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Sundry bad feels about being a Catholic woman


Lady Grey, Hot

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Reposting this here on @Sponsa-Christi's suggestion.

This is going to be completely incoherent, but I have lost so much sleep and spilled so many tears over this, and I just want someone to share it with someone.

 

  • I have never wanted to have a family of my own, and I am perfectly content to remain single on account of that, but even then, I don’t get to “opt out” of motherhood. I can’t turn around without someone trying to shove “spiritual motherhood” down my throat. I struggle to desire to be part of a church that seems to want me to be something that I don’t want to be.

 

  • I feel completely useless because I’m not ordainable. I hate that I am never going to perform any truly useful service—that I am never going to be anything but a burden and a drain on the Church’s resources.

 

  • There are so many fine characteristics I have seen exhibited by men which I wish to cultivate in myself. But all I ever hear is that I need to get back in my place and stop trying to be something I’m not—that I’m undermining men trying to be masculine.

 

  • It might be said, as a general rule, that fathers tend to prepare their sons and protect their daughters. I want to be someone who can stand on my own two feet. I want my work in the world to matter. I want to be all I can be. But I feel as though, by creating me as a woman, my Heavenly Father is saying no to all of that. He is saying that He thinks I have no potential. That I’m not capable. That He doesn’t, for lack of a better term, believe in me. After all, as a daughter, I should just be content to embrace being cosseted and leave all the hard work to my brothers. And if God thinks all that, then it must be true. That cuts me to the core.
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Maybe spiritual motherhood has been 'shoved down your throat' in a way unattractive to you. Maybe look at it more as service or love of neighbour or leading by example. That's what mothers often/(should) do- show the way to follow and encourage others to go that way, they serve the weak, look for solutions, help find problems and give love where it's needed. That's the call of Christians in a broad way too... so for some motherhood is a beautiful way to embody that image, for others it's just simply service, love and giving example.

Our Lady and the female Saints weren't ordained. We are all a drain on the Church's resources but without us, there would be no Church. There are a million ways to serve without being ordained. What would the Church be if it were only made up of ordained people? It wouldn't be a Church. It wouldn't be anything much. 

Men show many virtuous traits that we as women can imitate. Jesus was a man and we are called to take on his virtues; to become Christlike. Women are called to that. We have to be conformed to Christ. So if we see the virtues of holiness in men and imitate that, we are not being masculine- we're being Christlike. Just the same, some virtues come more naturally to some women and men are called to imitate us there too- gentility, nurturing, caregiving...

In creating Our Lady as a woman, was God saying she wasn't capable? Women are no less capable, no less able to stand on their own two feet. The Church doesn't say that. The Lord doesn't say that. Stand on your own feet. Noone else is going to let you stand atop theirs. Grow into the full stature of Christ and embrace your femininity in Him and in the example of Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich. 

Edited by Tessa
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Dear Lady Grey,

I am sorry you are going through so many struggles! I am also very sorry that you have had many encounters/dialogues with other people that made your struggles even worse, despite the good intentions they had. But I wish to present you with a different view of who you are and what we are made to be.

I don't really have enough space here to go to great lengths, but you see, we are all made to be FREE and BEAUTIFUL. Now, being FREE means being fully yourself as God created you to be, which will bring you the fullness of joy. While it is true that OUR view of what that is can oftentimes be different from what it really is, which would cause us no small distress, it by no way means we are to force ourselves to become what we are not.

Now if we look closely at the ideas you have for what women are supposed to be, they are NOT beautiful, which means they are not true. Because God is both true and beautiful. We as women ARE called to stand on our two feet, and be great, although no human being, whether male or female, are called to be so independent they can do without another. If you do not believe me, just take a look at St. Catherine of Siena, Edith Stein, Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa. They are all great women with great fortitude and I'd say they are so much more brave than most men. They are precursors of their own time, as all saints are. And the only reason they became who they became is because God is their sole end, and they are so free to love Him they are no longer restricted by things that merely human. Through wisdom and love they acquired so many great virtues they are no longer restricted by themselves, and they are so close to God what they did out of their natural desire was simply holy. Their great intimacy with God was and still is the only thing that allows them and sustains them to be great and to set the world on fire. But while they were doing all these things, it was not them who did anything, but it was God. Their spirit was melted into God's and they were clothed in Christ. The greater they became, the more keenly they became aware of their smallness and nothingness. Without this wisdom and humility, you cannot become truly great, nor free.

