Thursday, November 15, 2007

Another Country Heard From

This news story made me commit a sin. See below.

From the San Jose Mercury News:

California's first female Episcopal bishop ordained in Saratoga
Mary Gray-Reeves appreciates being a role model
By Kim Vo
Mercury News

After she was ordained bishop of the local Episcopal diocese - the first woman to reach such heights in California - Mary Gray-Reeves gathered the female clergy for a picture. What was supposed to be a quick photo-op turned into an impromptu celebration as the women swayed, clapped and cheered around her.

"We are marching," they jubilantly sang, "in the light of God."

Saturday's ordination marked several milestones, not just of gender lines but a new relationship between the faithful and their bishop. Gray-Reeves was the first female bishop ordained by Katharine Jefferts Schori since the latter was elected last year as head of the national Episcopal Church. The sight of the nation's first female presiding bishop consecrating California's first female bishop was inspirational to those in attendance.

"It's thrilling - and to have my 11-year-old daughter see it!" said the Rev. Katherine Doar of St. Francis parish in San Jose. "My daughter didn't even know there was such a day when there weren't women bishops."

And the article concluded:

On Saturday, she reflected on her first inkling of being called to the priesthood. She was 9. And when she announced her intentions, the women in the room laughed. It was 1971 and they knew women weren't allowed as priests.

Gray-Reeves imagined another 9-year-old seeing Saturday's photo. Perhaps the girl lives in a country were women aren't currently allowed in the priesthood but feels the call nevertheless and thinks to herself: "If they can do it, I can do it."


This story caused me to commit a sin. I wept with envy -- even as I rejoiced for Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves.

I live in one of those "countries" where women are barred from the priesthood, and where the holy orders of both Bp. Mary and Bp. Katharine -- or any female bishop or priest -- are not recognized as valid. Nor would the orders of any male priest that they ordain be recognized.

I pray that Bp. Mary's consecration gives inspiration and hope to countless women and girls.

I know so many women -- and wonder how many girls -- who have stuffed their call to the priesthood so far down for so many years that they may not be able to find it any more. Martin Luther King got it right -- a dream deferred is a dream denied.

When a woman kills a call to ordination with her own hand because of seemingly impossible barriars, because of the incredibly hostile response to her call, because she knows what the cost could be to her family, what does that do to her soul?

What does it do to God's heart?


Ann said...

Thanks - crying here too.

Anonymous said...

Katie - I, too, sinned upon reading this story.

A woman on another blog, while commenting on how she'd had trouble finding an Episcopal church home since she's moved to Fort Worth, said that she wondered if Jack Iker knew how many women he was alienating in his diocese.

Oh dear. As if Jack cared.

Anonymous said...

I bring you news of joy.

This is a free country and there is no restriction against moving into a diocese more to your liking. I too commit the sin of envy - I long to be in *your* current diocese - so I am working my plan to move there.

Anonymous said...

And then there are women like me, who do not find the lack of women priests a horrible thing. I am an Episcopalian from Fort Worth. No, I'm not on any vestry, nor do I hold a position of leadership in any Episcopal parish. This is mostly because I am getting ready to cross the Tiber for reasons unrelated to the Episcopal war. (I nearly became Catholic before I became Episcopalian, but was not ready then. Now I am.) I am beginning Inquiry preparing for RCIA.

Okay... So, here's something to think about, seeing as how the Catholic Church also does not ordain women to the priesthood (or the diaconate for that matter, which at least Bp Iker allows that). The priest represents Christ as the bridegroom of the Church. The Church is female, and so the bridegroom (Christ) is always represented by a male. It's not because the guys are better than us, but simply because the spouse of the Bride of Christ (the Church) is male. This is why Jesus was born in a male body, and not a female body. And yes, the Catholic Church teaches that the spouse of a female must be a male. I personally think that is a beautiful thing that is represented by a male priesthood that could never really make sense if the priest was a woman.

And if you don't think it is fair, then remember that what God, our heavenly Father, considers right and proper just sometimes doesn't seem fair to His children. We don't always see the big picture, and it's not our place to change His rules.

But in the same vein, a church that decides a female can represent the bridegroom of the Church is always just a short step from allowing same-sex marriages. I'm not real surprised the Episcopal Church headed in that direction, and I think it is a shame.

WeavingLibrarian said...

I am so sorry for those who can not understand your pain. Although we can ordain women where I am, but I cry for all of you who can't.