Meditations on Man and Woman, Humanity and Nature
Meditation Seeking Understanding ~ Church
These pages are meditations on the mysteries of the creation, the incarnation, and the redemption. They explore the Christian understanding that all men and women are consubstantial in one and the same human nature, and are consubstantial with Jesus Christ as to his humanity. The meditations are based on a layman's reading of the Sacred Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Theology of the Body as they pertain to the egalitarian complementarity of man and woman, which transcends the patriarchal binary of mutually exclusive male-female opposites. This understanding of the complementary equality of man and woman applies to all the sacraments, sheds light on the great nuptial mystery of Christ and the Church, and would seem to support the ordination of women to the ministerial priesthood and the episcopate.
Apostolic Consubstantiality of Man and Woman|
Working Draft - 31 March 2016
In the Catholic Church, the resistance to the ordination of women is rooted in a sacramental theology that conflates the patriarchal gender binary with biblical revelation. This is a meditation on human nature, male and female, as it pertains to the sacramental priesthood of the New Law when unconstrained by the patriarchal priesthood of the Old Law. This is a visceral issue that cannot not be settled by reasoning alone. This page attempts to support prayerful discernment by stepping outside of the patriarchal box and reconsidering the issue in light of the deposit of faith and the signs of the times.
On humankind and the consubstantiality of man and woman:
TOB Concept of the Personal Subject
Exegesis of Genesis 1 and 2
"Bodiliness and sexuality are not simply identical. Although in its normal constitution, the human body carries within itself the signs of sex and is by its nature male or female, the fact that man is a "body" belongs more deeply to the structure of the personal subject than the fact that in his somatic constitution he is also male or female. For this reason, the meaning of "original solitude," which can be referred simply to "man," is substantially prior to the meaning of original unity; the latter is based on masculinity and femininity, which are, as it were, two different "incarnations," that is, two ways in which the same human being, created "in the image of God" (Gen 1:27), "is a body."" The Meaning of Original Unity, Pope John Paul II, 7 November 1979 (Source: Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, Pauline Books, 2006, page 157. See also note 12 in page 158.
This diagram, like all models, is a simplification of reality, but attempts to deconstruct the oversimplistic sex/gender binary of the patriarchal culture. Basically, it means that each human being is a body animated by a soul (gray circle). All men and women are fully homogeneous, made of the same dust, of the same substance, of the same flesh; and share one and the same human nature (brown circle). The body of each person is sexually differentiated, and is male *or* female *or* intersex (pink, blue, and purple circles). So, again, the body is a visible sacrament of the entire person, but is not the entire person. The physical body makes visible the invisible metaphysical person, but is not the entire person. Sex is biophysical. Gender (gradient pink-blue circle) is psychosomatic, a personal synthesis of somatic constitution and cultural conditioning. Sex and gender are constitutive of the human person more deeply that other, more superficial attributes such as skin color, height, and weight; but all men and women are homogeneously constituted of the same flesh in one and the same human nature. The sexual complementarity of man and woman does not limit them to mutually exclusive roles except when they come together to share the gift of love and the gift of life. Modern science (biology, psychology, neurology) has shown ancient cultural stereotypes to be unnatural. In contrast to the patriarchal mindset of male domination and female subordination, a healthy complementarity of man and woman actually requires their joint participation in most human activities and the reconstruction of their interpersonal communion as fully equal partners in the nuclear family, and in the Church as the family of God, including apostolic succession.
Acronyms and Links:
The Fall of Man
Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7, 23; 3:16, 23-24; 5:1-2; CCC 371, 372, 383; TOB 2:4, 3:2, 4:2, 8:1, 8:4, 9:2
Image: Michelangelo: Paintings, Sculptures, Biography
In the beginning, man and woman were created as rational living beings composed of body and soul in the unity of the same flesh. Thus having a body, as well as having a soul, is more fundamental for human personhood than being male or female. All human beings, male and female, are consubstantial, i.e., share one and the same human nature. All men and women are fully homogeneous, not only somatically but in their whole being. The complementarity of man and woman does not cancel their full equality as human persons. The egalitarian complementarity of man and woman is ordered to the communion of persons in God's image, not to male domination and female submission as in the patriarchal binary that emerged from original sin but has been overcome by the redemption.
The natural unity of man and woman is the original unity of man and woman in one and the same human nature, body and soul.
The patriarchal disunity of man and woman is the mindset of male domination and female subordination, the first and most pervasive consequence of original sin (Genesis 3:16).
The consubstantial complementarity of man and woman means that consubstantiality subsists in complementarity, i.e., the realities of genital complementarity and gender complementarity are subsidiary to their consubstantiality in one and the same human nature.