You have a strong desire to be great, which is beautiful. But my intuition is, you will need to first rediscover who God is and who you are, how He loves, what wounds are you struggling with. You need to have that deep and profound knowledge about yourself and about God first, before you can be who you are meant to be. Does that make sense? You have to be loved and be filled with love first, and only God can do that, only you can allow Him to do that. Once you are filled with love and are satisfied with God alone, you will have more clarity of mind. Then you will be able to better understand what it really means to be a woman, and what it means to be a servant/handmaid. You will see that it is indeed very beautiful, and all makes sense. But before then, be still and learn who God is.

I would suggest reading and re-reading St. Catherine of Siena's Dialogue, if you can understand her. If you have the capacity, read Augustine, read Thomas Aquinas, read the Vatican documents, read all the great works of saints that teach wisdom. Learn what the Church truly teaches, not the watered down version that so often comes up in conversations. Wisdom precedes Love/Will. If you do not know and you force yourself to love/act, it is tough because you don't know what you are supposed to love, and you have to go through a lot of trials and errors, even at risk of getting lost. But if you know and then you try to love, it would be so much easier. Meanwhile, pray. If that doesn't work, pray some more, and some more, and some more. Humble yourself in front of Him. He never refuses a prayer that asks for more humility.

With Prayers,

Catherine

 

 

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You know I am speaking as a woman who thinks more like a man (which can be a stereotype) and I have a strong will :) I work in an industry heavily staffed by men (and it is intellectual work, not manual labor) and I am the only woman on my team. The men listen to me, not despite of, but because of the gifts that come with my feminine spirit. I am also gifted with a sharp mind and very strong intuition which at times can be scary. Luckily people around me are fairly open-minded and well formed so I was never bothered by what you have to go through, but I can to some extent understand the struggle. I am just very very grateful that I am woman. And I would never wish to be made otherwise. It is so amesome because we can better understand the spousal love Christ has for us and enjoy that intimacy with Him, whereas men do not have that privilege.

One other note: God has fullness in Him, and we are all made in His image. There is no characteristic that is owned only by men, nor characteristic only owned by women. All virtues are good, and all virtues should exist in both genders. Don't struggle with it!

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6 hours ago, caterinaquinas said:

read the Vatican documents

Any particular recommendations here?

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10 hours ago, Tessa said:

What would the Church be if it were only made up of ordained people? It wouldn't be a Church. It wouldn't be anything much. 

If the sacraments are the thing that sets the Church apart, then the ordained are the linchpin of the entire operation. Everyone else is superfluous. The Church has never needed to baptize a woman - it's probably efficient to keep one's incubators in-house, but it's not necessary - but she does need to ordain men if she is to survive. I have reflected sometimes that the Church could exist simply as a monastery full of priests who, from time to time, kidnap pagan women's babies to replenish their ranks. 😉 

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14 minutes ago, Lady Grey, Hot said:

If the sacraments are the thing that sets the Church apart, then the ordained are the linchpin of the entire operation. Everyone else is superfluous. The Church has never needed to baptize a woman - it's probably efficient to keep one's incubators in-house, but it's not necessary - but she does need to ordain men if she is to survive. I have reflected sometimes that the Church could exist simply as a monastery full of priests who, from time to time, kidnap pagan women's babies to replenish their ranks. 😉 

Well, you don't actually need a priest to baptize, either! In a case of necessity, anyone (Catholic or not, ordained or not, woman or man) can baptize as long as they use water and the correct formula. 

A monastery of priests who occasionally kidnap random women and force them to bear children is *not* a bare-bones model of the Church! A better model would be what happened with the early Christians in Japan: after some initial missionary activity by Jesuit priests, all Catholic clergy were driven out of the country. But lay catechists kept the faith alive for the next few hundred years, until clergy could come back. 

