In which an email conversation between Catie Beardmore – a Catholic University student - and my own self proves to the universe that it doesn’t take a mature theologian to realize that some ideas just straight suck.
Wondering if you could help me with something..
Maria Von Trapp would be proud. Yes, let’s start at the very beginning! And how better than to affirm your suspicions on male breastfeeding? If I didn’t know better, I’d say we could wrap it up there! But let’s shake it up and continue, shall we?
Couldn’t agree more, my friend. Men and women, though absolutely equal, are not the same. To me (and here begins my string of 3rd grade analogies), it’s like four quarters and a dolla’. Both 100 cents, for sure. But very different in look, capabilities, nature. To say that they’re interchangeable not only demeans the distinctive beauty in each, but limits their purpose. This is one thing that annoys me about the typical (or stereotypical) feminism.. That to be equal, women have to be men! How much we have lost in bringing everyone down to the same level instead of raising each up as individuals.
Starting off with the physical attributes is right on, as they elude to the internal differences that you mention. Not to say that a man can’t be nurturing or that a woman can’t provide, but it’s the fullness of gender that can only be experienced by one. Only the log-rollin’ man can truly experience the richness and depth of masculinity, for he is created to pursue, lead, give, be a father and be the lover. Converesely, his lady friend can only but explain (and believe me, we will) what it means to be wholey feminine, as she is created to nurture, grow, receive, be a mother and be loved. These paternal and maternal characteristics would translate to the religious life too.. Unless there’s a part of taking vows that includes degenerfication, in which case, my discernment would be complete.
So, what would you say to someone who asked you the following two questions;
(1.) what makes masculinity complementary to the priesthood?
(2.) do priests hog the remote?
Your chromosomal complement,
What makes masculinity complementary to the priesthood, if we do indeed have different tasks? I like the internal differences you mention by the way; psychology and sociology and all sorts of ‘ology’s’ stand with you when you say that its the paternal and maternal characteristics that really make us different.
And it is this natural paternity of a man that I would argue is complementary to the priesthood. This is important, because I do not claim that it is man’s ability to speak loudly, or to lift heavy things, though I know a few parishes where these are absolutely vital characteristics. I would even argue that man’s tendency to “pursue, lead [and] give”, as you so graciously mentioned, is similarly not what makes men complementary to the priesthood. While I agree that they are characteristics more “at home” in men, a woman can do them without too much difficulty, and often better. No, if we are to argue that there should only be a male priesthood, then it must be on the basis of a characteristic that only men have.
So I would argue it is man’s natural paternity. Why? Well first and foremost, because God chooses to reveal Himself to us as a father. From the very beginnings of Genesis, to Christ’s words to us, we are told “when you pray, say, Our Father.” To clear things up, I am not saying, “God is a man!”, I’m not even talking about the person of Christ yet. I am saying that God chooses to reveal himself to us as a father, and thus the natural paternity of man is a reflection of that choice, it is a reflection of Our Father revealing himself to the world.
I’m trying to fit these thoughts into one fantastic sentence:
It is not that God reveals His relationship with us as being “just like a human father’s!”, as if He’s making some attempt to help us understand his love by imitating our dad’s, but that human fatherhood is an analogy, a reflection, a sign pointing to how God loves us.
If this is the case, then it only makes sense that an individual who stands in the place of God, who is given the power to forgive sins, offer the Perfect Sacrifice, and all the other sacraments, it makes sense that he should have that natural paternity that reflects God’s relationship with us.
And priests do hog the remote, but only to instill in us the virtues of patience, obedience and humility, while making a rich analogy to the fact that only the Holy Roman Catholic Church has the power to bind and loose the er…channels.
So to you I would ask, (1) if God is revealing one aspect of his relationship with us through fatherhood, what is He revealing to us through motherhood, and through femininity in general?
(2) Any additional thoughts on the value of natural paternity in a priest?
Your log-rolling lumberjack man,
More to come!