Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Divine Feminine-: Coming Into Balance Panel with Mitsi Ito, Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, Lara Fine, Ondie Vinson at Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center, Sarasota, Florida Dec. 2, 2019

 First Tuesday of each month, November- March from 6:30pm-8:00 PM

     The Roman Catholic Church teaches that God is pure spirit, neither male nor female but uses mainly male images such as father, lord. King, master, warrior to describe “him.” Rarely, will you hear a feminine image of God mentioned in a liturgy or in the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.

     Since God is beyond all images and human language fails to describe the fullness of divine mystery, it is important to use expansive imagery to refer to the Divine.

     My focus in this presentation is introducing some of the beautiful feminine imagery for the Holy One in the Hebrew and Christian scripture and in the mystics.

     I wrote 3 books on feminine images for God to explore divine mystery in deeper ways to help women and men reach greater wholeness by seeing themselves as equal images of God and to challenge patriarchal domination. (Exploring the Feminine Face of God, Delighting in the Feminine Divine and Heart Talks with Mother God- co-authored with Regina Madonna Oliver.)

  This led me on the path to live my call as priest/bishop in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. We are claiming our spiritual authority to lead the Church to healing, transformation and empowerment of women in a community of equals. (https://arcwp.org)

Feminine Imagery in Hebrew Scripture

Gn.1:26 Creating human life in her image
“Then God said, let us make humankind in our image. , according to our likeness.”

Dt. 32:18  God describes herself in the motherly approach;
“You were unmindful of the rock that bore you(Yladeka) and you forgot the God who writhed in labor pains with you. (meholeleka).”

Second Is. 42:14 God describes herself screaming out in labor pains
“I have said nothing holding myself in; But now I cry out as a woman in labor gasping and panting.”

Is 49:15 God describes herself as a mother with an infant at the breast
“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even if she forget, I will never forget you.”

Ps. 22:9-10 God describes herself as a midwife
“Yet, you drew me out of the womb, you entrusted me to my mother’s breast, placed me on your lap from my birth, from my mother’s womb you have been my God. “

In the Hebrew, Greek and Latin languages, Wisdom is of feminine grammatical gender, hokmah in Hebrew, sapientia in Latin and Sophia in Greek.
Wisdom is the feminine aspect of the one God and is personified as a woman in the Bible.
The Bible describes wisdom as female portraying her as mother, sister, female lover, hostess and preacher and in a variety of other roles.

Proverbs 8:17, 20-21 Sophia is a woman of justice
“I love those who love me…I walk in the way of virtue,  in the paths of justice, enriching those who love me, filling their treasures.”
Proverbs 8:18
“With me are riches and honor, lasting wealth and justice.”

Proverbs 8:4-11 Sophia is an angry preacher

She delivers her message at the city gates: ‘You ignorant people, how much longer will you cling to your ignorance? How much longer will mockers revel in their mocking and fools hold knowledge contemptible? Pay attention to my warning: now I will pour out my heart to you and tell you what I have to say.”

Feminine Imagery in Christian Scripture:

In John’s Gospel Jesus identifies himself with Sophia, Holy Wisdom.
Jesus, like Sophia, desires that all people come and eat and drink from him.

Jn. 6:35“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Sophia, the welcoming hostess invites all to her banquet.

Proverbs 9:5 “Come eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.”

Matthew 23:37 Jesus refers to himself as “mother hen.” 
 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how many times have I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling.”

God is described in maternal and feminine imagery in the mystics and saints in the Christian tradition

Fathers of the Church: Clement of Alexandria and John Chrysostom picture Christ as a mother nursing her child at her breast in the Eucharist.
“I am your nurse giving Myself for bread. (Clement)
“Let us as infants at the breast draw out the grace of the spirit. Let it be our sorrow not to partake of this food.” (John Chrysostom)

Twelfth Century Doctor of the Church: St. Hildegard of Bingen describes God birthing creation and holding all creation in perfect balance and harmony. She uses feminine imagery to refer to the Spirit, the work of the Trinity and to describe wisdom.

In Hildegard’s first vision of the feminine divine she describes a radiant woman adored by angels. “For she is with all and in all, and of beauty so great in her mystery that none could comprehend how sweetly she bears with us, and how she spares us with inscrutable mercy.”
“But why does the whole creation call this maiden ‘Lady?’ Because it was made from her that all creation proceeded, since love was the first. She made everything. Love created humankind. ..”(Scivias, Know the Ways)

Mechtild of Magdeburg (1210-1280) God’s Maternal Breast

“God is not only fatherly, God is also mother
Who lifts her blessed child from the ground to her knee.
The Trinity is like a mother’s cloak
Wherein the child finds a home
And lays its head on the maternal breast. “ (The Flowing Light of the Godhead, translated by Lucy Menzies)

Fourteenth century English mystic Julian of Norwich, in her Revelations of Divine Love, develops a rich innovative theology of the motherhood of God.  For Julian there is no human relationship capable of portraying the love of God better than motherly love.

“As truly is God our Father, so truly  is God our mother.”
I am… the power and goodness of fatherhood. I am…the wisdom and lovingness of motherhood.” (Showings, 293-299)

Contemporary Author: 
Bridget Mary Meehan, Exploring the Feminine Face of God, p. 79.

Who Are You, God?

I am the womb of mystery
I am the birther of new life
I am the breast of unending delight
I am the passionate embrace of woman
I am the emanation of feminine beauty
I am the mother of creation
I am the cosmic dance of Sophia Wisdom

I am the feminine face of God you have longed to kiss.

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