The Pastoral Challenge: Redeeming the Time in Which We Live
Recent sporadic efforts continue to challenge the maleness of the priesthood, even after the definitive teaching on the matter by the late, great confessor of the faith, Blessed Pope John Paul II. 1 This clear statement defining a point of faith echoed with one voice Catholic teaching from the reign of a recent predecessor, Pope Paul VI. 2 Of particular interest for Catholics of the twenty or more Eastern Churches, especially those the Byzantine Rite, these successors of St. Peter spoke with one voice with the Greek Catholic Archbishop of Constantinople, St. John Chrysostom, the father of their chief Divine Liturgy. 3 Truly, there is a need to explain this non-reformable teaching to the faithful. Catholics, living amidst the storms of everyday life and morally-vague contemporary trends, can lose grounding in the firm, saving truth of revelation. Indeed, a proper understanding of the vocations male and female is crucial to the full understanding of the Church and her organic life, as well as the full blossoming of human society.
Christian Anthropology in Light of Revelation and Science
Revelation: “In the beginning” of creation, God created the human race in His image, in a duality of hypostases, male and female. He gave a certain primacy to the man, or male, by ordinal creation directly from the ground, and by his serving as the determinative source of the genesis of the female in the creation accounts. The woman was to the man of one substance, an equal and a helpmate. This predication does not equate to total sameness. 4
The difference between the two hypostases of those created in God’s image was quick to manifest itself in revelation. The enemy ruptured the feminine hypostasis, the “mother of all the living,” from “original justice” or full communion with God, through an appeal to autonomy, or independence—“freedom from God.” She then led the male principle to the same misfortune. Again, the equality of male and female did not include total sameness.
God was quick to respond. He moved to save the life he created in his own image by applying a punishment, yet even more so, a medicine. The Divine Physician 5 acted to remove mankind from the danger of forever partaking of both good and evil mixed in confusion. God did this by returning mankind—that is, the kind of life which began with and proceeds from man–to the ground from which “he” came. But still yet, He reserved a “salvation” 6 of regeneration which was in (Your) Son.” 7 In the meantime, He, God applied to the man a medicine of dependence upon him. The male principle would sustain life by ‘making a living’ only with difficulty—just as a denial of the author of life is a denial of the fullness of life. For the woman, the pinnacle of her participation in Divinity—“procreation”—would be marked by the punishment and medicine of pain. Her relationship with the primary male principle, would also be changed. Woman would desire her husband and desire to rule over him—while man in turn would rule over her. Finally, God determined to break mankind’s prideful alliance with the enemy, the principle of evil, manifested through pride/disobedience—by inserting mutual enmity—separation and opposition.
This alliance-breaking opposition would be accomplished by the seed of the woman, man, striking with his heel at the head of the enemy. The heel is the part of mankind that powerfully touches upon “the ground from which he came” the means of “incarnation.” The head of the serpent is the seat of understanding and will of the enemy—in Hebrew, “Satan.” Thus, through the incarnation, the superior analysis and scheming intentions of the evil one would be defeated by the taking flesh of the children of men! There was to be a new creation!
