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Vigil mass, packed Cathedral, boy-choir, all male readers, all male celebrants. Too bad women are not capable of reading the Word of God.  Too bad there are no women who have experienced a calling to the priesthood in the Catholic Church. Or if they have it isn’t really a calling because we all know that the Holy Spirit is not experienced by women. Divine inspiration is only recognised by the all male clergy if it is received by another male. Convenient system! Women who claim such a calling must be crazy or heretical or both. They need to be silenced and threatened with ex-communication. But at least we get to arrange the flowers.

And in the US and Ireland, priests have been doing such a good job of being guided by the Holy Spirit, haven’t they. We would be hard pressed to find one let alone three wise men in the Catholic heirarchy right now! Three men who would put financial security, personal ambition, comfort and public reputation aside to follow their faith (and a star) into foreign territory and an uncertain future, who would give up all their worldly riches to serve God’s plan.

Then I think of wise Catholic woman like Edwina Gately and my hope is restored.


“To the modern man, religion can no longer be a matter of entering into a relationship with the supernatural. The only kind of religion that can help him live and get the most out of life will be the one which will teach him to identify as divine or holy whatever in human nature or in the world about him enhances human life. Men must no longer look upon God as a reservoir of magic power to be tapped whenever they are afraid of their physical limitations.”  

“Without faith that the world of nature is a cosmos and not a chaos, that it has intelligible laws which can be unravelled, and that the human reason offers us an instrument capable of unravelling them, then no scientific theorizing would be possible. This is another way of saying hat science cannot dispense with what Einstein has appropriately names “cosmic religion,” the faith that nature is meaningful and hence divine.”

                 Mordecai Kaplan, The Meaning of God in Modern Jewish Religion.

Profound words I was reading tonight when my husband told me the news story of a woman seeing the image of Mary on her Thanksgiving breakfast pancake. I don’t think Kaplan had that in mind when he said we need to identify the divine in the world. But it strikes a chord with my current musings. There are intellectuals who can relate to the ideas of great thinkers like Kaplan and Einstein and find in their writings rational support for belief in God. Then there are people for whom faith is not a matter of academic debate but an intuitive sense that God is real and that even things like pancakes can be mediators of “The Holy.” Whether the image on the food product is the result of burnt butter or not doesn’t matter to them. It is a reminder of what they already know to be true: God is in all things.

So I ask myself, are intellectuals arrogantly supposing that their path to “meaning” is the only valid one? Why do we laugh at the simple faith of ordinary people?  In the end does it matter whether one comes to God through academic theology or piety? Isn’t it all about how we live and love, about what kind of “footprint” we leave on the planet?  The woman who saw Mary in her pancake didn’t come to faith because of a breakfast food, she came to breakfast with her faith already firm and with eyes willing to see reminders of holiness and giving thanks for what is really important in her life on Thanksgiving: spending time with family and friends.


New Title: A Wretched Man, a novel of Paul the apostle.

Advent — a coming, becoming

a waiting for.

Silence —

hearing the nothing

that is already here.

But can you hear Nothing? Is silence a thing in itself or simply the absence of sound?

If a vacuum contains nothing how can it exist? Unless the Nothing is Something?

Is darkness just the absence of light?

Is death just the absence of life?

Do we simply pass from Something to Nothing?

But then, where does new life come from? Where does the Coming of God come from?

Do we assume there is nothing else because we have not seen beyond our own light, life, Something?

Perhaps the Silence contains the Holy.

Perhaps the Silence is the Holy, the Holy that is already here.

“… no amount of improved decision-making and transparency will enable senior clergy to respond effectively to the church’s crisis of sexuality. To do that, they must confront the root cause of the problem – that the Catholic Church is a powerful homo-social institution, where men are submissive to a hierarchical authority and where women are incidental and dispensable. It’s the purest form of a male hierarchy, reflected in the striking fact that we all collectively refer it to as “the Hierarchy.”

It has all the characteristics of the worst kind of such an institution: rigid in social structure; preoccupied by power; ruthless in suppressing internal dissent; in thrall to status, titles, and insignia, with an accompanying culture of narcissism and entitlement; and at a great psychological distance from human intimacy and suffering.

Most strikingly, it is a culture which is fearful and disdainful of women. As theologian William M Shea observes, “fear of women, and perhaps hatred of them, may well be just what we have to work out of the Catholic system”. Until that institutional misogyny is confronted, the church will be unable to confront the unresolved issue of its teaching on sexuality and the sexuality of the clergy. Instead, celibacy will continue to be used as a prop to the dysfunctional homo-social hierarchy. The hierarchy will continue to project its fear of women on to an obsessive effort to exert control over their wombs, their fertility and their unruly sexual desires. That is the psychology of exclusion.”

 Church’s View of Sex the Root of Its Troubles, By Maureen Gaffney, as quoted on the  Progressive Catholic Blog

In the year of the priest, Catholics at Future Church are praying for optional celibacy: so that all can be at the table. Check it out here at


Also read about St. Mary of Magdala, and the Woman and the Word initiative.

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