Before it became common to avoid its gender specificity, I long ago changed the “Our Father” to “God, Mother and Father of us all…” in my daily recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. “Father” as a metaphor did not contain all of God’s attributes, in my experience. And, I must confess, the metaphor of “Mother” contained the divine attributes I found most positive.
I realized recently that’s because I believe that spirituality is our Mother. We are shaped in her womb, nourished at her breast, dandled on her knees, loved unconditionally, pleased in her presence, nurtured by her wisdom. That is what draws us to her, what makes us yearn for her.
In Hebrew wisdom literature, she is Sophia, who, with God, created the universe. In John, our own Christian wisdom literature, I believe she is Logos who becomes flesh in an androgynous Christ. The fourteenth-century nun, Saint Julian of Norwich, (called by Thomas Merton one of the greatest of English theologians) declared “Jesus is our true Mother.” And the body of Jesus becomes the Body of Christ, Mother Church.
So the current attack by church officials on the freedom of nuns to influence Catholic thought dismays me, because throughout my life, nuns have often proven to be the best face of the Roman Catholic Church. And I say this as a Protestant, one whose spiritual ancestors gave God a shot of testosterone, emphasizing “his” masculinity!
When I despaired at Vatican pronouncements, at the misuse of power and privilege of an all-male hierarchy, I saw the progressive witness of Sisters Margaret Farley, Jeannine Grammick, Joan Chittister, Sue Mosteller, Helen Prejean, the oblate Dorothy Day, and others whose names are less well known but whose personal witness lifted my spirit.
There was a reason Mary, the mother of Jesus, caught the spiritual imagination of the church. She was needed to give a mother’s face to divinity.
Copyright © 2012 by Chris R. Glaser. All rights reserved. Permission granted for non-profit use in public gatherings with attribution of author and venue.
Originally posted on Progressive Christian Reflections by Chris Glazer.