And as Pope Francis is fond of saying, the Church herself is feminine (in Italian it's literally the grammatical feminine la Chiesa; same with other Romance languages). Theologically, the Church is the bride of Christ, which is an intrinsically feminine identity. 

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Well, it's certainly not mainstream in this forum, but I would not dismiss the idea that God is actually trying to tell you something different through your longing for ordination and for roles and tasks in the church which are seen as "for men only". It might be that he actually wants you to be ordained and do "the hard work".

I don't know if you are open for this possibility. And I'm not saying this is the case - I'm not up to vocation discernment in real life, much less over the internet for a person I don't know!

But it might be that God did actually not give you deep desires and longings, which he never wants to be fulfilled, but that he is on your side and would love your service in the church in an ordained role. And that he and you are facing the reality together that this is not possible right now. And then he and you would have to find a way together to live the life God wants for you and from you, as good as it is possible in this imperfect world and church.

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I hadn't intended to post any reply - but I must say that I read through the original post more than once, and I don't understand where you got these ideas. Is your difficulty entirely that you cannot be ordained?

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Have you seen a spiritual director to work through, discuss, etc. your feelings?  Many highly educated, qualified, and certified spiritual directors are women 😃  I believe that would be a great first start.

What is the root cause/s about motherhood (spiritual and/or familial) that angers/disturbs you so much?  Why do you dismiss out of hand the beautiful way God made women to function in life and in the Church?  What exactly is it about men  you wish to emulate?  Are you stuck on the notion that only ordained male priests have any worth in the Church (and life)?  How did you come to the conclusion that women are a "drain and burden" on the resources of the Church? Far from it!

There is something much deeper going on here, and as a SD myself, red flags abound.  I don't believe this forum can truly help you discover the real source of your anger.  You need to do the hard work with a trained SD to unearth the underlying reasons for your angst. Or perhaps you just need to vent.

Also, ""And if God thinks all that, then it must be true."  How exactly did you come to that conclusion?

Please don't reply to this post.  It's simply meant to perhaps jumpstart your thinking about what is really really behind your initial post.

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I have the impression that maybe you have been taught an incorrect view of womanhood in the Church.

On 6/5/2022 at 7:21 PM, Lady Grey, Hot said:

There are so many fine characteristics I have seen exhibited by men which I wish to cultivate in myself.

St. Teresa of Avila wrote more than once that she wished the nuns to be "men", not in the biological sense, but strong, practical women. She eschewed effeminacy in her sisters, a trait which would not make a good sister or nun. Maybe you could find some solace in reading her books.

"The World's First Love" by Fulton Sheen and "The Mother" by Cardinal Mindzenty are both beautiful reflections on the importance of womanhood in the Church.

Lest we forget, that there is only one place that God continues creating in this world -- the womb of a woman. Everything else He allows to naturally occur.

On 6/5/2022 at 7:21 PM, Lady Grey, Hot said:

I hate that I am never going to perform any truly useful service—that I am never going to be anything but a burden and a drain on the Church’s resources.

Lastly, on behalf of the thousands of women who have consecrated themselves as our prayer warriors, teachers, nurses, social workers, and on and on... I take issue with this statement most vehemently. Many a bishop would find himself hog-tied were it not for his laywomen, active sisters, and most importantly, his cloistered nuns, and he would never, ever consider them a burden or a drain on resources.

 

 

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On 6/8/2022 at 5:56 PM, Lady Grey, Hot said:

Any particular recommendations here?

https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1988/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_19880815_mulieris-dignitatem.html

https://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19651118_apostolicam-actuositatem_en.html

Here are some. But really, I would just focus more on understanding the dignity and ontological goodness of each human being. Each and every one of us is made to carry the image of God and we are all called to become like God by participation. We are His representative sent to the entire creation. We are called to strive for perfection and bring glory to God. We are all called to be kings, priests, and prophets, whether ordained or not. No one is superfluous. No one is meant to be a wallflower. While we all participate through different functions of the Church, we are all members of Christ and a part of His Body. Can you call any part of God's Body superfluous or useless or doesn't matter? No! It is sacred and well-loved. Every bit of it. If we do not know how to genuinely love and appreciate the beauty of each part of His Body (ourselves included), we can't love God.

