Saturday, June 23, 2007

"Thank you, consecrated women!"

Anon wrote, “Father, my Mom says that the church does not recognize nuns very much, and that they are sometimes mistreated. Why is that? Why do we still use the Adam and Eve story to blame women? Anyhow, that is what my Mom says.” Thanks, Anon. I’ve asked our seminarian, Jim, to answer your question; he’s given a really good answer:

To start with your last question, the story of Adam and Eve is not meant to blame women, and anyone who uses the story to blame women is forgetting that Adam, too, ate the fruit, and then tried to get out of trouble by blaming Eve. He could have refused to eat the fruit, but did not, and it was the sin of both that brought sin and suffering into the world. The Church has long taught that both men and women were created in the image of God, equal in dignity before the eyes of God. Sometimes people fail to recognize or forget that equality, but ignoring the equal dignity of women is not done as a matter of policy by the Church. Certainly, the honor encouraged by the Church to be given to Mary as the Mother of our Savior should stand as a model of the Church’s esteem for all women.

Sometimes recognition doesn’t get publicized the way it should. I’m not sure what your Mom means by nuns being mistreated, whether she means by the Church, or by society in general, or in specific cases where some have been martyred in recent memory. The Church has recognized many nuns by naming them as saints – St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila (these three are Doctors of the Church), Mother Katherine Drexel, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Rose Phillipine Duchesne (these four are American saints) and many other nuns and holy women over two thousand years. Pope Benedict just canonized Mother Marie Eugenie of Jesus, a French nun, on June 3. And it is only a matter of time before Mother Teresa of Calcutta is recognized as a saint. And this is just a small sampling of the women religious who have been declared saints by the Church.

As for nuns who are living today, the Church has also long recognized the invaluable contribution made by women religious in areas such as teaching, healthcare, and work with the poor, as well as in theological, philosophical, and liturgical studies. Pope John Paul II, in his 1995 Letter to Women, wrote, “Thank you, consecrated women! Following the example of the greatest of women, the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, you open yourselves with obedience and fidelity to the gift of God's love. You help the Church and all mankind to experience a "spousal" relationship to God, one which magnificently expresses the fellowship which God wishes to establish with his creatures.”

Sometimes we take each other for granted, and that happens in the Church as well as outside it. Many times priests, nuns, deacons, and all other religious do not get the recognition they deserve. We should always remember to thank all of those who give themselves so selflessly to others.


At 8:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Many times priests, nuns, deacons, and all other religious do not get the recognition they deserve."

Don't forget the many laypeople who serve the church. I'm always amazed at the army of people who serve in so many ways (and grateful too)!

At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are Charasmatic Churches?

At 10:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Priests, nuns, and deacons and all need the regular recognition they deserve. I truly believe that we, the laypeople, need to honor them as our most holy Lord's divinely called leaders as well as servants.

I am unaware of any other Christian religion which requires more from their ordained leaders.

The laypeople who serve the church should be a great support to our priests and deacons. Their workloads are heavy. There are times when we are able to work diligently in the church. There are times when our own families/extended familes have profound needs. I have been in both places. Sometimes able to serve, other times serving outside the immediate church.

At 10:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off topic:

Stigmata - I would like to learn more about it. Are there good sound books about it? Know some one who regularly meditates on the wounds of Christ.

Anon 2, have never heard of the term Charismatic churches? There is a charismatic movement within the Catholic Church. I have a general understanding of it but I am ill equipped to explain it adequately. I guess that one is for Father Greg.

At 9:52 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

I’ve heard others express that the consecrated women of the church seem less valued, but not mistreated. Maybe some feel that way because these women do not have the same voice in the church.

There is one valid point I think many women do have, and that is a lack hearing their perspective within the walls of the church. Since we are in agreement that men and women are created differently and thus have different ways of thinking, it would be nice to hear a woman's take on the Gospels too. The church creates a void when women are only "fed" by men's thoughts and understandings. Men simply don't approach many of the "soul" things the way women do, nor do they understand them in the same way. I understand that women can be heard in some of the church’s offerings, like Bible study or on retreats, but isn’t it problematic that one must actively seek out the voices of women? Even when the women of the church are discussed, it is through a man’s understanding of their importance and contributions. It would be good if ALL in church on Sunday could occasionally hear the insights and understanding of women, from women themselves. MEN need to hear the voices of women even more than women do- we already have our "networks" and ways to communicate with one another. Wouldn’t this logically contribute to some women’s experiences of feeling less valued in the eyes of the church? That is one of the things I think is great about this blog- women are heard. When I grew up, my ONLY religious enrichment was a direct result of women's words and experiences. Some of my best teachers were nuns. It is a shame that my children will likely not have some of that same experience.

At 1:29 PM, Blogger Daisy said...

To add to what Mindy said, while men receive the sacrament of Holy Orders to become priests, women do not receive a sacrament to become nuns. This may result in people thinking that consecrated women are less valued because no sacrament is involved for them. Nevertheless, I think it would make sense that that men would need to receive a sacrament constituted by Christ in order to represent Him as priests. Whereas, there would be no need for women to receive a sacrament to work for the Church as nuns.


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