In the journey of the children of men to redemption in Jesus Christ, God chose one man to be the father of a nation, a chosen people, and to bless all nations in him! Through Abraham, the patriarch or father-originating principle, a nation was determined. This nation was from not just twelve children, but more importantly, twelve sons! After each man, the tribes of Israel took their names. They took their place in the promised land, after their salvation-deliverance from the bondage of Egypt. Except that the tribe devoted to the priesthood did not receive the fullness of earth–rooted life in the assignment of their own separate land. 8 Their inheritance was the temple, the dwelling-place of God; they lived among the other tribes, who, in contrast, were rooted upon the earth. These preparations foreshadowed the other-worldly consecration of a new covenant by which all nations would be blessed. 9
God acted upon this intention by determining a new beginning in time through a woman, reversing the Fall from paradise in the same order. She was termed by the Son-God as “woman” (Jn2:1-5), an allusion to Eve, as she was the new Eve—the mother of all those living—eternally. Her fiat to God’s determinative insertion and entering advance into the world undid the primal refusal of the first Eve. Mary was by divine dispensation the only perfectly-graced sinless human person in history—a privilege given only to a woman. Through an ineffable mystery, she brought forth the one foretold by Daniel “as a Son of Man,” to whom was given power, and forever (Daniel8:13-14). He was God, who fittingly took flesh as a male. Upon the commemoration of the sacrifice of a first-born male lamb—the Passover from the slavery of Egypt to the promised land of Israel—He initiated a new priestly covenant: the Passover from mortal death to eternal life. This priestly work he handed to the keeping of twelve chosen men. Through this priesthood-fatherhood, He established the New Israel—and the race of men born into eternity took their name from this perfect man, Christ, “and were called “Christians” (Acts11:26). This new determining advance into the world created a New Israel according to the whole of mankind; in Greek, kata-holos, contracted to katholos (catholic). 10
This new determinative generation was authored by God, who took flesh as a man, a male, a “Son,” the perfect image of God, whom he authoritatively revealed as “Father.” The ordering of this new life was revealed in Sacred Scripture—in large part by St. Paul. Paul was determined by God to be an apostle born out of time by the generation of God, and ordained to be the apostle to the nations (Acts 13:2-4) until the time of his leaving his earthly apostolic power in Rome. As a father, he left to his spiritual children (1Cor 4:15-16) the prescriptions for life on earth. In the family, the man was to be as Christ to the Church, a type of determinative principle of love-giving, a type of Christ; to the woman was given the vocation of listening, a type of the Church (Eph 5:21-33). In the Church, the male was assigned to teach (Mt28:16-20; 1Cor 14:33-37; 1Tim 2:11-15).
The Sciences. In this regard, a re-visit to the order of creation is richly rewarding. Much of the eternal truths of the design of creation are revelatory in trace form with overwhelming generalizability cross-culturally. These are induced within the “men’s movement” as hunter-gatherer, warrior, and shaman-priest and king. This cultural being is undergirded by biology, a sub-science of the science of being. In the natural order, independent of the mysteries-sacraments of the new covenant, the marital act, mis-predicated among moderns as “sex,” is the deepest act of inter-communion between the two hypostases of the human race. It is also, within the natural order, the pinnacle of approach to the Creator-God, a partaking and co-working of Divine power fittingly called “procreation.” Oddly enough, the mis-predication of this act as “sex” has birthed the bastardized concept of the marital union as the meeting of two “lovers.” Such a novel construct stands in tension with the intellectually advanced wisdom-loving ancient Greeks. They saw in the same act, not two “lovers,” but rather a “lover” and a “beloved.” In this act, the man or male is the entering, advancing and giving principle. The highest telic end of such an act is the procreation of a new being with the capacity for eternity. The determination of the hypostasis of the issue from such a union is given in love by the man. In medical terms, the sex of an offspring is determined by the contributed seed of the entering man, either as Y chromosome or X chromosome. 11
And so, it may come as a surprise to moderns that their “sex,” in actuality the creator-prescribed marital relations, is an act that is inherently asymmetrical. To wit, this act is NOT the intercourse of two identical persons in union. It is rather, an asymmetrical act of the man entering the woman—an act not of symmetry but of complementarity. This truth undergirds the veneration of virginity in women in the venerable Christian tradition. Further, in life, ethics proceed from being; morality is a manifestation of, and procession from, ontology. The marital union, as a pinnacle of human communion, and the epiphany of the divine creator in nature, is a sign and symbol of the relation of the sexes in nature and more especially in salvation.
