Wednesday, March 25, 2009
There's something about the women . . .
Today is the Feast of The Annunciation. Which never, ever fails to make me giggle.
I mean, really! The old, probably celibate, boys who put the liturgical calendar together clearly knew nothin' 'bout birthin' babies, Ms. Charlotte.
After it was determined that the Nativity of Our Lord would be December 25th (but more recent scholarship has put it sometime in March, interestingly enough), why then, the date the Angel appeared before Mary to tell her she was "with child" had to have been 9 months prior.
I get that. What makes me giggle is that it is 9 months to the exact day. March 25th. Any woman can tell you that it simply doesn't work that way.
Then again, no one really listens to women anyway.
Or, when they do, there's hell to pay.
To wit: Ruth Kolpack, the Roman Catholic scholar who was fired by her bishop because of her 'feminist views'. Her's is a most recent case, but she's got a great cloud of witnesses that surround her.
I was taken by this interview over on NCR.
The Pope is in Africa and, much to everyone's surprise, has been talking a lot about the role and status, the "rights and dignity" of women in Africa in general and the RC church in Africa in particular.
NCR reports: "In a speech on March 18th to the bishops of Cameroon, Benedict called upon African Catholics to defend “the dignity of women and their particular vocation in the ecclesial community and in society.” In Angola, the pope denounced “the special yoke of discrimination that women and girls often endure.” The working paper for the upcoming Synod for Africa also highlights the dignity of women."
The nun pictured here,Sr. Anastasie Bekono, of the Religious Order of Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary, Cameroon. She and a novice, Grace Atem, were interviewed for the article, which reports an interesting tension:
". . . .religious life in Africa is often more ‘conservative’ than in the West. Bekono, for example, expressed shock that a religious sister might defend a woman’s right to choose abortion, and neither African supported the idea of women priests. Yet both expressed frustration that women are under-represented in leadership positions in the church, a sentiment they often share with sisters elsewhere, and Bekono voiced deep admiration for the foreign sisters she knows. Regarding women’s communities in Europe and the United States, she refused to join the critics: “They may have changed their lifestyle, but not their faith.”
In her Blog "El Rio Debajo El Rio" Clarissa Pinkola Estes has written an interesting article about RC nuns entitled, "The Consecrated life: The Rock Pile."
This, she says, is in response to an earlier essay entitled "Nuns: The civilizing force of the church."
It's a wonderful piece, a great addition to this article, "If they really mean it, it's about time," written by Sr. Joan Chittister in her blog, "From where I stand."
She writes: "From where I stand, if the church really wants to support women religious, it's about time for a statement that says again, "These are great women living a great spiritual life and doing great things." Let's hear it: loud and clear. After all, if religious life for women disappears -- or, conceivably, begins to function outside the boundaries of the institutional church -- it will not only affect religious women -- it will also definitely affect the church in the modern world."
So, this day is to celebrate women - women like Mary and Ruth and Anastasie and Clarissa and Joan - who have the impossible vocation of staying and leading where they are not wanted. Of not only being "smart enough" but are, indeed, smarter than some of their ordained male leaders. Of speaking truth to power when their voices would be silenced. Of being wise enough to know when to say 'yes' - and, if necessary, 'no'.
No wonder God chose a woman to be the vehicle through which salvation would come into the world. That makes perfect sense to me.
But, the date . . . not so much.