Thursday, May 7, 2009

Kathy Sullivan Vandenburg, "womanpriest"

Today at Secretum Meum Mihi Press, Kristen West McGuire runs an interview with a "womanpriest" Kathy Sullivan Vandenburg.

Interesting interview. Kristen (who by the way does not condone Vandenburg's actions, but wanted to understand them better) conducted a good interview, which got inside the head of her subject and allowed us to see the progression of events that led this woman from the Catholicism of her childhood (pre V2) to her current state as an "ordained" minister under an excommunicated woman "bishop."

As a convert to the faith, as I read it I was reminded of why the concept of authority – handed down from Jesus to the apostles to their successors – is such a central teaching in the Church. People blame the Holy Spirit for all kinds of foolishness; sadly, we are susceptible to all kinds of self-delusions and rationalizations when we refuse to submit to the spiritual authority God has put there for our benefit. Once the hen is out of the proverbial hen house, she seldom sees the need to return until it is too late, and the fox is lurking at the door!

I don’t doubt that there are many, many women who have particular gifts that – in a man – would be useful in ordained ministry. And many gifts that women CAN legitimately use in ministry opportunities available to them. (God makes men and women equally valuable, but not interchangeable. Our calling – and our nature – is built into the fiber of our very being. Women bring life into the world and nurture it, and are a living representation of Bride. Men sacrifice themselves for the good of their families in other, but no less important ways, and are a living representation of the Eternal Bridegroom.)

The question, then, is why “ordained” ministry is so crucial in the minds of some women -- why they resent it that the Church is not authorized to ordained women priests. In most cases, sadly, the resentment stems from a disordered understanding of human nature ("male and female he created them"), as well as spiritually deadening tendencies toward envy and pride.

Like Ms. Vandenburg, I attended seminary as a graduate student alongside seminarians – but never once did it ever occur to me to covet their calling. The Dean of Students asked me about this once, if I wanted a priest’s vocation. My answer was immediate and from the heart.

“Why on earth would I want ANOTHER vocation? Most days it’s all I can do to handle the one I have!”

He laughed. Then he met my kids . . . and I think he understood.

One need only look at the Blessed Mother to understand the Lord's intention in selecting Twelve. She was present for some of the most crucial moments in Christ's ministry, and stood with Him strong and unmoving when all the others had fled. She was first to see Him enter the world, first on His heart after the Resurrection. Because her life -- like that of most women -- was largely hidden, we do not know how often she traveled with her Son physically, but she was clearly never far from His thoughts, nor He from hers.

How often we as women cheat ourselves when we give in to the temptation to be "just like men." God wants us to aspire to something altogether higher, for it is was what we were created to be: not an "ordained minister," but a life of ministry -- most of it unseen, unlauded . . . and noticed only by those who matter most. What reward is in store for those who are faithful to such a calling!