The Mission and Role of the Male Principle in the Divine Economy
The truth of revelation shows that God is revealed in male categories: as Father and Son, both male, and as Spirit—after the revelation as a full person of the Trinity in the New Covenant, in the language of the largest particular Catholic Church, the Latin Church, masculine, and in Ukrainian and Old Slavonic, the languages of the largest Eastern Catholic Church, and the second largest particular Catholic Church, masculine. 12 Each sex or gender images Him or reflects his image, differently. The male principle, from the dawn of creation, is revealed to be entering and determinative. That is, in creation, God acts as male, entering into the darkness to be determinative of form and species. In salvation, God as male principle, re-entered into Creation again to determine the differentiated roles and vocations of the sexes, or two human hypostases in the Fall. In the new creation, God entered into creation as male, a Son (Jn1:9-17). In doing so, he entered into a union which more particularly revealed himself—the male hypostasis. He decreed through those, to whom he gave full power, the practical principles of the economy of this salvation in families, in husbandry, and in his body, the Church. He determines these things as male, and father to the receiving created earth as female.It would be ludicrous to assert that man and women reflect the image of God in the very same way.The God-Man, Jesus Christ, entered into creation as a male to save it. He gave a determination of a new people, wedded unto himself. He gave unto his chosen apostles the task of continuing his good and determinative entering into the world, which knew him not, unto his twelve chosen men to generate a determined new eternal life. This work was not given to males arbitrarily, nor was it work restricted to men subsequent to its’ conception. It was, rather an intrinsically male work: advancing, entering, giving and determinative! This work of the priesthood included and includes the generation of new life in baptism, 13 a determination of a new creation, a new people of a new eternal character, via the entering into the world as a hunter-gatherer through evangelization. This work includes the protection defense as a warrior through the sealing of the new determination to eternal life via the mystery/sacrament of chrismation/confirmation. This theo-anthropic mission is perfected through the theandricpriestly work of sacrifice of the unblemished lamb to appease the Father for the iniquities of the petitioners. This act is the bringing forth of the gifts of food from the world by the hunter-gatherer; also the sacrifice as a priest to reach to God the Father to please him. And so, it is also the act of a hero, who did what the rest of his own could not accomplish. The priest also would advance the generation of new life in the union of two souls in marriage. In the particular Catholic Church of the Latin-Rite, this is done through official witness of a man in Holy Orders, as the new image of Christ and his Church, husband and wife, mutually confer the sacrament upon each other by a large dispensation of economy. In the other twenty-some Eastern Catholic Churches, the power of conferral of the mystery of crowning/sacrament of marriage is reserved to the priest to this day. The priest is also granted the life-giving power of healing and restoration through confession in the journey through the world, and in the finality of wounds and mortality, through the anointing of the sick. Finally, He would reign as a king of His people forever, the determinative increase of which would be accomplished through the instrument of holy orders.The essential male principle in all of created human life, and the priestly principle in salvation, is entering and determinative, and loving in giving, and all this by initiative. God accomplished this by revelation of his own identity as Father and Son and King, through the hypostasis of his own image in creation that most aptly corresponded to his own self. He brought about redemption and salvation, not merely through function, but through a new determinative act, fittingly grounded in the Godly image of a man, whom he created by knowing himself.
Witness to the Truth in Contemporary Milieu
Human Culture Falling from the Truth. This beautiful salvation drama of complementarity is received with much blindness in the spiritual wasteland of post-industrial, post-feminist America. The consequent loss of appreciation of the male and the female vocations in the natural life of society harms the reception of the Catholic truth about holy orders and the nature of the Church. The causes of this blindness are multiplex, as doxa and praxisare mutually inter-related in earthly life. These causes need to be understood, so that a strategic pastoral response can be established. Perhaps, the largest cause is the removal of the father from the home through the industrial revolution, with the consequent loss of mentoring and role-modeling in manly work. This imbalance in family ecology was only driven to deeper disorder by the entering of women into the workforce, a negative opportunity to devalue the intimacy of human caring and the making of the home. The wedge separating humanity from love was deepened by the wound of feminism, which devalued both men and marriage. Underlying much of these wounds to communion were the philosophical zeitgeists of the age, particularly individualism and nominalism. Individualism invited the human family to see the purpose of life as individual pleasure, a fall from the heights of marital self-giving and self-union. This made contraception seem, at first, tolerable to the Episcopalians in 1930, then a good, and even a necessity, afterwards. The momentum of that historic move has now brought us to the state where, what was uniformly held to be an evil in Christian wisdom, is now portrayed as a good, worthy of compulsion, such that Catholics who still know it to be evil must now be forced, under the penalty of destitution, to pay for it. Contraception devalues men by telling them that in their normal health, they are no longer needed or desired. For women, it masquerades as liberation, and, yet, treats a woman’s normal condition as a disease. In doing so, contraception devalues women more than it does men. The stage is now set for people to no longer accept each another, but rather to manipulate and use one another. The human ecology is toxically polluted.
