Sunday, March 13, 2016

"Always Our Sister, A Critical Look at Mary in the Catholic Tradition" , Adult Spiritual Enrichment Course offered by People's Catholic Seminary with Bridget Mary Meehan, D. Min.

On Saturday, March 12th we  discussed  "A Critical Look at Mary in the Catholic Tradition" from Elizabeth's Johnson's book,
Abounding in Kindness
Thirty people attended one or more sessions of Introduction to Contemporary Theology with facilitator Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan. 

Below is the Study Guide for Session 4:  “Mary, Mother of Jesus, Always Our Sister, A Critical Look at the Marian Tradition.

For more information about courses  or programs offered by People's Catholic Seminary:

Session 4 MMOJ members discuss "Mary, Mother of Jesus, Always our Sister"
on March 12, 2016 at St. Andrew UCC in Sarasota, Fl.

Study Guide - Session 4: Contemporary Theology for the People of God

 “Mary, Mother of Jesus, Always Our Sister, A Critical Look at the Marian Tradition”

With Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan, D. Min.

Text: Abounding in Kindness by Elizabeth A. Johnson

     Thousand Faces of Mary, George Tavard, The Thousand Faces of the Virgin Mary

A.    Jewish woman, Miriam of Nazareth
B.     Mother of Jesus
C.    Immaculate Conception, Pius IX connection to papal power 
        P. 289.
D.    Our Lady of Fatima, Cold War with Russia
E.     Our Lady of Guadalupe, Caesar Chavez, struggle for justice of migrant workers P. 289.

II. Mary, our Sister, friend of God, Prophet with Communion of Saints P. 290

A.    Mary, not the maternal face of God

1.      Mary took over titles, shrines, icons, power of Great Mother Goddess
2.      Mary, symbol of mercy and intimacy with God in response to God as angry ruler, Jesus as a judge and Holy Spirit as obscure. “Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy…”
3.      Marian theology developed divine qualities to compensate for patriarchy.
4.      The issue is Mary is not divine.
5.      Demonstrates need for female images of God, balance of male and female images of God P.291.
6.      Let God have own maternal face. Julian of Norwich, God is our mother, Pope John Paul I, God is our mother. P. 291.

III Mary, not the ideal woman, no eternal feminine

A.    John Paul II linked virtues of Mary as a role model for all women.  Emphasis was and embodiment of eternal feminine with the focus on self- sacrificing love, gentleness, non-assertive, non-competitive attitude which leads to the subordination of women P. 292
B.     Hans Von Balthasar argues that “in the church there is the Marian principle of holy obedience, complementarity to the petrine principle of orderly hierarchical rule.” In this understanding of complementarity, women are nurturers, divesting themselves of self-will in order to be obedient to God.  John Paul II wrote two encyclicals on the “Mother of Redemption” and on the Dignity of Women” linking the virtues of Mary with the vocation of women.” P. 293.
C.    Need for women to develop “critical intellect, capacity for righteous anger, inoculate passivity and other characteristics of a mature personality. Living femininity can be dangerous to one’s health and life inculcating passivity in abusive and violent situations.” P. 293.
D.    Feminist theologians are critical of a racist and classist view of women. “Aint I a woman” Sojourner Truth, P. 293. “Nobody ever helps me into carriages or over mud puddles or give me any best place.”

IV. Yes, truly our sister in the communion of the saints. Mary as woman of faith, friend of God and prophet

Mary was a Jewish woman of faith, lighting the Sabbath lamps, following Torah and festivals of faith

A.    Mary lived in a rural village where poverty prevailed in an occupied, violent state.

B.     Mary lived in community. She was present in the midst of the disciples at Pentecost, Acts 1:13 

C.    Mary, sister to marginalized especially women in oppressed situations.

D.    Mary’s life is reflected in so many poor women today.

1.      Journey to Bethlehem, displaced from  ancestral home because of debt and taxes
2.      Flight into Egypt , movement of refugees to avoid being killed by military action
3.      Loss of son executed by unjust state

E.     Mary did not live “ peaceful, middle class life, robed in royal blue” P. 298
1.      Asked questions, Pondered what God was doing
2.      Wedding Feast of Cana: “they have no wine, you have to act.” “Far from being receptive to the wishes of the leading man, she contradicts and persuades him otherwise. Far from being passive, Mary acts. She takes charge, organizing matters so that a bountiful abundance soon flows to those in need.” P. 299.
3.      Mary’s words are prophetic. Her words echo today. “They have no wine. People in need continue her observation, which is also a judgment and a plea: no food, no clean drinking water, no housing, education or health care, no employment, no security from rape,  no human rights.” P. 299.
4.      “Just as her words propelled Jesus into action at Cana, her challenging words address the conscience of the church, the body of Christ, in the world today. Even though people in wealthy nations might prefer not to be informed, her voice reverberates through the centuries saying: “they have no wine…you have to act.” P. 299
5.      Mary, who was “poor, female and endangered in a violent society” awakens “courage to struggle for a just and peaceful world in which all humans and the earth flourish.” P. 299.
6.      “Mary’s grief for her dead son places her in solidarity with mothers of children dead by state violence everywhere…it empowers the church’s women and men to say “Stop It”
7.      “…the memory of Mary near the cross abides, inspiring non-violent action to stop the violence as a profoundly compassionate expression of faith in God.’

V. Mary, mother of Jesus, is a “partner in hope in the company of all the holy women and men, who have gone before us to redeem the power of her memory for the flourishing of suffering people, and to draw on the energy of her memory for a deeper relationship with the living God and stronger care for the world.” She is “truly our sister, a woman in the cloud of witnesses cheering on the people of God today.” P. 301.

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