Bride of the Holy Spirit, Missionary Servant, Mother of God, Mother of the Temple
Luke 1:38-39, 46-56; John 1:14; Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 5:27; CCC 773, 973; TOB 21:5-6; 97:2, 102:4
Visitation - Jerusalem Patriarchate, Nativity - Carmel of Reno,
Lectio Divina - Carmelite Order
God assumed human nature when Mary accepted her unique vocation to be the mother of Jesus. In Mary, the Eternal Word became flesh, as flesh of her flesh. Thus Mary preceded the entire sacramental economy. She who had never been baptized, by her fiat became the Mother of God. In Mary, the Old Law was fulfilled by being turned upside down and inside out. In her womb, the omnipotent God became the most vulnerable Servant of the New Law. The Holy Family was not a patriarchy, thus revealing that the Holy Trinity is not a patriarchy. Jesus would never identified himself as a patriarch, thus revealing that his spousal love for the Church is not essentially patriarchal. Jesus Christ is head of the Church because he is a divine Person and our Redeemer in the flesh, not because he is a human male. Mary is the type of the Church, the type of humanity; she is the sinless bride that preceded sinful humanity, and a Church of baptized sinners, in the nuptial communion of the sacramental economy.
Incarnation in Mary of Nazareth ~ Theotokos ~ Apostolic Mission to America
The "Marian" dimension of the Church precedes the "Petrine" dimension (CCC 773). Mary was an apostle, and much more than an apostle, long before the 12 apostles show up in the New Testament. Mary is the "apostle of the visitation," a mission she continues over the centuries by way of her "visitations" (apparitions) in so many places of the Christian world.
The body is a sacrament of the entire person but is not the entire person. Humanity is male and female, not male or female.
All men and women are fully homogeneous, somatically and in their whole being (Genesis 1-2, TOB 8).
All men and women are made consubstantially in the image of God and make visible what is invisible.
It is in the communion of persons, male and female, that the unity on diversity of the Trinity is made visible.
Redemptor Hominis ~ The Paschal Mystery
Redemptoris Mater ~ Marian & Apostolic Dimensions of the Church
N.B. The Marian dimension precedes the apostolic dimension and the sacramental economy
Mark 16:3; Luke 2:52; John 4:27, 16:12-13, 19:26-27; Galatians 3:28; CCC 26ff, 1066ff, 1691ff; TOB 31:2
Image: Kerstin Lundquist's Blog
All the mysteries of the life of Christ, from the Annunciation to the Ascension, are made visible in the flesh of a concrete human being, Jesus of Nazareth, who lived in one place, at one time, in one family, in one culture. He grew up as the son of his parents, worked for a living, went around doing good and planting the seeds of the God's kingdom as best he could, challenged his culture without imposing anything that people could not understand, had male and female friends who became disciples, had male and female detractors, and died as a servant king but rose as the Servant King. He chose celibacy for the sake of the kingdom and by choice never became a father, but would not have been able to be a mother; for sexual differentiation is a gift but also a limitation of the human condition. Jesus was God in time and space, yet like us in all things but sin.
What a mystery! The first millennium of the Christian era was spent defining the Creed and the "one person, two natures" Christological dogmas. The second millennium was spent defining the sacraments and the Marian dogmas that prefigure the Church. Perhaps the third millennium will be about understanding the great nuptial mystery of Christ and the Church, and further embracing the tripod of redemptive fruits he gained for us: the transition from the Old Law to the New Law, the emancipation from all forms of slavery, and the restoration of male-female communion. But the patriarchal binary is the stone that still blocks the entrance to the tomb, and this imbalance of male domination and female submission must be corrected during the "already, but not yet" time window of the pilgrim Church that goes from Pentecost to his second coming in glory.
After Pentecost, the sacramental ministry of the Church is contingent on the imposition of hands on a baptized person, male or female. Apostolic succession is not contingent on masculinity. By the power of the keys, the Church does have the authority to ordain women (Matthew 3:16, 18:18). CCC 1598 concedes that the male-only priesthood is a choice (first sentence) and identifies who can make the choice (second sentence).
The male-only priesthood, by freezing the ministerial priesthood on one side of the patriarchal gender binary (active divine masculinity versus passive human femininity), is actually anti-liturgical, a disservice to the people of God by reducing the eucharist, "heaven on earth," to a merely cultural "earth on earth" ritual in which the divine-human connection in Christ is visually lost. It reduces the nuptial unity of divine nature and human nature (in one flesh) to human nature alone.
The mutually enriching complementarity of man and woman is as critical in presiding at the liturgy, and in the church hierarchy that oversees the mission of evangelization, as it is in marriage and the nuclear family. In the already/not yet of the pilgrim Church, it is time to ordain women to the diaconate, the priesthood, and the episcopate, for the glory of God and the good of souls.
