Our Catholic Church hierarchs turn themselves inside out worrying about the incidence of abortion in the world. Do they ever stop to contemplate how their effort to keep the hands and minds of their celibate priesthood away from their dicks and "impure thoughts" has meant a massive abortion in human thinking about sexuality and leading their people, and the world, away from a more intelligent understanding of this powerful force that operates in all of our lives? Had this institution taken a more adult response to the entire issue of human sexuality, and treated women as equals and with dignity, not this 'plastic', a-sexual picture of womanhood our celibate hierarchs have endeavoured to brainwash all of humanity with, perhaps the world today would not have half the crisis it has in the number of people who resort to physical abortions? Tom McMahon's commentary today on our "dysfunctional institution" has a focus on how women have been treated and the roots of the dysfunction back in a flawed understanding of human sexuality. One wonders whether the "know alls" might ever apologise for this as well as ever apologizing for the sexual abuse of small children by the immature priests within their ranks? [For some further explanatory background to this introduction, see today's email HERE.]
Fr Patrick Peyton's Rosary crusade...
In my first years of priesthood Father Patrick Peyton came to San Francisco to lead the family of Roman Catholics in reciting the Rosary together. Coming from far and wide, by chattered bus, ten thousand gathered in Golden Gate Park. Little did we realize in 1957 that the worldwide catholic family in 2012 would be in chaotic turmoil. In 1957 our focus was on a distant, male, and feared God. The power of human prayer and a plastic Mary were part of the packaged deal of getting to heaven. We had no idea of the problems the worldwide family of the future would face.
Family Rosary Crusade is a worldwide campaign that eventually became a Roman Catholic movement founded by Reverend Father Patrick Peyton, CSC. The endeavor came to be as a personal mission to undertake the promotion of the praying of the family Rosary by families as a means to bind families together. The inspiration to start a campaign came from Father Peyton's patron, the Blessed Virgin Mary whom he credits as the one who interceded before God and her son Jesus Christ his miraculous recovery from tuberculosis in 1941.
The campaign's basic objective is to promote the praying of the Rosary by families, viewed and seen by Father Peyton as the most efficacious form of meditation, in the process, learn and imitate the life and passion of Jesus Christ. Father Peyton rationalizes that together as a family, in unison praying the Rosary, the family is united before Christ and drawn closer to God.
...so was the Catholic vision of Divine relationships in the first 11 years of my ministry. During World War Two with my brothers at sea in peril of their lives my Mom and I prayed the rosary daily. The two of us a united-front-family truly believing we had an influence on God for the protection of our loved ones.
Some basic ideas concerning dysfunctionality theories...
Allow me to lead off with basic ideas concerning dysfunctionality theories I learned in the 1970's as I studied Virginia Satir and her concepts of family wellness. For 40 years I have used the Satir model of well-being in my personal and extended relationships, such as membership in the Jesus Our Brother Community and our Senior History Club. These are present day family for me, most meaningful in my daily happiness. Quietly we practice the equality crudely and massively introduced to society by the common folk of the American and French Revolutions. Vatican Two made me conscious of my worldwide family of all peoples and Hilary Clinton's idea of a global village shrunk the earth's boundaries to my very back yard. Yet, even though only eight homes constitute our Royal Acres cul de sac, the eight families on our block know virtually nothing of each other's lives. We are classic strangers in a crowd, independent Americans who think we don't need others to get goodness out of life. The wheels of life fall off when we go it alone. As the family goes so goes the welfare and meaningfulness of country, church, and individual. Quietly I have been studying a noble appreciation of equality with women to enjoy the gifts of life. Equality with women is missing in the Roman Institution.
In THE SATIR MODEL , I quote...
From page 6: "Virginia Satir (commonly called the grandmother of family therapy) described people's ways of perceiving the world as belonging to the hierarchical model or the growth model. How we see the world can be assessed from four aspects:
From page 7: "on the hierarchical model relationships exist in only one variety: somebody is on top and somebody is on the bottom: dominant/submissive arrangement ... the threat-and-reward model."
