1 February 2010

Feminine Priesthood

At Lauds tomorrow, if you use the Buggles Rite and use it, as the Council mandated, in Latin, you will be saying a hymn confected out of three of those which the henpecked and painfully attenuated Abelard composed for the Monastery of the Paraclete (Abelard via Wiki' if you need background). I find interesting the sacrificial language Abelard uses of our Lady. "The parents of Christ ... offer the Temple in the temple ... Offer, Blessed Mary, the weeny one (parvulum) ... offer the one by whom we are offered ... bring forward your Son with a Victim ...".

There has been intermittently a tendency to find priestly significance in our Lady; and I would be sorry if this had to be airbrushed completely out of existence just because the heretics have decided that women should be ordained to public priestly ministries. In fact, it seems to me that this is a subject which can help to bring out the inherent differences between men and women and throw light on why the latter are as incapaces of Ministerial Priesthood as the former are of Motherhood.

Mary brought Jesus in offering out of the the family; out of her womb; offered him from the inner recesses of her body where his Incarnate Being had been crafted and nurtured. Woman is the matrix and shrine of Life; whose whole structure is devised for that purpose. In more than one sense, sexual generation is as external to the male as it is profoundly internalised within the female. It is from within herself and from the family of which she is the heart and hearth that Mary brings her Son as her sacrifice to the threshold of the Temple. But it is from this point that, in the public forum of the people and of their cultus, the priesthood makes offering to YHWH.

Mary is the Priest of the conception, birth, and nurture of her Son, which is itself an act of offering to God; she is the one who brings Him out of the hidden places to the gates of public life and there offers Him as the ripe fruit of her womb. Israel's priesthood, standing before the Altar of YHWH, is a male priesthood because male Man stands outside the intimacies of family so as to and act for the People before their God, just as Woman is the private and interior Mystery of Life and of its continuance.

I know how risible and contemptible - even how outrageous - the implications of such distinctions are for the Zeitgeist. I am comforted by the recollection that every human society before our own has been structured in accordance with this or some similar anthropology. It is not some narrow religious archaism that we are defending, but Humanity and the nature written upon us by its Designer.

6 comments:

St said...

Bravo, father, you've said it! This is really such an excellent blog.

ADALBERT said...

Another conveniency argument against female priesthood comes from the symbolical structure of human sexuality. It completes yours based on the fertility.

Quickly said, considering love as a gift between a man and a woman, one notices that man stands on the initiative of the gift, and woman on the reception - the union of the bodies and the procreation helps to prove that.

Therefore in the Church man is appropriate to signify the initiative of God towards humanity, etc. See Ep 5.

David said...

Father, this is truly a valuable insight and very worthy of reflection.

Kiran said...

Thank you, Father. There is also Donne's Good Friday, Riding Westward:

If on these things I durst not look, durst I
On His distressed Mother cast mine eye,
Who was God's partner here, and furnish'd thus
Half of that sacrifice which ransom'd us?

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

Good one, Kiran

Kiran said...

Fun isn't it? I was writing a little controversial piece on Our Lady directed at Protestants (Sydney 'Anglicans'), and a large portion of it consisted of quotes like this one from Donne, Taylor, and (of course) Pearson, Mascall, Ken, Hoskyns, and Andrewes.