Nuptial Covenant of Christ and the Church
Genesis 2:24; Matthew 4:18-22, 16:19, 18:18, 19:4-5; Acts 15:28; Ephesians 5:21-33; CCC 796, 802-810, 1616; TOB 1:3, 2:1, 8:1, 19:5, 33:3, 87:2-3, 91:1, 93:6, 97:2, 99:2, 102:1
Image: Biblical Hebrew Studies
When Jesus gave the power of the keys to Peter, he was submitting to the will of the Church on earth. This is a great mystery (mysterium magnum) and may be the most beautiful and most misunderstood mystery of the Christian faith. He who is Priest, Prophet, and King, as well as Victim, voluntarily entrusted the continuation of his mission to the Church and gave her the power, wisdom, and authority to sacramentally bring the Good News to all nations. The old nuptial covenant between God and Israel now becomes a new covenant between Christ and the Church, who becomes one flesh with Christ and the great sacrament (sacramentum magnum) of divine mercy in this world.
It is a nuptial mystery that encapsulates the primordial sacrament of male-female unity in one flesh but also reveals that there is a Christ-Church unity that points to a God-Human unity (theosis) as the ultimate goal of evangelization until the Lord returns in glory. The spousal meaning of the body, both the human body and the Church as the body of Christ, is by no means limited to a superficial patriarchal interpretation of the bridegroom-bride analogy. The spousal bond of Christ-Head and Church-Body radically transcends the patriarchal binary of male domination and female subordination. Jesus Christ is head of the Church because he is a divine Person and our Redeemer in the flesh, not because he is a human male. This nuptial meaning of the Christ-Church mystery as a communion of persons, in the image of the Trinity, applies to all the sacraments.
CONSUBSTANTIAL COMPLEMENTARITY IN THE DOMESTIC CHURCH
Christ submits to the Church (Matthew 16:19, 18:18). In the domestic church, husband and wife submit to each other and jointly exercise headship.
CONSUBSTANTIAL COMPLEMENTARITY IN THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH
Christ submits to the Church (Matthew 16:19, 18:18). In the universal church, ordained men and ordained women should submit to each other and jointly exercise headship.
Mary of Nazareth, the Samaritan Woman, and Mary Magdalene
Apostolic Succession and the Hierarchy of the Church, Male and Female
Psalm 8:4–6; Mark 16:2-3, 9-11; Luke 1:38; John 1:1-3, 14; 4:27-34: Romans 16:3-7; Philippians 2:7-8; Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 10:10; Acts 10:34, 15:28; CCC 239, 242, 248, 262, 370, 467, 685, 703, 1577, 1598, 2789; TOB 1:3, 2:4, 3:2, 4:2, 8:1-4, 13:1, 19:2-5, 21:6, 25:2, 31:3, 33:2-4, 35:5, 41:1, 58:2, 59:4, 65:3, 66:2-4, 67:3, 69:4-8, 70:5-7, 75:3, 76:5-6, 78:5, 79:9, 80:1, 81:4, 86:4, 87:5, 89:3-8, 90:1-6, 91:3, 92:6, 93:5-6, 94:5, 95:2, 95b:1, 96:5,7; 97:5, 99:2, 102:4-7, 104:4-5, 114:8, 115:6, 116:5, 117:5, 117b:2, 6, 121:1-3, 122:1-2, 123:7, 124:1, 126:2, 129:2-5, 130:5, 133:3
Images: Madonna of the Magnificat,
Christ and the Samaritan Woman,
Welcome to Women Bishops
Points to be considered:
HEAD & BODY ~ Our Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the Church because he is a divine Person and our Redeemer in the flesh, not because he is a human male. Any baptized person, male or female, can be ordained to act in persona Christi capitis.
UNITY IN DIVERSITY ~ All humans, and therefore all the baptized, are somatically homogeneous and consubstantial in their whole being, their redeemed bodies being of the same flesh and making visible their souls as images of God; and their fundamental unity in one and the same human nature, and equality in personhood, subsists intact regardless of sexual differentiation or any other pyschosomatic diversity.
BODY SACRAMENTALITY ~ For the redemption, what matters is that God assumed a human body ("This is my body"). Sexual differentiation is a gift but is also a limitation of the human condition. Jesus is "like us in all things but sin". For the sacramental economy, the masculinity of Jesus is as incidental as the color of his eyes. This applies to all the sacraments, including the ministerial priesthood. The exclusively male priesthood is patriarchal heritage received from the Old Law that has yet to be discarded under the New Law.
