Bobby McFerrin & Bishop Regina

Bobby McFerrin defies patriarchy, June 20, 2011
Bobby McFerrin, a ten-time Grammy winner who improvises in various musical traditions, was interviewed by Krista Tippett.
We got to talking about the heavy patriarchal element of, you know, religion . . .
I thought, well let me write something with the feminine gender . . . because when we think about God's love it should encompass, you know, the mother and father . . . the feelings of a man, the feelings of a woman. They are different, you know. . . .

I just wanted to remind people . . . some of them might not have had great relationships with their dads. And also mothers too, you know; some of them don't have great relationships with their mothers. But sometimes we forget just the feminine element in religious service. And I just wanted to bring that out.
He brought out the feminine when he set Psalm 23 to song:
The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all I need,
She makes me lie down in green meadows,
Beside the still waters, She will lead.

She restores my soul, She rights my wrongs,
She leads me in a path of good things,
And fills my heart with songs.

Even though I walk, through a dark and dreary land,
There is nothing that can shake me,
She has said She won't forsake me,
I'm in her hand. . . .

Glory be to our Mother, and Daughter,
And to the Holy of Holies,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World, without end. Amen
Also on the theme of patriarchy, readers might enjoy this hilarious and also serious song Kate, sit down, sit down, to the tune of “Que sera sera, whatever will be will be.”
Samples of the lyrics:
When I was just a little girl,
I asked my mother, what could I be.
Could I be bishop, could I be pope? . . .
Whatever you dream can’t be
The future’s for men to see.
Do not question me. . . .

We know what’s best for you. We’re infallible too.”
Now back to serious scholarship. Fr. Richard McBrien corrects the pope’s claim that the denial of ordination to women is infallible teaching.

I wonder how much longer the hierarchy’s repression of women can withstand provocative challenges like these.

Woman ordains another woman a Catholic priest, July 1, 2011
The Community of Mary Magdalene, First Apostle, based in St. Cloud, MN, supports and plans liturgies with Catholic womenpriests. Kelly Doss, one of our group, witnessed a Womenpriest Ordination for the first time on June 26 and wrote this:
As the procession began, I remember my eyes welling up with tears. I thought, “I cannot believe I get to be part of this! This is really happening before my eyes—a woman being ordained.”

. . . Everyone’s love and spiritual presence filled the room! It was a diverse crowd, and yet I could sense the unity and how truly welcome we all felt in that church. I could even sense it in the music. The choir sounded heavenly and all sang with such harmonious force. I believe that for everyone there, this just seemed so natural and beautiful.

There came a harsh reality. By women answering the call to the priesthood, they become excommunicated. How saying “Yes!” to Jesus and ministering to the people warrants excommunication, I will never understand. Bishop Regina brilliantly reminded us that while some of the patriarchs of Rome choose to use threats, we must listen to our conscience. . . .

At the end of the Mass, as the womanpriest was thanking those who supported her on her journey, she reminded me of something profound. There are some in her circle of support who were not able to attend her ordination because their vocations and careers would be in jeopardy.

. . . There are men and women in the Community of Mary Magdalene, First Apostle who take risks by worshipping with us and supporting us. . . . you are truly a gift and I admire your courage. You make the community all the more extraordinary!

Later that evening I attended Mass. Everything was the way I had always known: same motions, same responses. For a moment, I had to question if anything was changing and if it ever will.

When I think about what I witnessed today, I know that the spirit of change has been set in motion, and it will not cease. . . . Keep hope alive! God Bless, Kelly
And here are excerpts from the homily by Bishop Regina Nicolosi:
There should be sheer joy that we can celebrate the ordinations of Monique and Maria on the feast of Corpus Christi. However, the sound of their names alone makes it apparent that there is tension and pain interlaced with the joy in what we are about to do, a tension which would not exist were their names Michael and Marvin.

