In some ways my lovingly-critical feminist reflection on the familiar old mass seems too obvious to even go through with*. But this week I spoke to some people who know more than me about these things, who talked about just how inflexible the church hierarchy (who suppose themselves to speak for “the church”) are about both the words of the mass (this is still in a Roman Catholic framework) and the limiting of the names we are “allowed” to use for God. As if Godde herself were not an active agent within the prayer life of anyone who has life in their prayer!
So the words of greeting- The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all
-And also with you (I believe now they say “and with your spirit”)
The importance of removing the exclusiveness of the masculinity has been discussed by many finer minds than mine. One that immediately springs to mind is She Who Is by Elizabeth Johnson. Critics have fairly pointed out that where she names each of the persons of the Trinity “Sophia”, this name is probably more accurately given to the second person of the Trinity (also known as “Jesus” or “Christ”). Nevertheless she makes great points about the mothering and midwifing role of the Creator God (eg mother bear (Hosea 13:8), mother hen (Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34 though significantly this is Jesus speaking which argues against the separation of the parenting role of God and the Human One or Word) human mothers (Isaiah 66:13; possibly Psalm 131:1-2) midwife (Psalm 71:6). Such a strong biblical tradition, then we need to ask the hard questions why “the church” (as they style themselves) try to keep it from us or limit our access to it.
Others have also spoken about the connection with Trinitarian thought and the threat of paganism, specifically the triple goddess (virgin, mother, crone) which is symbolised in the lifecycles of ordinary women everywhere (arguably ones who are not biologically “mothers” still go through this goddess stage in middle-age and the need to nurture and be opinionated and strong). This goes again patriarchal church reliances on Mary, the impossible model of virginity and motherhood in one, making all women deficit in terms of one or the other- although in modern times I like to reflect (with a snigger) that lesbians who manage to get pregnant without allowing penetration from a man technically fit this supposed to be impossible category, which may be partly why “the church” is so outraged by lesbians in general).
But why are different persons of the trinity responsible for “grace” “love” and “fellowship”? Firstly considering a “fellow” is a man or boy I am going to be unapologetically femme-centric (I decided not to use the term “gynocentric because I am not trying to leave out trans women who may also find these criticisms necessary, nor am I defining these qualities as one not available to men) and use the term “sisterhood” instead in my own reflection. “Sister” to me is the most positive sort of a person, they may or may not be blood related but they support, encourage, compliment, are generous toward, keep accountable and argue against each other they love even when they have a falling out and they do maintenance work on their relationships. By this definition anyone who loves with respect and equality may be a “sister”. Big sisters nurture little sisters and birth order has little to do with it in adulthood.
I still don’t think we need to give such separate jobs to different “persons” of God.
But let’s try it with a woman focus and also dump the kyriearchal word, “Lord”.
The grace of lovely Sophia and the love of God and the sisterhood of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Maybe. Maybe it is a start. It’s pretty neutral, you think it would not be seen as too threatening and that they would use this sometimes, or even say “Jesus-Sophia” to keep both in there. But for some people “God” conjures up a judgemental bloke in a white bears (it doesn’t for me) so I am going to skate out onto the thinner ice of not even worrying about keeping it conservative.
Grace, love and sisterhood to us all from Sophia, collaborator from the beginning with the Mother and the dancing all-infusing Spirit
Grace, love, sisterhood
our precious and sacred bodies
out of the earth our mother
nurtured by the elements
wrapped in bodily, material existence
beautiful in our tendency to know by touching
to feel passion and tenderness
to taste the fruits of the earth and to break and make and share them.
Wisdom coming into us from our being
not “handed down” by stern and unyielding “lords”
but danced into every moment of true love
in sticky hand-prints of our children
in the doors we open for others
in the gifts that fall into our laps unasked
in the unpaid labours of family life.
Godde making, calling, smiling, remembering us
she knows and reknows all the goodness we are capable of
past loves, present generosities, future beauties yet unachieved
she is and she knows
as the spirit pours through our veins
fire of knowing that we are significant
that our actions and choices will heal and save or condemn the world
that we are hear to grow and love not to buy and sell
ourselves or the body of our mother the earth.
We see her face in the myriad stars
we hear her voice in the ocean
she dazzles us with her rainbows
and in our diversity we are respelendent
in her image- sacred and intended.
Grace love sisterhood now and forever.
-And in your body, and written by your life’s choices, and dancing through your spirit
*This post sort of ran away from me. I am going to blame Alice Walker as I am currently really enjoying the freedom and colouring-outside-the-lines way of speaking of her We are the ones we have been waiting for.