IN THE GARDEN OF SILENCE, OF THE SILENCED WORD, OF THE BURIED LOVE, OF THE STOLEN FUTURE

The moment a woman returns to herself, knowing that she has become a person capable of influencing others, an artist of her own life and a sculptor of her universe, a person with rights and duties who is respected and recognized, then the resurrection of the world begins … (Chittister)..

Jesus, the Voice, the Word, is silenced by an accurate stroke of the patriarchy. Jesus is of no interest, as women seem to be of no interest in the Roman church which is on increasingly shaky ground due to lack of credibility and dignity. In many other Christian churches, women are not silenced. Today we contemplate the tragedy of having executed Love and of continuing to execute the innocent people, among them the women, in opposition to what we see them doing, namely, being part of Jesus’ movement.

If you ask a child whom he or she loves more, the answer is often the mother or grandmother. The presence of love which, as on eagle’s wings, accompanies, protects, trains, care, empowers, throughout the history of all living beings, is provided by the mother. I was speechless watching a documentary about animals at risk from climate change: mama bear risks everything to protect the bear from the other bears!I find myself a bit like that, wondering what to say to (especially younger) women, when we touch the issue of the church institution and the glaring humiliating role of women in it. I need to protect and educate the cubs. Today, Holy Saturday, we have been guided within to contemplate the death of the just one from that perspective. There are many others.

This is one of our silences. The silence of death, because we are —whether we wish to be or not—accomplices of perpetuating an oppressive, unjust and manipulative church model.

One may not “commune” with a religion which states as a fact that half of humanity is incapable, inferior, unworthy and sinful.  Especially when the leaders, being male, have all the power to decide on the most pressing issues. These are normally related to the body of the woman.   The leadership attempts time and again to silence the daughters of God, who, in the best of cases have already left or simply were not there in the first place, because several generations are simply absent. In many countries, our sisters continue to serve, as submissive and inferior, to the various needs required of them by the male leadership.

Their word, like that of Jesus, has been silenced. Their ability to love, to create and to give life (if not procreation) has been buried, and continually beaten down to the point where they are hardly able to raise their heads.   For example, women are required to present credentials, which themselves are often under suspicion, merely because of being a woman. So often women have to “ask permission” to be faithful to the gospel and, in doing so, unfold their charisms and use their God-given talents.  Leaders grant to themselves all the rights and the authority to decide.

Stolen future? Yes of course. A future which will not be realized because those who would have changed history are gone, or, some of us leave, as well as the fact that many have been thrown out!  An all-male leadership prefers to keep us at a distance, our presence perhaps constituting a constant threat, especially if we are intelligent, educated and/or charismatic. The pain which ‘exclusion of women’ —in any form or place—causes is unimaginable!  The damage done to the entire human community by depriving it of the limitless gifts given to women by the Spirit of God, to be of service to the common good, is incalculable.

The moment a woman returns to herself, knowing that she has become a person capable of influencing others, an artist of her own life and a sculptor of her universe, a person with rights and duties, who is respected and recognized, THEN the resurrection of the world begins…

Golgotha reminds us that every courageous person dies as victim of the powers of evil which cohabit within all of us alongside the desire of good.

The Crucified overwhelms us for accepting, without violence, the most radical injustice, assuming the pain which evil causes in human beings. But there, in the wood of the cross, is a labor pain which will give birth to people capable of following his way, walking in the night with the light of the Crucified inside.

Jesus told us with his life —e.g. leaving synagogue for desert—that he did not want to found an institution because of its tendency to gag love and stifle the innocent, amidst defending and justifying itself. Institutions run the risk of becoming the goal, an end in themselves, as was clear in WWII.

Jesus told us that he valued the person…unconditionally; not the person according to gender. He was no sooner buried, than that the women, to whom he entrusted the announcement that he was alive, were themselves, within the few hours left for them, silenced and buried in life by the emerging patriarchy.

And even so, what do you have Mary of Magdala, that continues to give strength to those who remain silenced and, like you, have to resort to less public places so as not to bother the roaring lion of patriarchy?

The moment a woman returns to herself, the sculptor of her universe … the resurrection of the world begins.

Today is a day of Silence in the Christian liturgy. It’s a day between yesterday and tomorrow; a day without God, without Word, without Voice, without Future. We have executed Love. Period. Everything has to be rethought, felt again.

People say that the Notre Dame (Paris) fire is a metaphor for a Christian Europe burned to the ground: in the whole city of Louvain, Belgium, on New Year’s Day, only one Eucharist was celebrated in a small and almost empty church…every few months parishes are closing at an alarming pace in The Netherlands. There are hardly any European theology students at the great Catholic University of Louvain…the second oldest university in Europa.

I sit with the matriarchs and sisters of the Old and New Testaments, as well as with my Christian sisters and friends, in a circle of mourning until dawn. We need to feel death to decide in a few hours to run towards the light.

But now, we need to think and feel why we are as we are and dream together about where we desire to go.

For us, Holy Saturday will not steal our future. Nor did it steal it from Him. There, in that pain and emptiness, the dawn is being born. Light is light, because there is night and darkness; each aspect at its own time.

Many of us do not want the time of our life to pass without witnessing respect and collegiality. We do not want to lose the gift of life and the Christian vocation because some people, albeit in powerful positions, do not value us, do not make room for us.

We do not want that place. We need to occupy our own place with dignity and firmness. And from our place, with half recovered humanity, organize together and in collegiality, discern the reception and the empowerment of hundreds of thousands of people who find themselves in an exodus due to policies, economies and biased religions.

An inhabited Silence.  I mourn with hope. Sisters wise and full of love come out of the catacombs and begin to rebuild the community of Jesus, with the young women and the children. Let us be taught, by those whom we see mobilizing us for a change in the fight for the care of the planet.

Enough of killing the earth, mother wisdom and hope.

How to continue? I speak to you from out there in the wide open spaces. Neither do I know how. The Spirit of God will guide us. I believe it.

We have not spoken of the pain and death of the whole of humanity, rather of only half of it; so valuable as it affects the whole.

I invite you to spend the day in a quiet listening attitude, honoring with respect all those victims of injustice and abuse. And beg for enlightenment.

 

 

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