Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Roman Catholic Womenpriests : House Church Celebration of Feast of St. Mary Magdala in Falls Church, VA.
On July 22nd, 2009, we hosted a liturgy in honor of the feast day of St. Mary Magdala in our home in Falls Church, VA. We sang, prayed, and reflected on the role of St. Mary Magdala as the first witness to the Resurrection. The Risen Christ sent Mary to "go and tell", announce the Good News to the other disciples. The church Fathers referred to her as "The Apostle to the Apostles." We also discussed the non-canonical Christian writings such as Pistis Sophia, and the Gospel of Mary, which present Mary as a leader and teacher of the male disciples, whom Peter resented. Scholars believe this tension reflected the debate in the early church about the role of women as leaders in the church. Amid chuckles, we noted that some things never change!!
Our community also discussed at length the call to a renewed priestly ministry and asked me to share my journey. Peg and Bob, with whom I co-ministered in a parish community for fifteen years shared some wonderful memories. Both have been companions on the journey with me, like Junia and Andronicus whom Paul cites as exemplars in the faith in Romans 16. We noted in Romans 16 that Paul commends by name, many women leaders for their hard work. Today over 80% of church ministry is done by women. So women are still doing the heavy lifting in the church today in parishes throughout the U.S.
There is tension between the hierarchy and women in the church who advocate full equality of women in the church, including a renewed priestly ministry. The image that comes to mind is that of a dance! Despite our disagreements and rejection by the institutional male leaders, RCWP are faithful members of the Body of Christ, the people of God. Like St. Mary of Magdala and Peter, we are "dancing" a new church into being!
Bridget Mary Meehan