A woman who excites me spiritually...
Sr Joan Chittister is a prolific thinker and writer and contributor to many things. Not least of which are things spiritual. Her writings touch me in so many ways. She speaks a language that JUST makes sense, to me at least. I have so many "AHA" moments when I read her thoughts and wonder why nobody has verbalised them in such a way before. I'd like to say it is common sense but unfortunately, although it sounds so much like common sense, it is so very uncommon. She speaks a lot about Spirituality, Equality, Politics, Social Justice, Ecumenism and Global issues.
I know I'm not the only one who feels this way; the woman is forever at some huge international conference in demand as a speaker or committee member. Her detractors call her a "feminist" as if that is not a badge of honour she wears proudly. When certain people use it is meant to be derogatory but it says more about them than it does about true feminists. Her "feminist" theology is one where men are confreres, partners, co-creators in the human race and God's plan, not people to be downtrodden as women try to rise to their rightful place in the human race, not above men but alongside them. Saying "hey guys we have some gifts and ideas too". Many men are feminists and these men are the ones who help to raise women to such a place. It is the sense of injustice for the oppression and inequality of women worldwide that makes her voice a grating one on the hierarchical and patriarchal world and especially our church. I hope it grates for a long time to come and often. She reminds me a little of our own Australian Father Frank Brennan who has the honour of being called "that meddling priest" by Paul Keating.
In her weekly column in the National Catholic Reporter she talks of many things from "her point of view" … or FROM WHERE I STAND. I get it emailed every week and it is my Saturday morning reflection time as I drink my first cuppa.
Today she speaks of being a representative of a UN International women's peace committee at a Women's Ecumenical monastic conference in Taiwan.
Women at this conference are saying that people are using religion these days to hurt one another. This brought me up short I have to say: Really? Is that possible? But I think they are right and none more so than in our own Catholic faith. Just listen to the voices jibing and jousting and jabbing on discussion boards and in parishes. For goodness sake, I thought, we NEED an ecumenical endeavour within our own Church!!! How can that be? We all believe in the same God, the same Trinitarian God. How did we manage to get it so mixed up? The Gospel message is simple so why do we find it so hard to live it. Why do we have to make it all so complex?
A very Orthodox Catholic friend of ours is dying from cancer and the people that look after her are BUDDHIST nuns. When John Paul ll died, no-BODY except a Buddhist nun came to see if my friend was ok because of his death! A Jewish friend of mine rang me to see if I was upset.
The best part of today's column though is where she reports one group as saying "You don't give people direction," they said. "You give people light so they can find their own path".
A signpost is of no use if you can't see it in the dark, right? Ah the dreams Joan … if only.
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