As is my usual crazy self, I’m reading 6 books at the same time. It keeps my mind stimulated! Heeheehee! Though sometimes I forget where I read something that keeps the little grey cells active and questioning. Anyway, last night’s bedtime reading was from “Women and the Priesthood” edited by Thomas Hopko, 1999. While this book is a reprint of the same book from 15 years ago, containing essays contributing to the on-going discussion of the potential of women in the priesthood, I particularly appreciated this section in the essay by Fr. Hopko:
The fatherhood, headship and husbandhood which belongs to believing men in Christ and the Church cannot be exercised by women, and cannot be exercised without them. As there is no man without woman, no head without body, no bridegroom without bride, no husband without wife, and even no Christ without Church, so there is no presbyter/bishop without his churchly community, and no exercise of the episcopal and presbyteral ministry by believing men without the collaboration of faithful women.
Consecrated women are essential to the ordained ministry of the presbyter/bishop who must have the qualifications mentioned above. Without holy women in his life, no man can properly fulfill the conditions for Episcopal or presbyteral service. The presbyter/bishop needs the inspiration, empowerment, encouragement and comfort of believing women. Men called to this ministry are normally inspired for this service by their mothers; those who are not are the exception. Married priests who perform their functions well normally have excellent wives; those who do not are the exception. Celibate priests and all of the bishops who have fruitful and healthy ministries normally enjoy the close cooperation of holy women, often widows or monastics; those who do not are the exception. As man is not without woman in the Lord, or woman without man, so bishops and priests cannot be without women as their mother’s, wives, sisters, daughters, friends, intercessors and co-workers in the Lord for the fruitful exercise of their ministry.
Too often I hear the argument from women that they are called to the priesthood or to ordination and that if they cannot follow through with that calling then what are they to do? What is their ministry? Where do they fit in the ministries of the Church? What they cannot understand is the integral contribution we women make to the functioning of the Church and Her priests purely through our ministry of prayer, support, teaching, cleaning, being Mom’s, being wives, being leaders in those areas. That is our ministry. A high and difficult one it is.