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By Fr. Robert J. Carr
©Catholic Online 2004

Today August 15, 2004 is the feast of the Assumption when we celebrate that Mary was assumed into Heaven body and soul. Only three people in history hold that distinction, Jesus, Mary and Elijah the prophet.

This is one the tenets of our faith.

It is a good day as well to look at the role of Mary in our Church, especially at this time when the role of women in the church is so much a place for discussion.

MARY: MODEL FOR TODAY'S CATHOLIC

Many think that women are second class citizens and give as proof that they cannot be ordained. They also seem to indicate that Mary was relegated to second class citizen throughout her life especially after Jesus rose from the dead.

Nothing could be further from the truth. However, if you do not understand Christianity, you cannot understand the role of women in the Church. That role you can find, not in books, but in real life in communities most similar to those of the time of Jesus. I have never been to Israel, nor the Middle East. Indeed, although I have been as far west as Hong Kong when I was in the Navy, I have never been East of Cape Cod. However, I have been south to South America. There you will see communities most similar to those described in the bible. They are places that may take several hours by car and walking to visit. It is there that you can find the role of the women in the Church.

LEARNING THE TRUTH IN REAL LIFE

It is places such as these that you learn of matriarchs, these are the women who run the village. You don't cross them and you always respect them. Mary was such a Matriarch. Yet, Matriarchs are the visionaries for the village.

Mary was not only the Mother of Jesus, she was also one who learned throughout her entire life how to trust God. She, as Jesus says from the Cross to the Apostle John, becomes the mother of the community, the matriarch. She it is who will encourage, comfort, teach, heal those in the community going out to preach the gospel. She becomes the one who helps forge the vision of the new faith and helps to spread it.

OUR FAITH: REVOLUTION THEN AND NOW

Yet, we cannot miss the reality of this new faith of that time. Christianity was not just a different way to be Jewish, Christianity was then and is now a revolution. It is not a political revolution it is a spiritual one where the target is the legion of human hearts. Therefore, Christianity first and foremost is about that revolution. The revolutionaries who are every baptized Christian, Catholic in our case, are those who in the vision of Christ go out and lead people to a new form of thinking and acting. It is a form of living not based on three dimensions of reality, but four. It is a whole new revolution in understanding thought and being.

As the visionary, and I mean that in the business sense, it is Mary and the women of the community who set the vision and assist in putting the vision in place. When the men go out and come back discouraged, even attacked or even injured, it is the women who encourage them strengthen them so that they can go out and fight the battle. They help build the battle by encouraging the spread of the gospel and leading people to the truth. They also help build morale. Any general will tell you that 90% of any battle is morale.

It is the women who fight the home front within the communities and sharing their faith between communities. Each person is involved in this revolution. Mary becomes the domestic general of this battle in her ability to teach something that gives humans unspeakable power in the presence of other humans. That is the ability to trust God. She spent thirty three years learning that skill. Once she had learned it well, she could teach it.

THE POWER OF OUR FAITH

You see once you have that ability, you learn not to fear. You learn as St. Padre Pio taught: "Pray, Hope and Never Worry!"

See how often fear and Intimidation play a part in our society. They are sources of control. Do what we say or:

* You will get an F in school
* You will not graduate
* You will be fired
* You will be imprisoned
* You will be harassed by the media
* We will tell the local Newspaper about you
* We will sue you
* We will slander you
* We will libel you
* We will kill you
* We will torture you

If you have trust in God such threats become moot and you can continue to preach the Gospel.

The first command God always gives is DO NOT FEAR!

Mary was able to teach through her experience to the apostles the ability to fully trust in God, to abandon themselves to Divine Providence and to not fear. Then, they were able to preach the gospel powerfully.

That ultimately is the role of the women in the Church

1. Visionaries: set the vision of the community's direction in living the gospel in the family, the community and the Church.
2. Comfort, strengthen, encourage, exhort: Call the community to a powerful life in the faith and exhort the whole community including its leaders to live to the standard of faith that Christ calls us to.
3. Strengthen those beaten down and build them up so that they may go out and preach the gospel in the revolution that is Christianity.

WOMEN AND TODAY'S ENGLISH SPEAKING CATHOLIC

This is why the role of the women in the Church is so essential. It may also be why there are so many problems in the English speaking community in Boston. Many women have not understood their role and they have taken their instructions from the unbelievers calling for women's liberation. That is a separate revolution that sometimes clashes with our own. That is a revolution calling for personal human freedom, but it is three dimensional. The Christian revolution is four dimensional calling for total liberation in Christ.

Many women have been so focused on the revolution of the unbelievers they have not been able to live their role in Christianity.

Women like Dorothy Day who prayed on the steps of the Vatican and Commanded that the Bishops do their job right. She is responsible for the Vatican II policy regarding Nuclear weapons.

Catherine of Sienna who commanded an end to the Avignon Papacy and called for unity in the Church.

Mother Teresa who set the tone of a belief in God put into practice in a radical form of love.

And so many more.

MEN, WOMEN AND THE COMMUNITY MELTING HEARTS FOR CHRIST

It is the role of the Christ centered men to define the boundaries. Boundaries are important, it is hard boundaries in a hose that give water its powerful force to fight fires and so many other things we do with water. The Christ centered women call us and our community to live to the fullness of life within those boundaries and the whole community to live Christianity in such a revolutionary way that the walls around people's hearts crumble into dust opening them up to the power of God's grace in Jesus Christ.

We still remain under attack by those forces rooted in secular philosophy. That should not surprise us, we are indeed engaged in a revolution and there are plenty who want to silence it.

It is time for all of us to reacquaint ourselves with the vision of Christ to its most deepest levels and then take up our roles respectively. The revolution continues and we are the revolutionaries. The women are the visionaries. The men are the actuaries, love is the weapon and the community in its fullness is the revolutionary force for our loving King, Jesus Christ the Lord. His mother's 'yes' to God opened the door for us all to be members of his powerful kingdom.

Contact

Catholicism Anew
http://www.catholicismanew.org MA, US
Fr. Robert J. Carr - Priest, 617 542-5682

Email

frbobcarr@catholicismanew.org

Keywords

Women, Mary, Faith

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