HUMAN LANGUAGE ~ "God is Love." "God the Father" is not exclusively male. "God the Son" was the Eternal Word before the incarnation, and not exclusively male. "God the Holy Spirit" is not exclusively male. The Trinity is a communion of divine persons, not a patriarchy. The Holy Family was not a patriarchy. Jesus never identified himself as a patriarch. The Church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic," and is the communion of all the baptized, but is not essentially patriarchal. As the family evolves from male headship to joint male-female (father-mother) headship, the patriarchal language that obscures biblical texts and magisterial teachings is becoming an obstacle to grace.
MARY THEOTOKOS ~ Mary preceded the sacramental economy, and hers was a unique and unrepeatable ministerial vocation (Mother of God) that does not preclude the ordination of baptized women. She is a human person, not a divine person. Priests and bishops are human persons, not divine persons. If a female human person can be the Mother of God, a female human person can be a member of the Church hierarchy.
THE 12 APOSTLES ~ In choosing 12 males to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel, Jesus was acting within the limits of his mision to patriarchal Israel and what his disciples could understand. Would Jesus make the same choice for the Church of the 21st century?
CHURCH AUTHORITY ~ The male-only priesthood is a choice the Church makes, not a dogma of the Catholic faith; and the Church, by the power of the keys, has the authority to ordain women as soon as it is recognized that the patriarchal binary is an obstacle to evangelization in a post patriarchal world. Would Jesus, in today's world, choose 12 males to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel?
SACRAMENTAL COMPLEMENTARITY ~ Humanity is male and female. Just as man and woman complement each other in the sacrament of marriage, they also complement each other in all the sacraments, including Holy Orders. Apostolic succession is not contingent on masculinity. The dogma on the sacrament of Holy Orders (Council of Trent) does not mention a masculinity requirement for ordination. The apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is authoritative but is not an infallible definition of the patriarchal (male-only) priesthood as a divinely revealed dogma. The letter "definitively" confirms the hierarchical constitution of the Church, but does not preclude the hierarchy from ever ceasing to be a patriarchy. Once the artificiality of the patriarchal gender binary and the egalitarian complementarity of man and woman are recognized, there is absolutely no dogmatic impediment to the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate.
DISCERNMENT ~ Further enriching the hierarchy with the sacramental complementarity of man and woman would be more conducive to integral human development as well as an integral ecology. The patriarchal family is passing away, and the patriarchal hierarchy of the Church is becoming an obstacle to grace and the mission of evangelization. Here and now, the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate would be for the glory of God and the good of souls.
SACRAMENTAL CONSUBSTANTIALITY OF MAN AND WOMAN
Other than genitally, the complementarity of man and woman does not mean mutually exclusive roles. Such mutual exclusion of gender roles is a heritage from radical patriarchy, not divine revelation. All humans are consubstantial in one and the same human nature. Our Lord Jesus Christ is consubstantial with all humans in his humanity. The Eucharist is the flesh and blood of Christ. Metaphysical "transubstantiation" happens when the priest consecrates the bread and wine, but is really consummated in the flesh when the person who receives the Eucharist becomes "eucharist" in sacrificial service to others.
Colors: Grey = Biblical "Flesh" (Human Nature), Beige = Body, Pink = Female, Blue = Male, Purple = Intersex.
NB: The grey (biblical "flesh," i.e., human nature) subsists under the other colors for all humans. Christ is 100% human and 100% divine. Each person is distinct (solid borders), but all human beings are made of the same flesh.
The "body-soul" reality subsumes the "body-gender" reality, which in turn subsumes the "biophysical body" reality, which in turn subsumes many other realities such as biological sex, the five senses, the color of the skin, etc. All men and women are made of the same created dust, the same created flesh, animated by the same kind of created soul. All men and women are naturally and sacramentally consubstantial, with unity in diversity in the image of the Trinity. That the second person of the Trinity became incarnate as a male means that God assumed all the limitations of the human condition ("like us in all things but sin") without in any way ceasing to be a divine person.
CONSUBSTANTIAL COMPLEMENTARITY FOR EVANGELIZATION
Other than genitally, the complementarity of man and woman does not mean mutually exclusive roles. Such mutual exclusion in the apostolate is heritage from radical patriarchy, not divine revelation. For the mission of evangelization, it is time to give top priority to the third leg of the Pauline tripod (Galatians 3:28) and start ordaining women to the priesthood and the episcopate, for the glory of God and the good of souls.
This meditation does not attempt to "prove" anything. It is a personal reflection about a visceral issue that cannot be resolved by reasoning alone, and prayerful discernment of Christ's will is required. The truth is timeless, but the Church's understanding of the truth is not timeless; the faith is always the same but the Holy Spirit enables the Church to bring out of the deposit of faith what is new and what is old (cf. Matthew 13:52).
Lord, grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change,
The courage to change what I should change,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Mary, Mother of the Church and Untier of Knots, pray for us.
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