 

On 6/9/2022 at 5:35 AM, Dymphna said:

Well, it's certainly not mainstream in this forum, but I would not dismiss the idea that God is actually trying to tell you something different through your longing for ordination and for roles and tasks in the church which are seen as "for men only". It might be that he actually wants you to be ordained and do "the hard work".

I don't know if you are open for this possibility. And I'm not saying this is the case - I'm not up to vocation discernment in real life, much less over the internet for a person I don't know!

But it might be that God did actually not give you deep desires and longings, which he never wants to be fulfilled, but that he is on your side and would love your service in the church in an ordained role. And that he and you are facing the reality together that this is not possible right now. And then he and you would have to find a way together to live the life God wants for you and from you, as good as it is possible in this imperfect world and church.

God does not speak through confusion nor causes dissension. If it is coming from God, it will come with profound peace and love accompanied by a deep sense of humility and the growth of all virtues. It will be for unity, as the Trinitarian God is Unity Himself and He draws all into His Oneness.

Oftentimes, He does fulfill our deep desires and longings, just not in the way we thought it would be fulfilled. St. Therese wanted to be a priest, a martyr, a missionary to East Asia, but she was a woman and a cloistered nun. God fulfilled her desires, but He didn't turn her into a man nor sent her out of the cloister.

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On 6/8/2022 at 6:12 PM, Lady Grey, Hot said:

If the sacraments are the thing that sets the Church apart, then the ordained are the linchpin of the entire operation. Everyone else is superfluous. The Church has never needed to baptize a woman - it's probably efficient to keep one's incubators in-house, but it's not necessary - but she does need to ordain men if she is to survive. I have reflected sometimes that the Church could exist simply as a monastery full of priests who, from time to time, kidnap pagan women's babies to replenish their ranks. 😉 

I truly do not understand these conclusions. I'm a convert almost a decade and none of this is what I have been taught, anywhere, in the Church.

If these things are why you feel out of place currently, all I know how to say is that they are wrong conclusions.

If you, Lady Grey, were the only person ever to have sinned, Christ would have laid down his life for you. You have an infinite value in God's eyes. Indeed, all of us are valuable in a way far, far beyond the things we can do or the functions we can perform. We have to do but two things; love God and love our neighbour. We are not a factory. We are not machines. We abhor instrumentalising people, that is, reducing them to their usefulness for some task. We are a family. No one is ever superfluous.

"And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein."

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The Church has never needed to baptize a woman

This is entirely false. I am not trying to be antagonistic; I actually do not understand how you arrived at this conclusion. This idea is totally foreign to me and I don't know where to start figuring out what you mean by this.

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2 hours ago, caterinaquinas said:

Can you call any part of God's Body superfluous or useless or doesn't matter?

What - the Body of Christ has no appendix? 😉

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, chrysostom said:

This is entirely false. I am not trying to be antagonistic; I actually do not understand how you arrived at this conclusion. This idea is totally foreign to me and I don't know where to start figuring out what you mean by this.

No antagonism detected - and I say that with sincerity.

My thought process goes something like this: the one necessary/unique function that women have is written into the natural law. You need women to perpetuate the species (and, by extension, keep the Church populated), but they don't have to be Christian women. Giving birth is giving birth - the outcome is the same regardless of the mother's religious inclinations.

By contrast, priests have to be baptized to be ordained (and, of course, to ordain, in the case of bishops). Ergo, it is necessary to baptize at least some men in order to ensure the continuance of the sacraments (and thus the Church). Hence my bit about the monastery. As long as the priests absconded with a sufficient number of baby boys who they could baptize and later ordain, the Church would get along just fine, no female baptism required.

Edited by Lady Grey, Hot
Added a clarifying point
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