Friday, April 5, 2013

Women in the church

Ever since Vatican Council II, the role of women in the church has gained ever more importance. Obviously in our own Cathedral, we see women serve as Lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, Cantors, members of the Folk Group, Religious Ed coordinator, Secretaries, assistants to sacristans, Religious Ed teachers, serving in the Hispanic Ministry, as sanctuary decorators, altar-servers and other roles, not to mention the work that the Altar Society does in so many areas. These are positions one sees in just about every Catholic church nowadays. Other parishes involve women in social work, hospital work and many other areas. We are blessed to have women serve in so many ministries, and our community is richer because of their presence and their involvement.
Pope Francis three times hinted at the valuable role women have in our churches, and on Holy Saturday he dedicated his Easter Vigil Homily to the women as the first witnesses to the novelty of the Resurrection. During Easter week he spoke of the tears of the Magdalene and how we should follow her example of faith in our life’s journey. On Wednesday’s audience he expanded his reflections to the women of the world, whom he said have a special and fundamental role in the Church and the transmission of the faith . Departing from his scripted text, as is now his very own tradition, he appealed: “Mothers go forward with this witness to the Risen Christ!”
Pope Francis continues: “This tells us that God does not choose according to human criteria: the first witnesses of the birth of Jesus are the shepherds, simple and humble people, the first witnesses of the Resurrection are women. This is beautiful, and this is the mission of women, of mothers and women, to give witness to their children and grandchildren that Christ is Risen! What matters to God is our heart, if we are open to Him, if we are like trusting children. But this also leads us to reflect on how in the Church and in the journey of faith, women have had and still have a special role in opening doors to the Lord, in following him and communicating his face, because the eyes of faith always need the simple and profound look of love. The Apostles and disciples find it harder to believe in the Risen Christ, not the women however! Peter runs to the tomb, but stops before the empty tomb; Thomas has to touch the wounds of the body of Jesus with his hands. In our journey of faith it is important to know and feel that God loves us, do not be afraid to love: faith is professed with the mouth and heart, with the word and love.”

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