Do many women read this blog? I have noticed only the odd comment from women other than myself. I hope any women lurking will feel free to comment here.
I know I'm a tad unusual in my interests as are most of my women friends. We like theology, we're interested in current affairs, we read blogs (or at least they read mine as a portal to the blogosphere), and we like traditional liturgy and are repelled by the idea of priestesses. We are professional women who have pursued careers and raised children, though some of us were able to take time to be at home when our children were small. We admire women who do stay at home with their children, especially the home-schooling moms who dedicate so much to ensuring their children become formed in the Faith and receive a real education.
I think the Church is struggling to figure out the roles of lay people, especially women, in relation to the ordained priesthood and episcopacy. There are some Catholics of a more liberal bent who would like a radical flattening of the hierarchy and the elevation of the priesthood of believers. They see the "rot" in the church as resting in the all-male hierarchy. While problems and sin and human failures abound, I see the hierarchy as the one thing that keeps the Catholic Church from flying apart the way the Canterbury Communion is doing, because all the different factions exist within the Catholic Church, too.
Now that Los Angeles is back in the news with the glorious appointment of Archbishop Jose Gomez as coadjutor archbishop, I can't stop thinking about a video Father Z posted of the liturgy of a massive Catholic education conference in Los Angeles. Gomez represents a sea change coming to this very liberal diocese and he will need lots of prayerful support. This video is an example of what he is up against, in terms of misguided efforts to feminize the liturgy and democratize worship.
The liturgical dancing is bad enough. But what struck me and one of my friends as also troubling were the deacons who processed with their wives. I am not exactly sure why it bothered us, but it did. Maybe some of your more theologically trained readers could help me understand.
What is the role of a deacon's wife, or a priest's wife? What is the role of any lay person? Father Z took apart an article by a Fr. Paul Philibert who is lamenting the rise of what he sees as a new clericalism. Here's an excerpt, with Father Z's comments in red and his bolds:
(b) In this popular theology, the ordained presbyter (priest) [when you see "presbyter", start reading closely] is understood to be the one who is active in the Eucharist as the agent of reenacting Holy Thursday and Good Friday, [another cliche coming] while the people are sacramentally passive as recipients of the priest’s sacred action. [The writer has a rather narrow understanding of "active participation" it seems.] Some of those who [note how condescending his following description is…] buy into this vision of the Eucharist are hungry to hear Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony and Latin texts while they are edified by the priest’s awesome rites. [Gosh… whose ideas might he be attacking here?] This reduction of the laity to passive bystanders instead of active participants in Catholic worship is the most characteristic manifestation of clericalism. [On the other hand, what the writer fails to grasp is that when you "clericalize" the laity, when you instruct them to do what is proper to the priest and deacon, installed acolyte or lector, you are telling them that they – in themselves – aren’t good enough. Their affirmation comes from them aping what clergy do. I think that is a far worse clericalism, for it denies that lay people have their own real dignity unless they are doing what clergy are to do. And his notions of active participation are simply worn out.]
I think somehow we need to capture the dignity of both the laity and the priesthood, not confusing the two.
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