|Excerpt from Book Three in the Dreams Along the Way Trilogy of Memoir, Cauldron of the Feminine: A Journey through Dreams to the Feminine
Pearl Gregor, Special to The Review | August 1, 2019
I walk in snowflakes with Rascal leaping and rushing about in pure joy at having a companion for her walk. Last night, I went to choir. Why, I am not sure. A whole part of me wants to leave the church entirely. But why should I? I love the music, the singing; Eucharist is joy for me. Angry sadness brims at the edges throughout Mass today. I have tea with friends and bring home several books. Monday, I stay home from work, needing a day to nourish just me. I listen to a shamanic dreaming tape and gently exercise, breathe and relax.
I read Maureen Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness. I grapple with the church’s declaration that the proclamation against women’s ordination is infallible. Bullshit.
I read the Western Catholic Reporter articles of November 20 and 27. One article is entitled “A Synod Skirmish over ‘Feminine Values.’” My friend, Anita Muller, brings forward a recommendation that our church honour feminine values and express feminine images. A Skirmish? The tone of the article is utterly appalling. My heart cries out, “How long. How long, O Lord, do you ask me to deny my own daughter, my mother, my grandmother?” How long do you allow church to deny your Mother? Jesus, you were outraged at the treatment of women in your time on Earth.
In the same issue of the newspaper, Glen Argan, editor of the WCR, writes uses phrases like “reaching out to the alienated,” “inner conversion” and “inclusive of all peoples,” but nowhere does he support the inclusion of women as people of the church. He says Catholics are too timid to address public issues—but he refers only to structural issues of governance, power, control and rights. Nowhere does he mention violence against the earth, women, children or men. Patriarchy is mired in the Herod Father image. Our church, my church for generations, is Herodic—it kills, eats those who are most in need of nurturing, caring, loving relationship. Yes, we are a culture of death. One youth delegate at the synod speaks and gets a pat on the head by a priest who tells her she has “interpreted” the message about youth wrongly. He insinuates that if she were “smart” she would understand. How patronizing, how hierarchical, how disgusting. I want to slap him. Another headline blares, “The Archbishop Sits Among the People”—how nice. How odd that this simple act requires a headline and an explanation—a synod that he created. I doubt it. The people—contrary to popular hierarchical belief—are the church. The people don’t need an archbishop to create a synod. The people create church each and every moment of their lives.
In a small corner of the paper, I read that one woman left the synod unable to continue the hypocrisy. I have not left the church—yet. I struggle to continue. Too bloody stubborn in my pain to give up the real presence of the Christ in Eucharist. Too obstinate not to believe that somehow, some way, the heart of Christ, Anointed One, will yet break through the 70 centuries of patriarchy and violence against my flesh and the fruit of my womb. How long will the church betray me because of my woman’s body? I meet too many people outside the structured, authoritarian church who speak from the heart. The people inside know but are afraid to speak. I read too many books by Catholic theologians, nuns, priests and lay people. The feminine aspect of the Trinity speaks daily to me in the flowers, trees, sunflowers and rushing waters: Be patient. I am returning.
Where will the family of sons and daughters find its feminine energies, values and images? Where will they see a future that incorporates the values of the heart? Find language that includes all people and images that celebrate life in the earthly body? From the movies, films, television? I doubt it. From mothers who have already denigrated themselves with guilt for inability to find expression in the church?
The beauty, joy, power of the feminine aspect of the One who created all must be honoured in outward expression. Instead what I hear is the continued misogyny of the early church fathers. My logical mind can make no sense of an all-male deity as Creator. Nor can my rational intellect play the ridiculous game of believing that the deity is in fact reduced to masculine only but somehow through tricks of language includes the feminine. Do families have mothers? Are the mothers visible or invisible? Dependent for patriarchal approval or independent and partners in creating family? Delegates differ over inter-church marriage: “giving Communion to people of other churches removes the incentive to become Catholic.” Excuse me? Jesus Christ shared his presence, communed with the people “in remembrance.” His presence in Eucharist must NOT be reduced to an incentive. Disgusting economic spirituality. The whole theme of the synod appears to be like a gigantic corporate membership drive. I am deeply saddened by the knowledge that what is so strongly missing in all North American culture is also missing in our church: the value placed on women’s wisdom, women’s bodies, women’s care, love, joy and miracle of motherhood. It seems as though the synod delegates really believe, in their heads, that their way is the right way. It isn’t. Why the refusal to enable real intimacy, to hear the voices raised to question, to challenge? Why the fear of anger, intimacy and love?
“Fathers are just as nurturing as mothers.” How clueless. That is not the issue. My husband is very nurturing, very caring. It was my female body that brought our children into the world. It is to their mother that they turn when they are sick, hungry and in need. There is no understanding that feminine is NOT gender. As long as this level of confusion continues, there is no way the church will change. Nor are there dual natures in One God.
So, the synod mothers allow patriarchy to swallow them whole, and take over the feminine attributes so long coveted by the masculine since it discovered that woman gives birth from her body and they cannot. We teach our daughters and sons to discard their mothers and the maternal bond in favour of the patriarchy and we are all desperately poorer.
Again I ask myself: “Why do you stay?”
[For more information about the book and the author:
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