Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Catholic Church and the Wounded Feminine

I am driving home from  my quarry swim, chased out  by a summer thunderstorm, and so I get to hear some bits of radio conversation. It is Terry Gross on Fresh Air interviewing Christopher Beha who has just written a novel," What Happened to Sophie Wilder." The  snipit that I catch on my short drive  is about this author's experience growing up Catholic.  I drift into my own experiences of that and think that even though I am no longer embedded in the structure of the Church any  longer, there is much of my Catholicism that remains within me.

However, I am so disenchanted with the institution of the Church that I hardly ever participate in its liturgies that I have loved for so long. I used to say, "well, sure, my Church is my dysfunctional family, isn't every family dysfunctional to some degree?" And so I stayed, singing away as cantor  by  the altar every Sunday.

But then my Church family became abusive. This abuse may be even far more pervasive than the horrible sexual abuse of children by specific clergy, because this  was an insidious and institutionalized abuse of power  against the faithful. This had  become  patriarchal control of everyone's conscience  (congregations told how to vote "pro-life" at every election) to the subjugation of women at every level.

While  listening to the Fresh Air interview, another image came to me. It was of my  daughter as a teen, walking into  our little parish church one evening after it had been newly redecorated in warm womb colors of deep dark pinks and with soothing green carpets. Gregorian chant was playing, candles glowed in dusky darkness. She knelt down and sighed "ah,it is like being home".

Those feminine colors of earth and body, and the calming  sounds of  the chanting felt comforting to her.How unfortunate that the patriarchal institutions such as the Catholic Church miss their opportunity to embrace the young  when  they  disregard their need to embrace the feminine principle. That welcoming sanctuary  that had become  a symbol of the feminine was not enough to rebalance the hierarchical urge to put down  the feminine everywhere else.

My  daughter, no longer a teenager, is  getting married, but now she has no desire  to set foot in the Church where she received First Communion or was confirmed. She has not betrayed her faith: the patriarchal institution that supposedly upholds the faith (of love and inclusiveness without hierarchy) has betrayed her.

1 comment:

  1. Kayta,
    What you say is so true.
    And we the faithful, and Catholic women in particular, have it within our power to transform our tradition, whose story of Love Incarnate is as wonderfully told as anywhere.

    Grounded in the sacred and immutable doctrine of the Assumption of Mary, Mother of God and Queen of Heaven we know that Jesus updated His prayer.
    As part of my stance in Mass out loud I always say, "Our Father and Mother who art in Heaven ... " one of several things the faithful can do to make the feminine coequal to the masculine in matters of faith ... all other matters as well.
    For other connections I have joined Occupy ... to connect with like minded people wanting not to destroy but transform our wonder faith.
    For further reflection: