Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Wednesday of Holy Week
After mass this morning, one of my parishioners (in fact, my oldest parishioner) showed me an article from the Sunday Telegraph magazine of a couple of weeks ago. Under the heading “The Stained-Glass Ceiling” it’s at first sight a fairly unremarkable and superficial series of rehashed interviews with the usual prominent female clerics of the Church of England.
But several things stand out. Firstly, the writer’s complete lack of objectivity and balance in her reporting. That this comes from a socially conservative newspaper such as the Telegraph should leave us under no illusions as to the possibility of gaining a fair hearing from the culture amongst which we are living. In the eyes of the reporter, Ms Rafanelli (with a surname like that one could have hoped for better!) and, of course, many others, opponents of women’s ordination are simply bullies and bigots who practise unfair discrimination; there can be, according to this mindset, no objections which are not inherently sexist and misogynistic.
There is also no recognition whatsoever by the author of the article that, after a decade of marginalising those of orthodox theology, our opponents have, in all essentials, won the political battle (if not the theological argument) and all that remains for them to do is carry out a mopping- up operation which will inevitably involve many of us being ejected from the Church of our baptism.
Secondly, given the views stated, what becomes clear is the utter impossibility of the two opposing views and practices on the subject of women’s ordination being able to co-exist within the one ecclesial body. We all know in our heart of hearts that any attempt to hold these opposed positions together is doomed to failure; it’s all or nothing, and our opponents will settle for nothing less than our complete silencing and removal from the Church.
So why don’t we either go away quietly or just shut up and keep our heads down and go along with the innovation? Many have taken the latter course, and have done very nicely out of doing so.
But if we did that, acting against our consciences, acting against what we believe to be the Lord’s will for us and for his Church, we are the ones, and not our opponents, who will not see Christ face to face.To act against an informed conscience is to put up a barrier to salvation and I’m old fashioned enough both to believe in the concept and also that proclaiming salvation is the heart and focus of the Church's mission.
It’s Holy Week and we are confronted with the truth that it is necessary to embrace the reality of the cross. If we do not suffer and die with the Lord then we cannot hope to rise with him. Where will our taking up of the cross lead us? To what must we die in order that we may live?
From today’s first reading at mass:
The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary. Morning by morning he wakens, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been confounded; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord GOD helps me; who will declare me guilty?