Women have been moving upward in society for over two hundred years, yet remain low on the totem pole of Romanism.
I grew up and was trained as priest in the hierarchical model which today is under siege. From pope down to individual member, we have been trained to go with god alone, a distant deity whereas the god of Jesus/Abba/loving father is best understood in a community of equal people, sharing life.
NO MAN IS AN ISLAND ... no man stands alone...
From Wikipedia the expression "no man is an island" can refer to:
In last week's commentary I wrote: "Next week I shall name three women upon whom my reflections gave me inner peace". I will not fulfill that promise today but hopefully next week. I shall continue to apply Satir's thinking to present day females who are influencing my life in 2012. My mother first taught me community. I have no difficulty here as my first impressions (archetypes, first psychic hits) of the goodness and power of women have been dominant with me since I first nursed at my mother's breast. Over the next 50 years of my life I have searched for a continuation of common living, along the way experiencing woman as the ongoing source of life. I struggled with the "plastic female" and will meet untold numbers of genuine women.
The Plastic Mary — a model for real womanhood?
I clearly remember the content of a small book I chanced upon in 1957, perhaps called THE PLASTIC MARY. The author offered comparison of a totally aloof defeminized woman to a bodied Mary who over nine months gave existence to her son Jesus. I was impacted by the awareness of God's creative power vested in female flesh. A stage had been set upon which I would grow in knowledge of female anatomy and an understanding of the female as individual person. For years in seminary at noon time Angelus I had heard the words "BLESSED ARE THE BREASTS THAT NURSED THEE AND THE WOMB THAT BORE THEE" [Luke 11:27], always quietly reflecting on my own mother and wondering about "the plastic asexual Mary". Later in my first assignment at Assumption Church in San Leandro I meditated before a statue of a very pregnant, full-bosomed Mary, puzzled by the institutional demand that I remain celibate, avoiding physical contact with a woman to be a holy priest. There was an unwholesomeness (whole=holy in old English) that would haunt me for the coming dozen years of my institutional ministry. As days and years went by I grew in admiration of the holiness of the female body. In my spiritual growth a "plastic Mary" was fading and a vibrant life-giving appreciation of female flesh would become my awareness. I grew to resent the heavy holy habits that shrouded the beauty of the bodies of the nuns that taught me in grade school and eventually by marriage and membership in a faith community of living women and men and I began to experience myself as a genuine human being. In community, an experience for me of 31 years of close involvement with good people I continued to develop. I owe my faith community a great deal in my maturing as a person. I learned life by being part of the exchanges of daily living and a consciousness of the presence of God permeated my life. More on this next week.
I am struggling here as I write for such a lifelong process has been a glorious, at times frightening, mystery and so illuminative of a God presence in humans. The little boy from 15th street who happened to become a priest has found peace with my sexuality, perhaps a completion in old age of the searching for life meaning. I could not have attained such peace and understanding without the support of good women. Allow me to present some in detail next week.
Pope John Paul the 2nd called celibacy a "gem in the crown of the Catholic Church". I disagree.
Celibacy if chosen freely by a well-educated adult can be a meaningful contribution to a community. Celibacy becomes a dsyfunctionality when it is set up as a guide line for ordinary people especially in a system that governs from top to bottom. The Roman Institution has the cart before the horse. The building of community, women and men in equality, should be the goal of healthy religion, a healthy love affair between God and creation that is mirrored in community (local and worldwide). Read between the lines in the Gospels of a Jesus who was historically a good community member (he eats with the tax collector and is comfortable in discussions with women), and don't be afraid to pencil in a personal love affair with Magdalene. Jesus is a sound model of human equality. I admire him as meaningfully functional in the society of his day and ours today as well.
Tom McMahon, San Jose, Ca. 10Jul2012
What are your thoughts on this commentary?