm and loving glow came out of his heart and into the bread on the table and then out toward me. (The only other time that I have experienced that almost unbearable sweetness in real life was when I saw my best friend in the labor recovery room holding her baby - and one other time was when I saw a young, very loving priest celebrate the Eucharist years later.)
At that moment in the dream I felt Our Lord convey to me that He had given the gift of giving physical birth to women, the most prescious of gifts on earth. And so, He had given the gift of spiritual birth to men - the gift of giving birth to Him in the sacraments. He conveyed to me that these were both free love gifts - of joy and pleasure and happiness - not rights, obligations and roles based on scripture or reason or sex.
Giving the gift of priestly orders is not about the role of men vs. that of women - of bridegroom or persona christi. Not at all. It's about enjoying the giftedness. If I could use an analogy - if I go to a birthday party and take my friend's birthday gift, it's not only unfair, it would spoil the party. Jesus has a party for us all and a gift for each one of us!
What will make amends in this argument is tough to say. How can I translate a dream into an argument. I do believe that the Holy Father's radical new propositions for the church will win the day - that clericalism be denounced, that the Marian Church (of the family) be firmly established as superior to the ecclesial church and that women's gifts be fully accepted in the hierarchy of the magisterium. From my understanding, there is no impediment to women in the deaconate, and deacons may become leaders in the church - even become popes. When priests fully return to their giftedness as lovers of God and givers of birth instead of functionaries and bureaucrats, women will take their places as equal spiritual helpmates just as men are physical helpmates in caring for children.
Clare McGrath Merkle
Interesting points, nicely expressed. I liked your last part about priests being lovers of God & givers of birth (rather than beauracrats, functionaries). To me celibacy would not have meaning unless I were somehow the father of spiritual children.
Prayers for you as well. God bless,
Fr. Phil Bloom
Papal Quotes re Women
Vocations to Priesthood and Religious Life
From Karen: An argument for women priests and an American Catholic Church