There is a poem by Frances Croake Frank which powerfully expresses this pain. I have never met anyone who knows this woman, Francis Croake. Rumor has it that she is a Catholic nun. Once you hear this poem, you may understand why she remains anonymous:

Did the woman say,
When she held him for the first time in the dark of a stable,
After the pain and the bleeding and the crying,
“This is my body, this is my blood”?

Did the woman say,
When she held him for the last time in the dark rain on a hilltop,
After the pain and the bleeding and the dying,
“This is my body, this is my blood”?

Well that she said it to him then,
For dry old men,
brocaded robes belying barrenness,
Ordain that she not say it for him now.

Why, I ask my brother Benedict and my brother bishops, or better, why not?
Where does this archaic, relentless sexism come from? When will you stop stressing the maleness of Jesus rather than his humanity? When will you refrain from turning symbols into doctrine?

When will you end exercising power over, rather than with the people of God, with your segregating clericalism? When will you discontinue to see yourselves as dispensers of grace? When will you refrain from excluding those who listen to their conscience?

When will you stop demanding that all of us speak to our God in the form you prescribe and forbid us to call Her Mother?

When will you look at the world without this dualism that pits spirit against nature, historical fact against present experience, sacred against profane?
When will you stop using the Eucharist as a political weapon? Above all, when will you appreciate women and their experiences in the same way you cherish those of men? When will you stop harming women, children and men, too, and our earth with your archaic understanding of, and destructive rules on sexuality.

And specifically, today on this day of ordination, I ask you: When will you respect the body of a women as holy enough to stand close to the altar? Is it not one of your dogmas that God respected the body of our Mother Mary enough to raise this body into heaven?

Let us focus our minds and hearts on that which we can do to renew the church we love. When we say: Corpus Christi / Body of Christ, is it only the bread and wine, the body and blood of our brother Jesus that we envision? Or is there another powerful image coming into our minds? I am thinking of the image of the church community as Corpus Christi.

Maria and Monique, what can you, a newly ordained deacon and a newly ordained priest, contribute to bring life and nourishment to the body of Christ, our church?
. . . Jesus invited all to the table. Do as he did.
Inasmuch as you find yourselves on the margins, it makes sense to serve those who are on the margins as well. Follow the example of one of your sisters who recently at the Cathedral served the body of Christ to those who had been rejected because they were wearing rainbow sashes. Center your liturgies and actions around hospitality.
Feed the people of God. Feeding and nourishing, including from our own bodies, is something we women have done since the beginning of time. Respect the priesthood of all believers.

If people ask you how you can request ordination and at the same time believe in the priesthood of all believers, you may answer: We are willing to live with that ambiguity. As a matter of fact, a greater acceptance of ambiguity is something we as women can bring into a church mired in dogma, rules and definitions.
May your priesthood and diaconate be inspired by the washing of the feet. Do not seek power but rather empowerment of others. Remember that Sarah's circle leads to heaven as surely as Jacob's ladder. But also, do not yield to unjust power. Don't excommunicate anyone, including yourself.

When you preach and teach, ask your sisters and brothers to respect women's bodies, including the body of our mother earth. Hold our Mother Mary in your hearts as an image of priesthood. If they tell you that you cannot act in persona Christi, then tell them that you act in persona Mariae. Her female body carried him for nine months after all.

The Spirit Sophia will empower you to accomplish what Isaiah in our first reading describes:
"Give them a wreath of flowers instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of tears, a cloak of praise instead of despair."
I had intended to shorten the statements of Kelly and Regina but I couldn’t bear to cut much and reduce their eloquence.


Anonymous said…
This just got me wondering what the church would be like with a female pope!
Anonymous said…
Having been raised a Roman Catholic and now an Episcopal priest, I don't understand why all of these women don't join our church where women are priests, deacons and bishops. Women are affirmed in our church and they satand at the altar equal to any male priest. If you're excommunicated, why continue to thnk you will change this male dominated system? There is a better alternative and it is to seek ordination in the Anglican/Episcopal Church. You won't have to rent church space and feel like 3rd class citizens!

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