Recent American history has also set before us the full ghastly harvest of nominalism. Nominalism asserts that things don’t have an enduring intrinsic nature, but are merely what we choose to name them. Marital relations become “sex,” and sex in marriage falls to equal value with sex outside of marriage (fornication); sex with a one while married to another (adultery), or sex inverted against complementarity (homosexuality), or inter-species sex (bestiality). Further, human identities can now be fabricated based on the activities of one’s lust interests, primarily through the social construct of “orientation.” This destruction of truth was expressed in full evil power by the feticide-affirming Supreme Court decision, Casey v. Planned Parenthood. The same fiction was quoted by the U.S. Supreme Court through the neck-snapping reversal of the right of states to outlaw sodomy in the case Lawrence vs. Texas. In legalizing homosexuality throughout the country in 1995, they offered an unparalleled wide and enthusiastic endorsement of delusion, declaring that: “At the heart of liberty, is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” 14 According to this legislation, disguised as judgment, you are now “free” to be whatever you chose to call yourself. Can there be such a thing as freedom from the truth?
Perhaps, the best retort to this genre of horror science fiction has been attributed to the brutally honest, non-Christian philosopher, Ayn Rand, who wrote: “We can avoid reality, but we can’t avoid the consequences of avoiding reality!” 15 The destructive darkness of homosexuality has now taken center stage in today’s culture wars. Found by research to be a pathology, the homosexual inclination was removed from the official list of psychiatric disorders in 1973, not by reasoned debate and evidence, but through a massive gay protest upon a minority of the American Psychiatric Association. 16 Historically, homosexuality was discovered to be a type of neurosis, although persons suffering from homosexual inclinations were also noted to have some characteristics of psychosis. Today, this disorder demands that the masses cry “intolerance,” “discrimination,” and “hatred” when people even entertain this part of the truth about mankind.
A Return to Sanity: Rebuilding the City of Love
In this wasteland of florid immorality and massively discarded truth, it is little wonder that the faithful have trouble appreciating the beauty of the two-fold splendor of embodied human life, and the vocations that proceed from our wondrously-created being in the plan of our Creator. Still, in our faithfulness to God, it falls to the Church, as the announcer of the Good News concerning mankind, and more especially to her priests, to begin re-establishing a civilization of truth and love, and the life that springs forth from them.
It seems we would do well to start with the family. A renewed appreciation, study, and application of human husbandry, fatherhood, brotherhood, and son-ship must be cultivated in our churches. The same work needs to be done on the feminine vocations of wife, mother, sister, and daughter. A study of the men’s movement, the works of St. John Chrysostom on marriage, and the richness of the deeply incarnational cultures of immigrants from the patriarchal homelands of the Eastern Churches, seem to be particularly promising here. In regard to home life, the principle of complementarity merits recovery and exposition. Complementarity is union through difference, but with flexibility. The truth about marital life in natural family planning also needs ubiquitous exposition, beginning during youth, and presented together with a wise critique of current flawed social mores. Theologically, the glory of procreating a soul that can live forever—a glory surpassing that of work or career—needs to be put before the faithful in all its splendor.
Programs of mentoring, with rigorous safeguards, need to be developed in raising boys and girls in their particular vocations. In this mission of mentoring, men need to catch-up to women, emphasizing an increasing role with each degree of separation of the son from the mother. The return to programs of male-only altar servers would be a welcome restoration, and a positive advance, both symbolically-liturgically and developmentally. The richness of gender differentiation needs to be fortified at the level of marriage preparation and baptismal formation. Parental formation of vocation-recognition needs to be incorporated in the family formation for first communion and confession, which correspond to some of the earliest times of possible recognition of vocations. Gender-segregated schools provide a wonderful opportunity for the appreciation and development of the male and the female vocations.
On the societal level, the freedom of integrity-filled programs, such as the Boy Scouts, need to be rigorously defended in the public square. Catholic society would do well to develop rites and customs of the veneration of sacrifice of both priesthood and of parenthood, especially for mothers. Programs need to be developed to shift female employment away from the warrior task of the military. Catholics need to point out that the homosexual simulation of marriage is not the same thing as marriage itself. We do not create reality in the most basic sense; rather, we are measured by it, and are challenged to accurately receive it. Catholics should witness to the world that true mercy does not ever offend the complete truth, and that it is fitting for society to enshrine the full differentiation of male and female, above the mutilation of nature to serve the enslaving activity of lust. To wit, children with gender wounds found at birth, or during later development, need to be raised with special tenderness, and a legitimate tolerance according to their genetic gender. The possibility of developmental problems at birth in this regard should be raised in marriage preparation as a fitting exposition of the glory of men and women, and as a defense against threats to their fulfillment. The psychiatric truth about the homosexual pathology also needs to become current among faithful, so that they can respond to the developing wounded with healing support and direction. This will become increasingly clear as the male vocation in family and society is made known. In regard to holy orders, faithful parents and single adults need to understand that the homosexual handicap is all-too often the cause of a false, and wickedly destructive “sociological vocation” to the priesthood, and should be viewed with great suspicion. The magical thinking of homosexuals would leave them vulnerable to resisting this truth.
This broad-based approach for witness to the full truth about man will provide our faithful with the ground from which to see the truth about the priesthood, granted recently from the See of Peter, with the merciful goal of “removing all doubt.” We will return to an ability to understand, not just the “that,” but the “why” the Catholic Church “has no authority whatsoever to ordain women.” They will see that this truth is neither restricting nor negative, but a liberating positive for the blossoming of his body, the Church, and full human development, both individual and societal.
- Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. May 22, 1994. “Priestly ordination. . .has in the Catholic Church from the beginning always been reserved to men alone. . . in accordance with God’s plan for His church. . .Christ established things in this way. . .in a completely free and sovereign manner. . .without conforming to the prevailing customs and . . .traditions. . .of the time. . .in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren, (cf. Lk22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” ↩
- Response to the Letter of His Grace the Most Reverend Dr. F. D. Coggan, Archbishop of Canterbury, concerning the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood (30 November 1975): AAS 68 (1976); Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Inter Insigniores on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood (15 October 1976): AAS 69 (1977); Address on the Role of Women in the Plan of Salvation (30 January 1977) Insegnamenti, XV (1977). ↩
- St. John Chrysostom, whom Greek Catholics remember as “our holy father among the saints,” offers two arguments against the theoretical possibility of women priests. First, that the priesthood is so august that “when one is required to preside over the Church, and to be entrusted with the care of so many souls, the whole female sex must retire before the magnitude of the task, and the majority of men also. . . .” Secondly, that “The divine law indeed has excluded women from the ministry, but they endeavor to thrust themselves into it; and since they can effect nothing of themselves, they do all through the agency of others; and they have become invested with so much power that they can appoint or eject priests at their will: Chrysostom himself experienced the truth of this, for it was through the influence of Eudoxia, the wife of the Emperor Arcadius, that he was deposed from the See of Constantinople and banished. Things in fact are turned upside down, and the proverbial saying may be seen realized: “The ruled lead the rulers:” and would that it were men who do this instead of women, who have not received a commission to teach. Why do I say teach? For the blessed Paul did not suffer them even to speak in the Church (1 Cor. Xiv. 34: 1 Tim.ii. 12). But I have heard someone say that they have obtained such a large privilege of free speech, as even to rebuke the prelates of the Churches, and censure them more severely than masters do their own domestics.” On the Priesthood. II.2. & III.9 Trans. by Rev. W. R. W. Stevens. The Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers. Vol. IX (Eerdmans; Grand Rapids, MI: 1989). ↩
- In the original Greek, άνθροπων, means a man, as in a “human’ or “member of the human race;” ανήρ, or “male, man, husband”; and γυνή, “woman, female.” And so while there is a different name for men as all males, versus men as all humans, the general noun describing all of either sex is from the same root as the word for all males. The English language is similar, yet different. The word “men” means all people, but more originally “males,” in particular; females, in specific differentiation, are termed by the qualifier modification wo-man. The correspondence of all these to “human” is a phonemic accident developing from the Latin, homo. In the prominent liturgical language of Ukrainian, there are males, choloviky, and females, zhinky. Yet the word to describe the Lover of Mankind, in Greek, philanthropōs, is expressed in Ukrainian through the male form, cholovikolyoubets’. Universally, there is a great human tendency to describe all of the human race in terms of the original and giving determinative male principle. There is solid basis in anthropology, linguistics and salvation history to prefer the term “mankind” over that of “humankind” for the descendants of Adam and Eve. ↩
- During the main Divine Liturgy of the Catholic Church of the Ukrainian Rite, in the preparatory prayer to the final doxology before the distribution of the awesome life-giving mysteries of Christ in the mystical banquet of holy communion, Christ is petitioned to provide his all-holy and healing presence as the “physician of our souls and bodies.” The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. (Toronto: The Synod of the Hierarchy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church & the Basilian Press, 1988) p.67. ↩
- The term “salvation,” means saving, but more historically, “healing.” ↩
- From the anaphora of St. Basil the Great, the part of the liturgy of the same name that corresponds to the to the “Eucharistic Prayer” in the Novus Ordo, or Ordinary Form, of the Catholic Church of the Latin Rite. Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great. (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Byzantine Ruthenian Metropolitan Province of the United States, 1976). p.40. ↩
- The Historical Books. In Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible. Ed. By David Alexander & Pat Alexander. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978;) p.218. ↩
- In the Old Covenant, the priestly tribe did not have their own separate land. In the new covenant, the priests who are celibate do not have their earthly families. These priests of the Old Covenant prefigure celibacy in the new rite, and they are the norm by law in the Catholic Church of the Latin Rite (exceptions are rare). But, in the Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rites, such priests are celibate by choice alone, with some exceptions. ↩
- This is name of the faithful of the New Covenant since the time of the earliest Fathers of the Church, who themselves heard the apostles. “Where the assembly of faithful are gathered, let the bishop preside, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Magnesians. In The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol .11. p.118 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1989). St. Ignatius, who died c.107 AD, personally knew the apostle John. ↩
- Moore, Keith L. The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology. (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co., 1982). Pp.272, 274. ↩
- The ancients did not perceive the personhood of the Spirit, but rather only predicated an inanimate force. In Hebrew, spirit is from the same word as wind or breath, ru’ah (feminine); in Greek, pneuma, impersonally neuter. In Latin and Ukrainian, this third person of the Holy Trinity is masculine: Spiritus and Dux. ↩
- In the Ukrainian Church, priests are bidden to remember that baptism should not be separated from chrismation (confirmation). Yet, the entire Catholic Church allows an exception for baptism in emergency cases. This exception is not extended merely to other Catholics, or even to all Christians (men and women). It is rather given to any sapient human willing to do what the Church intends. The reason for this economic extension of the love of God is his desire to extend the benefits of eternal life to incarnate man as far as possible. ↩
- Lawrence v. Texas. 539, US 558, p. 574. Justicia.com. ↩
- Citation not found. ↩
- Sorba, Ryan. Homosexual Activists Intimidate American Psychiatric Association into Removing Homosexuality from List of Disorders. Conservativecolloquim.wordpress.com/2007/10/01 ↩